- Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter
- Harry Potter
- The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 04/17/2002Updated: 01/04/2004Words: 584,432Chapters: 31Hits: 808,247
Harry Potter and the Triangle Prophecy
- Story Summary:
- Harry's 7th and final year of school. In a time of uncertainty, the Muggle world has found a source of comfort and stability. Only Harry suspects that it isn't safe. Wizards are more concerned about themselves than Muggles since Voldemort's return, but are only Muggles at risk? Will anyone listen to Harry? He must decide whether to make a sacrifice that will change him--and the wizarding world-- forever.
- Read Story On:
Chapter 04 - Windows
- Chapter Summary:
- Harry's seventh and final year of school. In a time of uncertainty, the Muggle world has found a source of comfort and stability. Only Harry suspects that it isn't safe. Wizards are more concerned about themselves than Muggles since Voldemort's return, but are only Muggles at risk? Will anyone listen to Harry? He must decide whether Draco Malfoy is ultimately friend or foe and discover the identity of the Daughter of War and get her help in defeating Voldemort; and finally, Harry must decide whether to make a sacrifice that will change him--and the wizarding world-- forever.
- Author's Note:
- The quotes are from
It was then that Edward discovered something interesting about
the window. There were scratches on the clear glass pane. He
looked closer. They were words, English words, inscribed on
the glass in patterned groups like the verses of a poem....
Her heart thumping and drumming, Eleanor scrambled all over
the house, searching in the dark, and calling in a trembling whisper
for her brother. But she knew well enough where Eddy was.
He, too, had been caught in the dream--caught like the lost
children...Eleanor ran to the window and stared up at the
diamond. Their troubles never would have begun if they
hadn't found the writing on the window....
--Jane Langton, The Diamond in the Window
Harry looked sideways at his aunt as they waited for Mrs. Figg to answer the door. Mrs. Figg finally answered the door and she smiled sweetly at his aunt, which very nearly made Harry demand to know who she really was.
His aunt nodded at the old woman, saying tersely, "Arabella. Thank you for seeing us," as though they'd only just been introduced. Harry smiled ruefully at her before they were ushered into the living room. Draco was lounging comfortably in an armchair, watching a football match on the television.
He looked up at Harry obliquely, saying, "Harry--did you know Muggles have something they call a World Cup, too?" Then he noticed Petunia Dursley and he sat up abruptly, switching off the television. "Oh," he choked out. "Hello." He turned very pink and started rearranging things on the tea table.
To cover the awkward moment, Harry said, "Of course I know. I grew up here, remember?"
"Right, right," Draco muttered, stirring the sugar with the sugar spoon.
They all sat and engaged in the formalities of serving tea. Then Mrs. Figg fixed Petunia Dursley with an eye that was starting to remind Harry of her brother's magical eye, and said, "Suppose you tell me why you're here, Petunia, unless it's to tell me off for not informing you that I'm a witch."
Harry's aunt put down her cup and saucer and pursed her lips. Harry suddenly felt quite sorry for her and put his hand on hers, asking quietly, "Do you want me to tell them what happened last night?" She nodded, not looking at any of them, and Harry explained that he'd gone to see Jeffries out of curiosity and described everything that happened, including his aunt making Jeffries fly backwards.
"Remember when Katie and I told you about the magical signatures? Well, now that I've been, I know why they weren't on the dais. He doesn't stay up there; he goes down into the aisle and does--whatever he does--in the middle of everyone. When I was trying to sleep last night, I remembered that when we'd seen the signatures, there was a blur of pink in the middle of the tent, which must have been where he was standing when he was doing everything. I still wish I knew how he knew me, though. Oh--and did Draco tell you--"
"--that the tent was gone this morning. Yes. When he came back from his run he told me. I called Albus. We'll talk about that later," she said, eyeing Petunia Dursley. She put her own hand on Harry's aunt's. "How are you feeling this morning, dear?"
She swallowed. "I feel--odd. When I woke, I thought--I just wanted to feel normal, and eat my breakfast and read the newspaper and be normal, and suddenly, the bedroom door flew open and the newspaper flew into the room and landed right on my lap! And when I was in the kitchen, things were happening...."
Harry's jaw dropped. "You didn't tell me that!"
"You were out running," she spat at him.
"And walking Dunkirk. But--but--you have to be careful! What if a Muggle saw you--?"
She stood suddenly and her plate of biscuits crashed to the floor and broke. "I am a--a--a Muggle, or what I prefer to call a normal person!" she exclaimed. Then she looked down remorsefully at the broken plate. "Oh, Arabella--your china--"
Mrs. Figg sat back in her chair and raised one eyebrow. "Well, Petunia--fix it."
She looked at Arabella Figg. "Excuse me?"
The eyebrow was still raised. "I said to fix it. You may be many things, my dear, but I do not think it would be accurate at this point to call you a Muggle." She nodded at the broken dish. "Go on. Think about it being whole again. Focus all of your mind on it."
Harry's heart was racing; he watched his aunt look back and forth between Mrs. Figg and the pieces of china on the floor. Then he saw her swallow and hold out her hand, looking like the broken dish might be carrying some fatal air-borne virus. She started shaking violently after a minute, her eyes looking wild, and then, suddenly, the bits of the plate leapt into the air, joined themselves back together and settled neatly back on the tea table, in one piece. Immediately after, the fallen biscuits leapt up onto the plate where they'd previously been.
His aunt looked at Mrs. Figg, then Harry and Draco. Draco gave her a broad smile. "Not bad for your first time!" he said encouragingly. Harry was actually finding it hard to hate him at this moment, but he did feel a discontent rumble through him.
His aunt turned very pink when Draco Malfoy smiled at her. She sat again, moving her hands in her lap nervously. "I--I did do that, didn't I?"
Mrs. Figg smiled gently at her. "I don't know whether this Jeffries fellow did it or whether you had already started to evince magical abilities and you'd been ignoring it, but you definitely did mend that plate, Petunia. As Draco observed, not bad. Not bad at all." Harry was amazed to see that his aunt was actually looking rather pleased with herself--although she was trying to hide it.
"How--how is this possible?" he demanded of his old baby-sitter.
Mrs. Figg sighed. "Well, it's a little complicated. What do you think, Harry, separates magical people from non-magical people?"
He stared at her as though she were mad. "Being able to do magic or not do magic, of course."
"That's not what I mean. Why can magical people do magic?"
He shrugged, at a loss. "I don't know--they're born that way, I suppose."
He opened his mouth, then shut it again. "Because," Draco drawled now, in a bored voice, "of our genes."
Harry felt very stupid. "Oh. Right. Of course."
Mrs. Figg frowned at Draco. "It's not quite that simple, of course. It's not as though there is a single magic gene that's either turned on or off. There are actually a large number of magic genes--no one is really sure how many. Wizards have actually had the human genome mostly mapped for some time now, while Muggles are only just now catching up. However, even though we have identified the sequence of genes which have been definitely identified as tied to magic, which I believe Muggle scientists have assigned to various abilities like singing and so forth, as some of the genes do more than one thing--although, truthfully, they're a bit vague about it as well--we're only a little better off. I can tell you that most wizards have more than half of their magic genes 'turned on,' if you will, while most Muggles have more than half of their magic genes 'turned off.' We do not know of anyone who has all of their magic genes turned on, and it seems that even your average Muggle has one or two turned on. It's not enough to do real magic, generally, but it's why, in a large group of Muggles, odd things sometimes occur. Collectively, they can bring together enough magical energy to do something--either good or evil."
Harry frowned. "I--I never thought about it before. So someone who's magical might have a gene turned on for--making potions, or flying, or--"
"What? Who's ahead?" he hissed at his arm. Then he noticed the three of them looking at him. His face felt warm.
"Why are you hissing like a leaky balloon, Harry?" his aunt snapped at him.
"Does this ignorant woman not know what a snake sounds like?" Sandy snapped right back--although only Harry could understand her.
"She doesn't know--" he started to say, when he met Mrs. Figg's gaze. If she had been Queen Victoria she would no doubt have been informing him that "we are not amused."
"When you've quite finished, Harry," she said imperiously. Harry felt like he was in school already. Oh, so that's how it's to be with Professor Figg, is it? he thought.
"As I was saying, take you, for instance, Harry. I understand you have the Parseltongue gene turned on, so that you can speak to snakes and understand what they say. However, Albus believes that you weren't born that way, that it occurred after you were attacked, as a baby. In fact, he and I both believe that attack caused a number of your dormant magical genes to be switched on. This Jeffries fellow may have had more magic genes turned on than most Muggles--although still not enough to manifest magic--and somehow, his experience in the tube station activated more of his magic genes. I believe he then caused the same thing to happen to Petunia when she came into contact with him." She turned to Harry's aunt. "You, my dear, may not have had as many magic genes turned on as your sister when you were born, and so you were not identified as a witch and did not receive a Hogwarts letter; however, you very likely had a good number turned on, more than most people, I should think, as you are the sister of a witch, and then your experience with Jeffries--like his experience with Voldemort--seems to have put you over the top, and you now have enough genes that are no longer dormant, and you are manifesting magic."
"But even though you say Aunt Petunia didn't have enough magic genes turned on when she was born to manifest magic, most magical children don't start to manifest magic right away, do they?"
"That is true, Harry. But think about this: I knew your father, and you seem to have inherited your father's problem with rapidly-growing facial hair, which would not have manifested itself until you were actually old enough to grow facial hair. Some magic comes earlier, some later. This is why witches and wizards don't go to Hogwarts until they are around eleven."
"And why we're not allowed to do magic outside of school until we're seventeen?"
"Yes. Dormant magical genes can 'wake up' at unpredictable times, making a young witch or wizard's magic unexpectedly stronger with absolutely no warning. And since our emotions have a great deal to do with our execution of magic, and adolescents' emotions are all over the place, thanks to their hormones, the rule against magic outside of school helps deal with that problem as well."
Draco smiled smugly. "Of course, I don't have to worry about that any more," he said pointedly to Harry. Mrs. Figg hit him with the back of her hand before continuing. Harry was disappointed. He had rather hoped she would make his mouth disappear.
"Although we wizards understand a great deal about genetics, we haven't attempted to turn on dormant magic genes. At least, most people haven't. I suspect that one thing Voldemort was doing all those years was working on potions and spells to turn on every one of his magic genes, in order to become the most powerful wizard in the world.
"In our world, such a thing is looked on as Dark Magic, largely because of the nefarious use to which it could be put. Muggles are just now discovering that dormant genes can be activated or that they can be substituted by an infusion, if you will, of genes from an outside source. They call this process 'gene therapy.' I do not pretend to understand how it works--even most Muggles doing it don't really understand it yet, either, and it has proved fatal to some people--but I do understand that the ultimate goal is to cure genetic diseases.
"Muggles are unaware, of course, that there are magic genes that could accidentally activate. There are many genes which we all carry but which remain dormant in most people. Or genes that are dormant in both parents that can be activated in their child. Just as two people with dwarfism may produce a child of average height, so can two Muggles, who have mostly dormant magic genes, produce a child with enough active magic genes to be a witch or wizard."
Harry sat silently, staring into his tea cup. After a minute he lifted his eyes to her. "So Jeffries isn't really curing anyone, is he?"
"I think he is doing exactly what he says he's doing--helping to augment people's ability to believe. I think the ability to believe in things we cannot see, or that which is not necessarily supported by empirical evidence, is a gene in and of itself. Some people like to call this a 'religion' gene. However, it is also very important in magic, where believing that you can perform a spell is as important as knowing the incantation. He is probably helping people a great deal by augmenting their ability to believe that they can do certain things. Sometimes belief is all that's necessary for a person to accomplish what seems impossible."
"But isn't that--isn't that a little like the Imperius Curse?"
"Not quite, Harry. A wizard putting someone else under Imperius is trying to control that person. Jeffries seems to be helping people to control themselves. He does not seem to be imposing his will on them--that is a significant difference. He is helping them to reach their own goals. Presumably. A person's inherent disbelief can still stymie the process. They can blame him and say he is a charlatan, all because they did not believe strongly enough. Actually, I'm quite impressed with Muggles. Jeffries could have used his ability for great evil. Muggles who are working on gene therapy are trying to cure disease. I know my brother tends to go on about how much more dangerous Muggles are than wizards, but I've also seen that Muggles can go farther in the other direction than we have, as well. The Muggle capacity to work for the greater good is something I've always admired. Don't tell Alastor, but as dreadful as some Muggles can be, I also quite admire them for many reasons."
Harry's aunt was frowning. "That's all very well and good," she said. "But now what do I do? Now that he's--he's switched more of--of these genes on--"
"Well, you might start by making yourself well, Petunia."
"You heard me. You can do this. Think about converting the cancerous cells to normal cells. Believe. Picture it very clearly. Get a medical journal if it will help, so you can see photos of normal cells and cancer cells, so you really know what you're doing. There's a reason, you know, why witches and wizards live longer than Muggles, and it isn't all fancy potions."
"But she asked my mum to cure my grandmother of cancer," Harry interrupted, "and my mum said she was afraid she would kill her if she tried."
"How do you know that?" his aunt demanded.
"Yes, well, she could have," Mrs. Figg said, ignoring Petunia Dursley's interjection. "Your grandmother wasn't the witch, Harry. It's far more effective when the subject is also the magical person. That core of belief in one's own abilities is the most important element of success. When were you diagnosed, dear?"
"Dr. Forbes referred me to a specialist in London two months ago."
"And what did the specialist say?"
She looked down at the plate she'd repaired, smoothing her skirt with her hands and turning pink. "I--I never went to see him--"
To Harry's surprise, Mrs. Figg nodded. "You were terribly frightened. I understand. Well, do you still have the information he gave you?" She nodded. "Good. Go to see him. You want to find out exactly where the cancer is and how far along. You need to know exactly what you're dealing with if you're going to beat this. Unless you'd rather use the Muggle methods of coping--?"
Unexpectedly, his aunt began to cry, slow tears trickling down her cheeks. "No! My mum--she lost all of her hair, and weighed six stone when she died, if that. The end of her life was a misery....That's why I didn't go to the specialist in London...."
Mrs. Figg nodded again. "Just going to see him for diagnosis doesn't mean you're agreeing to any treatment. Think of it as a fact-finding mission. Take notes--he'll like that. As for literature, try to get anything with very good pictures of cells. You need to know what you're doing. I've heard of some very strong-minded Muggles managing to alter their health through imagery exercises, and they probably only have a handful of active magic genes compared to you. I can come with you if you'd rather not take Vernon."
Petunia Dursley looked very grateful. Harry tried not to show his surprise. "Would you, Arabella? Th-thank you."
They rose to go, but Mrs. Figg detained Harry. "Can I keep Harry for a little bit, Petunia? As he's Head Boy and I'm going to be one of his professors in September, there are a few things we need to discuss."
Harry frowned, but his aunt left without questioning this and he returned to the living room, sipping his tepid tea, wondering what she really wanted to talk about. Mrs. Figg checked her watch, then said, "Any minute." Harry looked at Draco Malfoy, to see whether he had any idea what she was talking about. He raised his eyebrows and shrugged. He soon found out why they were waiting, however, when a spinning head suddenly popped into the firebox. Harry jumped, then settled back into his chair when it stopped.
"Hello, Harry! I'm so glad you're there." Hermione grinned at him.
"Hermione! When--?" And then he remembered something. She's ahead. She's. A. Head.
"Very funny," he whispered to Sandy. Hermione didn't notice.
"Minerva added my dad's office fireplace to the network. It doesn't allow travel, though, so people can't just intrude on Dad whenever they please. She's accustomed to talking to Professor Dumbledore this way, you understand, and she wanted to be able to check in with him without having to wait for an owl to reach him or having to arrange for him to be at a Muggle telephone or something. I've never done this before. It's much more convenient than using the phone; I have both hands free for taking notes..."
Harry laughed, and so did Draco Malfoy, but his wasn't a friendly laugh. "You don't even take the summer off, do you Granger?" he said derisively.
She looked at him, her mouth twisting. "Hello to you, too, Malfoy. I didn't know you'd be here."
"I'll remind you that I live here. At least for the summer. Did I--did I hear you say the name Minerva? Professor McGonagall is staying with you, and you're calling her Minerva?"
Hermione looked distinctly smug now, Harry thought. "Yes, she is and I am, not that it's any of your business. At any rate, I've called to talk to Mrs. Figg and Harry, so you--"
"Can just sit here and enjoy my tea and make snarky comments about how anal-retentive you are--"
"Malfoy!" Harry cried, standing and glaring at him, clenching his fists.
"Sit down, Harry," Hermione said authoritatively. "I am perfectly capable of ignoring him. Did Mrs. Figg tell you why I'm calling?"
Harry looked at the old woman suspiciously. "No, she didn't."
"Well, I called over there--using the telephone--after I rang off with you last night. I told her what you'd told me about everything that happened in the tent, when you went to hear Jeffries."
He glared at Mrs. Figg. "So you already knew, and you let me sit here repeating all that to you!"
She shrugged. I wanted to hear it from you. And I wanted to see whether Petunia had a difference of opinion about what had occurred."
Harry turned to the fireplace, to Hermione's head. He was having a hard time getting used to seeing it there. "Why did you call her?"
"Because I've also been doing some research about the Muggle milkman. I think there's a connection. I don't know whether Jeffries is responsible for him, but I think the Muggle milkman is another person who had a few more magic genes turned on and that's why he's now able to do magic."
Mrs. Figg sat back in her chair and spoke now. "I haven't had a chance to call you about this yet, Hermione, but this morning I received a message about it. Our people in London have figured out who he is. His name is Alphonse Nichols. Technically, he isn't a Muggle. His mother is a witch and his father is a wizard."
"He's a Squib!" Harry exclaimed. She nodded.
"Precisely. Which is why his name isn't on old lists of Hogwarts students and there's no trace of him in the wizarding world. However, with parents who are magical, unlike a Muggle who has had just a few more magic genes turned on, he already knows about the wizarding world. We still don't know who enabled him to do magic, but whoever did it also put him under Imperius, and gave him Polyjuice Potion to take on the appearance of your milkman. And Harry--why didn't you tell me about the milk van?"
"I thought I had. What about it?"
"Oh, I suppose you did. Well, what you failed to notice was that it was a van, a vehicle that would accommodate a person being hidden in the back. Milkmen usually use open milk floats for their deliveries. No hiding places in there. That should have tipped you off right away that something was not right."
Harry shrugged. "I go out running early, but not usually so early that I see these milk floats. I didn't know."
"Whoever put him under Imperius must have been worried about someone catching him and interrogating him, because he made sure Nichols didn't see him. So all we know is that it wasn't a Muggle who was using a wand to break into your neighbors' house."
"Well, that's more than we knew before, isn't it?" Harry said.
"I assume Mrs. Figg told you about magic genes?" Hermione said now.
Harry looked at her suspiciously now. "Was that your doing?"
Hermione looked very pleased with herself. "We talked for a long time about it last night, and I told her about gene therapy. It explains so much! My mum's really interested, too. She almost decided to be a doctor, you know, instead of a dentist. At any rate, I thought of something else after I rang off. Something to do with the music you said Jeffries was using, and I looked up--"
"Did you sleep at all last night, Hermione?" he asked, starting to feel tired just from contemplating what her night must have been like.
"I was too excited to sleep. I can take a nap this afternoon. Listen to me! Impossible Dream is from the musical The Man of LaMancha. It's about Don Quixote. I pulled out my copy of Cervantes and reread it--"
"All of it?"
"Of course. Anyway, I'm wondering whether it's really a coincidence that he chose that music. Reading Cervantes got me thinking....What if he was writing about someone whom everyone thought was mad, someone everyone thought was tilting at windmills, because that's all they could see? What if Don Quixote really saw dragons, actual dragons, which we know are real, after all. But no one else could see them. Maybe he was a little like a border-line Squib. Filch is a Squib and he has no problem seeing Hogwarts. Or Quixote might have been a Muggle-born wizard who hadn't been educated about the wizarding world, so he could see magical things that Muggles convinced themselves weren't there, but he didn't know the magical solutions to dealing with things like dragons. I think even a very frightened wizard would be hard-pressed to perform spontaneous magic that would have any effect on a dragon. Think of the way the four of you coped during the Tournament, Harry."
He frowned. "Yeah, I 'coped' by being spiked by a Hungarian Horntail and Cedric and Fleur 'coped' by getting themselves set on fire. So you think Don Quixote was a real person?"
"Not necessarily. But I think Cervantes could have been writing about someone he knew, or someone he'd heard of. I think he wrote about someone who could really see things others couldn't, and as a result, the rest of the world thought he was mad. Do you see why it makes perfect sense that Jeffries likes the Don Quixote story, or at least the Impossible Dream song from the musical?"
"I do have a concern, about Jeffries, though, Harry," Mrs. Figg said now, "and Hermione shares my concern. Helping Muggles to believe in themselves is one thing, but if he causes any more people like your aunt to evince magical abilities, the Ministry is going to be in an uproar...."
"Why?" Hermione repeated. "Because You-Know-Who and his followers are already going after Muggle-born witches and wizards. It will be very difficult to keep track of a whole slew of new magical people and protect them at the same time. We have to find a way to turn people like your aunt back into Muggles."
"What?" he cried out, getting to his feet again. "I can't believe you, of all people, are saying that, Hermione!"
"What do you mean, me of all people? Don't you think every day I worry about my mum and dad being attacked because of me? Do you think I want more people going through that? It's for their own protection."
Harry thought of the ban on Muggle-borns that had existed in his other life, and the same reasoning being used to support it. He didn't sit down. "I will not let someone stand by and take away her chance to cure herself, or to finally understand what my life is like and what my mother's life was like. It may not have been intentional for her or Jeffries to turn magical, but how can we take that away from them now that they are? You know what will happen next, if that's successful, Hermione." He paused, hoping he didn't have to say it, but she had raised her chin at him defiantly. "You'll be next," he said, hurtling on when she hadn't answered him. "That will be just one step away from turning the Muggle-born witches and wizards into Muggles. We'll be doing Voldemort's bloody work for him, ridding the wizarding world of anyone who isn't a pureblood! Is that what you want?"
"Maybe it's what he wants," Draco Malfoy said quietly. They all looked at him in surprise.
"What did you say, Draco?" Mrs. Figg said, examining him carefully.
"Well, I've been sitting here listening to the two of them rant at each other, and I thought--it's perfect. The Dark Lord gives this Jeffries some extra power--and for my money, I think he might have been a Squib, like the milkman. That's why he'd heard of Harry. Then this Jeffries starts to go around giving other people more power. Before you know it, of course, the Ministry will be involved and all worked up about people who don't know what they're doing having magical abilities. You know that the step after that is to work out a way to take those abilities away again. And once someone has done that for Muggles who've acquired magical powers--well, I hate to say it, but I agree with Harry. The knowledge of how to do it won't manage to stay in the hands of those who mean well. We all know that. It will leak out, and soon any non-pure-bloods will be purged from the wizarding world. When you think about it, it's pure genius, really...."
"You hear that?" Harry said to Hermione and Mrs. Figg. "Even Malfoy understands what I'm talking about! We can't allow--"
"Oh, I didn't say that would be a bad thing, especially if it gets Granger far, far away from me," Malfoy said, settling back comfortably and chewing on a biscuit. "I just said it's inevitable. And genius. I wouldn't be surprised if my dad came up with the idea before he went to prison. He's an old bastard, but he can be damn brilliant when he wants."
Mrs. Figg shook her head. "We don't know. But I'm afraid I agree with Hermione, Harry. The Ministry needs to crack down on unauthorized magic."
"You're the one who had my aunt repair that plate!" Harry spat at her, outraged. "And you were telling her how to try to cure herself!"
She shrugged. "A test. I needed to see a demonstration of her power. And I don't want her to die, Harry. I'd like to see her do it, to cure herself. But if she kept on doing magic after that....It would be very bad, Harry. She can't be allowed to just go about doing magic where Muggles can see her."
"Too right," Hermione agreed from the fireplace. "I think your prediction about the Ministry getting interested may come true sooner than you think, Mrs. Figg. Have you seen this morning's Daily Prophet?" When the old woman shook her head, Hermione handed her a folded-up newspaper through the flames. She scanned the front page, blanching as she did so. Draco looked over her arm at it, then whistled.
"That Furuncle witch definitely has it in for you," he said to Harry, who was itching to snatch the paper from Mrs. Figg's hands. When she handed it to him, he felt the color leave his face, too, as he read the story.
by Daisy Furuncle
LITTLE WHINGING, SURREY--Last evening, Harry Potter, current Head Boy of Hogwarts, may or may not have performed illegal magic before a large gathering of Muggles. Potter, who is about three weeks shy of his seventeenth birthday and evidently rather impatient to be of-age, attended a performance by infamous inspirational speaker Rodney Jeffries, also currently under investigation by the Ministry of Magic for performing magic before Muggles (although it is still unclear whether Jeffries is a wizard--some suspect he has a behind-the-scenes wizard working for him). Potter was attending the event with his maternal aunt, one Petunia Dursley, and two other Muggles who live in the village. When Potter's aunt went forward for 'healing' from Jeffries, it is unclear what occurred, but soon after, Potter was at her side and Jeffries was being thrown back against a stage that had been erected in the tent that has been the regular venue for his traveling show. Descriptions from witnesses make it clear that a banishing charm was performed.
Potter and his other Muggle companions quickly removed his aunt from the tent and disappeared into the night. Later in the evening, all of Jeffries' staff and Jeffries himself checked out of the village pub where they had been staying and the current whereabouts of Jeffries and his entourage are unknown. Rumors have been flying to the effect that Potter's aunt, not Potter, performed the banishing charm, but as she is a Muggle, Potter is being considered the most likely culprit. He received a reprimand five years ago for performing a levitation charm in his home which caused a commotion witnessed by two Muggles. He also blew up another aunt a year after he was reprimanded for the levitation charm, and this time the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad needed to be called out and memory charms performed. No charges were brought against Potter at that time, as the Ministry was preoccupied searching for the fugitive Sirius Black, who is Potter's godfather.
According to the Ministry, they do not have sufficient evidence at this time to charge Potter with violating the International Wizarding Secrecy Act, but there are whispers that Potter's connections in the Ministry (his best friend's father is a highly-placed Ministry official) have hushed up last evening's activities and that he will likely not be charged--again.
Potter is no stranger to subverting long-standing magical traditions. He caused a house-elf to be freed by trickery four years ago and during the previous three terms he was training the house-elves at Hogwarts to fight humans, despite current laws against wand-use by elves. He is clearly out of control, and this reporter shudders to think what sort of chaos would ensue if all underage Hogwarts students received the same sort of special treatment as Harry Potter.
His jaw dropped. "But--but--completely twisted--And--and was she there last night? And--and did I mention twisted--?"
"Yes, it has virtually no relationship to reality," Mrs. Figg said wryly. "Connections at the Ministry, indeed! As though you'd paid someone to pull strings for you! And as though Arthur Weasley could protect you, if you really broke the law. They know perfectly well what happened, that's why they're not going to charge you. But they do not wish to panic witches and wizards by telling them that your Muggle aunt performed magic."
"Panic? Why should that make them panic?"
"Because Muggles who acquire magical abilities won't care about magical law, Harry, about the boundaries we've established to protect ourselves. They'll just think it's a lark."
"Aha!" he cried, pointing an accusing finger at her. "That's it, isn't it? It isn't really to protect them, as you claim, it's to protect us, to keep us walled off from an entire world of people we're afraid will start demanding magical help to solve all their problems. Even Hagrid said that to me when I first met him, and it never occurred to me until now how incredibly selfish that is! You were just talking about how you admire Muggles who take things they've learned and use their knowledge for the greater good. But what about all of the problems in the world that could be solved if magic were used to tackle them? And yet we pass laws against doing this and say, Oh, well, they'd be pestering us constantly for help if we did just a little. And now it seems there might be a way for some more of them to be like us, so we might not have to worry about their asking us for help all of the time, and you want to take that away from them?"
"Harry--" Hermione said imploringly from the fireplace. "You don't understand--"
"You're right," he said, looking at her sadly. "I don't understand how you can be a Muggle-born witch saying these things. I have one living relative left: my Aunt Petunia. And no, we've never gotten on, but if her being magical could change that, not to mention save her life, I don't want anyone taking that away from her. She's--she's all I've got left," he said softly. None of them answered him, and he turned and left the room, then the house. He leaned against the closed front door of Mrs. Figg's house, breathing heavily, as though he'd just gone for another run. And then he heard Sandy hissing at him.
"I was afraid of this."
Harry was waiting to go out with Katie the next evening when the phone rang and his aunt answered. He was sitting in the living room, idly switching channels on the television while his uncle read the newspaper.
"I'm--I'm fine," he heard his aunt say shakily into the telephone. She was in the front hall. "Well--I--I did repair a plate yesterday. Arabella told you? It--it felt so strange--"
Harry frowned and strode into the hall. "Who are you talking to?" he demanded of his aunt. She looked a little frightened as she handed him the telephone.
"It's Hermione Granger," she said shakily. "Calling for you."
He grabbed the phone irritably. "Er, good," he said. He dropped his voice to a whisper and covered the handset's speaker. "You can't just go talking about what you did yesterday to anybody. Uncle Vernon probably shouldn't even know. You have to be very, very careful."
She lifted her chin defiantly. "Don't take long. I don't want it tied up," she said, not acknowledging his greater experience in having to keep magical abilities secret.
Harry put the phone to his ear and said, "Hermione? What are you doing talking to my aunt?"
"I was just asking her how she was feeling. She's going through quite a lot, after all. And it's not as though we're strangers; I did live with you for a while, and she wasn't really horrid to me the whole time, you know. I think most of the time she was able to forget that I'm a witch."
"She and Uncle Vernon also didn't mind the check your parents gave them...."
"Stop it, Harry, or I think I'd rather talk to your aunt again."
"I'm being that insufferable, am I?"
"I just said so, didn't I?" She sighed. "Listen, I didn't call to fight with you. Quite the opposite--I wanted to make up. I'm sorry about yesterday. I understand what you were saying, and because of your mum and your aunt you're very touchy about the idea of Muggle-born magical people--"
"And you," he reminded her. "Why aren't you more touchy about Muggle-born magical people?"
"I am, Harry. I think--well, I think right now I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to protect myself in the usual way by not telling the entire Muggle world I'm a witch. On the other hand, I don't want anyone to take my magic away from me. I think the second thing is rather unlikely, though, don't you? I mean, we've only encountered instances so far of people having their magical genes turned on, not off. We don't even know if the opposite is true. I don't care what Draco Malfoy said--"
But suddenly, mentioning his name gave Harry an idea. "That's not true," he interrupted her. "Think of Malfoy--the Obedience Charm. Voldemort used that to wake up some of Malfoy's dormant magical genes, and he turned off some of his own, giving up some of his power. It was voluntary on his part, and he got something for it--a slave, basically." Harry swallowed, trying not to think too much about this. "Getting someone to cast that spell on another person in order to reduce their magical abilities wouldn't do much good because then the person with the increased power would have to do whatever they say. But--if Voldemort could find a way to separate out the power transference part of the spell from the obedience part of the spell--"
"--he'd become the most powerful wizard in the world," she breathed, frightened.
"Exactly. He already knows a spell that does some of this power transfer. He's not only capable of taking as much time as he needs to research this, he has all of his Death Eaters to help him work out the problem--and he's in the habit of recruiting the smartest people he can find--plus, if Mrs. Figg is right that the Ministry will want to crack down on unauthorized magical activity, he might have the Ministry working to find the solution as well. That's what I was talking about yesterday, Hermione. We can't let the Ministry become Voldemort's tool. There's got to be a Death Eater or two who've infiltrated it. If they find the solution before Voldemort--he'll have the answer about five minutes later, if that. I know it and you know it."
She was very quiet. Harry swallowed. "Hermione, you have no idea how dangerous this could be. The next thing you know, the Board of Governors could institute a ban on Muggle-borns at Hogwarts, saying it's for their own protection, so they won't enter the wizarding world when it's particularly dangerous..."
"Oh, they wouldn't do that--"
"Yes they would. And people who mean well would push hardest for it, not understanding what a mistake it would be! And that's not all. What about Ron?"
"He's a werewolf," he said quietly, glancing around furtively, to make sure his aunt and uncle weren't nearby.
"What's your point, Harry?"
"Once they've convinced people it's better to keep Muggle-borns out of Hogwarts, how long do you think it would take for the Ministry to decide to lock up all of the werewolves in prison camps?"
"You're mad, Harry. They wouldn't do that."
"Wouldn't they? Just because they've finally accepted that Sirius is innocent--which was only possible because Wormtail confessed--don't give them too much credit, Hermione. I need you to be with me on this. We're Head Boy and Head Girl. We need to be very vocal about anything the Ministry or Board does which would take the wizarding world in this direction."
"Yes, well, don't you think we're just a bit lacking in credibility, thanks to Daisy Furuncle?"
"I think that was the purpose of those articles. Attacking credibility. We can't let that stop us. We have to ignore the press. If the Board of Governors or the Ministry show any signs of doing any of these things, we have to be leaders. If we need to we--we can call a general strike at Hogwarts--"
She started laughing uproariously. "Harry! It's finally happened!"
"I've completely radicalized you."
"Well, maybe I can pull you back from the establishment now..."
She sighed noisily. "All right, Harry, all right. I'll trust you on this. I don't want to lose my magic and I don't want Ron to go to a prison camp. Oh--Ron says hello, by the way. I just used Dad's fireplace to talk to him last night."
"How is he?"
"A little nervous about going down to London."
"When is he going?"
"The full moon is Wednesday to Friday. We've actually been talking almost every day since Draco's party. When we're not in the same room, it seems like we're fine, we can talk normally..."
"Give him time, Hermione."
Another sigh. "I know, I know. And yet, there are still some things he won't tell me. He said he can't talk to me on Tuesday, for instance, because he's going to be locked in his room all day. Then he looked like he wished he hadn't said anything and he wouldn't tell me why he's going to be locked up. I mean, the full moon starts on Wednesday. I don't understand..."
Harry swallowed, glad that they were talking using the telephone, instead of her being able to see his face. Ron hadn't told her about a werewolf's uncontrollable urges right before the full moon. Harry both wasn't surprised and wished that Ron had told her.
"Do you know anything about it Harry?" she pressed, correctly guessing from his silence that he knew. Harry, however, didn't think it was his place to tell her about this.
"How's your training?" he said croakily, changing the subject.
She paused. "Real smooth, Harry. Okay, don't tell me. The training is fine. In fact, I've taken up another kind of training, too. It's really helping me with my physical control. I think Ron will be pleasantly surprised...."
Harry cleared his throat. "Er, I don't think--maybe we shouldn't be discussing this, Hermione..."
"Harry! Get your mind out of the gutter! It's nothing dirty!"
He smirked. "You never used to object when my mind was in the gutter..."
"Well, then there were--um--certain more tangible benefits--"
Harry laughed, then stopped when the doorbell rang. "Oh--I have to go. Um--Katie and I are going out." He saw his aunt walk to the door to answer it. "She's just been to Hogsmeade, and I'm worried about her...."
Hermione sighed again. "Katie's a lucky girl, Harry," she said softly. He heard a click as she hung up.
He looked up and saw Katie standing in the doorway, smiling sunnily at him. Actually, he thought, I think I'm the lucky one. He smiled back at her.
"We're just driving up to London for dinner, Mrs. Dursley," Katie told his aunt, who was examining her shrewdly.
"Is this where you keep your--" his aunt started to say, patting Katie's shoulder bag.
"We really should be going!" Harry said quickly, grabbing Katie's hand and dragging her to the car. "Good night, Aunt Petunia!" He did not want her getting into a conversation with Katie about wands. Katie didn't even know about the Rodney Jeffries thing yet. Then he thought of the Prophet article. Maybe she did know.
She stumbled down the path after him. "Harry!" she cried as he continued to pull her along. She was laughing. "What's going on?"
"I'll tell you in the car," he said, looking back at the house, where his aunt was standing in the doorway with her arms crossed. When they pulled onto the motorway to London, he checked first to make sure she was calm and in control of the car.
"Yes, Harry, I'm fine. Why are you being like this?"
"Because I have some things to tell you which might surprise you," he explained. As they continued toward London, he told her about Rodney Jeffries and his aunt, then their visit to Mrs. Figg's and the two conversations with Hermione--and the Prophet article. Which she'd read. She frowned as she drove.
"I hate to say it," she said, pulling up in front of the building where she and Sam lived. "But it sounds like Dad was right."
"Sam? Right about what?"
She grimaced as she closed and locked her car door. "About the Ministry." She looked back and forth. "Let's talk at the restaurant. I drove us here because there's a nice Indian place nearby. No wizarding press," she grinned. "Come on." They walked close to each other, and then their swinging hands collided, and Harry reached out to grasp her hand, remembering when he and Hermione had done this once. She smiled shyly up at him, but she didn't remove her hand, and he smiled back at her, enjoying the simple closeness.
When they were seated at the restaurant, she explained that her father had suspected for years that the Ministry of Magic was just a heartbeat away from deciding they needed to work out a quick way to take away people's magical abilities. "He reckons it would be a far more effective punishment for magical criminals than putting them in Azkaban. Permanent exile from the magical world, you know."
Harry nodded. "I hadn't thought of that. They could use the argument that they're developing it to make Azkaban obsolete." He thought of Sirius. And what if you're unjustly accused? What if you're an innocent man who's been sent to prison?
She drank a sip of her water. "Which could make it even harder for me to tell him I'm going into Auror training in September...."
He grinned at her. "You did it! You signed up!"
She shook her head. "You don't just 'sign up,' Harry. I had to take a whole battery of tests. But I passed every one of them." She smiled, looking very pleased with herself, and Harry was surprised to find that he felt quite proud of her.
"We did it Saturday morning, then Apparated back to Hogsmeade. That's why I picked this weekend to visit, so my dad wouldn't ask where I was going early on a Saturday morning..."
She stopped. "Oh, er, I mean--well, there was someone else I ran into at the tests who lives in Hogsmeade. I didn't know he wanted to be an Auror. He did rather well, too. Don't look like that--it's not Lee, although I probably shouldn't tell you who it is. And I'm going to kill Angelina. She lied to me again. Lee does not have a new girlfriend. She was just trying to get me all wound up. I actually had quite a nice time this weekend. I spent most of it with--with the other Auror applicant. So I haven't returned to you a broken woman, pining after my former love--" she said melodramatically, her hand on her brow. Harry laughed.
"No, but you're being very secretive about this other Auror applicant."
She shrugged. "Hazard of the Auror's life. Keeping identities a secret. He's going to start his training in September, too. We probably won't be working together, though, since I didn't put myself down for undercover work and he did. On the other hand, I do think we'll be in the same training class."
He leaned closer to her, smiling slyly. "Should I be jealous?"
She looked startled, as though this hadn't occurred to her. "Do you want to be?" she asked softly; their faces were very close together.
Suddenly, the waiter came with their food, and they backed up, both coloring, starting to eat. Harry watched her as she ate, trying to figure out how he felt about her.
When they had paid for their meal, they walked back to Sam and Katie's flat, which turned out to be empty. "Dad said he was going out with the lads. There's a darts tournament or something."
He nodded; his pulse felt quicker, somehow, being in the empty flat with her. They sat on the couch and she turned on the television. "We could just hang about here and watch the telly, if you like."
He nodded again, looking at her profile. They ended up watching a costume drama; he wasn't clear whether it was a film of a Jane Austen novel or just something very similar. At length, he put his arm across the back of the couch behind her head, and she leaned against his chest, still watching the flickering screen.
Somehow, he just didn't find the film compelling enough to watch, and found himself watching her instead. After a while, she seemed aware that he was watching her, but she continued to keep her eyes on the television. Suddenly, without warning, she turned and looked him in the eye, and Harry was never sure whether he moved toward her or she toward him, but once they were holding each other tightly and kissing deeply, it hardly mattered. He felt pulled down, and then they were lying next to each other on the couch, mouths connected still, hands drifting tentatively over arms and shoulders. She shivered when he stroked her neck, and then he brought his lips where his fingers had been, remembering her responses in the tent, when they'd been putting on a show for Rodney Jeffries' people. She laced her fingers through his hair, sighing, and he moved his mouth further down, caressing the soft skin on her upper arms as her sighs grew louder....
"Company is coming," Sandy said simply. Harry swore, then covered his mouth when he realized he'd spoken aloud.
She looked up at him from where she lay on the couch. "Harry Potter," she said in mock-horror, her eyes merry. "Do you eat with that mouth?"
He laughed. "Sorry. It's just that--we're not going to be alone much longer. I think your dad's coming back."
Katie sat up. "Oh, really?" she said skeptically. "And what makes you say that?"
"Well--er--do you remember when I was in second year? When Gilderoy Lockhart tried to start a Dueling Club?"
She actually blushed. "Why?" she asked, and Harry wondered whether she had been yet another girl who had been crushing on Lockhart. He could tease her about that later. He reminded her of when Snape had given Malfoy instructions for conjuring the serpent.
"Do you remember when I spoke to it?" She nodded; she had been there, along with most of the school. "Didn't you ever wonder how?"
She raised one eyebrow. "All right, then. How did you do it? And what does this have to do with--" He opened a few buttons on his shirt (trying not to notice where her eyes had gone) and carefully removed Sandy from inside his shirt; her eyes widened and he saw her swallow. She was no longer ogling his chest.
"Sandy," he hissed at her, "this is Katie Bell." He saw her eyes widen further as she listened to the hissing. "Katie," he said to her in English. "This is my snake, Cassandra. Sandy for short."
Katie nodded and gave a feeble smile, then tentatively put out her hand and stroked Sandy's vivid green skin. Her smile grew a little. "She feels nice," she said softly.
"An astute girl," Sandy hissed at Harry.
"Oh, and you're not the least bit biased," he hissed at her, laughing.
Katie looked at him quizzically. "So, you're a Parselmouth," she said slowly. "But that doesn't explain how--"
Suddenly they heard a key on the lock. Katie furrowed her brow, and Harry said quickly, "Snakes have the Sight. A few minutes ago Sandy said, 'Company is coming.' I assumed that meant your dad. I was right, wasn't I?"
Katie was staring at the small snake, flabbergasted, when the door to the flat opened and Sam Bell entered. He wasn't alone; Nigel and Trevor were with him. Harry groaned inwardly. Just what he needed, those two saying things like--
"Oi! Look 'oo's 'ere, Nige! Kate 'n' 'Arry. 'N' look! 'Arry's showin' 'er 'is snake!"
Sam whirled. "What?"
Harry's inward groaning was threatening to break out into the open. Nigel, Trevor and Sam had all seen him wearing Sandy on his arm soon after he'd found her two summers earlier, but he hadn't had her during the previous summer. Harry held up Sandy for Sam to see, his eyebrows raised, and Sam started laughing. Given his reaction, Harry wondered what he would have done if he'd walked in when they'd been engaged in other activities.
"An actual snake," said Sam, shaking his head and hitting Trevor with the back of his hand. Sam turned to Harry again, looking pointedly at his unbuttoned shirt. Harry hastily put Sandy back inside his shirt and buttoned up.
"What are you all doing here?" Katie asked, smoothing down her clothes; her voice seemed higher than usual.
"The darts tournament was brilliant," Trevor told them. "Your dad is a darts genius, little Kate," he said, pointing, as though she might have forgotten which one of them was her dad. It seemed to Harry that the three of them had had quite a lot to drink. It was probably a good thing they were done handling darts for the night.
"We thought we'd play some poker now," Sam told them, looking glad that Harry's shirt was buttoned again.
Katie made a face. "I think I'll just drive Harry home. It's getting rather late, and we all have to work tomorrow," she said pointedly, looking at Nigel and Trevor.
"Aw, c'mon, Kate," Nigel said thickly. "C'mon 'Arry. Play a round. I know!" he said, with a lopsided grin at Katie's nicely tanned legs protruding from her skirt. "We could play strip poker!"
Harry was glad to see that Sam's hostility toward him was now directed toward Nigel. "Not with my daughter you don't!" he informed Nigel in a growl, putting his face very close to his co-worker's. Katie quickly pulled him away and kissed her father on the cheek.
"I'll be back in a little while, yeah? Try not to hurt each other while I'm gone?" She looked pointedly at her father, who was starting to calm down. As a former Azkaban prisoner, he certainly didn't want to risk running afoul of the law by performing even accidental magic in front of Muggles. He backed off and his breathing slowed. Harry nodded at him.
"Good night, Sam. See you in the morning. G'night Nigel, Trevor."
"You 'ave y'self a good night, 'Arry," Trevor said to him, winking broadly. Sam was starting to get angry again and Katie was rolling her eyes. No wonder she wants to leave, Harry thought.
They reached Little Whinging quickly and parked behind Vernon Dursley's company car. Inside the house, they discovered that his aunt and uncle had already retired, even though it was only ten-thirty. "Do you want to come in for a bit?" Harry asked her. "We could try watching some more television if you like." The moment he said it, he realized that she would probably take it to mean, We can do some more snogging, if you like, and as soon as he thought this, he was unsure whether that was actually what he'd meant.
She smiled, with a mischievous glint in her eye. "All right. Or we could just do without the television...." Once they were inside, she led him to the couch in the darkened living room. Harry let himself be led, and when he felt her hands around his neck pulling him down, he willingly went.
They soon found themselves in a similar position to the one they'd been in at the London flat, when Harry heard a step on the stairs and his uncle's voice saying, "Who's there?" with trepidation. His first instinct was to hiss at Sandy, "A warning this time would have been nice," but he knew that she couldn't control the things she Saw. Harry swallowed, scrambled to turn on a lamp and the television, which immediately started blaring very loudly, as it was showing an old James Bond film, and cars and helicopters and large parts of the Soviet Union were busily exploding.
"It's just me, Uncle Vernon," Harry explained, going to the living room door and opening it. His uncle looked suspiciously at him from half-way down the stairs.
"When did you get home?"
"Just a few minutes ago. I was, um, just going to finish watching this film and then go to bed."
"Yes, well, keep it down! Your aunt doesn't feel well..."
He watched his uncle pad back up the stairs in his pajamas and dressing gown before he returned to the living room. Katie was actually watching the film now, it seemed. "I've never seen all of this one!" she said. He was surprised; she hadn't liked the everything-exploding-all-the-time film they'd gone to see on their first date. Of course, this was more of a spy film, and she was going to start training to be an Auror soon, so maybe she regarded James Bond differently.
Soon she was leaning against him again with his arm on the back of the couch behind her, and soon after that they turned to each other and began kissing again (in spite of her supposed desire to see the film). Then she was once more reclining on the couch and he had moved his mouth down to her neck. After kissing her neck for a little while, he suddenly realized that something was wrong. Her hands were no longer moving over his back. He sat up and looked carefully at her. Her mouth was open slightly and her eyes were closed; her breathing was deep and regular. He fought the urge to laugh at himself. She'd fallen asleep.
He sat up and looked at her again. I'm so stimulating I've put her to sleep. Brilliant. He turned off the television and looked at her fondly for a few minutes, then he carried her up the stairs to his bedroom. He put her gently on the bed and carefully removed her blouse and skirt, telling himself to regard her underwear as something like a bikini and nothing more (if her underwear had been a bikini it would have been far more modest than Hermione's, he thought). He pulled the sheet up over her and folded her clothes neatly, putting them on the desk chair. Then he looked around the room; the window was open, as Hedwig was out hunting, and he picked up some dirty clothes and organized some papers and books on the desk into slightly neater piles. Finally, he retrieved some running clothes from his dresser for the morning and started to leave, but then he returned to the bed and kissed her lightly on the forehead. She rolled over on her side and put her cheek on her hand, making him smile as he quietly closed the door.
Harry's eyes snapped open and he checked his watch; it was exactly six o'clock, when he usually rose to go running. His inner clock had brought him out of sleep at exactly the right time. He sat up on the living room couch, yawning and stretching. It only took him a minute to put on the running clothes he'd retrieved from his room before he left to meet Draco Malfoy.
When he and Malfoy were warming down after their run, Harry said casually, "Well, I'd better be getting back so I can wake up Katie--"
"What?" the blond boy squeaked. "You--you and Katie--"
Harry scowled at him. "No, don't be stupid. We were watching a film on television at my house and she fell asleep. I put her in my bed and slept on the couch."
Malfoy shook his head. "The couch? And you're calling me stupid?"
"Grow up, Malfoy."
Draco Malfoy shook his head. "I can't believe you're getting so self-righteous about me and Felice when you and--"
"Oh, no you don't. First of all, I'm actually dating Katie. I'm not seeing someone else and cheating on her with Katie. Second of all, we're not sleeping together. So don't think for a second that there's any similarity between what you did and what we're doing."
Harry stalked off toward Privet Drive, having finished warming down. Soon he was under the spray of the upstairs shower, feeling like he had to wash off the stench of conversing with Draco Malfoy. He wrapped a towel around his waist and wrapped Sandy around his arm again and left the bathroom, going to his bedroom to retrieve some clean drawers from his dresser. He dropped the towel and started to step into his underwear when suddenly he heard a long, low whistle behind him. Harry turned and looked behind him, where Katie was sitting up in his bed, the sheet around her waist, and he hastily turned his back to her again and pulled up his drawers before facing her once more.
"Katie! I--I forgot--"
"Oh, nice. You've got a girl in your bed wearing nothing but her underwear and you forgot?"
He felt defensive. "I've a lot on my mind. And you're the one who fell asleep while we were snogging. And--and I just wanted you to be comfortable while you were sleeping."
She yawned and stretched. Harry swallowed, trying not to look at her bra. "I was knackered," she said, still in the middle of a yawn." I'd stayed up late the night before, talking into the wee hours. You know, at Hog's End. I didn't mean to be rude."
He smiled at her. "That's all right. You should probably call your dad, though, and get him to bring some work clothes for you to use today--" Just then, Sandy hissed at him.
"Pigs will fly."
"What?" he hissed back at her. Katie didn't notice this exchange. Her eyes were wild.
"Dad! Oh, no. He'll--"
"--kill me? Or you? Or both? None of those are options I particularly like." Harry forced his attention back to Katie. Pigs will fly?
She grimaced. "Just be glad he doesn't Apparate any more. He'd be here right now."
"On the other hand--he does remember you're eighteen, right? And you're not--I mean--I'm assuming that you and Lee--um--"
"Yes, Lee and I 'ummed.' Which he does not know, or Lee would be eating all of his food through a straw. And he'd have to put the straw in his ear. And don't ask me where his ear would actually be located. As far as Dad's concerned, my age is beside the point. If I'm still not married when I'm forty, he'll be the same way, I expect."
"But--but we haven't done anything! I carried you upstairs and I went down and slept on the couch. You couldn't very well drive back home last night; you'd have been killed! You--"
"Harry! Who are you talking to--?" his aunt started to say, opening the bedroom door with a bang. It was unclear to Harry whether she'd had to touch it. Her eyes opened very wide when she saw Katie sitting up in Harry's bed looking like she was only wearing her bra, and then she noticed Harry standing across the room in just his boxers and a snake--but the snake was the least of her concerns. "What is going on here?" she demanded. Harry felt a static electricity making his hair stand on end. Damn! he thought. Don't do spontaneous magic, he thought desperately. Don't do spontaneous magic...
"It's my fault, Mrs. Dursley," Katie said quickly, pulling up the sheet and hugging it to her. "I fell asleep while we were watching television, so Harry let me use his room. He slept on the couch."
She looked suspiciously at both of them, back and forth. "And I'm just supposed to believe that? Then why are you both in the same room in--in just--just--" she sputtered, staring around the room, as if looking for something that would calm her. She fixated suddenly on a broken bank that had been Dudley's, which Harry had never bothered throwing away. The pieces had sat for years on the top shelf of the bookcase, acting as an ad hoc bookend. Harry and Katie ducked the flying ceramic pig parts; it wasn't as bad as a Bludger, he thought, but it would hurt a bit.
Harry tried to reply to his aunt while keeping an eye on the flying bank bits, but the phone rang and his aunt grumped off to answer it. The pieces of pink ceramic pig fell to the floor. When she was gone, Katie scrambled out of Harry's bed and hastily put on her blouse and skirt. Harry suddenly became very aware that he was still wearing only one garment, plus a snake wrapped around his left upper arm. (He would talk to Sandy later about her "prediction.") He quickly pulled on a T-shirt and shorts and found some socks and his work boots.
"Harry!" his aunt bellowed. "It's that girl's father calling! Get down here!"
Harry and Katie looked at each other with trepidation and went down the stairs. Everything in the front hall--including the telephone--was floating in the air, and his aunt had a look of power in her eye that Harry did not like.
Harry handed the spanner to Sam, who was repairing the tiller. Pieces of it were scattered about the drive behind Aberforth's van, and Sam's hands were covered in dirt and grease. It had been a week since The Sleeping Incident, as Harry had taken to calling it in his mind. Sam didn't let Harry out of his sight all day every day at work. Harry was dimly aware of Katie trimming a hedge about thirty feet away. She'd been giving her father the silent treatment; she was very angry with him for treating her like a child, so instead of hovering over her, he'd taken to hovering over Harry.
Sam looked at the tool Harry had handed him and frowned. "Other spanner," he said with an edge to his voice. Harry handed him the other spanner and took back the first one he'd offered, trying not to sigh. He watched Aberforth, Nigel, Trevor and Draco Malfoy far away, past the hedge maze, building a Greek-temple-like folly in a small stand of trees at the edge of the broad green lawn. He would have liked to be helping them, even if it meant withstanding ribbing from Nigel and Trevor (when "Dick" wasn't around, as he didn't stand for it) but Sam had insisted he needed Harry's help repairing the tiller and he hadn't been able to get out of it. I'm not mechanical Harry thought grumpily. He looked at Katie again. How was she going to tell her father about the Auror training now that they were barely speaking?
When he returned home, however, he had a different problem to worry about. A middle-aged bottle-blonde woman was standing at his kitchen window looking in, her jaw dropped as she gazed into number 4 Privet Drive. Harry recognized her as his aunt's comrade in gossip, Yvonne Martin. His heart beating quickly, he strode up to her, saying loudly, "Mrs. Martin! How are you?" He didn't look in the window, fearing what he might see. Unfortunately, Yvonne Martin did not tear her eyes away from the window when she responded to him.
"L-look at what Petunia is doing!" she gasped.
Bracing himself, Harry looked in the kitchen window. His aunt was standing in the middle of the room, smiling and waving her arms while plates and glasses washed themselves and then flew into cabinets whose doors opened themselves. The mop was mopping the floor, hopping into a bucket of soapy water and then out again, dancing across the linoleum, the breakfast table and chairs moving smoothly out of its way and then back into position again. A rag was busily cleaning the work surfaces. Harry swallowed. His aunt was completely out of control. He was reminded strongly of trying to keep the house-elves from cleaning, on that first Boxing Day....
Trying to keep his voice even and calm, he stood next to the older woman, looking into his kitchen, and said, "What do you mean, Mrs. Martin?" He hoped he could continue to keep his voice from shaking.
"What do I mean?" her voice rose on a shriek. "She's--the mop--the dishes--just look!" she spat, her eyes big as saucers. Harry continued to look at the same sight, but very, very calmly.
"Yes. Aunt Petunia likes a clean kitchen. She's mopping the floor. I should make sure I don't track dirt in, or she'll be very cross with me."
"But--but--" she faltered, now starting to doubt herself. "Flying dishes! The table and chairs--moving by themselves--"
Harry looked at her with one eyebrow raised, and now she turned to look back at him. Good, he thought. Take her attention away from it. He put his arm around her shoulders solicitously.
"Perhaps you had better go home and have a lie-down, Mrs. Martin. Have you been under a great deal of stress lately?"
He steered her away from the window and began walking her to the front garden. "I--I--" she stammered feebly.
"A nice hot towel on your brow and a cup of tea would probably make you right as rain again. You've got your niece's wedding coming up, haven't you? Aunt Petunia was saying. You don't want to be under the weather for that, now do you?"
"I suppose not..." Harry took his arm from around her. She looked back uncertainly. "I could have sworn--"
"You just need some rest," Harry said firmly, but still keeping his voice smooth and calming. "I'll tell Aunt Petunia you dropped by. She'll be sorry she missed you."
Yvonne Martin wandered off down Privet Lane, shaking her head with bewilderment. Counting to ten in his head before he moved, Harry bolted for the kitchen door and threw it open. He held out his hand and bellowed, "Finite Incantatem!"
Plates and glasses on their way to a cupboard fell to the floor and shattered. The mop fell over and spattered soapy water on the fridge door. The scrubbing rag flopped limply onto the counter. And his aunt glared at him angrily, making him wonder whether he was up for a wandless duel with a completely inexperienced witch operating on pure rage.
"You can't do that!" he yelled at her. "Yvonne Martin was standing right there, looking in the window at everything you were doing. What were you thinking?"
She lifted her chin defiantly and crossed her arms. "I am over the age of seventeen, unlike you..."
"But you're letting Muggles see you do magic! It doesn't matter what your age is--you're not supposed to do that! Plus, you don't know what you're doing. You haven't studied any of the theory...you don't even have a wand. Please, please stop doing magic until Mrs. Figg looks into your situation a little further...."
"Oh, pooh to that. I'm having more fun than I ever thought possible, and you want me to exercise restraint?"
"Yes!" he screamed back at her. "Or at least--do some reading first. I--I can give you some of my old spell books. You should sit down and try to understand that magic is about balance, and when you throw the balance off--"
"Read? I can do this and you want me to sit around reading?"
"Yes," he said firmly. "Look--I may not be seventeen yet, but I am Head Boy of Hogwarts. I've had six years of magical education, I won the Triwizard Tournament, I dueled with Lord Voldemort, survived the Killing Curse and learned to overcome the other two Unforgivable Curses. I killed a basilisk when I was twelve and I've flown on a Hippogriff, besides a slew of other things I can't tell you. So for once can you bloody well admit that I know more about something than you do?" His voice had become very loud.
She was suddenly silent and looked a bit sulky. "All right," she finally said, as petulant as a small child. "Get me these books." She moved toward the broken plates and glasses. "But can I just--"
"No," he said quickly. "I'll clean them up. I'll buy you new ones. Just--just stop doing magic!"
He brought his first- and second-year spellbooks to her in the living room, where she was sitting watching the television with her arms crossed. Sighing, he cleaned up the mess in the kitchen and then returned to his room. He wanted nothing more than to collapse on the bed in exhaustion, but he noticed a letter on his desk from Hermione. All other thoughts left his head.
I've found her! Margaret Dougherty lives in the village of Appleby Magna, in Leicestershire. I've spoken on the telephone with her. She goes by Maggie, by the way, not Peggy. I pretended to be a reporter writing about her village, and why people came to live there and what life is like for the villagers. I don't think she suspected a thing. She teaches at St. John Moore School, in Appleby Magna. Both of her parents were also teachers. They're retired. They moved to Leicestershire in 1973, after their daughter Valerie died from leukemia. Evidently, when they were in London at St. Michael's hospital, they met a family from Appleby Magna--the mother also had cancer, so they were in the same unit rather a lot--and they wanted to move to London so she'd be closer to St. Michael's. The Doughertys wanted to move away from London, to try to put the loss of their daughter behind them, so they moved into the Leicestershire house and paid the other family rent. They also taught at St. John's.
The Doughertys tried to adopt for a number of years, but most agencies thought they were too old. They adopted Maggie in 1979, through an agency that specialized in placing older children for adoption, instead of babies, which is what most people want. Maybe you can find out more about that when you go see her. (We might be able to find Annie if we can learn more about the agency). Her parents are out of the country on holiday for the rest of the month, so it would be best to do it before they get back.
Call me when you've received this. I'm so excited!
Love from Hermione
He went back downstairs to ring Hermione, checking on his aunt first, who was starting to read The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1. He was glad his uncle wasn't home yet. When Hermione answered, Harry tried not to laugh at the way she was talking a mile a minute. He was feeling a little more cheerful. She said all of the same things she'd said in the letter, but delivered breathlessly, and Harry waited patiently while she ran out of things to say. After a moment's pause, she asked, "Don't you have anything to say, Harry?"
"Well, you seemed to be saying enough for both of us," he answered, still trying not to laugh. "One thing I don't understand--why am I going to see her instead of you?"
"You're Ron's best friend, too, so why not you?" She sighed. "Unfortunately, since Minerva and my parents don't know about this, I can't go. What would I tell them? What excuse would I give? I don't even know for certain whether Minerva would think telling Maggie Dougherty she's a witch would be a good idea."
"Well, I'm sure she has an inkling that she has some unusual abilities."
"Yes, but--with everything that's happened--"
"Right," he said quietly. Jeffries had evidently disappeared without a trace after he'd recognized Harry, and after his aunt had thrown him backwards with a gesture. The Muggle press had been full of speculation that he'd really been a fake (many of the same reporters had been gushing about "the miracle worker") who'd evidently taken the money and scrambled off to the Caymans or some other place with numbered bank accounts. The Ministry had also been looking for him, and Dumbledore's operatives as well. Suddenly, the biggest news story was that there appeared to be no Rodney Jeffries.
Harry wondered whether the Ministry had 'taken care of' Jeffries and were just pretending to look for him. He also wondered whether Voldemort and the Death Eaters had done something to him.
"At any rate, I can't very well say, 'Oh, I'm going off to Leicestershire to find Ron's long-lost sister who thinks she's a Muggle,' so I've got to stay here." She sounded very grumpy about this; Harry could tell she was thinking that there was a definite downside to having Professor McGonagall stay with her.
"Well how do you expect me to be able to go see her?"
"I've got it all worked out," she said quickly, and Harry realized he should have known. Evidently, he was to tell Ron and Ginny about it and get Draco Malfoy to drive them all up to Leicestershire on the pretext that they were on their way to Scotland, to celebrate Harry's birthday at the end of the month. "Does that mean you're not going to be coming to Ascog for my birthday?" he asked, unable to keep the hurt out of his voice.
"No, but Minerva already arranged ages ago for me to have a Portkey to take me. That's why I can't give the excuse that I need to go on this trip to get to Bute also. I already have a way. If I change her plans, I'll have to give her a reason. Oh, I am so jealous that the four of you will be meeting her and I won't!"
"I'm sure you will eventually. I can't believe you did all this! The whole Weasley family will be in your debt forever...."
"What about you? I wouldn't have been able to find her if you hadn't given me a name."
He wished he could hug her suddenly. It was so amazing! Ron and Ginny would be meeting their older sister!
After he rang off, he dialed Mrs. Figg's number and when she answered he asked for Draco. The other boy answered the phone with an irritated edge to his voice.
"What do you want?"
Harry hesitated. "I need your help. Actually, Ginny needs your help."
"Ginny?" He sounded a little less hostile.
"Yes. Has she ever--has she ever mentioned to you something that happened in 1979? During the Easter hols?"
"Um, Harry, Ginny wasn't even born in 1979. And neither was I. Why would she mention anything of the sort?"
Harry hesitated, then plunged in and told Draco Malfoy about the Weasley sisters and their abduction, and that he and Hermione had found the younger sister.
"You're not serious!" he said, unable to keep the awe out of his voice. "Ginny will be--" He stopped. "She'll be very grateful to you," he said flatly. Harry could tell he was itching to accuse Harry of doing it just to get on Ginny's good side.
"Yeah, well she'll be grateful to you too, if you drive us up to Leicestershire next week to see her. After driving to Devon to get Ginny and Ron first, of course. We have to go up to Scotland anyway later in the week; we can just leave a few days early. Monday suit you?"
"Hold on, hold on--you want me to be the driver? You're just telling me this because I can drive you?"
"Erm--it was Hermione's idea--" he floundered.
"And did it occur to her that I don't actually own a car? That Figg isn't bloody likely to let me just make off with her car and go to Devon or Leicestershire, let alone Scotland?"
Harry drew his mouth into a line. "Oh. Well--could you ask her?"
"I don't know how much good that will do. What about Katie?"
"What about her?"
"Find out if she can borrow her dad's car. Then you can have your new girlfriend with you for your birthday. And I can help with the driving still, so it's not one person all the time. It'll be a bleeding all-day trip, going to Devon and then Leicestershire from Surrey."
Harry swallowed. Was Draco Malfoy perhaps a little too eager to have Katie come? Did he want Ginny to see Harry and Katie together?
"I can try. The worst thing that can happen is Sam says no. Or Katie does."
"Well, even though you're obviously not Sam's favorite person right now, it still seems more likely than my chances of getting Figg's car for more than a week." He didn't tell Draco Malfoy, but when he'd hung up he had to admit to himself that Draco was probably right about Mrs. Figg and her car. At lunch the next day, he told Katie everything that was going on and proposed Draco's idea.
"That'd be nice--a week off and a trip to Scotland, stopping in the country in Leicestershire first. And I'd like to be on hand to help you celebrate your birthday," she added, looking a little shy for a moment. They hadn't gone out that weekend, but had talked on the phone a little when she was confident that her father wasn't around eavesdropping.
"Well, it would be Ron, Ginny and Draco Malfoy besides you and me, and Draco could split the driving with you, as he has a license. You're sure you'd like to do this?"
"Yes. I had no idea about the Weasleys...."
Harry had a sudden thought. "I'll bet your dad knew, though. When did he finish Hogwarts?"
"Two years before my mum and dad, then. And he became an Auror right away?" She nodded. "Right. Then he was probably one of the many people searching all over for the Weasley girls. He might be very interested in letting you go along to find out if Maggie Dougherty is really Peggy Weasley."
"He might, he might...." she mused, looking in her father's direction. Sam was lying back in the sun with his shirt off, his many tattoos showing through the reddish hair on his chest.
"So you'll ask him? While we have the car, I'm sure Aber--I mean--Dick won't mind picking him up in the mornings. Or Nigel could."
"All right. I'll ask over tea tonight. I'll let you know tomorrow; if I call you right after, he'll think it's a very big deal."
"I know. I just don't want him to balk, so I'm going to be careful. We've almost started behaving normally around each other again."
Harry agreed, then turned to look at Sam himself.
Everything hinged on him.
To Harry's and Katie's amazement, Sam agreed to let them borrow the car. Katie drove down to Surrey Monday morning to pick up Harry and Draco. Since Harry was actually moving out of the Dursley's house now, he had to pack all of his belongings in his trunk, plus he had cartons with the books he'd used in his first six years at Hogwarts (minus what he'd loaned his aunt), loads of rolls of parchment, and Hedwig (he still needed to buy a new broomstick). Katie discreetly put an enlargement charm on the interior of the car's boot, so everything (but Hedwig) would fit. His uncle had already left for work, but his aunt came to the door to see him off.
"Er--goodbye, Aunt Petunia. Read those books I gave you, all right? And talk to Mrs. Figg if you have questions. I'll--I'll send you an owl when I've reached Scotland."
She nodded tersely, then unexpectedly gave him a quick hug and a peck on the cheek, her eyes glittering, before disappearing into the house. Harry looked at the closed door for a moment before turning to walk to the car.
When they reached Mrs. Figg's, Draco was standing out in front with his hands deep in his pockets, looking impatient. "About time you got here," he grumbled as he let himself into the back seat. Then he groaned. "Oh, bloody hell--I've got to ride with your owl? I want to sit up front."
"Sorry--I'm already sitting here. You'll sit up front when you're driving. I wanted to keep Hedwig with us so we could contact the Weasleys if there are any delays. We can't just call them on the telephone. Once we actually reach the Burrow, Mrs. Weasley is going to be taking care of Hedwig for me for a few days. Then she'll be sending her on to Ascog."
Draco made some more indistinct grumbling noises as Katie started the car again. "Where's your bag?" Harry asked him.
Now Draco Malfoy looked very smug. He pulled what appeared to be a small snuff box out of his jacket pocket. "Shrinking charm. How to travel light. Oh, the joys of being of age," he emphasized, for Harry's benefit. "Being able to do magic whenever and wherever...."
"...as long as Muggles don't see it," Katie reminded him with a slight growl in her voice as she turned onto the High Street. "Listen--there's a lot of driving to be done today. You haven't had your license for very long. Are you sure you're up to it?"
Draco shrugged. "How hard can it be? And anyway, when we came back from Swansea, I drove the entire time. That's farther than Devon."
"If you're sure....Why don't you give him the details, Harry?" Harry pulled out the notebook where he and Katie had worked out the route.
"Right. So, now we're on the High Street. In a minute we'll be on the Guildford Road, and then we'll take the Givens Grove Roundabout to the Leatherhead Bypass Road. Then we take the Knoll Roundabout, get back on the Leatherhead Bypass Road--"
"Why in the hell do we get off the Leatherpants Bypass--"
"--just to get on it again?"
"Obviously in order to induce you to ask stupid questions. We worked out that it's the best way. Now pay attention--"
Draco groaned. Harry continued to explain their route to Devon, finishing with, "You'll be driving for about an hour and a half, I reckon."
"An hour and a half!"
"I thought you drove all the way to Little Whinging from Swansea?"
"Well--with plenty of stops..."
"Katie will be driving for almost that long before you switch. She'd switch a little later, but we can't very well pull over on a busy motorway. After the two of you switch back, Katie will complete the drive to Exeter, about another half hour. We should arrive there by twelve-thirty. We can find a nice pub for lunch, and then Katie will drive on to Ottery St. Catchpole and the Burrow, which is roughly another hour. We'll leave the Burrow after collecting Ginny and Ron--hopefully no later than three-thirty--and then it'll be your turn to drive again, so you can take us back to Exeter--"
"Where we'll arrive just in time for tea. Good."
"--and then you'll keep driving for another half-hour after we have tea," Harry went on. "Katie will drive for about an hour-and-a-half, and then you can do the last hour, getting us to the Four Friars pub on Stoney Lane in Appleby Magna at around eight-thirty. We've already called ahead for rooms."
Draco slapped his hands together. "Which is about the right time for another little something before turning in for the night...."
"Time for 'a little something,' eh?" Harry teased with a grin. "Who are you, really? Winnie-the-Pooh?"
"You expect me to drive all day--"
"Less than half the time," Katie reminded him, with gritted teeth, as she gripped the steering wheel.
"--without proper sustenance?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "No one is trying to starve you. I'd like to see us try to get away from the Burrow without a huge picnic basket of food from Mrs. Weasley. You know she won't let us go without enough provisions to take us all the way up to the Orkneys."
Katie spoke while looking ahead at the road. "Does she know where Ginny and Ron are going, and why?"
"No. She just thinks we're all driving up to Ascog. She knows we're stopping in Leicestershire, but she thinks it's just because we need to turn in for the night."
Katie nodded. "I just hope you don't get your hopes up, Harry. This could go badly wrong...."
He sighed and leaned back. "I know. But Ron--Ron's so excited! He didn't even know he had older sisters until I told him. And Ginny--"
"Yes?" Draco said, leaning forward suspiciously. Katie made a sudden turn and he fell into Hedwig's cage, swearing colorfully. The snowy owl made some very indignant noises and flapped her wings.
"Oh. Sorry, Draco," Katie said with an air of mock innocence. "Aren't you wearing your seat belt?" She looked sideways at Harry, a mischievous smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. He grinned, looking straight ahead.
"What does Ginny know about this?"
"I told her the truth," Harry said. "That if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have been able to get into Dudley's room to use his computer and look for her sister." He heard a stunned silence behind him.
"You told her that? So--so she thinks I have something to do with finding her sister?"
"Well, I wasn't lying about that, was I? And you are helping with the driving. We'd have to do the trip in two days if Katie were going to drive the whole time. She'd be completely done in."
Katie sighed. "I still might be."
Harry tried to give her a reassuring smile as they zoomed off toward Exeter.
They managed to leave the Burrow with only two picnic hampers, which they placed in the magically enlarged boot. Molly Weasley hugged and kissed Ron and Harry and Ginny repeatedly. She hugged and kissed Draco once only, still looking a little unsure about whether he would accept this, and she nodded somewhat coolly at Katie.
"So--what are the sleeping arrangements to be?" she asked in crisp tones.
"Girls in one room, boys in the other," Katie answered promptly; she'd had this from her dad already. Molly sniffed.
"You're the eldest, but I can't say I know you very well, except that you're friends with the twins. How do I know I can trust my children with you? After all, your father--"
"--was my mother's friend and by all accounts a good Auror, up to and including the day he stopped his wife from putting Cruciatus on Katie." Harry had never spoken to Ron's and Ginny's mother this way, but he couldn't stay silent. He stepped between the two of them. "Sam Bell had the chance to be the same sort of traitor to my parents that Peter Pettigrew was, but he wouldn't do it. And because he had that kind of integrity, he accidentally killed the woman he loved and had to be apart from his daughter for ten years. He had dementors absorbing every happy thought and memory he'd ever had for an entire decade." He shook, remembering his time in Azkaban in his other life. "And he's my friend now, too. I won't hear anyone saying anything against Sam Bell."
Molly Weasley's mouth was open in shock. When he was done, she closed her mouth, and surprisingly, smiled at him. "Harry. Every day you're more like your parents. I know Ron couldn't have a more loyal friend, and it's clear that Sam Bell has a good friend in you, also. I was simply going to say that your father," and she nodded at Katie, "was an Auror, but you're not. And neither are Draco and Ron. Granted, the three of you are of age and that might make up for the fact that Harry and Ginny are not, but still--a mother can't help but worry. If--if you all were attacked--" She stopped, reluctant to go further in describing what could happen to them on the road.
Katie put her hand on Mrs. Weasley's arm. "No, I'm not an Auror, Mrs. Weasley. But," she lowered her voice, "I'll tell you a secret. I've passed the entrance exams, and I'm going to start training as an Auror in September. Following in my dad's footsteps." She was smiling shyly, and yet also with pride. Harry couldn't help smiling at her also. Mrs. Weasley looked very relieved.
"Oh! I had no idea, dear! Well, well--aren't you just the dark horse and all..."
Katie shook her hair into her face shyly. "I've wanted this all my life. I still haven't told my dad, though, so if you could--"
Molly put her finger to her lips. "I'm the very soul of discretion. Don't you worry. Well! If you passed those tests I daresay you're at least on your way to being an Auror." She sighed. "I'll try to stop worrying. You say you're stopping in Leicestershire tonight?"
"We're having tea in Exeter first. Then we'll be at the Four Friars in Appleby Magna for the night."
"Send Hedwig if there's an emergency," Harry told her. "She's rather large for us to have her in the car with us right now, with three people in the back seat. Ron's bringing Pigwidgeon so we can owl you when we get to the Four Friars, but he has a much smaller cage than Hedwig, so that's not so bad."
With some more hugging and kissing--for which even Katie qualified this time--they were off to Exeter. Ron had insisted upon sitting up front alongside Draco Malfoy while he was driving, because there was more leg room in front, and because he was holding Pigwidgeon's cage on his lap and the very small owl became very agitated when Ron tried getting into the back seat. So Harry ended up sitting in the middle with Katie to his left and Ginny to his right. He did his best to just look straight ahead, but once he happened to notice Ginny looking daggers at Katie, who was trying to ignore this, although Harry could tell she'd seen Ginny's glare. Harry felt somewhat irritated with Ginny; she'd chosen Malfoy, why'd she have to go and be shirty with Katie?
After they had tea in a small pub in Exeter, Katie took over the driving again, and now Ginny was sitting in the back with Draco to her left and Harry to her right. Harry wasn't any more comfortable about this. It seemed a very long drive to the village where Maggie Dougherty lived.
"What do you mean, it's flooded?"
"I mean it's flooded. That rain we had two nights ago overflowed the gutters and the water found a space between the shingles and seeped down into the ceiling. The room next to it's all right, and we're trying to keep the smell of mildew from spreading, but--"
"But you only have two rooms to let and only one of them isn't under water," Harry finished tiredly. He turned to Katie and Ron, standing on either side of him at the pub's bar while he talked to the publican. He turned around, peering cautiously at the man, then whispered to the two of them, "What do you reckon? Could one of you cast a drying charm on it to clean it up?"
Katie shook her head. "Not a good idea, Harry. He knows the room is ruined."
"How about a memory charm, too?"
She sighed. "I can't justify it. I did that one on Adam Justice because he might have remembered the magical signatures otherwise. But we can't just go ahead and do magic and then memory charm someone to cover it up. Besides, if I make him forget that the roof needs to be repaired, the next time it rains, he'll have flooding again. It's not fair to him."
She turned to the publican. "Can we see the room that is available?" He nodded and led them up the stairs at the end of the bar, then down a short corridor. Harry wrinkled his nose; he could smell the damp already.
"Here we are," he said grandly, as though showing them a suite at the Ritz. There were two beds, each large enough for two (thin) people. A narrow couch stood against the wall between a white wall-mounted sink with separate hot and cold taps and rust stains in the basin, and a door which led to a cramped room with a shower and nothing else, including towel bars and towels.
"The W.C. is the door to your left when you come upstairs. The hot water tap on the sink doesn't work. Trust me; if you turn it on, you won't like what comes out."
"Erm--what about the shower? Both hot and cold working there?"
"Yeah, that's all right. So. What's the plan?" He clapped his hands together while the three of them looked around uncertainly at the room. One of the beds had a blood-colored coverlet while the other had a dun-colored one with a black footprint stain right in the middle. The lighting was too dim to see very clearly (Harry had a feeling that was deliberate) and the clock on the table between the beds was flashing "12.00" over and over; no one had ever bothered to set it.
Ron frowned, looking around. "What, no television? I thought I'd at least finally get to see television, staying in a Muggl--"
Harry trod on his foot suddenly, making him yell in pain. Katie hastily said, "We'll take it. It's fine, really. I'm sorry you've had trouble with your roof." She smiled charmingly at him (at least, Harry hoped the publican would think it was charming, and that he'd forgotten what Ron had said) and took the key from him. When he'd gone, she turned to glare at Ron.
"You know, I might expect something like that from Fred and George. But I thought you had a little more sense, Ron Weasley." She sounded very grown-up. Ron set his jaw stubbornly.
"I was only saying--"
"--the word Muggle. What were you thinking? Now," she said purposefully, and she opened her shoulderbag and withdrew her wand. "I'll set about making this place a little more comfortable--and vermin-free--while you two and Draco and Ginny get all of the luggage from the car. And you," she said, nodding at Ron. "Make yourself useful. Put a good locking charm on the car, including the boot. We can't have someone breaking into it and discovering Harry's trunk and boxes of magic books. Understand?"
Ron grumbled an assent and left with Harry. "Who put her in charge?" he muttered as they returned to the bar.
"Your mum, actually, if you want to know. If you want to take it up with her--"
"No, thanks," he said quickly. "I'm tired and I'm still not going to get to see television, but I'm not stupid. I need to send her Pigwidgeon, so she knows we're here. Thank goodness we don't have a telephone, or she'd do something like call and find out we're all staying in one room."
They explained their predicament to Draco and Ginny, who had been sitting at a corner table in the bar, drinking Cokes and eating crisps. They all went to the car and retrieved their belongings, and Katie's as well. Once they were in the room again, Harry's jaw dropped. Katie had been very careful about not letting them in until she was certain the publican wasn't with them. When they entered, all the four of them could do was stare around at the transformation Katie had wrought.
"This is our bed, Ginny," Katie told her, indicating a far more generously-proportioned bed than Harry remembered from his first viewing of the room. The other bed had been similarly enlarged, and the couch was as well. Everything also looked much cleaner, and there was much more illumination. Harry checked his watch; the clock was even set correctly.
"The three of you will have to figure out who's on the bed and who gets the couch," she said to Harry, Ron and Draco. "I'm knackered. I'm going to change for bed in the shower room. You three can figure out what you want to do."
As soon as she was gone, Ron said, "I'll kip on the couch. It's a hardship, but--"
"A hardship! I'm taking the couch," Draco Malfoy declared.
Ron protested, even more loudly, Draco Malfoy fired another volley, and finally, Ginny yelled, "Quiet! The pair of you! You two--" she pointed at Ron and Harry, "take the bed tonight. Draco did a lot of driving. And if either of you has to share with him, I know the rest of us will never get to sleep for your bickering, so since the two of you are best friends, why don't you share with each other instead of forcing one of you to be with someone we all know you hate!"
Ron and Harry looked a bit awkward. "I wouldn't say hate," Ron countered feebly. "I mean, yeah, I don't want to sleep in the same bed with him--"
"What, afraid you won't be able to resist the urge to rip my clothes off?" Malfoy smirked, his arms crossed. Ron's ears turned very red.
"I don't--" Ron started to say.
"Oh, sod off, the pair of you," Harry said suddenly, to cover up Ron's awkwardness. "I wasn't even claiming the couch for myself. We don't have any problem with you getting it, Malfoy. Thanks for driving," he added wryly.
Now the blond boy was smirking at Harry. "Oh, I see. You've been wanting to get into bed with Weasley--"
"Ron to you. I'm so sorry to deprive you of his company, Malfoy. Jealous are we?"
"Hey!" Ron exclaimed. "Cut that out!"
Harry and Ginny erupted into laughter while Ron and Draco, in disgust, went to unpack their bags (after Draco enlarged his again). He looked her in the eye while they both laughed. It felt so good to laugh with her. She looked at him as well, and his heart turned over.
"Hullo, you," he said suddenly.
"Hullo yourself," she said quietly.
"So--tomorrow we're going to go get you a sister."
She gave him a small smile. "Looks that way."
Katie emerged from the shower room and Ginny quickly gathered up her things and took a turn changing her clothes. Harry's throat went dry when he saw Katie, even though he'd undressed her down to her underwear. She was wearing a red chemise with very thin straps which came to mid-thigh, and no dressing gown. He noticed that Ron and Draco had also come to a screeching halt in their bedtime preparations when she appeared. As she climbed into bed she looked at the three of them, still in their traveling clothes.
"Don't let me stop you. You can't faze me. At Hog's End your brothers," she nodded at Ron, "are always walking about in their underwear, and I've already seen Harry's bare bum. Quite a nice one it is, too. Well, good night." She punched her pillow a few times and curled up under the coverlet, closing her eyes.
Ron's and Draco's jaws had dropped as they swiveled their heads to look at Harry, who was finding it hard not to smirk. "You know," he said, nodding at Draco. "The Sleeping Incident."
"Yeah, but you said--"
"Sssh! She's trying to sleep!"
"Just finish getting changed and climb into your couch before Ginny gets back out here," Harry ordered him.
Soon the five of them were breathing peacefully in the dark. Harry stared up at the moonlight on the ceiling, thinking about laughing with Ginny and seeing Katie in her chemise.
"What am I going to do, Sandy?" he groaned to her.
"Go to sleep, Harry Potter."
"Oh, that's helpful," he started to say, when four other voices, echoing the small green snake, but in English, said:
"Go to sleep, Harry!"
He laughed in the darkness before rolling over and closing his eyes.
They pulled up in front of No. 10 Highgrove Street at ten o'clock. Ron and Ginny stared nervously at the front door of the stately Georgian home, set back from the road in a formal garden. The banks of windows stared back at them blankly. They all emerged from the car and started to walk toward the door, but then Harry had a thought.
"Wait--we can't all just go barging into her life like this. The moment she sees Ginny, she'll wonder what the hell is going on, for one thing."
"Why?" Ginny asked, her brow furrowed.
"Don't you remember how much your sisters looked like you in those old pictures, before they disappeared? You think she won't notice? You should wait in the car. And Ron--" He bit his lip. "You should wait, too."
"Why? She's not likely to connect me with--"
"Not because of that. Because--well--she's a Seeress. Hermione found her web site. That's how we figured out she was the right Margaret Dougherty. Your sister seems to be the real thing. She'd leave Trelawney in the dust. But the thing is--on the web site she talks about seeing people's auras. She'll definitely be able to tell that you're different."
Ron turned with bewilderment to Ginny. "What's a web site? Because if it has something to do with spiders, I want no part of it."
Harry rolled his eyes and ignored this. "Now, here's what we should do--Draco and Katie should go to the door first and try to convince her to let them in..."
"So you're waiting, too? Why?"
"Well--you're likely to have a slightly scary aura because of the werewolf thing, but with Voldemort after me, mine's not likely to be much better. We don't want to frighten her." He couldn't tell him that his sister would immediately be able to see two auras around him. That would require far too much explanation.
"So. The three of us will wait in the car, while you--"
"But--but what do we tell her?" Katie said, clearly uncomfortable at being given this responsibility.
"Just tell her--well, okay, she knows she's adopted. So tell her that you're friends with some people from her birth family who've been looking for her, and would she be interested in meeting them. Just be honest about it. We can get to the whole oh-by-the-way-you're-a-magical-person-just-like-us thing later."
Now Draco Malfoy was the one who appeared nervous. "Who do we say we are again?"
Harry shrugged. "Tell her. Say you're her little sister's boyfriend. You helped drive her here from Devon. How hard is that?"
The two of them still looked uncertain as Harry, Ron and Ginny returned to the car and they walked toward the door. Harry saw Katie use the large brass knocker, and after a minute, the door opened.
"Is that her?" Ginny whispered hoarsely, gripping Harry's arm as she peered around him toward the house. He nodded.
They waited while an exchange occurred that they couldn't hear, and then they saw her disappear into the house, Draco Malfoy following. Katie turned around and gave a signal for them to come.
"Windows will be opened."
Harry stopped short, letting Ginny and Ron walk ahead of him into the large front hall of the house, with a grand staircase sweeping up to a landing with a large arched window. He didn't have time to ask Sandy what she meant. (Not that that ever did much good.) He followed the others through an open archway to a large sunny room furnished with oversized, comfortable white-slipcovered couches and chairs and lots of green plants and Persian rugs.
The moment Maggie Dougherty saw Ginny she swallowed and said, "Is that her? That's my little sister?"
Katie nodded, looking like she was trying not to cry, as Maggie stepped forward and enveloped Ginny in a sisterly hug. Ginny hugged her back, crying freely.
"Oh--I can't believe we've found you!" she exclaimed. They held each other tightly, rocking back and forth, both crying now, and Harry was amazed how similar they looked, except for the eye color. The older sister had also cut her hair quite short. It roved over her head in orange curls, even shorter than Hermione's hair. Harry thought Ginny would look quite nice with her hair that way.
Finally, they all sat down. She was shaking her head, looking at her five visitors. "I can't believe this. It's all just out of the blue...."
"Mum will be so excited!" Ginny exclaimed, before seeing Harry's scowling face.
"Mum?" Maggie Dougherty frowned. "What--?"
"The thing is," Harry said quickly. "There's something we have to tell you, or the rest, about how you came to be adopted, won't make any sense..."
She looked at him with her eyes narrowed. "You have two--"
"Right. I know." He stopped her before she could finish. "But we're not talking about me right now. There's no way to build up to this, so I'm just going to say it. Margaret Dougherty, you're a witch."
She looked at him blankly. "I know. And call me Maggie."
Ron's jaw dropped. "You know?"
She frowned. "Of course I know. You don't just make things happen with your mind and See the future without figuring out something like this. The question, is--how do you lot know?" She squinted at Ron. "And what's wrong with your aura--?"
"Well," Ginny said quickly, "I'm a witch too. And Ron--our brother--" she gestured, "he's a wizard. Katie's also a witch, and Harry and Draco are also wizards. Our whole family are magical, as a matter of fact."
She sat back, her arms crossed. "Indeed? The whole family?" She looked somewhat skeptical.
"Yes," Harry said, ignoring her unbelief. "You may be aware that you have abilities that other humans around you don't--as least, as far as you know, as we tend to be somewhat secretive--but what I don't think you realize is that there's an entire British wizarding society that lives side-by-side with British Muggles--"
"Non-magic people. I didn't find out about it myself until I was eleven and received my letter of acceptance to Hogwarts. That's a school of witchcraft and wizardry. I'm going to be starting my seventh and final year in September. I'm Head Boy. Draco here is a prefect, and so's Ginny. Katie just finished school there; she was a prefect too. Ron is captain of our house Quidditch team, and Draco is captain of his house team--"
"Captain of what? I'm afraid you've lost me. And none of this explains--"
She sighed. "None of this explains why I can't remember anything from before the age of seven, and why I didn't grow up with my true family." She looked disgruntled.
Harry drew his lips into a line. "That's actually something of a mystery for us still, as well, although I have a theory about what probably happened."
He explained to her what Molly Weasley had told him and Hermione about Bill and Charlie taking their sisters off to play in the park in Ottery St. Catchpole, and the two girls disappearing. "I think whoever took the pair of you was a wizard--or maybe more than one--using a spell called Tempus fugit."
"Time flies?" she said, mystified.
"So you know Latin?"
She sniffed. "I should think so. Greek as well. I'm the Classics Mistress at the school."
Ginny smiled. "Our mum used to be a teacher, too."
"But--but what is this spell? And I didn't know there were really such things as spells. I just know that sometimes I want something to happen and if I think very, very hard about it, I can sometimes make it happen. It doesn't always work. I didn't manage to send my last boyfriend to a South Sea Island surrounded by sharks, for instance. He's still a solicitor in the village." She smirked and so did Ginny, and Harry could tell that she liked her sister.
"You'd need a wand and knowledge of a pretty powerful traveling charm to pull that one off," Katie told her, also smiling.
"Wand? As in--magic wand?" She sat back, looking skeptical again. "You're not serious."
"Completely," Katie informed her. She pulled her wand from her shoulder bag, Ron pulled his out of a long pocket on the side of his jeans, just above his knee, and Draco Malfoy pulled his from a holster under his shirt, strapped to his left arm. Maggie still shook her head.
"What about you?" she said to Harry and Ginny.
"We're not of-age yet. You have to be seventeen to legally do magic outside of school--"
"Yeah," he told her. "We have laws, and law enforcement, and then there's the Minister--"
"--and a prison, and wizarding money--"
She stood and paced. "I don't know how gullible you all think I am, but--"
Ginny followed her. "It's true. All of it. There's an entire magical world out there, and you should have been part of it. You should have gone to Hogwarts, like the rest of us. You--"
Harry suddenly grabbed Ron's wand from his grasp and strode over to Maggie, putting his hand on her shoulder and, touching each of them with the wand in turn and thinking the fastest thoughts he could, he said, "Tempus fugit!"
Everything stopped but them. Maggie and Harry looked at Ginny, whose mouth was open, in mid-sentence. Ron was looking startled at no longer having his wand in his hand, his eyes wide and unblinking, and Draco Malfoy had evidently found a spot on his jaw to worry with his fingers, which did not move. Katie was caught in mid-blink, her eyes closed. Maggie looked at the four of them, who did not even appear to be drawing breath, and then she looked at Harry, swallowing.
"I thought you said you weren't allowed to do that!" she said, her voice shaking.
"I know, but I had to get you to see, to understand. This is what I was trying to tell you. I think whoever abducted you and your sister put both of you under the Tempus fugit spell and had you far, far away before anyone even knew you were gone...."
But she again didn't seem to be listening to Harry. "I've never done anything like this," she breathed, waving her hand before Ginny's face, getting no response.
"You've never had a magic wand. Wands help focus our magic. It's best to have your own wand, though. Since this is Ron's, I wasn't sure it was going to work."
She walked around Ron and then Draco, then back to Ginny, before moving on to Katie. "I--I think--I think I remember now. There was a man in a long cloak....taking me and another girl--she was older than me, and she also had red hair--through a dream world where everyone was frozen like this--"
Suddenly she collapsed on the floor, shuddering, and Harry went to her. She seemed almost to be having a seizure, and Harry realized that if she was remembering her abduction, her mind was breaking through some very powerful memory charms. Could that cause her brain-damage? he wondered. He decided not to compound the problem and took the spell off the two of them, and everyone else started moving again. Unfortunately, that seemed to throw her even more, and she clutched at Harry desperately, the most frightened look on her face that he had ever seen on anyone.
"Oh God!" she cried, gripping his shirt in her hands. "I--I remember now!"
Harry was dragged down onto his knees, beside her. He looked at the others, at a loss, as Maggie Dougherty huddled on the floor, sobbing and shaking. She had gone very white and sweat had broken out on her brow.
Ron's and Ginny's long-lost sister held onto him fiercely, quivering madly, her eyes black with pain as she choked out the words, "I remember everything...."
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