Harry Potter and the Witching Hour

Katling

Story Summary:
Continues on from Guild of the Night and Crystalline Darkness. Voldemort is dead, along with Draco and Harry has his future more or less sorted out. His NEWTs, a Tyro and Ginny seem to be more than enough to handle. But Bellatrix and Pansy are still out there, looking for revenge.

Chapter 01

Posted:
07/30/2006
Hits:
8,602


Chapter 1

Bellatrix Lestrange paced back and forth in the shabby room, her face fixed in a livid scowl. She spared the occasional glance for the young witch curled up on the dusty, broken couch, tears making tracks in the grime on her face. The scowl never changed when Bellatrix looked at the younger witch but there was an odd softening in her posture that seemed to indicate that the scowl wasn't wholly directed at her companion. Finally though, her patience seemed to end.

"He's dead, girl," Bella snapped. "Stop your snivelling. It won't bring him back."

Pansy gave a start and raised her head. Her eyes were red-rimmed and filled with tears.

"What do you care?" she said with a sniff.

Bella almost leapt over and leaned over the young witch, her scowl becoming almost feral.

"I care," she snarled. "I cared for him long before he took the body of your lover. He was mine long before he was yours."

"You don't look like you care," Pansy sneered.

Bella's eyes darkened and Pansy flinched slightly.

"Oh, I care," Bella said in a soft, dangerous voice. "But I'm not foolish enough to spend my time whimpering and snivelling. I know what my Master wanted and not even his death will stop me from fulfilling those plans."

"What plans?" Pansy said with a pout.

"Killing Harry Potter," Bella hissed with a malicious smile. "For a start."

Something flared in Pansy's eyes and her tears stopped. "He deserves that. He deserves to die. He killed Draco as well."

A muscle twitched in Bella's cheek. "He killed both our Lord and Draco. Now tell me, girl, do you want to kill him or are you more interested in whining?"

"You have a plan," Pansy said flatly as she pushed Bella far enough back to stand.

"Not yet but I will," Bella replied stepping back, her smile a mix of feral and insane. "I do know our first step though."

"What?" Pansy asked, her arms crossed over her chest.

"We need to get out of here," Bella replied, indicating the ramshackle room around them. "The old fool knows of this place and it's too close to the Manor. There are still Aurors and Unspeakables crawling all over that place."

Pansy looked around with a hint of distaste. "What is this place?"

"It belonged to the Gaunts," Bella replied, looking around almost fondly and Pansy suspected she wasn't truly seeing the filth but whatever her insane mind was conjuring. "They were the last descendents of Salazar Slytherin. Merope Gaunt was our Lord's mother. The Manor lies on the opposite hill."

A wealth of question rose in Pansy's mind but she left them alone. "Where should we go?"

"Would your father take us in?" Bella asked.

Pansy paused then nodded. "He'll protect us as well."

"Then that is our first stop," she spun around on one heel and headed for the door, pausing with one hand on the door handle. "He'll protect us," she said over her should. "But will he follow us?"

Pansy gave a winsome, somewhat childlike smile. "He'll follow me anywhere," she said sweetly.

Bella eyed her for a long moment then she chuckled darkly. "Catch more flies with honey," she said with approval.

"You should try it," Pansy said tartly, the sweet little girl morphing into something much harder and flinty.

Bella laughed. "Don't have the personality or the patience for it, girl. Just as well you do." She paused and turned to fully face the younger witch, a speculative look on her face. "He was mine before he was yours but now he belongs to no one. We could spend all our time bitching at each other or we can join forces and rule everything. It's your choice."

Pansy blinked and looked a touch suspicious. "What guarantee do I have that you won't knife me in the back as soon as we succeed?"

"I won't swear an Unbreakable Vow if that's what you're asking," Bella said sardonically. "What choice do we have? Neither of us could succeed on our own. Together we can. You'll just have to trust me as much as I'm going to have to trust you. After all, what guarantee do I have that you won't knife me in the back?"

Pansy stared at the older woman for a long moment. It occurred to her that Bella's insanity seemed to fluctuate and she suspected it had a lot to do with focus. If Bella could focus on something or someone then she could keep her mind under a certain amount of control. If she lacked that focus, she went decidedly off the rails.

Finally she nodded. "Very well. We do it together. But stop calling me girl. I have a name."

Bella smiled wildly then yanked the door open and gestured floridly to the younger woman.

"After you then, Pansy," she said expansively.

Pansy eyed the older woman slightly suspiciously but walked out of the house. Once outside the two women eyed each other then apparated away.

*******************************************************************************

Harry fidgeted as Ginny adjusted the collar of his dress robes.

"You know, I think I'm beginning to regret agreeing to this," he muttered sourly.

Ginny laughed as she finished what she was doing and stepped back.

"Harry, they wouldn't have let you avoid it," she said with a sympathetic smile. "Mum and Dad have told us stories of all the parties that went on last time. You only avoided it then because you were still a baby."

"Couldn't we have had something a little less formal though?" Harry asked plaintively.

"And deny every female in the wizarding world a chance to dress up and show off?" Ginny said with a grin. "Forget it."

"It's a bit wasted on me," Harry grumbled.

Ginny sobered. "I know," she said sadly. "I wish you could see what I look like. Fleur helped me buy this dress."

Harry blinked. "Fleur Delacoeur? Why was she helping you?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "As it turns out, she and Bill have been seeing a bit of each other. She's really annoying but she does know how to buy nice clothes."

"Bill and Fleur, huh?" Harry said, thinking back to the Triwizard Tournament. "She did notice him when we had that little get together before the Third Task. She seemed rather impressed with him."

"Great," Ginny said sourly then she brightened. "I don't suppose Professor Snape might let you...borrow his eyes for a bit?"

Harry snorted and tapped his cane on the ground a couple of times. "That might be pushing my luck a bit too far."

Ginny grimaced and walked over, taking Harry's hand in her own and twining their fingers together.

"That a point," she said with regret. "He's been a lot...nicer lately but he's..."

"Still not a big fan of the frivolous," Harry finished for her.

Just then the door opened and Sirius bounded in, a big grin on his face.

"Hey, Harry! Ready to go?" He came to a stop and stared appreciatively at Ginny, giving a low whistle. "Very nice, Ginny. You look pretty damn spectacular."

Ginny blushed and smiled shyly. "Thanks, Sirius."

Sirius gave a cheeky grin then turned to his godson. "You're going to be the envy of the entire party, Pronglet. You've got the prettiest girl on your arm."

"Sirius!" Harry protested with a blush that matched Ginny's.

Sirius chuckled. "Alright, alright. Are you two ready to go?"

Harry sighed and nodded. "Yeah, I think so. Do I really have to do this?"

Sirius walked over and patted him on the shoulder. "It's just the one big party," he said soothingly. "At least it's here at Hogwarts. Once this one's over you can say yes or no as you like."

"I guess you're right," Harry said with a grimace.

"Come on, it'll be fun," Sirius said, flinging an arm around Harry's shoulders and leading him and Ginny towards the door.

They walked out into the living room of the rooms shared by Remus and Sirius to find a small group of people waiting for them. Remus chuckled at the look on Harry's face and walked over.

"You didn't think we were going to make you walk into there with just Ginny by your side, did you?" he teased.

"Well...yes, actually," Harry admitted sheepishly.

"Oh, ye of little faith," Tonks said cheerfully as she walked over, only tripping once and managing to stay on her feet when she did.

"We'll fend off the masses for you," Tien said cheekily from where he was leaning against the wall next to Jun'ko.

"Yeah, we even have swords," Jun'ko added with a grin. "That'll get 'em to back off."

"Hey, does that mean we can go and get our swords?" Ron asked brightly.

"No," Hermione said firmly. "Now come on. We're going to be late."

There were several laughs from amongst the group as they headed out of the door and down the stairs. When they got to the Entrance Hall, they found Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall waiting for them, talking quietly.

"Ah, good. You're all here," Dumbledore said with a smile. "Shall we?"

Harry was given a gentle shove up to the front and he tightened his grip around Ginny's hand. In response, she leaned over and kissed his cheek. He turned and smiled at her then took a deep breath and nodded to the Headmaster.

"I'm as ready as I'll ever be," he said quietly.

Dumbledore chuckled and led them over to the doors to the Great Hall. He waved his hand and they opened slowly and slightly ponderously and a wave of noise flooded out from the room. The noise quietened rapidly when Dumbledore walked in with McGonagall at his side then the crowd went silent when Dumbledore held his hand up.

"Thank you," he said, his eyes twinkling. "And welcome to Hogwarts. I hardly need to announce the reason for this little party. We have had a great shadow lifted from us and tonight's guests of honour are those who were most directly involved in ridding us of that shadow. Needless to say, they were not the only ones involved but they were the most important. I will not attempt to call them in in any kind of hierarchy even if they would allow me to do something like that. So I will simply ask you to extend your heartfelt thanks to those who have done so much for us. Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Severus Snape, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Master Nhean, Nguyen Dinh Tien and Jun'ko Watanabe."

The Headmaster turned towards the open doors and extended his hand in a welcoming gesture. Harry took a deep breath and walked through with Ginny next to him and his friends and family following. The moment they walked in a huge cheer went up and the sound of applause was deafening. Harry blushed and swallowed hard as he and the others walked over to Dumbledore.

"Enjoy it, my dear boy," Dumbledore said with a smile. "You can't stop them so you might as well accept what they are offering you."

Harry smiled weakly and nodded before taking a deep breath and turning to face the crowd. He could immediately see that a large proportion of the people in the Hall were students since they were clearer than the others in his Oversight. Nearly all of them were sitting with adults and he assumed that their parents had been invited. The long House tables had been replaced with a large number of smaller circular tables, much like for the Yule Ball and the tables near where the Head Table usually stood were almost solely occupied by adults.

After several minutes, the cheering and clapping died down and Harry could feel the weight of expectant eyes upon him. He looked over at Dumbledore and McGonagall and received a couple of encouraging nods. He then looked down at Ginny and she grinned up at him.

"Go on," she whispered. "We'll never get to eat if you don't say something."

Harry smiled back at her and felt himself relax a little. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly then looked back at the crowd in the room.

"I'm not really very good at this sort of thing," he began, his voice shaking slightly, "as I'm sure many of those in my year level can tell you."

"Pretend it's a Quidditch match," came the loud, laughing voice of Seamus Finnegan and there was a susurration of laughter through the room.

"Well, I could do that," Harry said with a grin. "But then you'd just get a speech full of clich├ęs and encouragements. Look, I don't really have much to say except that Voldemort is dead. He's really dead and he won't be coming back again. I didn't do it alone and I would certainly have failed if not for the help and support of everyone standing here with me and quite a lot of people probably sitting out amongst all of you. So...I think we should just all have a really good time tonight."

A cheer went up and the applause started again as Dumbledore and McGonagall ushered the group up towards the front of the room and got them seated. They were spilt up amongst the tables there and Harry and Ginny found themselves sitting at a table with the Minister of Magic, Madam Bones, the Head of the Aurors, Rufus Scrimgeour, Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus and Tonks and two people Harry didn't know. Madam Bones introduced the two strangers as Dexter McNeill, the Head of the Department of Mysteries, and his wife, Robina. Once the introductions were finished, Harry quickly found himself under the scrutiny of Rufus Scrimgeour.

"Mr Potter, I understand from Minerva McGonagall that you once had some intentions of becoming an Auror," Scrimgeour said briskly after they had all placed their meal orders and the plates full of food had appeared in front of them. "May I ask why you gave that ambition up?"

Harry looked startled. "I, uh, thought that I wouldn't be able to...because I'm blind."

Scrimgeour snorted. "Hardly, Mr Potter."

"We have three Unspeakables who are blind," Dexter McNeill broke in with in a quiet voice. "There are ways to adjust for the disability."

"Oh," Harry said, thoroughly startled. "I didn't know."

"So does that mean you'll be putting the option back on the table?" Scrimgeour asked with a hint of eagerness in his voice. "After everything you've done over the last couple of years, I think you'd do very well."

Harry gaped for a moment then pulled himself together. "I...uh, I've already agreed to do a Tyro," he said weakly.

Scrimgeour looked both startled and impressed. "You're willing to put in that kind of effort? What fields would you be specialising in?"

Harry nodded. "It seemed like a good idea. I wanted to do Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Snape suggested Potions and he also said that doing further training with the Guild would be acceptable under the guidelines."

"And who would be your supervisor?"

"Professor Snape," Harry said firmly.

Scrimgeour looked surprised and more than a little suspicious. "Snape? The former Death Eater?"

"Well, at least you got that part right," Harry muttered.

"Harry," Remus said with a raised eyebrow and a hint of a smile.

Harry shot the werewolf an unreadable look then turned back to the Head of the Aurors.

"Yes, sir," he said blandly.

Scrimgeour stared at Harry for a long moment then smiled wryly. "Good to see that loyalty, Potter. It'll stand you in good stead throughout your life." He leaned back in his seat. "A Tyro would be...gleefully accepted by the Aurors. You'd have to do maybe half a year of extra training but that'd be about it. So are you interested?"

Harry hesitated for a moment then he laughed ruefully. "To be honest, sir, I really hadn't thought much beyond the end of this year. I knew I wanted to do the Tyro but I hadn't even really thought much about that because...well, I knew Voldemort was still out there."

Scrimgeour actually chuckled at that. "And I daresay you haven't had much time to think about it since."

"Not really," Harry said.

"Well, if you're set on the Tyro then there's no point pressing the issue right now. Just keep us in mind when you get close to finishing," Scrimgeour said, looking rather pleased with himself.

"Do keep my Department in mind as well, Mr Potter," McNeill said quietly. "You'd probably do rather well as an Unspeakable."

Harry nodded awkwardly. "Thank you."

"And what about you, Miss Weasley?" Scrimgeour said, turning his piercing gaze on Ginny. "I understand you're a member of Mr Potter's Battle Guard. I don't suppose I could tempt you into the Aurors when you finish next year?"

"I'll think about it, sir," Ginny replied. "But I had plans to go into mediwitch training. I've already done some basic training with Madam Pomfrey."

"We don't seem to be having much luck, Rufus," McNeill said with a merry smile.

"I think you're right, Dexter," Scrimgeour said ruefully. "Would I have more luck with the rest of your Battle Guard, Mr Potter?"

Harry laughed and nodded. "I know Ron wanted to be an Auror but I've got no idea what Hermione and Neville want to do."

"Ah, we might have some success there," Scrimgeour said with satisfaction. "And what about you, Black?"

Sirius choked slightly on the mouthful of wine he'd just taken. Remus thumped him on the back until Sirius waved his hand away.

"Uh, what?" he said warily.

"You were a very promising Auror before everything fell apart sixteen odd years ago. I've seen your file," Scrimgeour said bluntly. "Dumbledore told me you hadn't committed yourself to teaching past this school year. You'd be an asset to my Department, Black. I want you back."

Sirius looked stunned. "Really?" he said, sounding rather lost.

Scrimgeour's expression shifted into one of understanding and sympathy. "James Potter was a damn good Auror as well. The Department lost a great deal that day. We should have fought for you, should have demanded you get a trial. We didn't. We were wrong. You were a good Auror, Sirius. We need more people like you."

Sirius gaped for a moment as he tried to get the words out of his mouth and he shot a quick look at Harry.

"You should do it, Siri," Harry said with a grin. "I didn't know you were an Auror before...everything."

"Yeah, your Dad and I decided we'd do it after Sixth Year," Sirius said, sounding dazed. "Your Dad because of his grandparents and me...well, I knew my Mum would have hated me becoming an Auror." He grinned wryly. "I also kind of hoped to get enough information on her to arrest her. Never had a chance though."

"You should do it, Pads," Remus said encouragingly. "Harry's all grown up now. He's graduating in a few weeks, doing a Tyro. You should do what you want."

"You would certainly still be welcome to live here at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said benignly though his eyes were twinkling madly. "Remus has agreed to continue teaching and Harry will of course still be here."

Tonks grinned and leaned around Remus to poke Sirius in the ribs. "Does that mean I'd have seniority over you?"

That snapped Sirius out of his stunned daze and he poked back, a grin slowly growing. "Not a chance."

"Can I take that to mean you're saying yes?" Scrimgeour asked before Tonks could reply.

Sirius sat up in his seat proudly and nodded. "Yeah...yeah, I am."

"Excellent," Scrimgeour said with satisfaction.

Tonks gave a delighted crow and thumped Sirius on the shoulder. "That's great!"

Sirius beamed as Remus congratulated him.

"Well, now that you've managed to succeed in your recruitment attempts at this table, Rufus, do you think we could leave the business talk until later?" Madam Bones said dryly.

"You've got to get in quickly, Amelia," Scrimgeour said, looking completely unrepentant. "This lot are going to be on the top of the recruitment lists of any number of people. I wanted first dibs."

Madam Bones laughed at that. "Well, you've succeeded. Now, this is a party. Have fun, Rufus. That's an order."

"Yes, Ma'am," Rufus said with a grin.

There were smothered snickers from various directions and slowly several conversations started at the table that had very little to do with work of any description. By the time dessert arrived, Harry and Ginny were happily ensconced in a discussion about Quidditch with Madam Bones and Sirius. After dinner, the Minister excused herself and started doing the rounds of the tables, quickly followed by Scrimgeour and McNeill.

"You might want to something of the like yourself," Dumbledore suggested quietly when he saw Harry watching the Minister.

"Me? Why?" Harry asked, startled by the idea.

"You have many friends out there who have not seen much of you in a few days," Dumbledore replied with a chuckle.

"He's right," Ginny said, getting to her feet and grabbing his hand. "Besides even Dad's making the rounds. You have to talk with people some time."

"I suppose," Harry said reluctantly as he allowed Ginny to drag him to his feet.

He grabbed his cane from where it was leaning against the table and they headed off for the nearest table.