Practical Magic Works Too - faewm - Harry Potter (2024)

Chapter 1: Death Lends a Hand

Chapter Text

October 31, 1981, Godric’s Hollow

A tall skeletal figure, known as Death, or Jim, stood stoically by and watched as Lily Potter begged for her son's life. His long, flowing black robes cover most of his features, but you could see the bony hands creep from the sleeves.

"Stand aside, girl. Stand aside," the man known as Voldemort said, motioning his hand as if to push her aside by force of will.

"No. Not Harry, take me instead… have mercy." Lily once again begged the most feared Dark Lord of the century. She had heard him kill her husband, and she would do anything to prevent him taking Harry's life, hoping her sacrifice would aid in this endeavor.

"So be it. Avada Kedavra," Green light shot out of Voldemort's wand and connected to Lily, making her drop immediately. Voldemort laughed and turned his wand to the baby staring at him from the crib. Not bothering to say anything except, "Avada Kedavra." He cast the same curse that just killed the child's mother.

Death watched, with the two souls of the child's parents, as the curse struck the tiny crying child. To their great surprise, the spell they were sure was going to take Harry, rebounded off of the baby's head. It caused a lightning bolt wound to form just above his right eye. The curse struck Voldemort directly in the heart and for some unknown reason, caused his body to burn to ash, leaving behind a robe and wand. The soul of Voldemort did not join Jim and the Potters; instead, it screeched at Harry and flew out the window.

The spirit of Lily turned to Death and pleaded, "Please, sir, there's a prophecy about my child, can you help him? Take him somewhere where he can learn to protect himself and will be safe. Please, I beg you." Like any other mother fighting for the life of her child, it could hear the desperation in her voice and see the pleading in her eyes. Her whole soul was crying for this deity to hear her. James' soul was next to his wife's and nodding in agreement, eyes moving with the same frantic entreat.

Jim— which was not his real name, but given to him by a deceased redneck, Fate liked it and he was stuck with it— looked down at Harry and noticed the piece of Voldemort's soul imbedded in the slightly bleeding wound on the child's forehead.

So, this is why he didn't join us, Death mused to himself. He looked harder and saw the Hallows in this boy's future. Other flashes of the life the child would live past before his eyes. He must be kept safe, he thought and made up his mind to help. He bent down and kissed the injury on the crying dark-haired toddler's head, removing the soul piece.

He turned to the Potters and said, "Yes, I believe that I will help your little one. I cannot see the future very clearly, but I can see some. If Albus Dumbledore has his way, this child will live a horrible life. He will die young. I cannot let that happen," Jim said in a slightly amused tone. "Journey on to your resting place knowing I will do all I can to keep him safe." He waved his hand to lead them to where they needed to go.

"Thank you, I'll rest better knowing he is in your hands. Let him know that we, his parents, loved him and we'll always be watching," The red-haired, green-eyed soul of Lily said and with one more fond look at her beloved child she faded away.

"Tell him that he needs to choose his friends carefully so he doesn't make the same mistakes we did. Tell him his daddy doesn't want to see him anytime soon," The messy-haired James said and with a thoughtful look he too faded away.

Jim looked to the crib. "I cannot take you with me, little one, but I know of a place where you will be kept safe." He waved his hand and created something like a baby carrier and attached it to the inside of the front of his fluid robes. Once done, he picked up the exhausted Harry from his crib and placed him there. He cast a spell so no one would see the baby and ensured that he would be lightweight and fast asleep for most of the journey. The deity then left the house in Godric's Hollow via the shadows, leaving behind many confused people.

Jim faded back into reality in the British branch of Gringotts bank. Gringotts was always open, the greedy little buggers. There weren't many goblins this time of night. Not many people came during the night. It was far emptier than the bustling daytime. Usually only the shady characters of Knockturn Alley ventured here this late. A few vampires and Dark Wizards were about, but Death ignored them. Jim blended in perfectly with his dark robe, and the hood raised to cover his downright terrifying features.

The lobby was spacious and made in white marble. There were counters on either side of the room. Doors lined up behind those counters, leading deep into the bowels of the bank. Goblins were busy counting coins, weighing gems, and writing in ledgers.

"I require an account manager, someone to do a heritage test and someone to read the will of Lily and James Potter. If you must contact their solicitor, you'd better make it quick. I do not care if you need to wake them up. They must be sworn to secrecy. Only then may you tell them who is requesting their presence. Time is of the essence, and we must act quickly," Jim snapped out his impatient demands to the goblin at the nearest counter.

"Who are you, wizard, to tell me what to do in such an abrupt manner?" The goblin growled, not really happy to be on this shift. The last thing he needed was a rude wizard who thought himself to be better than goblins.

"I am Death, goblin," Jim parted the hood, showing his skeletal face. "Do you wish to defy me?" he asked in a menacing voice that carried around the lobby, making all of the goblins sit up and notice and the Dark creatures to flee. The clerks all stopped what they had been doing, some going so far as to fall off their perches and hide under the cubicles. They knew there was someone here they could not fight and were all hopeful he was not there for them.

The goblin teller turned very pale, making his face a shade of pea green. His black beady eyes widened as far as they were able. His claw like hands shook, dropping the gems he was counting.

"I am so sorry, sir," the frightened being began. "Please forgive my rudeness. I knew not who you were. I will see to your demands right away. Please, if you would follow me into one of our conference rooms. It will only be a few minutes. Please, sir," he begged disjointedly once again, as he fell off the stool in his haste to run and do what this entity wanted done. He moved quickly, fearing it would kill him and choose another if he didn't immediately do what was demanded.

Jim followed the scurrying goblin to a room that was furnished with little more than a long wooden table with some straight back chairs. The walls were plain white marble with no adornments. The floor was a nice and simple wooden floor that had a clean shine to it. He sat in one of the chairs on the far side of the wall. He was sure to check on the infant hidden in his robe, wanting to make sure he was comfortable while they waited. He impatiently tapped his fingers on the table. He had much to do, but this would take up most of his time tonight.

The poor baby had passed out from expending so much power to block the curse, plus the small sleeping charm Death had placed on him helped him keep his slumber. If his parents had not died for him, and he didn't have so much power — not to mention the prophecy— the poor child would have died. They say that three is a magical number. Death was a part of life, but the boy hadn't died. That fact alone caused him to take interest in him. However, he did enjoy seeing the living. Being able to remove a soul from Fate's hands truly made his night. He would have to be careful as Fate was a sneaky bitch.

Jim waited impatiently for about ten minutes before three goblins and a wizard entered the room.

"First," he cut through introductions and spoke ominously. "We need to read the Last Will and Testaments of Lily and James. We will then continue with the heritage test and end the night by securing their bank accounts." He turned to the people who entered. Death kept his head hidden beneath his hood, not wanting to scare any more people— it makes them harder to deal with— but he was willing to do so if necessary. Even with his hood closed the people who had entered the room were scared. His presence alone was enough to put fear in the bravest of men or goblin.

"I am Mr. Roberts, and as Head Accountant Spearhead is the executor of these wills, I will hand the proceedings over to him," the wizard, who introduced himself as Mr. Roberts said as he opened his portfolio and shakingly removed two wills. "The Potters wanted to make sure that their wills were in as many places as it could be so no one could say they didn't have one. I now turn this to you, Spearhead," the portly man said as he handed the wills to the goblin beside him. His hands were shaking so bad that it took a couple of seconds for the goblin to grasp the parchment.

"Just give us the highlights for now," Jim suggested as he raised his hand. "I only need to know who will have custodianship of young Harry, so I can get him there safely."

"According to James' and Lily's wills," Spearhead said after glancing through both wills, and then nervously back at the deity, "Mr. Potter is supposed to go to the Longbottoms first. If they are not available, then he will be sent to Sirius Black. If he is not available, he is to have a guardian picked out for him by, well, it says you, sir." The goblin made a quick glance at the robed figure, then showed him the part of the will with the name 'Death a.k.a. Jim'. This caused confused faces to bloom around the room.

If Death had an eyebrow, he would have rose one, but as it was, he just stared blankly at the goblin.

"I'm not sure how that happened," the bewildered goblin continued in a shaky voice, "as that was not the will that was signed. It looks like magic itself chose you to be the one to guide Mr. Potter. This is concurrent in the wills of both the parents, should they both fall. There is some monetary allowance for anyone who raises Mr. Potter. There are also some bequests that will be put in the appropriate accounts when the wills have a public reading. When Mr. Potter comes of age, everything that is left will go to him." He handed the documents back to Mr. Roberts, who made three copies and placed them in a stack on the table. Spearhead looked back at Jim to see if he needed anything else from him.

Jim nodded his still concealed head in thanks. "Those wills must be read as soon as possible. I thank you each for your time. You must keep this to yourselves," He demanded as he drummed his fingers on the table, his body stiffening. “No one may know, unless you are looking for an early visit from me, then go ahead and tell everyone,” was his casual threat, making the beings in the room quake with fear. “I will make sure young Harry is safely received by the Longbottoms once things conclude."

Mr. Roberts took up the original will, planning to keep it in his office. He nodded to the dark man seated across from him as formally as he could.

"It was my pleasure. I'm so sorry that it has to come to this. My law firm held the Potters in high regard, and they will be missed. I'd like to leave you my card in case Mr. Potter needs legal service when he is older," He anxiously handed a card to Death and put the original will into his case. He was going to keep that as safe as he could, not wanting to anger Death. Then both he and Spearhead, as sedately as their trembling legs would let them, left the room.

"Now," Jim said to the two remaining goblins, both of their eyes widened at being addressed, "Harry needs a heritage test performed to ensure he is receiving everything due to him." He removed the infant from his cloak and carefully cradled him in his long, bony arms. He held the baby close, preparing his hand so a finger could be accessed to perform the blood test.

"We, of course, will be more than happy to do such a test for you. We've been trying to get the Potters to do this test for decades," The goblin on the right, who introduced himself as Axegrind, stated in frustration. "They seemed to have forgotten their lineage and we wanted to remind them. We have reason to believe that a curse was placed on the family a few decades back, but until one of the heirs came in for the test, we could not prove it." Axegrind paused to take a breath.

“Who put this curse on the family?” Death asked, tapping his finger on the table. Perhaps it was something he should look into, if the child did not break the curse when he is older.

"We, in the heritage department here at Gringotts, believe that the curse is only on the young men who have come of age," the anxious creature continued. "It is something you might want to watch for as Mr. Potter ages. We are not sure who caused them to forget but they denied us at every turn,” he growled his frustration and then stilled, and peeked at the hooded deity to make sure he hadn’t offended it. “Now, since Mr. Potter is still a toddler, I will of course be as careful as I can. The test doesn't require much blood —just a few drops. I see that he has a wound upon his head, should I just take the blood from there, and would you like us to call a healer to fix that?" he asked, relieved that Death did not take offence to anything that had been said or happened so far.

"No," Jim said as he looked at the wound, "he will heal fine on his own. This injury has been contaminated with dark magic, best not use it." He knew that Harry needed to keep his scar, even if the reason for it being there had been removed.

"As you say," The goblin nodded. "If you would hold out his left hand, keeping his ring finger secure, I can get some blood to do the test," Axegrind requested, taking the ritual knife he needed into his hand so he could make the tiniest prick on the baby's finger. His hand quivered and he knew he would have to be extra careful, and even though the knife was spelled not to hurt, he didn't want to incur Death's wrath.

Jim held out Harry's hand and gently kept the finger in place so the cut could be made. The ritual knife put a small puncture on the finger and drew a slight amount of blood. Axegrind then placed the knife, sharp side down, on the parchment they had spelled for the test. The blood dripped onto the parchment. A few minutes passed before writing began to appear. As expected by everyone there, the test showed that the Potters were descended from Gryffindor and the youngest Peverell. It left Harry with two more vaults. It wasn’t known what was in them, but there were rumors that great treasure was hidden there.

Axegrind picked up the parchment, made two copies and put one in a sleeve to be filed with the Ministry, the other to be placed in the Potter main vault. He then handed another copy to the remaining goblin. He knew he was done here so he nodded his head to Death and quickly left without being told.

Jim turned to the remaining goblin who introduced himself as Bigprofit, which was fitting for an account goblin. He was named so because he was better at making money than he was at fighting. Most goblins admired the fact he brought the bank prestige. However, being as goblins are historically a warrior race, some of his peers tended to look down on the accountant for his name.

"I would like all of the accounts in young Harry's name to be frozen. That is, all of them with the exception of the account that provides allowance to his guardians," Jim commanded calmly, leveling his gaze to the remaining goblin who was sitting nervously at being alone with something that could take his life without a thought. "No one is allowed access to the accounts. I do not care if Minister Bagnold herself asks. Additionally, I request that they are given the highest protection and security the bank can provide." His hollow eyes pierced the goblin’s beady ones, making sure this creature understood that there would be great ramifications if his orders were not followed.

"It'll be done as you say," Bigprofit rapidly nodded his head; he did not want to know what those consequences would be. "We'll set that up free of charge. We want nothing to happen to this young heir's vaults. I'll set up an account for the main purpose of the allowance, and then, when Mr. Potter starts school, more will be added for his schooling and supplies."

"Thank you," Jim nodded. There was little meaning behind the two words, and they were only spoken for politeness’ sake, since Death was a neutral being, he was always polite. "Now I must be off. Harry needs to meet his new guardians. I request a copy of the wills to show the Longbottoms that the Potters believed they were the best choice in guardians," Jim said as he returned Harry to the carrier in his robes. Bigprofit grabbed one of the copies of the wills and handed it to Jim, who placed it in another pocket. The goblin then took up the remaining papers, to be held in the Potter vault until they were needed.

All told, Jim and Harry only spent about an hour in the bank, but it was time well spent. Sometimes it was good to be death.

November 1, 1981 just after midnight

Jim slipped from the shadows and appeared quietly outside the Longbottom house. He arrived there so that no one inside would be frightened. Even though Jim was one of the most feared of entities known to man, he truly didn't like scaring people. He knew the Longbottoms were supposed to be hidden —however, one can't hide from Death, well, except those that had the Cloak, but no others— and they would be easily alarmed.

The house was Victorian style, with high windows and a cheery atmosphere. You could tell that it was well cared for because of its simple well-trimmed lawn and the full herb garden, dew and frost glistening off the dying plants. You could see a peek of the greenhouses standing behind the house, the moon’s rays reflecting off them. The outside of the house was colored in a nice pale blue and the windows were framed with a soft violet. You would never know by the atmosphere that these people were in fear of their lives.

Jim walked up the gravel walkway leading to the front door. He adjusted Harry in the carrier and knocked on the wooden front door. It was late at night, or early morning, and Jim feared he may have to wake someone in the house to get an answer. He was just about to knock again when he heard footsteps.

“Who… who’s there?” he heard someone nervously demand from behind the door.

“I am sorry to disturb you this late at night. I have come bearing bad news,” Jim replied in a calming voice.

“What sort of bad news? You didn’t answer my question, who are you?” the voice inquired, a little stronger now.

“You may call me Jim. I bring you news of the Potters,” Jim answered, still conveying calm. “I would like to come in and discuss this with you. I mean you no harm.” He was trying to be as pleasant as possible, given the dire circ*mstances that brought him here. However, he was an impatient deity by nature, and he had much to do this night and had already shirked his duty too much. He really had little time for nervous people.

A snort of disbelief was heard. “You can say you mean no harm, but how do I know that’s the truth? I have no idea who you are, and you haven’t identified yourself. You’ve only told me you bring bad news. How the bloody hell is that supposed to make me trust you?” came the brave questions from behind the door as if that bit of wood would protect the person speaking.

Jim gave a heavy sigh of frustration and raised his voice slightly, “Frank Longbottom, know this, I can enter your house at any time. If I meant to kill you or yours, I would have done so already. I would however like it if our conversation was not held through the door.” He was no longer trying to calm the young man.

“That really doesn’t help your case, buddy. Tell me what news you have and then go away,” Frank stated firmly, you could tell he was getting just as frustrated. This war and the prophecy had made him as paranoid as Mad-Eye Moody. He didn’t trust anyone with the safety of his family. That and this house was supposed to be hidden, so how did this man find it? Did his secret keeper give up the secret? “How did you even know where we were?” he voiced his thoughts.

“I am a deity, I see everyone,” was Death’s ominous reply, not telling which divine being he was. “Furthermore, I cannot just impart my news and leave. I have with me a …” pausing to pick the correct word, “package, that needs your attention. Please, let me in or I will simply emerge into your house,” Jim stated firmly. “I have no wish to do that.” What little patience he had was about to snap.

Feeling he had no other choice; Frank slowly and cautiously opened the door. He was a young man, with tired brown eyes and messy blonde hair. You could see from the dark rings under his eyes that he had not slept this night. He was grasping a wand tightly in his right hand, though it shook a little. "Why’s your face covered if you mean me no harm? What sort of… deity are you? Have you come to harm my family? I will fight to my dying breath to protect them," he slurred slightly, raising his trembling wand to the dark robed figure standing on his doorstep.

"My hood is up so I do not frighten you. I will not answer your other questions as I have little time. May I come in now? I promise I will give my news, leave you with the bundle and depart,” Jim replied once again calm, now that he didn’t have to fight to get the door open.

Frank stood back still aiming the wand. “Come in, but no further than the hall here.” Even with that hood up, there was a magic about the man that made him very, very cautious.

Jim entered the hall in all his regal manner. He glanced around and sniffed, never understanding why humans were so in need of possessions. It was an elegant yet simple area. He noticed a side table, with an oval mirror above it. And a tall coat rack to the side, where a few robes were. After his quick perusal, Jim turned to the man and softly, yet bluntly stated, “The bad news I bring is that the Potters were killed tonight by Voldemort. They named your family guardian to young Harry. He needs a good and safe place to heal from his trauma. Voldemort has had his body destroyed; however, I fear he is not completely gone.” The news he brought would be bad enough without him snapping at a man who was only trying to protect his family.

"The Potters are dead?” The distraught, yet now wide awake, young man cried lowering his wand. “No, not James and Lily, what of little Harry?” he began firing questions. “How did you know they were dead? I haven't heard anything.” He had however seen the fireworks and thought it was a good sign, now this… man stated that his friends and comrades-in-arms were dead. He was confused, with the conflicting thoughts. Voldemort gone, but people died to make it so.

“Yes, they are both dead. I was there when it happened,” Jim stated simply. “They both died by the Killing Curse. As I am Death, I was there to witness the entire episode.” He gestured to his robe and stated, “I have brought young Harry with me. I’ve already been to Gringotts and spoke with his manager and lawyer. Everything is set up according to the Potters’ will.”

“Oh, poor Harry. Of course, we will take care of him," Frank said, moving to get the baby from Death’s robe, only to remember who the deity was at the last minute and stood back to wait. "We had a bad feeling something was going to happen tonight, so I stayed up. I wasn't going to answer the door, this house is supposed to be hidden. But I had a feeling that I needed to talk with you,” He gave a great sigh, “Now I'm glad I trusted my instinct, mostly. Sorry about earlier, my family is the most important thing in my life."

"You know of the prophecy?" Frank nodded his head in acknowledgement. "The events tonight point to this young man being the one spoken of. I have taken an interest in making sure he survives so he may fulfill the prophecy and live a long life,” Jim said, trying to impart how important the child was. He told the distraught young man of what he witnessed and what he had done after. Jim took Harry from the carrier and handed the sleeping boy to him. The deity informed Frank of the monthly allowance and handed him the copies of the wills. Death did warn him that he would be checking on Harry. Jim then placed a small alarm charm on Harry to let him know if the boy was in great distress.

“I will do my best to raise him well,” Frank said, after Jim finished.

Jim thought for a minute. "Unfortunately, I did not grab anything from the cottage for young Harry. Time was of the essence, and I needed to get to the bank before something… irreparable happened. I will see you soon, young Frank,” He did not foretell this man passing any time soon, but he would be returning whenever he could to check on the child. He then faded in his usual way.

Frank looked at where the dark cloaked man had been moments before and wondered how he had left. Shaking his head at the mystery, he looked down at the baby in his arms. "Well, little guy, looks like it's just you and me, right now. I'll introduce you to Neville in the morning. I'm sure Alice will be happy to see you, if upset for the reason."

He walked up the stairs with his new ward and placed him in the same crib as Neville. Kissing his son on the cheek goodnight, he went back downstairs to keep his vigil.

November 4, 1981 10:15 p.m.

Jim’s head jerked up when he heard the alarm he had placed on Harry. Unfortunately, he was in the middle of sending a large group of people to their final reward. A bus had overturned, and many died. He called a minion to take his place so he could go to Harry. He rushed off wondering what could have gone wrong so quickly. He stepped into the shadows of the room, so he could see what was happening unobserved. He came out directly behind Harry. He quickly looked at the scene before him.

From where he was behind the children, he could see a clear barrier in front of them, which seemed to be keeping the spells being fired from hitting them. The two young boys were screaming as they watched four dark robed, white masked people, laughing and torturing the couple on the floor. Seeing all this in just a blink of an eye, Jim cast a binding curse on the torturers causing the female, judging from the voice, to scream at him that they would get free and take him next. With a wave of his hand the people were silenced. He knew the Aurors would be there soon—he could hear the alarm. He observed the distressed boys and saw they were relatively unharmed.

With another wave of his hand, Jim froze time. He didn’t want to have to fight with anyone to do what he needed to get the boys away. He glanced at the couple on the floor and sighed. "I am going to do you a favor, young Neville. I am going to make it so your parents do not suffer years of pain and anguish," he told the crying blonde child.

He created carriers for the boys, casting a sleeping spell on them and placing them in his cloak. Walking over to the couple and leaning down he kissed both of them on the forehead, taking their souls and ending their life. He blew his breath in front of him so both souls were now present. "I am sending you to your final reward. I will take care of the children. It distresses me that I have to do this, for it was not your time. Nevertheless, I do not think that you want Neville to suffer years of anguish knowing he could see you, yet not reach you,” he said, he could see the parents look towards their baby hidden in Death’s robe with sadness and longing, “There is no cure for what you were suffering. You would have felt the pain the rest of your life and you would never know your child. This is for the best, for all of you.”

The dismayed souls nodded their understanding and faded from view, now content with the knowledge that their son would be cared for.

Jim unfroze time and stepped into the shadows once again. He reemerged into the lobby of Gringotts. It was evening, and there were more goblins this time, though not many customers. He stepped to the teller giving the same orders he had given four days prior. This time the goblins had been well warned that this deity might pay a visit. The teller immediately jumped from his stool and showed him to the same conference room. He stumbled as he left the room and went to gather the necessary people.

Jim settled in the same place and made sure the children were comfortable. After about ten minutes, two goblins and one witch entered the room.

"I need the Last Will and Testament of Frank and Alice read first," Jim said as everyone was seated. "If only to find out guardianship of the boys, then a heritage test for young Neville and afterwards I will speak to the account manager.”

The people around the table nodded. Everyone retrieved what they needed and set the folders and papers on the table.

The witch started, "I’m Ms. Price, the Executor of both wills. How about I just give a summary?" She quickly read both wills and then looked up. "Neville should go to the care of his grandmother, Frank's mother, Augusta Longbottom. If she can’t take him then you’re to find a home for him. It also states that you’re needed to figure out where Harry is to live. The Longbottoms changed the wills two days ago.” She looked at both wills again. "There’s a trust fund set up with an allowance for Madam Longbottom, if she takes custody of the boys. If she does not, then she gets a separate vault for her expenses.” The solicitor put the documents on the table and made three copies. “There are some monetary bequests that will be given during the public reading.”

"That is agreeable," Jim said as he checked on the boys. He then looked back to Ms. Price and said, "I will need a copy of those wills to take to Madam Longbottom.” The witch nodded and handed one of the copies to Jim. He waved towards the door letting her know he was done with her. Then he looked at the familiar goblin, Axegrind, and waited to be noticed.

Axegrind looked up when the room went silent and seeing Jim look at him expectantly, he hurriedly spoke, "If you would hold him still, we will be done in a moment.”

Jim removed Neville from his robes and held him much the same way he had held Harry before, while the goblin picked up the necessary material. The cut was made, the parchment was written. This time there were no additional accounts. Neville was the only heir to the Longbottoms.

Axegrind made copies of the results and handed one to Jim and took the rest as he left the room, knowing his part was done.

"I’m assuming you want Mr. Longbottom's accounts set up the same way as Mr. Potter's?" the remaining goblin said, not quite as scared as before. He was unharmed the first time, so it was likely that if he followed orders then he would remain that way.

"Yes, Bigprofit," Jim said, putting the sleeping Neville back in the carrier. "I would also like to make sure they can enter their vaults anywhere in the world. I will be removing these two young boys from Britain,” he stated. His mind was whirling with plans that no one needed to know. For what they didn’t know could not be revealed.

He would need to head to the Ministry to get guardianship transfer papers. He wouldn’t be leaving them here in England. He had an idea about who to take them to, but he needed the current guardians to sign the boys off to him so he can better place them in a secure home. There was a family of powerful witches that he had scared a few years back. They had tried to raise the dead. He informed them that that was not a good idea and they had learned their lesson well. One of the witches was remarried and had children and had moved from the home. The younger one though, with some help from her aunts, would make a good guardian for the boys. This might be just what everyone needed.

Breaking from his musing and facing the goblin in front of him, Jim continued, “With their enemies still about, I could be spending all my valuable time rescuing them were they to stay here,” he gave a vague explanation. He didn’t have to, but he wanted the goblin to make sure his orders were carried out. “I expect you to keep that information to yourself.” He gave the goblin a hard glare, making him shrink back in fear. “I would not even be telling you if you did not need to know in order to set up the accounts.” Coldness flooded through the room at his freezing voice.

The scared goblin shakily got all the necessary forms out and the two started signing them. After they were done Jim left the bank and reappeared in the Ministry. He was in the clerk's office where one goes to get legal documents.

The office was small with only a chair, a desk and a few cubbyholes behind them. There was a door to the left-hand side of the cubbyholes that led to the file room. He pulled down his hood and spoke in a quiet voice that carried around the room. "I require two guardian consent forms," Jim told the clerk behind the desk. Unlike Gringotts, wizards needed to view something to scare them into complying. He hated exposing himself, but needs must.

The clerk looked up from where he had been reading a magazine. He spotted the skeletal head and whimpered, "T...t...t...t…two ga…ga…guardian consent forms y…you say? I c…can do that. P…pl…please, give me just a ma…ma…moment to find them,” the poor man stammered and hurried to the file room and looked for the documents needed. He was scared to death. It was not often people came to this office, preferring to go to their solicitor and they truly didn’t pay him enough for this. "H…h…h…here you ga..ga…go sir. Thank you for your b…b…business. Have a nice day," the terrified clerk nervously handed the documents over, then scurried as far away from the dark form as he could, hoping to be alive when Death left.

Jim looked at the documents to make sure they were indeed the correct ones, after all, scared people made mistakes. He subtly cast a charm to make the man forget the last two minutes. He pulled his hood back up and left the office the same way he came. He shadowed into Augusta's manor.

He could see she was crying. Someone must have told her that her son and daughter-in-law were dead, and her grandchild was missing. "Madam Longbottom, I am sorry to come to you at such a bad time; however, there are things we need to discuss," he stated as he sat across from the distraught woman. "I fear your grandson is in great danger and I would like to make arrangements with you to place him with people that will protect him."

Augusta Longbottom looked up at the foreboding figure that had just appeared in her secure sitting room, and fainted dead away.

Chapter 2: Discussions with the Guardians

Notes:

I would like to thank my betas for taking a look at this fic, darrelldeam, alix33 and achieving elysium.
For the rewrite I’d like to thank Morgan K'Karse and Wolf Shaman for taking a peek.

Chapter Text

November 5th, just as day breaks

Jim sighed, stood, and conjured a playpen to put the boys in so they could be more comfortable than they were sleeping in his robe. After settling the boys down he looked around the room. It was a dark room with thick curtains hiding the early morning light that was peeking above the well cared for landscape. There were shelves everywhere, filled with delicate knick-knacks and old worn books. A few chairs and tables placed in a circle in the middle of the room so that anyone sitting there would face each other. It looked like any other well-bred lady’s parlor.

He looked at the woman on the ground and went to wake her up. He knew that the news he was bringing might cause her more distress, but the boys needed to be protected. Well, truly only Harry did, but it would be better if he grew up with a friend that could be as close as a brother. After all Jim’s main mission here, in the land of the living, was to make sure Harry grew up well.

He waved his hand and woke Neville’s grandmother up. When she awoke, he took her by the hand and helped her off the floor and gently set her down in the chair she had fallen from. “I am sorry to have scared you, that was not my intent. As I said your grandson is in danger, and I would like to make arrangements with you so that I may take him to a place where he will be safe. I promise you that the people I have in mind to raise him will give him a good life. And of course, I will be keeping a watch on him and young Harry,” he said softly as he tried to comfort her. Death, however, was an apathetic being and knew little in the ways of consoling people, so his voice while soft was bland, as if he was talking about the weather.

“I just lost my son and daughter-in-law and now you want me to give up my grandson,” Augusta snapped, wrenching her hand back from where it laid still in Death’s bony one, having not been released when he helped her sit. “They told me that Neville and Harry had been kidnapped. I thought they were in the hands of Death Eaters,” she said, laughing mirthlessly at the irony. She stopped suddenly and then glared at the hooded figure in front of her. “You will need to give me a better reason than he is in danger. How do I know that he is not in danger from you? You are after all Death,” the fierce grandmother said, looking at her only grandson.

Yes, she had recognized this deity right away, the bony hand that she just released was a dead giveaway. The voice, the cloak and the apathy, also helped her identify him. She wasn’t sure what Death wanted with the child. She wasn’t even sure what she would do with him. She knew she was getting on in years and wondered if she had the energy to raise another child?

“Madam,” Jim said as he retook his chair, “you know as well as I do that there will be many pure-blood Death Eaters that will do anything to escape punishment. You also know that your government is corrupt. They will buy their way out of prison and when they do they will plan. They have gone after your grandson once; do you not think they will do it again?” he asked while his hollow eyes stared at her blue ones, trying to make her understand just how dire this situation was.

“I can protect my grandson,” she snapped, only a little cowed by the deity.

“While I am sure that you will do your best to defend the child, there is only you and your brother here in this house. You are both at an age where protecting anyone other than yourselves would be a chore hard accomplished,” he stated firmly, not even trying to be gentle anymore, his patience running thin. “The boy will need to have someone his age to grow up with if he is to grow up happy. And I know you will not want to take young Harry, I can see it in your soul. You are a bitter old woman who blames a child for the death of your son.” He raised a finger and pointed it accusingly at the woman, who simply glared at him completely affronted.

“How dare you speak to me in such a way,” she fumed as she leaned forward, her blue eyes glinting with anger, fists white as they gripped the arm of her chair, in her grief forgetting who she was talking to. “Why do you think he would not be happy here? Are you saying that I would neglect my own grandchild? He is all I have left of my Frank,” she all but wailed, looking once more at her only memory of her beloved son and feeling the loss.

“If he stays here he will be lonely and depressed, because he will have no friends. You and your brother are cantankerous old people that are very set in their ways. There are no other houses in this area. Can you truly tell me that it would be to the child’s benefit to stay with you? Or are you just being selfish?” Jim demanded, using what he could to get this woman to think for a minute.

He knew that she would blame the child for his father’s death and that would not be healthy in any way. He was not above using guilt instead of logic to make her see reason. He knew he shouldn’t be giving her such a hard time, however, he also knew she was bullheaded and he needed to be firm in his dealings.

“I love my grandson,” she stated firmly, her eyes sparkled with rage.

“And yet, you do not call him by his name,” Jim stated as fact.

At that the woman withered, she was so distraught over Frank’s death that she knew, she just knew, that it was somehow the child’s fault. Frank had been mysterious these last few months, only stating that he had to protect Neville. She felt the tears run down her face at the truth of Death’s words. “Will they love him?” she whispered as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief.

“I know the people I want to take him to will take the responsibility of them and they will care for them— the boys will live as brothers. I will make sure that you get progress reports and pictures so you know that your grandson is healthy and happy. If you agree to this you will need to set up a muggle Post Office Box to receive these reports as the people I am taking him to live as muggles, on the other hand they are surrounded by magic,” he answered as kindly as he could.

Augusta, having dried her tears that still threatened to spill at any second, settled back down at that and was thoughtful. She pondered the words of the immortal in front of her. She knew he spoke the truth, but her selfishness was getting in the way. She just lost her son, damn it all to bloody hell. She viciously wiped at the tears that spilled again. There was an inner battle going on in her head. Could she really give her grandson to someone she didn’t know? Still if it made the child happy then maybe it was for the best.

Jim drummed his bony fingers on the arm of the chair while she fought with herself. Glancing every now and then at the children. He could take them without this woman’s permission; however, he wanted it to be as legal as possible.

After about thirty minutes of silent debate, Augusta spoke, “I have thought about this and perhaps you are correct. I think the boys need to be outside of Britain. It’s been less than a week and already they are calling Harry the Boy-Who-Lived, making him a hero for something he had no control over. Stupid sheep, they have already forgotten that his parents died that night. Perhaps it would be best if Neville was raised away from here,” she conceded and then requested. “Tell me more about this family.”

“Very well, there are two elderly aunts and two young sisters,” he conceded to this small request. “The sisters are as different from each other as the night is to the day. The youngest sister is the one I would like to place the boys with. She too has suffered from a recent trauma and I think having the boys will help all of them heal. She lives with her aunts, who will help her. All four of the ladies are all very powerful witches, though they practice a different type of magic than yours. Together they can train the boys to do what you would call rituals and wandless magic. There is a magic school near where they live, so there is no need to worry in that regard,” Jim explained as best he could without giving out too much information.

“That sounds promising,” Augusta nodded and gave the sleeping children a small smile.

“I will not tell you exactly where they will be,” he continued, relaxing back into his chair and crossing his legs now that the old woman had calmed, “because there are too many people that are going to look for the boys to use them for their political games. I will let you know that it is a peaceful place, not touched by the war that has torn through Britain. The environment is calm and there is plenty of room for growing boys. The family is a little eccentric, but I will stress to the women that the boys be schooled in etiquette, if only for politics. From what little I can see of young Harry’s future, both will return to England when they are fourteen. All I can see is that it is a pivotal point of fate.” He really hated that bitch, Fate, for wanting these boys, one of whom will be his master if his glance in the future came to pass, to grow in such a dismal life. He truly hoped that the witch will grow with the boys. For all she is loose on her morals, she is a kind and thoughtful woman.

“You can promise me that he will be taken care of, better than if he stayed here with me?” Augusta asked to make sure she wasn’t throwing him to the wolves. If what Death said was true about her and the future, then it was the least she could do for her grandson.

“You have my word. If this does not work the way I have planned then I will bring the boys back into your care,” Jim said, putting his skeletal fist to where his heart would be, if he had one, to show that he was indeed giving his word.

“Very well, do you have the documents that are needed to transfer guardianship to you?” Augusta asked, actually relieved that her grandson would grow up happy. The more she thought on Death’s words the better she felt about this. She and her brother were not tolerant enough people to be having two young boys running around the house.

“Yes, I have them here,” Jim said as he pulled the documents from his robe. He handed one to Augusta to read and sign. He made sure that she left the recipient blank. He would need Gillian Owens to fill that part out.

Augusta signed where he indicated. “I want to thank you for taking the time to help my grandson. I did not know that Death interfered with the living,” she said in a questioning tone as she handed it back to Death.

“Every thousand years or so Fate upsets the balance by creating a prophecy. Had there not been a prophecy then I would not have interfered. I only stepped in to… curve Fate’s hand. I cannot completely change the future but I can help even the odds, so to speak,” Jim said, taking the signed document and put it in his robe.

“Oh, well, I am sure you are doing what you think is best,” the old woman stated, not quite sure what he was talking about.

“I need to ask two small favors from you,” Jim said, returning his gaze to the Longbottom Matriarch, “If you could watch the boys for about an hour, maybe less. There is one other place I must go and it would be … unhealthy for them to come with me. The sleeping spell I put on them will last that long. I also ask that you send one of your house elves to retrieve young Harry’s and Neville’s belongings from the house your son lived. It is to my understanding that Frank already retrieved young Harry’s things from Godric’s Hollow. It would help immensely if they had something to remember their families. It will also help the people I am taking them to, to not have to purchase all new things.” He knew the Owens had little in the way of money and resources, so this would help immensely.

“Of course, I will watch the boys. I want to say goodbye to my grandson before he leaves,” she said fondly, and then called a house elf.

“Put the children’s things separate; the cribs, the toys, the clothes and perhaps pictures of their parents. Pack their parents belongings in a separate trunk and put anything of value in their vaults, perhaps you should get some help,” Jim told the house elf that had popped at his side.

“Yes sir, Master Deathy, sir,” And with a ‘pop’ the elf disappeared to do as it was told.

Jim turned back to Augusta. “I must leave. I will be back in one hour or less,” he said standing, stepping to the corner, where the shadows were the darkest, and then fading away towards the pull he felt from young Harry’s godfather. He could feel everyone connected by magic to the boys. It will serve him well in the future.

Later that day around noon, Azkaban

He reappeared in a cell in the depths of Azkaban. The Dementors fled when they felt his presence, in fear that Death would kill them. He was the only thing that could. Jim looked upon the person sleeping fitfully on the small cot. He looked around the dark grey, slimy cell and saw only the cot and a bucket. There was one thin and torn blanket attempting to keep the person huddling under it warm in this very cold stone prison and he felt nothing, as was his way.

He sedately shook the man to wake him. “Sirius Black, I need you to wake.”

The man on the cot woke and groggily looked up at Jim. “Who’s there? Is it time for my trial?” he tiredly asked, and then taking a closer look at the presence in his cell with him, he screamed and fell to the floor. “AHHH! Who the bloody hell are you? What the hell are you? Oh Merlin, I’m going to die, that or I’ve gone crazy. Funny, I thought it’d take longer,” Sirius said in confusion, still lying where he had fallen to get away from the man in the liquid like cloak.

“I know not about your trial, Mr. Black. I do know you are innocent; however, I cannot talk on your behalf. I am Death, you may call me Jim,” Death said with a slight nod of his head. He knew this man was in young Harry’s future.

“How the hell did you wind up with a name like Jim?” Sirius asked still looking up from the floor. He didn’t want to go anywhere near this… man. His eyes were wide with fright, yet he had a bemused look on his face. Jim, he thought, what a funny name for something that can kill you.

“I am not here to send you to the beyond,” Jim stated, ignoring the question. “I need to talk to you about your Godson,” he said as he retrieved the prisoner from the floor.

Sirius tried to fight the hand that pulled him up, but it was a wasted effort. “What about Harry? What did you do to my godson?” He asked, backing away from the deity, wishing he had his wand, even though it would be useless. It would make him feel better.

“I am going to be taking him out of Britain where he will be safer and I would like your consent. I do not need it. Nonetheless, I did not want to take your godson away without your knowledge and consent. Thereby negating any chance the people I am sending him to being brought up on kidnapping charges,” Death answered in a no nonsense voice, as if it were already a given.

“You want to take Harry out of Britain? Why?” Sirius demanded. He already felt as if he had failed James and he didn’t want to do the same with Harry. “I was going to take him when I got out of this hellhole. I’m sure Dumbledore is working on a way to free me. If only that rat bastard traitor hadn’t gotten away,” he said, thoughts muddled as to why Death was here and not the Headmaster.

“Mr. Black, I do not see you leaving here anytime soon. From what the people who have died have told me as they pass to the beyond, Dumbledore has already spoken for Severus Snape —yet tells your Wizengamot that you are guilty of the crimes which you were arrested for. Many were very angry about this fact, feeling that justice has not been served,” Death stated as fact and then tried to change the subject to why he was here. “You cannot be there for young Harry. I can assure you that where I am taking him, he will be well cared for. I just need you to sign this document,” Death said, removing the document from his robe and tried handing it to Sirius.

Sirius didn’t take it though, he was just staring at Jim completely gobsmacked. “What!!! Snape’s free while I rot here?” he bellowed as he stood and started pacing, throwing his hands in the air and ranting all the while, making the other inmates yell back with jeers. “What kind of bullsh*te is that? Are they even going to ask me what happened?” the hysterical man asked, still fuming around the small dank cell.

“As I said before, I can do little to get you out of this place. I am only here to help young Harry. I will tell you this when Harry disappears they will more than likely come and speak to you to see if it is some elaborate plan of the Death Eaters. Tell them of your innocence then— but do not speak of me,” Jim explained, trying to get the angry man to see reason.

“Well, of course, I’m not going to tell them I spoke to Death. They’d lock me up if I did,” Sirius stated as he stopped pacing and mulled over the words.

“If you speak to the correct person you may yet receive a trial. When young Harry is older he can send you letters to let you know that he is well. You will need to set up a muggle Post Office Box to receive them.”

Sirius waved the last comment aside, still in shock that Dumbledore thought him guilty. “Lily set us up with one of those years ago. Something about getting pen pals in the Muggle World, we never got around to it, but I paid for ten years ahead. It was a once in a lifetime deal. I think I have about five years left. If I get out of here before then,” he mumbled absentmindedly as he retook his seat on the cot. He turned to Death and said, “So are you going to tell me where you’re taking Harry? You said you didn’t need my permission and that this was all a formality. Since I don’t know when I’ll be getting out, I might as well sign the damn form for you.” He then retrieved the parchment from Jim’s skeletal hand, which was still extended towards him. “You got a quill? Not like there are things like that in here,” he said sullenly indicating the room.

Jim handed him a never-out quill from his robe. He pointed out what to fill in and what not. “I cannot tell you where young Harry will be going. I can only give you my word that he will be safe,” He took the forms and placed them in his robe, “I will take my leave of you, Sirius Black. I will endeavor to explain to him what has happened to you. Remember my words.” Were the ominous words floating around the cell as he faded away.

Same day, around afternoon teatime

Jim appeared back in the sitting room of Longbottom manor. Augusta was holding a sleeping Neville and rocking him, crooning sweet nothings and pleas for understanding in his ear, tears running freely down her distraught, yet determined face, kissing his forehead and petting his blonde hair.

Young Harry was still asleep in the playpen Jim had conjured. There were miniature trunks in front of the playpen.

“Do you know which of these trunks are for the children?” Jim asked Augusta, looking at the many trunks and hoping they were not all for the boys.

Augusta looked up from the last reminder of her son and waved to the trunks. “The four on the right are for the boys. The rest is the furniture and the rest of the family's belongings. I had the house elves leave it here so that I may look through it later and figure out what was valuable and what was not,” she said as she kissed Neville on the forehead one last time and placed him next to Harry in the playpen, knowing that it would be a long time before she saw him again. She was hoping that she had made the right decision. She was putting her trust in a deity that he would grow up well.

Jim took up the trunks she indicated and put them in his robe. He then conjured the carriers he had used before and picked up Harry and placed him in the first one and then placed Neville on the other side. He waved his hand and the playpen disappeared. “I will be leaving now. Take heart that all will be well. If not then I will return the boys into your care. I recommend you set up that Post Office Box and I will make sure that their guardian writes and tells you how the boys are faring. I will be returning for a short visit to get the address, so do it today if you can,” he told her.

“Please take care of them,” Augusta begged as the plans formed in her head.

“They will want for nothing,” he promised and stepped into the shadows and then he and the boys disappeared, leaving behind a very distressed grandmother, whose tears began anew, but the first forms of determined plans could be seen forming on her face.

New Salem, mid-morning

Jim appeared near a house in New Salem, Massachusetts, a relatively small town where the witches were well known. Not well liked, but respected enough that the boys would not fare too badly. After all if he was only going to curve the line of destiny, then Harry needed to have some hardship in his life —and children can be cruel. Jim did not want the major adversity that Dumbledore, or Fate, had planned for the child, so he chose here instead. Since the witches were known here, any accidental magic the boys did would hopefully be brushed off as a quirk of the Owens family.

Given the time Jim made sure the boys were well covered and warm, as it was as cold here as it was in England. After making sure the boys were well, he proceeded through the white picket fence that surrounded the large house, looking around the yard as he went.

There were large square garden beds littering the front lawn, covered in dew and frost. A large glass greenhouse, covered in dying roses, stood to the left of the house. The house sported a large front porch that had furniture scattered in small clusters. Small tables could be seen on the small hill just behind the house. Chess boards and games could be seen on the various tables. Gravel walkways webbed the entire yard, leading to the various entertainment spots. Dozens of cats prowled around looking for wayward birds.

Jim ascended the porch and knocked on the door. Hearing a lot of noise in the house, he made sure to knock loudly. He could hear the slaps of running bare footsteps coming to the door.

A young woman answered the door. She had long reddish blonde hair, a cute pixie face, body like a runway model, dressed in a small black nightgown and covered with a see-through robe. She took one look at Jim, who was still covered with his robe and hood, and her greeting turned into a yell for her aunts. The last time she had seen this… person, he was chastising her and Sally for trying to bring Jimmy back from the dead.

They hadn’t meant to kill him in the first place and were only trying to right the wrong. If he hadn’t been such a drunk and abusive asshole, then he wouldn’t have died from that accidental overdose of Belladonna and they wouldn’t have tried to bring him back, or had to kill him the second time. However, he was going to brand Gilly and then try and kidnap both of the sisters. They had no idea, what his plans were after that, from the way he was going on it would not be pretty. So Gilly mentally told Sally to drug the bottle of booze to make him sleep, and somehow he died. They were only trying to bring him back so they wouldn’t go to jail. He came back much worse than before, and the nightmarish week that followed still haunts her to this day. It was not pleasant being possessed by that vile man. The whole thing was a huge mistake. This person let them know that, after they finally exorcised Jimmy’s spirit.

Oh, they would have learned their lesson by themselves; after all, the aunts told them time and again when they were growing up, that one shouldn’t raise the dead. They had warned Sally that those brought back from the dead would not be human, but —something dark. Of course the aunts were correct and Jimmy came back darker and tried to murder her, which is why they killed him the second time.

This person let them know if they weren’t going to listen to their aunts they better damn well listen to him. And that scared the bejesus out of them. They won’t do that anymore, not that they were going to go around killing people again. It was a mistake that should never be repeated.

Sometime Gilly wished the Book was not enchanted, so they could just remove that ritual, but the magic on the Book prevented that. The aunts said it was to teach responsibility.

The Book was a Book of Shadows that has been passed down to the Owens women for over 300 years, created by the first witch in the family, Marie Owens. All of the Owens women took up their family name after the passing of their loved ones. It was part of the curse.

The Owens curse made it so the men that the women of the Owens family fell in love with were doomed to an untimely death. The women would know it was time by the chirping of the death beetle. That sound was every married Owens woman’s greatest fear. This curse was cast by a hysterical Marie Owens when she was abandoned by her true love to raise a child on her own after being cast into exile from the village where she lived.

There were more footsteps and Aunt Frances and Aunt Bridget (Jet) appeared, dressed in long nightgowns and button up housecoats, which covered them completely from neck to foot. Both sported long grey-brown hair arranged in sloppy buns.

Jim held up his hands and said, “I come in peace. I have an offer for young Gillian here and I am in need of a great favor —I believe that she can grant. I also feel that this offer will benefit her as well. Please, may I enter your house? I promise, I mean you no harm,” he said, trying to placate the shocked witches.

Gilly and the aunts looked at each other, their confusion showing on their faces. What could this person want from them? They hadn’t tried to raise the dead again.

“Wow, didn’t think I’d see you again. Well at least not ‘til I died, which I’m hoping will be many years from now. It will be many years from now, right?” the young witch said, with nervous doe eyes. When all else fails, flirting with something that scares you rarely hurts.

Of course, it didn’t work. The person's face never even twitched. Sighing Gilly and the aunts moved out of the way to let Death in the house. Aunt Jet led them to the living room.

The living room was like the yards and gardens and fairly cluttered. The furniture, while matching in color, was never the same pattern. They varied from flora patterns to sea scenes. Gadgets were scattered all around the room. Pieces of their practice could be seen everywhere: altars, small animals, crystals, daggers and a crystal ball of all things. To say the women were eccentric was an understatement; however, it was tastefully done and gave off an aura of welcome.

After the women settled, Jim started to pace for a minute gathering his thoughts. He wanted to do this in as quick and succinct way as possible, giving them a lot of information without over encumbering them. He stopped striding and looked at the women in front of him and then spoke, “I need for you to listen. I am going to impart a lot of very important information to you. I haven’t much time; I have been too long away from my duties as is.”

The three stunned women nodded and nervously settled back in their seats. It would not do to piss this guy off.

“I have with me two toddlers that are in need of care. Both of their parents are dead, killed in a war in their community. One of these boys is a Destiny Child; a prophecy has been given and he is one of the key players. He needs to be kept safe and he needs to learn all you can teach him, in addition to what he will learn in the magic school you will send him to,” Death said, waving off the question for the moment. “The other child is the same age; I had hoped the boys could grow as brothers. I am asking you, Gillian Owens, to take up this task,” he said, taking his place in a sea scene chair in front of the witches. He looked at them expectantly, taking care as to not wake the children still in his robes.

“Ummm let me get this straight,” Gilly said, running her hands through her hair. “You want me, and not Sally, to raise children. Have you gone completely mad? I mean, come on, I’m not the responsible one. I like to party, and sleep with lots of men—I get into a lot of trouble. Do you really think I can raise children— sanely?” Gilly asked, completely bewildered. She looked at Death as if he had lost all his marbles, and wouldn’t that be weird.

From the tilting of his head, it appeared he was looking down his nose at her, and he simply continued, “I have thought hard on this and I feel that you and your aunts would be the best guardians for the children. They need a mostly carefree environment to grow in. Your wild side is just what they need to not take life too seriously. Though, I do stress they both be taught etiquette, just not as strictly as they would have been taught if they had been raised where they come from. They will have a major part in their government when they come of age,” he stressed and then he stood and conjured a playpen to put the children in. Taking first Harry and then Neville and putting them in the playpen.

All three heads turned to the sleeping boys and as one they cooed. They wanted to get up and hold them, but were held in place by their fear of the deity standing before them.

“You have to understand, these boys need to be raised outside of their home country,” Jim explained as he stood there, looking at them with his hollow eyes. “There are many who would use them in political games. One man was going to put young Harry in a home with people who hated magic. He would have been grossly mistreated. You three can raise them carefree, yet with a strong sense of responsibility, hence the aunts. For all they are carefree, they know there are lines that must not be crossed,” he stated with a pointed look at Gillian, if the directness of his glare was anything to go by.

With a wave of his hand, he cancelled the spell that had kept them asleep. The boys woke with a jerk and looked around fearfully, hoping the people that scared them earlier were gone. After all, the last thing they remembered was Neville’s mum and dad screaming, and the mean people laughing and that scared them. The boys started crying in earnest, wanting someone to hold them and make the bad feelings go away.

Jet stood quickly, getting over her fear to help the crying children, and picked up the nearest boy, which was Harry, and started rocking him. “Oh you poor dear, what’s wrong? Shhh, it’s okay, Shhh come on honey, calm down,” she murmured his ear.

Frances picked up the other boy and rocked him to. “What happened to them? Why are they so scared?” the elderly witch asked Death as she stroked Neville’s hair and bounced him gently. “Shhh, hush sweetheart, oh my precious little boy. It’s okay Aunt Frances has you now. Shhh, it’s okay.”

“The last thing they remember, before I put them to sleep, was Neville’s,” the dark cloaked man pointed at the child in Frances’ arms, “parents being tortured with a pain curse,” he explained as he pulled the trunks from his robe.

This confused the witches as to why he would be carrying doll furniture, these were boys after all.

“I did not get there in time to save his parents. Young Harry,” he pointed at the boy in Jet’s arms, “has known of four people murdered this last week and I am sure that he is frightened of all the new people, though he really does not understand what happened. The only thing they do understand is that their mothers and fathers are not here anymore. You must see that the boys need people who will care for them. I am afraid that their last living relatives will do more harm than good.” If he had eyes they would be pleading, that is if he felt emotion. However, everything came out stoic and bland.

“That’s horrible,” Aunt Frances said, still rocking the baby in her arms. “Oh, you poor precious darling, it’s okay, shhh,” she continued to comfort the child.

“Yeah, I can see that. I mean look at them they’re really scared, but my question is, why me?” Gilly said looking at the upset boys. Her heart went out to them, but after everything that happened lately with Jimmy and the whole possession thing she didn’t understand why Death would think she would be helpful.

“It is my understanding that mortals need love to overcome hardships,” Jim said flatly, looking to the two women pacing about trying to ease the still crying boys. “I know your aunts love you and you love them in return. Nevertheless, I feel that if you had someone of your own to give love to, then together, you and the boys can heal each other,” he explained, taking a seat now that he had removed everything needed from his robe.

“Yeah, okay, I can kinda see that, but what if it doesn’t work? I mean, we’ve all suffered, do you really think that the boys and I will heal?” she asked, not sure what he meant for her to do. She wasn’t a psychologist. She was just a woman who had been badly treated. What did she know about raising kids? That was Sally’s gig.

“I believe that, yes, you three will heal one another,” Jim stated firmly. “I have some forms for you to sign that will give you guardianship of the boys. I do not feel that you should adopt them as I do not want the Owens curse to pass on to any daughters they may have in the future. Also, they must retain their family’s name if they are going to take up their positions later in life. Even a hyphenated name with Owens might pass on the curse.” He didn’t want that for the boys, they would have enough troubles as it was.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want that either. Though, I think we broke the curse when we banished Jimmy. We both felt a snap on our magic and felt lighter for it. I mean Sally cast that spell when she was younger just so she wouldn’t fall in love. Imagine her surprise when the man she didn’t think existed showed up. If it hadn’t been for the aunts,” giving a withering look to the two still pacing aunts, “making her fall in love with her first husband, she would have never felt the curse in the first place.”

“We only wanted to make her happy and besides she got two wonderful daughters out of it,” Aunt Frances said still rocking Neville, who was quieting down. She felt little remorse for doing that spell, they hadn’t known Sally would fall in love. They were simply hoping that she would be content.

The boys were calmer, yet still sniffling and taking a look around the room, with big curious eyes. There were many things there to catch the eyes of toddlers; the shiny trinkets, the chirping birds and the pretty pictures of the ocean.

“Be that as it may, I do not think we should take that chance,” the deity determined as he waved off the statement. “Now, let me tell you about the community whence the boys came. There is a secret enclave which houses a cohort of wand using witches and wizards. They have been hidden from the non-magical world since 1692. They have their own government and are self-sufficient. They have schools that teach the children how to do wand magic. There is a similar district in Salem, which has a shopping area that you can obtain books and other purchases from. It also houses the nearest magical school.”

The aunts, still holding the children, retook their seats. They needed to hear this.

“Wizarding Britain has just gone through a civil war. Young Harry caused this war to mostly end,” Jim said as the now seated witches looked in wonder to the small sniffling green eyed child. “There are three factions to the community. There are the pure-bloods, who feel that only families that have at least five generations of witches and wizards in their family tree should learn magic. Anyone else they want gone or killed. There are the neutral families, which consist of pure-bloods and half-bloods that will not take sides in this debate. Then there is what is known as the Light side, which have all flavor of witches and wizard, who feel that magic is a gift to be shared by everyone. This war has been ongoing since wizards first learned to record their history. It peaks when a Dark Wizard or Witch comes into power and gathers an army to take out the opposing sides.”

The aunts got up and placed the now quiet boys back in the playpen as they were squirming to be let down and the house was not childproof. They returned to the couch next to Gilly and paid close attention to this very interesting story.

The boys were babbling to each other, not paying attention to the adults, still looking around at all the pretty toys.

“This last incursion there was an evil wizard. He calls himself Lord Voldemort; a name he chose to mock me,” Jim stated blandly as he settled further in his chair and continued. “This man was leading the pure-bloods, though he is a half-blood. He is the other one named in the prophecy I mentioned earlier. When he came to young Harry’s house four days ago, he killed the child’s parents and tried to kill him. I am unsure what happened, but the Killing Curse he fired at young Harry rebounded back to him and destroyed his body. A piece of his soul, because it was so unstable, attached itself to the wound on young Harry’s forehead. I removed that piece,” he quickly said to the witches seeing their faces morph in horror.

“A soul piece? As in it just flew off the rest of his soul? What kind of vile magic causes that?” Gilly spat the question, not even wanting to think about how someone would accomplish it.

“It is the darkest magic there is as it requires the death of an innocent,” Jim answered with a wave of his hand. “I fear he has done this many time and created more objects that contain parts of his soul that keeps him in the land of the living. He survives only in a wraith form, meaning that the prophecy is still in play. I am blind to the pieces as the spell that is used to create them keeps them from my sight, which is their purpose.” He was mildly upset that Tom Riddle would try and hide from him, but not overly worried. All came to Death when it was their time.

The three women gasped in horror. Gilly thought what she and Sally had done was bad, but this was much, much worse. She looked at her aunts and they seemed to agree.

“Upon seeing the death of Lily Potter and having her soul beg me to remove her child to safety,” Jim started again, “it gave me the ability to see a little of what young Harry’s fate would be. It is connected to artifacts that are associated with me. I saw the bleak future and death, so I removed him from the home and took it upon myself to find who the next guardians were to be. I left young Harry in the Longbottoms' care, as per the Potter will. The Longbottoms are Neville’s now deceased parents. I placed a spell on young Harry to let me know if he became distressed. When that alarm activated, and the Longbottoms died, I removed both boys and decided then that they needed to be taken out of Britain.”

The women still silent, nodded in agreement. If there were still people after the boys, then, yes, they needed to be elsewhere, but why here? Why them? Just what did this deity want? were the questions they wanted answers to.

“That is when I thought of you. If Harry Potter is to defeat this man, he needs to be taught all he can, so he has a fighting chance. Do you see now why I want young Harry here? You use magic in a different way than the wand wizards and in the long run it will be beneficial for these two young boys to learn all forms of magic available to them,” Jim expounded, hoping that they would understand what he was trying to convey to them.

“So you are saying that this… Lord Volymart is still out there and he created things with parts of his soul. How creepy is that?” Gilly shuddered, thinking about that dark magic. “And you want us to teach Harry how to fight and protect himself. You do know that we try not to harm anyone, right?” She looked at Death, who nodded his understanding. “I mean most of our magic is for good stuff. How are we supposed to teach Harry… ummm protective magic, which we don’t know much of? Most of what we have are passive curses, I mean there are some… questionable spells in the Book, like raising the dead, but most of them are for love and happiness and such,” she said, hoping that he was not asking them to train a warrior or something.

“Young Harry and Neville will be invited to a magic school, where they will be taught to defend themselves with a wand. I believe the one here starts at eight years old. What I want you,” Jim pointed to each woman, “to teach them is the wandless and ritual magic that you use. I want you to teach them to get in touch with their magic so they can feel the power they have. This will give them a sense of peace that they will not learn in the wizard community. I feel that the spells and rituals in your Book of Shadows will give young Harry a bigger capacity to love, which is what he needs to learn. Voldemort has no aptitude for love, so this can be used against him. This is not something taught in the wizard institutes.”

“Yeah, about that, if there is a hidden community then why don’t we know about it? I mean we’re witches. Why wouldn’t they invite us to join?” Gilly said, looking to her aunts for confirmation. They nodded in agreement, they knew nothing about any hidden world and there was nothing in the Book about it either.

Jim sighed, he was already running behind, and it looked like he was going to have to stay longer. He needed to make sure these women took the children. To do that they needed to understand just what they were getting into.

Chapter 3: The Further Education of the Owens

Notes:

I would like to thank my betas for this fic, achieving elysium and darrelldeam.

This story is complete. I am just reposting it. Though I usually like suggestions from my readers, this story will not be altered.

There is a lot of monolog in this chapter. It is a big information dump. You can skip the first few paragraphs if you know about the history of the British Magical World and Practical Magic, though it does explain how the two stories come together.

Chapter Text

Same day, New Salem

After a few moments silence, Death started his speech, “When the Statute of Secrecy was first established with the International Confederation of Wizards, much like your United Nations, your ancestor, Marie Owens, was invited to join. She and a few others declined, not wanting to have what they learn dictated by a government, and did not take the oaths required. The entire country decided to govern their selves and therefore did take the vow, but were not members of the ICW. They and other countries created the Magical United Nations, but that was years after the first vows were taken.”

“That explains a bit,” Jet stated, looking at the children.

“Yes, it does. In addition, your ancestor was also so hysterical about the father of her baby abandoning her that she did not want anyone to have any control over her and her family. The people that did not want to hide were told that they could no longer use wands, as wands were now regulated. To use them in the non-magical world was punishable by either a death sentence or a jail sentence. Since Marie was a Muggle-born she had not used a wand, because in the new world the community was rather small and schools had not been established yet. There were no shopping centers; if one did not have a family wand then they usually did without. The people not going behind the Statute were also told to not let non-magicals know they were witches and wizards.

“Your family never really followed that rule. Marie Owens was almost hung for her witchcraft and I know that everyone in this town knows you are witches,” Jim glanced at the thoughtful witches as they tried to process everything he was telling them. It was a lot of information. “You even use your magic for them — for a price. Some of the magic you use would get you sent to prison, for it is labeled dark —like your love spells or the sacrifice of animals, you would do well to discontinue that.” He sent them a cold look from his hollow eyes.

The women looked at each other and then at Death, they weren’t sure how to take that warning. They had always used small animals for bigger spells, they didn’t like it, but that is what the Book said needed to be done, maybe with this new form of magic they wouldn’t need to do that anymore. That perked them up.

“Nevertheless, since your ancestor did not take the vows and you never really hurt the non-magicals, there is little the wizards can do, since their government was not set up until after the non-magical war with Britain was concluded. That and they can only trace wand magic and since you do not use a wand they have no idea that magic is being used in this area. If it registers at all, it will be brushed off as accidental magic and someone will come and see if harm was done and if not then they will just leave.

“I also feel some very old wards on this house that shield you from the Wizarding World. The only magic that will register is what you use outside of your property,” Jim continued in monotone. The witches glanced at each other in confusion. “This house must have been in your family since before the wizards went into hiding. In conclusion, when the wizards did go into hiding the knowledge of the community was lost to your family, causing them to create new ways to use their magic.”

The aunts continued to look at each other. They didn’t know there were wards on the house. Maybe they should go to this magic town and see what else had been hidden from them.

“Yeah, the whole town knowing, that was kinda an accident,” Gilly said, bringing everyone back to the earlier comment. “We didn’t mean for them to know, but we really needed help. That was a bizarre time, ya know? What with Jimmy dying and the possession. Don’t worry; I’ve learned my lesson about messing with death.” She held up her hands to ward off any reprimand he might have. “And I get what you’re saying, you want us to teach the boys the magic we use and then they can incorporate it to the wand magic. I wonder if we can use a wand. How cool would that be? Are you going to tell us how to get in touch with this wizard place?” she asked as the aunts listened in. If they were going to do this, then they needed all the information they could get. They all turned their heads and looked at Death expectantly.

Jim expanded the trunks with a wave of his hand and looked inside to see if he could find toys for the children because they were getting fussy. This had already been a long conversation and the children needed to be entertained while it continued.

The aunts and Gilly looked on and their eyes widened at the casual use of magic. “Wow, that’s so cool. Can I learn to do that? I mean, I know all about magic, but I’ve never seen it do that,” Gilly said, looking at the trunks full of miniature stuff.

“My magic is different than yours or that of wand wizards. However, you can do anything if you have the correct intent and a powerful enough core. It will take practice, but I feel you can achieve anything you want. Your family has a very strong capacity for magic,” Jim said, taking out the toys and enlarging them then giving them to the boys. “To answer your earlier question, yes, I will be telling you where the community in this area is and how to enter it. You will have to pass yourselves off as what they call Muggle-born. A Muggle-born is a person with magic, born from non-magical parents,” he said at their confused looks. “You can then acquire books and learn about the society and teach the children. There is also a bank that has funds set up for the person who will be taking guardianship of the boys. I will instruct the goblins to create papers that will hide the boys from the wizards, via a letter. This will give them your last name without adoption. However, I want you to not hide their heritage from them.”

Jet, who was the more cautious one, looked at Death and said, “I think we need to know everything you can tell us. If this Lord… whatever, is still out there then there may be a danger to my family. I think we need to know a whole lot more about this hidden world.”

Jim looked at the women in front of him trying to decide what to tell them first. He knew they needed to know everything so they could educate the boys. He checked on the boys and seeing they were playing quietly with the toys, and then he turned back to the witches. After thinking for a minute or two he spoke, “First I need to tell you the prophecy and then I need to warn you of the people who want to use the boys. If you are to do this then you need to know. The prophecy is thus:

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies"

“That’s one messed up set of words,” Gilly said, trying to grasp what it could possibly mean. The aunts got looks on their faces as if in deep concentration. This prophecy could be taken in so many different ways.

“When the prophecy was rendered it could have been either boy,” Jim stated, ignoring her. “I have not the slightest clue what the power the Dark Lord knows not. It could be love, like I stated before, which is why I want you to teach young Harry your magic. I believe the wound on his head to be the marking of the equal making the prophecy about him. He will carry this scar all his life. The rest is self-explanatory. It is my belief that with your help this child will come through alive when the prophecy is fulfilled.”

“Yeah that’s not disturbing at all. So you’re saying we should raise Harry so he has a better chance at vanquishing this Dark Lord?” Gilly said, still thinking over the prophecy in her head. Sitting upright suddenly she exclaimed, “Wait a minute, this prophecy doesn’t say Harry will win. If we do this then we’ll take the chance that Harry might die? I mean, how are we supposed to love someone who is destined to die?” She was still healing over the whole mess with Jimmy and didn’t know if she could do this.

Frances took Gilly’s hand and said, “Honey, that’s all the more reason to love someone. How would it be if that darling little boy was raised without love and died a lonely bitter person? Don’t you think it’d be better to know that the people you leave behind loved and supported you, and knew you did the same? And maybe being loved will give him more of a reason to live. If Death is right then love will be just what he needs to survive.”

Gilly looked at her aunt trying to process the words. She had loved Jimmy once. He was her everything and even though she hadn’t loved him when he died, it still hurt. “I don’t know if I can do that,” she whispered sadly. “I don’t know if I can give up on someone I love, again. It would break my heart.”

“Oh, my precious girl,” the elder aunt said, gathering her niece into her arms, “the Owens women know all about broken hearts, but we are so strong that generations of women have survived this curse. Not all, but most of the Owens women grew stronger when the curse hit them. And you, my sweet child, are strong enough to survive. Your heart is so big and caring,” she said, wiping the tears from Gilly’s face and pulling her closer, “that it’s enough to help anyone be strong. And little Harry will need our strength to see him through. And you won’t give up on him, you will support him to the end,” she concluded, as she rocked her gently.

“Gillian, this is one of the reasons I wish the boys to be here, the strength your family has will give young Harry what he needs to fulfill this prophecy,” Jim said to the upset woman. “If you raise the boys, it will be with the knowledge that you are going to help him be as strong as he can be. You will give him a reason to survive.”

“Okay, yeah, I can see that. Aunt Frances is right, we’re strong women,” Gilly said as she pulled away from her aunt, wiped her tears and straightened her seat. “Now, tell us more about the people who want to use the boys.”

“The first person I will tell you about is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. He is the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry —the wizard school in Scotland. He also serves as Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Leader of the Light organization called the Order of the Phoenix. The Wizengamot is much like your congress, though the seats are hereditary and not voted in. The ICW, like I stated earlier, is much like your United Nations. Dumbledore is ninety-nine years old and still has many years to live. Wizards live longer than non-magical people, some are said to live to be two hundred years of age.

“Nevertheless,” Jim continued, waving off the tangent, “Dumbledore is considered one of the strongest wizards alive in the Wizarding World today. As you can see he has much political power, which is why I want to hide the boys for him. If he were to find young Harry, he would continue the disastrous plans I have foiled. He has little need for young Neville. He wants young Harry to grow up not knowing about magic, so that when he is brought into the magic world the child will look at it as being saved from his abusive home. Dumbledore feels that if this is the case then the boy would be so enamored he would be willing to die for the Wizarding World.”

“Wow, pretentious much, that’s a lot of power for one man to hold. You know the saying ‘power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely’. You said he was the leader of an army… group, which is supposed to be the good guys? It doesn’t make sense that he would want to harm a child just so he could have a martyr. As a result, we have to keep Harry hidden from him?” Gilly said hopefully. She has never had to confront such a powerful man, but if they were going to do this then she’d be on the lookout for him. “Ummm, what does he look like?”

“He is a tall thin man, with long grey hair and beard and a crooked nose. He is prone to wearing colorful and inequitable clothing. He carries about him an aura of power and authority,” Jim explained briefly.

“So like the old-fashioned St. Nick or what Merlin is supposed to look like,” Gilly nodded, putting the picture in her head so that if she did do this and ran across the man, she would know to get away. “You said you could magic up some forms that would help us?”

“Yes, as I have said before, my magic is different than yours or wizards. I have far more power than mortals, even Dumbledore. Dumbledore is a good man; unfortunately, he only looks at the big picture. He feels a life of misery for one child is worth it if it is for the ‘greater good’. If for some reason he were to find you, worry not for he is a peaceful, if manipulative man. He will not harm you; he will simply take young Harry away,” Jim said, trying to ease their worries.

The Owens women shared a look and then turned back to Death to see what else he had to say.

He continued on, “The next cohort of people you will need to watch out for are Voldemort’s followers, they call themselves Death Eaters, which I have to say makes me a little displeased with them. They will want revenge on young Harry for vanquishing their master. This is the group of pure-bloods I mentioned before. I highly doubt you will run into any of them here in America, because this country holds no such bias. Nonetheless, when you venture in to the Wizarding World it would be best if you hide young Harry’s scar, just to be safe. If you run into anyone who calls you a mudblood, do not fight them. Simply ignore them and be on your way.”

“Death Eaters, huh? Well, we’ll watch out for them,” Frances said, already pondering ways to disguise Harry if they took him to this hidden community.

“The last group of people you need to watch out for is the British Wizarding Government. They call young Harry the Boy-Who-Lived because they know he survived the Killing Curse with only a lightning bolt wound. They will do their best to find the child and use him as a status symbol. I would not worry too much for they are incompetent. Nevertheless, be on the lookout.” Jim stated blandly, hoping to ease their concern.

“When you go to Gringotts, the wizards’ bank, show them this letter,” the dark man waved his hand and created the letter needed, “and they will know not to mention the boys’ names. The bank is run by goblins. You will find many non-human sentient beings in the Wizarding World. Some of what you believe are myths, like the unicorn, are very real. Now is not the time to explain that. There are many books there that will do that, though I recommend that you read many different views and make up your own minds as to which is correct.” He shrugged away the questions he could see they wanted to ask as unimportant.

“The goblins will read this letter and know that it is from me and guard the secret with their lives,” Jim continued, he was running out of time, he needed to return to his duties. “The goblins will then hand you papers that you will use to enroll the boys in school under your last name. These of course will be counterfeit. As we discussed before, you should not adopt the boys. However, you will need these papers to have the boys seemly legally in your house. Having the goblins keep this secret will hide the children until they return to Britain —which is another thing you need to know. I cannot see the entire future as I have changed much. However, there is a pivotal point in time when the boys will return to their home country. It will be when they are fourteen; I know not why, I only know it must be. They will then be exposed to all the groups I have just warned you about, which is why I need you to keep them informed of what they will face when the time comes.”

“Hold on a second, if you removed Harry right after his mother died then how do they know about his scar?” Gilly said, shaking her head and trying to process all the information Death was giving to them. This would be a huge thing if they decide to take the boys.

“There is a police type force called the Aurors, they are part of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. They investigated the scene where the tragedy took place. These people can cast a spell to see the last few minutes of the crime. With that they would have seen young Harry live and Voldemort fall. They would have also seen the wound on young Harry’s forehead. Knowing it was caused by the Killing Curse they would have surmised that it would scar,” Jim explained as he put all the needed documents in order. “They would not have seen me. They would have simply seen young Harry disappear into thin air. That is what, more than likely, made them think he was more powerful than he is. Hence, the entire hero worship they have going on,” Jim said with disgust seeping in to his usually unemotional voice. “Which would be another reason as to why I want him here, the fame might do him more harm than good.”

The same spell was used on the crime scene where Sirius was arrested, and what they saw was an angry man cast a spell at one that was accusing him of being a traitor. They should have realized it was a shielding spell, but the explosion made the scene muddled. With Sirius laughing like a madman, they concluded he was the culprit. That and they had Dumbledore’s word that Black was the Secret Keeper.

“You make some pretty good arguments and we’d like to help. Do you think we can talk alone for a few minutes?” Aunt Frances asked, standing up and motioning to the other side of the room.

“Please, take all the time you need. I know this is a large venture to accept. I will abide by whatever you decide. Know this, you might be the only hope for this child,” Jim said, not above using guilt to get his way.

“Sheesh, yeah, no pressure from you, asshole,” Gilly said, muttering the last part under her breath. The three ladies moved off to the side to talk among themselves. “Do you think we should do this? I mean it could be a lot of trouble, then again having kids in the house again could be fun?” she said, looking at the boys still playing quietly in the playpen. “I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page.” She turned back to her aunts. “If I do this, I’ll need you two by my side. You’re great with kids and Death is right we’d raise them good. Lots of love and stuff,” she whispered with overwhelming emotion. The more she thought about, it the more her heart swelled at the thought of having children. Since she wasn’t going to jump into another romance anytime soon, this might be her only chance.

“Look at the babies. They need someone. Their parents are dead. I know how I felt when the curse took our father and mother died of a broken heart. Don’t you remember, Jet, how much it hurt to lose them? I recall how you felt when you and Sally came to us, Gilly-bean, after losing your parents. Those boys will need lots of love, and chocolate, to help them through the nightmares they’re sure to have,” Frances said, looking at the boys, who kept glancing silently around, still in a bit of shock with all the changes and new people.

Jet rubbed her sister’s arm, “I remember and I understand, but we’ll be putting our family in danger. Do we really want to do that?”

“Remember Death said we’ll be going into this ‘Wizarding World’ and we can get books to help us. He also said we could use their magic. Maybe there is some way to put more protection on our home. If we do this we’ll research every way to do that, and look closer at the Book to see if there is anything we’ve missed,” Frances argued, having pretty much made up her mind.

“Ummm okay, what do you think Sally will say? I wish she were here so we could get her opinion. She’s the more level-headed one,” Gilly said, really wishing her sister was there, and as if to answer her wish the phone rang. “That’s her,” she said, running to the phone. The sisters had a tight bond and always knew when they needed one another. “Sally, you are never going to believe what’s happening here. We could really use your advice. Sit down. This is going to take a while to tell you,” the red-blonde spoke into the phone not even inquiring who was on the other line— she just knew.

While Gilly talked on the phone with Sally, filling her in on everything that happened in the Owens’ house this morning, Jet decided she was going to get something for the boys to eat. They were looking tired and she didn’t know when the last time they ate was. “Death, do you have any bottles for the boys?” she asked, cutting a look to the marvelous trunks, wondering what they held.

“I believe there are some in here,” he said and looked through the trunks. He came up with two glass-looking baby bottles, handed them to Jet and informed her, “These are magical formula bottles. All that is required is to put water up to the line at the top and they would mix and warm by themselves. The formula powder is never-ending. When the child is done drinking, the bottle will sterilize and dry itself and more powder would appear at the bottom of the bottle for the next time. The bottles will stop being of any use when the child using them is over two years of age. Do not concern yourself over the glass, they are unbreakable and glass holds heat better,” he added at her ginger retrieving of the bottles.

“Well, that will save money. According to Sally formula cost a lot of money these days,” she said thoughtfully, taking the bottles into the kitchen and filling them as instructed. She watched as the bottles mixed themselves and warmed in her hand. That is simply marvelous. I wonder what else we’ll find in that community, she mused as she wondered what else to whip up.

Taking a look around the kitchen, she decided fruit for the boys and sandwiches for the adults. So she cut up some bananas and made some chicken sandwiches. As she was carrying everything through to the living room, she saw Gilly was still talking with Sally, so as she passed she offered the plate to her. After Gilly took a sandwich, Jet continued into the living room and passed the plate to Frances, who placed it in the middle of the table that separated the couches and chairs, in case Death wanted one. They had no idea if entities ate food, so they were just being hospitable.

Jet gave the boys bits of bananas and watched them mush them in their little fists. After they made a mess, she was about to go and get a washcloth to clean them, when Death waved his hand, and the boys were clean. She checked their diapers and found them clean. She then provided each child a bottle and laid them down. Maybe they will sleep while the grown-ups finished talking; after all it was well past their bedtime.

After everyone ate their fill and Gilly was finally off the phone, the women huddled together at the side of the room.

“What did Sally say?” asked Frances. Curiosity was eating her. She was really excited about all that was happening. She had already made up her mind, but this was family so it was a family decision. “I know what you want, but I think we should get everyone’s input. This is going to affect us all. So, majority rules,” she said brightly, her eyes gleaming with anticipation.

This could be the good luck they had done the spell for, though Gilly didn’t know about it. The spell is supposed to help Gilly get over the whole Jimmy deal. Frances didn’t believe that the spell cast had anything to do with the boys’ parents’ deaths. The clause in the spell would not allow such a thing. They weren’t taking any chances after what happened with Sally and Michael, not that they thought they did anything wrong, but it didn’t end like it was supposed to. So now, all of their spells for family now ended with the clause ‘the spell is cast; the spell is done; so mote it be; and harm it none’.

No, the spell didn’t have anything to do with what went on in Britain; it just brought the idea to Death to bring the boys here. The spell was a simple one, it called upon magic to bring them a bit of luck. They had no way of knowing that it would be in the form of children. This was one of the reasons Jet was always so leery, she was a big believer in ‘be careful what you wish for’.

“Sally said we’d be heartless if we turned the kids out,” Gilly said sheepishly, for even letting that idea cross her mind. “She said that she agrees with Death, that we need to let them grow with love. She agreed to come and visit and bring the girls as often as she could. She can’t wait to meet the boys. She said the girls want to be in their new cousins’ lives. So Sally is on the keeping them wagon. Where do you two stand?” she concluded. She was more decisive now that she talked to her much more rational sister.

Frances and Gilly looked at Jet as she was the one who had doubts.

Jet looked between the other two women, sighed, and said, “You two have already made up your minds. So I’m in. You do know that until the boys are older there will be no more Midnight Margaritas, right?” she teased the two women to lighten the mood. No one in this house liked it when the mood was depressing, they were a happy family.

Frances smiled and nodded. “I can live with that. Oh this will be so much fun. Just think we’ll have children around the house again and think of all the things we can teach them. We’ve never had boys before. Oh, I’d better look up how to potty train boys,” she said on a tangent with sparkles in her eyes, overjoyed to be doing something new and stimulating.

“Well, I’m in too. So we better go and talk to Death and get all the paperwork done. Thanks for being there for me. I love you guys,” Gilly said, giving her aunts a big hug, feeling better than she had in a very long time.

“We will always be there for you, Gilly-bean,” Frances reply, returning the hug.

The women broke apart and went to talk to Death. They settled on the couch across from Jim who was waiting patiently—sort of.

Gilly spoke for them, “We’ve decided that we’re in. Where is the paperwork we need to fill out?” He reached into his robe and handed her the documents that Augusta and Sirius had already filled out. “Aunties, look at this paper, it’s so thick. What kind of paper is this anyway? It looks expensive. Are we going to have to buy this kind for the boys? Not sure if we can afford that,” she rambled as she looked thoughtfully at the weird paper. While they weren’t poor, they weren’t exactly rich either. Though, they still had some saving from past relatives in the bank.

The little work they did for the town didn’t really bring in much money. They never really needed much, the gardens brought in a lot of their food and the house was paid for. It had been that way for decades. The clothes they wore were handmade or secondhand. They had only to think about repairs to the clothes and they were done. The many cats were easy enough to feed, when hunting was bad. So while they weren’t exactly frugal, they weren’t spendthrifts either.

“That kind of paper is called parchment. It used to be made of skin, now it is simply thick paper. You will find that most of the Wizarding World that follows the ICW is stuck in the late sixteenth century and uses parchment and quills. I am unsure if the school here requires it, since your government is not part of that body. Nevertheless, even if they do, there is a trust fund for both the boys, which will cover their living and school expenses. If you will sign in the blank spots, I will make sure that the papers are filed discretely,” Death said as he indicated the areas where Gillian had to sign.

After all the documents were signed Jim took them and cast the spell so only the people who needed to know—not wanted to know— where the boys were, could read them. This would hopefully hide the boys from prying eyes. He glanced through them one last time and then folded them neatly and put them in his pocket.

Gilly sighed and fired away questions on all the things she felt they needed answers to, “Okay, what do we do now? When can you show us where we can get the books that we’ll need to teach the kids about their world? Do you have everything they need in those trunks? Also, we need to know where the bank is and how much it in the trust funds. I want to make sure we understand this hidden world as quickly as possible. You said we needed to teach them about their families and responsibilities, where do we find that information? What about their families? Are they going to come and look for them? Do we have to watch out for that? I also wanna learn the differences between our magic.” Since they were going to do this they needed all the information they could get their hands on.

“I will return tomorrow to take you where you need to go. I will be here in the morning after you have broken your fast. Everything you need for your home is in these trunks. To unshrink the items simply put your finger on it, give a small push of your magic, then you need to say Engorgio and that will return them to their proper size,” Jim explained and gave a demonstration on one of the trunks. “There should be everything you require for the boys in there. The incantation to shrink things is Reducio. This should help if you need to store your own furniture to make room for what is in these trunks. You may need to practice. However, I am sure you can perform this bit of magic. Just push your magic through your hand like you normally would and say the words. After enough practice, you may be able to do the spells without voicing the incantation, and then you can do this in much the same manner you do your own magic —simply think about what you want.”

After Jim explained the magic, he turned to leave. He had done everything he needed to do here. It was all up to the witches now. He paused on his way out to answer the remaining questions. “There are books on family lineage in the bookstores at SunSpot Alley; however, you may need to order the ones you need from England. They will also inform you about the Magical British Government and the boys’ place in it. There may be some books in these trunks, families like to keep those in their houses to teach the young heirs about their place in the world,” he said, and then continued his way. “I will answer the rest of your questions when I return on the morrow.”

“Well that’s helpful, thanks for that,” Gilly said, looking at the trunks fascinated that all the stuff they needed was in such a tiny place. It all looked like doll furniture. She couldn’t wait to see what else wizards could do. And see if it was something her family could incorporate into their lives.

Britain just before evening tea

As the Owens women were looking in the trunks and trying to figure out where they were going to put everything, Jim vanished once again into the shadows. He made a quick trip to the solicitor who had handed his card for Harry, and had him sign the papers in a legal capacity.

The man tried to get Death to tell him where the boys were, but to no avail. He stated if he was going to represent the children he needed to be in contact with them. Jim waved off his concern and told him that they would contact him when they were older.

After all the papers were now legal, Death blended into the shadows once again. He appeared in London at the Department of Child Welfare in the Ministry. The office was much the same as any clerk’s office: desk, chair, cubbyholes and a back room for paperwork. The man behind the desk was reading what looked to be official documents, perhaps something that needed to be filed. It didn’t matter to Jim that he might disturb the young man, time was of the essence. He was only two steps ahead of Dumbledore and if he got this done now, the game would be won —for a few years anyway.

Jim removed his hood and got the attention of the clerk behind the desk. “I require these forms be filed right away. No one is to know about them as they are all properly filled out and do not require any extra attention. If you breathe a word of this —I will know and I will pay you another visit, only it will not be as pleasant as this one,” he said in a menacing voice.

Death knew he couldn’t take anyone before their time without a very good reason, like what happened to Neville’s parents. However, most people didn’t know that and he would use that to his advantage. And even though he had cast the spell on the documents, he wanted to make sure he left no loopholes. Dumbledore was not a stupid man and he would come here after exhausting every other avenue.

The clerk looked up, saw who spoke in such a threatening way and his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he hit the floor with a thud.

Jim sighed; maybe he should have waited until after the paperwork was filed to make his threat. He woke the clerk to try again. The clerk looked upon Death’s skeletal face with its eyeless sockets, and almost fainted again, until Jim slapped him on the face and said, “Pay attention. I do not have time for your hysterics. I need you to file this paperwork and I need it done now. Then I want you to take a vow that you will never tell anyone, no matter who they are, that I was here or what I required from you.”

The shaking clerk looked at the paperwork and startled. “But these are guardianship papers for the Boy-Who-Lived and Neville Longbottom,” he said scared to death that he would anger the deity in front of him. “Dumbledore is trying to put the boys with their last living relatives. He doesn’t have the paperwork though, for some reason Madam Longbottom won’t sign off on it. However, he says it was imperative that they go where he wants. For the greater good, ya know? He has been down here many times to see if any papers have been filed. The entire community is looking for them. I’m not sure I can file these.” And with a shaky hand he laid the papers on the desk and waited for Death’s judgment.

“Yes,” Jim drawled as he placed one bone like finger on the pile and pushed it back to the clerk, “and you will notice that they are properly signed by the correct people. It is not up to you or Dumbledore to decide who their guardians approve of,” he harshly informed the still shaking man. “Your job is to file legally signed paperwork, without question. The only reason I require your vow is so someone like Dumbledore cannot pull it from you mind. If it would make you feel better, I can wipe the memory entirely.”

“I think… I think that would be a better option,” the man stuttered as he nodded quickly; glad to find a solution that didn’t render him dead or his magic gone. “I don’t want to have my magic in jeopardy because someone won’t take ‘I don’t know’ for an answer,” he said as he stamped the Ministry approval seal on the documents.

The documents then flared with a bright white light, indicating they were legal, and disappeared to the files they belong to. He then bravely turned to Death and waited for his memory to be wiped. It was better this way. If the people higher-up knew what had taken place here, they would rummage through his mind and could leave him a vegetable. He didn’t want that.

Jim waved his long hand in the direction of the clerk, and wiped the last ten minutes from the man’s mind and made him think he had just taken a quick nap. He sat the man in a chair and made him sleep to reinforce this notion.

Jim faded his way to the Longbottom manor. “Madam Longbottom, I have come to inquire if you have set up a Post Office Box for the muggle mail?” he said after the older lady acknowledged him.

“Yes, I set it up right after you left. I did not know when you would be back and I wanted to make sure you had the address for my grandchild,” Augusta said, handing him a slip of parchment with the address written on it.

Jim took the address and put it in his robe. “I will make sure the boys’ new guardians get this and that they send you pictures and progress reports on Neville,” he stated and he rather rudely vanished again, but he needed to get back to work, and appeared in Sirius’ cell in Azkaban. “I had forgotten to get the address to your Post Office Box when I was here last. I have found a safe place for your godson. I also wanted to tell you that I have a task for you when you are removed from here,” he said as he tried to hand Sirius a quill and parchment to write the address down.

“Ahhh!!! Make some noise, would ya? Knock on the wall or something,” Sirius yelled as he once again fell to the floor. He looked bad for someone one who had only been here for a week, his clothes were filthy, not to mention the rest of him. He looked like he had lost a stone or two. However, he still seemed to have his mind, a minor miracle for this place.

Jim just looked down at him and held out the parchment and quill.

Sirius got up, snatched them and wrote the address down. “So, Harry’s safe? That’s a relief. Tell them not to write until they know I’m out of here. Oh wait, how would they know? Ummm, have them wait a year before they write then,” he said, handing the writing tools back to Jim. “You say a task for me? What is it? If you tell me now, I can think on it while I’m here and maybe work up a plan for when I get out. It would also keep the Dementors out of my brain, or can you do something about them?” he questioned hopefully, those soul suckers had already taken many of his happiest memories.

“I will tell them. As for your task, Voldemort made horcruxes,” and at the confused look, he reiterated, “soul anchors. I cannot see them because the spell cast to create these abominations hides them from my eyes. I only know that they are in England and that there are five at the moment. Do not think that he may not make more, this man is very afraid of me and will go to any lengths to prevent us meeting.”

Sirius shuddered, that was some dark magic.

“I need you to find them and destroy them,” Jim continued, placing the scrap parchment in his robe. “Fiendfyre will work or corrosive venom from a Basilisk or other such animals. I would recommend asking the goblins to check their vaults. Tell the goblins what I told you, if you must. You would also do well to research his loyal followers, and somehow find a way to check Hogwarts. Riddle would hide them right under people’s noses just out of spite. There may also be one in Riddle’s mother’s home town of Little Hangleton. If you find these before Harry returns when he is fourteen then you will go a long way to helping him,” he said as he stood to leave. He concentrated on the air around him, placing his signature over the cell, which would keep the Dementors at bay. “The Dementors have been dealt with. However, you will still feel their effects, since they are still in the area. Just to a lesser degree,” Death informed the man.

Sirius sighed with relief; he could already feel the dread lessen. He looked to Death thankfully and said, “Thanks for that. So, no pressure in getting rid of those soul anchors, then. Goblins are right nasty buggers,” the dark-haired man said, crinkling his nose. He had had many nasty run-ins with goblins, “but I suppose I would have to talk to them anyway. I have a few contacts I used in the war. That and some of my family were Death Eaters, I might be able to talk to them —but I doubt it.” Maybe he could talk to Bellatrix, who was only a few cells away. Then again, his cousin was stark raving mad, so that might not help. Still if he taunted her…

“Do what you must,” Jim stated, snapping the man out of his thoughts and going to the shadows.

“Should I talk to Dumbledore? I’m still mad at him. But, if it’s for Harry, I can put it aside,” the prisoner questioned, already thinking on who to ask and where to look. Mad-eye Moody might help, but he would go to Dumbledore. Remus might be able to get a spy in with the werewolves that had been on Voldemort’s side in the war. Maybe he could sneak into Hogwarts and find the Marauders’ Map, with it he would have an easier time sneaking around the castle since it showed were everyone was at all times. He and the gang were geniuses to think that one up while still in school. Too bad that traitor Wormtail lost it in their senior year.

“I would prefer that Dumbledore not be contacted. If you voice that you are still angry with him for thinking you guilty he might just leave you in peace. However, when you go and find the boys he will try and follow you, be very careful,” Jim waved off the protest he could see Sirius was about to make. “I know you will look for young Harry; it is in your nature. I leave how you find the horcruxes up to you,” he said as he stood in the darkest corner of the room, making him look ominous. “I must go now. I have been far too long in evading my duty. I will see you again, Sirius Black,” And with that Jim faded away, going back to the land of the dead.

He would visit the witches tomorrow to give them the addresses and show them SunSpot Alley and how to get there themselves. He would then leave them alone for a time to make sure all his plans were in motion, and then he would visit for what may be the last time. Oh, he would watch the boys and interfere if he had to, but if nothing was required of him he would give the witches’ free rein.

Chapter 4: SunSpot Alley and Dealing with Banks

Notes:

Thanks, darrelldeam and alix33, for checking this over for me.

This rewrite is unbeted; I am still trying to find one that can keep up with my tight schedule.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

November 6th mid-morning, New Salem

Jim arrived the next morning around ten to take the witches and the boys to SunSpot Alley. He had waited until he thought they would be done with breakfast and clothed for the day. He made his way up the walkway looking at the dying vegetable and herb beds. He so liked the gardens this time of year. Upon climbing up the stairs to the front of the house, he knocked on the door.

Gilly opened it, dressed in jeans and a tight knit green sweater, which left little to the imagination, with Harry on her hip. “Come on in, we’re almost ready to go. I just have to put shoes on and get a bag put together for the kids.” She stepped aside to let him in.

Jim followed her in and looked over Harry, who was staring at him in awe and then the tyke giggled, making Gilly smile.

“Aunt Jet, can you come and get Harry so I can get a bag together?” she yelled to the kitchen, making Harry squirm a little, he still didn’t like loud voices, not after last night. She bounced the child on her hip and gave him a big hug and smile, making him babble.

The Owens woman decided to get them used to happy yells, so they wouldn’t always be frightened of loud noises. It had been a long night, whenever there was a loud noise the boys would cry. That and the poor children had nightmares. They both cried for their moms and it took the witches hours to get them calm, not that they blamed them. It would take a while to get over the horrors that they saw, perhaps there were tools, or spells, that would help. It was something to look in to.

“I’ve got Neville, ask Frances!” Jet yelled back.

“I heard,” came Frances’ voice from upstairs. “You keep Harry and I’ll get the bag ready, since I’m already up here,” she offered and you could hear her moving around to do just that.

“Okay, I just wanted to let you know Death is here and waiting. Grab my brown boots and some stockings, please,” Gilly shouted back. She turned to Jim and in a quieter voice said, “Come and sit in here. We should be done in a minute. I need to check this little guy’s diaper before we go,” she said as she walked him to the living room.

If Jim had been a being easily amused, he would have found the conversation very funny. However, he was not, so he just sat and waited for everyone to join him. It took another half an hour for the witches to be ready. The aunts came into the room dressed in heavy dresses and button up form-fitting coats, large faux-fur hats and colorful ruffled umbrellas at the ready. Their attire would not be out of place in Diagon Alley, though theirs was a bit more modern, maybe by a couple of years.

“So where are we going? And how are we going to get there?” Gilly inquired, putting a coat and knit cap she found in one of the trunks on a fidgeting Harry, while Jet did the same with Neville. She looked at Death and noted he was still garbed in the long fluid-like black robes, which hid all but his bony hands. “You’re gonna scare the hell out of anyone who sees you. It’s not every day Death walks among the living,” she informed him with a quirk of her eyebrow. After yesterday this person didn’t scare her as much as he used to.

“I can make it so I will not be seen,” he said, waving away her concern with the mentioned bony hands. “As for how we will get there, you are going to ride the train to Salem, where I will meet you and show you the way to SunSpot Alley. I will then meet you inside the Alley, and take you to the bank, so you may get some wizard money from the trust funds set up for the boys. We will be traveling this way so that you need no help when your return. Do you have the letter I gave you yesterday? And please, you may now call me Jim,” Death said patiently.

“Jim, huh? Never woulda figured. Yeah, I have the letter in the diaper bag. I put it there last night so we wouldn’t forget it. So we gotta go all the way to Salem? I guess that’s cool,” Gilly said with a shrug of her shoulders as she made sure that Harry was bundled. “I don’t think we’ll be going very often, until the boys get older, that’s quite a trip with two toddlers. Do we have some money to change over? We don’t want to use all the boys’ money,” she turned and asked her aunts as she looked through the diaper bag to make sure they had enough baby stuff for an all-day adventure.

“Yes, dear, I have some money. We should be okay,” Jet said as she picked up Neville and starting for the door. Frances grabbed the diaper bag from Gilly and followed Jet.

It was a gloomy day, with the clouds hanging in the air, threatening to rain at any minute. The leaves on the trees, lining the roads, were all turning many fascinating colors, making the streets look blanketed in a natural colored rainbow of browns and oranges. The Owens women loved this time of year. The air was crisp and cold and the trees were hanging on to life with colorful fingers.

They walked through the town acknowledging anyone who paid the slightest bit of attention to them. Frances made it a point to wave at everyone, some waved back, while others scurried away. Gilly sashayed through the streets, making women jealous and men stare. Frances walked sedately and kept up a talk with Jet. Jim glided unseen by their side.

Death had faded away when the women finally got to the train station around 11 am. It was about a two hour train ride with stops in every town, making the time they got to Salem around 1 pm. They got off the train and saw Jim waiting by the shadows and followed him to Beckford Street, in the historical district.

The rain that threatened earlier came pouring down. It was a good thing the witches liked the rain and the boys had raincoats put on over their winter coats. They came upon a bookstore named All Things Wicca. It was a little run down and fit in with the rest of the old buildings that lined the street. Most people rushing down the sidewalks paid no attention to it.

“There is a mild Muggle Repelling Charm on front of the building. It will attract non-magical people who want to learn about the witch hunts and modern day Wicca, and repel anyone else. There is a room in the back that will lead you to SunSpot Alley. The door leading to that room has a stronger charm that only magicals can see. The shopkeeper, of course, knows about this room and keeps an eye out for anyone who gets lost or confused. When you enter the store ask them to show you how to enter the Alley. They will then think you are Muggle-born and assist you. I am providing you with fake wands, which contain just enough magic that you made enter the Alley unaided.” He handed them the fake wands. “I strongly recommend you not get real wands of your own. Though you can use them, they will only hinder your magic. These imitation wands are for show so the people here will think you are wand witches. Do not forget them when you return here. I will meet you in the Alley,” Jim said, pointing to the store and with a nod of his hidden head, he vanished.

“Ya know, I’m beginning to hate when he does that,” Gilly said, adjusting Harry on her hip and making sure his scar was hidden. She looked at the stick in her hand and felt a tingle in her arm. It wasn’t strong, more like a hair that tickles.

“I know what you mean. It’s kind of spooky when he just fades like that. Oh well, let’s get this over with,” Jet said, holding on to Neville and making sure he was dry and warm. “We should see if there are wizard type strollers so we don’t have to carry these guys around all day. I’m not as young as I use to be.”

“I hear ya. These little guys aren’t light,” Gilly said, as she tickled Harry under the chin, causing the child to giggle. So far the children hadn’t talked, except to ask for their ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy’, Harry occasionally asked for ‘Pa’oot’ or ‘Muey’, but the witches had to tell them they weren’t here and that made the boys cry, which in turn made the women sad, and then they would try their best to cheer the boys up.

“Oh. this is going to be so much fun. Think of everything we can learn,” Frances said, bouncing in place making the diaper bag rebound on her hip. The happy glow on her face and the gleam in her eyes noted that she really was as excited as she was portraying. The other two witches smiled at her and nodded in agreement. They were looking forward to seeing a magical shopping center.

They went into the store, which was set up like any other bookstore, but for the shelves of Wicca paraphernalia. Crystals, incense and candles that lined the walls and there were displays of small statues, pentagrams and scarfs. Beaded and crystal necklaces were on a small display on the counter. Racks of music not found in a music store, were next to the same counter and shelves of books were arranged throughout the middle of the store with the occasional display to show any new books. There was Indian music piped in and the overall atmosphere was welcoming.

Frances went to the front counter and got the attention of the young lady there. “Hello dear, we’re new around here and were told you could show us the way to the Alley,” she said with a huge smile on her lips. Gilly and Jet were relieving the boys of their rain jackets and coats and putting umbrellas and hats into the diaper bags, after shaking off the water out the door.

“Oh yeah, I can do that, let me put the bell up in case someone comes in,” the girl said, putting a bell on the counter and locking the cash register. She motioned them to the back where they could see a beaded curtain. “Follow me, it’s right through here,” she said.

So they followed her to the back. The room had a rather large fireplace on the right wall, a large X on the floor on the opposite side and a wall with an arch that looked to be decoration on the back.

“Okay,” the girl said after they all entered, “all you have to do is tap the brick right in the middle of the arch with your wand three times and a portal will open. It’s the one that’s all chipped and stuff. The Floo address is All Things Wicca, that spot over there is for Apparition, there’s a lot of traffic in the morning and evenings so you might have a wait,” she warned.

Gilly used her new wand and tapped where indicated. The wall folded back on itself and a large doorway now stood there.

“Welcome to SunSpot Alley,” the young clerk chirped. She always liked it when new people got their first glimpse of the Alley.

“Whoa,” Gilly gasped. The Owens women looked through the portal and were very impressed. They looked around in awe, mouths open, eyes wide, and speechless.

It looked like a giant two floors mall. They had never seen such a bright and colorful shopping area. Every shop was a different color, yet they somehow matched or faded into the next store. The ceiling seemed to be pouring in dimmed sunlight, yet it didn’t look glass. There was no rain, of course, as it was enclosed. They glanced in the nearest stores and saw that the windows seem to be lit the same way, making the whole alley bright and shiny with very little shadow. Not too bright as the sunlight was that of an overcast day where the sun was barely there, but light enough that you could hardly tell that the clouds were trying to cover it. The temperature in the mall would indicate such as day as well, almost room temperature, maybe a little warmer for these chilly days. It made Jet wonder if the place cooled down in the summer.

There were bookshops, apothecaries, robe shops with an attached Muggle clothing store, stores that were selling all sorts of trinkets and many others. There were a few kiosks and market stalls, but they were rare. There was one spot in the Alley that seemed to be darker than the rest, and the Owens women got a bad vibe from it and it was decided they would not take the boys there.

People were merrily shopping in bright colored robes or plain Muggle wear. They bustled about the mall with shopping bags; some were many others only had one. There were a few that only seemed to be carrying a purse of a back pack.

“Thanks. You’ve been a big help,” Jet said to the girl as she ushered everyone through when she spotted Jim waiting for them just inside.

“Jim, if this is a mall, why call it an alley?” Frances asked as she continued to look around. She was bubbling with excitement, there were so many new people to meet and maybe for once her family wouldn’t be the odd ones.

“This used to be an alley until about two years ago. A Muggle-born wizard named Howard E. Leavitt talked the shop owners into modernizing. The Alley was closed for a week and when they opened again it was this mall. They decided to keep the name,” Death explained as he led them down the center to the bank. He had learned this from souls who passed through his realm. They had been excited and wanted to chatter to Death as he led them to their final journey.

“Well, good for him,” Jet said, with a nod. “How did they…” was as far as she got when Death interrupted her.

“If you wish to know more there are books that will explain. I do not mean to be rude, but I have been removed from my duties far too long,” Jim said as he reached into his robe and pulled out two pieces of parchment. “Here are the addresses of Neville’s grandmother and Harry’s godfather. You may write to the grandmother, however do not put your address on the envelopes and do not use your names. It would be best if you find a way to keep your home town from being postmarked. If you include pictures make sure they cannot give away where you live. You cannot write to the godfather as he has been framed for murder and is sitting in prison right now. This particular prison does not have mail call, so he asked that you wait a year, in which time he will hopefully be out.”

“Yeah, I hope so too,” Gilly muttered, not liking the idea of an innocent man in prison. The more she learned about the Magical British the more she disliked them. She had been close to going to jail over Jimmy, and while she would have been guilty, for the second murder, she didn’t like the thought of any innocent in one. Thanks the little Gods that Gary claimed it self-defense. It didn’t hurt that he married Sally.

“Here are the keys to the trust vaults, hand the letter I gave you last night to the goblins and they will walk you through the rest,” Jim continued, and then he waved his right hand across his left and the keys appeared. “I must go now. Expect a visit from me at least one more time. I will be watching,” Jim said ominously and after supplying everything to Frances, he waved his hand in front him and without a noise he was gone.

The witches looked at where he had been standing then at the stuff in Frances’ hand.

“Well, it looks like we’re on our own,” Jet said, looking around, readjusting Neville on her hip. “Let’s get started. The bank first I think.”

They started up the marble stairs leading to the bank, after tucking their fake wands, pieces of parchment and keys into their purses. There were creatures on either side of the doors holding spears and dressed in what looked like armor. These must be goblins; I don’t think I want to make them angry. They may be short, but those spears are not for decoration, Frances thought, leading the two tot carriers past the doors.

The bank looked like any other bank, buffed wooden floors, nice soft colored walls. There were teller counters on the right side of the lobby and cubicles on the left. It was also complete with long roped off lines. But for the creatures manning those counters, you wouldn’t know it was a Wizarding bank. They stood in the nearest line and waited with everyone else, idly chatting about what they had seen in the mall. Many of the wand witches were looking at the trio of oddly dressed women, and wondering why they were so attired. The wizards mostly looked at the tightly clothed Gilly, until their wives hit them about the head. When they came to the teller, Frances handed the letter and the keys to him.

The goblin read the letter first and his eyes widened in fright, causing the witches to worry. He looked first to the boys and then to the witches. He handed the keys back to Frances and said curtly, “Follow me.” He put a window closed sign on the counter and stepped down.

The Owens witches followed him into the back of the bank, through a door that simply said ‘Bank Services’. He led them to an office, which was furnished with one large plain desk with a large chair, bookcases filled with books and scrolls, a few smaller chairs were in front of the desk for customers. An older goblin was seated behind the desk, busily writing away on some papers. He looked rather odd in that large chair with him being so short, but he was diligently working away as if completely at ease.

“These witches have a letter you need to see, Goldsworthy,” the teller said as he handed the letter to the older goblin and hurried away without another word.

Goldsworthy looked up from his paperwork, took the letter and read it. His beady black eyes also widened and he bade the witches to sit down in the chairs in front of his desk. “This letter states that you are in need of muggle paperwork that will make you the guardians of Mr. Potter and Mr. Longbottom in the Muggle World. As you know these papers will be counterfeit, though the ones for the Wizard World are legit. However, we do very good work, so you needn’t worry about being caught. We will even have them filed in the local government, free of charge. We have wizards that work for us in that world and they will enter the necessary forms into the system. This letter also tells me you have the keys to their trust vault and you need to be set up with a monthly allowance. May I have the keys, please?” he said, being far more courteous than he would otherwise for fear of making Death angry at him. Talks had spread through the entire goblin nation and they were all wary of the deity.

After the witches were seated, Frances handed him the keys and they waited for what was next.

Goldsworthy took the keys and examined them. “These keys are for vaults in Gringotts London. Fortunately, the paperwork to transfer those vaults to all locations has already been sent to all of Gringotts banks, in anticipation that they would be needed. It will take a week to transfer the needed funds. However, we will loan you the money for your shopping today and remove it from the vaults when they are set up here. Only the trust vaults will be here, the remaining vaults will stay in London and will be frozen until the boys reach legal age and claim them. I will make sure statements are sent to you monthly. Here is what is currently in the trust vaults,” he said after putting the keys on a parchment each. The parchments filled with numbers showing only one transaction, which was from the Longbottoms. Harry’s vault showed he had 2,300 Galleons while Neville’s had 2,000.

“The current exchange rate is one Galleon equals $4.30. Indicating that Mr. Potters vault has approximately $10,000, which refills to that amount every year. Mr. Longbottom’s vault has $8,600 and again his will refill at the end of the year. Both accounts are set up so you will receive $220 a month for each boy. If the cost of living rises, we will adjust accordingly. I will need your address so we may send you a check every month via Muggle mail. If you require funds outside of that amount you must send a letter to the bank and explain why. Today you will receive an amount equal to $1,000 for each child so that you may get what you need for them,” the goblin explained, showing Frances, as she was the only child free witch, the parchments with the balance.

The other two witches leaned forward to see the parchment, holding on to their wards, causing them to squirm. This was all so new to them and the magic was fascinating.

Goldsworthy then placed two stacks of 232 Galleons and two cloth bags on the desk, “When the boys are of school age you will receive a check for the sum of $1000, about one month before school starts. You will find that wizard wares are much cheaper than those obtained outside the magical world, because there are far fewer wizards than there are Muggles, so the market is not that big. That and with magic there is less labor cost. You may want to come to the Alley or mail-order at before the start of school. To mail order you will need to obtain an owl, which is what wizards use for their post.” His teeth grated at having to be so polite.

The witches sat at the edge of their seats and listened carefully to the manager. They needed to make sure they understood everything. The boys, being babies, were fussing a little, so Jet handed them juice bottles to help tide them over until the adults were done.

The goblin pointed a long pale finger to the gold coins. “These are Galleons,” he said and then pulled out some silver and copper coins from his pockets. “The silver ones are Sickles and the copper are Knuts. One Galleon equals 17 Sickles or 493 Knuts,” he informed them and put the coins back in his pocket. “The bags in front of you are expanded, feather light bags. They are designed to hold a lot of money, yet not weigh more than a feather.”

Jet handed Neville to Frances and looked at the gold coins, then hefted one of them in her hand. She then placed it in one of the bags and weighed it again. She then placed the separate stacks of coins into one bag each and noticed they weighed the same as they had when they were empty. “That is a pretty neat trick,” she said as she put the pouches in her purse. “Here let me give you the address. We’re going to need that paperwork for the kids. Will it be on paper or parchment? I don’t think that our government uses parchment,” she added as an afterthought.

The goblin growled at her and leaned forward in a threatening manner. “Do you think us stupid?” he snapped. “We know how your government works. I already explained to you that we have people that work in your government.”

“No, of course I don’t think you’re stupid,” Jet snapped back as Gilly and Frances tensed and held the now struggling boys tight, ready to protect them if this progressed into a fight. “I have no idea how anything works in your world. We were told you were hidden and that the ‘Muggles’ didn’t know about you. How are we supposed to know if you know about them? For all I know these people you have working for you don’t know everything that is needed.” Her magic flared a little, to show she wasn’t intimidated. She was a strong witch after all.

The goblin backed down, remembering who sent them. “I apologize; we are used to being looked down on by wizard-kind. Yes, the paperwork will be on Government Issue paper. When it is done it will be filed, like I said, and the copies will be sent to your house via Muggle mail. You should receive it in three days.”

“Okay then, sorry I snapped, we too are used to being looked down on. I’m going to need a pen and paper to give you the address,” Jet stated calmly, also settling back in her chair, her magic diminished like a small breeze. The other two lessened their hold on the boys. “Wait, I have a pen in my purse. May I have some paper?” she said, looking through her purse and pulled out a pen.

Goldsworthy handed her some parchment and she wrote the address down and handed it back. “That takes care of everything that was in the letter. Was there anything else I could do for you today?” he said.

“Yeah,” Gilly said, bringing the goblin’s attention to her, “I’d like a list of services your bank offers. Maybe you can help us in investing some of the trust funds for the boys. So they have some extra money when they get out of school.”

Goldsworthy looked through the drawers in his desk and pulled out a vault starter kit and handed it to Jet. “This portfolio has everything the bank offers. If more services become available in the future, a notice will be sent to you.”

Jet took the packet with a thanks and the witches rose to leave. She paused at the door and asked, “Where would we go to exchange our money to Galleons?”

“When you enter the lobby, the teller on the far end is the exchange window,” Goldsworthy said as he cleared off his desk and pulled out more papers and continued where he was before the witches interrupted him.

“Thank you. Have a nice day,” Jet said, quickly leading the other two to the lobby.

“Whew, these goblins are easily insulted. We’d better be careful, they look like they can really fight,” Gilly said quietly as she settled the now calm Harry more firmly on her hip.

“Yeah, I’m glad we don’t have to deal with them often. Let’s get in line and change our money. Then we can go shopping. That’ll be fun,” Frances said, her bounce back now that they were done dealing with bank issues. They waited in line for the exchange window and after they swapped some of their money they went into the Alley.

“So, where first?” Gilly said, looking around at all the shops.

The Owens women looked around the mall. Jet pointed to a store about four shops away from the bank. “I think we need to go there first. Maybe they have strollers or something for the kids.” The shop displayed the name All You Need Baby Supplies in pastel yellow colored lettering.

They had looked through the trunks the night before, but had only managed to get one crib set up and a few baby supplies like diapers, bottles and some clothes. They did an inventory on all the shrunken items so they had a pretty good idea what else was needed. That and they were hoping to find books that explained all the things they didn’t understand.

The witches made their way into the shop. As they entered the store Jet went to the counter while the others grabbed what looked like hand baskets and went to see what the store offered. The store had displays of baby items; child care books, infant and toddler clothes, necessary feeding implements, toys and furniture.

It was softly colored in blues, yellows, greens and pinks and the displays were all arranged for easy looking and handling. The register was in the back of the store manned by a young woman who looked to be in her early twenties, she was dressed in a nice baby blue uniform type robe, with the store’s logo of a sleeping baby sucking its thumb, on the upper right chest area.

“Hello,” Jet said, getting the young woman’s attention, “we’re new here and we were wondering if there are strollers or carriers for our new charges,” She said, pointing at the boys.

“Oh, are you Muggle-borns? Well, I can set you up with what you need,” The young woman said, coming from behind the counter and making her way to the left wall. “We don’t have strollers, but we do have these feather light carriers. They will stay the same weight no matter how big your little guys get,” she chirped in a bubbly fashion, and pointed to the display of carriers, that positioned on ones back. “They’re 4 -G- and 5 -S- each.”

“Okay we will take two. Do you mind holding them at the front while we look around?” Jet asked as she pulled one blue with a green dragon and one green with a blue dragon off the display and handing them to the cashier.

“Yeah, I can do that. Let me know if you need any more help,” She said brightly and took the carriers and went back to the cashier counter.

Jet joined Frances, who had Neville, and looked at the books. The titles were things such as, ‘What Your Little Wizard Needs’, ‘The Terrible Twos and What to Expect’, ‘How to Control Accidental Magic’, ‘Childhood Illness? What Potions Work Best’ and ‘Basic Nutrition for Your Toddler’ and others along that line. The aunts grabbed one of every book displayed, except for ones for pregnant mothers and newborns. They knew how to raise children that had magic, but they needed to know if there was anything different with the boys. The books cost a little above two Galleons a piece. There were fifteen in total and they would split the cost of the books between theirs and the boys’ money.

Gilly, who still had Harry, was looking at the necessities; diapers, bottles, bibs and things. She knew she could get such items in her own world, but the magic that was on these made them fascinating. They already had the bottles and bibs, but they didn’t have sippy cups and they would run out of diapers soon so they needed to stock up. There were also self-cleaning plates and utensils for toddlers that might come in handy. However, she was worried that all this magic would make the boys, and them, lazy. She would have to talk to the aunts about making sure that the boys had chores when they were older and that they played outside as much as possible.

So she decided that they would only get the self-filling sippy cups, which automatically filled with milk or pumpkin juice, of all things. The cups would last until the boys were three years old. The booklet said by that time the boys should be drinking out of glasses and the liquid would run out —the magic on the cups would know when the boys were that age by the maturity of their magic. The cups would then become regular cups and can be used as such, or given to Muggles. They had to be stored in a chill box —Gilly figured this was the magical equivalent to a refrigerator— and when taken out of the ‘box’ the cup would fill and then when empty it had to be washed and then returned to the ‘box’ to refill again. She grabbed two that filled with pumpkin juice and four that filled with milk. The cups were only 6 -S- and 5 -K-.

She also grabbed a few packets of diapers that changed color when they were dirty. She then went towards her aunts. “Well I got some sippy cups and some diapers. I think we need to talk about everything else before we buy them. I’m not sure how much we want magic to do, when we can do it ourselves, though the refilling will be cheaper than having to go to the store every week. But we should get some regular sippy cups and other juices, so they have a variety,” she said, indicating her basket.

“We grabbed some books that should help. Is that everything we need here?” Jet said, looking around. They didn’t see anything else, so they went to the front to pay for their purchases. The total came to around 30 -G-. After they paid, they left the store venturing back into the mall.

They looked around and tried to decide where to go to next. All the stores had large, clear lettering on the windows to show what each store contained. The names were very easy to read due to the muted sunlight spell that seemed to be on every shop window.

“I think we need to go there next,” Frances said, pointing to a store that advertised luggage. “If we’re going to be shopping all day maybe they have a bag that will help carry everything. I don’t want to shove everything in the diaper bag. Let’s keep it separate. First let’s get these little guys in the carriers,” she said as she went through the shopping bags and pulled out the carriers.

She then helped the other women to put them on their backs and put the children in them. Harry and Neville went without a fuss, looking around at all the soft glowing windows and displays with wide wondering eyes. Frances handed them a teething biscuit each, to hold off on any hunger. They had fed them before they left and some more on the train and Frances figured they would keep giving them little snacks and bottles, until they got home.

They went to the luggage store and saw bags lined up on the walls with neat little rows for the trunks and luggage in the center.

“Looks like what we need is over there,” Jet said, pointing to the right wall.

The bags ranged from cloth to leather, some small enough to be purses, others large enough to be carry-on luggage, in all colors imaginable. The tags on each bag explained how much it would hold. Some were bottomless, which made it hard to tell how much or what was in them. Others were expanded to hold fifty items, no matter how large the item was, which made emptying them easier and you knew when they were full. The ladies chose the hundred fifty item bag made in soft tan leather that looked like a large purse. They wanted to make sure they had enough room for all the books they planned on buying. They paid for this and tried to decide where to go next.

They went to a wizard robe shop next; they wanted to get some robes to fit in better the next time they came. Not the closed robes that made them look like judges or graduates, no, these were open styled robes, with cinched waist in the back, to show off the clothing you wore underneath, especially designed for Muggle-born women. They purchased these with their own money, two robes each.

Jet bought two plain robes; one grey and one black. Frances got one a muted yellow with green vines and the other was sky blue with clouds floating across. Gilly went all out and got one that was tie-dye in fall colors and the other was bright green with gold trimming. There were no toddler clothes there. That was okay, though, the boys had plenty of clothes back at the house.

They left that store satisfied and looked around to find their next destination. “I think we need to go to the book store next. It’s getting late and it’s a long train ride home,” Jet said and started to the book store. “We can come back next month or so, after we finish reading whatever books we get today. By then we’ll have a better understanding of all this stuff. I don’t want to spend money on anything we won’t be able to use.” The other two nodded in agreement. And they all headed to the large store with a book in the window.

The inside of the book store was bright and clean, with rows of books, much like you would find in a library. There were a few chairs in front so you could scan many books at your leisure. Jet asked the clerk about them, “Aren’t you worried that someone will read the books and not pay for them?”

The young man shook his head and explained, “There are charms on the chairs, well the books really, but the chairs are there for you comfort. You can brings as many books as you want up front, but, you can only read five pages from each book. If after you read the five pages and want the book, then you can put it in your basket. If you don’t want the book, try and read the sixth page and the book will return to the shelf you got it from. There is an anti-theft charm on the door.”

“That’s pretty clever. Thanks,” Jet said, shaking her head in wonder as she set off to the rows of books.

The store was sectioned for easy browsing. There was a section that carried school resource books, another for fiction and the ladies got the boys some children’s stories, others for Muggle parents and Muggle-borns, on laws, culture differences and what one might need to learn to fit in and the witches bought 53 books from here, and others on magical theory and the history of magic they bought 22 from here. There were other sections that the witches didn’t get to. All things told the Owens women left the shop with 92 books costing them 200 -G- and 14 -S-. Again they split the cost. They placed them all in the expanded bag and made their way back to All Things Wicca.

Using her fake wand, Jet opened the portal.

“I’m dog tired,” Gilly complained, checking on the sleeping Harry on her back. “Next time we leave earlier. I want to hit the second hand stores when we come again. They looked like they could save us and the boys some money. And I’d kill to get a hold of those old books, too bad we didn’t notice them until it was too late.”

“Don’t worry, dear, I’m sure we will have time to look at them later,” Jet said, patting her arms.

“Yeah, I’m just glad that when we go back we won’t have to go to the bank again. Maybe next time we should look into getting an owl. I mean, I don’t think the town is going to think we are any weirder than they already think we are. Man, I’m so tired I’m not even making sense to myself,” the blonde-red haired woman said, after they boarded the train to get home. She tried to get the sleeping Harry off her back so she could sit. Frances saw her struggle and helped her remove the baby and the carrier. Then turned and assisted Jet to do the same.

“I agree, I don’t think it will be such a long day next time, since we won’t have to deal with the goblins. I’m not sure why they thought we would need so much money. I think we should open an account in town in the boys’ names and put all the money we don’t use from the monthly checks in there so they have some savings in our world. We can give them an allowance from that so they can spend it in town and the Alley. We’ll keep the Galleons left over from today with us and give them to the boys when they go back to England, so they have money on hand if needed,” Jet said softly leaning forward so they won’t be overheard.

“That’s simply perfect. I was wondering what to do with all that’s left over. I think we should get a safe or something hidden so it’s safer than just leaving it in the dresser. When we go back next time we need to hit all the stores for catalogs,” Frances said as she moved closer to Jet to keep their conversation soft.

“We’ll talk about it more when we get home. Right now, I just want to take a nap,” Gilly said, leaning her head back and closing her eyes and making sure to hold Harry close. The boys had been well behaved for toddlers; they only fussed when they needed changing or something to eat or drink. They had been more interested in all the new sights and bright people. She was pretty sure it wouldn’t be the same next time they went, when the kids would be more comfortable to her and her aunts.

“Here, let me take Harry and you get some sleep,” Jet offered and removed the sleeping Harry from her niece’s lap and cradled him in her own. It was a quiet ride home and when they got there they simply cleaned up, ate and went to bed, they would look through everything in the morning.

For the next few weeks the witches spent all the time they weren’t taking care of the boys reading everything they had purchased and what was in the trunks. They finally figured out how to set up the nursery and shrink all their own furniture. They put the shrunken furniture in one of the empty trunks so they knew where it was. They put the leftover Galleons in another trunk, shrunk it and hid it in the herb room, behind a wall.

Gilly was reading all about magic toddlers and what to expect when they got older. She learned that the boys might start having accidental magic around the age of three if they were powerful wizards. She learned how to make stars appear on the ceiling of their room and how to play soft music in the air to keep them calm.

The boys still had nightmares about the night Neville’s parents were attacked. And poor Harry added the night his mom died in front of him, not to mention the curse that scarred his forehead. Thought Death told them the horcrux was gone, the reason for the scar still gave him issue. That and no matter what potion or herbal remedy they tried it would not fade. So Gilly was trying to find everything that would help them mentally. The self-help books she got from the local library helped a lot and things were starting to calm down. The stars and music were easy magic for her. All she had to do was think the spell that was listed in the book, wave her hand and it happened. Magic like that always came easy to her.

Frances was reading about Muggle parents and Muggle-borns. There were also books on household charms and furniture so she would know how to use all the stuff in the trunks. She was the one who helped the other two expand the boys’ furniture and set everything up in the attic turned nursery. She was also the one who learned how to make the boys’ toys work, which made the toddlers happy. She made sure to learn listening charms so they would know when the boys had nightmares.

Her main project was trying to figure out why electricity worked in their house, but not in wand wizards’ houses. Her theories so far were that wizards used magic for everything, even to wash the dishes and so they over charged the air. Since all the magic the Owens witches used was passive and sporadic, while it was still in the air, it wasn’t overloaded. Another of her theories was that when electricity first came out it was not insolated and so when the wizards tried it everything fried and they never tried again. She was going to have to test these. It would be fun.

Jet was reading magical theory and learning how to incorporate it into their own magic, so they could teach the boys as they got older. She was coming up with games the boys could play to help them along. Wizards were taught from a very young age that they would get into trouble with their government if they did magic, so Jet was thinking that they were repressing their children. That and they were taught, no wands no magic —another repression.

The Owens women were taught as children that as long as they didn’t hurt anyone, you could do whatever came natural and felt good. Jet was pretty sure this was how Wiccans got their start. According to Death, theirs wasn’t the only family that didn’t go into hiding. So that particular cult probably started from them or squibs. She had no way to prove this though. Books on that time were rare and mostly about spells used and not journals.

She did some experiments and noticed that for some things thinking or saying an incantation made it easier to focus on what you wanted to do, like expansion and shrinking charms. However, for more passive magic like stirring sugar into coffee it was easier just to think about stirring coffee and it just did it, or gently blowing on a candle and making it light. Most of the rituals they used seem to be in place of spells that were cast with a wand. Maybe magic was like a muscle and you just had to practice thinking the spell until it became reflex. She would have to study that.

November 30, 1981

Making her way down the stairs to breakfast, carrying Harry on her hip, Gilly almost dropped him when a funny looking creature appeared in front of her with a loud ‘pop’. It was about two feet tall, with spindly arms and legs and over-sized head and large headlight like eyes. It had pointed bat-like ears. Rather than normal clothes, it was wearing a tea-towel.

Gilly screamed, scaring Harry, who started to cry, which made the creature start wailing and banging its head on the floor, which made the aunts come running with Neville who looked at the creature and excitedly said, “Kippy, Kippy,” as he held his arms out to the creature, squirming to get down. That made everyone stare and quiet down, except Harry who was still crying.

“Well,” Jet said, looking from Neville to the creature, “It looks like Neville knows who this is. Can you talk?” she directed at the creature.

“Yes, Missy Witchy Jet, ma’am, Kippy can talk,” the tiny creature said, nodding its disproportion head, ears flapping and eyes wide.

“Good, let’s go in the kitchen and sit down and you can tell us who you are, why Neville knows you and why you are here,” Jet said, leading the way. Everyone sat at the table, the boys in Gilly’s and Frances’ laps, except the creature who remained standing. “Kippy, was it? Why don’t you sit down too? So we can find out what is going on,” the older witch pointed to a chair at the end of the table, away from the boys.

“Oh,” the creature started wailing, large tears dropping from its eyes. “Missy Witchy Jet is too kind to Kippy. Wanting Kippy to sit at the table like an equal,” the creature's wailing made Harry cry harder, though Neville seemed used to it.

“Kippy, Kippy, stop that at once, you’re scaring Harry!” Frances shouted to be heard.

“Oh, no, Kippy is scaring young Master Potter. Kippy will have to be punishing herself.” It stopped weepy as ordered, but started banging its head on the floor again.

The witches were horrified, not understanding in the least what the diminutive ‘Kippy’ was doing.

“Kippy, stop that,” Jet said, going towards the creature as she was the only one without a child. She grabbed the creature by the shoulders and stopped it from banging its head anymore and then picked it up and sat it in the chair. “Now sit and tell us who and what you are and how you know Neville.”

“Kippy is Master Neville’s house elf, Kippy is being told by Missy Longbottoms to find Master Nevilles and take care of him and who is living with him. Missy Longbottoms is telling Kippy to do this because Kippy is a family elf and only Kippy can find Master Nevilles. Missy Longbottoms is telling Kippy she is be obeying anyones in the house with Master Nevilles, Kippy is supposed to be staying here and not going back. Missy Longbottoms is telling Kippy that no matter who’s calling Kippy she is to be staying with Master Nevilles. Kippy is so very happy she is finding young Master. Kippy was worried. Now Kippy is here to take care of him and she is not having to worry anymore,” The excited elf said, all but bouncing off her chair like it was to run to the kitchen to start on the breakfast.

The women looked around at each other confused. They hadn’t read anything about house elves and had no idea what to do with Kippy.

Notes:

I am sure you figured it out but: -G- = Galleons; -S- = Sickles; -K- = Knuts. I am going with canon on the monetary value of the coins. I know and you know that gold is worth more, but I couldn’t suss out the value of gold back in 1981, that and I’m lazy.

Also there are no trains from New Salem to Salem, but there will be for my story and it will be just a little longer than if there were because the train will stop in every town on the way.

Chapter 5: Kippy and Sally’s Visit

Notes:

Thanks go to darrelldeam and alix33 for checking this over for me. All mistakes are my own.
The house elf history is made up by me, though the behavior of them is from Harry Potter Wiki. I did adapt it to fit the story.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Still November 30, 1981

The witches shook themselves out of their shock. “Well I’m glad you’re happy, but we don’t know what house elves are so you’ll need to explain it to us. But first the boys need breakfast. So you wait here while I get it,” Jet said, starting for the kitchen.

“Oh, Kippy will be getting Missy Witchys’ and young Masters’ breakfast. Kippy is knowing what young Masters is liking. Kippy has made them breakfast before. But what is the Witchies wanting? Kippy will make good breakfast,” the excitable house elf exclaimed as she jumped from her chair and ran to the kitchen ready to prepare breakfast.

“Kippy, stop,” ordered Jet firmly. Kippy stopped in her tracks and Jet continued in a gentler voice, “We can make our own breakfast. We’ve been doing it ourselves for years. I need you to wait at the table and let me get this done so we can talk about you and why you are here.”

The little house elf started sobbing and pulling her ears in agitation. “No, no, no Missy Witchy Jet, Kippy is must to be making breakfast. Kippy was ordered to take care of Master Nevilles and everyone in his house. Kippy must obey orders,” the poor house elf said as she continued on and on until she was ordered to stop. All her bawling made the boys cry.

Well, this is not going well, Jet thought, looking at the other adults to see if they knew what to do. The women shook their heads. They had no idea how to make this… house elf happy. “Okay Kippy, stop, you’re scaring the boys,” she ordered firmly, pointing at the still crying children, “and stop hurting yourself. Look, how about you make the boys something to eat and the rest of us will wait until after you tell us why you’re here, and we’ll see if we can’t reach a compromise,” she said as she sat back down place her folded hands in front of her on the table.

The eager Kippy ran to the kitchen and zipped around, opening up cupboard after cupboard, until she found the children’s cereal. She put some in plastic bowls, without milk, got the milk sippy cups from the refrigerator and brought everything to the table.

The witches looked on in awe at how fast the elf performed her so-called duty. “Kippy is needing Missy Witchys to be putting the young Masters in their highchairs, so Kippy can gives them their foods,” the little elf said, her face still showing how much she wanted to be doing the work.

Gilly and Frances put the boys in the chairs and stood back. As soon as the boys saw their food they quieted down and start grabbing the cereal, spilling most of it of course, which is why the milk was in the sippy cups.

“Okay, Kippy, sit back down and tell us what a house elf is,” Jet said after making sure the boys were happy. Gilly and Frances settled at the table again.

Kippy sat back in the chair she was in before and took a deep breath and started her story. “House elves has been waiting on wizards a long time. We is bound to wizard families and we has to do whatever a wizard be telling us to do. If we do not do this we is being punished or is being made to punish ourselves.”

“Wait. Are you telling us that you’re slaves? How can wizards get away with this?” Gilly said absolutely appalled, it was unthinkable to her. The Aunts also had complete looks of horror on their faces.

“Yes and No Missy Witchy Gilly, yous sees a long ago when there were no house elves and wizards were just starting to settle together. They is getting lazy, making magic that can dos most anything with just a wave of a wand. So one day a witch, names Louise Houghton, is wanting to be stopping doing all the housework so she can dos her research without stopping. She studies for many months to come up with a way she would not be having doing her own housework. She is making a golem and making it want to clean, but it does not think for itself. It only does what it is told. But this witch is not being very powerful. So what instead of a human shape golem she is making one that is looking like Kippy, but this golem is cleaning and she is not changing it,” Kippy said as she looked at the Owens women to see if they were following along. When she saw their studious faces on hers, she continued.

“When other wizards is seeing this golem, they is being thinking this is being a great idea. So they is copying it, after a while there is being many of the golems, but they is not reproducing as they is not really real. So one wizard, his name is being Jonathan Shorter, is thinking that he is being changing that, but he is not wanting to makes them free. So after many years of searching and creating he is making a spell to make us sentient, but bound to wizards for all times. House elves must being obeying any commands given to us by our Masters. Sometime we is wanting be to disobeying orders, but a Master’s orders are ‘the house-elf's highest law,’ we cannot, and we is being forced to punish ourselves if we try…” she said firmly, glancing at the young Masters to make sure they didn’t need anything.

The Owens women cringed.

Kippy turned back to them and continued, “When a house elf is being treated badly, we will being only doing enough work just to be obeying our Master's order. Sometime we is being sneaky, sneaky, and if even the itsy-bitsiest loophole can be found in a master's orders, and we is being unhappy with our Master, will we will be sneaky, sneaky and be using it,” she said mischievously and made little movements with her hands, like one would make if they were sneaking about a house.

This caused the three women to giggle and the mood lightened a bit.

“If our Master is wanting to make sure we is loyalty and wants us to be following all orders and not wanting us to be sneaky, sneaky all they needs to be doing simply treat us properly,” Kippy said with a small smile, then the smile turned into a slight frown. “Even if we is having a bad Masters, most of us is enjoying being bound. There is being some Masters that is genuinely loving and caring for us,” she explained to show that not all wizards are mean, “and they is treating us like pretty pets or dolls, giving us good words and rooms for doing our duties. It is making us happy.

“Wes can only be freed by our Master if they is presenting us clothes, which is why wes wear tea-towels and pillowcases. But wes is not wanting clothes, wes is liking to work. Wes is not human, wes is happy to be as wes are. Wes is not understanding any other way to be,” Kippy finished tugging on her tea-towel as she waited for the women to understand. “Yous also needs to be knowing house elf magic is very powerful and yous should not underestimate us. Wes can only be doing the magic our Masters is telling us to be doing, but wes can do very big magic,” she said as an afterthought.

“So, just to get this straight, you like to be a slave, and you don’t want to be free because that’s the way you were… designed, made, whatever?” Gilly asked, thinking this was going to take some getting used to.

“Yes, Missy Witchy Gilly,” Kippy nodded.

“Why do you call us Missy Witchy when you serve witches and wizards?” Jet asked. “Can’t you just call us by our names? Come to think about it, how did you even know our names?”

“It is a house elf’s duty to know everyone in the house they serve. Wes is being very protective of our charges. So wes is needing to know who belongs into the house we is serving. Missy Longbottoms is ordering Kippy to serve this house so Kippy is just knowing who is who, and who belongs here,” Kippy explained raising her hands in an empty gesture to show she couldn’t explain it better than that. “Kippy cannot be calling yous by your names. Kippy must call you with proper titles and yous is called Missy Witchy because yous is not like other witches Kippy knows, so yous is being called something else so Kippy is showing she knows yous is different.”

“Okay, so from your explanation, you are sentient, but you are just higher than a very smart dog?” Frances asked as she checked on the boys. They seemed happy enough and were almost done with their breakfast.

“Kippy is much smarter than doggies, but, yes, that is mostly right. Kippy can think for herself, Kippy can read and write and talk and has her own magic, but must be obeying orders and protecting, like doggies.”

“So if we order you to not do all the housework, you will have to obey that, but you won’t be happy?” Frances asked. She really didn’t want the boys to grow up lazy and having someone doing all the chores wouldn’t help with that. “Plus, we can’t just send you back to Mrs. Longbottom? In addition, you can’t tell her where the boys are?”

Kippy thought about this and looked for the loopholes and after a minute said, “If yous is giving Kippy a good reason why she is not to be doing all the housework or tending the Masters, Kippy will be somewhat happy. It will be easier if yous is being finding somethings to keep Kippy busy. Kippy can gather plants and be doing the shopping and delivers mail, if yous is not wanting Kippy to be cleaning. So if yous gives Kippy somethings to makes her feel useful, Kippy will always be happy to serve. Kippy has orders to be serving Master Nevilles and his new family, even if you is freeing Kippy she can nots be going back to old family or be telling anyone’s where he is being. Kippy has been promising to Missy Longbottom, she would not.”

Frances looked at Jet who looked at Gilly and they had a silent conversation with nods and shaking of their heads. This might just be what they needed, so they didn’t have to go to the Alley — since it was so far away — or take the boys out into the cold. If they could get Kippy to pop over there and get catalogs, then they could send her to get more books and maybe potion ingredients. Goldsworthy said merchandise was cheaper in the Alley and they had wondered if food and herbs were cheaper as well. They had just talked about this a week ago and were making tentative plans to go back. But, they really hadn’t wanted to take the boys on that long, cold, train ride.

Jet wanted some books on potions and herbs so see the difference between the two worlds. Frances wanted to see what furniture they would need for the growing boys. Gilly wanted to find more toys and books for the boys.

“Here’s what we were thinking,” Frances said, when everyone seemed to come to the same conclusion, “we need some stuff from SunSpot Alley and if what you say is true then you can just pop over there and get it for us?” Kippy nodded her head. “That’s good. So since we still have some money from last time we were there. How about after breakfast, you go to all the stores and get their catalogs? Then we can see what is actually for sale in each store. We’ll make a list of what we need and you can go and get it for us.”

This caused the elf’s large grey eyes to brighten with happy tears, she was afraid they would have made her do nothing.

“We’ll let you do some of the housework and keep things looking neat,” Jet took up the dialog. “However, we want the boys to keep their own rooms clean when they are older. They need them to know responsibility and that is the best way to teach them. We’ll also keep our own room clean. But we will let you do the laundry. Plus we might need you to take letters to Goldsworthy at Gringotts in Salem. Is everyone in agreement with that?” She asked, looking around the room to see if everyone agreed.

“Let me add that we also want to take care of the boys. You know, give them baths, dress them and keep teaching them our magic —since Kippy’s magic isn’t the same. It’ll get and keep them used to us and let them know we will always be around,” Gilly said, making Kippy turn her way. “You can change their diapers, and make sure they have clean clothes. You can even make the food. But we,” pointing to herself and her Aunts, “don’t want to start getting lazy so we’ll do the dishes and tend the garden. You can gather herbs and make sure the spell pantry is stocked and organized, though we’ll clean up after ourselves when we do spells.”

“That sounds about right,” Jet said as she nodded in agreement. “Since you can’t return home we should free you. We can free you right? Since you were told to serve us you can be freed by us, correct?”

Kippy gave a fearful nod of her head, sad tears welling up in her eyes. After all, it is the greatest threat to a house elf. “Yes, Missy Witchy Jet, ma’am, yous can free Kippy,” she cried, putting her large head in her hands.

“Okay. No, don’t cry honey, we don’t want to free you to send you away. We’ll pay you twenty-five dollars, or five Galleons, a week and of course room and board,” Jet said and held up her hand to stop the protest. She was going to offer more, but she didn’t think Kippy would accept it. “You don’t have to spend it. You can put it aside and use if for birthday and Christmas gifts, so you can join the family in celebrating. We want you to stay on, but, we want to hire you. It would make us feel a lot better. When Neville becomes an adult you can talk to him or we can find you a new home, that is, if you still want a bond, or maybe Mrs. Longbottom will take you back.”

Kippy thought long and hard about this and tried to overcome her fears. These witches weren’t what she was used to. Nobody that she knew would want to set free and then hire a house elf. It took around thirty minutes for her to calm down enough to answer.

While she pondered, the women put the cereal, which was spilled on the toddlers’ trays, back in the bowls and picked the empty sippy cups off the floor, where the boys had thrown them. They then settled back at the table, sipping coffee and just watched the little elf think, hoping she would take them up on their offer.

Finally Kippy looked up from her contemplating and said, “Kippy is agreeing, Kippy will clean the house, do the laundries, do the shopping, takes the mails to the goblins. But will let the Missy Witchys do the dishes, tends the garden, teach the Masters. Kippy will accept being free, but will still follow Missy Longbottoms orders to be serving Master Nevilles. Kippy will be very happy to be part of Witchys family. Kippy will accept pay for this reason,” she finished off with a firm nod of her head, thinking this might just work out. Kippy had never been part of a family before, but being the adventurous elf she was, it would be just fine.

“Good, then we are all in agreement,” Gilly said and she took off her robe she handed it to Kippy. “Kippy you are now free.”

Kippy took the robe and cried for a few minutes, it was hard on an elf to be free. It went against everything they believed in.

“Now, Kippy, we would like to hire you on until such time as you want to go back to Mrs. Longbottom or Neville wants to bond with you. Do you agree?” Frances said, doing her best to console the poor little thing.

Kippy nodded her head, still crying, “Kippy is accepting yours good offer, and Kippy will be keeping yours secrets just as if she is being bonded. Yous is kind to Kippy, giving hers work and paying hers.”

“Kippy, how will we keep the neighbors from seeing you? They think we are strange enough as it is, we don’t want to give them anything else to talk about,” Frances asked, grasping the first thing she could think of to distract the elf from her crying. After all, they only just got most of the women in town to not be afraid of them. If an outlandish creature was seen popping around their house, that might get everyone up in arms again.

“House elves is very good about not being seen,” Kippy said, drying her tears on the robe, and then showed them by becoming invisible then visible again.

“That’ll do it. Okay, Kippy, you can go and make us breakfast now. Just make whatever you usually make. Let me know if you need any help understanding how anything works. I’m pretty sure this kitchen is not what you’re used to,” Frances said as she took the boys out of their highchairs and put them in the playpen. It was the same one that Death had created and they just moved it around the house as needed, to them it was kind of special.

Gilly grabbed the broom and started cleaning the cereal mess on the floor.

“Kippy will start right way, Missy Witchys. Kippy will not be needing any help. Kippy is a smart house elf. Kippy will figure it out. Missy Witchy Frances is a good witch thinking of Kippy,” Kippy squeaked excitedly and then popped to the kitchen and started making breakfast for the adults, after giving the juice sippy cups to the boys.

“We’re going to have to ask her where she’ll be sleeping and what she needs and stuff,” Gilly said thoughtfully as she sat back at the table. “I want to see if there are any books that will explain more about house elves.”

“We’ll do that after breakfast. Why don’t you get some toys for the boys to play with while we wait?” Frances said as she watched the excitable house elf use her magic to make them breakfast. It was pretty neat seeing things fly out of the cupboards and around the room. She did notice that none of the electronics stopped working, so maybe her theory about insulation was correct. She would have to keep researching and testing.

Soon the witches were all settled eating the best breakfast they had ever had, though it was a bit heavier than they were used to. It was a full English breakfast, with bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, hashed browns, eggs and toast. They didn’t even know they had all of this in the kitchen. As they ate, they thought that they would have to give Kippy some American cookbooks so she would know what the witches ate regularly.

Things seemed to progress well for the next week. Kippy had popped to the Alley that day and retrieved the catalogs they had asked for. It seemed not all the stores had catalogs, like the second-hand stores, but what they had would work for now.

Jet paid attention to how Kippy’s magic worked. While it seemed to be fine in the kitchen and dining room; it showed that whenever she did big magic, like trying to rid all the dust out of the living room —the lights flickered. Or when she tried to do the laundry with magic the washer caught fire. So her theory seemed to be correct in both cases. If Kippy tried to flood the room with magic, or concentrated on one thing, like the washer, then the electronics would stop working. But if she only did passive magic, like take the dishes out of the cupboard, nothing happened.

“Kippy, can you explain to me what happened different with the washer than with the stove?” Jet said to her after the washer was considered irreparable by the repairman they called.

Kippy stood in front of Jet and try to explain, “Kippy is so sorry, this is not being like the washers Kippy is used to. The washers that Kippy is used to is not being hooked to elekristity. The washer Kippy is being used to is just a big tub with rollers on top. Alls Kippy has to do is put magic in the tub and the tub fills with waters and cleans the clothes and then Kippy be putting the clothes in the rollers and then she snaps her fingers and is drying them. When Kippy trys to be doing that with this washer it is making loud noises and then smokes be coming from it. With Missy Witchys stove it is being mostly, mostly like Kippy is being used to. All Kippy has to do is be turning the knobbies and the stove be turning on, easy, easy. Kippy is so sorry, Kippy will has to be punishing herself,” she wept and started to bang her head on the floor.

“Kippy, stop,” Jet said, grabbing the elf gently by the shoulders. “Remember you are a free elf, if you want we can let you give us five dollars a week for a year to help pay for a new washer. That’s what any other servant would do,” she compromised. She knew that was nowhere near the cost of a washer, but figured it would make the little house elf feel better.

She reaffirmed her grip on Kippy’s shoulders, almost loosening the robe that she wore. Ever since they freed her she took to wearing the robes in the house. Even though they were Gilly’s short robes they were very large on the diminutive house elf, so it looked rather silly, but she insisted. The Owens women have always let people live and let live, however they were slightly concerned that Kippy would hurt herself on the too large robes. They were still trying to convince her to buy her own robes or even shrink the ones she was wearing, but Kippy was being stubborn about it. So they decided to try and give her some for Yule.

So after replacing the washer and showing Kippy how to use it as well as a dust rag and vacuum, things seemed to go smoother.

July 28, 1982

Everyone was excited; the air was practically crackling with nervous and happy energy. In a few days it would be the boys' second birthday. Sally and the girls were coming to meet them, stay for a week and celebrate. They hadn’t been able to come for Yule, because they had celebrated with the family of Sally’s second husband, Gary.

The house was cleaned from top to bottom. The banisters were polished, the guest rooms were made with fresh linens and the bathrooms got a complete sterilizing. The women knew Sally wouldn’t care; however, Kippy seemed to believe that it must be done for all guests. She even made the aunts and Gilly clean their rooms.

It was a hot evening; you could hear the bugs chirping and the evening birds singing. The trees and garden were green with life. The roses around the greenhouse were in full bloom. The outside of the house was as clean and neat as the inside. There was a gentle breeze that really did nothing to cool the temperature on this July night.

The people in the Owens house were dressed for the summer. A long thin skirt and light sleeveless shirt for Gilly. The aunts were dressed in their normal attire, which was thinner than what they wore in the winter, but nevertheless covered most of their bodies. The boys were wearing thin T-shirts and shorts. Fans were going full force and with the help of cooling charms, the rooms were moderate temperatures, compared to the outside.

They were waiting for Sally and the girls to show up. Sally said they’d be here sometime this evening. Harry and Neville were in their playpen making their toys float around their heads giggling. Occasionally the ball that was floating would change color. It was the two bits of magic they had gotten really good at.

Gilly was pacing, her bare feet were making a slapping noise on the wooden floor. The aunts were calmly watching the boys, between moves of their backgammon game. Kippy was in the kitchen making a light dinner.

Sally and her family knew all about Kippy. The aunts had sent them books to explain who and what she was, so that no one would be surprised when they came. Sally had been just as appalled as the aunts and Gilly were, but also happy that they freed Kippy and offered to hire her on. Though, she hoped that Kippy wouldn’t want to rebind with anyone when Neville got of age. They could only hope that they raised him to know better than to enslave anyone.

It was about 7 p.m. when everyone heard the tires crunching up the gravel drive.

“They’re here!” Gilly yelled, startling the boys and the toys they had been playing with dropped. She ran out of the house, long skirts flying, while the aunts picked up a youngster each and followed more sedately.

“You’re here!” Gilly yelled gleefully as she launched herself at her sister, who hadn’t even gotten out of the car yet. The redhead grabbed her sister, pulled her out of the car and engulfed her in a big hug. She was laughing and dancing around, causing Sally to twirl with her, not that she minded. They had always been very close. They were closer now after what happened with Jimmy. When they were teens, they had made a blood vow that they’d die together. This was not that day. It was that vow that broke the Owens’ curse.

The back door of the car opened and two girls got out and they started jumping around trying to hug both the adult sisters at the same time.

“Hey, Gilly,” Sally laughed as she hugged her sister. Her voice carried a hint of worry. “Are you doing okay? I know it’s been a year since the whole Jimmy thing, but I want to hear it from you that you are okay,” she said as she pulled back, placed her hands on both sides of Gilly’s face and looked at her sister with concern filled brown eyes as they roamed the red-blonde’s face looking for any sign of distress.

“Yeah, I’m good Sally,” Gilly reassured her, placing her hand over Sally’s. Her blue eyes looked back showing that she was indeed fine. “Taking care of the boys helped a lot. You know, they took my mind off things and they lost their parents in a bad way. So we’re kinda being there for each other and healing together. They don’t even really have nightmares anymore, neither do I, now that I think about it. So we’re good, better, really.”

“Aunt Gilly, Aunt Gilly, I’m so glad to see you,” said Kaylie, who was seven, as she jumped up and down to get her favorite aunt’s attention. Her long auburn hair bouncing with her and her blue eyes laughed with pleasure. “I want to meet our new cousins. Did you know Mom does magic at home all the time now? And she is teaching us new things too. We can even light candles by ourselves. Gary thinks the whole thing is just weird, but he is cool with it. He is a really neat guy. I’m glad Mom got together with him.”

Gilly dropped her hands and bent down and gave her nieces a big group hug. “I’m really glad everything worked out for you guys. Oh, you are getting so big. You look so happy, and so does your Mom. You’ve been taking really good care of her. Thanks for that,” she said, tweaking their noses.

“Yeah, I want to meet our new cousins too,” said Antonia, who was a year younger than her sister. She had brown hair and eyes, just like her mom. She turned to see her great aunts standing in the doorway holding two toddlers. She broke away from the hug and ran to greet them. “Aunt Jet, Aunt Frances, are these our new cousins? Why don’t they look alike? I thought it was their birthday, if they have the same birthday shouldn’t they look alike? I have twins in my class at school and they look alike,” she questioned rapidly, just like any other child her age.

“Whoa slow down, pumpkin, we’ll tell everyone the story when we get inside,” Jet said as she turned to the three remaining people in the drive. “Come on everyone, let’s go into the living room and you can meet the whole family.” She pivoted to the house, with Neville on her hip, and started to the living room.

Gilly grabbed Sally’s and Kaylie’s hands and started dragging them to the house. “You have no idea how confusing these last few months have been. Everything we thought we knew about magic is so different from everything we’ve read so far. Aunt Jet is trying to figure out how to combine the two so we can teach the boys without making them freaks when they rejoin their world,” she rambled on as they approached the door.

“Gilly…” was a far as Sally got, while being dragged along.

“It’s too bad that Gary couldn’t come and visit, but I understand that he couldn’t get time off work. We really didn’t give you guys much notice, but we only found out when the boys’ birthdays were after we read some papers we got from the bank,” she continued, still dragging her captives towards the house. “We put off reading them, because we got so caught up in reading about this new weird world, that we completely forgot about them until Goldsworthy, that’s the banker, sent us a letter asking if we could send our bank information to get the monthly checks for the boys. He was going to send them in the mail, but he decided that it would be safer to deposit them directly in the bank. He said it was a new way of safely sending money to people in the non-magical world, which one of the non-magical born people told the bank about. But we had so much money left over from the first time we went to the bank that we didn’t even think about why we hadn’t received a check. It is so good to see you, Sally, you have no idea,” she concluded as they reached the porch.

“Gilly, Gilly, wait,” Sally said, tugging her hand as she tried to go back to the car, “we need to get our bags.”

“Don’t worry about them. Kippy will get them, she insists. She said that it is part of her job to make sure that guests are taken care of. We tried to tell her that you guys could do it yourselves, but she can be stubborn about some things. Like the time we tried to let the boys have cake for breakfast. She told us in no uncertain terms that we were never to do that again. She said that ‘growing wizards must be getting proper meals and young Masters is being growing wizards’, her words not ours,” Gilly said, trying to copy Kippy high-pitched voice, one hand waging a finger, the other hand on her hip as she stomped her foot making Kaylie and Sally giggle. “She said, as long as we’re paying her, she doesn’t have to do as we say all the time because, ‘yous Missy Witchys is not being like other Masters. Yous is hiring Kippy so Kippy will be doing what proper house elves be doing.’”

“Yous shouldn’t be making fun of Kippy,” Kippy said, coming from the kitchen. “Kippy is not talking like that,” she said in her squeaky voice standing in her tiny robe that Gilly had given her for Yule. You could see a flora tea-towel peeking from under the fold.

“Sorry, Kippy, I was only joking,” Gilly said. She bent down and gave the tiny house elf a hug.

“So you’re a house elf. You’re pretty much like the books described. Nice robe, Kippy. I’m Sally, Gilly’s sister,” Sally said holding out her hand. “This is Kaylie, my oldest daughter. The brown-haired rug-rat that’s running around is my youngest, Antonia.”

“Kippy is very happy to be meeting, Missy Witchy Sally and little Missy Kaylie. Kippy wills be done with dinner very soon. Everyone is being waiting for yous in the living room,” Kippy stated as she took the hand and gave it a vigorous shaking. “Kippy wills be getting your bags and be taking them to yours rooms now,” And she disappeared with a pop.

“That’s really neat. Will the boys be able to disappear like that?” Kaylie said, looking at the spot where Kippy had been. “Can we learn it?” she asked as her eager eyes turned to Gilly.

“Let go into the living room and Aunt Jet can try and tell you what we’ve figured out, okay kiddo?” Gilly said, ruffling Kaylie’s hair.

They went into the living room where the aunts were seated on one couch watching the children play. Harry and Neville were back in their playpen, with Antonia jumping up and down, trying to grab the toys the boys were floating. Occasionally, you would see her stop and her face would scrunch up as she tried to make the toys float too.

Sally gave her aunts a hug and sat next to Kaylie on the other couch, while Gilly joined the aunts, and said, “Okay, I’ve read all the books you sent me and figured some things out for myself. But why don’t you tell me what you’ve figured out and how I can help.”

Jet looked at her niece and noticed that she looked very healthy and happy. She had an aura about her that they hadn’t seen since Michael died. “Yes dear, you’re looking well, marriage has done you wonders. We’re fine, thanks for asking. Antonia,” she called to the youngest girl, “come over here, darling, and we’ll answer some of your questions.”

“Sorry, Aunt Jet. How are you? Glad to hear it. I just want to help you with all that’s going on here,” Sally said with a flush on her cheeks, embarrassed to be chastised, albeit mildly.

Antonia came and sat with her mom and sister on the couch and waited for the aunts to speak. The boys played quietly with their toys. Kippy popped in and handed out tall glasses of iced juice to everyone and popped away.

“Okay, so, first of all let me answer some of Antonia’s questions, they’re the easiest. The boys aren’t twins, they’re not even brothers. They were actually born a day apart. We’re just celebrating it on the same day. We’ll switch off each year. Harry was born on July 31st and Neville was born on the 30th. This year we’ll celebrate on the 30th. However, even if they aren’t brothers, we’ll raise them as if they were. Jim, Death to you guys, said that we can’t adopt them into the family in case the curse passes on to them. But they’ll be known as Owens in school and around town,” Frances said, looking fondly at her great niece.

“Okay, I can see that. Was that all you girls wanted to know?” Sally said, looking at her girls, who were watching the playpen instead of paying attention to the adults.

“Yeah, can we go and play with the boys now?” Kaylie asked distractedly, eyes on the boys.

“Yes, but, don’t take them out of the playpen in here, it really isn’t baby proof in here,” Sally said and gave them a gentle nudge.

“Okay, Mom,” they said as they went back to where the tots were giggling away.

“So, from what Gilly said, you now have a free house elf and she is a bossy one. This is good, from what you tell me about what Death said Harry and Neville will have to have some kind of proper manners and you guys… not big on the manners thing,” Sally said, glancing between the other three women. “She also told me they’re going to be some kind of Lords or something. I know, from the way you guys raised us, manners or not, they’re going to raise hell when they go back to England. Did Death even tell you why they have to go back? I mean if you guys are hiding them, why return?” she asked confusion creeping in to her voice.

Gilly took a deep breath and answered, “Jim said he didn’t know why, only that it was a ‘pivotal point in fate’ and had to be done. We’re,” pointing between her and the aunts, “thinking of keeping the boys out of public school and hiring tutors. I mean, why send them to elementary school if they’re only going to be there for three years. The magic school in this area starts at eight. And the money they send us monthly is way too much. By the time the boys are four we should have enough to hire at least three tutors for about three hours a day. We want to hire one for etiquette, one for charms and one for non-magical studies. We figured since they won’t need as many school supplies, we can save some of the school money to hire more tutors later. And maybe get a computer,” she finished, sounding more mature than she ever had before.

Sally couldn’t help but think that being a mom was helping her sister grow up. She just hoped it didn’t crush her free spirit, and that she would pass that free spirit on to the boys, if in a lesser extent. “That actually sound like a good idea, I’m surprised you guys came up with it,” Sally said, smiling to let them know she was joking.

“Bitch,” Jet said, reaching over and swatted her niece on the arm.

Sally just laughed, “No, really, it does sound like a good idea. Even if you only a hire tutor just for etiquette then you guys won’t have to try and change your ways so you can teach them. This is good. Just make sure that you take many trips into town so they’re not isolated here. Even if you keep up your catty comments about the town folk while you’re at it.” She remembered full well her Aunt Frances’ vicious tongue that caused her no end of embarrassment when she was growing up. When she got older she realized this was a shield for her aunt and accepted it.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what we were planning on. We don’t know the first thing about etiquette and books will only take you so far. I don’t think I’ve read so many books in my life as I have since we got these little guys. Though, I mostly read on how to raise wizards and how to work the toys and stuff. The aunts take the hard studies and let me know anything I need to know to teach the boys. But it seems to work out better that way,” Gilly said with a shrug.

Just then Kippy popped in and announced dinner. They grabbed the kids and went to wash up before going to the dining room. The table was laid out with a light chicken, vegetable and rice dish. Kippy had learned to make lighter meals from the cookbooks the aunts had given her for Yule.

“This looks great,” Kaylie said as she sat down next to the highchairs so she could be near her new cousins.

“Yeah, it took about a month to get her to stop making the heavy stuff they eat in England. But, we got her some cookbooks and health food guides and it’s been pretty smooth sailing from there. I gotta tell ya, you won’t find a better cook than Kippy. Too bad she won’t let us eat chocolate for dinner, before and after yeah, but not for,” Gilly said after putting Neville in his high chair and giving him some of the cut up chicken, diced vegetables and a bread slice that Kippy has set aside for the boys, since they didn’t want to chance rice just yet. They let the boys eat with their hands for now.

“Well it does smell wonderful. So let’s eat and after dinner we can continue with our talk. Maybe put the kids to the play room so they don’t have to play around the playpen. Can Kippy watch them?” Sally said, serving herself some of the delicious smelling meal.

“Yeah, Kippy will watch them and make sure the boys don’t leave the room. Unless they say they have to go potty, they’re in training, you know?” Frances said, taking her seat after placing Harry and making sure he had his food.

“Alright, let’s eat,” Sally said and picked up her fork to do just that.

After dinner the women sent the children in the play room that the aunts had set up on the first floor. The room was child proof and set up in such a manner that the boys could get the toys they wanted and not have to climb on anything. The aunts and Gilly felt comfortable enough to let Kippy stay there to make sure no one got hurt and to tend to the children if they needed to leave the room.

The room was also warded so that the children could only leave if Kippy, or one of the adults, was with them. It was one of the first things Gilly had learned, so they didn’t have to baby proof the entire house. This way the boys had a room that was all theirs —the house was big enough for that. The long winding stairs, which circled the middle of the house, was warded the same way. When the children got older they were going to convert the attic, but until then, this would do.

Kaylie and Tonia were fascinated with the magical toys the boys had and immediately set about making up games so they could teach their cousins.

The Owens women settled back in the living room.

“Okay,” Sally said, leaning back on the couch, tummy comfortably full from the best chicken dinner she had ever had, “so from what you’ve told me the magic is pretty much the same. However, we don’t use it as much as the witches and wizards of this hidden world. According to you, and what I’ve read, they use magic for pretty much everything. While we use it for…I don’t know…passive things, I guess. I mean, I know we have the Book and that we can make major changes in people’s lives, but, we only do that when we are paid and not every day. Also these wizards require wands, while we do things just by thinking about it or casting rituals. So what have you come up with to teach the boys both forms?”

“Well as you know Kippy won’t let us let the boys run free, like we did with you,” Jet said, leaning back on the couch happy her family was here. “She has worked in a magical household all her life. She suggested, from what she has seen us do, that we play games so the boys won’t be afraid of the magic they have. We’ve been doing that. From what she says, the wizards are happy when the child does accidental magic, then they make the child stop for fear of the government. They don’t teach the children they just wait for it to happen,” she stated.

“That sounds a bit oppressive, how do you keep them from finding the boys?” Sally asked.

“We keep the training inside the house, which Death said is warded, so that their government won’t know magic is being used. We play the music at night and talk to them about mind magic in soft voices until they go to sleep. That way they can start meditation at an early age. I don’t think they really understand us, but the soothing voice goes a long way to help with the nightmares,” Jet answered with a mischievous smile.

“We’ve also learned that they have many things in this hidden world that we don’t have here. Like how we use herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers in our tonics and spells, they use plants that we’ve never heard of in theirs and they use real cauldrons,” Frances took up the narrative, as she floated an Herbology book off the shelf on the wall to show what she was talking about. Then she nudged it in Sally’s direction until her niece caught it.

The older sister took up the book and opened it to the first page.

“They also have magical animals that we’ll never find in this world. Did you know unicorns were real, dragons too? We’ve had Kippy go to the Alley and get some of this stuff and experimented. The potions they have could rival the products you make. This is why I sent those books to you to read, they might help your shop grow. Though, if you get caught then they might throw you in jail. So if you do I’d keep it hidden if I were you,” the older aunt said with a quick wink.

“That and most of those potions are disgusting, not like yours,” Gilly said, wrinkling her nose and making gagging noises. “Yours smell wonderful,” she said with a blissful sigh, she missed Sally’s lotions.

“Okay, so we know the potions are different and we can try and mesh them together to see if we can’t make a better product,” Sally said as she looked through the book. “Maybe, when Harry and Neville get older, we can get them to sell whatever we discover for us in this hidden world. What I want to know is, what about the magic?” Sally asked her curiosity peaked.

She then closed the book and put it in her lap, already going over what she could do with the plants listed. She was the better potion maker in the family. Her shop proved that. She had had to close the shop here when she got married and moved. But then again, she opened one up in the town she was living in now. It made some pretty good money. If wizard ingredients were better than she could make more money.

“Well, like I said, they use more of it than we do. This is why they can’t have electricity in their houses. However, we can use our minds and hands to do almost everything they can do with wands. According to the books I’ve read, what we do is supposed to be impossible. We send out waves of magic, they send out beams,” Jet said after pondering what she had learned from her experiments.

“Like sound waves?”

“Yes, much like that. Since ours is sent out in waves it is less focused, will theirs is like a bombardment of power, which is why they have spells that can kill. There are no such rituals in the Book. So we’ll teach the boys how to channel their magic like we do. We are going to take them to the Solstice and Equinox gatherings so they can feel all the magic that collects there. I’ve noticed that when channeling with the incantations through my finger the spell worked better, more focused maybe, but I don’t need a wand or anything. Though it still gets sent out in waves, but narrower waves, I guess.”

“We’ve also decided that any ICW ruled wizards are stupid, lazy and have no common sense. They think the same about us. I think that the word they use for people without magic —Muggle— is insulting and I don’t want the boys or Kippy using it. We’ll just call them non-magical,” Gilly said, after all she had been teased most of her life so she knew how it felt to be called names and while it really didn’t bother her anymore, but she knew it bothered Sally. She didn’t want the boys calling anyone anything that might be taken as an insult.

“Yeah, I don’t like that word either,” Sally said as she wrinkled her nose while nodding her head in agreement. “And from what I’ve read you’re right, they really don’t think much of anyone not in their, oh so, secret society. It is a good thing that America is under the MUN, I like them. So we’re going to have to teach the boys both worlds and maybe they can teach their friends. Since they’ll grow up in this world knowing the other, they can put it into perspective.”

The ladies chatted back and forth for hours on theory and training. They decided that British, and some American, wizards were just plain lazy and they’d teach the boys not to use magic for everything. The game they taught the tots now was more exercise then it was being lazy. The women figured if the Owens women could grow strong and still live mostly normal lives, then the boys can to.

Sally and her girls stayed for the week and celebrated the birthdays with the boys, the aunts, Gilly and Kippy. The almost brothers were given many toys, some books and a few clothes. Everything they received was magical and non. Pictures were taken to send to Madam Longbottom, they did hold a few back for Sirius. They made sure that only a plain blue wall was seen in the background.

The girls loved that they had cousins and tried to teach them everything they knew. Soon all the children had toys flying around the playroom and changing colors. Sally decided she wouldn’t let the girls use magic to clean their rooms. She figured that she might try and find a way to ward their rooms so that magic wouldn’t work there. She decreed that magic was to only be used outside bedrooms.

After spending a fulfilling week with the family, Sally and her girls went home happy and wiser.

Notes:

So according to the Practical Magic Wiki Sally was born in 1975, which will screw up my timeline big time, so I have her born in 1956 and Gilly born the year after. The girls, Kaylie and Antonia, are going to be younger than they were in the movie, so Kaylie will be 7 and Antonia will be 6. This will mean that Sally will have been married to Michael when she was 18 and had the oldest a year after. Michael will have died when Kaylie was around 5 to make my timeline work. I call artistic license.

Chapter 6: Meeting the Tutor and Snakes

Notes:

I would like to thank my betas for looking over this fic, darrelldeam and alix33. All mistakes are my own.
This rewrite is unbetaed.

Chapter Text

A small narration

The last two years were spent in learning a great deal of magic, having lots of fun, hiding treats from Kippy and playing games. They had gone back to SunSpot Alley a few times so the boys could see the wizard culture. They had also made many trips into New Salem to show off their new nephews. Now that half the town wasn’t scared of them, the boys didn’t meet much adversity, but they did have to deal with a few taunts from some of the meaner kids. No one questioned why the witches had new children in the house, though they did wonder why they were boys, since the oldest niece had girls. It was not uncommon to see orphans of the Owens family move in after the death of their parents.

Aunt Frances made sure to tell the boys who was okay with them and what families to watch out for. It was something she was good at, she could just look at a person and tell you if they were cheating and with who. She was very good at deciphering body language and reading minds. She read in the books this was called Legitimacy, and that it was against the law in the Wizarding World to use it on the non-magical. She would have to rein that in. She didn’t even know she was doing that, until she read about it. Now she was practicing Occlumency to keep it from happening, mostly.

It was the beginning of the school year for the kids in town and the Owens wanted to start the boys in pre-school. They decided to hold off on hiring tutors for charms and non-magical education and instead teaching charms themselves and letting the boys go to the pre-school in town. This way they could at least meet some children their age.

The teacher, Patricia Paisley, at the pre-school was nice, but she treated the boys in a standoffish manner. She was always leery of anyone who came from the Owens’ house. These two boys were well behaved, but they would fight anyone who said bad things about the Owens women. These ‘fights’ were mostly screaming matches and some shoving, but someone always got there before it got out of hand. Patricia was worried about the boys doing magic. After all they were being raised by the Owens witches.

Those witches were always causing trouble in her mind. Weird things happened when they were around. She once saw someone get slapped, when there was no one seen doing it. It was at a time that they were all gathered for a PTA meeting, and the woman who was smacked had made a snide comment about the redhead. Then next thing they knew there was the sound of flesh meeting flesh, but the younger Owens witches were nowhere near her. They did giggle though. Ever since then, well… she would just keep an eye on the boys.

Frances read all of this in her mind and made a mental note to make sure to that that teacher treated the boys fairly.

The boys’ guardians were still going to hire tutors after pre-school, to teach them what they couldn’t. Kippy tried, but she was so small and funny that the nephews had a hard time listening to her. She would lay out proper clothes, but if they wanted to dress as firemen for the day, well the aunts let them. Kippy was insistent they get a tutor—now. They were making arrangements with the bank. At the moment, they only wanted to get someone for about a half an hour, twice a day, and every other weekday to teach the boys etiquette. Since pre-school ended at 11:30 a.m. it should be okay.

Gilly had Kippy take a letter to Goldsworthy to see if he knew anyone that would teach Harry and Neville manners, but not be too stuffy about it. The manager replied with an address and phone number of a half-blood wizard named, Luis F. Butterworth. The boys were only four, but if Mr. Butterworth could come to their home when Kippy had them eating that would probably work out best. So they sent a letter to the man, via the US mail, to set up a meeting for 12:30 today, which is when Kippy set the boys down for a nap.

September 7, 1984

At the correct time there was a knock on the door and Gilly answered it. “Mr. Butterworth?” She greeted.

“Yes. Miss Owens, I presume,” came the cultured reply from the rather normal sized man in a sharp, grey business suit. He had neatly combed blond hair and blue eyes. “It is lovely you meet you, Miss Owens. You may call me Luis,” he said as he took her hand and kissed the knuckle.

Gilly giggled. “Sure, thanks. Come on in, we’re in the kitchen. I’m Gilly,” she said and turned to lead the way, with perhaps a little wiggle in her jean clad hips.

“Pleasure,” Luis said, following at a clipped pace, though his eyes did roam to those nice hips. He wasn’t in a relationship, but he knew better to mixed business with pleasure, however those were some nice curves, not that he let that show on his features. That would be uncouth. They entered a very clean kitchen and he noted the two older women attired in some very old-fashion dresses.

“These are my aunts, Jet and Frances,” she said, pointing to each aunt, who nodded their head to their names. “I’m not sure what the goblins told you, but we wanted to meet you because we are looking for tutors for our charges,” Gilly explained as she sat at the table and gestured for him to do the same. “They’re only four years old; they came to us right before they turned two. We don’t really believe in manners and etiquette, we’re kinda free spirits. However, the man who asked us to take the boys in said they needed to be taught —something about family obligation. He didn’t tell us much more than that. Just that it’s needed.”

“I see, so you three lovely ladies don’t feel as if you can teach these young men what they may need to know for later in their lives?” Luis said, putting his coat, neatly folded in half, on the back of his chair and kissing each aunt’s hand, before he sat down and placed his folded hands on the table. “However, you do not wish for them to use their manners at all times,” he paused and rubbed his chin. “You should know that this goes against all my teaching. When I train young ladies and gentlemen I expect them to behave all the time,” he stated, tapping his fingers on the table.

“I get that, I really do, but we don’t want them to be proper all day. We want them to have spirit and to explore their own way in the world. However, we were told that they needed to know how to… comport their selves in certain settings,” Gilly said sincerely, wanting to make sure he understood that they didn’t want to make the boys something they were not.

“I see,” Luis stated, drumming his fingers lightly on the table, thinking about what she was telling him. “So you propose they be… part-time gentlemen and only use my teaching in formal settings? And that you do not have the knowledge to teach them yourself,” he said in a questioning tone.

“Yes, we know manners, but until we hired our servant, we didn’t really use them and we don’t want the boys to use them all the time. She is very insistent that the boys eat at the same time every day and that they use proper forks and such. Why she won’t even let them have chocolate for breakfast,” Frances explained in fond exasperation, causing Luis to lift an eyebrow at just what a challenge this would be.

“We adore her and she is such a little dear,” Jet continued with an equally fond smile. “However, we will always be happy that it is her and not us that will keep the boys in line. Now that our nephews are older, we don’t want to repress their spirit. We’re still teaching them to think freely, but we do understand that the families they have left will want them to be on their best behavior when they need to be.”

“May I meet this servant to see what she has taught the boys already?” Luis inquired, thinking to himself that this was going to be quite an experiment. Taming free spirited boys without crushing that spirit will take some careful maneuvering. Chocolate for breakfast indeed, he thought with a frown. What other bad habit will I have to break every day? Am I up to this challenge? Yes, yes, I am. He was brought out of his thoughts, when Gilly answered him.

“You’re a wizard, right?” Gilly questioned, and then waved her hand in an apologetic manner. “Sorry, I know you are, or Goldsworthy wouldn’t have sent you, but you do know about house elves, right?” she asked, not sure how that worked in the Wizarding World. As far as she knew they were only purchased by the rich, and while he did look refined, he didn’t look overly wealthy.

“Yes, of course, I know about house elves, but did you say you hired her?” Luis asked with a gobsmacked look upon his normally stoic face. “I have never heard of such a thing.” His face took on a look of confusion. What a novel idea, to free and hire a house elf. He was sure it would never catch on, for why pay for something that was free. Well, there was the initial fee, but after that it was free labor.

“Yes, we set her free when she was given to us and hired her right after. We think of the little dear as part of the family,” Frances cooed as Jet nodded in agreement. “Kippy, can you come here dear?”

‘Pop’

“What can Kippy be doing for Missy Witchy Frances?” Kippy said still dressed in her robe. The Owens women saw no need to have her dress in anything else. If she was comfortable wearing bath wear, then who were they to complain?

“Kippy, this is Mr. Butterworth.” Jet said pointing to Luis, who was staring at the robe clad house elf in utter astonishment. “We’re interviewing him to see if he can tutor Harry and Neville in manners. He would like to know what you have taught them so far.”

Kippy sighed; her shoulders slumped in disappointment as she wrung her hands and turned to the man at the table. “Kippy is not teaching the young Masters much. She is mostly keeping Missy Witchys from teaching them bad manners,” the little elf said with a slight glare at the women, who didn’t look ashamed at all, as a matter of fact they were smiling at her in a fond way. “They is knowing when to eats and when to go to beds. They is still sneaking to get snacks from the Missy Witchys after Kippy is telling them nos. They is eating with forks and spoons and will sits at the tables. But they is wearing whatever they wants, Missy Witchys is telling them they can. Kippy puts out proper pants and shirts, but Kippy is fighting losing battle,” she sighed again.

This shocked the already flustered Luis even more, as he had never seen an elf show emotions such as anger to their owner, then he remember this was a free elf. He had also never seen ‘owners’ let a house elf talk like that.

After pulling himself together Luis looked at the bizarre house elf and said, “Yes, ummm, well, thank you, Kippy. I’m sure you have done your best. If I do teach the young masters will you be able to keep them from backsliding too much? I think, from what the ladies have been telling me, we might want to reach a compromise. Let us say…” he paused a minute. “Have the young gentlemen only use their manners for lunch and dinner. The rest of the times let them eat as the rest of the family does.”

He was not staring anymore, because it was bad manners, shocked or not. If there was one thing he prided himself on it was to keep his calm demeanor in any situation, which had been taxed since he entered this house. Little did he know that was common place around the Owens women.

“Kippy can be doing that,” the little elf bounced on her toes, glad that her masters would finally be learning something proper.

“Thank you, Kippy,” Luis said with a small smile at her antics. “I would like them to be properly attired at noon sharp and six in the evening. So if you can get them to dress accordingly when it is time for lessons, that would be lovely,” he cut a small glare to the unabashed witches. “Now, if I understand this correctly, they only need know how and when to use these manners. You, of course, can make sure that they don’t fall into horrid manners and eat neatly every meal, without compromising the family’s way of life.”

Kippy sat and thought about it for a minute, conflicting emotions and thoughts filled her head. On one hand, the boys would learn what they needed. On the other hand, the witches were her Mis… bosses. Finally she decided on and answer, “Yes, I is understanding why Missy Witchys is doing what they has always done. Kippy just wants what’s best for the young Masters. Kippy is knowing young Master Nevilles family and they is being very strict. Kippy is only wanting to help,” she said a little distressed, wringing her hands. She well remembered the sharp tongued Madam Longbottom and had no desire to ever have her charges feel said tongue.

Jet got up, knelt down and gave Kippy a hug. “You’re doing a wonderful job,” she said as she sat back at the table still looking at Kippy. “The man who brought the boys to us said he wanted them to be both wild and well-mannered, so why don’t we do as Luis says and compromise. We promise not to interfere with lunch and dinner, if you promise not to interfere with breakfast, snack and dessert. Would that work for you, you darling elf?” she asked in her gentlest voice. Kippy was quite prone to emotions still; it was in the house elf’s nature.

“Yes, Missy Witchy Jet, Kippy can be doing that. Kippy will make the meals and then go and gather herbs and potion ingredients and be doings other housework at that time, but Kippy does not wants you to be letting the young Masters to be using their hands to be eating,” Kippy said with a firm look.

“We can do that,” Jet said with a smile.

Kippy nodded her head and turned to Luis. “Master Luis, Kippy will make sure the young Masters listens to yous. Kippy has to goes back to the young Masters, they is not sleeping yet,” And Kippy popped away.

“That is one very unusual house elf,” Luis said with a thoughtful look on his face.

“Isn’t she? We wouldn’t trade her for the world,” Gilly said with a big smile and a twinkle in her eye that could rival Dumbledore’s. “So how would you like to work this? We wanted to have you come by for lunch and dinner every other weekday until you get table manners down. Then maybe come for a half an hour in the afternoon for the rest. I don’t know what else can be taught to them at this age, but you’re the expert. You can fill in your own timetable and let us know, though the boys are in pre-school right now. It gets out at 11:30,” she explained, wanting to make sure he knew what was what.

“We do have a contract for the boys,” Jet said, reaching to the side table where there was a stack of parchment and grabbing the top one. “It’s a magically binding one so you can’t tell anyone who they are or where they are. They’re known in town as our nephews with the last name Owens,” she explained, putting a contract on the table in front of Luis.

Gilly had already filled out her part as the boys’ magical guardian. Goldsworthy had the bank’s wizarding lawyers draw it up. He had looked it over and made sure it was written so that it was ironclad. They weren’t taking any chances.

“It’s not that we don’t trust you, but when you know who our boys are, you will understand,” Frances added, making sure that he understood they were simply protecting the children.

He looked at them and nodded, and then took up the papers and wondered who these soon to be pupils were that they needed a non-disclosure contract. It seemed to be a standard magical contract with provisions that he could not tell the non-magical world either. It was all written in legalese; however, it didn’t mention the children’s names. It simply referred to them the wards of Gillian Owens, the pupils or the students.

Technically he was swearing on his magic not to tell anyone. He pondered on this for about twenty minutes trying to decide if it was worth it, while the Owens women sipped their drinks. The money was very good, and if he stayed on as the boys grew older it would be better. Plus, the goblins vouched for the witches, saying that they had been spoken highly of by a very powerful man.

Gilly was starting to worry that he was taking so long to decide. She knew they were asking a lot, but they had no other choice. She shared a look with the aunts, who were also starting to get concerned.

Finally Luis nodded to himself. He decided that he would take the job, so he took out his pen and signed where indicated, and then he pricked his finger and added a drop of blood next to his signature. There was a flash of blue light and the contract copied itself twice and the original one disappeared. Luis took up one of the copies, folded it and put it on the table in front of him. Jet took the other copy and put it on the stack.

“I can come to the house every Monday, Wednesday and Friday just before noon and 6 p.m. I would also like to come on Sunday around 4 p.m. for tea. If you would ask her, I would like it if Kippy can join us so she will know what is expected from the boys. Have her have the meals prepared, something simple for now, and the boys dressed and ready. I will take it from there,” Luis stated his timetable and looked around to see if they agreed.

“That sound fine, we can eat either here in the kitchen or in the living room,” Gilly said after a silent conversation with her aunts.

“Wonderful,” the tutor stated. “Now that the contract is filed, can you tell me who I will be working with, so I know just what needs to be taught? I need to know if they need to be educated on the basic or high society etiquette,” he asked, wanting to make sure he had all the knowledge he needed for his new students. Etiquette had many branches after all; some casual, some very upper crust, some stiff lipped and some very political.

“Oh, ummm, yeah, the boys’ names are…” Gilly took a deep breath; she had no idea how he was going to react, “Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Don’t worry,” she quickly stated, holding up her hands at his shocked face. “We have the paperwork stating that they’re here legally, and it is signed by their guardians.”

“Yes it is all properly legal,” reaffirmed Jet, who was once again reaching for documents and handing them over. “Also, we’d like if you’d treat the boys as you would any other client.”

“Yes, well,” Luis said as he sat in shock, quickly scanning the parchment that was handed to him. He knew there was a global search for these two young men, headed by none other than Albus Dumbledore. He just realized what kind of conspiracy he had signed on to. “I think that I will need to brush up on my British etiquette,” he mumbled to himself and then shook himself out of his stupor and place the guardianship papers on the table.

“Yes, from what we know they will be going back at some point in the future. So, yeah, something British,” Gilly said, hearing his muttering. She took the documents and placed them back on the stack.

“Yes, well, now that that is settled, I thank you for seeing me. Do not worry; I do not want to lose my magic by telling anyone who my clients are. Give me a day or two to think of the required teaching.” He got up and in a daze. He kissed the back of their hands on reflex. This whole meeting was one surprise after another; part-time gentlemen, a free house elf, and now the Boy Who Lived.

“It was great meeting you, and I’m glad you signed on, so to speak,” Gilly said when he kissed her hand. The women rose to see him out but he just waved them away.

“The pleasure was all mine, I assure you. I will see you lovely ladies next Monday around noon. I can see myself out,” he said as he gathered his coat and left as quickly as his manners would allow. He really needed to think about what had just happened. He was already going over what books he had and what he’d need to purchase. British etiquette was a bit different than American.

“Well, that went better than I thought. I hope we aren’t teaching them too young,” Gilly said as she sat back down and watched the confused man leave, a concerned look in her eyes.

“Don’t worry dear, he seems like a lovely man. I got good vibes from him,” Frances said, patting Gilly’s hand.

“I know I’m just worried that I’m doing the right things. Most of the books say that the pure-blood kids learn this from the time they can walk and talk. And you know there’s no way we could ever teach them,” the red-blonde sighed and put her cheek in her hand, elbow on the table and absentmindedly picked at a cookie in front of her, making it crumble all over the table.

“Well, we’ll see what happens. No matter if he stays or not, the contract will make it so he can’t tell. Nifty that. So, shall we go and steal the boys from Kippy and go to town?” France said, getting up and heading for the stairs.

“Aunt Frances, Kippy is going to yell at you again and maybe take away your chocolate,” Gilly said playfully as brushed the crumbs away and ran after her. Kippy was so fun to get riled, her squeaky voice and foot stomping was so cute.

“What’s life without a little fun, dear?” Frances laughed gaily. She so enjoyed annoying Kippy, who actually took it in good humor. “I can live without chocolate for a little while. I’m sure she will forgive me.”

“It’s your chocolate.”

October 19, 1984

“Tum on ‘eville, I wants to see the snake again,” Harry said as he ran outside looking for the snake he had met yesterday. The snake had been complaining that it was too cold and was looking for a place to hole up for the winter. Neville had said he couldn’t understand the snake, but Harry wanted to ask the aunts if the snake could come into the house where it was warm. He just wanted to see if the snake wanted to first. The poor thing didn’t stick around for him to ask, it slithered away complaining the whole time.

They had just changed their clothes from the lessons the aunts were making them take. Right now, they were dressed as wood sprites, in thick brown trousers and green tunics. The boys didn’t really understand why they had to dress funny two times a day. However, Mr. Luis and the aunts told them it was important.

“I’m tumming, Harry,” Neville said, running after Harry as fast as his little legs would carry him. They were trying to get outside before Kippy found them and made them come back in. She was such a meanie-head sometimes, but they loved her.

The boys looked for the snake for about fifteen minutes before they gave up and went back into the house where it was warmer. Being like any other little boys, they hadn’t put their jackets on before they went out. They went into the living room where Aunt Frances was.

She looked at the flushed cheeks and down faces and patted the couch next to where she sat. “Oh, my little darlings, what has you so sad?” she asked as she gave them both hugs after they clambered up next to her. The aunts never liked seeing the boys upset. It didn’t happen often they were such good boys, but when it did they did everything they could to make it better.

“We tan’t find the snake,” Harry said sadly as he cuddled into her side. He had been hoping to have a pet for the winter, since the poor snake had been so cold. Now, it was gone and he missed it. “I looked and looked, but it was goneded,” he sniffed.

“Okay, sweetie, what snake? And why do you want to find him?” she questioned softly. If they wanted a snake she was all for it.

“I’s talking to a snake ‘esterday and it was tomplaining it was told. I wanteds to ask it if it wanteds lives with me, but it’s goneded and we touldn’t find it,” Harry said, looking really put out, with his lower lip sticking out, little tears glistening in his emerald eyes. He was quite upset about the snake being gone. Talking to it, when Neville couldn’t, made him feel special. Like his brother did when he could do school work that Harry couldn’t. Not that Harry was a stupid child, he just didn’t like studying, and Neville was really good at his ABC’s. Harry was getting better though, Ms. Paisley said so.

“You were talking to a snake?” she asked a bit flustered, and then she looked at his sad face and gave him a hug. “Oh, my darling boy, I’m so sorry your friend had to leave. However, you know, honey, it is time for all snakes to go to sleep for the winter,” Frances explained, as she ran her hand down Harry’s hair. She didn’t know what to think, she hadn’t read anything about wizards talking to snakes. Maybe she would ask Luis when he came for the boys lessons tonight.

“Ummmhmm,” Harry said, nodding his head, “‘eville said he tan’t hear what the snake said. But I heareded it I really, really did.”

Neville was cuddling up on her other side, not really paying attention. He was looking at the knick-knacks on the shelves wondering if he could play with them. They were too high up for him to reach; maybe he could float them down like the games they played in the playroom. Then he remembered Kippy said he can’t play those games in this room and with a disappointed sigh, he cuddled deeper into Frances’ side.

“Oh, honey, I believe you,” Frances said to Harry as she drew both boys closer. “We’ll just have to see why you can talk to snakes. Maybe, we’ll see if we can’t get you one as a pet. Not a wild one, but one from the pet store and hopefully we can get a magical one for you,” she said excitedly, thinking about where they could put a snake without keeping it in a tiny container, but away from their many cats. “We should see if we can’t find something for Neville too.”

That had Neville perking up. The thought of having a pet made him happy. Maybe he could talk to dogs or something.

“Otay Auntie ‘rances, tan we go play now?” Harry said happy that he might get a pet snake he could talk to.

“Of course, my darling boy, just let Kippy or us know where you are,” she said as she smiled at the now content boys as they scrambled off the couch and ran to find Kippy.

As the boys were running out of the living room, they almost ran over Gilly. “Whoa, where are you two running off to?” she asked with a laugh as she grabbed the two boys in a hug.

“We’re gonna play with Kippy. Aunt ‘rances says we tan get me a snake and ‘aybe a pets for ‘eville,” Harry said through his giggles.

“’eah, a pets,” said Neville as he tried to squirm out of Gilly’s hug.

“A snake, huh?” she asked as she glanced at her aunt’s thoughtful face before she turned back to the boys. “Well, I’ll talk to Aunt Frances and see why. Kippy is in the laundry room, why don’t you go and see if she will play with you in the play room? Remember to pick your toys up or Kippy won’t let you have dessert,” the red-blonde said as she let the boys go and watched them run off. She turned to her aunt with a raised eyebrow, a questioning look on her face. “A snake? As in a scaly reptile, no arm, no legs, slithers around and hisses at everything? Any reason for that? Or was it just random?” she asked as she settled next to her aunt.

“Yes, dear, a snake,” Frances confirmed inattentively. “Harry came in here upset that he couldn’t find the snake he was talking to yesterday, and I told him we’d talk about getting him one from the pet shop in the Alley. I was thinking we could corner off part of the spell room and make a terrarium for it. That way Harry can talk to it. It would be comfortable and the cats won’t try to eat it,” she explained as she pat Gilly’s hand distractedly, still thinking about how they would rearrange the herb room. “We should think about getting Neville and pet too,” she added, not wanting to single out Harry.

The spell room had gotten pretty full with all the stuff Kippy had bought and they had set up a wizarding potions lab in there. Maybe if they got more cabinets like the ones in the catalogs from SunSpot Alley they could set it up better. That and there were room expansion charms… her mind was whirling with ideas.

“Um, Aunt Frances are you even listening to me?” Gilly asked as she poked her aunt in the arm to get her attention. “Did you say Harry could talk to a snake?”

“Yes, dear, he can talk to snakes,” she answered, turning her attention to her niece. “I figured, we could ask Luis about it when he gets here tonight. I’m sure it is nothing to worry about.” She waved her hand airily. She truly couldn’t see how talking to an animal was something to worry about.

“Okay, we’ll talk to him. I’m going to go and see if there is anything in the books we bought,” Gilly said. She, on the other hand, was pretty sure that talking to snakes wasn’t normal even in the Wizarding World, and she wanted to make sure that Harry wouldn’t be picked on for this. If they needed to keep it a secret, then they needed to word it correctly so Harry didn’t think he was a freak. She got up and started out of the room to begin her quest. “I’ll see if I can’t find Aunt Jet and let her know we need to talk to Luis tonight.”

“Okay dear, I’ll see you then,” was the distracted reply.

Gilly had spent most of the day researching, not finding much, only a few notes in the history books about how Voldemort, Salazar Slytherin, someone called Herpo the Foul and a few others were something called parselmouths. That didn’t paint a really good picture to her as they were all known as Dark Wizards. She could only find one reference about a parselmouth that was a healer and not a Dark Lord; it was that person who coined the phrase, parselmouth.

The aunts spent the rest of the day looking at the spell room to see if they could change it around. They were thinking of asking Luis to show them how to expand it so everything would fit in that cluttered room. Though they had gotten pretty good with meshing the magic, there were some things beyond their scope of experience. All they needed was someone to show them how it was done with a wand and they copied it in their minds and a wave of their hands.

That evening, just before 6 p.m., Luis knocked on the door. He was dressing in his normal business suit, and had on some gloves, which he removed when he entered the house.

“Hey, Luis, come on in. We were wondering if, after the boys were done with their lesson, you could talk with us about something. It’s kinda important,” Gilly said as she opened the door and ushered Luis in.

Luis tucked his gloves in his jacket, hung it up and turned to her. “I will be more than happy to talk to you lovely ladies. Let me go and see if I can put some manners into your boys, and we can talk when I am done,” he said with a bow as he. He then turned towards the dining room where he could see the boys trying to sit straight in their chairs and in their proper clothes, waiting for him. The food was already on the table and everything was set up perfect.

“Okay, yeah sure, we’ll see you then,” she said to his back and with an amused shake of her head she turned to go to the living room. “We’ll join you in the dining room for dessert at 6:30,” she called to him. He just waved in acknowledgement and closed the newly added dining room door. Gilly went to join her aunts. The Owens women didn’t eat with the boys during lunch or dinner; they took their meal in the living room or kitchen, just as they said they would.

At 6:30 p.m. exactly, the women went and joined the others in the dining room. There were a few desserts on the table and the boys had pieces of cake in front of them. They looked so adorable as they tried not to make a mess.

Luis was sitting at the table, across from the boys, drinking a cup of tea and smiling at how well behaved his students were. The children picked up things rather quickly, although there were a few times they threw fits when they had to sit still for too long. On the other hand, they were overcoming that.

Everyone sat down and claimed the dessert and drinks they wanted. “What can you tell us about snake talkers? I think Gilly said it was called parseltongue,” Jet asked, taking a sip from her glass of fruit juice.

Luis’ head snapped up in shock. The cup he had been holding dropped to the table with a clatter. He waved his wand and cleaned up the mess without even thinking about it. “Why on earth do you want to know about parselmouths?” he asked as he glanced to each woman’s face, trying to figure out why they wanted to know by their expressions. He saw that they were only curious, though now signs of fright were showing.

Gilly had already been apprehensive, and with his reaction she was now fearful that this was indeed a bad thing.

“Harry came to me earlier upset that he couldn’t find the snake he was talking to yesterday. So we looked it up and couldn’t really find anything except a few names in the history books,” Frances explained, a little concerned at his response.

Harry and Neville continued eating their cake. They had been good students tonight and Luis said they deserved it. They weren’t about to be distracted by silly adults.

Luis jerked his head around and stared wide-eyed at Harry. That was not anything he expected. He had hoped that they had just come across the term in their studies. He took a few deep breaths to calm down. He knew these boys, and he knew they weren’t evil. After he relaxed a little he turned towards the women and saw how worried they seem to be.

He tried to smile to relieve them of that worry. “I am terribly sorry for my reaction. Parselmouths don’t have a good reputation. It is said that it is a form of Dark Magic and that anyone to can speak to snakes is a Dark Wizard.” They could hear the capitals in his sentence, punctuating just how serious this was. “However, I know Harry and I know he is a good boy. It just took me a moment to see logically. I am sorry I frightened you,” he explained, hoping to calm everyone’s nerves.

“Yeah, I wasn’t expecting you to lose your cool. That is very out of character for you,” Gilly said, taking a sip of her milk. “Can you explain it to us? I don’t want people going around calling Harry names for something he has no control over,” she said firmly.

Luis smiled and said, “I understand your reaction, and again I apologize for mine. They are good boys and a delight to work with. I suggest you ask the goblins. I know, from what we’ve talked about before, you are in good standing with them. They might be able to give you an unbiased opinion that you will not find in the wizarding society. I will tell you this,” he punctuated with a tapping of his finger on the table in front of him, the hollow noise carried in the now quiet dining room, “if you want Harry to continue to talk to snakes, make sure that he doesn’t tell anyone he doesn’t trust. Harry is quite a hero in Britain and if they found out, he will be labeled a Dark Lord. They will not listen to reason about something that has been used against them too many times in their history.”

“Yeah, we kinda got that from your response. I really don’t want Harry to have to hide anything he can do; however, I understand what you’re saying. We,” Gilly said, pointing to herself and her aunts, “have never hidden anything, well, maybe a little. But, the whole town knows we’re witches so I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around something that must be hidden.”

If it hadn’t been for the time they needed the women of the town to help her when she was possessed by Jimmy’s spirit, they would still be rumor. Well, many women and men came to them for love spells, luck spells and such, but they were a well-known secret.

Frances reached over and patted Gilly on the hand and said, “Don’t worry, dear, we’ll handle this just like we handle everything. Besides, children love to keep secret. We might have to worry when he gets older and starts to feel guilty about it, but we’ll talk to him then and make sure he understands.” She beamed a smile at her charges and knew that this might be something that would come in handy in the future.

“Yes, Gilly-bean, we’ll stand by Harry no matter what is said about him. Remember, Sally had a hard time with the gossips before she came out. We don’t want Harry to have to suffer that,” Frances said, giving her nervous niece a one armed hug.

Kippy popped in, “It is being time for the Little Masters to be getting their baths and readys for beds.”

“Kippy, we have to talk to Luis. Do you think you can give the boys a bath tonight?” Jet asked the little elf.

“Kippy can dos. If yous can bring the little Masters upstairs, Kippy can be giving them their baths. Yous will have to come soon if yous wants to tell them beddy-bye stories,” the little elf said, with a nod of her big head. She liked helping with the boys, it made them grow closer.

“I’ll get them,” Jet said as she got up and took the surprisingly clean boys from the table. She wrestled the squirming bundles up the stairs while Kippy cleaned up the dessert plates off the table with a snap of her finger. The tiny being left the dishes in the sink for one of the witches to tend to.

Luis, Frances and Gilly went into the living room and made small talk until Jet could join them. After about five minutes, Jet came and joined Frances on one of the couches. She turned to the tutor —their only human source of information. “Luis, we were wondering if you could help us expand our spell room. We tried to do it ourselves, but couldn’t get the incantation right. So we figured if we watch you and get a feel for your magic. Then we can copy it,” she said, veering away from the parselmouth subject for now.

Luis sat in one of the chairs next to the couches. “I will take a look and see. I need to know why you want it expanded so I know where to direct it to,” he said, letting her change the topic to something not quite so volatile.

“We want to buy Harry a snake or two. Needless to say, we need somewhere it can be safe. We figured the spell room would be the best area to set up an enclosure,” Frances explained with a thoughtful look. She wanted to get the conversation over with and felt no need to change topic. Jet cut her a glare, but she ignored her. “I don’t think we should suppress Harry’s ability. We’ll contact the goblins, like you said, and maybe they can give us a different point of view, or direct us to where we can read about this and develop it. I know I’d be tickled pink if I could talk to an animal.” Her mind was still going on how useful this could turn out.

“I see,” he said thoughtfully, as he tapped his chin with his finger. “I can tell that you are going to help Harry in any way you can. I will not discourage you from this path. I will only reiterate my warning about how others will see him,” he said with a stern look and then softened his features. “Let’s go into the spell room and you can tell me what you need and I will help you achieve it.”

And with that everyone got up and ventured in the room. They looked around and gave the man a small tour.

“As you can see we have two different kinds of potion making going on. Jet and myself were looking over this set up and decided that our herbal potions would go on the right wall, while the wizarding potions on the left. We can split the table here in the middle for each. The wall on the opposite side of the door is where we would like to set up a large terrarium for the snakes. We can have it enclosed in glass and have a heating lamp, or spell, to keep it warm. It will get plenty of sunlight as the wall faces the east,” Frances described as she pointed and gestured to the things they wanted to change. “We’re hoping you could slowly show us how to do it. We’re pretty sure if we see and feel your magic we can do it ourselves next time we need more room.”

Luis, who had been following along, looked around the room to see just what he could help with. He was pretty good at transfiguration and had a few ideas. “Well if you want your wizarding potion ingredients to keep longer, you need to keep them covered. I can turn some of these open shelves into cabinets with doors. They should last a few years before they convert back. That should give you plenty of time to get new ones. When you do, either you or I can banish the shelves to the attic. I need everyone to help me move the stuff off the shelves to do this. Let me expand the table a little bit to give us more room,” he said as he took his wand out and expanded the table only a few feet, as there wasn’t much leeway in the cramped room.

The women started to make little gestures and floated the things from the shelves he indicated and put them on the table. Luis had seen the women do this before and wasn’t surprised. He had even tried to do some wandless magic at his home, and he was actually getting good at stirring his tea and floating small objects. He figured the more he was around the Owens women the more he would learn. Shaking himself from his thoughts, he started transfiguring the shelves into cabinets and making the other shelves a little more organized. He also showed the women how to expand the room without affecting the outside of the house.

After about fifteen minutes Jet left to tuck the boys in and read them a story. The other two women promised to show her what they learned either tonight or in the morning. Luis showed them the spells slowly and Frances was able to wandlessly cast a transfiguration on one of the shelves. Gilly was able to set up the herbal side of the room, and when Jet came back they started on the tank.

It took about an hour to get everything done and the terrarium set up. It was a large glass in enclosure and full of rocks, dirt and plants. They got the material from the greenhouse and around the house. There were a few rock caves and some big dead branches for the snake to lie on. There was a heating spell over the top that would turn off when the sun made it hotter in the case. All in all it was a nice setup for a snake, or two.

The Owens women tried to pay for his time. However, Luis turned them down saying he was happy to help. With a bow and a promise to not tell anyone about Harry, he took his leave for the night. They were just happy he didn’t freak out and run from the house after his initial reaction.

The Owens women looked around their new spell/potions/pet room and decided that it was a job well done and went to bed happy. They would go to the Alley on the weekend and get some snakes for Harry. Neville would more than likely be happy with a small pet as well. Perhaps a hamster, or fish, those were easy enough to take care of for a four year old, and Kippy would help.

So that weekend they ventured to SunSpot Alley and took a look in the pet shop. There were many snakes to choose from. “Harry,” Gilly said in his ear as he balanced on her hip, “I want you to pick some of the nicer snakes out. Make sure you don’t talk to them here. I don’t want people to pick on you,” she said softly as she gave him a hug.

“Otay, Aunt Gilly,” the little boy said as he squirmed to get down. He went to the tanks and just listened to them talk. After about five minutes, he pointed at a blue and black one, and an orange and red one. “Dese two are nice, and dey is friends,” he stated firmly.

“Okay, sweetheart, we’ll get them,” Jet said with a radiant smile. They read the placard and it stated the two snakes were magical in that they would live a long life, but they were not venomous so the aunts were content. “Neville, do you see anything you want?” she asked the sandy-haired boy.

“I ‘ant a ‘amster,” he answered, looking at the little rodents. The hamsters were running around the cage and making all sort of noise. He pointed to one that was off to the side, just sleeping and said, “Dat one.”

“Okay, sweetie, we’ll just have to take the darling thing home. I wonder if they are magical hamsters,” Frances mused, moving over to the display.

“No, they are normal ones,” the clerk said as he came up to them.

“Wonderful. We’ll take these two snakes,” Gilly pointed at the ones they wanted, “and that hamster,” she added.

“Do you require supplies?” the man asked, not knowing if they were going to use them for potions or not.

“Well, we have a place set up for the snakes, though we’ll need food for them,” Jet said, “and we need everything for the hamster,” she added, tapping her finger on her chin.

“Right away,” the man said as he started to gather the supplies.

It took a few minutes, but soon they were out the door with their new purchases. They went home and put the snakes in the terrarium. The two reptiles loved their new area, and Harry had a wonderful time talking to them. Neville set his hamster up in the play room and let it out in the bubble-thingy they got for it to run around the house in. The two boys played with their pets for hours until dinner. They were both very happy to have them.

Chapter 7: Making Friends and Having Tea

Notes:

AN: I would like to thank my betas for looking over this fic, darrelldeam and alix33. All mistakes are my own.

This chapter introduces an OC and his family, who will be the boys’ best friend.

This is also the chapter where Harry’s potty mouth comes into play and some of you might say that Harry is too young to be cursing, but I’ll have you know I was washing the mouths of many children in my neighborhood and they were all a bit on the young side. I was completely shocked the first time a six year old called me and old bitch. So, yeah…

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

The years passed and the boys had started lessons and unlike normal schools, their tutoring was year-round, since each teacher only came few days a week. They were taking both magical and non-magical studies, that and they were still learning the witches’ way of doing things. Their tutoring schedules were as followed:

Luis F. Butterworth: etiquette (Mon, Weds, Fri, noon to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)

Claire T. Mumford: magical theory (Mon, Weds, Fri, at 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

Genevieve J. Cornett: regular studies (Mon, Weds, Fri, at 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.)

Mark D. Rey: History (Tues, Thurs, at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.)

So they were quite busy for such little boys, but with all they were learning from the teachers and their aunts. With all they were being taught the play room was set up in the attic and it was a marvel. The brothers were both proud of their accomplishment, and they only had a bit of help with the ceiling from Gilly. Okay, maybe she helped more than that, but they still did a lot.

June 14, 1987 New Salem

The Owens women and their nephews were strolling through town as they normally do on Saturdays. The boys were running ahead of the women and having a good time playing tag. The women were keeping an eye on them, but let them run ahead. They were never ones to curb children’s fun. They smiled at their charges, happy that they could cut loose like this.

“Aunt Gilly,” Harry said as he turn back to the aunts, causing him to run backwards, “we’re gonna race to the park, okay? We’ll meet you there. Neville wants to see if they’ve fixed the swing.” He waved his hand as if it were a given that it was okay, which it was, and turned around and raced Neville. He didn’t even wait for an answer.

“Okay,” Gilly called back to the retreating boys, “but, wait for us there, okay?” There was a rising of a hand to show that he had heard, making her huff.

The park was only a few blocks away so they should be alright, they only had a few corners to turn, and the boys would mostly be in their sights. Not that she was overly worried; this was a good town, even if half of it feared them. The Owens never did anything to promote that fear, but it was there no matter what they did. The few bouts of accidental magic that the boys had, put that fear on them and made them targets for the bullies. But overall it was a good quiet town.

She sighed; seven years ago she would have never believed she would be this much of a responsible adult, but now she wouldn’t have it any other way. Since the boys had come to them, her whole life had changed. While she can’t say she didn’t miss partying, she still had fun learning all the magic. She watched the boys get further away and smiled. They were such good boys —a little rambunctious, but then again, boys will be.

She thought about the two retreating boys as they were calling to each other in a playful manner. Harry was still a little on the short side, but they were confident that he would get a growth spurt when he was older. Until he had that spurt he was picked on quite a bit by the town bullies, one for being weird and two for being short. It was a good thing they taught the boys to stand up for themselves. He looked like the pictures they had of his dad, with his mother’s emerald eyes. He was even wearing glasses now, which added fuel to the fire of the tormenters. Harry had a bit of a potty mouth, he thought they didn’t know, but it was hard not to hear him when he got going.

Luis was exasperated with the child and tried to teach him that it was not proper to curse like that, but he was fighting a losing battle. It was as if Harry just couldn’t help it, though he did stop when he was around the women, mostly.

Neville looked more like his mom, taller than Harry by a good three inches, with dirty blonde hair with sun streaks through it, and grey eyes, which looked to be a family trait if the pictures were anything to go by. He always stood up with his sorta brother and they would protect each other from everyone that crossed them. He was the calmer one and didn’t cuss at all. He took to the etiquette lessons well and knew, from what Kippy told him, that his grandmother would be proud. He also tried to curb Harry’s cussing, but for some reason no one could get the boy to stop.

The Owens women were very thankful for Jim bringing all the boys’ families’ items and pictures. There were even a few journals, that helped explain a lot to them and the boys didn’t feel cut off or abandoned by the people back in England. The diaries also explained the war and how it started, though only the Longbottom journal told how it ended. The journals from Harry’s family were all after they left school, so he had no idea how his mom and dad met, or what they were like as kids and teens.

Neville’s parents’ diaries encompassed most of their lives, both in and out of Hogwarts. They learned a lot from them about the school and the prejudice views of the British Wizarding World. While the American Wizarding World was not perfect, they did squash the bias pure-blood faction to almost non-existent. Yet it had its corruption just like every governing body. Bribes and blackmail were very common place. The agent they had at the house, Claire Mumford, made sure to keep them up on the office gossip. It was only the structure that kept it from being as bad as Britain’s Magical Government. From what they heard about that Ministry, they were glad they didn’t have to deal with those pure-blood bigots.

She was brought out of her musing by Neville’s faint yell. “Come on, Harry!” Neville yelled as he pulled further ahead of his brother, “I’ll race ya.” It was hard to hear they were so far away, but she always kept on ear out for her nephews.

“Hey,” Harry said, sprinting to catch up, “No fair, cheater. You were supposed to wait ‘til I caught up.” He ran as fast as he could, but his legs were shorter and he wasn’t in as good of shape as his brother.

“I’m not a cheater. You’re just slow,” the taller boy teased as he turned around and ran backwards, letting Harry catch up. When he did, they both faced front and started their race again. “I’m going to beat you to the park,” Neville taunted.

“No you won’t. I’m getting faster,” Harry denied, puffing out his breath.

The boys had turned the corner and suddenly stopped. They heard a young boy crying and begging someone to stop. They looked around for an adult and didn’t see one, so they followed the noise. The Owens boys went down and alleyway that wasn’t seen from the street. They were hoping the aunts heard them when they came around the corner, but figured they could deal with whatever was happening. They were big boys at the age of almost seven.

They came across a scene where there were three boys, about a few years older, were picking on a boy their age. The younger boy was crouched against the wall trying to protect his head. It was hard to tell from where he was cowering, but he looked to be Harry’s height and had brown hair. They could hear the taunts coming from the older boys.

Older boy number one was saying, “Go away, weirdo, we have enough freaks in this town. We don’t need a weirdo like you.” And he picked up a rock and threw it at the poor boy. It hit him on his hands, and left a red mark, so it must not have been thrown that hard, still throwing rocks was wrong.

Harry and Neville were infuriated. They never liked these kids and were not about to let them hurts someone, even if they didn’t know the boy. They had run into these intimidators before. They were some of the people that always insulted and threw things at them when they visited the library and park and stuff. The aunts always said never let them hurt you, but other than that, ignore them. Well this time it wasn’t about them, it was about someone else and they were going to stand up for the hurt boy. Speaking of the boy, he now got up and was standing next to the two that rescued him, braver now that he had backup.

“Hey, assholes, what do you think you’re doing!?” Harry yelled, getting between the bullies and the boy on the wall.

“Oh, look it’s the Owens freaks. What are ya going to do sic your witches on us?” bully number two sneered as he tossed a rock from one hand to another, like he was thinking about throwing it.

“Um, no, we don’t have to sic anyone on you to hurt you or make you look stupid. You’re doing fine on your own,” Neville stated, standing next to Harry with his arms crossed.

“I don’t know who you are, but thanks. Now that you’re here, we can stand together. My name is, Jordan,” the brunette boy said without taking his deep brown eyes off the bullies. They were correct; he stood just as tall as Harry which meant he was rather short too.

“Well, let’s take care of these jackasses first, and then you can come with us to the park and wait for the aunts,” Harry said as he glared at the bullies daring them to make a move.

At the mention of the aunts the bullies started looking fearfully around. They had no problem teasing and taunting the Owens boys, but they weren’t about to mess with those women.

“Yeah, now isn’t the time for introduction,” Neville concurred. “We need to rid ourselves of these pests first.”

“Let’s see what we should do to these morons, Neville?” the messy-haired boy asked a malicious gleam in his killer green eyes. He really hated bullies. He was very thankful Jim had brought Neville into his life, though maybe not the reasons, but the fact that he kept them together was appreciated. “Do you remember what Kylie and Tonia said about what they did when they were attacked by bullies? I was thinking something along those lines, but more of a charm than a curse. I think the one we were working on last month should do. They would look good with spots all over their faces,” he said, confusing the new kid and making the bullies shuffle, like they were going to run as it was they turned and slowly walked away.

Neville shook his head, “No, Harry, not that one. How about the one that makes them cry every time they try and bully someone one? Aunt Gilly taught us that one last week, I think we got it working now. That way everyone will think they’re the weirdos. Plus, we can use that charm so they get confused and can’t tell anyone why.” He shared a look with his brother, mirth danced in his eyes.

“Oh, good one,” Harry said, looking back at the bullies. “The crying one first, and then the confusion one, okay? On three… one…. two…. three.”

The bullies were almost to the mouth of the alley when the Owens boys pointed their fingers at the tormenters and chanted in quiet voices as one. “I curse you with the fact that when you bully you will cry, when you tell you will be babble.” And a blast of energy sprang from their fingers and went out in a wave down the alley.

The bullies had tried to run, but it was no use. This was directed at them and it would not miss — the magic the aunts taught them was widespread, like waves and would only affect the person or object it was intended for. The spell hit the running boys, but its effects wouldn’t be seen until they picked on someone.

After the older boys were gone Harry turned to the new kid. “Hey, Jordan, my name is Harry and this is Neville. Are you new around here?” he asked with a huge smile as he held out his hand.

“We’re just visiting for the day,” the boy claimed. He took Harry’s hand and shook it, and then he turned to Neville to do the same. “We just moved into Harwich, it is a few towns away. What did you do to those guys? And why are you allowed to practice magic in front of Muggles? My mum said that I’d get in trouble if I did that. Where are your wands?” the poor confused Jordan questioned with a very British accent.

“We should probably find the aunts and then your family. Then we can talk about it. I’m Neville, by the way,” Neville said maturely, grabbing both boys by the arm and leading them out of the alley. “They should be looking for us near the park anyway.” It was too bad the aunts missed them; they would’ve shown those kids not to mess with an Owens.

Harry sighed. “Yeah, you’re right, let’s go,” he said, pulling his arm out of Neville’s grip. “Come on, Jordan, the park is this way.” He headed out of the alley and turned towards the park with the other two tagging behind. They made their way through town and were soon at their destination.

“There they are,” Neville said, pointing at his aunts.

It was kind of hard to miss them. They were the only ones with parasols and hats. Well, except Gilly, but she looked like she would be more comfortable on the front page of a teen magazine than standing by a tree at the park. Their Aunt Gilly maybe old, well by kids standards, but she was still very pretty and in very good shape and she loved to show it, in tight short shorts and a half shirt.

Gilly was looking around a little worried, she didn’t see the boys anywhere. The aunts didn’t seem to be concerned; they knew the boys could take care of themselves.

“Aunt Gilly, we’re over here,” Harry called to the youngest aunt.

The Owens women turned to the voice and noticed a rather dirty scuffed up boy between their nephews. “Who’s this?” Frances asked as they came closer.

“Jordan, let me introduce you to my Aunt Frances, Aunt Jet and Aunt Gilly. Aunties, this is Jordan, we saved him from those stupid bullies,” Harry said as he pointed to each aunt in introduction and then the scuffed up boy.

“Oh, you poor dear,” Aunt Jet said, stooping down to take a look at the new young boy. “Let me take a look. Those nasty boys are nothing but trouble. I wish sometimes I could just curse them.” She noticed the smug look on her nephews’ faces and decided to wait until later to ask. She was sure they’d hear from the parents soon enough. “Let’s see, there doesn’t seem to be anything harmful. Just a few cuts and scrapes. A little bit of mugwort will clear that right up, dear. Do you hurt anywhere else, sweetie? Oh, don’t worry, dear, I’ve patched a few children up in my time. Do you know where your parents are?” she asked as she turned the boy’s head both ways to get a better look.

“Naw, I’m fine,” Jordan said patiently as this kind lady looked him over. “We got separated near the doughnut shop. Mum wanted to get a pastry for Maisie, my little sister, and I asked if I could stand outside and wait for them. There were some pretty cool people walking by and I wanted to watch them. I do that, watch people,” he explained, deep brown eyes sparkling with excitement, it was his favorite hobby.

“Sweetie, you shouldn’t have wandered away,” Gilly stated, kneeling down and examining his arm, which had a scrap on the elbow. Frances removed some wet-naps and some balm from her purse, and the two witches that were looking at the child, cleaned up his hurts, making the boy squirm.

“I’m fine,” Jordan protested as Jet wiped his face down.

“Let us do this and tell us how you got separated from your mom,” Gilly said, putting the balm on his elbow after she cleaned it. They were getting really good a patching up little boys.

“Well, we don’t get out with Muggles very much. We just moved to Harwich from Salem, but we lived near SunSpot Alley, so we did all our shopping there. I know I shouldn’t a wandered, but I got curious,” he said sheepishly, looking down at the green goo that was on his arm. He had to admit it was better smelling than Mum’s stuff. “Then those boys started in on me about being new and I got mad and one of them flipped over backwards without me touching him. So I musta done some magic or something. Mum told me that might happen soon. I’m not supposta talk about it, but since these guys know, I figured you did too,” he concluded, rubbing his nose where it tickled from the balm.

“Well, don’t you worry your pretty little head we’ll find your folks,” Frances said, mussing up his hair as Jet and Gilly finished treating his owies. “Let’s go get some donuts, ladies and gents, and maybe we can invite some new friends to tea. Kippy will be sure to have something ready for company.” She held out her arm for Jet to take and the two older sisters made their ways down the street, the rest of the group followed.

They wandered to the donut shop saying hello to everyone who they approached. Well Frances and Gilly did, in, oh, so different ways. Frances was telling the boys; who was who and what they had done. Her Occlumency was coming along well, but she still couldn’t help but peek into the minds of the town folk, they were just so entertaining. She left the love lives out for now, because she didn’t want the new boy thinking he was in a bad place. But she had no problem saying who was cheating on their taxes or stealing from their job.

Gilly was waving and winking at the men and waving with a smirk to the women. She may have felt more mature, but she still enjoyed making people squirm and with the stares she was getting from her revealing clothing she was doing just that. That and these people had made hers and Sally’s lives hell when they were growing up, until the whole Jimmy thing. Poor Sally had tried so hard to make these people like her, but failed miserably until she came out as a witch. So Gilly made sure to be friendly with the ones that helped and teased the ones that still looked at her family with scorn and fear.

Jet was just leading the boys. She had long given up making those two behave. Harry and Neville loved the antics of the two outgoing aunts. They made visiting the town so much fun. Some of the people waved and laughed with them, so it wasn’t all bad. Jordan just followed behind and watched how the town folk reacted to the Owens family.

They spotted a family of three looking around in near panic. The woman was on the smaller side with waist long blonde hair, that she wore loosely, and sky blue eyes. The man was average height with neatly trimmed brown hair and brown eyes. You could tell that Jordan took after his dad, while the little girl looked just like her mother.

“Mum,” Jordan called as he ran to the woman “you’ll never guess what happened?” he started his story and then turned and pointed to the Owens family, but was ignored for a moment while the woman tugged him into her arms.

“Jordan, oh Merlin, I was so afraid. Why did you run off? What if we never found you?” the woman frantically asked as she hugged the boy and then held him at arm’s length to get a good look at him. “What happened to you? How did you get so dirty and scraped up? Who put the potion on you?” She ran her finger over the bruises and cuts on his face and looked at his dirty clothes. She was itching to take out her wand and tend to her child, but they were in the middle of a Muggle town, that and it looked like whatever potion was applied was working. His scrapes and bruises were slowly healing right in front of her eyes. She took a delicate sniff and noted the smell of mugwort, which caused her to relax slightly.

“I’m fine, Mum,” Jordan said, squirming away, “Let me tell you what happened. I was…” and then told her what happened; with much arm waving and some foot stomps.

During his story the Owens family caught up to the little family and patiently listened to the recap. When Jordan got to the part about meeting Harry and Neville, he pointed to them. The aunts noticed the look of recognition in the adults’ eyes and were put immediately on edge, tugging their nephews towards them to keep them from harm, eyes narrowing in warning. They had never forgotten Death’s warning about people wanting to use or harm the boys.

The man and wife saw the reaction and smiled giving a comforting shake of their head and turned back to Jordan to listen to the rest of their son’s tale.

“… then Harry and Neville took me to their aunts, and they healed my owies,” Jordan finished off, pointing at Jet and Gilly.

The man stepped forward and held out his hand, “Well, I’m Finley Hilton, this is my wife Evie and this is our daughter Maisie and you’ve already met Jordan. Thank you for tending to him and returning him to us.”

Gilly took his hand and shook it, “I’m Gilly Owens, the boys’ legal guardian. These are my aunts Jet and Frances, and these two little rascals are our nephews, Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom,” she said, shocking the boys. They were never introduced with their real names. They crept closer to the aunts, unsure what the situation, something must be different about this family if Gilly felt the need to stress that they were there legally. “As for taking care of Jordan, it was no problem,” she added with a smile to the young boy.

“Cor, are you really? You didn’t tell me that,” Jordon said wide-eyed, looking at Harry’s forehead and spotting the scar he didn’t notice before.

The messy-haired six, almost seven, year old rolled his eyes at Jordan. It had happened a few times in the Alley when he lost his hat or something. They were able to make the person forget they ever saw Harry Potter. It was one of the first major charms Gilly every mastered. “Yeah, well I don’t usually give my last name in such an informal setting. I go by Owens when I’m not at home,” he explained, giving a curious look to his youngest aunt. She just shook her head and mouthed ‘later’.

Neville punched Harry in the arm playfully. “Don’t ever let Luis hear you say that,” he teased, trying to lighten the mood.

“What,” Harry said, shoving his brother back, “he said I only have to give my name in formal settings. This,” he said, waving his hand around, “is so not a formal setting.” He pushed Neville again, making the boy stumble back. When he righted himself, he shoved Harry’s shoulder and the playful fight was on.

“While I love to see you boys play, I think we need to invite the Hiltons for tea so we can talk about you. And while we’re saying mean things about you boys, you can show the kids your play room,” Gilly said as she wrestled the boys so she had one under each arm and pretended to try and bonk their heads together. “That and I’d love to hear what’s going on in Britain, maybe we can learn a bit about your godfather, Harry.” She tried once more to bash their heads together.

Instead of growing calmer like Sally, she grew more playful. She was still maturing, but felt that the kids needed an example of a free spirit that still knew responsibility. So there never went a day that she and the boys didn’t play with one another. They were very active. Then there were lessons on magic and the consequences of using it incorrectly. It was a balancing act that they had perfected.

“Get off, Aunt Gilly, or I’m gonna tell Kippy on you and she’ll make you eat porridge for the rest of the weekend,” Neville spiritedly demanded as he tried to get out from under Gilly’s arms.

“Yeah, and I’ll make sure she doesn’t give you any dessert,” came Harry’s reply as he too was trying to jostle his frisky aunt off.

“Oh threaten me with Kippy, will you? I’ll have you know, you rotten little brats, that Kippy loves me more than she loves you,” She mock growled, not giving the boys an inch.

“Does not, she like me best,” scoffed Neville.

“Nuh uh, she likes me best,” was Harry’s return.

“No way, boys, it’s me,” Gilly said in a victorious voice.

The older aunts looked on with indulging smiles and the Hiltons looked confused as to who Kippy was. It sounded like the name of a house elf, but only magicals had those and these women didn’t seem to be carrying wands, though they did have a good potion in their possession. But, Evie knew that low magical people could make potions, so they might be squibs.

Frances turned to the family of four and said, “While our children play, let me invite you to tea? I think we have much to talk about.” She gave them a knowing look, like she knew exactly what they were thinking and that they would get information if they joined the Owens.

The two adult Hiltons looked at each other and then back at the aunts. “We’d be delighted,” Finley said as he put his elbow out for his wife and took his daughter's hand. Jordan stood near his family, not sure what was going on. His eyes were on the tussling trio.

“Most wonderful, if you will follow me, we can lead you there,” Jet said. Then she turned to the still playing ‘kids’ and said, “Come along, we’re going to tea.” She took Frances’ elbow and started down the road sure that everyone would follow.

The three combatants stopped their shoving and as she started to run Gilly said, “Race ya.”

“No fair,” came two young voices.

“Come on, Jordan, or she is gonna win,” Harry yelled as he took off running after his much faster aunt. The town folk looked on, mostly indulgently, they were quite used to the younger Owens trio being rambunctious. There were those that were just glad they were going home, they never liked it when the Owens family strolled the town. It made them uncomfortable.

Soon the four racers were pulling into the Owens' yard and stopped to wait for the walkers, breathing kind of heavy, Jordon more so as he wasn’t used to running like that.

“Whew, you guys are getting pretty fast. You almost beat me,” Gilly said as she plopped to the ground. The three tired boys joined her. The two nephews beaming, they had almost beaten her. “Neville, why don’t you go ahead and let Kippy know we’re expecting company for tea?” she politely requested as she wiped her damp forehead.

“Okay, Aunt Gilly. American or British tea?” Neville said as he got up from the ground. Luis made sure they knew both in case they ever were invited somewhere important then they’d know what to expect.

Americans served iced tea with pretty much the same spread as the British, however with more light sandwiches, with thin meat and cheese, or cucumber. That and there were fewer sweets. British teas were served hot and had more sweets, what they called cakes and biscuits.

“American for now, I’m pretty sure they’re British so let’s give them something new.”

“Okay,” He said and he jogged off, you could hear him as he entered the house “Kipppppyyyyyy, we need an American tea service. We’re having company, it’s two…” his voice trailing off as he went further into the house.

Gilly just shook her head and smiled as she waited for the rest of their group. This was going to be a long afternoon. The aunts and the Hiltons soon joined the racers. Everyone got off the ground, dusted themselves off and started towards the house.

“You have a lovely house. I’ve not seen one like this since we left England,” Evie said, looking at the large elegant house with a hint of remorse in her blue eyes. She took in the neat and trim lawn, the scattered tables and gardens with their gravel pathways. It brought small tears to her eyes as it all reminded her of the home she had fled from.

“Thank you, dear. It’s been in our family a very long time,” Frances said, leading the way into the front hall.

Gilly grabbed her nephews, again, and said, “Why don’t you take Jordan and Maisie to the play room? Don’t worry we’re not going to talk too badly about you guys. I just think that we adults can share some news, and maybe an explanation on how you two got here.” She gave them a nudge and shoved them in the direction of the stairs.

“Okay, Aunt Gilly,” Neville said and then he turned to the two new kids. “You’re going to love this. We’ve been working on it for a year. You won’t see anything like it in SunSpot.” He started up the winding stairs that circled around the center of the four story house.

The attic had been changed into the play room after the nephews could confidently climb the stairs by themselves. They now had separate rooms on the third floor, and used this room for playing and homework.

“Yeah, it’s great. You’ll have loads of fun,” Harry said, grabbing Jordan by the elbow. Jordan in turn grabbed his sister’s hand and followed Neville up the stairs. He had to wonder what surprises he would see. So far the Owens boys, or Potter and Longbottom, had been pretty cool. So he hoped he and his sister weren’t disappointed with the buildup. You could see Maisie was excited by the light dancing in her eyes.

Hppmhppm

The Aunts led the adults into the living room where a table was set up for tea. Jet gestured to the chairs inviting everyone to sit. There were tall glasses of what looked like iced herbal tea, a tray of thin ham and cheese triangle sandwiches and some small sugar cookies. The whole tray looked elegant and nicely set up, like something you would find at an upper-crust party.

“Please, sit and enjoy some of Kippy’s wonderful tea. She gets the herbs from our garden, the lovely dear,” Jet said, taking up a glass and sighing with delight after sipping the delicious beverage.

Everyone enjoyed the tea while making small talk. Once they were all relaxed, Gilly brought up the subject of Harry. “I noticed that you guys recognized Harry. I want to tell you right now,” she emphasized with a narrowing of her eyes as she looked directly at them, “that I can and will erase that you ever saw us. But,” she held her hands and relaxed her expression when the new couple gasped, “I only do that when I have no choice. I’d like the boys to have another wizard friend before they go to Salem Magical Institute.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about you threatening my family,” Finely stated with a narrowing of his own eyes.

“You know Harry’s story, and you know people are looking for him. Wouldn’t you do the same for your children,” the red-blonde defended her actions. “Besides, I would prefer if the boys were friends before SMI. I am assuming that’s were Jordan is going,” she said in a questioning tone.

“Yes, Jordan will be going there as well, and you’re right it would be nice for him to have friends,” Evie looked at her husband, who gave a reluctant nod of his head. “Harry and Neville have been reported as kidnapped in England. I’d like to know how they came to be with you. No,” she said hurriedly, seeing the look on the aunts’ faces, their eyes narrowing with warning, “I don’t think you kidnapped them, I mean how could you? As far as I can tell you have no connection to England. I just want to know to ease my mind.” She put her empty glass on the low table and placed her clasped hands in her lap, so the Owens would be at ease.

“We can tell you, but first we need a vow,” Gilly stated, making sure her voice carried her determination. It would be nice to have someone besides the aunts to talk to about the Wizarding World. That and this family was from Britain, they might be able to tell them more about the boys’ homeland and families. She was very curious as to whether or not Sirius Black was out of prison. They did have the tutors, but only Claire was one for gossip, and she stuck mostly to her work.

“I can do that, but Finley cannot all he can do is give his word not to tell,” the female Hilton stated.

“Oh,” Jet said with a lifting of an eyebrow.

“He is a squib,” was the blunt reply as if daring them to say something derogatory.

“Hmmm, Gilly, dear, do we have any of those contracts?” Frances asked, looking at her youngest niece.

“I think so,” the red-blonde said and went to one of the desks in the room and rummaged around. “Here we go, one non-magical contract for nondisclosure,” she said, waving it around and retaking her seat.

They kept these here for those that were teaching the boys non-magical lessons. Since there were so many of them that were squibs, they needed these on hand. They had gone through quite a few people before they found their current tutor. It was quite a hassle and Gilly, even with the contract, took the boys’ names out of their heads. They now only knew that they had taught the Owens women’s nephews.

Evie and Finley looked it over and held a quiet conversation. It took about five minutes of reading and talking, and then Finley signed it. Evie gave her vow and the Owens women started to tell their tale.

“It all started…,” Jet started and then proceeded to tell them about how Death came to them and how they were in a one way contact with the boys’ other guardians. The other Owens women adding their bits here and there, while the Hiltons drank their tea, nibbled on the snacks and listened. It was quite shocking to think that Death could roam the earth like that, but they eventually believed the witches’ story.

“You should know,” Evie said a little sheepishly, as if about to part with a great secret, but was worried about the repercussions, “that I knew we’d run into you eventually. I’m a seer. We ran from England a year ago, because I saw You-Know-Who come back. I got scared, since I married a squib. That and the last war saw me with no family left. I know Jordan will go back with your nephews. That’s all I know.” She got a very gloomy look on her face, tears started pouring down.

“Oh, you poor dear,” Frances said, reaching over and patting her hand.

“I’m just so worried. I see a fight between the Dark Lord and Harry, but I don’t see who else is fighting. Just lots of spell fire. I don’t see who wins or even if anyone does. I’m so sorry, I can’t give you more,” Evie said in a shaky voice, very worried the Owens women would fault her. She felt her concern was genuine; a lot of people blame seers for not seeing more than they could. It had happened to her many times in the past, which is why she usually kept it a secret.

Frances got up and sat on the arm of the crying woman’s chair and gave her a one armed hug, while Evie’s husband held her hand. “Shhh, don’t worry dear, we won’t blame you. We understand that seers only see so much,” she consoled, while rubbing her back.

Evie’s tears slowed and she nodded her head that she was okay and Frances retook her seat. “Thanks for that, you would be surprised at how many people condemn seers,” she explained, shaking her head at that thought. “Anyway, that’s all I know, for now. If anything changes then I will make sure you know right away. I have a feeling we’re going to be great friends.”

The Owens women shared a look and shrugged as one, they already knew all this. “Okay,” Gilly said as she turned to face the Hiltons, “I was wondering if you could give us news on Britain. We don’t get newspapers, magical or otherwise.”

“I can tell you that there is a huge manhunt for the boys, by every governing body in Magical Britain. I know that Harry’s godfather, who was released a few years ago, is looking for him and something else. He spends most of his time searching for the boys and these other items. He has spent lots of money in his endeavors,” Evie stated in a worried voice. She could see the man finding them in a few years, but not after that.

“Oh, does he say if he is close to finding Harry?” Jet asked, also worried.

“No, he is offering an award for information,” Finley answered, still holding his wife’s hand.

“I have a vague feeling that he is playing with the other hunters, like he already knows where the boys are, but is holding off coming here,” Evie stated in a hollow voice and then shook her head to clear it. She smiled at the aunts and hoped to comfort them.

“Oh dear, well, we’ll come back to that. Now, we have magical and non-magical tutors set up for the boys. If you want we can include Jordan in that. We also have an etiquette tutor who comes twice a day, three times a week, if you’re interested in that as well. This way both of our families can all get to know each other,” Jet offered the couple, whose faces lit up with the prospect.

“Is Maisie magical too?” Gilly asked, thinking that if Finley were a squib one of their children might be as well.

Finley shook his head sadly and said, “No, she takes after me. It’s been pretty hard on her.”

Jet waved her hand dismissively. “Well, we’ll just have to make her feel welcome,” she said encouragingly. “She can join the non-magical tutors. Plus, there are some Wiccan ways that we can teach her. Nothing big, just some simple things that we have in the Book, which is our family’s grimoire,” she explained to the hopeful looking couple. “That way she doesn’t feel left out. I am sure that Kippy will be more than happy to play with her while the boys study magic.”

Gilly got a mischievous look in her eye. “Don’t you think you should ask her first? Kippy, can you come here a minute, please?” she called.

The little elf popped in still wearing her robes. “What can Kippy be doing for Missy Witchy Gilly?” Kippy asked in her squeaky little voice.

“Kippy,” Gilly sighed in exasperation, “how many times to I have to tell you call me Gilly? You’re a free elf. You can call people whatever you like.” She shook her head at how stubborn the elf could be.

“Then Kippy is calling yous what she wants.” The little elf stomped her foot, a mock glare on her face.

“Okay, okay, sheesh,” the youngest Owens woman said, holding her hands in surrender. “These are the Hiltons. Their kids are upstairs; you might want to take them some snacks soon. Aunt Jet was offering your services to babysit the little girl, Maisie, while the boys learn magic. I thought maybe you’d want to be asked first.” She smirked at her aunt, who just stuck her tongue out at her.

Kippy looked at the Owens, nodded and said, “Kippy is already knowing about the children. She is already looked in on the young Masters and little Miss.” She turned the Hiltons, “Wills you be willing to pay Kippy to watch Missy Maisie? How old is Missy Maisie being?” the proud free elf questioned as the Owens women looked on smiling. Kippy had come so far in her independence since she first came to them.

During this whole conversation the Hiltons were looking gobsmacked. Though Finley was a squib, he knew about house elves and he never heard of a free one that wanted to get paid. They looked at each other then back to the elf, “Ummm sorry, Kippy was it… did you just ask for pay?” he stuttered.

Kippy nodded her head. “Yes sir, Mr. Hilton, sir. Kippy is a free elf and Kippy is wanting pay for her services. Missy Witchys Aunties is teaching Kippy how to be a free elf. They is saying that all servants is being getting paid. They is telling Kippy that until she is bonded again, if ever, Kippy should demand pay for anything anyone ask,” she said firmly and then discreetly looked to the aunts to make sure she was doing what they suggested correctly and noticed them beaming at her. She stood up straighter and looked back to the Hiltons.

“Okay,” Evie said, still looking a little muddled, “and how much would you like to be paid if you watch Maisie? She is four to answer your other question.”

Now it was Kippy’s turn to look confused, she had no idea how much babysitters for a four year old got paid. She turned to the Owens women for help.

“Well, let’s see,” Jet said thoughtfully as she tapped her chin, “Kippy gets paid twenty-five dollars a week for the housework and cooking. So babysitting one four year old should be at least five dollars each sitting.” The other two Owens women nodded, that sounded about right, well, a bit low, but Kippy, for all she as free, didn’t like to be paid overly much.

“Okay, Kippy,” Finley said decisively, holding out his hand to the little elf, “if you watch Maisie when the boys are learning then we’ll pay that amount. Shake on it?”

Kippy shook both of the Hiltons’ hands and sealed the deal. “Kippy is going to make sure the children is not getting into troubles. Kippy will be bringing them snacks.” And with that she popped out of the room.

“I would love to hear the story about how you obtained a free house elf,” Evie said, looking back to the Owens.

“Well, it started when Madam Longbottom…” Gilly started and proceeded to tell the Hiltons how they came to hire Kippy and the elf’s story about house elf history, which the Hiltons didn’t know. When the story was done she looked to Evie and said, “We don’t do magic like you do. We don’t require a wand and if you want, you can come when the children do and we’ll show you how to do things our way. We’re already teaching the boys' magical tutors so it won’t be any trouble if you want to join. We do this during the boys’ etiquette lessons, which we’re banned from.” She shared a smile with her aunts, showing they didn’t care.

The Hiltons shared a looked then Evie nodded her head in compliance. “Okay, I would love to join,” she stated, still gobsmacked over this entire conversation.

“I have to warn you,” Frances cautioned, “that one of the tutors is a government agent. We have an agreement with them. We don’t have to vow to the Statute of Secrecy or the Magical United Nations, and they won’t arrest our family for doing magic. Unless we kill, or try to take over the world, or try and bring back the dead.”—That was a secret they would take to the grave. — “Our use of magic is how we make a living, after all. In return we teach her our ways. She then teaches the agency she works for, and they spread it to other agencies. Her name is, Claire T. Mumford, she’s part veela, and that was interesting to learn. She actually stays here at the house. She’s at work right now, since she teaches the boys during the week she goes to the office on the weekends. She’s simply marvelous young woman. I just wanted to let you know she was here. ”

Once more the Hiltons were floored. It was too many changes in their view of the world at once. “Okay,” Evie said tentatively, “I’ll be here on Monday. Finley works so he won’t be able to join us very often. I have nothing to hide from the government, we’re here legally.”

The adults went to set up schedule and travel arrangements for the Hiltons to join them. Gilly offered to come and get them as she had discovered a new way to travel— Jumping, it was a lot like Apparition, but smoother—and soon everything was worked out.

At the same time, in the playroom with the kids.

The children made it up the long winding stairs with little fuss, thought Jordan and Maisie were a bit out of breath.

“Come on, guys,” Neville said, leading them to the attic, “this way.”

They got to the play room and the two new kids were shocked. “This is wicked,” Jordan said, looking around at the bright room with its colorful beanbag chairs littering the floor.

There were toys everywhere, some were moving on their own, and others were changing colors. There was an airplane circling the room and a train doing the same on the floor. The awesome thing was that they were running off magic and not electricity. There were even some non-magical plush toys running about. A vibrant rainbow with huge white fluffy, slowly drifting clouds hung in the top half of the room. Some of the clouds were even giving off a light sprinkle, which never touched the floor, but made the room a nice cool temperature. The windows had a muted sunlight spell that made the whole room bright and cheery. Along one wall were a couple of small lap-trays, which the boys used to do their homework.

Maisie ran into the room giggling. She spotted a teddy bear that was running around on its own in no particular direction and she tried to catch it. She was having a hard time of it, because every time she got close it would disappear and then reappear at the other end of the room. This just made her giggle more as she gave chase.

Jordon smiled at his sister, she never got to play with magical toys —they never worked for her. Now, though, she was having a great time and he was happy for her. There was some jealousy about the fact that he could do magic and she couldn’t, as much as a four year old can get jealous. She was getting over it as she grew, which made him feel loads better. He then looked around the room again, getting the general feel.

They spent a good half an hour showing the dazed boy everything in the room and then steered him to the beanbag chairs. “How did you guys do this? Did your aunties help?” the new boy asked in amazement, not thinking for one moment these kids his age could do this type of magic. He grew up in a magical household, but he’d never seen anything like this. He had heard about the ceiling in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, but he didn’t know that anyone outside the Founders could do this, especially a couple of kids.

“Well, the aunts have been teaching us magic since we were little. Aunt Gilly helped with the rainbow and clouds, but we did the rest. Our aunts don’t do magic like your parents. I’m sure they are offering to teach them right now. They’re cool like that. You’ll probably join our lessons,” Harry answered, taking seat in one of the beanbag chairs. He smiled as he watched Maisie chase the bear. “Don’t worry, though, our tutors are cool, mostly. The aunts are even teaching someone from the government how to do our type magic.”

Neville and Jordan joined him in the other beanbag chairs.

“What do you mean they don’t do magic like my mum? Dad’s a squib. I didn’t know there were other types of magic. The government really, isn’t that weird?” Jordan asked, his brown eyes still alight with wonder as he glanced all around the room. He lifted his hand to see if he could feel the drizzle, but it just faded before it touched it. It did leave it feeling cooler though.

“We don’t use wands,” Neville explained with a shrug. “Really pissed off one of our first tutors and Aunt Gilly had to wipe her memory, she got so bad. Remember that, Harry?”

“Yeah, that woman was a bitch,” Harry said and then yelped when he got a stinging sensation on his shoulder.

“Yous is not using that language, Master Harry,” Kippy said as she faded into view. “Kippy is not knowing where Master Harry is learning such bad words, but yous should not be repeating them. And yous, Master Nevilles, will not be saying the word ‘pissed’,” she chastised, shaking her finger at her two naughty boys.

“Sorry, Kippy, I didn’t mean it,” Neville said sheepishly. Unlike Harry he didn’t cuss much and he felt really embarrassed when he was caught.

“Sorry, Kippy,” Harry said self-consciously, looking at the little house elf with big green puppy dog eyes. He learned to cuss from movies, of course, and he really didn’t want Kippy to ban him from watching, since it was the only from of media allowed in the house and the aunt didn’t care what he watched as long as he didn’t get nightmares. He didn’t think even the aunts would approve of him cussing at such a young age, but sometimes he just slipped. Luis was always getting on his case and looking at him with great disappointment, which in turn made Harry feel bad, but it was just something he did without really thinking about it.

Kippy just put her hands on her hips and glared at him, “Yous two is better behaving, or I is going to tell Master Luis about your dirty mouths.”

“I’ll behave,” Harry said quickly with a horrified look. He hated getting lectures from Luis. Neville nodded frantically, thinking the same.

“Kippy has to go; Missy Witchy Gilly is calling hers. Yous two, behave.” And with that she popped away.

Neville laughed, because Harry got zapped and he didn’t. “She told you,” he taunted. “I’ve been telling you not to cuss in the house. You never get away with it. At least my word isn’t considered a cuss word around here,” he said with a shake of his head.

Jordan watched all this in astonishment, while Maisie continued to play with the toys. She had corralled many of the moving animals into a circle and was pretending to have a tea party.

“Shove it, Neville,” Harry said, glaring at him. “Anyway, Jordan, the aunts will want to share everything they’ve learned about magic. And nah, the agent is one of the cool tutors, so it’s not weird,” he explained then he looked at the young girl. “Maisie isn’t a witch, is she? Not that there is anything wrong with that,” he said hastily. “I was just going to offer for her to join us in non-magical studies. Though she is a bit young,” he added thoughtfully. He had no idea his aunts were offering the same to the parents.

“It’s up to my parents, I guess,” Jordan shrugged, hoping they will. He loved his sister and he didn’t care that she wasn’t a witch. “Enough grownup talk, show me what you guys can do.”

And they proceeded to do just that. Toys flew around the room with a wave of a hand. Others changed shape with just a thought. The sprinkle of rain turned to snow, still not touching the ground, but pretty nonetheless. Jordan was amazed and hopeful that he could learn the magic with his new friends.

The kids played for a long time while the adults talked, making a lasting friendship that would see all of them through some very troubling times.

Notes:

The OC government worker is only going to stay in the background; there is however a reason she is there. I made difference between teas up for the American Wizarding World, because there are still snobs everywhere and Americans so love thumbing their noses at the British, at least Wizards.

Chapter 8: School Schedules and Shopping

Notes:

I would like to thank darrelldeam and alix33 for looking this over.

There is no beta for the rewrite, so in future chapters, just know that I am going solo.

Just like the last few chapters it’s going to be time skipping until the boys are fourteen and go to Hogwarts for the Goblet of Fire. So about two years for every other chapter until then. For you Sirius fans he will be making an appearance soon. This chapter is lots of list and the basic structure for SMI.

This is mostly a filler chapter to give you a feel of what SMI will be like. You can probably skip it unless you want the finer details on the differences between it and Hogwarts. I added about 1,000 words, rearranged a few paragraphs, took some away and put them in the last chapter, and added a few. Hopefully all this made it flow better. However, even with the rewrite, I am not happy with this chapter and almost scraped it, but decided to keep it anyway so you can see the dissimilarities.

Chapter Text

A short narration

Time was passing quickly and everyone was getting into their schedules. The tutors were being paid extra for the new students and they had no problem adjusting their times to fit in Maisie. When they were not teaching, they were learning from the Owens witches.

The boys were continuing their lessons with both the paid teachers and their family. Jordan had no idea what he was getting into when he agree to be tutored, but like Harry said, the tutors were cool. However, the aunts were making sure the kids had plenty of time for fun. The women jokingly complained that they had never had to work so hard in their lives.

Now, three of those teachers were going to be dismissed because it was time for the magical school to start. The only tutor that would stay on was Luis, though he would come at night. Agent Mumford would stay in the house, but as a bodyguard instead of a tutor. There had been a few incidences that made the government careful about the celebrity they had in their country. They didn’t want the bad press should anything happen to him. Like any politician, they were wary of the press. If reporters started digging they might find the skeletons in their closets, and no one wanted that to happen.

Kippy was still a valued member of the family, yet was maintaining her house elf self and continuing to clean and tend the kids. She did was doing odd jobs for the Hiltons and Agent Mumford —they paid her well for her services. She was earning her check from the Owens women, of course, since she had no other way of making a living. She was, however, insisting on paying rent for her little room that they had made for her off the kitchen. They tried to tell her that is was part of a servants package, but she was stubborn and paid them five dollars a week for the room. There was even talk of her trying to hire herself out as a supply runner in SunSpot Alley, when the boys were in school. But it was just talk right now.

The Owens family and Hiltons became inseparable. The boys saw each other every day to play and learn. Luis brought him up to date on his etiquette, much to his mum’s relief. She had been worried about his manners for when he went with the boys back to England. Not that she thought he was rude, but he would have to sit with the Owens boys and make sure they all stayed calm.

Even little Maisie was getting a firm hold on a few things that were making her life easier. The aunts made sure to teach her Wiccan magic so she would have a bit of power of her own. The little lady spent hours with the aunts each day learning from the Book. They were only simple spells and herbal potions. They would get into training her in magical potions when she was older. The little girl was ecstatic that she could make skin softening cream and a mugwort balm. The little bit of magic that she had would let her do small rituals, for things like good harvest and good luck. The aunts kept her firmly away from love spells and other mind altering magic. They made sure to copy the pages they were comfortable letting her read and kept her away from the darker aspects of the Book.

The agent that lived in the house, Claire, also jumped on this development and reported it to the government and a new program was set up for squibs to learn Wiccan magic. Finley declined stating that he was fine without magic.

Evie and Jordan were learning a lot from the tutors in the Owens household. Evie was marveling at the wandless magic she was being taught by the aunts and Gilly. She kept them abreast on the news from England.

Sirius was still hunting the objects unknown. All they knew was that he was bribing officials and sneaking down Knockturn Alley, which Evie told them was were Dark Wizards went. The Owens women figured out really quick that he was hunting the horcruxes, but kept that information to the family.

The Hilton mum let them know that Dumbledore and the Ministry were still looking for Harry, they really didn’t care about Neville, but they want the Boy Who Lived on British soil. They had come to America and cause a bit of a commotion, but they didn’t find anything, thanks to Evie.

Ever since the Owens women had taught her how to use her magic wandlessly, Evie and her family had enjoyed the benefits of using Muggle appliances, like the telephone. It was much better than the Floo, and she could warn her friends much faster. There had been three times, so far, that someone from England was in New Salem watching the town. She had warned her friends, who in turn told Agent Mumford, who of course reported it. This was the main reason that the agent was in the house still.

Now every magical British visitor gets questioned more thoroughly than before as to their purpose in the United States. The United States Government now knows who the boys are and how they got there. They’ve seen the paperwork and felt there was no need to tell the British anything, a little magic and money went a long way. Especially, when they were told the reasons they were wanted. They weren’t the only country that was questioning the British agents as to why they were searching outside their jurisdiction.

Albus Dumbledore was making it hard for anyone to move about in England without him or his cronies questioning their motives, so they were returning the favor. The British Magical Government followed the Headmasters lead. While Sirius made a show of doing the same.

September 2, 1988, New Salem

In four days’ time the boys would go to Salem Magical Institute. The Owens women and Evie were going over the brochure. Evie had made the witches wait until days before school started to get supplies. She wouldn’t even let them read the pamphlets until today. She never told them why, just that it had to happen that way. Since her predictions helped keep the boys safe, they followed along. They were curious as to why she wouldn’t tell them what she saw, and after they were done going over the school’s information they would ask.

While SMI was the only public school in the area, the boys had been invited to many private schools all over the United States, but Evie told them not to read the invites, and that she would explain today. Gilly had glanced at the addresses and was contemplating sending Harry to a few of them, but kept her word and left the letters alone. When she mentioned sending them away to Harry, there had been quite a fit thrown. Then right at the beginning of the enrollment date for SMI, Evie made them do so, making sure they used the name Owens.

Now the women of the two households were sitting in the living room of the Owens’ house. There were tall glasses of iced herbal tea, Kippy’s blend of course, and plates of little finger sandwiches with turkey and cheese, on the table between them. The kids were outside playing with Finley as Agent Mumford watched. They had already gone over the private schools and were now looking at the pamphlet for SMI.

“This is so different from Hogwarts,” Evie said, her eyes roving the colorful pamphlet in front of her, taking in all the classes and pictures of the main teachers. “There are even two different buildings for the same school.” She was looking at the rather luxurious buildings that looked more like grand mansions than school buildings, albeit small mansions, only five stories tall, but mansion nonetheless.

“What’s so different? I mean, it’s a school right? How could it be that different?” Gilly asked, hoping that variances were for the better. They had picked Evie to be the read the pamphlet out loud, to make sure they understood everything and nothing was missed. This was because she had a magical education, and they felt she could explain things better. Each aunt had their own pamphlet and would follow along while Evie spoke. They would ask questions, when appropriate.

“Well for one, there are non-magical classes at SMI,” Evie started to explain, pointing out the unusual classes, making sure the aunts understood. They might need to know this when the boys went to Hogwarts. “Hogwarts doesn’t have those.”

“I wonder why,” Jet said, mostly to herself.

“They are probably worried that the pure-bloods can’t keep up,” Frances offered as an explanation.

“That’s more than likely it,” Gilly said, looking to Evie for confirmation.

“Well, it could be, but I’m not sure,” the Hilton woman answered.

“So what else can we expect?” the red-blonde asked, waving the lack of non-magical classes in Magical Britain. They had long ago accepted that those bigots would do something like that.

“Well, reason number two is that Hogwarts is a boarding school and SMI is a day school. The kids will take a magical school bus at 7 a.m. to school each morning and return in the evening at either 3:45 p.m., or if they did sports or band 5 p.m. Do you think they will?” she asked, already knowing the answer, but wanted to confirm.

“Oh, yeah you can count on Harry and Neville wanting to join the football team,” Gilly said with a chuckle. The boys were happy playing catch in the back yard, but since most of the town disliked them, they only had Jordan to play with, and they had to teach the poor boy the game. They would be ecstatic to join the team when they were old enough. She looked at her pamphlet and saw there was a pee-wee team; it was flag football, which should be good enough for the boys. “Oh, look they have a flag football for younger children,” she exclaimed.

“What you Americans call football, isn’t. I’m not even sure what to classify that game as,” Evie retorted and then went back to contemplating the brochure. “I think Jordan would like that though. I don’t see any Quidditch on here, that’s another difference, so I’m counting that as three.”

“What’s Quidditch?” Gilly asked, looking over the extra-curricular activities. There were flying classes after school, but no flying sports. The classes were held in the gym, to keep the non-magicals for seeing.

“Quidditch is a sport much like what you call soccer, but it’s played in the air,” Evie explained. “Now, let’s back to the differences. Four,” the little blonde continued, “the school year is shorter at SMI. Your American schools only go for nine months, while England’s go for ten.”

“Yeah, but you guys have longer holidays,” Gilly pointed out, gaining a nod from the narrator.

“Five, magical Britain stops schooling at age seventeen, here they stop at eighteen. Then there’s the fact SMI starts at eight years of age, instead of eleven.” Evie saw the confused looks so she clarified. “Hogwarts starts at age eleven, because that’s when a child’s magic supposedly stabilizes. Here they are saying that there is no reason to repress that. It says here they believe that theory can be taught along with simple wand spells,” Evie rattled off, still confounded at the difference.

“Oh, well we know the boys have been doing magic for years, even Jordan has come along well,” Jet said in a proud voice.

“You’re right, but your magic doesn’t need a stable core,” the Hilton woman argued.

“Still…” Gilly trailed off, not wanting to get into a debate. “What else?” she asked instead.

“Six,” Evie continued counting off on her fingers, “SMI teaches all the way to a Masters, Hogwarts only teaches until NEWT’s.”

“This could be why the school years are shorts, it says here that the classes are accelerated,” Frances stated, pointing at the paragraph she just read, “which is probably why they can offer Master’s Degrees.”

“You’re probably correct. Seven, the kids will only have one classroom with only one teacher until they are thirteen, except for a few classes, like computers and flying. It says here that they do that because they mostly study theory and mild spells until then. All younger year teachers have Masters in various crafts and even if they need a different teacher then the teachers will change rooms and the class stays were they are. Even in the non-magical studies, it says that this is normal for non-magical schools. Hogwarts has a separate teacher for each subject and you have to go to separate floors to find your class,” Evie read off as the witches followed along.

“Isn’t Hogwarts a castle? How do you find the classes?” Gilly teased, knowing that the former Ravenclaw would not take too much offence. It was all in good fun. Evie had opened up quite a bit since she started hanging around this house.

“It was difficult the first few weeks, but soon enough it was easy and we got a lot work out on the stairs,” Evie said with a smile. “Eight, like you just said, Hogwarts is a large castle that is set away from all non-magical towns; SMI is two grandiose houses that are right smack-dab in the middle of Salem, which would explain why they don’t have Quidditch.” She tapped her chin at that thought.

“Why do you suppose there are two buildings?” Jet wondered out loud, going over her own booklet.

The youngest Owens glanced through her pamphlet and answered, “Oh, it says here they use computers and other technology. So they have to have a separate building for those. Then the other building is for magical studies. The second building has non-magical repelling wards. I guess that make sense. They don’t know our magic yet, and even if they did, wand magic is still overpowered and will short electric stuff out. This is a relatively new development, and they only added the second building about five years ago.”

“I wonder how they keep the non-magicals from seeing anything” Jet mused, with a small quirk of her mouth.

“They probably keep all the magic in the classrooms,” Gilly answered, taking a sip of her tea. “Are there any more dissimilarities? I mean, really it’s like a whole different world.” She was completely floored by all the major differences.

“Yes, one more that I can tell. Let’s see, nine, you have to enroll at SMI, Hogwarts is invite only. So I would say that the two schools are quite different.” She finished a little out of breath after her narration; she took a large drink of her tea to ease her dry throat.

“What’s the schedule look like? Are the boys going to be very busy?” Frances asked, worried the boys wouldn’t have fun anymore with all the fast-paced classes, but knowing they needed to learn all they could now.

The time they had to go back to England was coming closer. The Owens women had done everything in their power to make sure the boys were ready, without crushing their free spirit. Now it was the magical world’s turn. That and Evie said that Sirius Black would be coming into their lives in a few years, so if he tried to take the boys, they would be able to prevent it. Evie wasn’t overly worried, but she couldn’t see his intent, only that he was keeping the other hunters off of their trail.

“Let’s see,” Evie said, bring Frances out of her musings. “It says here, since they start school at the age eight, one week will be non-magical studies and the next magical. They switch buildings each week. So the schedule for first years in the first week is non-magical:

8:00: Announcements, lunch count, attendance, write the day’s homework in planners

8:10-8:30: Basic computer setup and programs

8:30-9:00: Spelling, penmanship and phonics

9:00-9:30: Specials Classes: Physical Education, Music, Library or Art (to be switched per day)

9:30-10:15: Language: English, Latin, Spanish and French (to be switched daily)

10:15-10:30: Recess

10:30-11:15: Math (basic chemistry will be added weekly, no labs until 6th year.)

11:15-12:00: Reading

12:00-12:35: Lunch and lunch recess

12:35-1:35: History

1:35-2:00: Flexible time

2:00-2:40: Social Studies or Science

2:40-3:00: End-of-day administration, prepare for tomorrow, pack up and clean up, dismissal

3:30-4:45: Extracurricular activities

“Then they switch to magical studies, so the second week is:

8:00: Announcements, lunch count, attendance, write the day’s homework in planners

8:10-8:30: Theory reading: Spells, curses and jinxes what’s the difference

8:30-9:00: Wand movement and incantations (one day a week dedicated to wand care. For the first month)

9:00-9:30: Specials Classes: Physical Education (one flying class a month), Music, Library or Art (to be switched daily)

9:30-10:15: Language: Latin, English and French (to be switched daily)

10:15-10:30: Recess

10:30-11:15: Basic Arithmancy

11:15-12:00: Astrology

12:00-12:35: Lunch and lunch recess

12:35-1:35: History

1:35-2:00: Transfiguration

2:00-2:40: Magical government structure and laws

2:40-3:00: End-of-day administration, prepare for tomorrow, pack up and clean up, dismissal

3:30: Extracurricular activities

“So the schedule is still the same they just change off subjects,” Jet said, after the narration. “There are separate teachers for non-magical and magical, but that is to be expected. It says here that when the first years are in magical studies then the non-magical teacher will teach the second years. The same with the upper years, so each teacher has at least two age groups to teach, until junior high, which is when the kids turn thirteen,” she concluded with a thoughtful look on her face. That was tight schedule and she hoped it wouldn’t be too much for the children. It was another major difference between the schools. Hogwarts only had three classes a day for the first two years.

“That sounds rather expedient,” Gilly said smugly.

“Where did you learn such a big word, Gilly-bean?” Jet teased with a crooked smile.

“Bite me, you old hag,” Gilly laughed, still trying to hold on to her youth with both hands and be the responsible adult she was becoming. It took a lot to get her to grow up, but the boys were a godsend in that area. The two women smirked at each other and then turned back to Evie as she continued.

“It doesn’t look like they get much into wand use until next year. Runes and Care of Magical Creatures will be added when they are eleven and will replace the wand care and theory classes. Potions will be added when they are thirteen and will replace Astrology. The classes, magical and non-magical, will get progressively harder,” the petite blonde said, going over the few years ahead so they would know what to expect.

“What is the supply list like? We’re going to have to go to SunSpot tomorrow. I wish we hadn’t waited, Evie, but you said that it was necessary,” the youngest Owens whined playfully, not too worried that something bad was going to happen. Her seer friend had kept them out of a bit of trouble the past few years, by warning them when someone they didn’t want to meet was close by, and to stay in their house.

Evie continued reading, “Let’s see the supply list for the non-magical studies are:

No. 2 pencils

Colored pencils

A pencil sharpener (hand-held with a top to collect shavings)

A large pink eraser (The old-fashioned ones do the best erasing.)

Ballpoint pens

A box of crayons

Water-based markers

Spiral-bound or composition notebooks

Loose-leaf notebook paper

A three-ring binder

Pocket folders

A box for storing items

Highlighters

Index cards, ruled and unruled

A sturdy, supportive, expanded, feather light, backpack (SMI does not have lockers, please supply your child with this type of backpack)

Drawing paper

Construction paper

A ruler with English and metric measurements

Glue sticks

A four-ounce bottle of white glue

Scotch tape

A stapler

Scissors

Watercolor paints

Printer paper

Ink cartridges

A sturdy lunch box

A stainless steel water bottle

NOTE: Computer classes are mandatory, we recommend you purchase a computer for your home or visit your local library often. If you purchase a laptop, do not let your children bring it to the school. We cannot guarantee that it will be safe.

Additional Note: Emergency supply kits will be available for purchase for $5 each, the other option is to make your own and a pamphlet will be supplied on the first day of school. They are mandatory.

“Looks like we’re going to have to set up a room with a computer for studying,” Jet mumbled, going over the finances in her head. “At least we know there are enough funds for that.”

Just as promised the goblins provided a substantial allowance to the witches. And just like they discussed, oh so many years ago, they put most of it away in a bank account for the boys. They were also very frugal when it came to spending said money, so that when the brothers and Jordan go back to England, there would be enough for at least one of the aunts to go with them. The Hiltons and the older aunts would have to stay here, but thanks to Evie’s gift, they understood.

The goblins also invested the boys’ trust funds and they grew to great proportions. The vaults now had a lot of money in them, which was taken to the family vaults at the end of the year. They wanted to make sure that the boys understood the value of a dollar. However, Luis was teaching them the fine art of ‘gifts’ in politics. They would need the extra money if they were to play with the Wizengamot.

Not having heard Jet’s words, Evie continued on. “There’s another difference from Hogwarts. This school supplies the books, even in magical studies and they stock potion ingredients. I wonder why we had to pay for the school and the books, plus supplies in Hogwarts.” she questioned mostly to herself and then shook her head and went back to reciting the supply list. “Anyway,” she said aloud, “the magical supplies are a lot fewer:

No. 2 pencils (for notes)

Colored pencils (for notes)

A pencil sharpener (hand-held with a top to collect shavings)

A large pink eraser (The old-fashioned ones do the best erasing.)

A calligraphy primer

Fountain pens (for homework)

Quill and ink (for homework)

Spiral-bound or composition notebooks (for notes)

Loose-leaf, three-hole, lined parchment (for homework: NEW: can be purchased in SunSpot Alley)

A three-ring binder

Pocket folders

A box for storing items

Index cards, ruled and unruled (for notes)

A sturdy, supportive, expanded, feather light, backpack (SMI does not have lockers, please supply your child with this type of backpack)

Wand

Wand holster

Wand cleaning kit

NOTE: It is recommended that magical and non-magical supplies are kept in separate backpacks.

Additional Note: Brooms are supplied by the school. Please, do not let your children bring their own broom. We cannot guarantee its safety, as there is no storage for such an item.

“So we can go to Salem in the morning and hit Wally World for non-magical supplies, and then get the magical stuff in the Alley, or visa-versa. I want to stop by All Things Wicca anyway and get some supplies for Maisie. She is also starting first grade this year and her supply list is the same as the boys’ non-magical one,” Evie concluded, and then put the guide back in her purse.

“Can you explain to us why the boys need quills and ink? Isn’t that a bit old-fashioned?” Frances questioned. It never made sense to the Owens when Luis insisted that the boys learn the fine art of quill use.

“Well,” the shorter woman started, tapping her finger to her chin, trying to figure out the best way to explain, “quills hold magic. That’s pretty much the brunt of it. They can be enchanted to keep children from cheating, plus, they work better with parchment, which can also be enchanted. They’ve never been able to get non-magical pens and pencils, or paper, to hold charms. The feathers quills are made out of come from magical birds, freely given.” She shrugged her shoulder as if it were a given.

“Oh, I guess that makes sense. I wonder how they keep them from cheating in non-magical studies. Well never mind, I’m sure they have their ways.” The older Owens sister waved off the question and went back to her booklet.

“What I would like to know is why you made us wait this long to go over all this? The only thing you let us do is enroll the boys and you made us to that right away. So what gives?” Gilly asked the seer.

“Well, I saw letters arriving for other schools, and I knew that you might be thinking on sending them somewhere else, though I’m not sure why. So I made you enroll as soon as you could to SMI. The reason you had to wait this long is because the mall was flooded with British Ministry people looking for Harry.” Her eyes pleaded for them to understand that she was trying to protect them. “I’m sure they did this in other countries to. This is not the only one that starts at such a young age.”

That caused the aunts to gasp. Gilly opened her mouth to ask how it happened, but Evie plowed on.

“I have no idea how they slipped in under the American government’s radar. But, if you had gone before today you and the boys would have been caught. That’s the reason I told you that today we would be going over the differences. I know you guys, if you had read the supply list you would have been off like a shot to get them, you always want to supply the boys with everything they need as soon as they need it. This is not a bad thing, just something you couldn’t do this time. So I made you wait. From what I see, Harry and Neville should be okay in there tomorrow,” Evie explained, sometimes she liked her sight, if it saved her friends hardship.

The witches looked affronted, “Evie dear,” Frances said, looking their friend in the eye, a small betrayed look on her face. “Do you believe we wouldn’t have understood that?” she probed, hoping that was not the case.

“Oh Merlin, no! That’s not why,” she exclaimed, devastated that they would think that. “No, I know you would have understood, but I saw me telling you and Agent Mumford would have heard. She would then tell her boss and the Alley would have been flooded with counter-agents. Then the British government would know someone was hiding near Salem, you would have been found. No matter how I looked I couldn’t find a way around that. As for the other schools, I saw Harry take care of that so my interference wasn’t needed, except to hurry you along. I am so, so sorry I made you think, even for a minute, I didn’t have faith in you. This is why I sometimes hate my gift,” Evie explained as quickly as she could, small regretful tears forming in her eyes.

And that was why this gift was a two-sided coin.

Gilly messed her hair up sheepishly, “Yeah, we were thinking about sending the boys to a boarding school to keep them behind wards throughout the year, but Harry quickly dissuaded us of that notion. He told us if we ever tried to pull that again, he’d disown us. Sometimes I wish we had never taught him to stand up for himself, even with us.” That boy had quite a mouth on him when he got going. Kippy had to keep shocking him, but he kept right on cussing up a storm.

Evie’s tears dried up quick, remembering her vision of the boys being caught and there was no way she was going to let that come to pass. “If you had, he would have been found by Dumbledore and he would have been sent to his relatives. Harry would have hurt them. Not on purpose, but because they would have angered him to the point his magic would have flared and destroyed their house. Then the idiots in Magical Britain would have called him a Dark Lord. So it is best you didn’t,” she confirmed with a firm nod of her head.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want that to happen,” mumbled the youngest Owens. Oh, she would have stormed Britain to get her boys back and that would be a political nightmare. That and she didn’t know if she could stand up to someone like Dumbledore, for all she was learning about more magic.

“It is the wards around your house that keep him from being found. You must keep him here until he goes back,” she ended her tirade with that venomous warning. Her small hand slammed flatly on the table, in emphasis, causing the glasses and plates to shake. She looked like she would move the earth itself to make sure they understood just how dangerous what they had planned was.

The witches nodded earnestly, they knew by now to listen to Evie. If she said keep Harry here then by all the Gods, they would keep him here. They settled Evie down and made plans for the following day. The boys came in a dinner time, flushed and happy. They had invited the Hiltons to eat with them, but Finley declined stating he had some work at home to finish.

The Owens family spent the evening discussing the school with the excite boys.

The next day the two families meet, at nine in the morning, at the Hiltons’ modest one story house. They decided that they would travel by Jumping to All Things Wicca. Evie wanted to get some Wiccan books for Maisie, so they could continue the studies at night when the girl was done with her homework. Then they would all go to SunSpot Alley to get money and magic supplies, and then they would be off to Wally World to get non-magical supplies for everyone.

After the Owens family Jumped into the back yard of the Hiltons’ house, they walked down the chilly wood chip path, which lead through the dying herb garden, to the back door and knocked.

Finley answered, looking a little rumpled, but smiling. He opened the door wider and said, “Good, you guys are here. We’re just getting washed up from breakfast. Come on in. There’s tea in the kettle.” He waved the way to the kitchen, which was just inside the door.

The Owens family trooped in and unbuttoned their jackets, but didn’t remove them. The elder aunts, dressed in their usual old-fashioned dresses with traditional traveling coats complete with umbrellas, got tea and settled at the kitchen table. The boys, in jeans, tee-shirts and denim jackets, took off like a shot to find their friend. Gilly, in hip hugging jeans and belly button shirt with a waist length leather jacket, just leaned against the counter and waited for everyone to be ready.

After about ten minutes everyone gathered in the kitchen, donning light jackets. “Is everyone ready?” Evie asked, dressed in jeans, button up blouse and light wool jacket, as she looked over her children to make sure they were bundled correctly.

“Yup,” Jordan said, as he playfully shoved Harry, who had just mussed up his hair. He was dressed like his friends, only with a parachute jacket and not a denim one. Harry just ducked and laughed and mussed it up again. Neville looked on with a tolerant smile; he was always the calmer one. Oh, he still played, just not as rough as these two boys.

Finley was dressed in jeans, a button-up shirt, and denim jacket. Maisie was in a nice dress with a knee length wool jacket.

“Good. Maisie, you will go with Gilly. Finley, you go with Jet. They are better at sidelong Jumping than I am. Jordan, you go with Harry. Everyone, go to the back yard,” she commanded as she shuffled her family out the door. Used to her ways, her family and friends just followed orders.

Gilly had asked once why they didn’t Jump to and from inside the house and was told in no certain terms that it was very bad form to do any sort of traveling, short of the Floo, in a house. And the seer wouldn’t be dissuaded from that. The Owens women respected her wishes for her house, but traveled all the time from theirs.

Gilly grabbed Maisie’s hand and disappeared without a sound. Jet and Finley went next, and then Harry and Jordan and the rest traveled on their own. Jordon was still learning to Jump, but he was getting there. He could Jump around the yard, but if he couldn’t see where he was going it didn’t work. He was greatly frustrated with his lack of progress, but Gilly told him it would take time and that even Agent Mumford, who would be lurking around the mall today, and Luis had a hard time, which made him feel better.

They all arrived in the back room of All Things Wicca and then moved to the front of the store. The same clerk from before was tending the till and gave the group a nod. She was quite used to them and they were valued customers. They were some of the few magicals that were interested in Wiccan magic. She never asked why, just appreciated their purchases.

Evie went to the books with Maisie. Frances went with them to point out the journals so Maisie could start making her own Book of Magic. Jet and Gilly went to restock candles, crystals and incense. The boys and Finley just hung around the back and waited patiently, mostly, for the women to finish. After the women were supplied, they all went back to the back room and Evie opened the arch.

The sunlit mall was as busy as ever. It looked like they weren’t the only ones to put off the shopping until the last minute. Parents and other adults were bustling from shop to shop, trying to corral their overly excited children. Said children were running all over the place, calling to friends and generally making a ruckus.

Harry made sure to keep his hat low on his head. They never could find a way to cover that stupid scar. Even non-magical make-up just faded away, like the damn thing ate it. It’s like the f*cking thing wants to be seen, he thought. Even though Death had removed the soul piece, the scar was still a curse scar and seemed to have a mind of its own. Stupid Fate and her stupid plans, he mused.

“First Gringotts, I think,” Jet said as she headed to the back of the mall.

“You know, you would think that the bank would be at the front of the Alley,” Gilly said as she held on to Maisie and followed her aunt. “It would make it the first thing to be seen, and easier to get money from,” she commented.

“It’s all about marketing,” said Finley knowingly as that was his job, marketing for malls. “If you travel through the mall to the back, you’ll stop and look at stores, see the sales and think to yourself ‘oh look, a sale on shoes. I’ll have to come back for that’, making you want to spend money on things you aren’t even here for.” He sported a grin that make Gilly want to smack him upside the head.

“Oh, that’s sneaky, but effective I’m sure,” she replied, after all the man would know. That and that did make sense. Evil marketers, was her thought on the issue.

Jet was looking around the mall and noticed a man doing magic with a wand. He was making expanded book bags at a kiosk. She looked on with a small look of wonder on her face.

Evie noticed the look and questioned, “You know, every time you see men do magic you get that same look on your face, why?” It had been a burning curiosity since she had known the witches. There was just never a time the tutors weren’t around for her to ask, or something else came up and took the thought away.

“Oh,” Jet said, coming back to herself, “you have to understand, the Owens family have all been women for centuries. Marie was non-magical born and the first in our family. The curse she laid on us made every child a female. Until Luis, we’ve never seen any man do magic. And no matter how many years have passed, it still catches me off guard sometimes, which is rather funny, since he has been teaching us for years.” She laughed at that. Poor Luis would catch her gawking and smile. She had explained it to him years ago, and he mostly understood.

“I didn’t know that,” Evie said with a nod, thinking there might be more to the Owens family than they have told her. This was okay there were still things about her family’s past she kept to herself. Just because the two families were tight didn’t mean they shared everything.

The group finally made it to the bank. The Owens troop went to the exchange counter, while the Hiltons went to withdraw from their vault. Since the Owens got direct deposit, they had not had to set foot in the vaults, ever. The only time they dealt with the goblins was when Harry or Neville had to come in for the yearly reports. It was something that started this year in January. The goblins wanted to make sure they understood, just what being a Lord meant. Luis and one of the aunts would come with them, but usually said in the background. The goblins didn’t offer this service to many people, but their fear of Death made them do so.

After everyone got their money they all gathered at the front of the bank. They looked around the mall and wondered where to start.

“Okay,” Gilly said as she looked around, “where first?”

“I think,” said Harry, “that we should get the book bags first. That way we can just put everything in them so we don’t have to carry bags and sh… ummm, stuff.” He ran a hand through his hair and looked sheepishly at his aunts, who were all looking at him in fond exasperation.

He still had issues with cussing around his family. He was used to cussing out the bullies in town as they seemed to think it made him more bad-assed, and they left him alone more often than not. Since he was still on the short side, he took advantage of any tool he could use.

After the Magical Law Enforcement showed up one time, he refrained from jinxing the kids that confronted him or his friends and family. It had been their fault; if they hadn’t been throwing rocks at Neville, he wouldn’t have lost control. The spells the aunts taught them were off the radar, so to speak, unless they were strong, which that jinx was. They looked good in donkey ears, and it was too bad the Accidental Magic people showed and put them right. They changed the bullies’ memories too, which made jinxing them useless.

It was a good thing they never found out who had done the accidental magic, or Harry would have been caught and sent back to England, and Evie said that would be a very bad thing. The seer warned him to avoid doing magic in town at all costs. So he took to cussing at them instead. It worked so he was going to use it.

Gilly blinked at the near miss, then shrugged it off. They had been warned to leave it alone, unless Harry started talking like a dock worker, which he only did when angry. As of right now, it was his only form of defense. If he used violence in any nature it would come back and haunt him in the future. “Sounds logical,” she said, ruffling his hair to show she wasn’t going to scold him.

When they got to the store they all headed to the side where the book bags were. “Pick what you want, kids, we’ve been saving just for today,” Finley said to his two children. They both got excited looks on their faces and ran to the bags.

In the end, after much debate, Harry’s first bag was a green bag that matched his eyes: on the back it had a large stag in a forest, which had a huge rack of antlers and would prance and jump through the trees. He knew from the journals that this was his dad’s other form, too bad they didn’t tell how to become and Animagus, since they all took place after his parents left school. The other was a red bag that had all sort of sports paraphernalia, including footballs, soccer balls, snitches and quaffles that bounce and flew around. It was a very busy bag. He had been tempted to get the one with flourishing lilies that opened and closed, but decided it was too girly.

Neville’s choices were much more sedate, his first bag was forest green and had vines that twisted and bloomed. He didn’t care if it was girly or not, he just liked the vines. His second bag was brown and had a large otter, which would slide down a hill into a lake, then would climb back up and do it again. he figured this bag made up for the first one, since it was much more manly.

Jordon’s first bag was the same as Harry’s sports one, only in blue. His second was a burnt orange bag that had books that would fly off the shelf, open and close, and then reshelf by their selves. While he wasn’t quite a bookworm, he liked this bag and thought it was a good school bag.

Maisie’s bag was one that was covered in butterflies and fairies. All the bags were spelled with a Notice-Me-Not charm that was aimed towards non-magicals, so they could be used in either world. So when she went to school all the other kids would see was motionless flowers and fairies.

They next went to the book store to get magical dictionaries and encyclopedias for the study rooms. There were some reference books they wanted to get as well. They didn’t spend much time in this store, since SMI provided their textbooks and they still had to get the non-magical equivalents at Wally World.

Next was the stationery store to get a calligraphy primer, fountain pens and tips, quills and pen knife, bottles of ink, spiral-bound notebooks and loose-leaf lined parchment. All other stationery stuff they would get in Salem.

Since robes were not required, they decided to get school clothes in one of the second-hand stores, unlike the stores in non-magical Salem, these clothes were adjusted and repaired by magic and looked brand new. Shopping here saved both families a lot of money. And the Owens witches could make sure they weren’t too out of date.

Last, but not least, it was time to get the wands. This store none of them had never been in before. It was called Wanda's Witches and Wizards Wand Shoppe, catchy title. Finley and Maisie declined going in, so the women and the boys left them as they split to the potions shop, so Finley could get stuff to stock the Hiltons' potions supply. He had a list from the Owens witches, and they made sure to give him money.

Like the rest of the Alley, Wanda’s was bright and sunny, the shelves were neat and organized. There were benches for parents by the window. The store was colored in muted browns and blacks, but didn’t come off as dark and broody. The boys excitedly bounced at the counter. The woman at the till looked on leniently; she was quite used to eight year olds. “Oh, here for your wands are you?” she said, smiling.

“Yeah,” came the chorus of three, along with vigorous overexcited nodding of heads.

“Okay, then. Who is first?” the clerk asked. “I’m Wanda, by the way. You may call me Miss Wanda,” she introduced herself to the boys and looked to the four women seated in the back and gave her permission for them to do the same with a nod of her head. She was old-school and didn’t think it proper for children to use her first name without the honorific address.

“I think Harry should go last,” Evie predicted and when she saw the slumped shoulder she added. “Not that you’re not important, Harry, just I have a feeling you’re going to take the longest. So let the others go first.” She put a comforting hand on his shoulder and led him further back from the group.

Used to Evie’s ways, a disappointed Harry nodded and sat on the bench. The aunts made sure to pat his hand and give him and encouraging smile.

Miss Wanda pointed to a large circle that was etched on the floor, and said, “Step in here, whoever goes first. This circle is spelled so misfired wands don’t ruin my store.” She gave a bright smile at that bit of spell work. She had heard the horror stories of other wand shops and how first time wand users would cause a lot of damage. So she invented this circle to prevent it.

Neville bravely stepped forward and stood in the circle indicated. A measuring tape flew out from behind the counter and started measuring everything, even the size of his feet.

“Ummm, why is it doing that?” a confused Gilly asked the wand maker, not sure how his feet size could help in picking a wand.

“Oh, are they Muggle-born, then?” she asked gaily. No one felt the need to point out how wrong she was. “Well, the tape is not just measuring for the length of the wand; it’s also getting a ruling for his magic and personality. When it is done, a list will pop up and it will let me know which wands to try on him. The wand chooses the wizard, after all,” the shop owner explained in a voice that said this was a common question.

The tape stopped measuring and the list appeared. Neville tried about twenty wands and finally matched with an eleven and three quarters inch, holly and Pegasus tail hair. “Holly wood is to symbolize truth and Pegasus hair is for wisdom, you will be a very true friend,” Miss Wanda stated as she smiled at the proud looking boy.

Jordan stepped up into the circle. The tape did its thing and Miss Wanda chose the wands from the list. Jordan only had to try ten wands and was chosen by a ten inch vine with toenail of a sphinx. “Vines symbolize growth and life, the sphinxes are benevolent, but having a ferocious strength. You will be a strong protector,” the shop owner predicted and handed the wand back to the beaming boy.

Then came Harry’s turn, he stepped into the circle and waited for the tape to stop. The other boys sat in on the bench, having been forewarned it would take a while. The list that popped up was long, it was noted that this might have to be made. “Well, we’ll just try the ones on the list first, since crafted wands are more expensive,” the wand maker said, with a look of excitement.

Two hours and one hundred twenty-two wands later it was decided that he needed a crafted wand. Miss Wanda had to call in an assistant to take care of other customers. So the tired and mostly bored group got up and followed the wand maker to the back, after the shop owner informed her assistant that she would be unavailable.

“Okay, this is very simple,” Miss Wanda told the weary boy. “Put your hand over the box of wood, we know from the wands earlier that you, like your brother, seemed to like your birth wood, holly, but let’s make sure.” She indicated the box on the far table.

Harry, grumbling that they should have done this first, stepped up to the box and held his hand over it. A few seconds later a twelve inch piece of Holly flew to his open hand.

“Now, step over here and try to find your core in the canisters on the shelf.”

Harry again did as instructed and passed his right hand along the containers. It took about two minutes when one tin glowed.

“Griffin feather, very interesting,” the shop owner said as she took the canister down. “A Griffin is a symbol of celestial power and a guardian of the divine. Needless to say, we can expect great things from you, young man.” They never gave any of the boys’ names. “It will take an hour for me to craft this wand. How about we go to the front and you can pay and then come back? This wand is twenty Galleons; the other two are seven each.”

The women and the boys went to do as suggested and Evie paying for Jordan’s and Gilly paying for her two wards. They met with a disgruntled Finley and Maisie, who had been waiting outside with melted ice cream on their hands and bags of potion ingredients at their feet. Maisie was looking particularly bored.

Gilly smiled sheepishly and apologized, “Sorry about that, we had to get Harry’s wand special made. We had to go into the back, and I didn’t even think about you two waiting out here.” She blushed and so did the other women.

“We saw you were still busy with Harry, hours ago. So we went to the ice cream parlor. We brought you guys back some, but it melted a long time ago, and we had to toss it,” Finley said, glaring at the abashed women. Again, apologies were made by the women, who with a wave of their hands cleaned up the two impatient squibs, as the boys told Maisie about their wands. The group headed to have a very late lunch and when they were done they went to get Harry’s wand.

Soon it was time to go to Wally World, that trip was completely uneventful. Both families decided they were too tired to Jump, so the train was caught and everyone went to their home and to bed. They’d see each other tomorrow.

Chapter 9: School… Finally

Notes:

I would like to thank my beta for looking over this fic, darrelldeam, who looked over the first draft. All mistakes are my own.

Just a quick note: I do know the difference between ‘me and Neville’ and ‘Neville and I’ but the boys are eight, and even with the etiquette lessons, Harry is going to speak casually. It’s part of his character.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

September 6, 1988, early morning

It was 5 a.m. and the Owens household was in a semi-quiet chaos. Kippy, who was wearing a cute little kitty robe that Maisie had given her, was trying to get lunch ready, without making too much, which was futile in her need to make sure the little Masters were taken care of when she wasn’t with them. This would be the first time since she got here that they would not be sitting at the table for lunch and she wanted to make sure they didn’t go hungry. She was making some peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, tuna, and turkey with Swiss sandwiches. There was also fruit, chips and cookies, along with thermoses of herbal tea, juice and milk. She made sure to add some cupcakes and chips for an afternoon snack. She just hoped it was enough.

Gilly, who was still dressed in her night clothes, consisting of a long tee-shirt, a pair of shorts and baby-doll robe, was yelling at the boys to hurry up. The aunts, who were dressed for the day in their normal floor length, long sleeved dresses, were the only ones sitting calmly, drinking their coffee. Kippy was so worried over the boys’ lunches that she forgot to make breakfast, but that was okay, because Jet just got them some cold cereal and made coffee. It wasn’t like they had never made breakfast before. The only reason she opted for cold cereal was because she didn’t want to get in Kippy’s way.

The two aunts watched in amusem*nt while Kippy flitted about the kitchen, making sandwiches and adding more and more food to the lunch bags. “The poor dear,” Jet said as she sipped her coffee.

“What?” asked Gilly with a bit of agitation in her voice. She hadn’t been paying attention to the house elf.

“It’s Kippy, dear, she is making enough food to feed the entire Owens line,” Jet answered as she poured more coffee into her cup.

“Oh, well, that’s nice,” the red-blonde stated distractedly, her eyes glued to the doorway.

“Why don’t you call them down, dear? The bus will be coming soon,” Jet said, tapping her niece on the shoulder.

Gilly started and then blushed. She was just so worried about the boys’ first day. “Alright,” she agreed and got up from the table and when to the entrance area. “BOYS! Get up!” she shouted as she stood at the bottom of the stairs. She heard two thumps and then. “Don’t make me come up there,” was her empty threat. The worst she would do was send a tickling charm on them.

“I’M UP!” they shouted back. Then you could hear them moving around.

Gilly sighed and went back to the kitchen and poured herself some cereal. She then looked at the house elf and her eyes bulged at the amount of food on the counters. She broke out in fits of giggles, relieving a lot of that tension.

Ten minutes later Harry and Neville were still in their own rooms, both sporting boxers and were each sleepily trying to decide what to wear for the fifteenth time that morning. They had stayed up late last night, too excited to sleep. Harry had snuck into Neville’s room and they talked until the wee hours of the morning. They had not been in a school environment since pre-school, and none of those kids had been like them. So this was a completely new experience for them. All their school mates would be magical and they were looking forward to it. They just hoped that they weren’t looked down on for doing things different.

At last, Harry settled for a nice pair of dark brown casual dress pants, an emerald green button up shirt, black biker boots and a black baseball cap with a white Nike logo. He was thinking about getting a fedora, to make him look all cool and stuff. Now that he had eye contacts, instead of glasses, he felt he might be able to pull it off.

He had received special permission to wear the cap, since Principal Williams knew who he was. It was given with the consensus that the hats never had any phrases on them. Symbols were fine as long as they weren’t offensive. All the teachers would be informed that he could wear it, but not the real reason why. To everyone at the school, besides the principal, he was Harry Owens. The other teachers were told he had a curse scar that was sensitive to air and this was the only way to protect it, which was mostly true.

They decided to get him contacts when the books started to appear, just before his seventh birthday. They were all horrified when they saw the image of a young James Potter, complete with black messy hair and black framed glasses, much like Harry’s own at the time, with Lily Potter’s emerald green eyes, staring at them from a book that was called Harry Potter and The Battle with the Dragon. It was a stupid childish tale about how he fought a dragon in England, when he was six, which was about the time he started wearing glasses. He had no idea how they knew what he looked like, and did everything he could to banish his father’s similarity. Not that he wanted to, but he didn’t want to make it easier for them to find him. The aunts concurred.

They had asked the goblins what could be done about the books, and were told that unless they came out to whom and where Harry was, it was best to leave it alone for now. The goblins, however, were drawing up the paperwork for lawyers to sue when Harry did make himself known to the public. They were keeping track of every bit of money the author was making. They still feared what would happen to them if they angered Death. Normally they would never do this type of business, unless they could charge a hefty fee, but… well, Death was not something to manipulate.

Neville decided on a pair of tan casual pants, a white polo shirt, and black sneakers. His short, sun-bleached blond hair was neatly washed and combed.

Each boy grabbed their bags and denim jackets, and ran down the stairs to get breakfast. Harry decided that his sports decorated bag would be his non-magical studies bag, and Neville decided on his vine covered one. Since they were doing non-magical studies this week, their wands were to be left at home. The teachers didn’t want magical foci in the non-magical buildings. They felt that young children couldn’t resist temptation.

As the boys settled at the table to eat some cold cereal, the conversation began on what the women were going to do today. Now that they only had Agent Mumford and Luis to teach, and they would be taught during the night hours after the etiquette lessons, the Owens women were at loose ends.

Since Claire was going to the school with the boys to keep an eye out for trouble, much to their displeasure, her schedule was only open in the evening. She was posing as a teacher’s aide as to not draw attention to the boys. The only reason the boys were upset was because they didn’t like the fact that the American Government felt they needed protecting in the first place, but the agency, Evie and the aunts insisted. So they begrudgingly accepted. She had already left for the school.

Luis had already picked up another student during the day. He had made quite a bit of money teaching the boys, but wanted to implement his income, so that he could travel with them when they went to Hogwarts. It was decided that he could help curb Harry’s cussing at the wrong time. They had made great progress on that front.

“Aunt Jet, what are you doing today while we’re gone?” Neville asked between hurried bites of Cheerios. He missed Kippy’s wonderful eggs and hoped the elf would be calmer tomorrow. He smiled fondly at the little elf, and then frowned at how much she was making.

“Aunt Frances and I are going back to Salem to pick up a computer for you guys. We’re going to make the room on the bottom floor, what used to be your playroom, a study. Kippy has promised not to clean in there, she doesn’t want to blow up any expensive piece of equipment, so you guys will have to make sure it stays clean,” Jet answered, tucking a piece of hair back in her loose bun. “That means no food or drinks,” she said firmly, not wanting to have to replace such a costly item.

“Really,” Harry asked, excitedly bouncing in his seat, “we’re getting a computer? Why didn’t we get one yesterday?” his face morphing to a confused frown as he settled back in his chair.

“We didn’t want to make the Hiltons feel bad by spending a lot of money around them,” Gilly answered, looking pointedly at the two boys. “Finley works hard and can be a little sensitive that he can’t support his family the way we can. Not that he is jealous, per se; it’s just that it makes him a little unhappy. So we try not to flaunt your money in his face. We’ll let the kids use the computer with you two, but it is only for homework. Got it?” she still stared them down with a firm look.

She knew the boys weren’t braggarts, but they were young boys and sometimes had no tact at all. Not that she could talk, there were times when she wasn’t the most sensitive person on the planet. However, she had gotten much better after the whole possession deal. Before the fiasco with Jimmy, she only cared about herself and Sally, now she had to treasures to watch. Yeah, Gillian Owens was growing up.

Maybe, in a few years they’d get a computer or a system for games and such, but right now she wanted them to learn responsibility and that some tools were used for certain things only, much like magic. She was saving her own money to get a laptop —the Owens women never used the boys’ money for themselves. They were making a bit of money by teaching the tutors and the government, so it was okay. They had even stopped taking many requests from the town folk. Of course, anything they taught the Hiltons was free of charge; one didn’t do that with friends. Evie never charged for her gift after all. And to them magic was a gift to be shared with loved ones, it was only those outside their circle that they charged.

The boys both sagely nodded their heads, knowing that a few times they had slipped and boasted about their money to their friend they would see the flash of need in his eye, then the guilt that followed. After that they tried really hard not to brag about anything. However, they made sure to share everything. That’s what friends are for.

“Aunt Gilly,” Harry said, getting her attention, “why don’t you offer to have Finley do some work for you? That way he can feel better about letting the kids use the computer. I mean, he is in marketing right? Well, we all know that there are books about me that I never approved of, so maybe he, I don’t know, maybe he knows someone, who knows the laws, or he can work with the goblins on the lawsuit. You could say it was a favor, then letting everyone use the computer would be a favor in return,” he suggested with logic only kids seemed to have sometimes.

Grown-ups forget about swapping big favors when everything around them has to do with money exchanges. But, kids, sometimes that is all they had to bargain with. Though this wasn’t like the aunts teaching the Hiltons, that was a friend thing. What Harry was suggesting was work.

“That is a really good idea, kiddo,” Gilly said, reaching over the table and flipping his cap off his head. “When did you get so smart?” she teased as she mussed up his hair. It would need some beefing up, but coming from a kid it was a good start.

“Oi, leave off, will ya?” he said as he batted her hands away and grabbed his hat off the floor. Since they knew they were going to return to England, the boys had taken it upon themselves to learn all English phrases, not that they were going to hide their upbringing, they just didn’t want to be caught flatfooted by the bizarre way those Brits talked. They did, however, pick a few up that they liked, spoken in a very American accent. This caused the Hiltons to bust out laughing every time they used them, which was made worse when the boys tried English accents. It was just as funny to everyone when Jordan did the same with US slang, which the Hiltons felt was just a weird.

The conversation went on from there and soon it was time for the bus. Kippy held out two enormous bags of lunch, and the boys took the bags without comment, not wanting to make her feel bad. Both were glad their book bags were expanded. The bus horn tooted and the boys and a barefoot Gilly ran outside to the road. The two older aunts stayed behind and waved the boys off from the front doorway.

“Alright, you two, I want you to behave and learn all that you can. We’re counting on you,” their youngest aunt said with happy tears running down her face.

The veteran bus driver, who was used to this, patiently waited for now. He would remind them he was on a schedule in a minute. This was quite a common scene on the first day.

“I’m going to miss you, Aunt Gilly,” Harry said, giving her a big hug. “I won’t let you guys down. I’ll behave, mostly. You can’t not want me to have any fun, right?” he asked, a little mischievous smile playing on his face. He knew the aunts wanted him to be as free spirited as he could and still obey the rules.

“You little brat, you do what you will, but try not to hurt anyone and don’t get in trouble,” she laughed and returned the hug. After giving Harry a playful push, she turned to Neville.

“You watch out for him, don’t let him get you into trouble. I know we can expect you to behave. You’re my good little boy,” she said, hugging her nephew hard, but gave Harry a smirk to let him know she was playing with him.

“You know me so well,” Neville deadpanned, returning the hug just as hard.

The horn tooted again. Patient the driver may be, however, he did have a schedule to keep.

“Okay,” Gilly said, wiping her eyes. “Off you go. Be good. Have fun. Learn lots. And make many friends,” were her short demands.

The boys both waved and climbed on the bus. Jordan hailed them over and they all excitedly talked about what the school would be like. They met a few children and all got into a discussion about which was better, American football or European’s. Poor Jordan was the only one rooting for European, but his held his opinion that it was better. It was a lively debate, after Jordan explained what the differences were. He had learned all the arguments were by listening to his dad talk to his mates during the Sunday games. Though he was only eight, he still stood firm on his stance.

The bus didn’t seem to follow normal driving laws, or any laws for that matter. Instead of going straight down the road, it would fold on to itself and inch along like an inch worm, covering miles at a time, but non-magicals didn’t seem to see it. It would inch down the road and find an empty spot, miles ahead, then to the non-magicals it would look like it just pulled in in front of them. The kids inside felt like they were on a ride at the carnival, but without the upset tummy effect and after a few more stops to pick up students, the buildings of SMI came into view. The bus stopped inching and drove normal.

Like the aunts said, the two buildings were similar. They were five stories high and made with brown shingled siding. The non-magical building’s windows and doorway had a white trim, the magical blue. There was ornamental wooden trim about the slanted slated roof. There was even a widow’s walk on the roof of both buildings. Though why the buildings so far from the sea supported these, was a mystery to the boys. There were tall pillars that held a slated canopy that covered three feet in front of the buildings and started on the second floor. The pillars were painted to match the trim.

In the front of the school was a blue and white sign that stated this was the Salem’s School for Gifted Children. There was a compulsion charm on the sign that if a non-magical did read it they would soon forget it. If a magical looked at it then it read: Salem’s Magical Institute.

A huge, well kept, deep green lawn was in front of the buildings with larger ones in the back, you could see the white of the gymnasium peeking between the buildings. Trees, whose leaves were turning many colors and dropping to blanket the lawn, littered the grass both front and back. There was a playground smack dabbed between both houses. It had swings, slides, teeter-totters, and other things you would find in any other schoolyard playground.

Two long, wide, winding, paved walkways started where the buses let the students off and continued to the large double doors, twisted in front of either building, leading students to where they needed to go. They had neatly trimmed five foot hedges on either side. There were students of all ages walking up both walkways. All of the new kids stopped on the sidewalk that connected the two walkways and stared. It was a beautiful sight.

“Alright, you guys, time to stop staring and head to the building with the white trim. You are doing non-magical studies today. If any of you have your wands you need to hand them over,” a dark haired adult male said. He was tall and lanky; he had a kind face and looked like he would be lots of fun. “I’m Mr. Parker and I’ll be your teacher this year on the non-magical side. Just an FYI, I’m a squib, so I won’t tolerate any bigoted comments. Keep your opinions to yourself,” he said firmly, with a look that was out of place on a face with so many laugh lines. Then he smiled and said, “Now that that is out of the way, gather your things and I’ll take you to your class.” He kind of reminded the boys of the elder aunts. They were impressed.

The now kind and smiling Mr. Parker gathered the kids around him and led them up the walkway to the white trimmed building. They stayed on the first floor and went in to room NM1, which stood for non-magical one. It was a small class, since there were only thirteen students.

Unlike Europe’s Magical Schools, who gathered children from all over their countries, the schools in America only had children come in from the immediate surrounding states. This school had kids from all the New England states, so it catered to kids from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The population of students for SMI measured between 175 and 250.

The first two floors of the buildings were set up for elementary ages, which were ages 8-11, the third for junior high, encompassing ages 12-14, and forth for high school, which was for the 15-16 year olds, the fifth for apprenticeships who usually were 17-18. Both houses had the libraries and administrative offices on the first floor. The second floor had the potions/chemistry labs in the magical house. In the non-magical house the computer rooms were set up on the second floor.

The classroom was set up like a normal elementary class. Metal and wood child size desks were set around the room in a half arch. They each had a metal and wood chair to match. There were slots for pencils and pens carved in to the top half of the desk. The wood part of the desk tilted open to reveal a hollow area where binders and textbooks were stored. There was a row of hooks and bins along the back wall where lunches and coats were to be placed.

A large teacher’s desk sat at the front of the class, behind it was a green blackboard and a white dry-erase board. A smaller teacher’s desk was off to the side for the teacher’s aide, where Claire was already sitting. There was a large wooden and metal table used for craft time and coloring, surrounded by colorful plastic child size chairs, which had a hole in the middle, on the other side of the class. Motivational posters littered the wall making the class appear bright and cheery.

“Okay, first hang you coats on the hooks in the back, your names are above your hook. Then everyone find the desk with your name on it and we’ll get started by introducing yourself to the rest of the class. If you stay on with this school you will be classmates until you graduate, so try and get to know one another,” Mr. Parker said and the children scrambled to comply.

The three friends were still excited, they were very hopeful that they would make many friends at this school. They would need all the help they could get when they returned to England, however, that was not the reason they wanted friends. They wanted to teach their magic to everyone. They were cool like that.

The Owens boys pulled their oversized lunches and blushed when the teacher asked if they were going to feed the whole class. They explained to him about Kippy and he just chuckled and patted them on the shoulders and said he understood.

Later that day

Gilly and the aunts heard the bus pull up and went to greet the boys; they were all excited and hoped that the boys had a good day.

“Aunt Gilly, Aunt Jet, Aunt Frances, you will never believe the day we had!” Harry exclaimed, jumping from aunt to aunt giving everyone a big hug. You could see the excitement shining in his emerald eyes. Neville followed suit and he too was shouting his enjoyment of a day well spent.

“Whoa there, kiddos, calm down, we’ll get to hear all about your day. First, I want to go and get the Hiltons, so we can all hear about everyone’s day,” Gilly said with a laugh, prying her dark-haired nephew off her waist, after returning the hug he bestowed on her.

“Okay,” Harry said slightly disappointed, but after a minute he got excited, because his friend would be there to share.

Gilly left to get the Hiltons and returned about five minutes later. Jordan could now Jump by himself. They joined the aunts and the boys’ in the dining room, where they had gone to wait. There were plates of sandwiches and cookies on the table, as well as two pitchers, one with milk the other with juice. Everyone served themselves snacks and when everyone was settled the conversation began. The Owens boys only took one cookie; they were still full from the partially eaten lunch that Kippy had made. There was still a large portion of that lunch in their back packs. They were going to put it away and eat it tomorrow. Thanks goodness for stasis charms. .

“Soooo,” Gilly began, drawing out the word just to tease the children, “what did you guys learn today? Let’s start with Maisie since she’s the youngest.”

The boys groaned. They wanted to talk first, but conceded to the woman power in the room. Having been raised by witches, they all knew it was easier to give in than fight. Even Finley agreed with that, but of course, he always knew that.

Maisie’s classes were a lot fewer than the boys’ since her school wasn’t accelerated. She didn’t have any languages nor did she have Arts, Music or Library; she only had PE. She did have craft time. As she went rapidly through her day, talking about her teacher, Ms. Paine, and the new kids she met. Her hands flew wildly and she bounced up and down in her chair, almost spilling her milk three times, until her mother took it from her.

The adults smiled indulgently and congratulated her in all the right places. The boys put their heads on the table and waited for their turn.

“… and then Ms. Paine walked us to the bus and I came home,” the young excited girl finished her tale.

“I’m so proud of you, sweetheart. You’re growing up so fast, and that picture you drew is adorable. We’ll put it up on the refrigerator when we get home. Since the boys were rude enough not to listen to your wonderful story, why don’t you go and join Kippy in the kitchen and start your homework? You can come and ask if you need help,” Evie said, glaring at the unabashed boys, whose cheeks were tinted pink at being called out by an adult, but not by not listening to a stupid girl. They loved Maisie, but she was still a girl.

“Okay, Mummy,” the little girl said and she picked up her book bag and skipped out of the dining room to find Kippy.

“That was quite rude of you boys,” Evie chastised and though the Owens women didn’t agree, they knew that Luis would, so they let Evie handle it. Gilly did cut her a warning glare, to make sure she knew not to push it.

They tried to stay out of the whole etiquette thing. They would never allow themselves be bound down by rules; however, they also knew it was something the boys needed for the future. And from what Luis told them, the children could pass themselves off as the young Lords they were —when they wanted too. The Owens witches were just glad to see their rebellious side showed every now and then, like now. It meant their spirit was still free and wild. Though they could see Evie didn’t like her son showing the same spirit, maybe they’d talk to her later.

“We know,” Neville said, eyes sparkling with barely suppressed humor. He really didn’t think they had done anything wrong. It’s not like they laughed at Maisie, they just didn’t pay attention to her. “But, she was taking forever and we wanted to tell our day too. However, we apologize. Don’t we, guys?” he asked, nudging the boys on either side of him. The two boys nodded their heads and then perked up realizing it was their turn.

Evie sighed, boys will be boys after all, and no matter how many manners you teach them they are always going to be boys. “Fine,” she said, waving her hand in their direction, “let’s hear about your day. First start off with your teacher.”

All three boys tried to talk at once, stumbling over each other’s words and none of them being heard correctly, so Frances put up her hand to make them stop. “Jordan, why don’t you start, then Harry, then Neville? We’ll go through each lesson and then you can tell us what homework you have,” she said and pointed at Jordan.

“Well, Mr. Parker is way cool. He reminds us of Aunt Jet, all smiles and nice words unless it’s, like, really important. He told us right away that he was a squib and won’t let anyone talk bad about them or any other bad names and such. He has, like, a whole bunch of lines all over his face, like the aunts, like he smiles all the time,” Jordan said being young enough that he didn’t realize he was breaking a taboo on telling women they looked old. “He had the whole classroom set up, with our names on the desks and everything. Ms. Mumford was there too, but we really didn’t, like, talk to her,” he said, and then his face got a disappointed look on it. “We didn’t get to sit next to each other; we had to sit all the way across the class. We asked Mr. Parker if we could, like, switch seats, but he said no way, ‘cause we’re, like, friends and family, and we might talk to each other in class. So we couldn’t, but other than that he was way cool.” Having been in the states this long Jordan was picking up slang rather rapidly, you could tell after his first day of class his English mannerisms would soon be a thing of the past.

“Right, that’s good, I think,” Gilly said, trying to sort through the babbling. “So he’s a good man, that won’t let you talk bad about anyone? Right?”

“That’s what I said,” Jordan huffed, causing the women to laugh at him, which caused him to pout harder.

“Okay, Okay, stop teasing the boy,” Jet said and then she turned to Harry. “What happened next?”

“Well, we had to stand up at our desk and tell everyone what our name was and what state we were from, and something about ourselves,” Harry explained, waving his hands back and forth between the three boys. “We went in alphabetical order, so me and Neville went way after Jordan did, ‘cause we’re the only Owens boys there. We gave our fake names and told them we grew up here. Neville told them he liked plants, and I told them I liked football, and Jordan told them he liked football, but had to explain that his was more like soccer, which made some of the kids confused. So, he spent a long time telling them the differences, until Mr. Parker asked him to stop.”

“Yeah,” Jordan cut in, receiving a mock glare from Harry and a head swat, “and Mr. Parker said he liked British football too. He’s really cool.”

“It’s my turn, you dummy,” Harry said, trying to swat his friend again, but this time hitting Neville who was still sitting between them.

“Hey,” Neville said and went to push Harry playfully.

“Don’t,” Evie said, stopping the rough housing before it started. “We have been waiting all day to hear about your first day of school. You can play after you’ve done your homework. Neville, your turn.”

“Well, there really isn’t much to tell,” the sandy-haired boy began, looking at the other boys who nodded in agreement. “After that, Mr. Parker told us what we’d be learning today and then we went to the computer room and he gave a whole bunch of rules, the computers weren’t even plugged in. He said that we couldn’t boot them up until next week. But, we did learn were the on and off button was and what the mouse was for. You know simple stuff that people who never used a computer before need to know.” He shrugged and turned to Jordan, now that it was his turn again.

“Then, we had to do spelling and we had to learn to do it in cursive,” the older boy made a face at that. The boys knew this form of writing it was part of their etiquette lessons, since Luis made sure they knew how to write formal letters. That didn’t mean he had to like it though. “The teacher said Harry's, Neville's and mine were really good though, so we got to study the words ahead of everyone. Which was cool, I guess.” He shrugged and then he turned to Harry.

The aunts and Evie just followed along with their heads, nodding in the correct places.

“We were supposed to have PE today, but they forgot to tell us to bring our suits, so we got to play in the playground for a little while. Here is the schedule for PE days,” Harry said after he dug through his bag to get the note, the other boys following suit. He handed his to Frances, because she was closer and she passed it down the table. Jordan gave his to his mum, and Neville just handed his to Frances as well.

“I’ll make sure Kippy gets this, since she is still in charge of the laundry, but I want you guys to make sure the suits are in your bags. That way if you forget, you can’t blame it on anyone but yourselves,” Gilly said with a pointed look. They may not be big on manners, but the Owens witches were huge on responsibility.

“Yes, ma’am,” came two responses. Jordan nodded his head to his mum showing he understood as well.

“Okay, whose turn is it?” Jet asked to relieve the little tension that was building up in the room.

“Mine,” said Neville and continued on without pause, “Then we had English. We had to read these really old books that had really weird words, and we had to talk about what is different between now and then. We’ll switch off and do languages the next few days. Mr. Parker says we’re going to start off real small and learn spells and such, so we can pronounce them correctly when we go to the magic side, even the ones in French.” He bounced excitedly; any form of new magic was a reason to bounce.

“That’s most wonderful. Remember, you can’t do any magic outside the house or the school. I would prefer if you waited until one of us can be there just to make sure no one gets hurt,” Jet said, beaming at the three boys.

“We remember,” Harry said and started his turn without being prompted. “Then after recess we had to do math. Mr. Parker said if we want to do well in Arithmancy then we need to do really well in math. He said if we are going to create spells when we are older, or tell the future by patterns, then we need to know this. So, we,” he pointed to each boy, “talked about it and wanted to know if we start doing badly could we get a tutor?” he asked, pretty sure of the answer, they had no problems in the past, so he figured it wouldn’t be a problem now.

“Of course you can, my darling little boys,” Frances said, giving the boys a soft smile. It was nice to see they wanted to do well. “Like we’d deny you anything,” she said. She shot a look at Evie before the woman could protest.

The other woman stayed silent for now, but her lips pursed in disapproval. Frances knew the Hiltons didn’t have enough money for a tutor, but they would work something out. Like they had with Finley; he was now working with the goblin on the lawsuit. Maybe, they could get Evie together with Sally to improve the lotions and remedies she was working on.

“Then,” Neville said, drawing the two women’s attention back to him, “we did more reading, but this time in new books, we still had to talk about what we were reading though. Mr. Parker said we had to do that to learn to think smart-like.”

“Neville, I’m sure Mr. Parker didn’t say smart-like,” Evie said primly. She was hard pressed to let the boys’ speak how they wanted too. The Owens women were all for it, but she was having a hard enough time understanding them. Maybe, she would demand proper English in her own house, but try and keep up here. Speaking of which, “Sorry, boys, I’m just having a hard time understanding your new way of talking. Try and keep it at a minimum for me, please?” Though she had chastised them earlier, she didn’t want to make her friends upset with her by being too hard on the boys.

Neville smiled his understanding and nodded to Jordan.

“After lunch, we had history, which was Boring,” you could hear the capital, “then we had craft time. There was this huge table in the class room with all these art things on it. And we could make whatever we wanted. But, we didn’t get done today, so we didn’t bring anything home. We should finish tom…”

“We’re gonna have to talk to Kippy about our lunches,” Harry interrupted, “there was way too much food. We got picked a little bit. Anyway, we had social studies,” he said, earning a glare from his friend, “which I have to say I know nothing about. We might have to get the newspapers just so me and Neville can keep up in that class, or watch the news, I think I want the papers though, so I can use it for my homework,” he suggested, feeling really out of touch.

News wasn’t something that was done in the Owens house, the aunts found it too depressing, but if it was for school they could get the papers for the kids. They might want to get the British paper for them as well. Now that the Hiltons were in America, they only knew what was going on there, via friends.

“Then we got our homework assignments,” Neville concluded, “and the teacher told us that sign up for band and stuff is next week, it depends on how well we do this week. Too bad we can’t try out for the real football team this year, only flag football and that’s for sissies. But we can try out for the pee-wee softball. That would be cool.” The other boys nodded in agreement, though they were all going to try out for the football team when they were old enough.

“Well,” said Frances with a huge smile, “it sounds like you had a very productive day. What say we go to town and get some ice cream? Then we can come back and see about that nasty homework. I know, I know, but needs must and all. Treats first and then work.” The aunts had a strange way of doing things, but the nephews weren’t complaining.

“I think I will take my brood home,” Evie stated, getting up from the table. “I want them to get the homework done before Finley gets there. So if you will excuse me, we’ll be going. Sorry, sweetie,” she said at her son’s disappointed face, “but your dad it going to want to hear about your day too, don’t you want to make sure you have time to tell him?”

Jordan nodded his head conceding the point and with a wave to his friends he gathered his bag and followed his mum.

Though, they had been friends for many years now the Owens and the Hiltons had different views on child-raising. Had it not been for the fact that Death said that the Owens way was the way it had to be, Evie would push harder to have them more responsible. Well in her eyes, but as it was it was something they didn’t fight over, just didn’t agree on.

The aunts and the boys went to town and got their ice cream, and when they got home Gilly helped them with their homework, there was plenty of time left to play so they did. A good night was had by all.

Notes:

The ages I quoted are for my American Magical schools, not regular schools. They have an accelerated program so they can have both types of studies and incorporate apprenticeships. As to the widow’s walks I like them, I like the history behind them. They are not necessary to the story, but given the city they are in, I figured I could get away with it.

Chapter 10: The Letters and School Trouble

Notes:

AN: I would like to thank my beta for looking over this fic, darrelldeam. All mistakes are my own.

Chapter Text

A short narration

Years passed and Harry and Neville loved their school, along with their best friend Jordan. They had a great time and learned all about wand magic. They taught their new friends the way the Owens witches did magic, those friends in turn taught their parents. Hopefully, all of America would have a new way of doing magic. It would soon be part of Magical schools, but that was years from now. Then maybe the Americans would teach anyone they knew outside the country and it would grow worldwide. It was something to shoot for.

Luis was still tutoring them in etiquette and they could pull off Lordships with the best of anyone their age. All three boys hated being stuffed shirts, but knew it was important. All the lessons on ‘gifts’ to politicians made them feel dirty. It was bad enough that the American Government was demanding that the aunts teach them. However, they did get to keep their way of life in return.

Luis was pointing out that this was the way politics worked, no matter where you lived, and they had better get used to it, because the Magical British were worse. Money talked there and favors were rare, though if you had blackmail that was better. It would do them well to use all of their resources if they were to survive in that cutthroat world. The newly appointed Minister Fudge was the worse that had sat in that office in a long, long time. He was in so many pockets; it was surprising the man could think for himself. Many of them were ex-Death Eaters, though surprisingly one was Dumbledore. Even Sirius seemed to influence that man.

The boys understood and patiently, mostly, learned the ins and outs of the Wizengamot.

Kippy was now working for All Things Wicca as a merchandise runner. She would gather supplies from magical warehouses and bring them to the store. She also stocked the shelves at night when the store was empty. She still worked at the house, but it was more like simply cleaning where she lived than maid services. So now she got paid $75 a week for part-time work.

There were now other free elves asking for work in the Alley. It was a new trend to hire free house elves. Not to mention much cheaper than hiring humans. And it made the free elves feel better that they were working, even if it wasn’t for a family. They could be hired through a new employment agency that had been set up via Gringotts, at the suggestion of Gilly, which catered to free house elves only.

These agencies were popping up all over the country and branching out in non-European countries, such as Asian ones and a few in the Greek Isles, Greece, which, while part of Europe weren’t part of the ICW. They tried to get one running in Magical Britain, but were laughed out of the country. They did have some success in France though.

Gilly got a small commission for every elf hired out. House elves in America, and a few other countries, no longer feared being freed, well not as much anyway. There were even apartment buildings set up for the working elves.

The Owens household started getting The Daily Prophet, years ago. Mostly because of the boys’ schooling; however, Evie also told them that they needed it to be kept up to date as to what was happening in England. That and they were useful for having debates in Social Studies. Neville’s grandmother and Harry’s godfather were often in the social pages, so they knew what they were up to.

Sirius was seen with different women all the time. He was still hunting the horcruxes and was down to two. Since he couldn’t let Dumbledore know what he was doing he got no help from that venue. He gave an interview to the paper, stating that he had things he had to do, and that he would stop looking for his godson as he now had it on good authority that the boy was alright. What they didn’t know was that he had already located the boy. He was just biding his time for when he could finish his hunt and go to him.

He did publically denounce the Headmaster for not making sure he got his trial earlier. He stated that it was the old man’s fault to leave him in Azkaban for the time he spent there. Lately though, the two were seen in restaurants talking, and the public held their breath to see if they reconciled their differences. The Blacks were a powerful family, and Dumbledore would do well not to alienate them, and visa-versa. No one knew what the discussions were about, but they figured it had to do with whatever Sirius was looking for, or if he knew where Harry Potter was. It was the latter, but Sirius wasn’t going to give the old goat anything. They didn’t part on good terms.

February 18, 1990

The boys were gathered in the play room with snacks and homework. Cookie crumbs and milk were spattered on the floor. Many newspapers were strewed around the room and books were scattered everywhere. Papers and pencils, parchment and quills, were all over the floor just waiting for someone to step on them, so they could do what discarded pencils do and make that person slip.

They had lap trays set up so that they didn’t have to go to the study room and use the desks there. They figured desks were for school or adults and they were just kids. Besides, all the cool toys were up here. The only time they used the study room is if they needed the computer. They had just finished their social studies, which is why they were reading the papers.

“Looks like your godfather is quite the ladies’ man, Harry,” Neville commented on the newest article, in The Daily Prophet, on Sirius escorting the fifth woman that month to a formal dinner with Minister Fudge. It seems like Sirius knew the political game well and was in good with the Ministry. That and he held the fact that he was incarcerated without a trial over their heads. It was his vote in the Wizengamot that shot down the horrid werewolf bill. He was quoted as saying that that bill was inhumane and he would never support anything like it. He tried to get the Potter seat, but Dumbledore was assigned as Proxy by the Wizengamot, and since he signed over guardianship, he didn’t hold any sway.

Harry approved of the man’s vote and wished he could somehow let him be his proxy too, but since he was still in hiding there was nothing he could do. He was hated the fact that Dumbledore held his chair. The things Dumbledore voted on, Harry didn’t approve of. That old man used his vote to bring about some very questionable laws. They were all Light oriented, but they didn’t help society as a whole. It was with the Potter vote that got the Death Eater out of a trial by truth serum. Dumbledore was quoted to say that he felt they all deserved a second chance. Harry did not agree.

“I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud of him,” Harry admitted, rubbing the back of his head. He was still unsure how to take his godfather. He knew from Evie that the man was coming here, but they didn’t know if he had any ill intent. That and all the stories about him showed he was irresponsible, yet took his Wizengamot duties seriously. No, Harry was confused by the man.

“Why do you think he’s acting that way?” Jordan asked with a wrinkle of his nose, still at the age were girls were icky. He had no idea why the man was with so many women. His mum hadn’t explained to him why grown-ups did what they did. He knew from school talk that they kissed and stuff, but he didn’t see the reason.

“Aunt Gilly said he is ‘sewing his wild oats’, whatever that means,” the messy-headed boy said with a shrug. He was just getting to the point where girls might not be so unpleasant after all. But then again his Aunt Gilly made sure the boys knew the birds and the bees the very first time they asked —when they were six. And that was an embarrassing and confusing conversation. Now that he was older, he understood it better, still the whole sex thing, ewww.

“Do you really think he’ll come here?” Jordan asked, looking at the dark-haired man’s photo. He looked like a gentleman with his neatly combed shoulder length black curly hair, bright grey eyes and dark green dress robes.

He was a long way away from the demented man he looked years prior. Jordan’s family had still been in Britain when the man was released. And though he had been quite young, he still remembered the haunted look in Mr. Black’s eyes when he was finally given a trial. He would probably remember that for years to come. Sometimes the British boy had nightmares about being sent to Azkaban for something he didn’t do. The thought of Dementors, in addition to what they were learning about Magical British politics, were enough to fuel those dreams.

Harry shrugged. “Your mom and Death both said he would. I’ve read some about him in my parents’ journals and he is quite a troublemaker. I only hope he gets on well with the Aunts. They might hurt him if he tries to take me away, but your mom doesn’t seem worried.”

Now with all the stories in the Prophet, Harry had a feeling that Sirius and Gilly would get along very well. They seemed to be like-minded people. Both were very attractive, and both seemed to be free spirited. He wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. Gilly was like a mom to him, for all they called her Aunt. Thinking about her settling down wasn’t something he ever thought he would contemplate. Not that she brought men home, but she loved to tell tales of her partying days.

“We’ll worry about that later, right now, we’d better get this room clean before Kippy comes home from work and kills us,” Neville said, looking around at the disaster the play room was in. So the boys’ started waving their hands and paper and parchment stacked, books went in bags, pencils and quills when in their boxes, cookie crumbs and milk stains vanished and the rest of the room straightened itself out.

“I love magic,” the boys said together, just like they did every time they used it to clean up their mess.

Jordan soon went home and the two brothers stayed in the play room and practiced their magic. This was the only room in the house, besides their bedrooms, that they could change. With all the spells they had on the room, they had a great time creating and changing the place. Gone was the rainbow and clouds, now there was sunlight and griffins, not real ones, just floating caricatures. The rainbow was too girly. There was still a small mist to keep the room cool, by falling down from the ceiling and stopping half way down.

While the boys rearranged the attic, the aunts decided that it was time for them to write to their British relatives. They felt they could now get the boys to understand what they could and couldn’t tell them.

“Boys, can you come here please?” Jet called up the stairs that evening before dinner.

“Coming, Aunt Jet,” came the chorused reply. A herd of buffalo stampeded down the stairs; well that’s what it sounded like anyway. Who knew two young boys could make so much noise?

The boys joined the aunts in the kitchen at the little breakfast table. It was easier to get the boys to eat in the kitchen now that Luis was giving them lessons in the dining room. There were stacks of parchment and some quills, as well as some lined paper and pencils, sitting off to the side. This was weird, because they never casually used parchment at home, only for their magical homework. It was too expensive.

“What’s up?” Harry asked, grabbing some of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies that sat on the table. The aunts did so love their chocolate, there was always some kind of treat on the table, for all Kippy protested. And since the aunts raised him and Neville, they loved it too.

“We wanted to talk to you about something,” Gilly said, pouring herself some juice. “You know we write to your British relatives, right?” she questioned, looking at the boys, while she took a sip.

The boys’ nodded, eyes alit with curiosity. The aunts never really talked about writing their relatives, since they couldn’t get a reply from them. They would just tell the boys’ to pose for a picture or two do that they could send to them, for holidays, birthdays and such. They always made sure this was with the blue wall as a background, or a solid colored canvas if they were outside. The kids had a great time doing it, knowing that their families would be happy to get the report.

“Well, we think it’s time you start writing them,” she stated, curious as to how they were going to react.

“Really? That’s great. I’ve always wanted to talk to someone outside of the US,” Harry enthused, his eyes brightened at the notion. There had been a pen pal program at school, which really didn’t get off the ground. He had written to a girl in China, but never received any letter in return. It was a bit disheartening.

“Yeah,” Neville added, just as happy, “I want my grandmother to know that I know all about her and you guys are not keeping her a secret or something.” He was still in touch with his Indian pen pal, though they were growing apart and not closer.

“Okay, now some of the rules,” Jet said, and then held up her hands to stop the complaints. “I know you don’t like rules, we don’t like them either. But, if we are to keep you safe there have to be guidelines. They are actually very simple. One, you can’t tell them where you are. We have Kippy pop all around the world to mail our reports, so that the postmark is never the same. That one is the simple one,” she explained.

“Two,” Frances continued, “you can’t tell them about your school, well you can tell them you’re doing well, however, you can’t tell them the name or what you are studying. It would be easy to find you if you gave them the curriculum. Say you told them you were really into football and you were the star quarterback, or how the game was played and what the score was. Anyone looking for you would only have to find the countries that allowed that type of football in the school, look at the scores and find you. Or if say you tell them you’re studying non-magical studies, I know there are only a few countries that do that, so it would narrow it down a lot,” she concluded, hoping the boys understood.

“We trust your relatives, what we don’t trust is that the mail might be intercepted, and we want to make sure that if it is then those jerks that are looking for you can’t find you,” Gilly finished the explanation.

The two boys nodded in understanding. “So,” Neville said, “we just say something like, ‘Hey, I’m doing really well in my studies. My aunts are proud of me, and you would be too.’ Or something like that?”

“Well, you might not want to mention us in that context, it might hurt their feelings that they are not here for you. Maybe just say you’re doing well and that you hope to stay at the top of your class. And that when you finally meet them you hope they are proud. Make it about them, or at least for the most part. Remember, they lost their families and need to know that you guys consider them part of yours, even though you’ve never met,” Gilly answered, her nose scrunched up in the cute little way she had when she was puzzling something out.

“Three, and this one is going to be the hard one,” Frances said, tapping her finger on the table. “You can’t say ‘the aunts’ or ‘she’, or if you tell them about your friends you can’t say ‘he’. I know that one is hard, because we have issues with it. But, Evie said that it was necessary. If the letters do get diverted then it can be deduced that you are around a family with witches. And with the work we’re doing for the government we are a little more public than we like. So just keep it to ‘they’ and ‘them’. So if you are going to talk about us say, ‘our guardians are happy we are doing well, they give us cookies when we get done with our homework.’ Or ‘one of my guardians took us shopping yesterday, they bought me a book.’ that way they never know how many people are around you,” she explained. She didn’t like that they had to take such great measures, but Evie said it must be that way.

“Okay, I think I got it,” Harry said excitedly, ever since he had heard about his godfather he had wanted to write him. He wanted to let the man know that he was a part of his life and, even if he was still unsettled about him, he was his dad’s best friend, so the young man was willing to give him a chance.

Neville felt the same about writing his grandmother. Though, he knew more about her than Harry did about Sirius, because Kippy would tell stories about his family. Sometimes he felt sorry that his brother didn’t have anyone to tell about his family.

Harry did have journals, but most of them started when his parents went into hiding and were about the measures and spells they were using to keep them safe. There were few entries about his mom, dad and his dad’s friends and what they did in school —reminiscing. They didn’t go into major detail, just passing comments.

“One more thing,” Gilly said, ignoring the groans, “no slang, so words like ‘dude’ or ‘radical’ are out. Just use their name and say wonderful like a normal human. So you can’t say to Sirius, ‘Dude, you will never believe the radical day I had’ just call him by his name. You need more practice on that anyway,” she teased, ruffling their hair to show she was kidding. “You don’t have to be formal, just casual with proper words.”

“So, why don’t you two write some drafts and we’ll look them over and see if they are okay,” Jet suggested, handing paper and pencils to the two boys. “Use these for your drafts and you can write your final letter in parchment and ink. Luis will be here in a moment, so he can help.”

And so they did. Even with all of Luis’ and the aunts coaching, it still took five different drafts, but Harry’s final letter was thus:

Dear Sirius,

It was a very good day when I learned you were no longer in jail. I’m sorry to hear that you spent two years in that place, but I’m happy that you are free. I hope that you are now in good health. I’ve heard of the creatures that guard Azkaban and I have to say they scare me. I’m glad you took the time to heal. I need you in good health, so that I have family somewhere. And I do consider you my only living family in England. So, take care of yourself. Though judging by what I’ve read, you’re doing a great job.

If you continue to get yourself in the paper, then I’ll know what and how you’re doing. It will make it easier to have something to write about next time. For example, I’m not sure it is a good idea to make an enemy of a powerful man like Dumbledore, though I do understand why you are angry with him. It might just be best to ignore him. I also noticed that you are quite a ladies’ man. Are you trying to make up for the time you were away? Please be careful.

I wanted you to know that I’m alive and well taken care of. I can tell you only a little about myself, but not much in case someone else sees this letter. I’m in a good school, and I’m doing well at my studies. I like sports, and one day hope to win for my team. My guardians are treating me well, and I can want for nothing.

I wish there was some way we could communicate. It would be nice to know someone from my home country, who can tell me about my family. There were some journals in the trunks that came with me and those helped me get a good picture of what you and my father were like after you graduated. From what little there was about your school life, I have to say some of the stuff you pulled was rather mean. I hope that you’ve grown up since then, because I would hate to think badly of the only family I have left.

Take care and please, try to behave.

Harry

Neville had an easier time of it, because he had all the stories from Kippy and the diaries.

Dear Grandmother Longbottom

I hope this letter finds you well. I have read the stories in the paper and see that you are staying in the upper class social circles, this makes me happy. To know that you didn’t seclude yourself away from the world after we both lost our loved ones, gives me hope that we will have a good relationship when we are finally reunited.

The things you have done for the Wizengamot, I have to say I approve of all of them. You have kept up the tradition of the family and I whole heartedly agree. I hope that you are not making too many enemies and that you will keep yourself save if you are. If you continue to be seen about town and get your name in the paper, I will know what you’re doing.

As you’ve seen from the reports sent to you I’ve grow up well. I am doing well in school and hope to one day graduate at the top of my class. It is early yet, so we will have to see.

My guardians are taking very good care of me and they make sure I want for nothing. It was a very good thing you did sending the person you did to help them. I am very thankful to you for that. That person has told me stories about the Longbottom family and it helps me to feel closer to you. It is my sincerest hope that one day we can sit and exchange these stories together.

Your grandson

Neville

“These are pretty good, guys,” Gilly said after reading them over. “Don’t worry it gets easier, it took us forever to get it right. For the longest time the only thing we sent was photos. Then after your grandmother started showing up in the paper, we put the ages on the back and what the date was. Then we would put something like ‘got a haircut today’ or ‘made his ball change color’. Simple stuff that helped them feel like they were not being left out. But, like you, we couldn’t get to personal. Which is a shame, Sirius looks like he could be great fun to know.” A coquettish look came to her face, confirming what Harry was thinking earlier, she would have fun with Sirius.

“Okay, lovelies, put them in the envelopes and set them on the table over by the door. Kippy will take them tomorrow. Speaking of Kippy, who wants to surprise her by making dinner?” Frances said, handing an envelope to each boy.

“I do,” came two replies. They so liked surprising Kippy, she still got very happy when they did. And they liked the fact that she was so independent now, even if it meant they had to do their own laundry.

“What say we make some good ole’ American, hotdogs and mac and cheese. Kippy loves that meal and if I remember correctly she had a big shipment today. So she may be tired,” Jet said leading everyone to the appliances.

And with that the Owens family asked Luis if he would like to stay, but he declined, so they set about making one of their own feel better with their favorite dinner.

They didn’t get letters back from their relatives, but they were seen in the newspapers more often so they knew they received them. Sirius was really picking up on the political scene and was voicing his opinion more often, which made Harry think a lot better of him. He made sure to tell him that in his missives.

February 25, 1991 Grimmauld Place, England

Sirius had just got the mail and was ecstatic that there was a letter from his godson. This would be the first letter he received and he almost didn’t wait to open it, but he wanted to share with his friend. So, he ran back to the house in dog form to get there quicker.

After Sirius was let out, he found Remus and invited his destitute friend to live with him. It had taken awhile for them to get over the hurt and betrayal of each thinking the other had been working for the other side. After many drunken nights of apologizes, they finally got back their friendship. It took two weeks for Sirius to convince the werewolf to move in, but they were both now content on the arrangement.

During one of those drunken night, Sirius told the werewolf about his visit from Death and what he had been tasked with. Remus decided they needed help and had gone to Knockturn Alley and acquired two house elves, making sure to get ones that they had been freed and wanted a home. They attempted to use the elves to get the diary from Malfoy Manor, but were unable to get it. They even tried to use one of Lucius’ elves, some poor creature named Dobby, who worshipped Harry Potter, but that failed as well. Sirius pondered on what to do, but couldn’t come up with a solution. He figured if Death was right he’d be returning to Britain in the future and could get the diary then, he really wanted to see his godson.

They used the map to get into Hogwarts over the summer and it took a week before they smarted up and asked the house elves there. They were led to a room that was full of junk, and with the help of their elves, they obtained the headpiece and loads of other treasure. They removed the diadem and took it to the goblins to have them destroy it —for a price. It was sad to see such an item had to be destroyed, but there was no other way, short of Death coming and kissing it, or maybe a Dementor, and there was no way Sirius was going near one of those.

Sirius was entertained at how the normally vicious goblins bent over backwards to help him in his task. He knew it was because they were afraid of Death, that didn’t make the dark-haired man less amused. After he had told his account manager what Death had told him about one being in the bank, the little buggers tore the Death Eaters vaults apart to find it. It was then they started treating Sirius like he was a goblin instead of a wizard, not that it was much of an improvement.

It was with Remus’ help he found the locket in his own house. And according to Death that left only one more to find, besides the diary. It was a ring that was located somewhere near Little Hangleton. That was all Jim told him, in the one short visit he had from the deity. The two dogmen would have to search the whole area just to get it. Sirius was hoping to get that out of the way so he and Remus could go to Harry.

The diary would have to wait until later. There was just no way of getting into the Malfoy Manor and snitching it. They were both lament about how the house elf, Dobby, couldn’t get in the secret room were the vile thing was hidden. The poor elf was so distraught that he couldn’t help the godfather of the ‘Great Harry Potter’ that they never saw him again. Sirius just hoped that the little guy hadn’t given the game away to his master.

Pulling himself from his thoughts as he got closer to his childhood home, he burst into the now clean house, thanks to the house elves. When he had first been freed he thought of selling the decrepit old place. He hated the memories it brought to him, but after some harsh months of mind-healing it was decided that he was the type who needed to face his fear and not run from it. So he kept the house and killed that blasted house elf, Kreacher, without a moment’s hesitation. He blew up the wall that had his mother’s portrait on in, and was glad it wasn’t a lode bearing wall. He informed all the other portraits he would do the same to them if they gave him any bother. They, of course, left him in peace. He made sure that Dumbledore’s spy, Nigellus Black, was never around when they talked about the horcruxes. He would have removed the portrait, but then the old man would think they were up to something Dark.

He found Remus sitting at the long kitchen table, sipping a cup of tea, waiting patiently. Sirius grabbed a cup of his own and sat next to his best friend. They opened and read the letter together. Sirius smiled and said, “This is very mature letter for a ten year old. He must be getting lesson on how to be a prominent member of society.” He grinned at that, and then frowned, hoping his godson wasn’t too stuck-up. He mulled over what Harry said about the things they did in school, and his frown increased.

“You are right, he must have had coaching,” the older of the two men suggested, bringing Sirius out of his musings.

“I’m just glad he is doing alright. It sounds like his guardians are raising him well,” Sirius said scratching his head, not quite sure how he felt about that. It had been his dream, after his best friend died, to raise Harry and teach him all he needed to know. It was one of the few thoughts that kept him sane in Azkaban. Now, judging from this letter, well, he wasn’t needed. Wanted, yes, needed, no.

“I know you know where he is. How did you find him?” Remus asked, giving his full attention to the man next to him. “I’ve asked before, but you never answer. Now that you have told me all your other secrets, I think it is time you come clean with this one.” He placed the letter on the table and picked up his tea.

“Oh, yeah, well, we were going to tell you after we were sure you weren’t the spy. But James and I did the godfather ritual. That means….” He trailed off when Remus interrupted him.

“I know what that means. But, why didn’t you use this to get yourself out of Azkaban?” Remus asked. It had taken two years for the Ministry to figure it out enough to question the man about Harry’s whereabouts. If he had told them about the bond he could have been released a lot sooner.

The godparent bond created a very slight magical connection to the baby and the godparent. It was just enough to let the adult know that the child was in trouble and the general location as to where the child was. It wasn’t enough to be considered an invasion of privacy, but enough to provide the protection a godparent it supposed to give their godchild. Sirius could have used this to get a trial, because the bond meant that he couldn’t do anything to hurt Harry.

“Well, I didn’t want Dumbledore to know I could find Harry at any time. It was tricky getting passed the truth serum, but they didn’t ask the right questions, and since I only know vaguely where he is, well it was not hard, just tricky. He would have never stopped having me followed. It took months for that barmy old man to leave me alone as it was. If it hadn’t been for you, we would’ve never found the horcruxes we did. Now that there is only two more left we can disappear when we’ve destroyed the ring and go to the boys. The diary is out of our reach, so we’ll come back to it,” Sirius explained, still upset over Malfoy’s retention of that horcrux. “Anyway, I talked to Augusta and she is all for someone going to make sure that they are learning all they need to. I mean, I know the women said they are, but really what do they know about British politics?”

“Well, judging from what Death told you, I wouldn’t underestimate them if I was you,” Remus said, narrowing his eyes just a bit to get his point across.

“You’re probably right; I should just keep up what I’m doing so he can see me in the papers. I like the fact that we can at least do that. Maybe I should send him a mirror, but I wanted to surprise him when we finally finish our task. So, no, I think I’ll leave off on that until later,” Sirius said, plans forming in his head.

The two discussed how to get the last soul anchor so they could get this mission over with and start the new one. It would take some planning to disappear, but with the, oh so helpful, goblins they had faith that in the next year they could pull both off.

March 15, 1990, SMI

Harry, Neville and Jordan had been in school for two and a half years now and they were enjoying the classes. The two Owens boys would soon be turning eleven. Jordan had already had his birthday in January. They were now taking more advanced Arithmancy and math, and were progressing far in their languages. They loved that this was an accelerated school. Their education was much higher than the schools such as Hogwarts, and since they knew they would be going back sometime in the next few years, they were hopeful that they would be prepared for what was to come.

When the boys got to school today, they noticed that their current teacher, Mr. Howard, wasn’t there. There was a female teacher at the desk and she didn’t look like anyone they wanted to know or even interact with.

She was an older woman that had grey hair, which was pulled into a severe bun on the back of her head; it was so tight that it made the wrinkles on her face pull back like she had had plastic surgery or something. She had half-moon glasses that were connected with a string that was looped around her neck. She was dressed like an old-fashioned schoolmarm in a plain black dress that you could see a white shirt peeking out of the neck. Everyone took their seats and waited to see what was going on.

The boys groaned, this wasn’t the first substitute they had and they didn’t like the last one either. That man had been a dick and tried to separate the boys, who now got to sit together. He failed, because seats were assigned and Clair made sure that the man knew he was merely a sub and couldn’t change the seating arrangements.

Ms. Mumford was watching the lady with hawk eyes. She hated when people unknown were around her charges. It had taken a lot of finagling to get her to transfer with each year, but the government was persuasive like that. There were rumors among the staff that she was an agent, but they didn’t know who she was protecting.

“My name is Mrs. Fry,” the woman stated in a Scottish accent as she wrote her name on the blackboard. “I will be your substitute for the next two weeks. Mr. Howard had a family emergency and was called away. I will not tolerate any horse play or rule breaking in my class. Speaking of which, Mr. Owens, you will remove your hat immediately,” she demanded, looking hard at Harry so he knew exactly who she was talking about.

A few of the bullies in class snickered, only to stop when her piercing glare turned to them.

“I apologize, Mrs. Fry, but I cannot do that. Did they not tell you that I have permission to wear this hat?” Harry replied in his most polite tone. Not really seeing what the problem was, he had been wearing hats to school for years. None of the other teachers had issue with it, not even the last dickhe*d. Internally he was wondering if all subs suffered from short man’s syndrome. Then brushed that thought off, they had quite a few that were pretty cool.

“No one is above the rules, Mr. Owens. Remove it or be sent home,” she barked, slamming her weak hand on the desks, which didn’t make much noise, but caused some of the kids to flinch back. She was not giving a good impression.

“No,” Harry said firmly, all the politeness gone from his voice and his green eyes sharpening with defiance. The aunts had always told the boys to stick up for themselves, even with an adult. You could hear all Harry’s friends and family protesting the treatment he was receiving from this woman. He stared at her as if daring her to make a move.

“Mrs. Fry,” Agent Mumford said, turning the subs attention to her, “you were told that Harry can wear his hat in class and the reason why. Why are you demanding he remove it now?” she questioned firmly. Her hands ready to defend her charge. Not the least bit intimidated by this old hag.

“It is the stupidest reason I’ve ever heard. A curse scar indeed. This little brat is only trying to get attention. I will not have it,” Mrs. Fry snapped, never in all her years of teaching elementary school had she had a student, let alone an assistant, stand up to her. Her physical appearance usually warned them that she wouldn’t tolerate it. “Why are you even in this class, Ms. Mumford? None of the other classes in this grade have teacher’s aides,” she questioned her eyes narrowing. She had no idea why this witch was in the non-magical side of the school and felt it undermined her authority.

Mrs. Fry was a squib and really didn’t like magical children. She had been banished from her home in Scotland when she was eleven for not getting her letter for Hogwarts, confirming her families fear that she was non-magical. She normally didn’t teach magical children, but had there not been a shortage of squib substitutes at the agency today, and she was only a sub available on such short notice. Normally she would not have stepped foot in this class, however, she had been mollified by her supervisor that they behaved as any non-magical students. Now, she could see by the insubordination in this boy that they did think less of her for being a squib. Oh, how wrong she was, they didn’t like her because she was a pushy old woman and they’d known her for less than five minutes.

“What I’m doing here is none of your concern. I have followed this class since day one, and the principal knows who I am and why I am here. It is really none of your business, I have the correct credentials, and permission to be here, just like Mr. Owens has permission to wear his hat at all times. I think we should take this to the principal and get it straightened out,” Ms. Mumford answered as she stood and went directly to the old woman, who obviously had a problem with the school. She grabbed the protesting woman’s arm and marched her to the door.

“You can’t do this! I was hired to teach this class and was told I can do it my way. How dare you, you stupid witch, unhand me before I have you arrested,” Mrs. Fry started yelling as she was dragged away.

“Class, get out your Latin books and start reading chapter twenty-two. I will be leaving this door open and telling Mr. Frank, next door, to keep an ear out for you, so no playing or fighting. If I come back and find that door closed there will be a price to pay,” the agent commanded loudly to be heard over the screeching woman. You could feel her Veela heritage in waves around the room, and no one wanted to see a pissed off Veela. This was unusual for her, most of the time she was quiet and only helped the class if they needed it. She had never taken command before. Harry, Neville and Jordan knew she could, she had been a fair, but strict tutor to them.

The class shuffled to comply as the two educators went out the door. Books were removed from the desks and most of the class sat quietly and started to read, until one of the well-known bullies stood up and went to Harry’s desk. He knocked the book on to the floor, leaned over and got in the dark haired boy’s space. “You think you’re so smart, always getting your way. I’ve always wanted to know what was under that hat of yours. I think I’m going to find out,” he said, grabbing the bill of the fedora and tried to yank it off.

Harry placed his hand on top of the hat, stood, and at the same time pushed the bully back with his free hand. “You’re an idiot, Gary, if you think I’m going to let you do that. Have the few times we’ve ‘talked’ not taught you anything, stupid?” he replied, glaring at the other boy. He was keeping his cussing to a minimum at school in case a teacher walked in.

These two had been butting heads from day one, when this moron tried to pick on him because he was short. He had put the notion that short people couldn’t defend themselves quickly out of Gary’s head, but that didn’t stop the other boy from continuing to try. This is why Harry felt the other boy either stupid, crazy, or both.

One of Gary’s friends had closed the door, thinking that the other teacher couldn’t hear what was going on and then went to back his friend. Neville and Jordan got up and went to stand by Harry. The other kids got up from their desks and either created a circle around the group or went off to the side as to not be caught up in a fight, if one broke out.

“You think you’re above the rules, just because you can teach new magic. You’re not, you’re just a short dummy that likes attention,” Gary said, pushing Harry back into Neville, who steadied his brother and glared at the bully.

“You would do well to keep your hands to yourself, Pissant,” Harry said in his most pompous voice. Luis said when confronted by ‘lesser people’ to make sure you come off as polite as you can, so no one thinks you’re instigating the fight and doing you best to quell it. Though calling the boy a name he probably didn’t know wasn’t helping Harry’s case. “Besides, we” he swung his hand indicating himself, Neville and Jordan, “are the smartest in this class, so who is the dummy?” he questioned with a tilt of his head.

Some of the other kids looked affronted by that, but others knew he spoke the truth. The trio was top of the class, and had been since the first year.

Harry would never teach Gary and his minions the new form of magic. The other boys didn’t know that if they had asked and not demanded then they would have taught them no problem. However, all three friends had a problem with idiots, who thought the world was theirs to command. They blamed it on the other boys’ parents. If the aunts and Evie could teach them to be strong, but not greedy, then anyone could teach their children the same.

“Listen to the way you talk, what the hell does that even mean? You talk like you’re some uppity-up and are better than the rest of us. You’re not you know,” Gary said, and it looked like his friends agreed, though, the many of the class didn’t. They knew Harry and his family and they were always treated well by them. The Owens boys’ aunts were way cool.

Gary and his friends started moving towards the three boys, who were doing nothing except standing their ground with arms crossed and glares firmly in place. Harry, Neville and Jordan weren’t going to do anything that would get them in trouble, so they just let them advance and hoped that Mr. Frank showed up soon, just because the door was closed didn’t mean the raised voices didn’t carry down the hall. And as luck would have it, Mr. Frank chose that moment to enter the room.

“What is going on here? You children were told to read, not interact,” the tall light-haired teacher demanded as he entered the room and took in the situation at a glance.

“Harry here thinks he is better than anyone, and won’t show us what’s under his hat,” Gary said like that was supposed to help his position.

“Mr. Livens, take your seat, the rest of you as well. You don’t need to know more than you already do about Mr. Owens’ scar,” Mr. Frank said, coming to the six students facing off. He stood in the middle of the group and glared down the instigators. He knew these boys were trouble from recess duty. They were always starting fights. Right now, Gary Livens was on probation, one more fight and he would be expelled. This didn’t count since no punches were seen.

The rest of the class quickly complied, Mr. Frank was not one to be disobeyed and while he was not a mean teacher, he had no problem putting you in detention, and no one wanted to stay after school, nor did they want a note to go home to their parents.

With one last glare, Gary and his friends reluctantly took their seats. Harry and the guys went to take theirs, but Mr. Frank stopped them. “I will be telling Ms. Mumford what I saw, I will also be sending a note to all the guardians and parents on what I saw when I came in. I just wanted you to know that I commend you for not fighting back. Since there no fight incurred, there will not be any detention,” he explained, not wanting these boys to think they were in trouble.

Ms. Mumford came back without Mrs. Fry, and the two teachers talked. She sent a grateful look to Harry and the other two boys. She called the three bullies to the front, handed them a note and sent them to the principal’s office. Since she was just an aide she couldn’t really discipline them. The rest of the day was spent reading and discussing what they read. There would be a new sub tomorrow, hopefully a better qualified one.

Harry and Neville went home with the notes, not really worried. It took a lot to get the aunts angry.

“Oh, my darling little boy, I am so sorry you have to face such hardships. Death did warn us after all. Well no matter, some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies will raise your spirits right up,” Frances said, giving Harry a big hug, which he tried to struggle out of, he was ten now and didn’t need cuddles.

“And you, my big man, standing up for your brother. I think you deserve cookies as well,” Jet said in the typical manner the elder aunts used to defuse any tense situation. Chocolate cured everything, after all.

“To bad you guys didn’t get a few hits in,” Gilly said, since the whole Jimmy thing she had turned… well, not quite vicious, but harder. No one was going to lay a hand on her or her charges if she could help it.

“Aunt Gilly, we were in school, we can get suspended for fighting. If we were in town believe me there would have been punches thrown,” Harry corrected her.

“Well, I suppose that’s for the best,” Gilly said, ruffling his hair and glad that he didn’t have to wear the hat at home, yet saddened that he had to wear it at all, but they just couldn’t take the chance even here across the pond. “I am proud of you for standing up to that old biddy of a teacher,” she said, giving Harry her own hug.

“Yeah, I have no idea what that b… woman’s problem was. I didn’t even do anything to her. All I did was sit down. I’m just glad she didn’t come back,” he said, satisfied that things didn’t progress further than they had. But now that they were home, there were cookies to be had and that would make everything alright.

Chapter 11: Jordan’s Letter and More Family

Notes:

This chapter has some bashing of Hogwarts, just thought I’d warn ya.

Chapter Text

July 20, 1991 New Salem

The Owens boys’ birthday would soon be here and they didn’t get a Hogwarts letter. Oh, they knew it was the wards; the aunts had made them stronger when the first fan mail came all those years ago. Now they didn’t get any mail that wasn’t sent the non-magical way, not even via phoenix. Kippy had told them to put up those wards as soon as she remembered that Dumbledore had one. Harry had a fleeting thought about what the school in Scotland thought not being able to find him. He could almost see the look on the old man’s face when there was no address to send his letter to.

A week before his January birthday Jordan got his Hogwarts invite. They thought that shouldn’t have happened since he was enrolled at SMI, but magic was quirky that way. They wanted to wait to read Jordan’s until they were sure they wouldn’t get one. That way they could compare them if that happened, which they doubted.

It was eleven days until the boys turned eleven and they were laying on the ground outside and watching the clouds float through the summer sky. They were simply relaxing after a long week of study, doing their summer reading and homework. Since SMI was an accelerated school they had plenty to keep them busy during the summer. They had just finished their etiquette homework, Luis wanted them to work on how to write proper letters and missives to government officials, and now they were free for the rest of the day.

“Hey, Jordan,” Harry said as he turned his head to his older friend. “I know we said we’d hold off, but I’m bored, so do you have your Hogwarts letter? I want to see what it says.” He was curious about that, and how different it was from SMI’s enrollment.

“Yeah, sure, let me get it from my backpack,” Jordan said and ran to the house to get the letter. He always carried his sports backpack with him. It had all his summer homework and the candy he tried to hide from his mum. Right now, it was stuffed full of sweets, books, papers and had a few bits of post. The older boy came back a few minutes later, envelope in hand. “I’ve already read it once, with Mum, and it is funny. Well to me it is, knowing that we go to a better school. Here let’s take a look,” he said, sitting down and holding the envelope out to Harry.

Harry sat up, took it and the other two boys gathered next to each other, so they could read it together. The envelope contained two pieces of parchment and they said:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Mr. Hilton,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

Second page said:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

UNIFORM

First-year students will require:

  1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
  2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
  3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
  4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)

Please note that all pupils’ clothes should carry name tags.

COURSE BOOKS

All students should have a copy of each of the following:

The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1); by Miranda Goshawk

A History of Magic; by Bathilda Bagshot

Magical Theory; by Adalbert Waffling

A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration; by Emeric Switch

One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi; by Phyllida Spore

Magical Drafts and Potions; by Arsenius Jigger

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; by Newt Scamander

The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection; by Quentin Trimble

OTHER EQUIPMENT

1 wand

1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)

1 set glass or crystal phials

1 telescope

1 set brass scales

Students may also bring, if they desire, an owl OR a cat OR a toad.

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICK

Yours sincerely,

Lucinda Thomsonicle-Pocus

Chief Attendant of Witchcraft Provisions

After reading the letters, the three boys fell to the ground and laughed hysterically. That was the lamest thing they had ever read.

“Oh my God, are they serious?” Neville asked, after his laughter tapered off. “What kind of acceptance letter is that? Who even send an acceptance letter to a student from a school that was never even applied for?” he questioned. That had always bugged him, what if they didn’t want to go to that school, were funds still removed from their accounts? He was sure that a private school like Hogwarts had tuition, though it wasn’t stated in the letter. He would have to ask Aunt Evie about that.

“Yeah, I mean seriously, it should be an invite not this. This is practically a demand,” Harry said, still trying not to start laughing again. His shoulders were shaking with the repression. He wondered what Luis would say about this so-called invite. “Luis would have a fit if we wrote something like this,” he said, echoing his thoughts. And the man would too; the homework they just completed proved that. While it was formal enough for a child, it wasn’t a glowing invitation to the world of magic.

“You’re right, Harry,” Neville stated and then turned to Jordan. “How do they get away with this very vague letter?” he asked, reading the letter once again and shaking his head.

“Don’ know,” Jordan said, taking the parchment and looking at it again. “Mum, said this was what they sent every year. You’d think someone would have told them by now how lame it is.” He was curious about how they got away with practically forcing students to their school. SMI asked that you enroll, if you didn’t it wasn’t their concern. The US Government did have a truancy office and if you weren’t enrolled in any of the area state or private schools, you had to prove you were learning properly from home.

“Yeah, I mean, totally, there have to be first-generations that get letters from acceptable non-magical schools that show what a real invitation should look like,” Neville commented.

When they reached the age of eight, all three boys received many letters of invitation from boarding schools, since state schools were restricted to a particular district, and they were all properly written as such. They showed what the schools were like, what district it was located in, what fees there were, what supplies were needed and how the school was laid out. This was a simple demand and nothing more. Maybe it was because Hogwarts was the only form of magical education in that area. Harry had to wonder if there was such thing as homeschooling in Britain.

“What about the families that don’t have an owl? I know we don’t have one. They don’t give any other way to reach them and that’s just bogus,” Harry ranted, snatching the letter and waving it around.

“Mum says if no one replies then a professor visits the home,” Jordan explained.

“Hmmm, I guess that’s okay, but really would it be that hard to get a Post Office Box? Sirius and Neville’s grandmother don’t have an issue with that,” Harry said, settling down a bit.

To the boys the magicals in England were just beyond weird. Now that they were reading this letter it confirmed that fact to them. It made the impression that their own school was far superior educational wise. It still had its downfalls and bullies, but it was far better than Hogwarts. This gave them hope that whatever challenge they would be facing would not be much of one.

“Look at that supply list, they have to pay for a school and buy their own books. I wonder what the school does with all the money they save,” Neville said with a thoughtful look on his face.

“Yeah, Mum said it almost strapped her family, paying for all that each year. She said that Hogwarts was this huge castle, and though it was beautiful, it was cold and damp. And in some of the classrooms it was hard to concentrate with the drafts that would blow into her robes,” Jordan confirmed. “So they aren’t spending it on improvement to the school, which is what it is supposed to be for. They even have a ghost for a teacher. So they aren’t paying for him, totally crazy if you think about it.”

“That’s another funny thing, robes, really at this day and age. Don’t they know that they are cumbersome and get in the way of potion making? I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that their professor doesn’t wear his the normal way. He probably wears tight sleeves, and if he’s smart then he would tell his students to do the same, or there will be accidents. I wonder if he or I guess it could be a she, is accredited,” Harry asked with a shake of his head and a wrinkle of his nose.

They were starting potions in two years, but the Herbology teacher was giving them pointers on how to dress in that class, so they wouldn’t be unprepared, and one of the first things she told them was no loose sleeves. They will be starting Rune and Magical Creatures next year and they were all looking forward to it, especially Jordan, he liked animals.

“Well at least me and Jordan don’t have to wear a hat,” Neville said, knocking Harry over and grabbing the fedora off his head. “Not like they’ll let you wear this anyway, they would probably not let you wear a hat at all, what with them wanting you to be their hero. They would want to make sure your scar showed to everyone.” He gave his brother a smile to show he was joking.

Harry got up, grabbed his hat from his brother and shoved him down. “The list says a pointy hat, so I’m sure I would get away with wearing that,” he argued, then punched his brother playfully on the shoulder. Jordan tackled Harry off of Neville and the three boys wrestled around for a few minutes. The letters got crumpled in the process, since the boys were rolling on top of them. After they were done, Neville coming out on top, they picked the forms back up so they could read and make fun of the rest.

“Will you look at the few supplies and books they have? I wonder if they even learn anything in their first year,” Harry said, reading the list. “I feel kinda sorry for the children who attended this school. It’s hard to believe its claim at being the best wizarding school in all of Britain. Then again it may be the only school for that area. SMI was the only magical school in this district, unless you go to a private school. If you wanted to go to another state school you had to move. Maybe we’re being too hard on Hogwarts.” He looked at the supply list again decided that they weren’t.

“Yeah, there’s only eight books. I wonder how many classes they have,” Neville agreed, reading the titles.

“Mum says they only have six classes and only take one to three classes a day. Makes you wonder what the students do the rest of the time,” Jordan said as he tried to get the grass off his knees. “Mum says she spent most of her time in the library, but she was a Ravenclaw and that was expected of her.” he shrugged his shoulder.

“One to three classes a day?!” Harry exclaimed in disbelief. “How the hell are they supposed to learn anything?” That was completely preposterous, there was no way that was the top school with so few classes.

“Oh, it gets worse,” Jordan said, giving up on the grass stains that littered his pants. “They have Herbology four times a week, and the important classes once or twice. Potions is only once a week for three hours. Something about training up your core, or something.” He rubbed his nose in confusion.

Harry just shook his head in exasperation, he was happier than ever that he and Neville were brought to the aunts. They would have been so repressed had they stayed in England. Here they were free to do what they wanted, and they got a good education.

The boys dissected the letters for a few more minutes until they got bored. There was nothing they could do to help their ex-countrymen from the poor education they were paying for. They only hoped that when Harry and Neville returned and took their positions in the government that they could change it.

July 24, 1991, Scotland

Albus Dumbledore was pacing his office. In his hand were two letters that should have been posted to two wayward boys, but there was no address on them, not even a country. The envelopes merely had the boys’ names and the rest was blank. He had Professor McGonagall try twice to get the quill to write the addresses, but nothing happened. He already knew Fawkes couldn’t find them; he tried years ago and the poor bird just sat and sang sadly at him.

He had done everything in the last ten years to find the boys. All to no avail, nothing they did could even locate what country they were in. He berated himself for not catching the Longbottoms before they redid their wills. Now the boys were completely out of his reach, that didn’t stop him from trying. At least he did get the Potter proxy. Then again without knowing how Harry was being raised, he had no idea how long he would retain that position.

His search for the boys had caused many issues. There were many foreign governments not happy with him after that fiasco a few years ago. They were only trying to bring the boys home, not that they knew where they were or if they were even in the country they were searching. They had flooded every country that started magical schooling at age eight and were now in hot water with all of them. Fudge was beside himself trying to soothe their ruffled feathers.

Albus had followed Sirius for months, but the man was content with staying in Britain. Oh, he made a show of looking for his godson, but he never left the country. He traveled all over England and Scotland looking for something, but he didn’t appear to be searching for young Harry. Albus thought that he might be looking for the horcruxes, but he wasn’t sure. He was in two minds about that, on one hand it would be one less thing for him, the Headmaster, to worry about. On the other hand, he wanted Harry to find them as a test. Alas, Sirius was determined.

The one tea they had had was uninformative. Sirius merely stated that he was not going to look for his godson, because he had it on good authority that the boy was in good hands. He pointed out that Albus had no rights to the child. He demanded that Albus to turn over the seat, but the Wizengamot had ruled that the Headmaster would be proxy until Harry Potter turned of age and returned to England.

Right now though, Dumbledore was in further quandary. He was sure that this would finally find the boys, but it seemed that it was all for naught. He had no idea what he was going to do to bring Harry home. The Potter boy was needed if the prophecy was anything to go by, and he needed guidance. And being the greatest wizard since Merlin, —so the public said, and he agreed— Dumbledore felt he was the only one to guide the child.

Who knew what his guardians were filling the child’s head with? Was he spoiled? Was he being raised as a Muggle? Who took him in the first place? Where was that dratted boy? were the thoughts going through the Headmaster’s head.

His thoughts were interrupted by his Potions Master coming through the door. “Are you still fretting over those letters?” the sour man asked as he took a seat in front of the desk. “Headmaster, you are going to work yourself into an early grave,” Snape warned ominously. He hated that the boy had put so much pressure on this old man, but then again it was not the boy’s fault that he was kidnapped. Still, all this stress over a child…

“Ah, Severus, you do not understand, I need him here. We need him here,” was the gentle reply as the Headmaster took his seat, complete with twinkling eyes that looked over his half-moon glasses. “He needs to be where I can help him fulfill his destiny. I cannot do that if I do not know where he resides.” He sighed and looked at the letters again.

“I say you are putting too much on one boy’s shoulder,” Snape said waving his hand as if it were not a big deal. He had misgivings about anyone named Potter being the savior of Magical Britain, more so now that the child was being raised outside the country.

Albus stroked his beard and thought; he then sighed again and slumped in his chair. “Since we cannot find him, it is all for nothing,” he said, putting the letters on his desk and looking mournfully at them.

“He is more than likely spoiled to the point that he would not be helpful,” Severus sneered, folding his arms across his chest. He was weary of looking for that blasted child. He had been all over the world trying to find him, though he did get to stock his potions supplies with exotic ingredients.

“There was always the chance that young Neville would be able to step in his place, were that to happen, alas, we know not where he is either, or if they are indeed being raised together,” the old man stated, still stroking his beard. That would be a problem, if they were both spoiled and thought of each other as family then neither boy would sacrifice their selves for the greater good. He was sure by the wording of the prophecy that that was what was needed. Now he was going to have to make plans to break up a family. His thoughts were interrupted once again by Severus.

“Then put it aside until you have some clue as to where they are. Right now, I have a complaint about the book list,” the Potions Professor stated, pulling out said list and holding it out to the Headmaster.

“Yes, yes, work must be done,” the Headmaster stated, taking the list and reading it over. It looked fine to him, but judging from Severus’ face this was going to be a long meeting. Finding the boys would have to wait for another day.

July 26, 1991, New Salem

A few days later the Owens family was once more enjoying the comforts of their home town. They were strolling to the park so the boys could play at the playground and were going to get ice cream after. All summer homework was finished and Luis gave them a week off for their birthday. It was a few days before the big party and they were all tired of making arrangements. Frances was practicing her Legilimency and Occlumency, she was much better at it now. Jet was simply taking in the nice summer’s breeze. Gilly was playing with the boys on the swings. Agent Mumford was walking away from the family, but near enough to shoot someone if they were a danger.

It was when they settled for a nice picnic lunch that Harry spotted the man and the dog again. They were a strange combination and the only reason they caught his eye was because the man was talking to the dog and the canine seemed to answer. Well, that and their description, the man was ragged and worn with sandy-grey hair and lots of scars. The dog was huge and black and looked like a Grim.

This was the third time this year that he noticed them, and though he knew from his father’s journals that these two could be the werewolf and the Animagus, he didn’t want to take the chance of approaching them. Besides, every time he looked their way the two would quickly duck out of sight, but not before Harry saw the longing in their eyes. After this time though, Harry decided that he would write to Sirius and tell him that he had seen him and his friend. So that night after dinner, he wrote:

Dear Sirius,

It has been a while since I’ve seen you in the paper. I hope you are doing well. Sorry, I can’t tell you more about my life, I pray that you understand.

I wanted to tell you a funny story. We were walking in town one day and I saw a man and his dog talking to one another. Well, the dog didn’t say anything, but it was nodding like it understood. Do you think dogs understand English? Maybe, it’s a magical dog. If there is such thing I think I will look into getting one for myself.

I was told by a very important, yet scary, person that you are on a mission. I hope it goes well for you and that you can complete it in due haste. Maybe around that time I can get a dog like the one I saw in town. Do you think that would be a good idea? For me to get a dog that can protect me from all the people still looking for me? I am thinking of naming it Padfoot. Though I have tons of protection, a dog might be useful, if it doesn’t bite me. I think if it bites me, I would have to put it down, which would be sad.

Hope you are well,

Harry

He handed the letter to Gilly and asked if it was coded enough. Neville did the same, his letter to Remus was just as vague as Harry’s, and the only difference is that they were thinking of getting a dog for protection and naming it Moony. He had taken up writing to the man when he spotted him alongside Sirius in the papers. He looked so lonely that Neville’s heart went out to him.

According to the journals, no one but the Marauders knew they were Animagus, or in Remus’ case a werewolf, or what their nicknames were. So these letters shouldn’t give anything away if they were ever intercepted. But, they should also let the two men know that the boys knew who and what they were, and why they didn’t approach Harry, or visa-versa. And that they were welcome when they could finally come to him, if they behaved and didn’t try and kidnap Harry. The boys really wanted to know the men who were Harry’s father’s best friends.

Death had explained the mission he gave Sirius, though the deity was slightly put out that Sirius had brought the werewolf into his complete confidence, especially since the werewolf in question had been so loyal to Dumbledore in the past. Jim told Harry that when he found out, he went to his godfather immediately, and forced him to have the other man take a complete vow of trust. Remus did and Death wasn’t quite as upset anymore, not that he ever really felt the emotion.

“Aunt Gilly, are we sure the other guy with him is Remus? If it is do you think Sirius will bring him with him when he comes?” Harry questioned, his face went from serious and took on a worried look. “If it is, do we trust a werewolf around me, Neville, and you guys?” Since they had not had Magical Creatures or Potions yet, and it hadn’t been covered in Magical Theory this year he didn’t know about the Wolfsbane Potion.

Neville wasn’t worried, he knew more about werewolves than Harry. He had done the research on them when he started writing to Remus. However, he’d let his aunt answer.

“Don’t worry, honey,” Gilly said, giving her nephew a hug to relieve his worry, “Evie says there is a potion for him, and she knows where he can spend the full moon. There are shelters here in America just for that purpose. Sirius has enough money to pay for that. She said it will be alright.” she stated, hugging the worried boy tighter.

“Well, I trust Aunt Evie, so I’ll stop worrying about this for now,” Harry said as he broke the hug and went to find Kippy to mail the letter. Neville followed with his in hand.

July 29, 1991, London

Sirius checked his post box and saw letters from Harry and Neville. The only reason he knew they was from his godson, and Remus’ honorary one, was that they were on paper and had no return addresses. They were also postmarked from China, and he didn’t know anyone in that country. He gave a soft chuckle at the lengths they went through to hide where they were, but he did understand. Still he could see Albus running off to China to hunt for the boy, which was funny if you thought about it. The man was in enough hot water as it was.

The two Marauders had just returned from the States and were on the last legs in getting the ring horcrux. They were hopeful that the task would be fulfilled, as much as it could be without the diary, in a few days. The wards around that shack in Little Hangleton were hard and it had taken all this time to decipher them. While he and Remus were really good with wards, it took months to figure out that they were in parseltongue. They finally realized that they would need expert ward-breakers to get through them. That was going to cost a pretty penny.

He put the letters in his pants pocket, ducked into an alley, transformed into Padfoot and ran home. When he entered the house Sirius turned back to human at the door, wandered down the hall. He noted that Remus was sitting in his usual spot at the kitchen table, book open in front of him. It was the only room that didn’t have a nosy portrait and the werewolf found it relaxing. There was a tea service on the table with Earl Grey and chocolate biscuits. He could hear the house elves were busy cleaning throughout the house. He was really glad he got rid of Kreacher or this house would still be a mess. These two were Merlin sent and the house was now in good repair.

The joyful man joined Remus at the table and poured himself some tea. “I got posts from Harry and Neville today,” he said happily and then took a sip and sighed. It was good tea.

“Oh, what did they have to say?” Remus asked as he picked up a biscuit and nibbled on it. He was content that Neville had taken to writing him. He had been a bit jealous of Sirius.

“Well, I haven’t read them yet, have I?” the dark-haired man teased and handed Neville’s letter to the werewolf.

Remus snatched it, read it over quickly and sighed. He then turned to see what Harry had written. “I think Neville is on to us. What did Harry say?” he asked sheepishly, placing his letter on the table.

“Right,” Sirius said as he opened the envelope and the two men read Harry’s letter. “Well,” the younger man said as he slumped his shoulders, “I’m not sure if we’re bad at hiding or they’re really good at looking. Judging from that last line, I don’t think he trust us all the way,” he added dejectedly.

“Can you really blame him? He has been hunted for years by people who want to take him away from his family. I would not trust easily either. I think we are pants at hiding,” Remus teased, shoving his best friend’s shoulder to lighten the mood.

They hadn’t really tried to hide, but they really didn’t want to be caught either. There was still a lot of tension between the two governments, after what Albus pulled a few years ago. He had tried to recruit them in to going, but they told him to bugger off. As it was whenever they enter the States, they had to go through some thorough questioning. They only avoided being denied when they said they were visiting relatives and would only be there for a few days, which was sort of true, if you count watching as visiting.

“I guess you’re right, I mean yeah I would be wary too if I were in his shoes. We’re going to have to think of a prank to play to show we’re harmless. Did you see his family? That younger bird was beautiful,” the dark-haired man said dreamily as his eyes glazed over. “I’d protect her any day.”

“Only you would look at women during a stakeout. We saw the wards on that house, I am pretty sure the boys and their guardians are well protected,” Remus chastised with a shake of his head.

“Yeah, but did you see her? Her hair was like spun gold, with red highlights, and that body. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much of a woman while not in bed,” Sirius continued with a wistful look on his face.

“I guess we had better get our task done, so you can meet her,” Remus answered, smacking him across the head, making him come out of his daydreaming.

“How soon until we get the ring?” the dogman asked eagerly as he got his head out of the clouds. “I want to get to Harry soon, and maybe meet his guardian. Their birthdays are coming up and I’d like to be done by then,” he added, making sure not to leave out Neville.

“I think we can be done by the end of the week, if we can get the goblins to help,” the grey-sandy haired man suggested. They had been putting off asking the goblins, because the greedy buggers wanted an enormous fee, not that Sirius couldn’t afford it, now that his grandfather died, but they wanted to save as much money as they could for ‘gifts’ and such.

Now that Fudge was in office, the political climate was worse than before. Whoever gave the better ‘gift’ had his ear and he would stay firmly in their pocket, until a larger ‘gift’ was offered. Sirius could compete with Lucius, but there were somethings the only Black really didn’t care about. The only person on the scene that didn’t have to give ‘gifts’, was Dumbledore, and that was because Fudge was so afraid of him that he never asked.

“Great,” Sirius exclaimed, bouncing in his chair. “Let’s go talk to them. I want this done and over.” He got up and headed for the door, and Remus followed. If they got this done right they would be there in time for Harry’s and Neville’s birthday.

The goblins were more than happy to take their money and the whole thing was over in a matter of hours. Now the two dogmen had to get to New Salem in only few days. That part was easy given magic, but they had to get clearance from the American Government, which meant once more jumping through hoops, only this time they were going to stay longer than a few days. That was going to be an issue, thanks to Dumbledore and his merry men, but like here money talked, or in the case of the States, favors did the talking. Sirius was doing some fancy footwork to get their visas done on time.

July 31, 1991 New Salem

The whole family was there to celebrate Harry Potter’s and Neville Longbottom’s 11th birthday. They consisted of the Hallets: Sally, Gary, Kylie, Antonia ‘Tonia’. The Owens witches: Aunt Frances, Aunt Bridget ‘Jet’, Aunt Gillian ‘Gilly’. And the Hiltons: Evie, Finley, Jordan and, of course, Maisie.

The tables were loaded with presents and food. The wind was blowing softly through the trees. Various cats were chasing butterflies or just laying in the sun, which was shining brightly in the sky. A sprinkler was set up to cool off on this hot summer’s day, not to mention the cool breeze that Jet asked for. The children, with the two teen Hallet girls, were laughing and playing around the large green backyard. Everyone was happy.

Kippy had the day off work and was running around making sure that everyone had what they needed. Gilly cast a glamour on her to make her look like a small woman. She no longer wore bathrobes, since it wasn’t business appropriate attire. Now she wore a nice floral dress that made her look very adult-like, albeit short. The glamour gave her long black hair to cover her rather large ears. She also wore a floppy summer hat to complete the illusion and made her look like a smaller version of the elder aunts.

Agent Mumford was at her office today, giving a progress report on the boys, there were enough witches there that they didn’t worry, as long as the family stayed inside the intent wards.

The adults were watching the children play a game of magical keep away. Maisie was the person trying to catch the ball, while the magical children floated it to each other. At first Finley was worried that his little girl would be left out; however, after he saw that the others were giving her a chance to actually catch it, he felt better. If the laughter was anything to go by his daughter was having a blast. After all this time he really shouldn’t have been worried, but the past was sometimes hard to shake.

Sally and Evie were going over potions for the shops. Evie had reopened Sally’s old shop here in town, with Gilly’s form of Apparition; it was simple enough to commute. Gary and Finley, being the only two adults with no magic, were discussing sports, like all men their age. The aunts were making sure the kids didn’t hurt one another. Gilly finally got tired of watching and joined in the game.

After hours of play, they finally settled two of the larger garden tables that were pushed together, like they always were, for just these occasions. Chatter filled the air as everyone talked to everyone else. Food was passed around; silverware was clinking, bodies shuffled into more comfortable positions. There were two smaller tables set to the side, containing birthday presents for each boy. After a wonderful Kippy made lunch, the laughing group went to the present tables. They would have cake later.

“Okay, Harry you get the green table. Neville the blue,” Gilly said, directing the boys to the proper tables. A colored screen was added to the background, just like every year, so they could take the pictures for the boys’ relatives. The rest of the groups gathered around the two boys, standing, or sitting on the grass or chairs as their personality dictated. Gilly and Evie were armed with magical and non-magical cameras.

“Do you want to go separate or together?” Aunt Frances asked, settling in her chair. Her parasol held above her head, to keep the sun out. Jet sat next to her with her floppy hat on.

“What do you think, Nev? Together? Or separate?” Harry asked, tipping his fedora back on his head.

“Dude, you go first and then I’ll go next. It looks like we have the same amount of gift each,” the sun bleached blond-haired boy replied mockingly with a wink. He then waved his brother to start.

“You got it, dude,” Harry said with a smirk, a thumbs-up and a return wink. He then turned and grabbed the first present off the table and started ripping the paper off. Anyone who had ever been to the Owens boys’ parties knew not to waste good money on wrapping paper, it never lasted long.

The two boys only used the word ‘dude’ to make Sally cringe. She had just got her girls to stop using it. Out of all the Owens women, Sally was the strictest. She put up with a lot, but there were more rules in her house than there were here in New Salem. And one of them was to speak proper English with not too much slang, which was hard with teens, since they just did it out of her sight anyway. She had tried to get the aunts and Gilly to impose these rules to the boys, but they said they had enough enforcers in their lives with Luis, Kippy, and Evie that they needed to have someone who let them run wild. And the aunts were that someone.

Harry got: a red racing striped bicycle, some purple glow-in-the-dark spoke flapper thingy’s —he had no idea what they were called—, a junior potions kit with a kids chemistry kit to go with it, a football, a soccer ball, new cleats for school sports, a few hoodies, put together models of animated dragons with paint, a weird puzzle ball, new plants for his pet snakes’ terrarium and a new wand holster.

Neville got: a green vine decorated bicycle, the same yellow glow-in-the-dark spoke flapper thingy’s, two carnivorous plant terrariums —one magical one non, both supplied with food— water pistols, a new violin case for band, a few hoodies, a book on famous mythical people who are real, a weird puzzle square and a new wand holster.

Everyone clapped, cheered and took pictures of the two boys having a great time opening the awesome presents. Just as everyone turned to go and get cake, two more presents magically appeared on the tables with a flash of light and a bang.

The adults took immediate control and ordered the kids to get behind them.

The kids all complied, but with their hands at the ready. The two teens in front, right behind Sally and Gilly, the boys behind them, and Maisie in the middle, crouched in a ball. Finley stayed behind the other adults, but at the ready to grab his daughter and run if he had too.

The rest of the adults formed a circle around the children, all prepared to fight. Gary pulled his gun and the rest raised their hands in front of them incantations on the tip of their lips. Kippy popped in front of the tables and waved her hands around the gifts to make sure that they were safe.

“Kippy is feeling magic on the gifts, but it is not beings bad magic,” the house elf said, after examining the presents.

“So do you think they are safe?” Gilly asked, still in fight stance. “Does it say who they are from?”

“The tags be saying they is from the dogfather for Master Harry, and the wolf for Master Nevilles,” Kippy replied, after reading the tags.

Harry and Neville got excited looks on their faces. They started to leave the circle, but Gary pushed them back. “Just because it says it’s from them doesn’t mean it is. Stay in there until we say otherwise,” came the deep baritone command from the Investigator. “Okay, let’s go over what we know. These two men are wand wizards, and that means they can’t be far. They have to be in sight to banish something to a place they’ve never seen,” he said firmly. It was his job after all, to know about the people around him and how they thought.

“That’s right,” confirmed Evie with a nod. She started to relax, since she felt it was going to be okay. But the Owens family needed to do this to tighten any bond they were going to have with the two mischievous men. A small smile played on her lips as she saw romance with the two younger adults. She would be keeping that to herself.

“So, what? They’re watching us right now? Should we get the kids in the house?” Sally started to panic, though she knew about the boys’ godfathers, she didn’t know what they were like in person. What she read in the newspapers was conflicting. In one article Sirius Black was an upstanding citizen, in another he was a philanderer. She didn’t know what to think, and she wasn’t sure she wanted him around her sister. Gilly had enough bad men in her life; she really didn’t need someone who had little respect for women.

Jet noticing Evie relax, calmed herself down, her hands fell to her side and she shared a look with her sister, who also relaxed. They stepped back and let their nieces handle it.

Gilly was having none of it. “Come out and face us!” she yelled into the trees as her hair whipped around her head. The breeze increased and soon every bit of paper was being thrown around the yard.

Two sheepish men materialized by the nearest tree, arms up in surrender. “We didn’t mean to frighten anyone. It was a joke,” the dark-haired one said with a weak chuckle.

“We are very sorry. The prank was not taken as it was meant. Truly we meant, and mean, no harm,” the sandy-grey haired one said in a very placating voice.

“Wizards are so stupid,” Gilly huffed, but lowered her hands and canceled the wind.

“Sorry,” the dark-haired man said sheepishly.

Kippy snorted and started snapping her fingers to clean up the papers. She popped around the yard and straightened up the fallen items.

“You know better than anyone that the boys are being hunted,” the youngest aunt continued. “Why, in hell, would you think it would be a good idea to surprise them?” she snapped her question, still angry.

“Honestly, we didn’t think you would react like that.” Sirius said, shuffling his feet and looking awkward.

“Idiot,” Sally said, also relaxing, but still keeping the over-excited boys from running to the men they considered family.

“Okay, okay, we were stupid. Can we all get over that and let me hug my godson?” Sirius asked, eyes greedily taking in the young black-haired, green-eyed wizard that was being held back.

“Honey, the wards won’t let him in if it is not him. Remember we set them up to hex anyone in disguise?” Jet reminded Gilly, and therefore everyone else, gently placed a hand on her arm. “They also won’t let him in if he wants to kidnap the boys.”

A collective sigh ran through the group. Weapons disappeared and the circle opened. But before the boys could go and greet the two men, Gary held up his hands. “If I reckon correctly, they’re not inside the wards yet. Best let them come in, before you run off.”

Sirius and Remus stepped into the wards and since they had no ill intent nothing happened. Had they not been them, or had they been under a mind-altering curse or potion, the wards would have attacked and they would either have been thrown out or in vast amounts of pain. It depended on if their will was their own.

Seeing the two men unharmed Gary lowered his hand and the boys were off like a shot, the other kids followed more slowly. The men opened their arms and Harry flew to Sirius and Neville flew to Remus.

There was a great deal of hugging, crying, all four children clamoring with questions and two beaming men answering them as best they could. After ten minutes of noisy rug-rats, everyone settled at the tables. All of the kids were eager to know these two men they had only seen in the papers, well Sirius, but they knew about Remus from Harry and Neville.

“How did you find us?” Harry asked, sitting across from Sirius, Gilly by his side.

“With my godfather bond, it’s…” Sirius started to answer, but was interrupted by Frances, who was sitting next to Neville.

“We know what it is, we just didn’t know you had done the ritual,” she said, smirk playing on her face as she relaxed the calming atmosphere. Now that most of the tension was gone, they could just talk.

“Why won’t anyone ever let me explain that?” the Animagus mock cried, laying his head on the table in fake tears.

“Poor Padfoot, no one will let you show off the little knowledge you have,” Remus said, patting his friend a little too hard on the back, earning a glare from said friend and making everyone chuckle.

“So, now that we know you guys are alright, let’s introduce everyone,” Finley said. And so they went around the table. Sirius and Remus went first because there were only two of them, then the Owens women, then the Hallets, then the Hiltons. Of course everyone already knew Harry and Neville.

“Hey, you forgot Aunt Kippy,” Harry said, indignant for his elf aunt. They had taken to calling her that, because all the other females in the house had that title, even Evie.

“No we didn’t, sweetie, she can introduce herself,” Gilly said, knocking off his hat. He gave her a glare while the rest of the table laughed. He grabbed his hat a shoved it on his head, and inched away from his playful aunt.

Kippy chose that moment to pop in, her glamour still on. “I is being Kippy, yous are very bad dogs,” the little elf squeaked as she stomped her foot. “Yous is scaring the young Masters and Missies. Bad, Bad Doggies,” she said, pointing her fingers at the abashed men. “Yous better be being lucky Kippy is not taking newspapers to your naughty noses.” Everyone laughed and the last of the tension left the air, which is what Kippy wanted.

The two men stared in awe at the rather bizarre house elf. They had never heard of, never mind seen, an elf act or look the way this one was. The only reason they could tell that this tiny looking woman was a house elf was the squeaky voice and the way she talked. They looked around at the magical people around the table and saw they were all used to this strange creature. They then knew they better tread lightly and treat her as part of the family.

“Sorry, ummm, Kippy was it? Yes, sorry, we didn’t mean to scare anyone. You were all having such fun and we wanted to join,” Sirius said, not used to talking to a house elf that looked human.

“Kippy is being knowing that, that is whys Kippy is not being smacking bad doggies on theirs noses. Yous better behaves or Kippy wills makes sure you get no cake and puddings,” Kippy said with the stern look still on her magically disguised face. Then she turned to the witches and said, “Kippy is being having stuffs to do. Kippy wills come back and helps later.”

“Thanks for the spoke thingies, Aunt Kippy,” Harry said, confusing his godfather even more.

“Yeah, thanks, Aunt Kippy,” intoned Neville happily.

“Yous is being very welcomes, Little Masters,” Kippy said with a cheerful smile and a nod of her hat covered head. “Kippy has to be going now.” And with that she popped away.

“So, Harry, do you want to see what your present is?” Sirius asked, taking his attention away from the weirdness.

“Oh yeah, I guess we kinda forgot about them in all the excitement,” Harry said, running to grab the two presents. The gifts were small and narrow and felt like a small mirrors, which he sincerely hoped they weren’t. He carefully ran back to the table, handed Neville his and the two tore open the presents. “Ummm, mirrors, well ummm, that’s very nice of you,” he hedged, trying to keep the confusion and disappointment out of his tone. They were boys after all. What did they need with mirrors?

Sirius fell down laughing at the boys attempts to look appreciative. Remus was more sedate in his amusem*nt and simple chuckled. After a minute, he pulled Padfoot up and cuffed him on the side of the head, noticing the affronted looks on the boys’ faces.

“They are magical calling mirrors. Like cell phones,” Remus explained, after Sirius pulled himself together. Being a werewolf meant one could find little work in the Wizarding World of Britain, so he did most of his jobs in the Muggle World and was up-to-date on the latest technology.

“Oh, neat. How do they work?” Neville said, looking at the mirror with new appreciation. The rest of the children got up and moved behind the two boys so they could see.

“You just call the name of the person you want to talk to and your name will show up in their mirror. They say your name and you two can talk. James and I used them all the time when we were in separate detentions,” Sirius explained, a small reminiscing smile on his face.

“That is sooo cool,” Harry said and immediately called Neville’s name. The two played with the mirrors and showed their families, everyone was appropriately excited with this new form of communication. This went on for about five minutes.

“Okay, put them away now and let’s eat some of Kippy’s delightful cake,” Jet said, calling a halt to the fun.

Happy Birthday was sung, cake was eaten, more games were played, the adults talked of nonessential things, not wanting to talk about the heavy stuff until tomorrow, and a good night was had by all. The Hiltons soon went home. The Hallets were staying at the house. Moony and Padfoot were in a motel for the next few days. Plans were made to meet up the next day. Everyone settled for the night happy with the way things turned out, frightening moment notwithstanding.

Chapter 12: The Conversation

Chapter Text

August 1, 1991 New Salem

The entire household, excluding a very put out Agent Mumford, was sitting eating a breakfast of fruit, eggs, cheese and grits, made especially for Gary. They were waiting on the two godfathers to come. They were all sitting merrily eating the breakfast, while Kippy was cleaning the kitchen, well, except the dishes Gilly would do those later, it was her turn.

“So, what do we think of these guys?” the youngest Owens woman questioned, between bites of her grapefruit. She was dressed in her normal jeans and half-top and as always no footwear.

“Well, from what little my dad’s journal said, they were pranksters, but very smart. Especially Remus, he is something of a bookworm, but they were all really clever. They got in to all kinds of trouble, more than me, Neville and Jordan put together,” Harry said, pushing his grits away and grabbing an apple. He was dressed in his normal wear of shorts and t-shirt, san hat, matching Neville; who was enjoying his grits with gusto. “It really didn’t go into depth, just touched on things something would remind him of a time they did such and such."

“Yous is not liking Kippy’s cooking?” the affronted house elf looked at him and asked, readjusting the strap to her dress on her narrow shoulders. Harry had never pushed away his food before; she also shot a look at Gilly, who wouldn’t even touch the grits. She didn’t have time to make anything else if she wanted to do some gathering in the garden before she had to work.

“Aunt Kippy, you know better than that. It’s just these grits are just that —gritty. It’s like eating sand with flavor or something,” Harry explained, smiling at his littlest adopted aunt. Gilly nodded her head in agreement.

“It’s an acquired taste,” said Gary with a smirk, and taking a relishing bite of his own grits, doctored with eggs and cheese. He looked at the three who declined the hot cereal and said, “Ya’ll don’t know what yer missing,” he stated and continued to appreciate his breakfast. Kippy had made them taste better than he ever could and he was going to enjoy every minute of it. He wore his usual flannel over-shirt on top of a grey t-shirt and jeans. His wife was wearing a simple white, mid-calf, sleeveless summer dress.

“Yeah,” agreed Kylie, who quite liked the grits. She’d never had them until they moved back to Gary’s hometown of Tucson, Arizona. She was in blue shorts and a sea-green tank top that showed off her forming curves. Her sister was wearing a flowing white skirt, with matching mid-sleeved top; she looked like a grown forest fairy.

Tonia didn’t like grits and was eating chocolate covered toast, much to her mother’s displeasure, but since she had fruit before, Sally let it go. She had been fighting that losing battle for years, Tonia loved her chocolate; she got it from the aunts the few years they had lived here, after Michael had died.

The older aunts were wearing light long-sleeved dresses, Frances in dove grey with ruffles, and Jet in muted black. For all they were flamboyant, the color of their clothes didn’t give them away as much as the old-fashioned cut, the floppy hats and the ever present parasols. They were disinclined to wear more modern clothes, they were comfortable in what they wore; the rest of the world be damned.

There was a knock on the door and Kippy went to get it. “There is being naughty dogs at the door,” they heard her yell, “Dos yous be wanting me to lets them in?” she asked playfully, making the two men in front of her gasp at the tone of the house elf.

“Kippy, dear heart, let the boys in so they can enjoy your marvelous breakfast,” Frances yelled back. She liked the grits too, so did Jet it seemed.

“Okays, Missy Witchy Frances, and then Kippy is going to being doing some gathering and then I is going to work,” Kippy said and after she pointed the way to the two men. She had already eaten, because as much as the boys called her Aunt, she was still a house elf and they don’t eat with family, free or not. There were just some borders she would not cross.

“Did I hear breakfast?” Sirius asked as he came into the dining room, still shaking his head at the weird house elf’s behavior. They had kept their elves on, to keep up Grimmauld Place, but left them in England. When they got their flat they would call them over to help with the housework. He shook his head from his thoughts, as he sat in the chair he was pointed to. It was next to Gilly, much to his delight. He gave her a coy look and a wink and was ecstatic when it was return. “Good Morning, everyone, we were too nervous to eat. Mind if we join you?” he asked and waited for Moony to sit at the other chair next to Sally. The two men looked at the, what to them was, very light breakfast.

“Mornin’, try the grits with eggs and cheese,” Gary suggested, pointing to the large bowl of hot breakfast cereal in the middle of the table. He was wondering how the two Brits would like them.

After greetings were exchanged by everyone else, both men tentatively filled their bowls as recommended and took a bite. They both got satisfied grins and dug right in; it was a lot like Polenta, which was served at Hogwarts. The conversation after that stayed on the neutral side, until Agent Mumford arrived.

She conjured a chair for her to sit at the overcrowded table, sat down and then took note of the two new comers. The wards hadn’t flared, so she knew they weren’t hostile. “You two,” Claire spat in greeting. “Do you know how much paperwork you caused for me, showing up like you did? Especially, when I wasn’t here? Are you even in this country legally? Do I have to run you in?” she asked quite angrily, leaning forward on the table hands pressed white in front of her, her aura around those hands, flashed with flame.

Everyone put their spoon or fruit down ready to protect the two children and the non-magical at the table, if she got too mad. Gary had got up and moved the minute he saw the first spark, these witchy folks were strange in his mind, though he did love his witch.

“Whoa, pretty lady, I have the papers in my pocket. If you promise not to throw fireballs at me, I’ll get them,” Sirius said with very little signs of self-preservation, making his friend bang his head on the table, almost causing his bowl to overturn.

They knew what they were facing and were really not scared. Yeah, an angry Veela was frightening looking, but they were actually easy to calm, if you get them before they shift to avian form. Besides, they rarely really hurt people. Property damage, yeah, people, no.

“We didn’t mean to cause you any trouble. To tell the truth, we don’t even know who you are,” the dark-haired man continued as he pulled the papers from his coat pocket.

“I am, Agent Claire T. Mumford with the Special Division of the Magical Law Agency, assigned to protect the boys. I would have been here yesterday, but they promised not to step outside the wards. That doesn’t stop me from having to do a ton of paperwork, because you two don’t have the common curtesy to wait and go through proper channels,” she explained, but in a much calmer manner. She leaned back away from the table and folded her arms across her chest, still slightly glaring at Sirius, who just returned it with a saucy one of his own. Remus, she knew from what she had read, wouldn’t be any trouble unless provoked, which was why she was focusing all her ire on the dog.

Sirius handed her the paperwork for them to be in the country, it did say they could stay until the end of 1994, which was when everyone knew the boys would be heading to Merrie Ole England. If they wanted to come again, they would have to apply the same way. Thanks to the goblins, they had left under the radar, so to speak. Well, they had to pay quite a fee, but the goblins were still bending over backwards to please Sirius. They had talked to the Agency and made sure that Dumbledore would never even know they applied to come here. Since the boys were under government protection, it was granted, well that and a few well applied ‘gifts’. They had not been warned, however, about the half-Veela that was protecting the boys. They had caught glimpses of her around the Owens family, but never made the connection.

Claire took the papers and read them, folded them back up and handed them back. “Sorry for ruining your breakfast, please continue. I’m done now… all calm,” she said with a sheepish grin on her face, smiling apologetically to the Owens family and the Hallets. Everyone resumed eating, after copious warming spells on the grits and eggs.

After breakfast, they all went outside to relax in the beautiful sunny day. A light breeze was felt and helped along by Jet, not too much, just enough to keep everyone cool. They sat at the tables that were still pushed together from last night, so everyone could see one another.

“Ummm okay, where to start? Well, as you know I’m Sirius Black, and this bloke right here is Remus Lupin,” Sirius said nervously. It was one thing to write the boys, another to actually sit and talk seriously, no pun intended. “As you know I was shoved into prison for a little while, while I was there I got to talk to an interesting… man, named Jim,” he stated and looked at the women to see if they recognized the name. They did but, he still didn’t know if they knew the named Jim was Death. For all he knew the deity could have disguised himself. “He gave me a mission that I’ve completed, mostly. He told me, this mission would help Harry when he had to face You-Know-Who…” he trailed off at their blank faces. “What? Don’t you know who You-Know-Who is? Didn’t he tell you?” he asked in complete shock, it was important news that they needed for when they go back.

“No, I don’t know who. I mean, I know who is on first, but not you-know-who. Is he important?” Harry asked in confusion, which caused laughter to the Americans and more confusion to the Brits. You could tell there were no capitals in the name, because to Harry anyone who can’t use their name wasn’t worthy of proper titles.

“What is so bloody funny? This is no laughing matter,” Sirius all but yelled, as he stood and leaned over the table, trying to show just how serious this was. His face was masked in horror that they were never told. Remus was trying to get his friend to sit back down and stay calm, to no avail. “Harry has to face You-Know-Who when he gets back to England, how is he supposed to train for that if you don’t even know who it is?” the dark-haired man ranted.

“Ohhh, you mean Voldemort, or Tom. Well, why didn’t you just say so?” Neville asked, finally catching on.

That caused Sirius to sit back down as the two Marauders looked at the sun-bleached blond child completely gobsmacked.

“You said his name,” Remus said, his eyes wide with surprise.

“Who is Tom?” Sirius asked at the same time, his face in a mix of shock and confusion.

Harry looked at the two older men as if they had lost their minds. “What do you mean, who is Tom? Tom is Voldemort.” The two Brits flinched again. “You mean to tell me that two grown-ass men are afraid to say a name. Really? A name? Like, a name can’t hurt you, can it?” he asked, still looking at them like they were stupid. His opinion of the two men dropped.

“Sweetie, there might just be a reason for that, don’t judge,” Jet said soothingly as she reached over and patted his hand, hoping to calm him.

“Yes, honey, calm down and let them explain,” Frances said, sending her nephew with a comforting smile. “This is magic we are talking about, and just about anything goes with the bad guys. Or sometimes even the good guys, as well you know,” she added, looking at Gilly and Sally, who stared at her open-mouthed that she would bring that up in front of company.

The two visitors looked at the women then at Gary, who just shook his head and shrugged his shoulder. Sally never told him the whole story, and he as a law officer, didn’t want to know.

Harry, knowing what his aunt was talking about, just settled back waiting for an explanation, waving his hand impatiently at the two men to get on with it.

It was Remus, ever the educator, who answered, “Yes, well, there was a taboo on his name during the war. If you said the name, then his Death Eaters would find you, and kill or torture you. Or worse take you to You-Know-Who, whose magic was very strong, none survived his games.” He did a full body shiver at the remembrance of the few stories he had heard about those that faced… Tom. That name would be useful if the war ever broke out again. “Because of that, and from what Jim told Sirius, we do not say the name,” he added, with one last shoulder quake.

“That’s fu… messed up,” said Harry, looking at his two teen cousins to make sure they didn’t almost catch his slip, but judging from the giggling they had. He wasn’t supposed to cuss in front of ladies, and they were the closest and most likely to hear, going by the looks on all the Owens women’s faces they had all heard. So he sheepishly looked sideways at his Aunt Sally and gave a small apologetic smile. She waved him off with a mock finger waggle.

“Yeah, it was a very bad and dark war,” Sirius answered, shuddering just at the memory of the few times he saw Voldemort fight, twice against the Potters. Harry’s parent held their own until help came to drive that monster off, but it took all three of them to do that. There was one time he wasn’t there to help and James had been cursed really badly, they almost lost him. That madman was evil and powerful and very cruel when he wanted to be. The godfather had no idea how little Harry was supposed to ‘vanquish’ him. Oh, yeah, he knew the prophecy; James had told him the day they went into hiding. He knew Dumbledore knew. He even asked the man about it, but was brushed off.

“Yes, it was, and people all over Europe still fear his name today,” Remus said sternly. “Didn’t they teach you this in History?” he asked as he wondered if the boy would be up to the fight if he knew little about his opponent. It was imperative to know who you were facing in a fight.

“We haven’t got to Europe yet. We’re on the Asian countries right now. What? You didn’t think you were the only country with a Dark Lord or Lady did you?” Neville asked with a bewildered look on his face. He really hated to think they thought that. Were all Magical Brits this stuck on themselves? He thought.

“No, of course not, but we are not taught about Dark Lords or Ladies at Hogwarts. All Binns teaches abut are the goblin wars.” That caused the non-Brits to look at them in shock, which cause the two men to blush in shame at their lack of schooling, though they would do their best to make a better impression, later. “We have to learn them all on our own. I just thought, you being who you are, they would have taught you about him,” Remus said, getting control over himself. You could still see the worry and confusion in his amber eyes.

“Well, only the principal at our school knows who I am. We did do some self-study on Tom, but mostly just to find out who he was, and who might be working with him. Agent Mumford,” Harry said, pointing at the quiet Agent, who was standing away from the group leaning against a tree, “wrote up a complete history. It never mentioned the stupid name or the taboo, so it must be something you Brits are keeping to yourselves.” He quirked an eyebrow at them in inquiry.

“Knowing our government, that’s quite possible,” Sirius agreed and then he took a deep breath and tried to get back on track. “Okay, back on track now, my mission, well, I found most the things I needed to destroy in Europe. There was one that was completely out of my reach, so I decided to come here to you, Harry. I’m hoping that when we go back I can get it. The man I talked about earlier didn’t tell me if there were more, but I got all, but one, of mine.” He sat up proud of his accomplishment, and then got a sheepish look. “I talked to Augusta before I left and she gave me a letter for Neville, with pictures and a gift. I kinda…,” he looked at Neville with puppy dog eyes, who was starting to glare at him,”… ummm, well, I left if at the motel. I’ll bring it later, okay? I’m sorry. I was just so excited that I forgot,” he stated, making a placating gesture with his hands.

“Well, as long as it isn’t destroyed or something, I’ll let you off. But, bring it as soon as you can,” the bleached out, sandy-haired boy gave him a break. He could understand why the man was excited. He would be too if it were his gran.

“What I want to know,” Gary butted in, “is what is ya’ll’s government doing to prepare for when this so called Dark Lord returns?” Everyone’s head turned to Sirius or Remus for the answer. No one wanted the kids to go in blind, or without government support. It would make it much more difficult if they didn’t have the Ministries backing. Claire knew that they were working on getting a group of MIA and FBI agents together to go to England if necessary, but they were really hoping that the Ministry would get its head out of its ass and help.

Both men looked at each other, looked at the expectant faces and then blushed again and cast their eyes to the table. Sirius and Remus were deeply ashamed about what they were going to tell them next. They hadn’t expecting that in the least. This conversation was not making Magical Britain look good.

The rest of the people gathered looked at each other, and you could see they were starting to get angry or upset as their personality dictates. Mostly angry though.

“What?” snapped Gilly, almost shouting that one word.

“They… they are not really doing anything,” Remus mumbled, still looking at the table, not wanting to see the scorn on the nice people’s faces.

“Why?” Sally asked her voice calmer, but still as firm as her sister’s. She reached over and laid a hand on Gilly’s arm and shook her head, it wasn’t these men’s fault that the Magical British were so stupid.

“Well, the Ministry doesn’t believe Dumbledore that he is coming back,” Sirius said, looking up at women. “They’re idiots, they think as long as they deny it, it won’t happen. And if he does return, then it’s the Boy-Who-Lived’s job to protect them. That’s what they tell the public anyway. The public really believes that hype in those books.” He shrugged with a disgruntled look on his face, showing he didn’t agree. “I tried to get said idiots to see reason, but not even money can buy that,” he said, wanting to show that he did everything he could to make it easier on Harry when he returned.

“You mean to tell me. That when Tom does come back, they‘re going to put all their hopes on a fourteen year old boy? Who doesn’t even live in their country? One they have no clue is even still alive? Or knows anything about them?” Claire asked, standing up from her casual position and moving towards the table. She was going to have to report this. She only guessed that Harry would be fourteen when Voldemort came back, because that’s when the teen was returning to England, according to the aunts.

“Yup, that about sums it up,” Sirius said with another shrug.

“Those f*ckers!” Harry shouted, exploding from his chair and knocking it over in the process. His anger could be seen all around him, like a cloud of magic was surrounding him and protecting him from harm. The gentle breeze turned colder and wild as it blew things around the yard. The many cats yowled and headed for cover. He was very, very put out that these assholes would do that to him.

The two English men waited for someone to correct his language. When no one did, Remus opened his mouth to, but quickly shut it at the scathing looks he got from all four aunts.

“I have half a mind to let those assholes die in their holes they’ll crawl into. If I didn’t know it was that bitch Fate’s doing, I would say screw them all and just let them suffer,” Harry ranted, pacing back and forth behind his seated his aunts, until Gilly grabbed him and sat him on her lap. “It’s those goddamn books, I want them off the shelves as soon as possible.” He stomped back and forth, throwing his arms in the air and yelling his anger to the wind, which was still making a mess of the yard.

“Shhh, sweetie, shhh, calm down now, or your magic is going to hurt someone,” she said, her long red-blonde hair whipping in the wind storm that surrounded the poor child.

The rest of the family, sans Gary, got up and did their best to bring down the angry preteen. Gary because he couldn’t protect himself decided to talk to the men. “I kin see from the looks on yer faces, ya’ll don’t agree. That and Sirius said that he tried to make them see reason, and that makes me think better of ya,” he said in his soft Arizona drawl, holding out his hand to shake theirs.

“Thanks for that at least,” said Remus with a small smile as he shook the man’s hand. Sirius did the same. The werewolf looked at Harry and saw the wind dying down and knew the magic was dissipating.

About five minutes later everyone was back in their chairs, except Harry, who was still on his favorite aunt’s lap, with his head leaning on her shoulder, tears of anger drying on his face, which had taken on a determined look. He was thinking he was going to have to prepare his principal for this turn of events. She was going to have to be much more selective on the team she sent with him.

It had been decided that Harry and Neville would not return alone. They were going to make up a team of his peers and adults, and send them with them, after letting them know who Harry was and what he might be facing. They were hoping that with other students and teachers that the boys wouldn’t fall behind in their studies. That and it would show that his school and the country he was raised in were behind him.

Principal Williams was not impressed with the Headmaster of Hogwarts, since he continued to ask if she had a student named Harry Potter. She would send letters back telling him that that was private information and he would do well to quit asking, and she asked all other Heads of Schools that she knew to do the same. They said they would, which was a relief, since she didn’t want to be singled out with her evasive reply. That didn’t stop the man; he sent letters to all the schools in every country, yearly.

The group they were going to form was going to be those at the top of the classes. And if it did come to battle, only the best were going to be there. The younger students were going to go as moral support, but they were going to try and get a few apprentices to be there for the fight. Every person going had to take a vow not to tell who Harry was, until it became public.

All the parents would be told was that it as an exchange program to England for a year. Well, right up until a week before it was time to leave, then they would have the option of letting their children go or not. The school would do their best to protect anyone who joined on this endeavor. There were going to be protections on whatever was chosen for them to live while they were there, and all students under age were restricted to the housing, if a fight broke out. Agent Mumford was a given, and she would call backup if needed.

Harry broke out of his thoughts and took deep breaths and made his magic focus inward. Sighs were heard all around the circle of family. Soon everyone was calm and collected. The dark-haired preteen returned to his chair and scrubbed his face. “Sorry, guys, I didn’t mean to lose it like that,” he said to his godfather and Remus.

“It’s okay Harry. I’m just surprised the Aurors didn’t show after that bit of magic. What if the Muggles,” he noticed the scrunched noses at the words, but continued, “had noticed that? If that had happened in England the Accidental Magic Squad would have been here in a minute.” He snapped his fingers to show how quick they would have come. “They take the Secrecy very seriously.”

“Oh, well, they don’t come here anymore,” Harry rubbed the back of his head, and glanced at the two Brits, “because everyone in this town knows weird stuff happens in this house. The people here even used to pay the aunts for spells and stuff,” he said with a shrug.

“Don’t use the word Muggle here in America,” Neville informed them seriously, taking some of the pressure off his brother. “It’s like calling a foreigner one of the many derogatory names they use. We have enough issues with racism, call them non-magical. Don’t say squib or Muggle-born either, we call them Returners and Returnees, since all Returnees are simply descended from a long line of Returners, hence the names.”

“I can do that. Sorry, Gary, didn’t mean to insult,” Sirius said to the only non-magical in the family. He turned back to Neville, “But, Neville, everyone knows that, umm, Returners have no magic. It’s why they are sent to the Mu… non-magical world.” He was confused, everyone knew that.

“Do you doubt the research done by the United States Magical Intelligence Agency?” Claire asked with the raise of one of her eyebrow. She wasn’t sure if Britain had an MIA, for all she knew they could care less about magic, and where it came from. They were only concerned on who had it and who didn’t. From what she knew they treated Returners like garbage, casting them aside as soon as they didn’t show any magic. Though she had to concede that until about fifteen years ago America did the same. It was only the report from the MIA that changed the congresses mind. It took years to get the public to conform, and as always, there were still some that were just as bigoted as the British, but they were a minority, since most of the magicals in the US were from Returners.

“No, of course not, we are just confused, is all,” Remus said delicately, holding up his hands in a calming manner. She nodded her head and leaned back against the tree.

“But, what does he mean they all know? What about the Statute of Secrecy?” Sirius questioned Claire, not wanting his godson to get in trouble. Putting the subject of squibs away for now, they’d have to look at this research.

It will blow the British Government’s collectively small mind. Many laws would have to be overturned and families would have to keep the… Returners. There might even be provisions that needed to be set up. It would change the whole of Magical Britain, if it weren’t swept under the rug, so to speak. That could happen if Lucius decided that that was the kind of information that never needed to see the light of day. Sirius grimaced, though he had the funds to compete, he really didn’t want to go broke trying to alter the government’s way of thinking.

“The Owens family never took the oath, and now they have an arrangement with us so they don’t have to,” she alluded, her tone suggesting no more questions be asked on that matter.

The two men again shared a confused look, but backed away from the subject. Deciding to change topics Remus asked, “So, tell us how you are doing all this wandless magic,” he said in a questioning tone, hoping to get everyone happy again.

The witches shared a smile and nodded, now was the time to educate.

Everyone started talking at once, the boys eager to share with their godfathers. Sally wanted to discuss potions, the rest of the Owens witches, including the Hallet girls, wanted to share what they liked best.

A loud piercing whistle filled the air, everyone looked at Jet. “This is all fine and good, but we will never get anything done. How about we let the darling children go first, then they can either go and play or stay and discuss with the rest of us?” she suggested as she settled back in her chair to make sure she was in the shade of the tree and out of the sun, parasol notwithstanding.

“That’s a marvelous idea, Jet dear. Harry, why don’t you go first? Then Neville and if the girls want to add anything they can go next,” Frances said, straightening her large floppy sun hat.

There were murmurs of agreement, with a few complaints from Tonia, and they all settled back in their chairs.

“Okay, what would you like to know first?” Harry asked, sending a look to his godfather. His expression eager, and he was almost bouncing out of his chair. His green eyes sparkled with excitement at the thought of showing off to someone new, well to the two men. Now that their magic was spreading across the country, he never got to show off. Not that he was a braggart, but he was proud of his and his aunts’ accomplishments.

“Well, I noticed you have electric lights in the house, can you explain how you get your magic to work and still have electricity?” Sirius asked. It had been baffling him since last night, when he noticed the outdoor lights by the back door. Not to mention the strings of party lights that could still be seen around the yard. The cats came out of hiding and were batting the fairy lights around, or chasing butterflies.

“I think that is better left to Aunt Frances, she is the one who studied it. I mean, I can tell you, but I can’t go as into depth with it as she can. Ask something else,” Harry explained with a proud look at his aunt.

It was one of the things she worked with the government on. They were trying to find a magic-null spell for the trip to England, so the students would have their computers in the magical enriched atmosphere of Hogwarts, which was where they assumed they would be going when they returned. Everything in that country seemed to be centered on the old school.

“Okay, well, ummm, well what can you do, that you think I can’t?” the Animagus asked, racking his brain for something to bring up. He, however, just realized that the people in this house didn’t use magic for everything. He didn’t notice the breeze increase from Jet; he just thought it was nature cooling them off.

“Before you get started, I’m going to get tea, so please excuse me,” Sally said, getting up from the table. It was going to be a long talk they would need something to cool to drink. “Harry, show him the ball trick while I’m getting drinks. I already know that one, so I won’t miss anything.” And with that suggestion she went to get some of Kippy’s delightful tea.

“Okay, pup, show me this ball thing,” Sirius said, thinking these kids had nothing on him, a Hogwarts graduate, but playing along all the same. It was his godson after all, though the way this morning had gone so far, he was a tad bit leery.

“Okay, can you conjure a ball for me right on the table? Make it small and white, nothing fancy,” the dark-haired preteen asked, pointing to the spot on the table he wanted the ball.

“Sure,” Sirius replied and did as asked with a wand, but without incantation, hoping to impress the lad. The ball appeared and it was just what Harry asked for, about the size of a tennis ball, smooth surfaced and completely white.

“Okay, great, thanks,” Harry said, happy to get what he wanted, not that he couldn’t have done it himself, but he didn’t want to be accused of hoodwinking them. “How about we take turns guys?” he asked, looking around the table at his brother and cousins.

Neville and the two teen girls nodded, ready to play along. They all knew what to do.

Harry went first and turned the ball blue with a tap of his finger. Neville went next and turned it green with a blink of his eyes. The two British men were silent with shock and watching avidly. Kaylie was next and she lifted her finger, pointed it at the ball from across the table, turned her hand over, crooked her finger in a come here motion and the ball flew to her hand. She handed the ball to her sister, with a smirk. Tonia took the ball and without any motion or words, the ball drifted back to the spot it started at.

“H… ho… how did you do that?” Remus stuttered out. He could do everything they did; it was all simply spells, stuff you learn in first year. But, never had he seen four children all under the age of seventeen, if he could guess correctly, do wandless and wordless magic. That wasn’t taught until sixth year, so only the girls should have been able to do it, and not without a great deal of strain. This demonstration was smooth, as if it was a game they’d all played for years. Which of course it was, but he didn’t know that.

“Me and Neville have been doing that since we were babies. The aunts taught the girls when they were six and five. So we’ve been doing it, like, forever,” Harry answered with a shrug. This was baby stuff to him, sure they taught it in the schools now, but it was too easy for him and Neville.

“But… but… you are all underage, how do you possible get away with this?” the werewolf said, ever the law abider, well mostly. They had broken quite a few rules in school when they were student and a few laws when they were finding the horcruxes, like breaking and entering.

“I will have you know, sir, that I will be eighteen next year, and I will be graduating from Tuscan Magical School of Magic with a Masters in Charms,” Kaylie said in her most snotty voice, nose in the air and carrying a mock look of dignity. All the Owens family and Hallets laughed. “Besides, wandless magic or our magic isn’t on the radar.” She shrugged her shoulders as if it were no big deal, which it wasn’t.

“W… Wh… What? A Masters at eighteen? What kind of schools do they have here?” the further shocked man asked. Sirius was still examining the ball, trying to see if he had accidently charmed it when he conjured it.

“I’ll get you the brochures, but let’s get back to the differences in our magics,” Jet suggested, floating the ball out of Sirius’ hands with a look and turning it into the plain white ball it started out as. Frances looked at the ball and it disappeared.

“Oh, Merlin, we’re going to look right stupid around you lot,” the dark-haired man groaned, banging his head on the table. He had thought he was well educated, but the only man in all of Europe that could pull what these kids and women just did, was Dumbledore. Sirius was now starting to wonder if all countries not part of the ICW were just as educated as this group.

“Yeah, it’s actually thanks to the aunts we’re so good. They taught us well,” Harry said with vast amounts of pride in his voice. “We taught the kids in school, who taught their parents, and so on. The aunts teach the government, who will hopefully spread it to other countries,” he finished off with a shrug. They seemed to be doing that a lot during this talk. However this was all old news to them, so it was not as important as it seemed to be to the Brits.

“Oh, you darling little boy, Aunt Frances loves you so much,” said aunt said, getting up and going to Harry. Then proceeded to hug him and then kiss his cheeks to death, well that’s how the embarrassed boy felt it was like anyway.

“Get off, Aunt Frances, I’m too big for this,” he struggled to get away from his playful aunt, who was having none of it. The poor boy had already looked like a baby with his temper tantrum earlier; he didn’t need his aunt making him look more like one.

“Frances dear, leave him be. I think he might just have a heart attack, and at such a young age too,” Jet said with a tutting noise, a smile playing at her lips. She so loved her family it was hardly ever depressing around here.

The lively aunt stood, took up her parasol from where she had placed it and walked back to her seat as if she hadn’t just embarrassed her nephew.

Sally returned with the large glasses of Kippy’s iced tea, she looked at the red Harry and the smirking aunts. She gave a shake of her head and placed the tray in the middle of the table. “So what did I miss?” she asked, grabbing a glass of tea and watching those at the table did the same.

Sirius and Remus took a glass each, looked at them and then took a cautious sip. They gasped at how good it tasted, not used to sweet, herbal, iced tea. It would never replace good ole British tea, but it was quite refreshing on this warm day.

“Well,” Gary drawled, “I think, the youngens just gave those two heart attacks and yer Aunt Frances gave Harry an aneurism, via hugs,” he explained with a smirk to the youngest boy. He didn’t grab a glass like everyone else. He preferred black tea over that grass the women drank. His wife gave him a wink and with a wiggle of her finger, there was true-blue sweet tea in front of him. He kissed her on the lips and said, “Thanks, Darlin’.”

The two dogmen, shook their heads, this woman just did house elf magic. That was unheard of.

Sally kissed him back and then turned to give a mock glare at her fun loving aunt, “Aunt France, be nice.”

“My darling girl, I am always nice,” the seemingly affronted aunt said, nose in the air, in much the imitation of her young niece.

Everyone laughed, except the two Brits, who were still in a great deal of shock over what the kids did and what Sally just pulled off.

“Damn, if you guys act like this from a kid’s game, I’m not sure we should show you anything else today,” Harry said, getting frustrated at his godfather and friend.

“Wha… oh yeah, ummm, give me a minute, okay, pup? It’s rather shocking for us. Maybe you’re right though, maybe we should stick to theory for now,” Sirius said, shaking his head to clear it. He was thinking that maybe even theory might be too much to handle. And from the dazed look on his friend’s face he was probably thinking the same thing.

There were groans, sighs and giggles heard around the table. The two boys groaned, because they had wanted to show off more. The two teens giggled at the weak look on the men’s faces. The rest of the family was either thoughtfully silent or sighed; because they knew the boys would be disappointed.

“Well, if we aren’t going to be showing off our magic, then I’ll let the aunts, Kaylie and Tonia talk about the theory. I’m going to go ride my new bike, coming Neville?” Harry asked and he turned to his brother with a questioning look.

“Yeah,” the slightly disappointed boy said, but then he brightened at the prospect of riding his new bike. “Let’s leave the grown-ups to talk and go riding.”

The two boys got up from the table and ran to get their bikes. Agent Mumford called to them to wait for her to get her jogging clothes on, so she could accompany them. Twin groans were heard, but the two boys slowed down.

“Don’t forget you hats, you guys” Gilly called to their retreating backs, and got two thumbs up for her effort. While Neville didn’t require a hat, it was a sunny day and she wanted to make sure he didn’t burn his nose again.

“Let’s take a break from magic for a minute, I have a question for you boys,” Jet said taking on a serious look. “Where are you two staying? And do you have enough money to live off of while you are here? We can get you jobs if you need them.” They could work in the store with Evie, or there were a few people that still owed them favors around town.

This finally causes Sirius to snap out of his shock and laugh. “Oh, yeah I have plenty of money. I wouldn’t know how to work in a Mu… ummm, non-magical world anyway,” he replied, shooting a sheepish look around the table and getting approving smiles in return. “Remus here might want a job though. He doesn’t like me spending money on him,” he said, earning a glare from his friend.

“So where are you staying,” Gilly asked again, hoping it was close for the boys’ sake, and well seeing Sirius everyday wouldn’t hurt.

“We’re staying at the motel for the moment, but we’ve got a line on a flat near here. We’re going to try and rent it for the next three years. I’ve enough money to pay in advance for that. We should be signing the lease tomorrow. Our house elves should be joining us after that. Don’t worry I have a lot of money to pay them.” He waved off their concern, not knowing how spoiled he was coming across as, having been raised with only pure-bloods and they all acted like this. Prankster though he was, he was raised an aristocrat.

He had no idea why he was paying house elves, something that he never would have dreamed of as a child, but Remus had been insistent that they remain free. From the way this morning’s talks had gone, it was a good thing.

“Yes, well, that’s simply marvelous,” Frances said with a forced cheerful smile, not quite sure how to take the stuck-up attitude, since she and her family were very down-to-earth. “We were going to invite you to stay here, after Sally and her charming family leaves. But, since you have it all figured out we’ll just need to go over schedules. And it is good to hear that your elves are free.” A real beaming smile came to her face, mischief played in her eyes. “Let’s get back to theory then. We’ll start simple and educate you two over the next few years, shall we?”

There was an odd combination of eagerness, happiness and fear in the eyes of the two men. More eager on Remus’ part and happier for Sirius, but fear of being shown up again lingered in both faces.

“Sounds like a plan,” Sirius agreed with a nod.

“Okay, first of all, do you know how your wand works?” Jet started in lecture mode.

“Well, when you point, make the proper motion and incant with the wand in hand, the magic is pulled from your core, through your body, down your arm and out the wand,” Remus answered cautiously, that was first year theory. But, he was leery that she was going to tell him he was wrong.

“Correct,” the surprising answer came. “Now, do you know how wandless magic works?”

“Same theory just with more force, because there is no focus,” the werewolf answered again.

“Almost.” Remus groaned at Jet’s answer. “Wandless magic is forced that way with wand users, because that is the way you’ve trained it. We’ve never used a wand, none of us, except the girls here,” she pointed at Kaylie and Tonia, who pulled out their wands, “but they started without them when they were just babies. None of the Owens women have used them. However, our magic needs a focus to do big things. Like rituals and crystals and the occasional animal sacrifice.”

That got the men’s attention as they sat up straight ready to argue. That was illegal in Britain, it was considered Dark Magic.

“We don’t do that anymore,” Gilly said as she waved away their horrified looks, which caused the Brits to relax. It was one of the stipulations of working with the government, that and they never liked it anyway, they simply didn’t know any other way.

“Now,” Jet continued, “let’s say I want to do a warding spell. I would require a ritual to focus and a crystal to hold the spell. Big rituals also send out strong waves of magic, which is why they are done outdoors or by candlelight, especially now that we don’t use animals. We don’t channel magic we send it out in waves to where we want it to go,” she lectured and the two men followed along.

Gary got bored and went to the house, to see if there were any more grits. He loved his wife, but magic was just too weird for him to sit and listen to. The girls also left to play on the computer, since they weren’t going to show off. They already knew this theory, they learned it in school.

Remus looking like he wanted to take notes, so Sally conjured him a paper and pencil with a wave of her hand. He nodded his thanks with a slightly awed look. He took up the pencil and poised to take notes, he nodded for the women to continue.

“What we learned when Death brought the boys to us,” the reddish-blondes took up the lecture, “is that some magic requires a great deal of faith, and until you have that faith you need to use a focus and words.”

And though he had had an inkling that that was what happened, Sirius didn’t know that Death had introduced himself to the witches. “I don’t understand,” the dogman said, shaking his head. “Isn’t all magic the same?” he asked, going over theory in his head.

“Not quite,” Frances said kindly and she waved Gilly on to continue.

“The magic we do is sent out in waves, like Aunt Jet said. An example is the mild increase in wind you felt earlier. That was Aunt Jet; she simply sent a wave out with her thoughts and asked the wind to increase slightly around this area. It did. That is what we call passive magic,” Gilly stated, sitting up straighter so that she would be taken seriously. “Now she asked nicely and the particles in the air stirred softly to the gentle wave she sent out. When Harry lost his temper, he didn’t ask, he didn’t even demand. What you felt was magic being sent out in mass waves and the particles in the air reacted. That is also considered passive magic, because it has no focus,” she stated.

The two Brits nodded their heads, and Remus continued to take notes. The aunts looked fondly at them. Gilly shared a glance with her Aunt Jet to carry on.

“The conjuring you did is an example of focused magic. It took more out of you because you forced magic into a straight line and demanded it,” Jet concluded and took a sip of her wonderful tea. “This is also one of the reasons electricity works in the house, gentle waves don’t affect it. Now if Harry had had his fit in the house the fuse box would have blown.” They knew that from experience, they’d had to pay the local electrician to help them learn to replace it themselves, so he didn’t have to keep coming out.

The group settled down for a long discussion on the differences between the two magic’s. It would take more than one afternoon to get everything they knew across to the two new members of their family. But they had three years to do it.

Chapter 13: Fun Celebrations and Some News

Notes:

Thanks to my beta, darrelldeam. I went solo on the rewrite. All mistakes are my own.

Chapter Text

A short narration

It had been a great few years, and the boys were learning a lot in their school. They were in the top ten in all their classes. This year they will be starting labs in chemistry and potions; they had only done non-labs up till now, such as which compounds went with which and safety measures, so it was mostly book learning.

Harry was ecstatic; he had been waiting years for these classes. After seeing what Sally and Evie could do with the stuff they sold, he figured he could do so many great things. Well, when he learned more. That and these lessons will take a lot of thought and concentration. Not like his other magical classes, where he had been doing most of them since he was a baby. Well, he hadn’t done the theory, but all he really had to do is think and it was done. He did have to learn wand movements, so he could pass his tests, but those were easy. No, potions were where it was at, in his mind, and he was going to make his name inventing something great. That is if his Aunt Sally didn’t invent it first.

Neville was excited about these classes too. He was a prodigy in Herbology and potions would be child's play. Add chemistry and he and Harry would be able to help his Aunt Sally and Evie make more stuff for their shop. They were already making balms and herbal draughts for the first aid kits for the school. They worked with Maisie, who was a natural in these.

Jordan was not as happy as they were, about potions. He was more of a wand waver than a scientist. He had come a long way in using the Owens’ magic, but then again, he was practically raised on it. He and his mother were very good at wordless and wandless magic.

Finley worked hard with the goblins on the case with the books. They did get them banned here in America and other non-ICW countries, or at the very least sold as fiction in both the magical and the non-magical world, with a percentage of the profits going to Harry. Many of the students at SMI ribbed Harry about how he looked like the kid on the cover, but none of them made the connection, since they knew him most of his life and knew he never fought a banshee.

Evie continued to make premonitions, she saw all sorts of futures and warned the Brits when someone came looking for them. She told the aunts that time was getting closer and that they needed to step up Harry’s and Neville’s training in offensive magic.

The Owens women took her at her word, and remembering Death’s warning that love would have a major part, they started on all the spells that would incorporate that feeling. It was a good thing they raised him with as much love as they could give, which was a lot.

Sirius and Remus had a few run-ins with Order people, but they made sure they were nowhere near New Salem when it happened, thanks to Evie. When asked what they were doing in America, they lied and said they were still hunting artifacts. When asked what kind of artifacts, they told them they were dark objects left around by Death Eaters. They informed the Order members that they were headed to China when their visa was up. After the third time, they simply moved in with the witches and boys and let the wards hide them.

They were in awe over the playroom and the herbal/potions room, though a bit creeped out about the snakes and the fact that Harry was a parselmouth. They were given rooms on the third floor, near the boys.

Sirius and Gilly like this arrangement, if the flirting was anything to go by.

Harry just rolled his eyes. He really wished they would just get on with it. He gave them all the hints he could to let them know he was okay with their budding relationship, but they were being stupid.

October 31, 1993

It was a cold Halloween night at around 5 p.m. and Harry, Neville and Jordan were all dressed in costumes for trick-or-treating. They were gathered in the living room, making the final adjustments. They were going to dinner in a few minutes and then out to get candy. They wanted to make sure they were all put together and that they didn’t mess up their makeup when they ate. They realized they probably should have eaten first, but it was too late now.

Harry was going as Merlin. His fake white beard hung down to his knees, and with as many times as he had to untangle it, he decided that he was never going to have a long beard. He had a long white wig to match, but it was easier to maintain in some semblance of order. His grey tunic like robe was tied at the waist using a piece of twine. He carried a staff of oak, which he had gathered from the back yard. It was what gave him the idea in the first place.

Sirius laughed his ass off and told him he looked like a plain Dumbledore, more like his younger brother, Aberforth. Harry just flipped him off.

Neville was going as a hobo. He had on a pair of over-sized overalls with a few patches, which was stuffed with a pillow in the middle. The plaid shirt also sported some fake patches. It was one that Gary had given him for gardening, so it was too big and made to look dirty. His face was covered in smudged up black makeup and his hair was teased to look like it hadn’t been combed in years. He had a long stick with a handkerchief tied to the end, which was filled with a few bits of cloth to make it look full.

Jordan was dressed as a clown. He wore a normal colorful clown outfit, with one side orange and the other purple. A big white with black outline, make-up smile covered his lips and large arches of white and purple make-up covered his eyes and brows, a red foam nose was placed… well on his nose. He carried a small horn at his side to that he could scare other kids in front of him.

Maisie was at home with her parents, she didn’t want to run around with boys, so they were going in their own hometown.

The boys were thinking that this would be the last year they would go trick-or-treating. They were getting to old. Well, if you went by the aunts, who were all dressed up as witches, then one was never too old. Besides, they were only doing it for the godfathers.

The Owens women were wearing what they normally wore on Halloween. Gilly was wearing a very form fitting, mid-thigh black witch costume, with green and white striped socks and pointy boots. There was the typical wide-brimmed pointed black hat on her head. And she carried a black lacy parasol and had a broom off to the side.

The aunts were dressed similar, only their dresses covered much more of their person. It was tradition to dress this way, and later the boys and Gilly would jump from the roof of the house to show off to the town folk, which was a ritual they performed every year. For some reason the town folk loved it when they did that, but still shunned them the rest of the year, well, most of them.

Remus and Sirius had laughed themselves silly when they saw what non-magical’s thought wizards and witches dressed like. They decided that they would also dress as wizards for the night. So they put on their normal robes, which they hadn’t worn since they got to America. Sirius went for the upper-class look in a black and silver robe with a cane. Remus was dressed in his usual brown, tatty robes, which were very patched up. They looked like a rich man and his servant.

“So, what is this trick-or-treating you lot keep going on about?” Sirius asked as everyone was sitting down for a light dinner of Mac and Cheese with hotdogs. The first time Sirius ate this, he was cautious. It didn’t look appetizing at all, but it was Kippy’s favorite meal. It grew on him, though he would probably eat something else later. Remus, on the other hand, enjoyed the simple meal.

“What? You don’t have it in England?” Harry asked with a shocked look. Sometimes he forgot that not everyone celebrated Halloween the same way, or Christmas for that matter. He never really thought of it. Oh, it was hinted at in school, but nothing in-depth.

Remus gave an indulgent smile and answered, “Well, it is a recent thing there, not many go about knocking on doors yet, and that is only in the non-magical side. The magical pure-bloods find celebrating in such a way an insult to tradition, which if you think about it, it kind of is. I mean, you do know this is the night when the veil between the living world and the dead realm is the thinnest? The old ways suggest that it is a powerful night for blood and death magic. It wasn’t until a couple hundred years ago that those were considered dark. Calling upon a loved one to come and chat was something a lot of witches did, well, back then anyway,” he explained as he took a bite of the cheesy goodness.

“Yeah, well, I kinda knew that, but it’s for the adults. What about the children? What do they do for fun? I mean, we celebrate the dead and all that, but we still have, you know, fun,” Harry said, not really understanding how kids would be made to do nothing all night but wait for the dead. “That doesn’t happen until midnight, what did they do in the mean time?” he asked, eating the rest of his hotdog, trying not to get ketchup on his beard, which he did and decided to finish his meal before he spelled it clean.

“Well,” Sirius answered thoughtfully, “Hogwarts has quite a feast, with lots of candy and pudding. But when we were little, our parents threw parties, yeah? There were cakes and puddings, and the families get together to discuss those that have passed. Some families made it fun for the kids, so I’ve heard, there were a few games played, like bobbing for apples and such.” He shrugged; he had hated those family parties, but heard from James that the Potters actually made a good show of them. His mum would never stoop so low as to have kids’ games at her house.

“Oh, that, ummm, sounds, well like it might actually be a little fun. I think I would rather go around and get candy though,” Harry said, after thinking about it for a minute.

After dinner and when all the cleaning, adjustments and makeup touchups were done, they gathered in the living room.

“All ready, dears? Do you have everything?” Jet asked, checking on the large bowl of candy she had at the door for any child brave enough to go to the Owens’ house. They got a few daring souls every year, and for every child not poisoned or cursed, they got few more. Unfortunately, there were still bullies that tried to throw things at the house, and now they were quickly dissuaded from doing it again. Now that the witches knew more magic and had better wards, any child that tried to harm the house or anyone in it, got a mild stinging hex to their backside.

“Ready, Aunt Jet,” came the replies as bags were gathered and cloaks were added to costumes, not Neville’s he got a raggedy coat instead. Jordan’s cloak was made up of the same material and colors as his costume and made him look like one to those clowns in an anime.

Agent Mumford would be shadowing behind with them. She was even dressed like a ninja.

The two Brits would be joining the boys. It was the first time the older men had seen an all-out American Halloween and they didn’t want to miss a thing. They had missed out on the last few years, because the first year they were at the Agency filling out some paperwork and informing them about the British Government and its lack of preparation. It took the better part of two days and they stayed in a motel during that time, and while Halloween in Washington DC was festive, it was nothing like what this small town did. The second time they were called back to England, something to do with the Wizengamot, and Fudge, trying to pass the werewolf law while Sirius was overseas. That didn’t work out well for the government.

They left the house and the Brits looked on with wonder. They had seen all the decorations days before, but to see them with the festivities, well it was just inspiring. The boys went to the first house, while the two men looked around.

Scores of brightly costumed children filled the streets of New Salem. Fairies, witches, princesses, cartoon characters, movie characters, zombies, ghosts, ninjas and all manner of fun or scary costumes were seen going from door to door with choruses of ‘trick or treat’ and ‘thank you’ and laughter filling the air. The children aged from five to young teens, with a few diehard older teens thrown in for fun. Small screams would be heard when one of the decorations would frighten one of the smaller children, then laughter would fill the air again.

Decorations littered lawns and doorways. There were; scarily carved pumpkins, graveyards, ghosts, skeletons, spider webs, strobe lights animated mummies, coffins that opened, hands that crawled and plastic witches bent over cauldrons or smashed into houses, like they crashed on their brooms— which made the two men laugh— all over the town.

There was even one house that had a scary rendition of Jim which warranted a double-take. It would randomly pop out and lift its arm and point at someone and say “I have come for you”. That would make people shudder in fear and slowly walk away. The two men were sure it would incite a few nightmares, and wondered if that was the house owner’s intention.

It was like each house was trying to outdo the other on who could scare the kids the most. Cackling laughs and moans with eerie background noises could be heard everywhere. In Sirius’ opinion the one with Death won, hands down. The two older men looked at each other and shook their heads in wonder.

There were a few cheerful houses with simple jack-o-lanterns in the yard, orange and black fairy lights and garland, but their cheer was lost in the overwhelming creepy atmosphere. Well, it would be disturbing were it not for the laughing and giggling children.

Adults were standing on the sidewalks waiting for the children to finish. Some were dressed up, but most were not. They eyed the two men dressed as wizards, but knew they were with the Owens boys and they had been seen around town, so for the most part they were left alone. One or two of the nosier women came up to them and asked about them and the Owens family, but all in all the two Brits got to enjoy the holiday.

“Why couldn’t we have this growing up?” Sirius said with a pouty lip. “Harry’s right this is loads more fun than those boring family parties.”

Remus just patted his immature friend’s arm, and continued to take in the magic of the night. All the children running around, having fun was a magic all its own. It was no wonder America had given up the old ways, well he knew there were some Wiccan’s that were trying to bring them back, but instead of smashing the new or old traditions, they were merging the two. Trick-or-treating was held in the early evening, then costume parties, and then the meal for the dead was held at midnight. This is when the veil was said to be the weakest. It is how the Owens family practiced.

After around two hours of running from house to house, the males decided to go back home. It was getting dark and the boys still had to jump off the roof. Jordan had to go home. So they got back to the house and sorted their candies, then Gilly Jumped Jordan home, making sure his parents were back from taking Maisie around.

Around 9 p.m. Harry, Neville and Gilly got on the roof and waited for the town folk to notice them. The aunts and the Brits were also up there, but they wouldn’t be jumping. After a moderate crowd gathered, they all flew off the roof. Harry decided to have a little fun and created a small whirlwind under each of them, and they gently floated to the ground. A round of applause was heard from the crowd. The three bowed and gave a jaunty wave and went into the house. The rest of the Owens group waved and went in via the roof access door.

“So why do you do that?” Sirius asked as he sat down and ate a pumpkin pastry.

“Well, me and Sally started it a few years back, not sure why, but it seemed like the thing to do after Sally came out as a witch. So I just kept up the tradition. When the boys were old enough, well they wanted to too, so I made sure they knew how to float and, well…” Gilly tried to explain, but really there was no reason to do what they did.

“Oh, huh. So what are we going to do until midnight?” the dark-haired man asked as he finished off his dessert.

“Well, we usually play games, like monopoly or life, but we can tell ghost tales, or even some of the family lore,” Jet suggested as she poured herself some pumpkin juice. Kippy had introduced it to them, but they only had it on Fall Holidays.

“Oh, ghost stories,” Harry voted, and Neville chimed in for the same. So the family and dogmen sat in the living room until midnight telling of the ghosts of Halloween past. Like the Headless Horseman, and other such stories.

It was at midnight that they all went back into the dining room. The table was set up for what is known as a Feast for the Dead. They did this every year to show that they missed their parents. Every person in that house had plates set up for their dead loved ones. Gilly never set a plate for Jimmy, because though he was dead, she never wanted him in this house again. Everyone in there agreed. Because of the curse there were many plates on the table, each person, barring Agent Mumford, had lost their parents, though Sirius didn’t set any out for his. He instead called for some of the blood-traitors in his family that had died.

The midnight dinner lasted until one in the morning, and then they all trooped to bed. It had been a good night.

A short narration

The months flew by and now it will be soon that the boys knew they would have to go to back to England, they still didn’t know why. Well, only Harry had to go, but it was strongly suggested that he take a team with him. It was a good thing that they had talked to the school principal years ago and let her know what they knew. She was the one going over who would be the best students or school representative to go. It would be educational for everyone involved and she only wanted the top students in each class, so she chose by the grades and how well they interacted with the boys. It wouldn’t do to send someone who didn’t like them, or that was crushing on them. No, only those that treated them equally would go. There was also a committee formed to figure out how they were going to get there.

The committee was formed and many people were assigned to it from each part of the school, from the Student Body President to the Chairman of the School Board. Many suggestions were thrown around these meetings. There were some who wanted to go in a magical rocket. Others that wanted to arrive on a flying flag, that one was disregarded right away as unlawful, though a red, white and blue flying carpet was submitted. There was even a proposal of an orange magical school bus.

Then the topic of housing came up and that changed the suggestions to more reliable transportation. For a while there was talk of buying a luxury yacht, but after a few meetings that was disregarded as too pompous and expensive. They wanted to make the impression that every United States citizen was equal. So it was decided that a nice houseboat would be crafted, one that showed they were down to earth Americans.

They finally got the null-magic ward to work so they could build a computer room, then the kids could take their classes on line. It was a new concept, since the online method they chose was a satellite dish, which was faster than dial up, but still quite slow. Still, this way the students wouldn’t fall behind, and with apprentices going that would help a lot. The rest of the boat, barring one room, would be magic free as well, but not warded, since Kippy would be cooking for them. The dorms would also allow magic, but it was recommended that it be kept at a minimum.

Then the talks turned to how they were going to get there. Some suggested flying, but that might break the Statute and the British were far stricter on that than they were. Some suggested just appearing on the grounds, but after what Sirius had told them about the wards that was canceled. So it was decided that they would create a whirlpool tunnel and come up in the Black Lake outside the wards. It would have to be precise, since most of the lake was inside the wards. They would then wait to be invited in by the Headmaster.

They were still discussing whether or not to make the kids wear uniforms, the boys hoped not. Right now, the debate was on jeans and a t-shirt with the SMI logo on it. So the students were voting for that.

The committee had now drawn up a team of students and the Vice Principal to go with the boys. And they were:

  1. Vice Principal Joshua P. Scott; a stocky, brown hair, brown eyed middle age man, who will be the teacher for all the non-magical subjects for the apprentices and students.
  2. Apprentice Cathy J. Montgomery; a tall green eyed, redhead girl who is good at defense and dark arts.
  3. Apprentice Scott R. Wilder; an average size blue eyed, blonde young man who is good at potions and rituals.
  4. Apprentice Matthew S. Sarris; an average height, little overweight, brown eyed, blonde, who was good at charms and mind magic.
  5. Apprentice Steven E. Diaz; a tall dark brown, dark haired, boy who is good at transfiguration and lost arts.
  6. Apprentice Mary O. Knowles; a short African American who is good at history and muggle studies. She is the boys’ friend, they share a study hour.
  7. 8th year Nicole R. Lisle; an average sized, curly dark haired, know-it-all girl. She was far above her grade level and the boys’ friend, they share a study hour.
  8. Jordan Hilton; a dark-haired, dark-eyed teen. Because he is the boys’ best friend and knows all about British law and politics and computers.

Luis would be joining them as well to make sure they keep up on their manners and to give advice if needed. And of course, Agent Mumford for protection and to help in whatever subject she could. Everyone was chosen to either help with the task or to keep the younger years up on their studies, this would not be a vacation for anyone. There had been more, but the parents, after they were told the real reason, refused to let their children go, which was understandable. Those parents had to either make a vow or have their memory wiped. It was their choice. Either way the government wasn’t taking any chances.

Harry and his family were coming up with ways to travel from the boat to land without using the small boats, just in case there wasn’t a dock or something. They didn’t know if Jumping would work inside the wards, so they were discussing other options. They, unlike the committee, wanted to impress. Harry was working on a super-secret project and only Jordan knew about. The dark-haired teen wanted to surprise Neville for his birthday. The rest of the family let them be, boys will be boys after all, though Neville pouted a bit.

While all this was going on, Gilly was working with Sirius and Remus to get them caught up with the rest of the family. They held lessons, much like the ones that the Owens women held with their other students. The men were coming along great, Remus more so than Sirius, who would flirt shamelessly with them. Harry and Neville helped and showed them some pretty powerful rituals that were not taught in Magical Britain.

Most of these rituals were forbidden years ago in England, because the British pure-bloods couldn’t pull them off. Only the darker spells were used by them, those that required sacrifice, because it was the power of the sacrifice that made the spell work. While these were banned, that didn’t stop the Death Eaters from using them.

Gilly and Sirius were getting closer to one another, but were holding off on anything serious in case Harry didn’t approve. That didn’t stop the teasing and the occasional night on the town. Harry just rolled his eyes at their attempts to be subtle.

The Owens women introduced the Brits to Midnight Margaritas. They thought they were being sneaky, but the two young boys just sat in their beds and smiled, when they heard the music and singing. Those witches, no matter how old, really could party. It was good that they were cutting loose. The aunts were getting old and the brothers wanted them to have fun while they could.

July 30, 1994

It was Neville’s turn to celebrate his birthday, and boy were they. This year they had invited all the kids from their class and the backyard was packed with young witches and wizards, including Jessie, Harry’s new girlfriend. The aunts had modified the wards for the day so that it only looked like a normal party. If you were outside the wards you really couldn’t see anything, just vague shadows and such, like there was a fog on the yard. And since the town folk knew about the witches they really didn’t question it. Though most of the wizards knew not to do magic in front of non-magicals, kids and teens sometimes forgot when in the middle of a party.

Even though it was the middle of the day the whole yard was strung with party lights, the paths that littered the backyard were lit with little globes; someone even brought real fairies for even more lights. The various tables had different party games, magical and non. Green and gold streamers were everywhere, adding to the color of the same colored table clothes and the present tables. Children’s laughter filled the air making it crackle with a magic of its own.

Soon enough it was time for gifts to be opened, so the boys were set in front of their own table. Cameras were whipped out and the boys were asked to pose with their gifts. They laughingly complied.

“Nev, dude, you go first this year, right?” Harry asked with a wink. He now sported blue and silver streaked hair that was covered with a black fedora. He was standing in front of the green table in his tight jeans, ratty black t-shirt and black combat boots.

“Yup, so let’s see what we got,” the sun-bleached blond answered. He was dressed a bit more conventional than his brother in straight-legged jeans, a clean green t-shirt and green sneakers.

They each got some traveling games, magical puzzles, some non-magical crossword books, a lot of board games and tons of cold weather gear. It had been bandied about school that they were going on an exchange program to Scotland next year, and the class wanted them to be prepared. Most of them were joke gifts, like the matching white parkas, to which the comment of “Hey, I hear it gets cold there,” thrown in.

Along with traveling stuff there were personal gifts, like the aquarium that let you grow herbs on top for Neville, and the guitar and sheet music for Harry. Harry gave Neville his super-secret invention, which was a hover-board. It looked much like a silver metal skateboard, but there were no wheels. Instead there was small wind runes etched on each corner. When Neville put it to the ground it hovered about five inches off.

Everyone ‘ohhhed’ and ‘ahhhed’ over it, and many requests were given to Harry, and he said he’d see what he could do. They wouldn’t be free, he was thinking about charging around twenty-five dollars for them. They weren’t that hard to make, but you did need a bit of power to infuse the runes.

This was something the witches had a hard time doing. With their magic, they never had to charm an object. As long as they were thinking about it, it did what they wanted it to do. So this was one thing the wizards had on them, until they were taught the Owens way. Wizards could charm a toaster to always pop up completely perfect toast at the same time every day, whereas the witches would just look at the toaster and get the same thing.

Harry used a combination of both and turned a skateboard into a hover-board, which could float on anything. The flying brooms he bought were helpful in that aspect. He and Jordan had one as well, they would hopefully be used to ferry themselves across the lake.

Pictures were taken and soon lunch and cake was served and the party went on for a few more hours, until about 5 p.m. Harry made sure to give Jessie a kiss on the cheek and saw her to where her father was waiting. For some reason her mother didn’t like him. He had no idea why, since he was always a perfect gentleman around her. He was going to miss Jessie when he left. He shook his head of those thoughts and escorted many of his guests to the door. Soon enough it was just the Owens, the two godfathers and the Hiltons lounging around the remains of the food table, picking at various snacks that were still on the table.

“Got to say, pup, that was better than any party I had when I was a kid. My mum always made sure we were all proper and formal at our events,” Sirius said, leaning back as far as his chair would let him, completely relaxed. He was wearing normal jeans and a t-shirt that had a logo for Salem’s new and upcoming hard rock band, the Drifters. “Plus, she would never have allowed …ummm, non-magical items in our house; let alone a party.” He shrugged. His mum was a pure-blood through and through, it was one of the many reasons he ran away when he was sixteen. Thank Merlin for the Potters.

“I agree,” said the werewolf, “and some of those gag gifts are funny as well. We would have never thought of something like that parka that will actually turn you into a polar bear for an hour.” He shook his head in amusem*nt.

Remus’ face was far less scarred then it used to be, thanks to Sally’s new scar cream and better Wolfsbane potion. With the better potion he didn’t tear himself up quite as badly and with the cream the wounds and scars healed faster. She was quite popular among the weres in all non-ICW countries right now, because she sold the two products cheaply. She was getting very rich off these and was working on a way to abolish the disease.

“I do have one more gift for Harry that I didn’t want to give to you in front of everyone, in case you decline,” Sirius said, leaning forward, letting his chair rest on all four legs and looking a little anxious.

“Padfoot, you should know by now that I’d like anything you give me,” Harry said, a bright smile on his face. These two and half years with the Brits had been great. They had learned a lot about England and their families’ histories.

“Well, ummm, you see, ahhh, I went to the healer to see if there were any, ahhh, side effects from the Dementors and, ummm, well —I can’t have kids. So, ummm, I was wondering if, ahhh, you’d consent to be my heir,” the nervous Animagus blurted out while fiddling with a spoon he found on the table, only to realize it wasn’t his spoon and promptly dropped it, wiping his hands on his pants.

“Sirius,” the young teen said in a kind voice, “I’d love to be your heir. Hey, will that make me like your son?” he asked excitedly. “Oh, I just remembered the Peverell curse. Someone needs to remember that. Maybe you, Neville?” he asked and waited for his brother to nod in agreement.

“Well, while I don’t think it can be formal, you will always be like a son to me. Being the Head of the Family, I can name whoever I want as heir. Besides, your grandmother was a Black. What’s the Peverell curse?” the dogman asked, leaning forward very interested. The Peverell had a long history in Britain, so he wanted to hear this.

“It’s a curse that makes the Potters forget they are heirs to the Peverell and Gryffindor vaults. The goblins told Death about it, he told the aunts and they told Harry. The goblins don’t know who cast it, but whoever did was really good, it’s been a quite few generations that they haven’t remembered,” Neville explained, tapping his finger on his chin.

“Remember, Jim said that you can’t take up another name. Well, he was talking about us, but it might pertain to Sirius as well. It could have something to do with this curse. You might need to break that before you take up another name legally,” Gilly said, looking at the two dark-haired men at the table.

“So, no adoption?” the teen asked, sad green eyes looking at his godfather.

“That is correct,” said Jim as he materialized out of thin air, causing everyone to jump and the Hiltons to scream. His skeletal form looking completely out of place in the early evening sun and party atmosphere. “Young Harry must remain a Potter until he is claims his heritage. After that he may take up the Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor name.”

“Merlin’s balls, Jim, will you quit doing that,” Sirius said from the ground where he landed when his chair overturned. He picked himself up, dusted the grass off his jeans and sat down, a pouty lip sticking out.

“Everyone, calm down,” Jet said confidently, dressed in a light green long summer dress, floppy hat firmly in place. “Evie, Finley, Jordan, Masie,” she pointed to each as she called their name, “this is Jim, or Death. He is a friend of the family. Remember, sweeties, we told you about him when we met. Jim, I’m sure you know the Hiltons.” She had a calm, playful smile on her lips.

“Yeah, but hearing and seeing are two different things,” grumbled Jordan as he looked at the scary deity before him. He was dressed like Harry in worn jeans and ratty t-shirt. His mum wouldn’t let him streak his hair, so he had it cut short into a crewcut.

“Well met. I have news,” Jim said bluntly as he sat at the table as far from the still spooked Hiltons as possible and yet still be near the Owens boys.

“I hope it is good news, it is my birthday after all,” said Neville, leaning forward to hear.

“It is good in the aspect that I may know why you will be returning to England and what you might be doing there,” was the bland reply as he scratched his finger on his bony jaw, making a creaking noise as bone rubbed against bone. The Hiltons and Remus cringed.

“Oh, well, I guess that could be twisted as good,” Gilly said, conjuring up a pencil and paper to jot down whatever Jim had to tell them.

“A young woman, Bertha Jorkins, recently passed on,” —a sad look came over Sirius’ and Remus’ face, they knew her in school. She was a few years ahead of them and in Hufflepuff. She was a good person, if a bit flighty. — “and told me that there is going to be a tournament at Hogwarts this year. It is my belief that young Harry’s name will come out of the golden goblet they use to choose the champions. It will be this coming Halloween,” Jim explained, looking around the table with his hollow eyes.

“Oh, well, I’m not sure if that’s good news or not,” Harry said, taking off his hat and rubbing his streaked hair. On one hand, he would know what was what. On the other hand, he didn’t have much time to prepare.

“I do know the tasks so you can now train for them,” Jim said, turning his head to the young man and staring with his blank face. “The first task will be that you must obtain an item from a nesting dragon,” he said as calmly as he would have commented that the sun was shining.

“Are you f*cking kidding me!? I have to get past a nesting dragon!? Do you know how vicious they are!?” Harry spouted in a rage, getting to his feet and pacing up and down next to the table the wind picking up with his rant.

“Yes,” Jim said blandly, not at all put out at the boy’s anger. “The next task will be for you to regain something that will be taken from you, most likely a person, from the middle of Black Lake in the Merpeople’s village and return it in an hour.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound too bad,” Frances said, relaxing back a little. Harry once again reclaimed his seat, his anger abated for the moment and the wind died back down to normal.

“Yes,” came the stoic voice of Jim. “The last task will be a maze that will be scattered with magical creatures that you must get past to win the trophy. This is where young Harry will run into trouble. Again, I cannot see everything, however, this is the part that will take him to Voldemort,” he said, ignoring the two Brits shudders. He turned to Sirius and said, “With the death of young Miss Jorkins, Voldemort created another Horcrux. You will need to somehow make sure you are there when Harry is portkeyed away so you can kill the snake he used. The diary you left behind has already been dealt with. You should not have left without completing you task,” he chastised firmly, making Sirius shudder.

“Right, sorry about that,” the godfather stated, not really sorry that he was here with his godson. “I’ll figure out a way to kill the snake,” the serious Sirius nodded decisively.

“That is my gift to you, young Harry. I apologize that I could not give one to you as well, young Neville,” Jim said, inclining his head to both teens.

“It’s cool,” Neville said as politely as he could, since he was not sure if he ever wanted a gift from this… man.

“Yeah, thanks,” Harry said sarcastically. He then remembered who he was talking to and quickly added, “At least I know and can now train, so thank you, sir.” He sketched a slight bow from his seat next to his aunt Gilly.

“Then I must be off. I have work to do. Until later,” Jim said as he rose from his chair, his robes billowing in the non-existent wind. He stepped into the shadows and was gone.

“That was one creepy man,” Masie said, giving a full body shiver.

“I agree,” said Evie, hugging her daughter. The male Hiltons nodded their agreement as well.

“Well, that’s simply marvelous,” Frances said with a bright smile, adjusting her hat against the sun. “Now you are not going in blind, Harry.”

“Well, now that the subject has been brought up, we should talk about who will be going with you from the family,” Gilly said, still taking notes and trying to figure out how to train Harry. She had no idea where to see a dragon, or how to get passed one. She heard rumor that the British Gringotts had a few and that there were reservations, but she didn’t think there was one in America. “I mean, I know me and Sirius are going, but should we bring anyone else?” she asked, looking around the table.

“Well, we know Jordan is on the school’s team and that he has been studying British laws and such. And we know you two will be going. I just don’t know if you guys will be allowed on the boat, or if you have to find your own housing, since you aren’t staff,” Harry said, rubbing a hand through his already messy hair and then replaced his hat.

“I’ll talk to the team and see if we can’t get hired on as advisers or something. I know they’ve hired Luis on as an etiquette consultant, and he is even giving a class,” Sirius said, scratching his goatee, which he kept because Gilly liked it. They were much closer now and were on the verge of asking Harry for his blessing, but with this news they might have to hold off on that.

“Yeah, and Agent Mumford said she will be our Defense teacher. But, what could you guys do?” Neville asked a thoughtful look in his eyes. “I mean, you don’t have any credentials.” He looked at each of them with a lifted eyebrow.

“He’s right, we don’t, and I doubt we can get any in three months,” Gilly said with a nod of her head.

“Why would we need credentials? I mean in Hogwarts you only have to pass your NEWTs in your given subject to get a teaching job there,” Sirius asked in confusion, looking around the table and seeing the gobsmacked expressions. “Although, their new Care of Magical Creatures Professor was actually expelled in his third year, and while Hagrid is a great guy, he’s not the brightest wand in the cupboard. One thing you can say about him is he knows his way around animals. So maybe you just have to be good at what you’re teaching.” He shrugged; he knew nothing about the ins and outs of running a school.

It was all over the grapevine when Hagrid got his position. His first lesson almost cost him his job, and he was warned to tone it down. They learned about it from Augusta, who kept in contact with them via a mirror. She still didn’t talk to Neville, so she could say that she never spoke to him when asked. Dumbledore still made yearly visits to her house.

“NEWTs? That’s all that’s required? And this Hagrid guy didn’t even graduate?” Harry asked incredulously. “You have to be certified to be able to teach here in America and that’s after you graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree from college, even the magicals have to attend college to get teachers credentials.” The more he heard about Hogwarts the more he dreaded going, even as a guest.

“Wow, no wonder your professors are better,” Remus said his amber eyes filled with awe. He thought he was qualified to teach since he had a Masters in Defense, but now he knew he would have to have more training. Since he was treated better here in the States, he wanted to obtain a citizenship. Sirius was still undecided, he still had clout in Britain, and if he hooked up with Gilly, then it would be what she wanted as well. Right now, the dark-haired wizard was talking about dual citizenship.

“Yeah, if what you say is true then I’m not going to call anyone at that school any honorific, unless they can show me that they at least have a Masters in their field,” Neville stated, folding his arms in defiance. Etiquette stated that honor only be given to those who deserve it. The teachers in the USA only went by Mr. or Mrs. unless they have a Doctor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree. Only then would they go by Doctor or Professor.

“Well then, I know for a fact that there are six people you would have to call Professor, not including the Headmaster,” Remus said, thinking of the four core subjects and two electives. “Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, Snape, Sprout, Vector and Babbling are all Masters of their field.”

“Wait, what? Snape teaches there? I thought he was just there for research or something, that’s what I was told. Who the hell would let him around kids?” Sirius fired off. He was still angry that Dumbledore had stood up for that greasy git, while he was in prison for two years. He knew the guy was at Hogwarts, to keep close to Dumbledore, but he had no idea the man taught. He’d have to ask Augusta why she kept that from him. He cut a glare to Remus and the werewolf mouthed ‘later’.

“Yes,” his friend said to the rest of the group, “he is the youngest to get his Masters in potions—ever. You can say many bad things about Severus, but he is one smart man,” Remus said with a nod of his head. It truly wasn’t something that could be denied.

“Still, unless they show us they’ve got the education, I’m calling them Mr. or Mrs.” Harry said, defending his brother’s choice. Jordan nodded with them.

“Let’s hold off on that until you ask Luis, okay?” Jet said, not wanting the boys to cause trouble if they could help it.

All three boys threw themselves back in their seats and pouted, causing chuckles to once again float around the table lightening the mood.

“Well, if we can’t teach then maybe we can hire on as bodyguards,” Sirius stated, grasping for something to try and stay on the boat with the boys.

“I see that you will not be on the boat. So you should be discussing where you will stay. I don’t see that,” Evie said in a vacant voice. “I also see that only you and Gilly will be attending the boys.”

“Okay, well, um, right,” the godfather said, giving her a glance. He was still not used to her premonitions, even though she had saved their bacon a few times. “There’s a village near Hogwarts called Hogsmeade, and we can…” he started and then stopped when the teens and the witches broke out in laughter. “What now?” he asked, affronted.

“Hogwarts? Hogsmeade? Do you Brit wizards have a thing about pork? Next you’ll tell me there’s a bar or restaurant called Hogshead or Hogsback or something stupid like that,” Harry got out between laughter, clutching his sides, trying to stay in his chair.

“Well yeah there is,” Remus chuckled, “but it gets worse, here is the Hogwarts school song;

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot

Sirius and Remus sang the song and caused the laughter to stop for a moment and then it continued harder than before, which made all four teens, and Sirius, fall out of their chairs and roll on the ground.

The discussion continued for a few more minutes, but with what was said earlier there really wasn’t much more to talk about. So they went back to partying until everyone was tired, since it was the weekend they stayed up till midnight and wished Harry a happy birthday and went to bed.

Chapter 14: The Journey Starts

Notes:

I would like to thank my beta for looking over this fic, darrelldeam. Remember, I went solo on the rewrite, so all mistakes are my own.
Finally the long awaited Hogwarts chapter. I did warn you in the beginning that it would take until this one. I did some deleting, rearranging and additions to this chapter. I hope you enjoy the update.

This chapter starts the major bashing of Hogwarts, from the SMI group. Someone gave a scathing review on the first story (though they did later apologize for it) that I was making the British look bad. So I will reiterate; it is only the Magical British that are being bashed. The reviewer said that Americans were arrogant, which is not my intention to portray. It’s just that they are, in this story, far more advanced than the Magicals in Britain. I cannot stress this enough, it is only the Magicals.

Technology will be brought forward a few years, so that the kids can do their homework and send it back to the States, or email their friends. It will not play a major part in this fic, but for some reason people keep pointing out that satellite dishes were not very good during ’94, so I wanted to add this note.

Chapter Text

October 31, 1994

Everyone at SMI was sitting down to lunch, which was held in the gym, when Harry felt the tug on his magic, and then he got the sensation of something wrapping a thin layer of foreign magic around his core. He sighed, got up from the table and headed to the teacher’s lounge, which was off to the side of the gym. He knocked on the door and waited for it to open. It was finally answered by a teacher Harry didn’t know, so she must teach upper years.

“I would like to speak to Principal Williams, please,” Harry asked semi-formally.

“May I ask what it is about? We were just sitting down to lunch,” the short teacher asked, her eyes roving over his punked out hair and clothes. Sometime she wished that SMI had uniforms or at least a stricter dress code.

“If you would please tell her that Harry Owens said it was time, I would appreciate it,” the streak-haired boy answered vaguely.

The woman nodded her head and disappeared back inside. Harry leaned against the wall and waited. Soon enough the Principal came to the door and looked at the casual looking young man. She got his attention and raised an eyebrow in question. Not wanting to voice her question out loud in front of all the staff.

Harry simply nodded and shrugged his shoulders.

“Mr. Owens, why don’t you come to my office so we can talk about the exchange program? Go and grab your lunch we can eat in there,” she suggested as she nodded in understanding. It was a good thing they had been forewarned. Now that everything was planned it would only take a few hours to get it all set up. It had taken some fancy footwork to get the approval, but with the government backing them, they got the School Board to agree. Well, that and they had to tell them who Harry was and why he was to go back, that is what sealed the deal. The Board was very upset that someone would use a contract in a challenge that may strip one of their students off magic.

“Yes, ma’am,” Harry agreed and turned to do just that.

“Gather your brother and Mr. Hilton as well,” the Principal called after him and received a thumbs-up in return. Chuckling at that, she turned and went to gather her own lunch together.

Harry went back to his table, and put his lunch back in to the containers he had just emptied. All the while thanking God that Kippy stopped making huge lunches. “Dudes, time to go. We’ve got to meet the Principal in her office… ummm… about the exchange program. Ummm, does anyone know where that is?” he asked sheepishly. He had never been sent to the office and only had a vague notion where it was. Not that he was a good little boy, he was just never caught. They had always talked about the trip in the staff room or at the Owens’ house.

“I do,” Neville said with a smirk, “I had to go and talk to her once about getting extra credit in Herbology.” He didn’t receive the extra credit yet, because his experiment was still in the beginning stage. However, if he pulled it off before his apprenticeship, then he would be well on his way to a Master’s Degree.

He was working on a way to get a few magical plants to crossbreed with some matching herbs. He was hopeful that it would cause a revolutionary process for better potions, like the Wolfsbane. So far he had five plants growing, but they were still too young to know what they could do. One of Sirius’ house elves was going to watch over them while he was away. They should be mature enough to experiment on when he returned. His Aunt Sally was ecstatic that he was doing this and would be visiting when she could so that she could help.

“Yeah, I remember that. It is quite a project,” Harry said and stood and waited for his two companions. He was well aware of the room with the weird plants. He had to make sure his snakes never went in there, because the one time they did go in the room, one of the plants bit them. After that, Harry tried to keep the snakes in the herb room or outside. “Anyway, if you know the way, lead on,” the streak-haired boy said as he waved his hand in a ‘you first’ gesture.

Harry kissed his girlfriend and told her he would see her later, and then the boys left the hall to go to the main office.

Many of the other students watched them go, and as soon as they were out of the room the kids exploded with whispers. It was well known by their classmates that they were going to Scotland, and now that the boys were leaving the table in the middle of lunch, well it must be time. The rumor mill was going to go wild with this gossip.

The office was located in the non-magical building, where all administrative offices were, because they all used computers. When the teens got there, they told the secretary that they were expected. She nodded and pointed to the Principal’s Office. They knocked on the door and heard ‘enter’, so they went in and sat on the chairs in front of the non-imposing desk.

The office was a simple business type office. A large, yet plain desk sat at the back, it had a computer to one side and a large pile of folders to the other. Four regular chairs were arranged in front of it, while a nice office chair was occupied by Mrs. Williams. Credentials were framed on the wall behind the desk and a bookcase was off to the right. There were a few scenic pictures of the coast line hanging on the walls.

“So, Mr. Owens, you say that it is time. May I ask how you know? I have received no owl telling me such,” the tall redheaded woman inquired. She was dressed in a powder blue business suit, with a salmon button-down shirt showing from her jacket. Her blonde hair was done in a lose bun and there was a pencil stuck behind her left ear. She wore no make-up or jewelry.

“Well, I was just getting my lunch ready when I felt the tug on my magic and then something wrapped around my core. I’m pretty sure that was the binding contract. Still not sure how that is supposed to happen, since I’m not even there,” Harry complained. Though he had been warned and been training, he didn’t like that Fate stepped on his life once again. He really hated that bitch, if it hadn’t been for Jim she would have screwed up his life completely.

“Magic works in mysterious ways,” Principal Williams said with a smirk.

The three boys laughed, breaking the tension. They got down to business after that. They discussed the team being called together and the other members of the family as well. They talked as they ate their lunches, just because it was time, didn’t mean they had to go hungry. They made plans for everyone to gather at the school when it was out and make their way to the vans. Principal Williams would call for the rental vans and make sure they had enough gas money for the trip to Rhode Island, where the new houseboat was.

Williams sent the boys back to class, feeling they still needed to finish the day and made all the arrangements the committee had discussed previously. The Owens family had set up a fund years earlier so the schools budget was only used for the payment of the teacher that was going with them. The fund is what built the houseboat and would pay for everything else. In addition, it would also give money to the students for Hogsmeade. It was another reason the Board agreed with the trip. That and the fact that there would be a computer room so the kids could continue their education. As she went over everything, she just prayed they had planned enough.

After the school emptied for the night, everyone that was going and their families congregated in front of the Magical Building. Since they had all been given the day they would leave months ago, they all knew to be ready. Suitcases were piled into a large van and a second van was for the passengers.

Principal Williams handed extra money and the class schedules to Vice Principal Scott. “Here is the gas money. Turn the vans in at the rental station. The trip shouldn’t take more than three hours. This is the class schedule we discussed before. I will miss all your help this year, I’m still not sure about that temp you hired,” she said with a smile. “Make sure you keep an eye on that Healer we hired. I know she signed a contract, but we don’t really know her.” Her gaze cut to the older woman.

The committee had hired a temp Healer for the trip. Healer Joanne Parks was an older semi-retired woman who answered their ad. She had been a healer for the local hospital and retired when her husband died. She had always wanted to go to England and now was her chance. Who knows when the trip was over she might retire there.

“You’re just lazy, Beth,” the brown haired man smiled back and took the items and placed them in his briefcase. “Don’t worry about Joanne; they did a thorough background check on her. I am not getting any bad vibes, and the kids like her too,” he stated calmly, making the Principal relax. She had always trusted his instincts.

Tearful goodbyes were being said by everyone. Hugs and kisses to family members and friends were passed around for forty minutes. “Take care of yourself” and “I’m going to miss you” and “Behave” were heard throughout the group.

“You give those stuck up Brits hell. You hear me?” Jet said to Harry as she hugged him close, thanking Jim for the time they had with these two wonderful boys. She prayed to every deity that would listen that her boys would come home safe. Evie was still unsure about who would win the battle, but she had faith in her boys.

Harry hugged her just as tight; he would miss his crazy aunts something fierce. “I will, Aunt Jet, I will. Don’t worry I’ll come back. I have to finish school, remember?” he said with a tearful smile.

“Yes, well, don’t do anything that will get you into trouble or at least don’t get caught. Listen to Gilly and Sirius. Contact me every night on the mirror. Kippy is going with you guys, so you make sure you listen to her as well,” Jet said in a stern voice. “Here, I want you to take this,” she said, handing him a piece of rope. “It’ from Marie’s noose. Now, we don’t know if it will keep you safe. But, I want you to wear it or keep it in your pocket. I’ve already given a piece to Neville. It’s just too bad that Jordan isn’t family. I know you are not technically family, but you are to me, so I am hoping that you will be protected,” she fretted, and then cleared her throat. “Yes, well, keep that on you, you hear.”

“I will,” Harry said as he took the bit of rope and placed it around his wrist, wrapping it around three times. “I love you, Aunt Jet,” he said and then turned to his girlfriend who had come to see him off. “I am going to miss you,” he said as he gave her a tight hug.

“You keep your temper and make me proud, okay?” Jessie said as tears ran down her face.

“I will, I have to go. Don’t go dating anyone else while I’m gone, okay?” he said, giving her a watery smile to show he was joking.

“Oh, you,” she giggled, and then kissed him on the lips and clung to him.

“I really have to go,” Harry stated, and then after one more hug he climbed into the van. He had already said his goodbyes to Aunt Frances and the Hiltons. He never felt the charm that Gilly placed on him as he was settling down in the seat.

The passenger van was quiet, except for some quiet sniffles, for about five minutes then the overwhelming feeling of excitement started to take over. This was going to be one great adventure.

They made it to Rhode Island in good time. Traffic was their friend, since the other cars were headed the other way. When they pulled up to the oceanfront, everyone got out and helped load the luggage into the houseboat. The students, Gilly and Sirius stayed there, while Mr. Scott and the hired driver returned the vans. Mr. Scott would then take a taxi back. While they waited they looked over the boat and were impressed.

The house on the boat stood on a large wooden platform, with a waist-high wrought iron rail encompassing the outer edges. The house itself was modern and stood three stories high. The first floor was set up so that on the right was a classroom and potions/chemistry lab. The left side was set up in a living space area with the kitchen in the back and medium open space living room to the front. Couches and chairs were scattered throughout, small end tables were next to each seat with a few coffee tables in the middle. A TV was to the back of the room with a gaming station hooked up. There was an gas fireplace near the couches and the lights were all electric.

On starboard side of the second floor was set aside for practical magic studies, it was large enough to take up the whole side of the boat. To the port were the dorms for the male students and faculty. On the third, also to the right, was the computer room and the female staff and students were to the left. All doors to sleeping areas were charmed so the opposite sex could not enter.

Solar panels were on the roof a sunlight rune was etched in to each panel. There was a gas generator was in a large shed on aft and it was charmed to be ever filling. The hardest part was staying connected to the internet. They decided on a satellite dish, which was mounted on top of the shed and would need to be adjusted in the morning. It was shrunken, so that it would fit on the roof of that small shed and not look like a gigantic inverted umbrella. Now, it was the size of a flattened basketball.

The whole boat, barring the starboard side of the second floor, was non-magical. This way there was more entertainment for the teens and they didn’t have to cram in to one room to play games and do their computer homework.

When Mr. Scott returned, they launched the boat to the ocean. They didn’t have to go very far out, just enough not to be seen. When they got to the area they had mapped out, Gilly, Harry and Neville started to chant. The water around them started to swirl, faster and faster; while the boat remained steady, which was Jordan’s and Mr. Scott’s job. A large bubble encompassed the boat with enough air for them to breath on the short trip. Then the water rose in a large cone and swallowed them. Since the only land mass they had to cross was Great Britain, creating the tunnel was easy. Getting it to the outside of Hogwarts’ wards was not.

As they got closer, Gilly and the brothers concentrated on the exact location they needed to go. The trip itself took about ten minutes, so they should be arriving in the middle of the night. Since they were going to be outside the wards, they would wait until morning to let the castle know they were there. Getting use to the change of time was going to be difficult, someone suggested they use some Pepper-up Potion to keep awake the first day and sleep when the rest of the UK did. It sounded like a good idea, and with Sally’s more tasteful potion, they agreed.

They didn’t calculate just how far they would shoot out of the water, and when the boat was fifty feet in the air, they realized something was amiss. So Harry used his patent whirlwind and gently put the boat on the water. The waves caused the Merpeople and the giant squid to surface to see what was happening.

Everyone went to the side of the boat to look at the fabled castle.

It was beautiful, standing on a mountain with many stairs running up the sides and the front of said mountain. It was also eerie, seeing how it was the middle of the night and the only lights going were in the halls and the outside walls.

The Forbidden Forest was dark and scary looking; animal eyes could be seen peeking out in the frightening way only they could. Centaurs’ shadowy figures could be seen on the borders as they came to investigate the disturbance. Their horse bodies made them seem menacing, but it was the crossbows that made everyone leery. It was a good thing they were out of reach.

“It’s beautiful, creepy, but beautiful. I can’t wait to see it in the sunrise,” the Defense and Dark Arts Apprentice Cathy said in a dreamy voice that only girls could pull off.

“Creepy is right, give me our school any day,” Harry scoffed, but he might be just a little biased.

Neville and Jordan were playing with the giant squid, his tentacles were reaching up to tickle their faces and they would catch and scratch them playfully and then let him go.

“You guys are weirdos,” Harry said jokingly, then started to play with the large sea creature.

“Right, us weirdos, you have room to talk,” Neville said as he playfully shoved his brother, which left a wet hand print on Harry’s shirt.

“Leave off, will ya,” Harry said in a horrible accent, which caused everyone to laugh.

“Well, since it is our supper time, let’s go and see what your friend Kippy has created for us,” Mr. Scott said as he steered the kids into the living room, which would serve as a dining area.

They had the same set up as the Owens did. Kippy would cook, do laundry and make sure the boat was stocked, and the students and staff would clean. The little house elf was being paid extra, because she had to leave both of her jobs to come with them.

Sirius had left his house elves in charge of the Owens’ household, and Kippy would be bouncing back and forth between the SMI group and the young couple, who were now in a relationship. Harry had sat them down and told them, they weren’t fooling anyone and to get on with it. They happily complied.

“Yous needs to be washing your hands and faces. Playing with a squid before dinner, icky,” Kippy scolded the teens as they walked in the house part, their faces and hands dripping wet from their play.

“Okay, Kippy,” came the chorus response, not the least put out by her scolding.

The teens, adults and Sirius washed up and sat around the living room. The TV was on for background noise, a movie video was playing, but no one was really paying attention to it. Kippy served them a light meal of chicken, noodles and vegetables. They all ate and the oldest, Mr. Scott, did the dishes. They would go down the list every night and then just start over, barring Gilly and Sirius, who would be moving to the village tomorrow.

After they unpacked, excited chatter went through the night and Pepper-up Potion was handed out when it would have been their time for bed. They discussed how the folks in the castle would react when they saw how they were going to get ashore.

Morning came and they all put on jackets, not quite use to the colds of Scotland, and went to see the sunrise on the castle. It was just as lovely as predicted, and the girls sighed as they watched the stones get washed with shades of red and pinks. The windows glittered with the rising sun and the forest started to lose its foreboding. You could still see the Centaurs keeping watch, with their bows at the ready. Silhouettes of the staff and students could be seen in the halls of the castle. Another boat was anchored on the shores of the lake and a giant white carriage was sitting on the lawns. People were moving about in them too.

The doors of Hogwarts opened and five people were making their way to the shore. Harry and the rest of the team watched them approach, dawning looks of horror started to show on their faces as they noticed how they were dressed. They looked like something that stepped out of a fantasy novel. Colorful robes, well, most of them, pointy hats and old-fashion shoes.

Snickering started; it couldn’t be helped when they got a gander at the oldest man. His robes were so bright and colorful that it looked like he dressed in the dark, and with the intensity of his robes that was quite possible.

Mr. Scott cleared his throat and the students sobered. When the castles’ party reached the shore, everyone on the boat went to the suitcases and got their hover-boards. They went to the stern where the rail split and all mounted up. They whooped and hollered as they skimmed over the water to meet the greeting party. Each was dressed in jeans and t-shirts, with the schools logo on the front. They all had on casual shoes, because dress shoes or heels would make you slip off the board. Harry felt no need to wear his hat, since they would soon know who he was. Hair went flying as they gathered up speed and excited yells were heard in the air as they rode the small waves.

They arrived in a flourish and pulled up in front of the flabbergasted people. Students from the castle, carriage and boat were watching them, most jealous about the boards.

“A jolly good morning to you, our unexpected guests. May I ask what you are doing in the lake?” the old man inquired in a gentle grandfather voice. His eyes twinkled something fierce, like he found the whole thing amusing.

“We were invited,” Harry smirked, noting who glared and who looked curious. “Well, I was invited and decided since I had to come, so did my team,” he reiterated, waving to the group of people gathered around him.

“No one was speaking to you, you impudent child,” the tall skinny dark-haired man said with a sneer.

“Shut up, Snivellus,” Sirius said with just as much condescending as the hated individual. He knew he would have to face this man, but no amount of etiquette would make him nice to him.

“What are you doing here, Black?” the man, who must be Snape, sniped back. He was looking down his long crooked nose had his childhood nemesis. You could just feel the hate and tension between these two men.

“My godson invited me,” Sirius said in a jovial voice, just to piss the man off. He placed his arm around said boy, in a fatherly manner. This would make Snape realized just who the teen was.

The man’s head snapped back to the oddly dressed boy and his sneer became full force. He loathed this young man with every bit of his black little heart. He raked his eyes up and down the boy in front of him and found the child to be lacking in any sense of decorum.

Harry quirked an eyebrow at Snape’s perusal and promptly ignored the man and returned his attention to the old guy, who he was sure was Dumbledore. He was going to say something, but since they broke etiquette and didn’t introduce themselves first, well he would wait.

“Alas, I do not recall inviting anyone new to the castle. Perhaps you can tell us who you are and we can solve this little mystery. Though from young Sirius’ comments, I have a good idea as to whom you may be,” the old man said, and you could see the calculating look that entered his eyes.

“Oh, forgive my manners, I am Harry Potter, and your… cup I think, invited me to play a game,” Harry said with a small bow, internally laughing at all the shocked faces. He was certain that he was not what they expected. With his long blue and silver streaked hair, and non-magical strategically ripped up clothes. “These wonderful people behind me are my team. This is our Vice Principal Mr. Scott, next to him is Ms. Montgomery from there down we have; Ms. Mumford, Mr. Butterworth, Mr. Wilder, Mr. Sarris, Mr. Diaz, Ms. Knowles, Ms. Lisle, Mr. Hilton and I am sure you know Mr. Longbottom. Next to him is our healer Ms. Parks.” Each person gave a small wave as their names were called. “The lovely redhead is my aunt Gillian Owens and next to her, as you know, is Sirius Black.”

“Ah yes, Mr. Potter, we were just discussing last evening how to get a hold of you, since all the owls in the past have always returned unopened. May I ask how you knew?” the old man, who still had not introduced himself or his staff, asked.

“I am sorry, sir, if I am about to be rude, but would you introduce yourself and your colleagues. I do not like talking to people I do not know the names of,” Harry said formally, ignoring the question for now. Not that it was any of the old guy’s business, all he needed to know is that Harry was here and who was with him.

“I am terribly sorry, how rude of me. I am Headmaster Dumbledore, to my right is our Deputy Headmistress, Professor McGonagall and next to her is Professor Flitwick. To my left is Professor Snape and next to him is Professor Sprout,” the now known Dumbledore stated as he waved a casual hand to each person as they were introduced. “Shall we go to my office and we can discuss how you knew and what to do now that you have returned to us.”

“I am only here for the time it takes to fulfill this so-called magical contract. I don’t want you thinking that I have come back permanently. But, hey, sure, we can talk,” he said slipping out of formal speech now that introductions were over. “Mr. Scott, Sirius, Aunt Gilly and Neville are coming with me though,” he stated firmly, arms crossed and feet planted apart.

“Of course, my boy, of course, they are more than welcome,” the Headmaster said with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Please refrain from calling me your boy,” Harry said politely. It would be the only time he would make it a request.

“Yes, of course, Harry,” the old man said, and Harry let it go, for now.

The party of ten started to the castle for what could turn out to be one hell of a talk.

As they made their way up the mountain, the Hogwarts students gawked at the mish-mash group. They especially whispered and pointed at Harry with his blue and silver streaked hair, scar showing on his forehead, and his casual ripped up clothes. The scar wasn’t as garish as it could have been, but it was still there.

“Are those combat boots on his feet?”

“Why is the hero of the wizarding world dressed like a punked out Muggle?”

“Look at their clothes. I don’t think they have a dress code.”

Were some of the whispers they heard, then again the entire SMI group was dressed casually, just not to the extreme that Harry was. So they simply ignored the ignorant people and went on their way.

The SMI clutch chatted among themselves about the many fascinating features of the castle. The moving staircases and all the portraits, even the ghosts were new to them. Harry was still not impressed, well not that he voiced out loud. Internally he grudgingly admitted the magical castle was pretty neat, but he didn’t want to give these Brits any ammunition on swaying him to stay.

Dumbledore led the way to his office, pointing out historical parts of Hogwarts as they walked. When they reached the guardian gargoyle and the Headmaster gave a password.

The SMI team scoffed. A principal that was not available all the time for his students didn’t impress them. They were used to an office staff to take their complaints or request to. Here there was no secretary to make appointments, just the stone statue that required a passcode. It didn’t seem well-organized to them.

The Headmaster ascended the winding stairs, and the Hogwarts staff took the lead. With a shrug the SMI group followed.

The large circular room at the top was, to the SMI team, ostentatious and tacky. The many moving pictures, which made a show of listening to the group that entered, were loud and demanding. The many gadgets and gizmos, that lined the bookshelves, were twirling and emitting high pitched noises. The phoenix was pretty neat, though its large golden perch was a bit over the top. The large wooden desk cluttered with books and parchments took up a good part of the room.

All in all, it was crowded and seemed mostly useless. Maybe it was because the man lived in the castle and was not only there during the day. If that was the case, they could begrudge him his comfort. Everyone deserved to live in a personalized space, though if this were true it said a lot about the man.

The Hogwarts staff gathered behind the desk, only the Headmaster sat. With a wave of his wand, Dumbledore conjured five plushy chairs to appear before the desk. No one sat.

“Please, take a seat so that we may discuss how you knew to be here at this time. And why we were unable to find you all these years. Your grandmother must have been beside herself with worry for you, young Neville,” Dumbledore said, looking like a disappointed grandfather peering over his half-moon spectacles at the mention teen.

Neville ignored him, but the rest of the assembly glared. Harry spoke up in his most pompous voice. “We will not sit whilst ladies are made to stand,” he said, making no move to the chairs and gestured to the two females on the Hogwarts staff. The rest of the SMI group stood by his side.

Taken back by this, the Headmaster looked around and noted that there were indeed ladies standing, so he waved his wand again and conjured four more chairs to sit around his rather large one. The Hogwarts staff looked surprised at this, but nonetheless took a seat. Then the SMI group sat.

“Now, Harry, my boy, can you explain to me how you knew to be here,” it was a gently worded demand and not a question. “The goblet only drew names last night. We were going to attempt to send you an owl today.” Dumbledore folded his hands on the desk in front of him and waited for an answer.

“My name, sir, is Mr. Potter. As to your question, magic told me,” Harry said with a casual shrug of his shoulder, not offering any more than that.

“You will show respect for the Headmaster,” snapped Snape, who looked down his long hooked nose at the teen.

“Shut up, Snivellus,” Sirius snapped back, his grey eyes showing just how much he held this man in contempt. “Harry, is not one of your students, you don’t get to discipline him. That is up to Mr. Scott.” His hand waved in the direction of the Vice Principal.

“Yes, thank you, Sirius. You, sir, will not talk to my students that way,” Mr. Scott stated firmly as he glared at the ugly man, not the least intimidated by his dark looks.

“Severus, please,” the old man mediated, thinking maybe it had been a mistake inviting his staff to this meeting. He knew well the Potion Master’s hate for all Potters and Blacks, though he had no idea when he invited him along that Sirius would be part of the gathering. He had been hoping that Severus would quell the boy into complying with his plans.

The greasy-haired man sat back in his chair, but the glare never left his shallow face. The rest of the Hogwarts staff exchanged glances at this. They were used to everyone automatically respecting the famed Headmaster. It might do well to keep an eye on these Yanks.

“Now, Harry…”

“Again, sir, it is Mr. Potter. Have you forgotten your manners? I have not given you leave to call me by my first name, nor have any of my party,” Harry interrupted, those lessons serving him well. Luis would be so proud.

“Very well then, Mr. Potter, would you care to elaborate on your explanation?” Dumbledore asked, stroking his beard in thought.

“Not particularly, sir,” the teen shrugged again as he casually relaxed in his chair.

Gasps were heard on the headmaster’s side of the office and Dumbledore had to hold up his hand to prevent any further acts of discipline against the impertinence.

“I must insist,” a bit of steel was laced in that voice now as the Headmaster leaned forward on his desk.

“Insist all you want, Headmaster. I only answer to five people and you, sir, are not among them,” Harry said adding his own bit of coldness, sitting up straighter and leaning forward just a little, his green eyes flashed in defiance.

“I am your magical guardian; therefore, you do answer to me.”

The SMI group laughed, taking the Hogwarts staff by surprise.

After a few minutes, the laughter died off and Sirius spoke up. “Albus, you haven’t been his magical guardian since he was fifteen months old. Actually, you’ve never been his magical guardian. I signed off on that while I was still falsely imprisoned. It’s documented at Gringotts and the Ministry that Gillian Owens is his magical guardian,” he said with a chuckle still in his voice, causing confused looks.

How could he sign off on something while incarcerated? was the thought that ran through most of their minds. Snape just scoffed.

“Being the Supreme Mugwump, how could you not know that?” Sirius asked with a raised eyebrow.

Dumbledore was asking himself the same question. The Wizengamot had awarded him the guardianship the day after the Longbottoms died. Silence held the room for a minute.

“Pray tell, how did you manage that?” Professor Flitwick voiced the question.

“Sorry, can’t tell you,” Sirius answered, not unkindly. He always liked the little professor. “All I can tell you is that it is perfectly legal, and that Gillian Owen is his guardian in all ways.” He shrugged. It was none of their business.

“I want to make it very clear to you, old man, that Harry is my nephew in all but blood. Don’t make me angry by trying to interfere with that,” Gilly hissed, tapping her finger on the surface of the desk. Her hair started to lift, her eyes flashed and a small wind was felt through the office. While Jim had told them this was a good man, he was not making a very good impression on her right now.

“Thanks, Aunt Gilly,” Harry said, placing his hand on her arm to calm her. The last thing they needed was to show their strength to these people. It might be needed later.

Sirius pulled her chair closer and placed his arm around her shoulders to add further support. She sat back calmer, but still alert.

“Can you tell me how that came to pass?” the Headmaster asked, his voice back to being grandfatherly, thinking manipulation and not intimidation was in order. He never expected open defiance from anyone

“No,” came the succinct answer from the reddish-blonde witch.

Dumbledore sighed, this was not going well. It was obvious that they weren’t going to give him answers. He then took a parchment off his desk and handed it to Mr. Scott. “These are the rules of the tournament, young Harry…” he stopped at the clearing of many throats and reiterated, “Mr. Potter, will need to know them.”

“Do you have any idea how someone, on the other side of the world, was entered into a competition he knew little about?” Mr. Scott asked as his took the parchment and glanced over the rules, and then handed it down the line so everyone could read them.

“Alas, we have not begun to look into it as of yet,” the Headmaster answered, expecting it to be dropped.

“Have you informed your Ministry?” the Vice Principal asked with a quirked eyebrow.

“Why ever would we inform them? This is something that can be handled by me and my staff,” Dumbledore answered, confusion clear on his wrinkled face. Everything that happened in this school was handled in-house.

“Is this not a Ministry sponsored event? That is what it says on the document you just handed me,” Mr. Scott countered.

“Well, yes it is, however, I have great faith that we will find the culprit ourselves.”

Everyone watched the two Head people in the room. The Hogwarts staff a little shocked that anyone would be questioning the man they all listened to categorically. The SMI group had small looks of smugness as they sat back and let the two men talk.

“Headmaster Dumbledore, I do not think you understand. Our government knows what has happened, and they are very upset. They want answers, and they want them now. They want a thorough investigation as to why one of their citizens was drawn into a magically binding contract without his consent. And, no, I am not going to tell you how we knew. You only need to know that we did and are ready to take steps to find out why,” the Vice Principal stated firmly, looking the Hogwarts Headmaster straight in the eye.

The American Government had been informed about the ‘exchange program’ the same time the school had. They made sure that all documentation for the SMI group was legal and complete. They also had a squad standing by to intervene if required.

“Was it completely necessary to bring the government into this?” Dumbledore asked with disappointment lacing his voice as he sat back into his chair. His mind running through how much the American Government could ruin his plans. They were a formidable congress and with him being in charge of the ICW, it meant that he could not step a foot out of line if he was under the eyes of another government.

“Of course, it was. Great Merlin, man, one of our citizens could lose his magic to a contract he did not sign. Not only that, but he could lose his life in a competition that is designed for adults. Of course, they needed to know,” Mr. Scott snapped, not understanding why the British Government wouldn’t be involved. If this was happening in America, the MIA and the Magical Division of the FBI would be all over this case.

Dumbledore once again realized this was another discussion he would not win. It was too late anyhow the government was involved and there was little he could do. “Very well, I will inform the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the happenings thus far,” he conceded. He, the other school Heads, Bagman and Crouch had decided last night, after the students went to bed, to allow Dumbledore to do the investigating. Now it looked like all that planning was for naught.

Mr. Scott pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to the Headmaster. “Here is the Floo connection and phone numbers of our Magical State Department. They want to be kept up to date on your findings. They ask me to tell you that if they don’t think you are moving fast enough, then they already have a petition going to the ICW to come and start their own investigation,” he said, sitting back in his chair, much calmer now.

“Now that that is all settled, we can discuss where you will be staying, and how your studies are going to be completed. You are, of course, welcome to attend our classes and dine with our students,” Albus said, moving on to what he hoped to be a safer topic. Leaving the matter of why Harry could not be found for a later date.

The two boys chuckled; the adults, and Sirius, shook their heads. “Didn’t you see the big houseboat floating on the lake?” Sirius asked in a mocking tone of voice. “It is set up so that they have whatever they need to study and rest.”

“Is that what that is? Alas, it was a bit far out for my old eyes to see. Then you have your own accommodations, which is very convenient. You are still welcome to move the… houseboat closer to shore. It would make it easier for your students to come to the castle for lessons. Though the method you used this morning looks more than fun,” Dumbledore said his twinkle once again present.

“From what Sirius tells me your classes are not up to par with our own,” Harry spoke up, making all heads turn to him. “So we will have to decline your generous offer.”

“What do you mean, not up to par with yours? We are the best school in all of Europe,” McGonagall spoke for the first time. She was now insulted by this uppity teenager, that didn’t even know how to dress properly —blue and silver hair indeed. She was not at all impressed with this child, Boy-Who-Lived notwithstanding.

“Perhaps I was mistaken, do you have computer classes here? Things might have changed since Mr. Black’s time, progression and all that,” the young man inquired with a tilt of his head, maybe it had changed.

“What is a computer?” Flitwick queried with a tilt of his own small head.

“That answers that question. Since you don’t have the required equipment that is needed for the students studies, we will be staying on the boat,” Mr. Scott intervened and then looked at the Professors’ curious faces and added. “You and your students are more than welcome to have a tour of our classrooms, only a few at a time though.” This offer incited excited whispers. “We cannot bring the boat closer as your wards would interfere with our electronics,” he explained vaguely.

“Perhaps you can take meals with us,” Dumbledore offered, a little put out that they would not take studies with the Hogwarts students. He had hoped on impressing the two boys and luring them into staying in Britain. He was sure that these… computers were inferior to the lessons offered by Hogwarts, but there was little he could do if they had already made their own plans. The students of The Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and Durmstrang Institute studied in their own housing, so he could not push the matter.

“We can take breakfast with your students and your guests, but we follow a strict diet,” Mr. Scott compromised, thinking that one meal a day wouldn’t hurt.

Dumbledore sighed again, once more having to back down. He was not use to this type of conversation. “If you provide a list of foods that you have on your diet, then the house elves will do their best to make sure it is served.”

“I’ll have Kippy, our free elf, take a menu to your elves tonight, along with the recipes,” the Vice Principal said as he got up from his chair and the rest of the group followed suit. “We have to get the students in class, it is already past time. If there isn’t anything else?” he asked and offered his hand to the old man and nodding his head to the others.

“No, I believe we covered the basics,” Dumbledore and his staff also rose from their seats. The Headmaster took the hand and shook it and nodded to the SMI crowd. The group of five left the office and once more made their way through the castle, whispers and pointing followed them everywhere they went. When they came to the shore, they noted that the rest of the SMI students were in discussions with students from all three schools.

Mr. Scott broke it up by saying, “Forgive us, we must attend classes now. I am sure that you are missing yours as well.”

Students looked at their watches in mild horror and gathered up their belongings and ran for which ever building had their lessons. The SMI group turned and headed back to the boat, via their boards, laughing as the waves caused them to lift in the air. They really loved these boards.

All the apprentices took the younger students to the classroom. Agent Mumford was doing a perimeter check, Luis was arranging his class. Mr. Scott, Gilly and Sirius gathered in the Vice Principal’s office, which contained little more than a desk with a computer, three extra chairs, a bookcase and a table off to the side of the desk that had standard office equipment on it. They all settled and discussed what happened in the meeting.

Sirius was chuckled and Gilly nudged him in the ribs to get him to stop, which made him chortle more. “Sirius, seriously, stop laughing,” she scolded; she didn’t think the talk had been funny at all.

“You don’t understand. No one ever stands up to Dumbledore, well hardly anyone,” Sirius said, his laughter finally dying down. He sat straighter in his chair, but amusem*nt still sparkled in his grey eyes.

“Yes, well, I think the talk went well enough,” Mr. Scott said, arranging the parchment with the rules in front of him. “Let’s talk about these rules for now and leave Dumbledore until he actually tries anything,” he suggested, reading over the paper once again and then turned to his computer and opened the scanner program to make sure a copy was emailed to the Principal. “According to this,” he gestured at the rules, “I cannot help Harry in anyway. I will be told what the tasks are, but I am forbidden to explain them to anyone else. So he will have to go in blind, unless he stumbles across the tasks themselves. You two are not part of the staff, so you can train him anyway you want,” he said, not knowing that Death had told them about the tasks.

“Well, that’s something,” Gilly said with a sigh. She knew Harry was more than up to whatever these people threw at him. They had trained already, but she knew that the teen was still worried. She had been unable to find a dragon, so he had no clue about them, besides what he read in books.

“Don’t worry, Gilly-bean, Harry’s a powerhouse all on his own. Besides, do you think he is going to just sit and wait to find out what he’s up against? No, that boy will turn over every stone in the castle to find out,” Sirius said for the benefit of Mr. Scott. He took her hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.

She looked at him with grateful eyes, more than happy he was here to support her. “We better get to the house and get unpacked.” She stood and offered her hand to Mr. Scott, “If you need us for anything call us on the mirrors. I am pretty sure phones won’t work in Hogsmeade.”

Mr. Scott rose and took her hand and said, “I will see you tomorrow. Enjoy your evening.” He then shook Sirius’ hand and showed them the way out. They stopped to gather suitcases first. The couple had their own boards to get to shore. Gilly wanted to see if Jumping would work, but Sirius said that could wait for another time. When they reached the village, they went to a house that was close to the Forbidden Forest.

It had stayed empty for years, because of its location, but Sirius snatched it up the second he knew they were coming. He remembered the old couple that used to live there, from his time at Hogwarts. They had been a nice couple that offered to lead kids back to the path, if they got lost exploring. They always had tea and biscuits for the students. It was sad to see the house empty, but fortunate for them.

It was a small house, only one bedroom, one bath, a living room, dining room and kitchen. It would serve them well for their stay. There was a small clearing behind the house that led to the forest. A larger yard was in the front, with small trees and bushes dotting the area. No electronics were in the house, it was all magical. They could tell that Kippy had already been there, since the furniture that Sirius had purchased when he bought the house was rearranged nicely and the floors and surfaces were all free of dust. The cold-box was stuffed with food and the bed was made.

Gilly was already making plans to put some tables in the yard to invite others to visit and gossip. This way she could get gossip on what was happening here in Britain and how people felt about Harry, so they could plan accordingly.

Chapter 15: Different Meal Conversations

Notes:

I would like to thank my beta for looking over this fic, darrelldeam. I went solo on the rewrite. As always, all mistakes are my own.

Chapter Text

November 1, 1994, Hogsmeade

It was a crisp autumn afternoon the sun was bright and there were still a few birds singing. You could tell winter was coming by the bite in the air. Gilly had conjured a temporary table with three comfortable chairs and a large umbrella to keep the sun off. She placed a big cauldron near it and started a fire within, to ward off the chill. She wanted to have the conversation with Madam Longbottom outside; so that she could make sure the people of Hogsmeade saw her and hopefully would view her as harmless. If she were seen talking to an upstanding lady, like Neville’s grandmother, that would go a long way in portraying her as a good person.

Kippy had made sure there were plenty of sandwich makings, cakes, cookies and hot drinks. Sirius informed her that it would be afternoon tea time by the time the older lady was to join them. It was with his help she set up the service. Kippy would only clean for them, since she was on the houseboat. Unless they found they couldn’t go it alone, which Gilly doubted. She lived without a house elf all her life, so not having one was easy for her. Sirius would just have to learn.

At exactly 4 p.m. there was a ‘crack’ in the air and they knew that Madam Longbottom had arrived. So Gilly went outside to greet her guest. Madam Longbottom was dress in an old fashion dress that went to the floor, there was a vulture on her hat and she carried a rather large cloth purse. Gilly was dress more modern in black slack and a puffy blouse.

“You must be Neville’s grandmother,” Gilly said, holding out her hand in greeting. “I’m Gillian Owens, and I’ve always wanted to meet you. Kippy has told us so much about you.”

Augusta took the hand and offered her own greeting. “Yes, I am Augusta Longbottom, you may call me Gussy. It is I that should be thanking you for all the reports you have sent to me over the years. They made this old woman’s life have meaning again. I cannot thank you enough for raising a fine young man that is my Neville.”

She made sure to never contact Neville directly, either by mail or via the mirror, because Albus could always read her mind. Even though she had been taught at a young age, she was not good at Occlumency. The nosy man knew she was getting reports, but the Owens family was very good at hiding their tracks.

“Come on, let’s sit,” Gilly said, taking the older woman’s arm and leading her to the table. “I don’t stand on formality, so you’ll have to forgive me if my manners are not… well, mannerly.”

Augusta just nodded her head in understanding and took the chair offered to her. She was a little surprised that they would be taking tea outside, but upon thinking about it found it rather nice. And with the fire close by and the birds chirping, it was rather relaxing.

Sirius came out with the tea tray and after he set it down, he took Augusta’s hand and placed a kiss on it. “Madam Longbottom, it is wonderful to see you again.” He was dressed in expensive jeans and a black polo shirt.

“Well met, Mr. Black. I told you before, you have leave to call me Gussy,” the elderly lady said with a slight blush. This young man always charmed her.

“Well then, manners aside for everyone. Gussy, old gal, how have you been?” Sirius said as he indicated that Gilly should pour the tea.

Gilly took up the pot and started to pour and said, “You can call me Gilly, everyone does.”

Tea and cakes served, the three started talking about the years the boys had grown. Laughter filled the air and Augusta had the most relaxed tea she had had since she was a little girl. Gilly brought the photo album out and they shared the story behind each picture.

“This was a time when they were three. We had just taught them to change their toys from round to square. Neville had decided he was going to try and do the spell while floating the ball in the air. It exploded on him and he turned blue for the rest of the day. Still not sure how that happened,” Gilly giggled at the memory.

“You have been teaching them Transfiguration since they were three?” the flabbergasted woman asked.

“Well yeah, they were pretty good at it to,” the red-blonde replied and then turned to the next picture. It had been taken on Neville’s fourth birthday and he was covered from head to toe in green cake. She laughed and showed the picture to Gussy. “In this one, he tried to change the shape of the cake and we all wound up wearing it. Kippy was so angry. I never did thank you for sending her. She is a godsend. She taught the boys so much. We freed her you know, and she has her own job now. There are a lot of free elves in the USA now and I set up an agency to hire them out. It has worked well. Maybe you can set one up here.” She tapped her chin thoughtfully. She was still making quite a bit of money off that agency and if they could get one set up here, then there would be more to leave the boys when she passed.

“An agency that hires out free elves? How on earth did you manage that? Where would you even find free elves?” Gussy asked, glad she was sitting down. This woman in front of her kept throwing her for a loop with every other sentence she uttered.

“They’re everywhere,” the younger woman said airily, causing more confusion. “When someone dies and doesn’t will them to someone else, they just wander around until they find another family. Kippy finds them and tells them about the agency and we employ them.” She waved her hand in the air like it was no big thing.

“And this agency works for you? People will pay the free elves?” the still dumbfounded older woman asked.

“Yeah, mostly shop owners, but some caterers hire them for cooking and serving parties,” Gilly answered finally realizing that she was confusing the other woman. “Kippy told us the history around house elves. She told us they don’t need a bond, however, they do need to work. So when we weren’t giving her enough work, we talked a shop into hiring her for stocking merchandise. It snowballed from there,” she explained, trying to get Gussy to understand, but from the look on her face she was just confusing her more.

“Why would you not give her enough work? There are five people in your household,” Gussy questioned, trying to figure out how her grandson was raised and who these… extravagant women were. They taught things never even heard of here on the Isles.

“Yeah, but we do our own chores. So she never had enough work,” the red-blonde said, trying to figure out a way to explain it better.

“Gussy,” Sirius said, bringing the attention to him. “It works; believe me I understand what you’re thinking right now. It took me months to accept what they did. But, the one thing you have to understand about the Owens women is they do for themselves. Kippy only does the plant gathering, the cooking and the laundry, sometime she takes letters to people or post the ones they sent here. However, since her magic interferes with electricity, she doesn’t do the other chores. I freed my own house elves and they’re doing well. Unlike the women, Remus and I don’t know a thing about housework. When we moved in with the witches, those two took on other jobs. Right now they are helping the aunts and working on the side.” He took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze to help her stay focused, since it looked like she was going to faint any minute.

Gussy shook herself and nodded to the man, removing her hand from his and sitting up straighter.

“Actually, most of the US that is that way; we like to do for ourselves. Only the very rich and snotty have house elves, which is why it is so hard for the freed ones to find another family. No one wants them, they pity them, but they don’t want them,” Gilly added, hoping that would explain it better.

Augusta nodded her head, finally getting the idea. And they went back to the telling of Neville’s childhood. It was around six in the evening, when the cold got too much, that Gilly invited Gussy inside to wait for Neville.

“Neville and Harry should be joining us soon,” Gilly said from the kitchen, where she was preparing a light meal of fish and rice. Sirius was sitting with Gussy at the table that was in the adjoined dining area. “They should be Jumping in any minute now.”

“What is Jumping?” Gussy asked.

“It’s a form of Apparation,” Sirius explained, setting his cup on the table, “but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. There is no noise; it’s more like walking from one spot and appearing in the next. Gilly-bean invented it and taught it to everyone. It’s so smooth and you never have to fear that you will lose a body part. The only downfall is you might walk into someone. But at least you don’t have to worry about landing on them.” He beamed a proud smile at his girlfriend.

“That sounds wonderful; do you think you can teach me? Apparation is becoming hard for me in my old age,” the older woman asked with something akin to anticipation in her voice. To learn something new at her age would be marvelous.

Gilly shrugged her shoulder as she took the rice off the stove and spooned it into a dish. Bringing the steaming bowl to the table she said, “Don’t see why not, I taught the Aunts and they’re just a little younger than you. Those two will never grow up though, and we prefer them that way. It makes life interesting.” Her lips took on a fond smile, she missed her aunts already.

The door opened without out preamble and Neville and Harry walked in calling greetings. “We’re here, and damn if it isn’t cold out there,” Neville shouted as he walked into the dining area, and then he spotted the older woman at the table. She rose and there were tears in her eyes and he knew this was his grandmother. “Forgive the abrupt entry, I didn’t know you would be here,” he said and he took her withered hands in his young ones and placed a gently kiss on her wrinkled cheek. “It is wonderful to meet you finally, Gran. I was not expecting you to be here until later.”

“Your Aunt Gilly invited me to dine. Oh, Neville you have grown to be just as powerful as your father. He would be so proud. I know I am,” she said and placed her own kiss on his cheek and then let him guide her back to her chair.

There was a clearing of a throat, and Neville blushed a little. “Forgive my manners, Gran this is Harry Potter. Harry this is my grandmother, Madam Augusta Longbottom.” He nodded to each person as he introduced them.

“It is nice to meet you, Madam Longbottom,” Harry said as he kissed the back of her hand.

“Well met, Mr. Potter, you have my leave to call me Gran. You are practically family after all. My, you have grown to be a handsome young man. Though, I don’t know about that hair,” she said with mild disapproval.

“Oh, my hair is colored this way for a reason; fear not my manners are impeccable. Luis, our tutor, taught us very well,” Harry said as he removed his fedora and hung it off the side of his chair, since there was no hat rack. His jacket joined the hat on the other side. Neville hung his off the back of his chair. Both were still dressed in the jeans and t-shirts they wore that morning.

“Did you three have a good afternoon?” Neville inquired as he took his seat.

Gilly was just bringing in the fish and vegetable stir-fry and placing it on the table. “Yup, I showed her all your pictures and embarrassed the heck out of you, without you having to be here. Isn’t that great?” she teased as she took her seat. “Well, dig in.”

The next few minutes were spent serving up dinner. Augusta was a little curious about this dish, not used to just a light fare. Nothing was fried and there were no sauces; just fish, vegetables and rice. There was a bottle that had the label of ‘soy sauce’, but she had no idea what that was. She watched everyone else, and it seemed that you added this ‘soy sauce’ to your rice, sometimes with butter other times not. She tried it on a small portion and decided she liked the salty taste.

“So, Gran, Sirius has tried to keep us up to date on the political arena, but can you tell us more? We don’t want to go in blind,” Neville asked between bites, though it is usually considered bad manners to talk about such at the dinner table, he was used to casualness at the Owens’ house.

Madam Longbottom was taken aback by the question at first then brushed the feeling away, deciding she liked the casual atmosphere. “As you know, I have been sitting in proxy on the Wizengamot for you.” She waited for his nod. “News is already out that you are here. There was an emergency meeting this afternoon, just before I got here. They do not much care about you, Neville, but they want to try and get Harry to stay in England, and they are doing their best to find ways to pass laws to do just that,” she warned.

Harry snorted. “They can try all they want. If they pull something the American Government will come down on them so hard they will feel it for years to come.” He shrugged off the warning and took a bite of his fish. “This is wonderful, Aunt Gilly,” he complimented, she just smiled in reply.

“I do not believe you understand just how powerful these people are,” Augusta said firmly, tapping her finger on the table. She was worried they might underestimate the Wizengamot and be trapped.

The rest of the table laughed so hard at that warning that it took several minutes to regain control.

“Powerful? Them?” Harry scoffed, his eyes flashed with disbelief. “Believe me when I say, I know how powerful they think they are. Don’t worry, Gran, we did our homework, and we know just where the Wizengamot stands compared to the rest of the world. And it is not where they think they do,” he said trying to waylay her fears.

“According to the MUN, Britain is third from the bottom in terms of power. The only reason they are even that high is because of Dumbledore’s position on the ICW and the Wizengamot. But to the rest of the Wizarding World, Magical Britain is a joke,” Neville added his two Knuts worth and then continued to eat his dinner —completely unfazed.

“They’re right; I didn’t believe it either, until I read the research. The American Government was all ready to jump in during the last war, but then Harry happened and they decided to back off,” Sirius said, taking a sip of his tea. “I’ll warn the Wizengamot that if they try and take the boys, there will be a fight that will make the last war seem like a school yard scuffle. Only it will be fought with lawyers and such, and Britain will be hurt financially and politically,” he concluded with a bit of fire in his voice. He was upset they called a meeting and didn’t tell him. He had a seat on the Wizengamot, and they would know just how upset he was in the next meeting. “If they call another meeting, I need you to let me know, Gussy.”

Once again Augusta was knocked for a loop. “Harry means that much to them?” she asked, once more floored.

“No, it’s not me; it’s the principle of it. They offered me protection, and they take that very seriously,” Harry explained, not wanting her to think that he was special to the eyes of the US Government.

“Tell me what you guys did in school today,” Sirius said, changing the subject. He figured they had given enough to Gussy to think about.

“Well, this is a non-magical week, so we had math and science, and then English and Social Studies. Today in history we studied some non-magical British History,” Neville said also glad they were dropping politics.

“Tomorrow, we’re eating breakfast with the rest of the students, from all three schools. What do you think we can expect?” Harry asked a little worried; after all he was like a rock star here.

“Well, you can expect a lot of whispering and some of the more forward students will ask about your life,” Sirius said, rubbing his goatee. “I know if I was still a student, I wouldn’t hesitate to try and find out as much about you as I could. Since we didn’t get those books banned here, you might want to make sure you food isn’t spiked with love potions,” he warned, not wanting his godson to fall for something like that.

“You know how to check for that,” Gilly said and waited for his nod. “Then just be yourself, sweetie, unless you’re in a formal setting then you just be your adorable self. Don’t worry about what other people think. Haven’t we always taught you that?” his aunt said in encouragement.

“Yeah, dude, just be confident that nothing they say or think has any effect on who you are. All of us at SMI have got your back,” Neville said, clapping his brother on the shoulder. He would stand by his side, no matter what, and if anyone tried to ensnare him, well he too was a powerful wizard so…

“Yeah, but, this is the first time I’ll be Harry Potter and not Harry Owens, so I’m a little concerned is all,” Harry said as he gathered up his empty plate and that of Madam Longbottom’s and took them into the kitchen. He started up the sink for the dishes and waited for the others to bring their plates. Augusta watched curiously, since only the house elves did the housework in her manor.

The rest of the family gathered up the dishes and Neville joined him at the sink.

“I know, well, I don’t know, but I think I understand. Don’t worry, bro, I’ll be right there with you the whole way. And so will Jordan. We won’t let you fall or get a big head,” he said and nudged his younger brother with his shoulder. “Besides, only an idiot would still think you’re some kinda savior.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. I’m worrying over nothing,” Harry said, nudging him back and giving him a big smile in thanks. They did the dishes and then started water for tea.

Gilly, Sirius and Gussy were in the living room looking at the album again. When the boys finished, they joined them bringing tea and cakes. The rest of the night was spent in laughter and reminiscing. Soon the boys had to go back to the houseboat. They said their good-byes and left.

“I had a wonderful time,” Gussy said as she got ready to depart. “I do not think I have laughed so much since I was very young. Thank you for giving me back my grandchild. You have done a wonderful job at raising him. He is a very polite and brilliant young man. Again, I cannot thank you enough,” she gushed, very out of character for her.

“I was more than happy to help,” Gilly said, giving the elder woman a kiss on the cheek and walking her out to the Apparation point. “We’ll see you soon.” And with that Augusta Longbottom went home happy. The red-blonde walked back to the little house and fell into Sirius’ arms. It had been a long day, a happy one, but long. She was glad to be going to bed soon, maybe not to sleep, but relaxing nonetheless.

“Thanks for being here for me,” she said and then planted a big kiss on the man in her arms.

“Anything for you Gilly-bean,” he replied and then kissed her back.

The two retired for the night, knowing that this happy day may be the last one they have for a while.

November 2, 1994, Hogwarts

The next morning the SMI team gathered together to join the other three schools for breakfast in the Great Hall. They had decided that they would split up and join each House table, unlike Beauxbatons and Durmstrang who were seated at Ravenclaw and Slytherin respectively. This was supposed to be a contest to form international relationships; one could not do that if they sectioned themselves to only a part of a whole. Harry, Neville and Jordan decided to sit with the Gryffindors. It would be expected of them and they figured they could get a better feeling of the house that was… well, more open than the rest. Boy, were they wrong.

They were still dressed casually in fresh jeans, or slacks, and clean t-shirt with the SMI logo on them. Harry left his hat behind, since they would be indoors and everyone here knew who he was. They would not be donning robes just because the Britain’s did. The boards whipped across the lake, whoops and hollers were heard in the early morning air. Each student had a backpack with them so they could share some of what they learned with the students of the other schools. It was easier to show then to just tell. Gilly and Sirius joined them on the shore.

The team put away their boards in a conjured, locked shed, which Mr. Scott put there for that reason. They all went up the stairs to the castle. When they got to the Hall, the noise stopped and everyone was looking at them with various degrees of curiosity or contempt.

“Ah, welcome to our guests from Salem Magical Institute. Please, feel free to sit where ever you might feel comfortable,” Dumbledore said as he stood from the Head Table. Mr. Scott shooed his group off and joined the other Headmasters/mistress with the adults of the group. Sirius sat as far away from Snape as he could.

The oldest of the students went to the Slytherin table. Harry, Neville and Jordan went to Gryffindor and sat with people who looked to be their own age. The others dispersed to the other tables.

They had just sat down when the questions started.

“Are you really Harry Potter?”

“How did you put your name in the goblet?”

“Where have you been?”

“Do you have the scar?”

“Why is your hair like that?”

And other such questions were thrown their way. Harry stood without saying a word and went to leave. He paused when he was asked, “Where are you going? We just want to know about you,” by a bushy haired young lady.

“I think we will go and join another table. One that isn’t quite as rude as to not introduce themselves, before bombarding us with questions, which are frankly none of your business,” Harry said, still standing and giving off the air of someone extremely affronted. Jordan and Neville stood at his side.

“I apologize for my fellow students. Can you really blame us, though? We thought you were dead when you didn’t come in your first year,” the same girl said. “I am Hermione Granger, this is Ron Weasley, his sister Ginny and those two twins are his brothers Fred and George,” she said, introducing the people immediately around her. Others started to do the same.

The boys sat and gave them another shot at being polite. They told the table who they were and then started to put some of the lighter food on their plates and nodded at the people kind enough to hold off their questions.

After eating for a few minutes the girl, Hermione, decided she had waited long enough. “Can you tell us where you’ve been?” she asked, making sure she kept her voice gentle and not pushy.

“Well, as you can tell from our shirts, I grew up in Massachusetts, near the Salem area,” Harry answered, gesturing to the logo on his t-shirt. It was a safe answer and one they should know already. It wasn’t like they were hiding it; the shirts plainly stated the name and the state of the school.

“Oh,” was the reply.

“Yeah, but, how did you enter your name if you were across the pond?” a red headed boy asked. Ron, Harry thought his name was.

“I didn’t,” was the short reply. You could hear the confusion and the start of anger in that clipped voice.

“Come on then, how would your name have been entered if you didn’t do it?” Ron pushed, obviously not hearing the undercurrent of Harry’s reply.

“Are all Brits this stupid? No offence, Jordan, but damn,” Neville stated, a bit of a bite to his words.

“None taken,” his friend said. He knew that he grew up a lot since moving to the states. He remembered asking his best friends questions like that when they first met. Now that he had been at SMI, he learned to think before he spoke.

“There’s no way Harry could’ve entered himself,” Neville spat at the redhead. “He didn’t even know about your stupid contest. So obviously someone else entered him to get him here.” He shook his head and went back to his breakfast, keeping an eye on the faces around the table.

Most were nodding their heads in agreement, but there were quite a few that were frowning as if Neville’s word didn’t register to them. They didn’t want to let go of the fairytale that Harry was an all-powerful wizard who was there to rescue them from whatever came up.

“Really, Ronald, it is the only logical answer. The questions are; who and why,” Hermione said, defending the blue and silver streaked headed boy, hoping to get in his good graces.

“Well, if he is all powerful, like the books say, it’s possible for him to do it,” Ron defended himself as he rubbed the side of his nose.

“Don’t tell me you believe that trash,” Harry said his green eyes wide with shock. “I mean, really? I don’t even look like the kid on the cover. See no glasses, no wild black hair, and no oversized clothes. We’ve already sued the pants off the author and made him classified the books as fiction. You do know what fiction is, don’t you?” he questioned the boy warily. He really hoped not all the kids in this school were this dumb.

“Of course I know what fiction is, but my mum says there’s always some truth in fiction,” Ron snapped and his siblings nodded their heads in agreement.

“Yeah, my name and sometimes spelling and grammar,” Harry said defiantly, and then he waved his hand closing the subject. He turned to Hermione and said, “Tell me about Hogwarts, I’m curious, what’s happened here in the last three years? I want to know what the school is like.” He knew bits and pieces, from what Sirius learned from Gussy, but most of what happened was kept from the public.

“Well, it has been an adventure that’s for sure,” she replied tentatively, not quite sure she should tell him all about what has happened since she entered this Wizarding World. It was not a pretty picture, she had almost lost her life her first year.

The Gryffindor boys it seems had no such qualms and regaled the SMI boys with all that happened in the last three years. The stories were straight out of a fantasy novel. Three headed dogs, trolls, ancient artifacts, dead unicorns and dead teacher in the first year. Large snakes, petrified students, a possessed student, a bewitched book and a dead teacher in the second year. Both years the Headmaster stopped the crimes, though not soon enough in the three boys’ opinion. Not much happened in the third year just a prophecy and a missing rat.

Harry, Neville and Jordan listened in states of shock. Harry was especially glad he hadn’t been around for all these… well, not really adventures, but horrifying acts. They had never heard of these happenings and questioned how it could all have been kept from the press.

“So something, or someone, is… haunting this school and you guys think it might be this Voldemort dude?” Harry asked, ignoring the flinches. “What’s being done about it?” Harry asked, looking at he faces of the Gryffindors around him.

“What do you mean, being done?” Hermione asked with a tilt of her head. “The Headmaster says it’s all under control.” She was confused at the question. Everyone knew the Dumbledore would take care of everything.

“All under control?” Harry all but shouted. “People are dying! How can that be under control? What is your government doing? Are they building an army? Are you guys getting good defense classes? Are the non-magical parents getting protection? There are lots of things that could be done,” he fired off the most obvious questions. Sirius had told them the government was doing nothing, but really, that had been years ago and with what happened in this school, surly they changed their minds.

“Well, no, but we trust the Headmaster to keep us safe,” she explained with a great deal of hesitation, seeing her words were making him more angry

“Yeah and now that your back, well, it is up to you to protect us. That is why everyone is excited your here,” Ron stated as if it were fact. “That’s what you do in all the books, go around protecting people. So that’s why you must be here.”

“Let me get this straight,” Harry said with a clinched jaw as he looked over the crowd of Gryffindors staring at him. “You expect me, someone who doesn’t know you from squat, to protect you?”

“You are the Boy-Who-Lived, isn’t it your responsibility?” Ron asked, not understanding what the issue was. Nods were seen around the table, it is what they were told after all.

“NO! It damn well is not! You f*cking people are delusional if you think that,” he exploded, standing from the bench and his hair lifted in the wind he was creating. “I am a fourteen year old boy. I don’t have special f*cking powers. I am just Harry Potter, no more superior than any of you,” he bit out, shaking off Neville’s hand. He couldn’t believe they still thought this. Were they so sure that he would save them that they put off any tactics to save their selves? How could an entire government not care that there may be a war?

Gilly, upon seeing her nephew’s state of agitation, ran to his side. The wind had already started kicking up, tossing napkins and some food around. Everyone was staring at him at that outburst. She wrapped her arms around him and said, “Harry, sweetie, you need to calm down before someone gets hurt.” She glared at the teens surrounding them and they all cringed at the icy look in her eyes.

“Calm down? Did you hear what they f*cking said? How the hell am I supposed to calm down?” the angry teen yelled, trying and failing to shake off her grip.

“Come on, Harry, let’s go blow something up,” Neville suggested, nudging the upset boy and his aunt towards the doors.

“You people better get a clue,” Jordan said, pissed that they would do this to his friend, “‘cause, dudes, if you keep this up, you’re going to wind up dead.” He followed the Owens family out of the Hall, and the rest of the SMI team stood and joined them.

“I cannot believe you let your students think such things, Headmaster,” they heard Mr. Scott say. “You should be ashamed of yourself, all of you, for setting up a child in such a manner.” He too got up, throwing his napkin on his plate. “I do not believe we will be joining you for meals, after all. Not until you dissuade your students of such — notions.”

The staff of the other three schools looked on with different emotions fluttering across their faces.

The Beauxbatons’ Headmistress, Madam Maxime, was shocked. She had no idea that this country still believed that Harry Potter depicted in those tales was real. How could they? No child could do what those stories said he had done. No, if there was a rise of another Dark Lord then France would defend itself. She made sure that her teachers taught the students just that.

Headmaster Karkaroff had informed his students in much the same manner. Durmstrang never relied on anyone but themselves in time of war. He knew, via his Dark Mark, that the Dark Lord wasn’t gone, plus the mark was getting darker. He feared for his life and that of his students, so defense was studied every day due to this.

The Hogwarts staff was different, Dumbledore’s word was always taken as law, and if he said that everything was under control they believed it. No uppity child, with a foul mouth, would sway them from their beliefs, boy hero or not. Some of them were shocked that the gossip that was still going on about the Boy-Who-Lived and that he was held in such high regards. As far as they knew everyone thought him dead, fiction books notwithstanding.

The Great Hall was in an uproar, many were devastated by the fact that their childhood hero would not be standing up for them. Others were angry at the manner in which he vilified them. Who did that half-blood think he was, insulting them?

The SMI crew finally made it outside. They looked around to see if they could find any place where Harry could let off some steam. Near the Forbidden Forest was a glade that had some large rocks, it didn’t seem to be used for anything so they herded him towards it.

“Can you believe this sh*t?” Harry said as he sent a blasting curse to one of the rocks, blowing it up spectacularly. “How can they think this?”

“Not everyone does,” said Scott Wilder, who had been sitting with the Slytherins, causing Harry to stop and look at him in a questioning manner. “The Slytherins think you’re just some dumb kid who likes to play hero.”

“Yeah,” confirmed Steven Diaz, who had been sitting with the Ravenclaws. “The Ravenclaws don’t believe the rumors about you either. They don’t trust the Headmaster quite so blindly. They’re thinkers and can see the signs. They have a defense group going in case of war.”

“The Hufflepuffs, on the other hand, believe every word that comes out of the Headmaster’s mouth,” said Nicole Lisle with a sad shake of her head.

“I think, for the time being we should limit our interaction with Hogwarts’ students. Harry, you will be serving detention with me for your foul language,” Mr. Scott said and held up his hand to ward off the tirade he could see coming. “You know better. I understand why you vented, however, you were taught not to do such things, especially to children.”

“Yes, sir,” he said contritely, completely calm now.

“I am sorry to say, you will be staying on the boat for detention every night for the week. You will have one hour before curfew to visit you aunt and Sirius,” Mr. Scott added. “Luis will be sitting with us to go over some meditation to further control your anger.” Luis was nodding and giving his student a disappointed look.

Harry hung his head and nodded. They were right he did lose his temper on a bunch of kids who didn’t know better. “Yes, sir,” he said again. It was more than fair, and he could use the time to clear his head.

Gilly and Sirius went to protest, but stopped at the look they got from the etiquette teacher.

“He broke the rules. You know what happens when he does that. You agreed that while he was here, he was under school rules. He is not above getting punishment for such transgressions,” Luis said firmly. He knew well that these two needed to have a firm hand when it came to disciplining the Owens boys.

“It is time for class. PE will be held at the Quidditch pitch later this afternoon. So make sure you have your uniforms ready. Kippy says she will make sure they are clean, if you put them in the hampers before class,” Mr. Scott said, changing the subject.

Now that tempers were cooler they all went back to the houseboat, very disappointed that their first interaction with Hogwarts was so volatile.

Gilly and Sirius went back to the cottage and called the aunts on the mirror and told them what had happened. Sirius was upset about how the diary had been taken care of, via the Headmaster. He felt a bit guilty, if he had not left it here, that poor girl wouldn’t have been possessed. Guilt aside, it was good that the diary was now gone. Now all he had to worry about was the snake.

Agent Mumford left to find an area where she could call her superiors and let them know what happened. The rest of the SMI group spent the day like they did any other. Though they were a little disconcerted when a large group of students from the other three schools watched their PE class. Not knowing that those schools didn’t have any sort of physical education.

Harry spent the night in meditation. He really needed to have a clearer head if he was going to deal with the Brits and the goblins. He couldn’t afford to lose his cool like that again. Though the goblins were mostly on his side, thanks to Jim, they still were a grouchy bunch. Well, he would be dealing with them tomorrow after classes.

Chapter 16: Diagon Alley

Notes:

I would like to thank my beta for looking over this fic, darrelldeam. I went solo on the rewrite. As always, all mistakes are my own.

Chapter Text

November 3, 1994

Harry got up the next morning feeling much calmer. He went to classes and spent his breaks with friends on the houseboat, only leaving for PE. It was after classes he went and changed his clothes. He slicked back his blue and silver streaked hair as best he could and donned a suit. It was a dark blue suit, which matched the blue in his hair. He added a matching fedora. In his opinion he looked pretty cool.

Harry met up with Neville, who was wearing a dark green suit. And they went to the front of the boat. As they discovered the day before, Jumping worked in Hogwarts, so they nodded to each other and disappeared. They reappeared next to Gilly, Sirius and Agent Mumford, who were waiting at the edge of the lake. Harry took a minute to take in their attire, while he knew Aunt Gilly and Agent Mumford could blend, he wanted to make sure Sirius did. So his eyes roved over the trio of adults.

Gilly had on her usual flowing skirts and a nice blouse. The skirts were three different shades of grey and made of heavier material than she was used to. The blouse was pink and had flowing sleeves. She wore a long grey winter’s coat over the top. Sirius was dressed in black robes with red and gold highlights. He was ever the Gryffindor. Agent Mumford had on a woman’s pants suit, like most government agents on assignment. You could see the slight bulge where her gun was, not that the wizards in this country would know what it was.

“Are you guys ready to go?” Gilly asked as she straightened up Harry’s tie and tried to flatten his hair more. She gave it up as a lost cause and put his hat back on him.

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” Neville answered. After meeting the kids at Hogwarts he was hopeful that no one recognized Harry. That would be a nightmare, and with Harry’s temper it could turn into a political one as well.

“I think you’re going to love Diagon Alley,” Sirius said, rubbing his hands and grinning like a loon. He was just so excited. He remembered the first time he went to the Alley as a kid. Thank Merlin, it wasn’t with his mother, no, it was his Uncle Alphard who took him there when he was five. Out of all his relatives that man was his favorite uncle. He never subscribed to the whole pure-blood genre, and was blasted off the tree for it. It was thanks to him that Sirius survived when he ran away. Well the Potters helped, but had Alphard not left him money he would have had do bum off the Potters until he found work. Since he was raised a pure-blood that would have taken a very long time.

“Pffft, maybe, if the people there aren’t idiots,” Harry scoffed, batting Gilly’s hands away from where they were still trying to straighten his already straight tie. She must be nervous, he thought.

“Well, I wouldn’t count on that,” Sirius said, rubbing his forehead. He knew what all of magical Britain thought of Harry. And judging from how yesterday’s breakfast went, he doubt the adults would be any better. He was glad Harry decided to wear a hat and that his new hair style wasn’t in the papers yet. When it did get out, that hat wasn’t going to help.

“That is what I’m afraid of. Do we have to do this today?” Harry asked, turning his big green eyes to his aunt.

“Yes, and don’t you try those puppy eyes with me,” she told him as she resisted messing up his hair, though she did give the fedora a small flick. “We’ll get done as quickly as we can. Sirius said there’s an ice cream parlor there, if you’re a good boy we can get some chocolate ice cream when you’re done,” she added in a cute little voice, teasing her nephew.

The boys perked up and disregarded the teasing note. Sirius and Remus had both told them about Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour and the many different flavors of ice cream they had. “Speaking of chocolate have you gone to Honeydukes yet? The aunts wanted you to send them back some candy,” Neville asked as they made their way across the grounds.

“I was going to wait till this weekend, but then someone got detention. I’ll go tomorrow and have Kippy take some back,” Gilly said. She couldn’t wait to get her hand on some of that world famous chocolate. “Unless you want to come with me, Neville,” she stated, knowing Neville wasn’t the chocolate hog Harry was. He shook his head and gestured that she should go ahead without him.

“It wasn’t my fault. Well, it was, but not completely. Did you hear what they were saying? They all talked like I was the reincarnation of Merlin and that it was my job to save them all,” Harry defended himself. “My job. Like that was my whole reason for being.” He waved his hands in the air, showing his frustration. “I thought after all these years that would have died out, I mean really,” he pouted.

“Don’t start, you know better than to lose your temper like that. Your magic gets all wonky,” Gilly said, giving him a one armed hug as they left the gates of Hogwarts. “We’ll come and visit you whenever we can,” she tried to cheer him up. That did perk him up a bit.

“Come on, let’s get to Gringotts,” Sirius said, leading the way to The Three Broomsticks.

“I hate the Floo,” Harry grumbled. He could Jump and even Apparate, but Floos hated him. Portkeys weren’t much better.

“I keep telling you, all you have to do is pause before you step out of the Floo. Then you won’t wind up on your arse,” Sirius lectured —again. He never understood why someone so graceful in the air couldn’t use the Floo.

“And I keep telling you, I have no idea when I’ve come to my stop. I just shoot out of the fireplace,” Harry snapped back. Even Luis had tried to get him to be more graceful when it came to Flooing, but for some reason, no matter what he tried, he still landed on his butt.

“Stop it, both of you. This argument is getting old. Harry, you only have to use the Floo one time, then you can Jump,” Gilly said. She hated when people argued, especially with her boys.

“Sorry, Aunt Gilly,” Harry said, giving her a peck on the cheek.

“Sorry, sweetie,” Sirius said, kissing the other cheek and put his arm around her waist and gave a squeeze.

They continued down High Street and the Americans looked around. Hogsmeade was a quaint village, with wooden store fronts and slated roofs. The thatched cottages with the wooden awnings, the gas lamplights, and the cobblestone streets, made it look like something off a postcard. Harry couldn’t make up his mind whether to think it was cute or far behind the times. He decided that it was both.

The Three Broomsticks was warm, crowded, and a bit smoky, but clean and welcoming. A mirror behind the bar reflected the cozy atmosphere. The barkeep, Madam Rosmerta, was a lovely middle aged woman, who had a beautiful smile. She made you feel right at home in her bar, or Harry guessed he should call it a pub or inn, those stairs had to lead to somewhere, and he figured it was rooms to let.

“Sirius Black, as I live and breathe, are you stopping for tea today?” the blonde lady asked as she wiped some glasses. “Or perhaps something stronger?” she inquired, looking at the dressed up group.

“Ah, the lovely Rosmerta,” Sirius said with a smile as he made his way to the bar. “It is wonderful to see you again. We will not be stopping in today. Sorry, but we have business to attend to,” he said, taking her hand and giving it a kiss, which caused her to smack him on his chest. “I would like to introduce my wonderful lady friend, Gillian Owens, her nephews, Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter, and of course, our escort of the day, Agent Mumford.” He indicating each person with a sweep of his hand and they all nodded in turn.

To her credit, she didn’t do more that gasp at the name and flick her eyes to Harry’s forehead, which of course was covered by his hat. She then turned her attention to Gilly. “It is wonderful to meet the woman who could tame this scoundrel,” Madam Rosmerta laughed and held out her hand.

“It was a lot of work, I tell ya,” Gilly said, taking the hand and giving it a friendly shake.

“Madam Rosmerta, you have a lovely establishment. Were we not in a hurry, I would like nothing more than to feast on the delicious smelling food,” Harry said politely, taking the woman’s hand and kissing it.

Rosmerta nodded at the good manners of the young man. “Thank you for the compliment. I am sure you’ll find time in the future.” She gave the teens a saucy smile, then a wink. She then laughed at their blushes. It was one of the reasons she opened this pub, so that she could playfully tease the growing boys in hopes they overcome their shyness. “You two will be such lady killers when you are older,” she said with a big smile, making them blush more.

“Ah, come on Rosmerta, leave the boys alone,” Sirius whinged, he knew full well she was just joking around. His memories of her doing the same to him and his friends were some of the better memories he had of Hogwarts.

A blushing Neville and Agent Mumford gave their greetings and farewells, and the group set off to the Floo. Adding a couple of Sickles to the pot next to the powder, they each entered the fireplace called out “Diagon Alley” and went on their way.

Harry went last as Agent Mumford wanted to make sure it was safe before he got to the Leaky Cauldron. The streak-haired teen, as usual, shot out of the Floo and landed on his bum. He got up and waved his hand and straightened his suit. All the ash disappeared and the wrinkles flattened. He looked around and noted that they were inside another pub. There was a major difference between this one and The Three Broomsticks.

The Leaky Cauldron was dark and shabby, with a bar and a number of tables in the shadows of the corners. The tables and floor were crusty and the corners had cobwebs in them. There only were a few patrons at the moment, a couple of hags in the corner and a man reading a non-magical science book. This shocked the party, as they thought all British wizards thought non-magicals were just above apes.

Sirius waved to the barman, whose toothless head looked like a walnut. “Just passing through, Tom,” he called as he escorted his group to the back.

“Good to see ya, Sirius,” the bald man called back and continued wiping a dirty glass with a not so clean towel.

“Do people really eat there?” Harry asked quietly, the minute they were out of the bar, his nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Oi, I’ll have you know Tom makes some of the best food in Diagon Alley,” Sirius said defensively.

“That may be so, but that place would have been closed down by a Health Inspector in a minute back home. Good food is all well and good, but the rest of the joint was filthy,” Harry argued back as he looked around the little alley they were in. It was a small brick square that had a few garbage cans and some broken chairs, nothing like the store that fronted the entrance to SunSpot Alley.

“I’m with Harry on this one,” Gilly said, shuddering a little at the thought of eating in that place.

“Me too,” Neville added his two cents worth.

“What about you, Agent Mumford?” Sirius asked as he folded his arms over his chest. He was very put out that everyone was ganging up on him. He adored Tom’s cooking and was a bit upset that they were putting it down.

“I’m sorry, Sirius, but they’re right, if this place were inspected it would be shut down,” the Agent said, holding her hand up in a what-can-you-do motion.

Sirius deflated, after living in the States these past few years, he knew they were right. Still it was the principle of the matter. This is his home —he looked at Gilly and added to himself —was his home. “Fine,” he grumbled and then took out his wand and tapped the bricks to open the archway to Diagon Alley. “Welcome to Diagon Alley,” he said with a flourishing wave of his arm.

Inside the Alley is an assortment of restaurants, shops, and other sights; some even had tables out front with colored umbrellas. The shops include many school-supply stores; there are also many locations important to the wizarding world, such as Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Ollivander’s wand shop.

The group looked at Diagon Alley and couldn’t help comparing it to SunSpot Alley. The contrast was vast, where SunSpot was clean and organized; Diagon Alley was cluttered with many stalls and kiosk, and looked like magic was holding many of the stores together. The dimness of London’s winter sun paled to the light that was ever present in SunSpot. Diagon Alley was noisy, where the mall was calmer. Though they had to admit that this place had character, it was a plethora of color, where SunSpot was all muted browns and gold.

“Gringotts is that big white building towards the middle of the Alley,” Sirius said as he guided them through the street.

The boys looked around as they passed the shops. There were quite a few they wouldn’t mind looking at when they were done with Gringotts. The broom shop looked promising and Harry wouldn’t mind shopping in the pet store. He had left his snakes at home and was wondering if they had some here he wouldn’t be able to find in the States. If they did he could purchase some, and have Kippy take them home. In his opinion one can never have too many pets. That and he liked creeping Sirius out when he talked to his pets. That man still did a full body shiver every time, it was funny as hell.

The brothers shuddered as they passed the mouth of a dark street. You could just feel the wrongness of Knockturn Alley. They peeked down the dark cramped street and saw hags selling what looked to be human fingers. There were men and women, in hooded robes, scurrying among the shops. None of the storefronts had light in the windows and they looked to be in worse condition than those in Diagon Alley. The foreboding atmosphere was enough to keep the boys from wanting to explore.

As the party walked down the cobblestone street, they felt eyes gazing upon them. They were some of the few people that were dressed in non-magical clothes, not to mention Harry’s hair. They ignored the stares and stopped to look at the large white marble building that was Gringotts. Unlike the Gringotts in SunSpot Alley, this building was imposing.

“Now, Harry, remember we’re here about the Peverell and Gryffindor accounts. Do you think you can remember that?” Gilly said as she once more straightened his tie.

“I’ll try, but with the curse…” he trailed off with a frown. He hated the fact that there was a curse on his family. It reminded him too much of the trials that the Owens women faced for centuries.

“Do your best, sweetie,” she said as she ran a hand down his face and then adjusted his hat.

The group nodded to the guards and made their way inside. Goblins guarded the doors with wicked looking bladed weapons. Their faces were stoic, but Harry could see the small sneer every time they opened the door. Then there was the poem/hex on the second set of doors, which Harry found a bit over the top. This gave off the feeling they didn’t trust wizards. The group just shrugged it off as the way goblins treated everyone.

Inside there were about a hundred more goblins were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these.

They waited their turn in line and when they made it to the front, the goblin teller growled at them, “What do you want?”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said a little snidely, “are you having a bad day? Because, I’ve got to tell you, that is no way to greet important customers.” He folded his arms and looked down his nose at the grumpy clerk. Luis said to never let anyone treat you with bad manners, to make sure you let them know right away that it was unacceptable, though Harry probably shouldn’t be so sarcastic.

“Oh, important are you? Well, we will just see about that. Name?” the goblin sneered back, his beady black eyes narrowed. He was too used to wizards thinking they were above everyone else. This one didn’t even have the courtesy to take off his hat.

“Harry Potter,” the teen wizard sniffed, like he was some pure-blood. He could picture Luis in his head, shaking his own head like he was wondering where he went wrong, but Harry wasn’t going to put up with crap from anyone.

The goblin froze and his face paled a funny shade of grey. He looked around like he would be struck dead at any second. Every goblin knew the story of Harry Potter being protected by Death. He straightened up and with his politest voice said, “I apologize. What can Gringotts do for you today?”

“I would like to see Head Accountant Spearhead, he is expecting me,” Harry answered, not relaxing his stance. “I would also like it if Mr. Roberts could be called in.” He handed him the card that the lawyer had given to Death all those years ago.

“Of course, if you and your party will follow me,” the still unnamed goblin said as he jumped off his high stool. He led the way to a meeting room.

It was simple, the polished wooden floors and the white marble walls complemented each other. The large wooden table with ten comfortable chairs was the only furniture in the room. There were some weapons on the wall, which were probably meant to show that the goblins weren’t intimidated by wizards.

“Spearhead will be with you momentarily,” the teller said as he left the room, his eyes still shifting around like Death would strike him down for his rudeness.

“Man, I hate dealing with goblins,” Harry moaned as he sat at the far side of the table. Everyone sat with him, except Agent Mumford, who leaned against the wall. He didn’t have to go to Gringotts very often, so his dealings with the goblins were few and far between.

“They’re not so bad,” Neville said. He never had a problem with the grouchy beings. He just did his business and left. Harry on the other hand always had to do something with his account. Plus, the goblins had to keep reminding him of his heritage.

A goblin, they assumed was Spearhead, entered the room. “I am Head Accountant Spearhead. Mr. Roberts will be joining us shortly,” he said as he sat across from the group. “What can Gringotts do for you today?” he repeated the standard question, placing his briefcase on the floor next to his chair.

Harry introduced his party and then stated, “From what I understand, because I am in this tournament, then Britain has declared me an adult, but because of the curse we need to go over the Gryffindor and the Peverell accounts before I can claim emancipation. However, I’d like to see the Potter accounts first.” Harry waved his hands like it was a minor annoyance.

“We will have to wait for Mr. Roberts to arrive. He is the one with the paperwork,” the goblin practically growled, upset that this boy was disregarding such major accounts as if they were nothing. The goblins had been trying for decades to get the Potters to claim them.

Gilly was at Harry’s right and she put a hand on his arm to prevent him from snapping at the accountant. She looked at the goblin and said, “Look, I know you guys are frustrated, Goldsworthy is just as bad, but you can’t blame Harry for the curse.” She glared at the disrespectful way he spoke to Harry.

“I apologize, I was hoping it would be easier since he is still young,” Spearhead said as he nodded at her and folded his hands in front of him. “Mr. Potter, these are not trivial accounts. The gold in them will make you wealthy beyond your dreams. The books and artifacts are plentiful. The history alone makes them worthwhile.”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” the young man said, removing his hat and rubbing the back of his neck. “Every time I think about them, they just kinda slide through my mind and I disregard them as unimportant,” Harry explained with a shrug of his shoulder.

The goblin waved his apology away, pulled up his briefcase and removed some paperwork. “Here are the summaries of all three of your accounts. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of your aunts, your trust account has grown,” he said, putting the parchments in front of Harry.

“Wow, you guys still use parchment. Isn’t that expensive?” Neville asked, picking up one of the papers and looking at the sum. His eyes got wide and he stated, “Whoa, he wasn’t kidding. That’s some balance you’ve got there, Harry.”

“The account you are looking at is merely the Potter account. The main vault was frozen when his parents passed away,” Spearhead said, then pointed to another parchment. “That is the sum of all the accounts. As to your question, the British Wizard Ministry will not allow us to use paper for our clients. They feel it is beneath them.” His face took on a grimace. They had tried for years to get the British to use paper, but for some reason they only wanted to use parchment. It would save hundreds of Galleons a year if they could get them to change over and only use the thick paper for contracts.

“I thought goblins were a separate nation,” Neville stated with a tilt of his head.

“We are, but if we want to keep the peace, we… adapt,” the goblin grumbled. He hated dealing with the government.

“Another plus for the good ole US of A,” Harry added, still looking at the summaries. He knew he was rich, but not this rich. These accounts added up to the billions, he could do so much with them.

“What I don’t understand is why Harry can’t claim the other accounts after he claims his family accounts?” Gilly asked. That had always bothered her.

“It is not that they cannot, it is that they will not. Once the Potter accounts are claimed, they flat-out refuse to believe there are any others. It is part of the curse,” Spearhead explained.

“Oh, okay, well that is problematic,” she conceded.

A knock was heard on the door and an older man entered the room. He was a balding man, dressed in a grey business suit with an open black robe. He took a seat next to Spearhead and pulled out some paperwork. “Hello, everyone,” he greeted. “I am Mr. Roberts. I have been the Potter family solicitor for many years.”

Harry, remembering his manners, introduced the people on his side of the table.

The solicitor nodded his head to each individual and then looked at Harry. “Let’s see about breaking this curse.” There was a hopeful look in his eyes.

At the mention of the curse Harry got dismissive again. He waved his hand and said, “I’d like to claim the Potter accounts.”

“Harry, do you trust me?” Gilly asked as gained his attention by placing a hand on his arm.

“Of course I trust you, why would you even ask that?” Harry answered, bewildered. His aunt never lied to him, she had told him everything about his past the minute he was old enough.

“Then I need for you to do what Mr. Roberts tells you to do,” she said firmly, giving his arm a squeeze and looking deep into his eyes. Her voice echoed in his mind.

“Okay, Aunt Gilly,” he conceded, then turned his attention to the lawyer. “What do you need me to do?”

The solicitor took out a sheet of parchment and covered it up with a blank sheet. “I need you to sign on the line at the bottom. Don’t read it, just sign,” he said when Harry went to remove the blank parchment.

“But, Goldsworthy said never sign anything without reading it,” the teen said, still trying to read the paper.

“Yes, and normally that would be true, however, you are going to have to trust us that this is in your best interest,” Mr. Roberts said, keeping a firm hand sheet of paper.

“Hey, Harry, how about I read it and let you know if it is okay to sign?” Neville asked, putting his hands on the paperwork. Gilly and Sirius smiled and nodded their agreement.

“Okay,” Harry said in complete confidence of his brother. He quit trying to read the contract and sat back in his chair.

Neville snatched up the papers and went to the other side of the table so Harry couldn’t read over his shoulder. He quickly read the contract and noted it was for the Gryffindor account. By signing this paperwork, Harry would be agreeing that he was an adult and that he would be taking full control over the accounts. Had it not been for the tournament, Harry would have had to wait until he was seventeen. When he was done reading, he covered it back up and slid it to his cousin. “There’s nothing in this that will hurt you or your accounts. Just sign on the line and you will be able to get to the Potter account,” he said slyly, keeping his hand on the blank paper.

Harry raised his eyebrows and nodded. He signed on the line at the bottom of the page. The parchment glowed red for a moment and then flashed white. Everyone sighed in relief. Spearhead took the papers and made copies for Harry, Gringotts, Mr. Roberts and the Ministry.

Harry shook his head as the family curse was broken. There was no big lightshow, or a huge snap in his magic, it was just gone. He gave a huge smile at those on in the room, and he was glad he had his other family to help him. Had they been Potters this would have never worked. Not that he wouldn’t trust his birth family, it was only they would have not budged on claiming the Potter account first. Well his mom might have, but he would never know.

“Thanks, everyone, it is good to know that the Owens family can break any curse,” he said, radiating his joy. “Do you even know who cursed the Potters?” the teen, now adult, asked Spearhead.

“No, we only know it happened around the same time the Statute of Secrecy went into effect.” The goblin shook his head. “The Potters were well known for chasing down Dark Wizards, so it could have been a number of families. Now that that is over, let’s claim your other accounts,” Spearhead said as he and Mr. Roberts pulled out a lot more parchment.

Everyone groaned and got to work on what looked to be a lot of signing. Harry folded his arms and his face morphed into a righteous pout.

They were correct it took an hour to get every i dotted and every t crossed. Then they took the carts to the oldest vault. Harry and his family were shocked about how they had to go into the bowels of the bank. The Gringotts in America was above ground and the vaults in magically expanded parts of the building, so this cart ride was new to them. That and they didn’t have to visit the vaults often, since they had direct deposit.

Harry, Neville and Sirius whooped and cheered as they went down the tunnels. Gilly smiled and joined them, making the cart goblin jeer at their childishness. They finally stopped at close to the bottom of the tracks. They all got out and heard a loud roar. They looked to the tiny being accompanying them and Harry lifted an eyebrow. “What was that?” he asked, trying to see down the dark tunnel.

“This vault is guarded by a dragon,” the cart goblin explained as he went to a box off to the side. Inside the wooden box was what appeared to be clappers. “The dragon is trained to fear this noise, so each of you grab one and start twisting it.”

Harry wrinkled his nose in disgust, to make a dragon fear a noise took a lot of pain and he and his family were against causing animals to suffer. Well, they were now, before the Owens witches used animal sacrifice, they didn’t like it, but they didn’t know there were other ways. Now, they were all against animal abuse, of any kind. They had even updated the Book with footnotes on better ways to do the spells within, so that future generations of the Owens family, for they were sure there would be males now, would know that times had changed. To prove the point that there would now be Owens males, Sally was pregnant with a boy.

The streaked-haired boy also thought that it was also stupid to keep the devices right where anyone could grab them. What if they were robbed, the tools needed were right in sight.

The young teen heard a hissing noise as the dragon backing away in fear. She was hissing for them not to hurt her, while roaring her defiance. Harry stopped in shock, he had never been around a dragon before and had no idea they could speak. His Aunt Gilly looked all over America, but keeping dragons was considered unlawful and cruel. They had tried to get to the dragon reserves in Romania, but were denied permits.

“Please, stop,” the dragon begged. It was a pitiful looking dragon. Its skin was flabby from lack of food and its color was off from the absence of sun. It looked a pale green instead of the emerald green it should have been. Its eyes had a foggy look about them, and Harry didn’t know if it was blind or just losing its sight. It was a young dragon, judging by its size.

The teen was so angry at the sight that he snarled at the goblin, who backed away from the enraged wizard and stopped twirling the clapper.

Harry calmly hissed to the poor dragon, “Peace, young dragon. We will not hurt you. I am so sorry that you are being treated so poorly. If I could I would set you free. Alas, it is not in my power to do so. I won’t hurt you, please, let me show you.” He shocked their guide by going up to the beast and rubbing the nearest leg in sympathy. He ignored his family’s calls to come back, he sent them a reassuring grin and continued to pet the shocked dragon. He knew the only reason he could approach was because it was in a dazed state.

“You speak,” the dragon said with a great deal of surprise, relishing the touch. “I accept your apology, for you are not of the cruel people that cause my plight.” She glared and roared at the goblin, who almost dropped his clapper in fear. He was about to start using it when Gilly grabbed in hand and shook her head.

“I will do all I can to see that every dragon in Gringotts is freed,” Harry promised furiously, spearing a look at the cart goblin, who name he didn’t even bother to ask. “I don’t know when or even if it would be in your lifetime, but I promise to do all I can.” He petted her leg once more and made his way back to his aunt.

“For that I will let your party pass unmolested.” The dragon bowed and scooted back as far from the group as she could in the small cavern she was trapped in.

“You’re just full of surprises, kiddo,” Gilly said as she grabbed his hand. She had been worried when he went to the dragon and was majorly relieved when her nephew didn’t die. Going up to a scared animal was dangerous; she was very surprised that the dragon didn’t bite his head off.

“She said she’s not going to hurt us,” Harry said, his glare not lessening one bit. He squeezed his aunt’s hand and then let it drop. He turned and stalked to the massive doors and slammed his hand on the right side where an indent was seen. There was a small prick on his palm and then one half of the double doors opened. A gust of brown dust billowed out of the vault. “You will stay here,” he spat at the goblin, not caring if he was rude or not.

The goblin looked affronted and was about to protest when a chill ran up his spine. The temperature in the cave dropped and the terrified goblin looked around to see what was causing it. Harry’s hair was billowing around his hat, in a non-existent wind. Gilly quickly took her nephew in a hug to calm him down. She cut a glare to the goblin and restated Harry’s order.

As the wind died, the goblin clung to his clapper like it was a weapon and nodded his head. He scurried to a place out of reach of the dragon and slouched down the wall to wait. Agent Mumford took up guard outside the doors and let the family examine the vault. It was a private thing.

The inside of the vault was old smelling and dust covered everything in inches. Everyone waved their hands around to wandlessly clean the area around them. It took several minutes to get the place clean enough to walk without kicking up clouds of grime. After much coughing and sneezing the group looked around. There were books aplenty and mountains of gold, silver and copper coins. There were a vast amount of trunks filled with jewels. There was some armor and weapons off to the side and a pedestal in the middle. On the pedestal was a very old looking book.

Harry went to it and read the title; Godric Gryffindor was written in pealing gold leaf. “Looks like ole Godric kept a journal. Do you think I should take it?” he asked, leafing through the first few pages.

“Yeah, I think you should, no, wait, copy it. You don’t know if the preservation spell will last outside the vault. It’s an old trick,” Sirius suggested in wonder. The great Godric Gryffindor’s word would be a gold mine.

“Okay,” the teen said and waved his hand and copied the diary and then shrank the copy and put it in his pocket.

“As great as the history is for this vault, I’m not seeing anything that will help you right now. Well, maybe that book, but little else,” Gilly said from her place at the rusting armor, the weapons weren’t in much better condition. She turned away from the displays and went to the boy’s side. Neville, who had been looking around in wonder, joined them.

“Yeah, you’re right, I guess we should see if the Peverell vault has anything,” Harry shrugged and looked around once more and then led his group out the door. He placed his hand on the open door and it swung shut to his touch.

Claire and the goblin quickly returned to their side and once again the tiny being started to twist his clapper.

“Stop that, you fool, she’s not going to hurt us,” Harry snapped and grabbed the clapper from the goblins startled hands.

The goblin cowered as the temperature dropped again and started hesitantly towards the cart. The rest followed with sad looks at the dragon. This time there was no cheering for the ride as Harry went over in his mind about what he would do for the dragons. Many, many plans were circling there.

Once again Harry had to reassure the dragon guarding the next vault. This one took longer to calm down, but Harry persevered and soon enough they made their way to the vault.

The Peverell vault opened the same way as the Gryffindor vault did; there was another cloud of dust, but not quite as bad. There were less books in this vault, the coins weren’t piled quite a high, though they were still plentiful. Another pedestal was in the middle and Harry went to check out the book on it. This time it was a kid’s book, the title read; The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

“Huh, that’s a weird book to be placed on a pedestal,” Harry mused. He’d heard about the book and vaguely recalled it being read to him when he was a kid, but for the life of him he had no idea why it would be mounted in reverence.

Sirius joined him and shrugged. “Maybe there’s a secret in the stories,” he suggested, trying to think about a forgotten memory. The Peverell’s were somehow connected to one of the stories, but it had been so long since he read the book that he couldn’t remember which one. “We can get the book at Flourish and Blott’s, so don’t worry about copying it,” he offered, now anxious to read it again and figure out the clue this was.

“Yeah, but stories change over time, there might be more in this one than a new addition, so I think I’ll make a copy and get the new one and compare the two,” Harry said as he did just that.

“You’re right, that would be a good idea,” Sirius stated with a proud smile.

Harry nodded his head and looked around for anything that would help him in the tournament. There were weapons and some wands along the backside of the vault. They looked to be in better condition than the ones in the older vault. He took up a few of the wands to test them and found two that worked for him. Not that he needed a wand for most things, but wizard curses worked better with a focus. So he put the two that worked in his robes and indicated for everyone, except Gilly to do the same. Gilly and the aunts never used a wand, so she just wandered around the vault looking at the titles to the books.

“I think we’re done here, Aunt Gilly, let’s go to the Potter vault and get out of this place,” Harry said as he came to her side. London Gringotts had not impressed him at all. These vaults were in horrible condition. He had to wonder what all the fuss was about, not that he minded having all the riches, but the commotion the goblins kicked up, well he expected more.

“You might like some of the things in there,” Sirius said as they exited. “I know your dad put some really neat stuff in there before he went into hiding.” An excited look came across his face as he remembered coming here with his best friend.

“Yeah, having stuff from my dad will be cool,” Harry said, getting just as excited. He all but ran to the cart and waited impatiently for everyone else to hurry along.

They arrived at the vault; this one only had a single door that was made to be opened with a key as well as a magical signature. When the goblin tried to take Harry’s key, the young man growled at him until he asked politely. After the goblin opened the door and stepped aside, the family entered the newer vault.

This vault was much cleaner than the others, the books were newer and the gold was just as high as the Peverell vault, though less than the Gryffindor one. In here there was no pedestal. There were far more trunks in here than there had been in the others, most looked to be filled with furniture and clothes.

Harry went to the least battered trunk and looked inside. There was an assortment of clothes and books, like a school trunk. On the top was a letter addressed to him. He picked it up and motioned for everyone to join him in reading it.

Harry

If you are reading this then the Longbottoms or Sirius has brought you here to get ready for Hogwarts. Inside this trunk are all my books and supplies, as well as a few hidden surprises. It also means that your mum and I didn’t make it. I won’t go into how sorry we are that we didn't raise you. I will just express that I hope we died well and that you had a good childhood with the Longbottoms, or Merlin forbid, Sirius. The only reason I say that is, because if Sirius is raising you then the Longbottoms didn’t make it.

I want you to show this letter to whoever is raising you, so that they know there is a curse on the family. I can only write about it because our Account Manager is dictating this paragraph to me as I write. According to him I will forget it as soon as what the curse pertains is mentioned. So I can’t tell you what to look out for. Get your guardian to speak to the current goblin in charge of the account, and hopefully you can break the curse.

Inside the trunk are diaries me and you mum kept when we were in school, so you know how to navigate Hogwarts. They will also tell you how we met and who our friends were. These are not the hidden surprises I mentioned earlier.

Remember, we will always be watching and that we will be proud of you no matter what House you are sorted in. Lily says to tell you that she was almost sorted into Ravenclaw and that she hopes you gain her smarts and not my sense of humour. I hope you get both. Give the Longbottoms, or your Uncle Sirius and Remus our goodbyes and be glad they are in your life.

Goodbye for now, son.

Do us proud,

Love Mum and Dad

Sirius sniffled a bit after reading the letter. “I think he was hoping to write a longer one, this was written just after they went in to hiding.”

“Well, now you will know more about their school life,” Neville suggested, putting a comforting hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” Harry said, and then cleared his throat. He waved his hand, shrunk the trunk and placed it in his pocket. “Let’s get out of here,” he said, making his way to the entrance, after grabbing up some coins for a bit of shopping. They couldn’t do much since he had to get back to the boat for his detention, but he wanted to see if the brooms were any better than the ones in the US.

The rest followed a little concerned that he was taking it so well. Little did they know, he wasn’t, no, his mind was in turmoil. Harry was thinking about how his life would have turned out had he not had the Owens women in it. While he was sad that his parents had died, he couldn’t help but think his aunts had raised him well. These contradictory emotions kept him preoccupied until they reached the lobby of the bank.

“I think, I want that ice cream now,” Harry said his conflicted eyes now focusing on what he was doing. So, they went down Diagon Alley to the ice cream parlor. He had a triple chocolate sundae, with whipped cream and sprinkles. Neville decided to be daring and got a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans’ cup. Sirius and Gilly played it safe and had vanilla cones with chocolate sauce. Agent Mumford declined any treats and stationed herself by the door. The quartet took a table near the doors, so they could escape if Harry was discovered.

“Sweetie, are you okay?” Gilly asked concerned, she saw her nephew was deep in thought and his mind was troubled.

“Yeah, it was kinda intense. I mean, I love you guys, but I can’t help thinking what my life would have been like if I was raised by my parents,” Harry confessed shyly. He took off his hat and rubbed his hand through his streaked hair.

“Oh, sweetie,” Gilly said as she scooted her chair closer to the distraught boy and gave him a huge hug. “That is completely understandable; I know sometimes I wondered the same thing. You have to remember we lost our parents when I was young, and, like you, Sally and I were raised by the Aunts. When I got older,” she ran a comforting hand through his hair, “I decided I wouldn’t change it for the world. Some things are just meant to be.”

Harry heaved a great sigh, tilted his head and smiled at his loving aunt. “I feel the same way, I just feel guilty about it at the same time,” he said softly. He hugged the woman who raised him to be the best he could be.

Neville, who was sitting on Harry’s right, patted his brother on the back and confessed, “I remember thinking the same after I read my mom’s diary.”

“Well, I for one, hated my parents and I’m proud of the Potters for taking me in,” Sirius said with a grin, trying to break the melancholy that was filtering around the group.

Everyone gave him a wan smile for his efforts. Harry shook his head to get out of the morose thoughts and nudged everyone off of him and turned back to his wonderful sundae. “Too bad Jordan had to finish his homework. I have to admit, this is the best ice cream I’ve ever had,” he said, taking a large bite of the delicious chocolate.

“I’m not so sure,” said Neville after he bit into one of the beans in his cup. “I think I just swallowed dirt.” He made a gagging face and then smiled to show he was kidding.

Sirius barked with laughter and stole a spoonful of Neville’s treat. “Hmmm, I think that was broccoli,” he said, wrinkling his nose.

They sat and enjoyed the rest of their confections and soon left the parlor. Harry made sure to don his hat as they stepped out of the building. They were still garnering looks for their Muggle clothes, but they didn’t care what these people thought of them.

“Well, we only have about an hour, so you have to decide which stores you’re going to visit. I would say you can pick two,” Gilly said, after glancing at her watch.

“Why don’t we split up? Me, Sirius and Agent Mumford can go to the book store and get that fairytale book. Neville can see if there are any brooms here that are better than the ones back home,” Harry suggested, looking around the cluttered Alley. “I know we don’t have time today, but I want to come back one day and look at the pets.”

“We’ll do that one of these weekends,” Gilly offered.

“Good idea, splitting up, we don’t want you late for detention,” Sirius said as he gave Harry a pat on the top of his hat. He gave Gilly a kiss on the cheek and they went their separate ways.

Flourish and Blott’s was a large books store, it had two stories of bookshelves that lined the walls and were in rows in the middle. It was dark and crowded, there seemed to be little organization. There were no markers indicating what books were in what rows. Harry glared at the shelf that was covered in the fictional stories about his life; they were label as non-fiction and included with the history books.

“I thought these were supposed to be in the fiction section,” Harry said, as he started disdainfully at the offending books. “Look they’re right next to ‘The Rise and Fall of Dark Lords: A History’.”

“Well, we’ll just have to get Finley and the goblins on that, but don’t get your hopes up,” Sirius said, also looking at the books in contempt.

“Whatever, I hate this country,” Harry said, adjusting his hat to make sure he wasn’t recognized. He put the book back and went to look for The Tales of Beedle the Bard. He wanted to figure out why the book was so important to the Peverells and if there were any differences. They found a copy and gathered a few more books on British Magical Law and took them to the front to pay. Just as they were leaving they were accosted by a man with long white hair, dressed in expensive wizarding robes and carrying a cane, with a serpent’s head.

“Sirius Black,” the man sneered, wrinkling his nose like he smelled something foul, “Pity I ran into you today, I was having such a wonderful time in the Alley, now here you are.”

“Lucius, old boy,” Sirius flashed a beaming smile as if he was greeting an old family member. “How are you, dear cousin? Missing all the gold from the Black accounts, are you?” he inquired politely.

“Like your pitiful accounts could compare to my fortune,” the now named Lucius sniffed, turning up his nose.

“Come now, Lucy, don’t be modest. You know as well as I that my accounts are larger than yours. I would think after all the… donations you’ve been handing out, that they are much more prevalent now,” Sirius laughed at the uppity man, knowing well and good that the Blacks far outweighed the Malfoys in wealth. He also knew the jaded history of the Malfoy family and knew they weren’t as pure as they claimed.

“I will have you know, my wife and I donate to good causes,” Lucius snarled back. He then turned his gaze to Harry and the female beside him, and his face grimaced. “I always knew you were pitiful, Black, but now you have taken to hanging out with… Muggles.” His lip curled and he all but snarled at the two.

This time Sirius’ laughter filled the store, causing people to turn and see what was going on. A crowd started gathering around the four facing off. Harry tugged his hat down more to make sure his scar was covered and then hit his godfather upside the head, nodding to the people around them. Agent Mumford scooted closer and put her hand in her jacket to grip her gun.

“You just keep on thinking that, dear cousin. We’ll just be going now, more important things to be doing, you know,” Sirius said, the smile never leaving his face.

“Come now, Black, introduce me to your… friends,” the white-haired man said as he placed himself in front of the three trying to leave.

“His… friend doesn’t want to lower himself to be introduced to one such as you,” the streak-haired teen said with a bright smile. He knew he was being rude, but this man rubbed him the wrong way.

“Watch yourself, boy. You would do well to know who your betters are,” Lucius snarled. The crowd gathered closer now that it looked like there might be a fight. Their female escort stayed close to Harry’s side.

“My betters?” Harry asked incredulously, gawking at the man. “You don’t even know who I am, yet you claim to be my superior. Well, that’s quite an opinion you have of yourself. Do you feel you are better than everyone you meet? Or are we just an exception?” he inquired with an innocent tilt of his head, hoping the man answered in the positive. Agent Mumford didn’t once let go of her gun, still hidden in the folds of her jacket.

“I can tell by your accent that you are an American, therefore beneath me. Besides, the Malfoy family is above everyone in Britain and parts of France,” Lucius sniffed importantly as he adjusted his cuffs.

The crowd seemed to take exception to this and started to yell at the pure-blood, jostling and pushing the man outside the store. Harry and his companions escaped in the commotion, laughing the entire time. They met up with Gilly and Neville and made their way to the Leaky Cauldron. As they walked they told the two what happened and they all shared a good laugh.

“So, that’s a pure-blood? Now I know what to expect,” Harry said with a shake of his head.

“Well, to tell the truth, Lucius is a little full of himself, so he’s not really a good comparison. However, that’s what you can expect from Death Eaters, more or less,” Sirius said in all seriousness. He chuckled a little about the whole situation. He always loved putting Lucius in his place.

“Okay,” Harry said with a shrug. He wasn’t impressed.

“Don’t underestimate them, kiddo,” Gilly said, not wanting him to be caught off guard.

“I’ll try not to, but it’s kinda hard. I mean, they really are arrogant,” the green-eyed boy said as they walked into the Cauldron.

“Yeah, but they also have a large kill count. Remember that,” Agent Mumford warned. She wasn’t fooled into thinking they were not a threat. She had read the reports on all the Death Eaters and was on guard around them. The only comfort she had was they didn’t know what a gun was, so they had no shield against one.

“Alright,” Harry conceded. It was rare that Claire gave out advice, so he would heed it.

“Come on, let’s go to the boat,” Gilly said as they left the Alley.

Chapter 17: Different Encounters

Chapter Text

November 3, 1994

Harry and his family headed towards London to get back to the houseboat. Now that they knew where they were they could Jump back to Hogwarts, much to Harry’s relief. They ducked in a nearby alley and disappeared, reappearing on the shores of Black Lake. They then took another Jump to the boat. The only reason they didn’t Jump straight to the boat is that it could have drifted from where they last saw it.

The group then went to Mr. Scott’s office and gave a report on their day. Neville said there weren’t any brooms that were better than the ones they brought. Agent Mumford excused herself to call her department. Sirius and Gilly sat down to discuss the streak-haired teen’s punishment. And the brothers went to their dorm.

Harry sat on his bed and removed the shrunken trunk and his books, which he laid to the side for later. He looked at his dad’s trunk fondly, here was something from his parents’ school days and he wanted to treasure the moment. Now he would know more of what they were like as teens. Oh he had stories from Padfoot, but to hear, or in this case read, it in their own words, well that was just a whole lot better.

After a few minutes, the green-eyed teen then placed the trunk on the floor, waved his hand and resized it. He opened the top and gazed at the clutter within, it seemed his father wasn’t one to organize. He waved his hand and the content of the trunk was all on the bed. With another wave of his hand, he put the books in a pile with the diaries went on top. He would read his mom’s tonight. The teen looked at the robes and scrunched up his nose at them. He really hated robes, they were so cumbersome. However, he didn’t feel the need to rid himself of them, so he snapped his fingers and they flew into the air. They then folded and relocated back into the trunk.

After that was done, the youngest champion looked through the trinkets that were left. Some things were joke items that Sirius had told them about. He chuckled as he remembered some of those tales, and reverently put those back in the chest as well. Now all that was left was a package that was wrapped in plain brown paper that had a note on the top. He picked up the piece of parchment and read:

Harry,

Glad you found this, keep it hidden from the Professors. One of the items in this package is a family heirloom. The other item is from the Marauders’ time in Hogwarts. I had to recreate it, because my friend, Peter, lost the original. Treat it well. Had it not been for these two things, we would never have been as successful as we were in our pranks.

I was going to lend them to Professor Dumbledore, but your mum talked me out of it. She said you might need them in the future.

Use them well.

Your dad

James Potter

“Hey, Neville, come here and check this out,” Harry called to his brother as he picked up the bundle.

Neville put the book that he had been reading down, got up from his bed and joined Harry. “What is it?” he asked, looking at the plain package.

“I don’t know for sure, but Dad says it’s a family heirloom, so I have a feeling as to what it might be,” Harry confessed with a glint in his eyes, praying to every God that it was true. “Let’s open it and find out.”

Slowly they opened the wrapping and a silvery piece of cloth fell over Harry’s arm, making that arm disappear.

“I was right, it’s Dad’s Invisibility Cloak!" the only Potter exclaimed excitedly. While he had many things from his parents, this was a family heirloom. He had wondered where it went; Sirius and Remus said they didn’t know. He was worried that it might have been lost in the attack, so he was very glad it was in his hands now.

“Wow, that’s so neat,” Neville said with awe as he touched the smooth cloak. “Try it on,” he urged, wanting to see if it still worked, since these cloaks had a shelf life of about fifty years.

The streak-haired boy got up and donned the cloak, making his body vanish with only his head showing. “Do you know what we can do with this?” Harry all but shouted, ideas forming in his head. “This will make a lot of the tasks easier, well the last one anyway. I’ll have to change some plans, but this will be so much better. Now that I know I can talk to dragons, the first task will be a breeze.”

Neville just nodded his head and then looked down and saw a folded piece of parchment. “Hey, Harry, there’s something else,” he said picking it up. He unfolded it and saw that it was blank. “That’s weird, I wonder what this is. I can feel magic coming off it.”

“I think that’s the map Sirius told us about. Dad did say that he recreated something lost. So this must be it. Good thing that old dog told me the passcode,” Harry said as he removed the cloak and took the parchment. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” he intoned, pointing his finger at the parchment.

Lines started to form and little footprints were moving about, with names above them. The whole map filled out and Harry could see where everyone on Hogwarts’ grounds was. He saw the Headmaster and that greasy-haired man, Snape, in the Headmaster’s office. He noted where Beauxbatons and Durmstrang were and their names also appeared. The SMI boat wasn’t on the map, but he could see the students in the Quidditch pitch, probably playing football or something. There was a crowd of Hogwarts students in the stands.

“This might also be useful in the third task, if the maze shows up on it. You can use it to guide you to the middle,” Neville suggested, pointing out where the maze was most likely to be, since it was the biggest clear area within the wards.

“That is a great idea, bro,” Harry said, beaming to his longtime companion. He was thankful to have his brother in his life, though not the reason for it. He had to wonder what they would have been like if their parents had survived. He had a feeling that had Death not interfered, they would not be as close as they were now. That thought made him a bit sad, then he looked at his brother in all but blood and knew that what Jim did made his life a whole lot better.

Neville just nodded his head as he studied the map. The two talked about these great tools and made plans. Jordan came in a few minutes later and the boys talked for hours about what Harry was going to do.

That night Harry relaxed on his bed with a small ball of light that shone over his head as he read his mom’s diary. It was about her school years and a few years before. She wrote about how she was best friends with Snape, even before she knew she was a witch. She had stood by his side and defended him, right up until their fifth year, when the boy called her a foul name. She felt bad for not forgiving him, but he had started hanging around a group of people she didn’t trust. With the talks of war, well, she had to choose and she chose life over her friend.

It went on to how James Potter was a bully and constantly picked on the Slytherin House. There was a lot of girl talk about who was cute, and who was dating who. The teen learned who her friends were and how she and his dad finally hooked up. It was in her final year— when she was made Head Girl— that she and James— who was Head Boy— got together, even then it took months for her to like him. It seemed he grew up a little bit and wasn’t as hard on the other Houses, nor did he throw pranks around like they were candy.

The rest of the diary went on about their romance until the last entries, which was when she graduated and married James. He learned a lot about his mom and according to this diary, she was not perfect and neither was his dad. They were just normal teens that studied, fought, had fun and fell in love.

It took the whole night to read, but Harry was thankful he took the time. He wasn’t as thankful for the tears that fell, but it couldn’t be helped. It was with a heavy heart that he got up the next morning to start his day.

Neville and his fellow students gave him space. He had told them what he would be doing and they only offered their support, but otherwise let him be. His brother understood what the tri-color haired boy was going through, since his parents’ school journals were just as emotional.

Harry went to the Infirmary and asked the nurse for a pepper-up potion so he could make it through the lessons. He still had detention and he spent most of his free time either in the living area or his dorm. The lessons that Mr. Scott and Luis were making him go through were taxing. He had to do a lot of meditation, and it was one thing that he had never been good at. At the end of the long day he went to his bed and got out his father’s diary and started reading.

In great contrast to his mother’s hormonal writing, his dad expounded on the pranks he and his friends pulled. Although there was a little bit of angst as the writer went on and on about how his mom kept turning him down when he would ask her out. Harry had to chuckle when he read that. Sirius had told him some of the wild things his dad did to get Lily’s attention. Now, reading about them… well, it was funny, the lengths someone would go through just to get the girl. He was glad that Jessie was not that time consuming.

Upon reading the torment James and his friend put Snape through; Harry didn’t know what to feel. On one hand, the man was a Dark Wizard, but he knew from his classes that didn’t mean evil, though his dad seemed to think so. On the other hand, from what he read in his mother’s diary, Snape had a hard life at home; his dad was abusive and his mother was useless against it. Finally the teen just shrugged it off and decided he would just judge the Potions Master by his behavior now, which so far was unimpressive.

The rest of the week was uneventful; they went to classes and did their homework. The students spent time having movie nights so that Harry wasn’t left alone on the boat. Gilly and Sirius came over every other day and told them about the gossip from Hogsmeade. The youngest aunt’s little table was in constant use, as everyone wanted to meet the American that raised Harry Potter. She played his life down to them and hoped to give the impression that he was just an ordinary teenage boy. So far it was working.

Sirius reformed his connections to the people he had known before leaving Britain. The boys would need those in the times to come when they took their seats on the Wizengamot, if they took them. It all depended on how they were treated here. If they were treated poorly, they would have proxies appointed and England could do without them. Oh, they knew they had to stay and take care of the Dark Lord problem, but that didn’t mean they had to put up with what Harry called ‘bullsh*t’.

Harry knew that if he didn’t stay and take his seat here, there was a good chance that he would go into politics in the US. There were loads of problems that he could always help solve. So whether he stayed here or not, his lessons would not go unused.

The SMI contingent kept the two Owens boys up to date on what was happening in Hogwarts, since Neville and Jordan stayed on the boat with Harry. While they still weren’t eating breakfast there, the older students still made sure to talk to the other schools, to get a general idea on who thought what. The Hogwarts students were still divided on how to treat the Boy Who Lived, whereas the foreigners were mostly of the opinion that he was a victim who should be pitied. Harry hated that almost as much as the hero worship. He was going to have to talk to them and see if he couldn’t change their minds.

It seemed that after the fiasco on the first day Headmaster Dumbledore chastised the students and talked Mr. Scott into giving breakfast in the Great Hall another try. The Vice Principal agreed and he made sure to lecture Harry on keeping his temper. Luis put his two cent worth in and drilled into his head the proper way to handle such things.

So the next day, the SMI group dressed in the casual uniform of their school logo t-shirts and blue jeans. And they all Jumped to the shore. They excitedly chatted as they made their way up the stairs to the doors. Taking a deep breath Harry opened the doors and led the way to the Great Hall. Once again when they stepped through, the Hall went silent. Harry just shook his head and started towards the Hufflepuff table to where the Hogwarts champion sat.

“Ah, I see our Salem visitors have decided to join us,” Dumbledore said as he stood from his throne like chair. “I will once again impress upon you to treat them as you would any of our other guests,” he said firmly, looking over his spectacles to the students. Some of them bowed their heads at the disapproval; others firmed their faces in protest.

Harry just shrugged and continued his way. “Mind if we join you guys?” he asked Cedric.

“Go ahead,” the seventh year replied, waving his hand to the emptying bench as the other students scooted to make room.

“Thanks,” Neville said as he, Harry and Jordan sat. They gathered some of the less fatty foods onto their plates and were thankful that these students didn’t start bombarding them with questions. As they ate, they talked about the different sports the two countries had. Cedric was upset that Quidditch was cancelled this year, but was ecstatic that he was chosen for the Tournament.

They were talking to some of the non-magically raised about the difference between the two countries football, only this time Harry and Neville were the minority. Jordan just got a smug look on his face, since it was usually him that was the only one on the side of European football. Now they would know how he felt when this topic came up in the States.

The meal went smoothly, no one bothered them with personal inquiries and they compared lessons between the schools. The Hogwarts students were very impressed with SMI curriculum. Those not raised in the Wizarding World were especially enthralled that they continued non-magical studies. Some of them got wistful looks, thinking it might be a good idea to do self-study on those subjects.

The SMI trio didn’t let them know about the new way of doing magic, since they wanted the first task to be spectacular. Harry did glance at Cedric and came to a decision. “Hey, Cedric, can we talk after breakfast? I promise it won’t take but a minute,” the boy with the tri-colored hair asked, his face a mask on innocence.

The confused teen just nodded, and they finished off breakfast. When they were done the two left the Hall and ducked into an alcove off the Entrance Hall. Cedric looked at the younger champion warily, he had no idea what the boy wanted.

“I wanted to let you know what the first task is. It’s not fair to you, or the others, that I know and you don’t. So if I tell you, you have to promise to let the other guys know as well,” Harry whispered frantically, upset with himself that he didn’t do this sooner, or have someone else do it, since he had been on the boat all week.

“How did you find out?” Cedric glared, thinking Mr. Scott told him.

“Oh, I can’t tell you that. Let’s just say it wasn’t an official. It was an old family friend who happens to have inside sources,” Harry answered vaguely, waving it off as unimportant. “So do you promise?” he asked eagerly, hoping this… Hufflepuff lived up to that House’s reputation.

The tall blonde thought about it for a few minutes. It would be helpful to know and since it wasn’t a professor or other official telling him it wasn’t cheating. Plus, he would be letting the other two in on the information, so they would all be on an even footing. He finally nodded and swore to let the foreigners know as soon as he could.

“Okay… well… it’s dragons. We have to get something from nesting mothers,” Harry told him in hushed tones. He already had a plan to make sure no one was hurt in the task. All he had to do was find out where the creatures were going to be hidden.

Cedric’s jaw fell and his face paled with shock. He knew the tasks would be dangerous, but this was outrageous. After three or so minutes, he finally pulled himself together nodded his thanks and left the alcove.

Harry, figuring the poor boy was in shock, just shrugged off the rudeness and went on his way. Hufflepuffs were known to be loyal, so he trusted the guy to keep his word. He made his way back to the boat, humming a tune as he went. He ignored all the stares and just bounced along to the music in his head.

All in all, it was a good morning.

November 14, 1994

It was Monday and Harry, Neville and Jordan were with their mind magic tutor, Matthew Sarris, brushing up on their Occlumency, when Mr. Scott came in to the room. “Harry,” he called, “we have to go to the Wand Weighing ceremony.”

“How does one weigh a wand?” Jordan asked as his face wrinkled with a frown. “I mean, aren’t they all about the same weight? Besides, does it make a difference how much your wand weighs?” he mused as he rubbed his forehead in a confused manner.

“Well, from what I understand, they do not weigh the wand. It is more like they just make sure it is in good working condition,” Mr. Scott explained patiently, though he really didn’t understand what the ceremony was all about. Couldn’t they just get a sworn statement from the wand maker to show that the wand worked? Why all the pomp and circ*mstance? Then he sighed and made a come-on motion for Harry to hurry up.

“I have to go to the dorm to get my wand. Do you think I should bring all three?” Harry asked as he put his book in his bag. Getting up he made towards the door.

“No, just bring your primary wand. It is against the law to own more than one here in Britain,” the Vice Principal said as they walked down the hall.

Harry just shrugged his shoulder nonchalantly, and went to his bed and gathered his wand. They then went to the deck and Jumped to the front door of the castle, making the Hogwarts’ students jerk in surprise.

It was a good thing that Evie pounded into their heads that it was bad manners to Jump into a building, or they would be popping up all over the place, which according the Luis was not a good idea. Here there were actual laws about going into any building magically. There were places set aside for Apparation and portkeys, which made sense, since it could be considered breaking and entering, or even just a simple invasion of privacy. Jumping however was not regulated, but the SMI group decided to stay within the law and not Jump inside Hogwarts.

When Headmaster Dumbledore found out that they could move about the grounds in such a manner, he was not pleased. He asked that they teach him and his staff to do the same. Mr. Scott tried, but only the Heads of Houses and Dumbledore were able to pull it off.

In addition to that, in what he considered to be fair play, Mr. Scott taught the Heads and teachers of the other two schools, making Dumbledore upset once more. Only of few of them were able as well. The SMI Vice Principal said he would continue to try and teach the rest to Jump until his school left.

The frustrated man tried to get Gilly to teach them, but she flat out refused. She stated that she didn’t trust any of them, and didn’t want them to try and convince her to teach them other magic. Here in the UK she could call it family magic and deny them access. She didn’t want to pull that card, but she would if they pushed. The reason being was that she didn’t want anyone to know the history of the Owens family. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it anyone’s business. She knew that if they dug deep enough that her family would be considered Black Widows, since all the husbands died.

Mr. Scott shook himself from his thoughts as he and Harry made their way to the room where the weighing was to be held. They were the last ones there. The teen looked around to see what all the fuss was about; he expected some major decorations and ceremonial stuff. He was wrong.

The room itself was clean and neat. There was a long table in the back with some of the officials sitting there. There were four chairs in front of it, facing the door. There was a line of chairs facing them, and there were people Harry didn’t know sitting in those chairs. There were a few banners set up behind the long table, which depicted all three schools.

Harry and Mr. Scott shared a look at the slight that their school wasn’t represented, so the teen waved his hand and Salem Magical Institute’s banner was now fluttering next to the other three. The other Heads and officials frowned at this, but there was little that could be done. The school had the right to show its pride, just like them.

Harry made his away to a raised dais, where the other three champions were sitting. Cedric looked excited; he was polishing his wand, which was already shiny, and trying to chat with the Beauxbatons’ champion. Fleur was simply sitting there, ignoring the Hufflepuff, with an air of superiority. Krum was leaning against the wall, his arms folded and a neutral look on his face.

The youngest champion took the empty chair next to Hogwarts champion. He liked the seventh year Hufflepuff. Unlike some others, this young man didn’t bug him about his past. That and he made breakfast at his House table, relaxing and calm. The two boys struck up a conversation about the tasks, and waited for the ceremony to begin.

“Hey, did you tell the others?” the boy with the tri-colored hair asked as he leaned in so no one could hear.

“Yeah, they were shocked and a bit worried, but I think they might be okay,” the sandy-blond answered.

“I might have a plan. I’ll let you know more, when I do,” Harry confessed with a wink and a shrug.

Cedric just looked at him, noted who was paying attention to them and changed the subject. After they talked about Quidditch for a minute, a gaudily dressed lady, with hideous glasses and wild hair, came and grabbed Harry by the arm. “Mr. Potter… Harry, may I call you Harry?” she purred as she tried to yank him from his seat. “How about you and I have a little talk? All my readers are just dying to know where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to.” She continued to try and pull him from his chair, but Harry wasn’t budging.

“Get your hands off me, you old crow. No, you may not call me by my given name. And I don’t give a good god damn what your readers want,” the angry teen said as he pulled his arm from her grip. The room temperature dropped as his eyes hardened.

“Come now, Harry, my boy,” said the Hogwarts Headmaster in his grandfather tone, “you should not treat the press so. I, too, would like to know where you have been all these years.” He was still sure that the boy would not be going back to the States. He had plans in motion that would impress the child to stay here. There was no way that SMI was superior to Hogwarts. He was, however, curious as to where he had been and how he was raised.

“I told you once already, it’s none of your concern. I have people I answer to, and you and her public are not them. I am not your boy and don’t call me by my given name either,” Harry all but snarled, really tired of this old man’s antics. “I will tell you this, you old bat,” he said turning his ire to the reporter, whose name he didn’t ask, “I have a lawyer, and a damn good one, don’t f*ck with me.”

Mr. Scott came up behind his student and placed a hand on his shoulder. “My student does not answer to the press. If you report anything that doesn’t have to do with this tournament, then we will sue you to the full extent of the law. You would do well to remember Harry is a dual citizen and is protected by the United States Government.” His face was firm, like he wasn’t going to back down and meant every word he said.

The still unnamed reporter backed off, but with a look in her eye saying it wasn’t over. She sat in the chairs in front of the platform, an acid green quill floating above a piece of parchment, which was situated on her lap.

“Perhaps, another time,” Dumbledore stated and then he wandered off to talk to the Ministry officials.

“Harry, we will be talking about your language, again. Perhaps more time with Luis will curb that tongue,” Mr. Scott reprimanded with a disappointed voice. They just had a week’s detention, there had to be something that would teach Harry not to lose his temper.

“Sorry, Mr. Scott, but she grabbed me. No one grabs me like that,” Harry defended his actions.

“I will let it slid this time, but, Harry, you will be talking to Luis,” the frustrated man said with a curt nod and then he turned and went to his seat.

Harry watched the man go and sighed. “Sorry you had to witness that,” he said to the other champions. Fleur and Viktor shrugged in different manners. Fleur’s was a motion like she expected the boy to do something so uncouth, whereas Viktor’s was more along the lines of understanding.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Cedric whispered tentatively. “That is Rita Skeeter, she a shark. Do you see that green quill? It’ll misquote you and make it seem like you are some type of… well you get the idea,” he finished with a wary look at the reporter.

“I don’t care if she is the President of the United States, or the Queen of England, nobody grabs me like that,” Harry snarled, and then his face softened a bit. “Sorry, those people piss me off,” he apologized; it wasn’t Cedric’s fault that adults rubbed him the wrong way.

Cedric shrugged and nodded, he had done his best to warn the young man. They turned to the door when it opened and saw a tall, older man come through. “That’s Ollivander, he is going to be checking our wands,” the Hufflepuff said as he started to clean his wand again.

“He looks creepy,” Harry offered, looking at the man’s seemingly all-seeing eyes. The tall man looked at him, and Harry threw up his Occlumency shields and glared at the disturbing man. Ollivander flinched back and made his way to the stage.

“Yeah, I think he gets a kick out of scaring first years,” Diggory agreed, remembering the first time he met the wand-maker.

Harry looked around and saw that all the Heads and the judges, bar Dumbledore, were sitting at a table behind the champions. Mr. Scott was taking the place of Ludo Bagman, to make sure his school was represented. Mr. Bagman had protested, until the rules were brought out that there could only be five judges and all students had to have an evaluator on their side. So Madame Maxime, Headmaster Karkaroff, Mr. Crouch and Mr. Scott lined the table.

“May I introduce Mr. Ollivander?” said Dumbledore with a flourishing wave of his arm and then he turned and took his place at the judges’ table. “He will be checking your wands to ensure that they are in good condition before the tournament.” His eyes twinkled with some unknown mirth, like there was a joke hidden in his words.

“Mademoiselle Delacour, could we have you first, please?” said Mr. Ollivander, stepping into the empty space in the middle of the room.

Fleur Delacour swept over to Mr. Ollivander and handed him her wand.

“Hmmm …” he said. He twirled the wand between his long fingers like a baton and it emitted a number of pink and gold sparks. Then he held it close to his eyes and examined it carefully. “Yes,” he said quietly, “nine and a half inches … inflexible … rosewood … and containing … dear me …”

“An ’air from ze ’ead of a Veela,” said Fleur. “One of my grandmuzzer’s.” She stood proud of the fact that she could use something that represented her family. Her grandmother was very special to her.

So Fleur was part Veela, thought Harry. He had wondered after first meeting her. That should be interesting. He did speculate as to why he wasn’t affected by her lure. He had never been under the influence of any mind altering magic, so he had no idea why she wasn’t affecting him. He glanced at Cedric and noted the older boy’s eyes were a bit glazed, but he seemed to be in full control of himself. A quick look at Viktor showed the Bulgarian was complete unaffected.

“Yes,” said Mr. Ollivander, “yes, I’ve never used Veela hair myself, of course. I find it makes for rather temperamental wands … however, to each his own, and if this suits you …”

Mr. Ollivander ran his fingers along the wand, apparently checking for scratches or bumps; then he muttered, “Orchideous!” and a bunch of flowers burst from the wand tip. “Very well, very well, it’s in fine working order,” said Mr. Ollivander, scooping up the flowers and handing them to Fleur with her wand. “Mr. Diggory, you’re next.”

Fleur glided back to her seat, smirking at Cedric as he passed her.

“Ah, now, this is one of mine, isn’t it?” said Mr. Ollivander, with much more enthusiasm, as Cedric handed over his wand. “Yes, I remember it well. Containing a single hair from the tail of a particularly fine male unicorn … must have been seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a quarter inches … ash … pleasantly springy. It’s in fine condition. … You treat it regularly?”

“Polished it last night,” said Cedric, grinning.

Harry just smiled at the overly proud Hufflepuff and had to repress a chuckle at the double meaning. He wondered how a teenage boy didn’t realize what he was saying could be taken the wrong way. Perhaps, Cedric was just that sheltered.

Mr. Ollivander sent a stream of silver smoke rings across the room from the tip of Cedric’s wand, pronounced himself satisfied, and then said, “Mr. Krum, if you please.”

Viktor Krum got up and slouched, round-shouldered and duck-footed, toward Mr. Ollivander. He thrust out his wand and stood scowling, with his hands in the pockets of his robes.

“Hmm,” said Mr. Ollivander, “this is a Gregorovitch creation, unless I’m much mistaken? A fine wand-maker, though the styling is never quite what I … however …” He lifted the wand and examined it minutely, turning it over and over before his eyes. “Yes … hornbeam and dragon heartstring?” he shot at Krum, who nodded. “Rather thicker than one usually sees … quite rigid … ten and a quarter inches … Avis!”

The hornbeam wand let off a blast like a gun, and a number of small, twittering birds flew out of the end and through the open window into the watery sunlight. “Good,” said Mr. Ollivander, handing Krum back his wand. “Which leaves… Mr. Potter.”

Harry rose and handed his wand to the strange man.

“Now, this is not one of mine,” Ollivander said, taking the wand. “Holly… very subtle… a bit swishy… and griffin feather… oh my, that is quite a surprise. I don’t use them myself… very dangerous to obtain… however, it is a strong core…” he gave the wand a swish, called out “Lumos” and a light filled the room, blinding everyone, causing them to blink rapidly to get their eyesight back. “Oh my, a strong core indeed… I must say Mr. Potter this wand has seen very little use.”

Harry just smirked and shrugged it off as unimportant. Rita’s quill was rapidly filling the page that rested on her knee. The streak-haired teen had to wonder what could possibly be so intriguing about his wand.

Ollivander looked at the young man and nodded. He handed the wand back and said, “A very strong wand… use it well.” He then turned to the judges and announced, “All these wands seem to be in perfect condition.”

“Thank you all,” said Dumbledore, standing up at the judges’ table. “You may go back to your lessons now — or perhaps it would be quicker just to go down to dinner, as they are about to end —”

Harry got up to leave, but the man with the black camera jumped up and cleared his throat.

“Photos, Dumbledore, photos!” cried Bagman excitedly. “All the judges and champions, what do you think, Rita?”

“Er — yes, let’s do those first,” said Rita Skeeter, whose eyes were upon Harry again, “and then perhaps some individual shots.”

The photographs took a long time. Madame Maxime cast everyone else into shadow wherever she stood and the photographer couldn’t stand far enough back to get her into the frame; eventually she had to sit while everyone else stood around her. Karkaroff kept twirling his goatee around his finger to give it an extra curl; Krum, whom Harry would have thought would have been used to this sort of thing, skulked, half-hidden, at the back of the group. The photographer seemed keenest to get Fleur at the front, but Rita Skeeter kept hurrying forward and dragging Harry into greater prominence, making him snap at her for manhandling him. Then she insisted on separate shots of all the champions. At last, they were free to go.

Harry shot Skeeter one more warning look and accompanied Mr. Scott out of the castle. “I don’t trust that reporter. She seems far too interested in me to let anything rest.” He could just see the headlines now and they wouldn’t be anything he liked.

The Vice Principal nodded his head in agreement and said, “I’ll let your Aunt Gilly and Sirius know what she looks like so they can keep an eye out.” He would make sure the lawyer was on standby. He didn’t trust that woman either.

“I’ll tell the other kids,” Harry added. They went back to the houseboat and Harry rejoined his class. After dinner, Harry and the other students were in the living area when he let them know about the ceremony and the Skeeter woman. They all said they would keep on the lookout.

The next day Rita Skeeter wrote an article on the oldest champions, which was accurate on those three. There was a second front page article, below the fold, with a solitary picture of Harry and another headline that read:

The Boy Who Lived: Stuck Up and Uncaring

The story went on as to how Harry didn’t care for Britain and that he was rude to everyone he met. There were quotes from some of the Hogwarts’ students about his rant. Then it told about his gutter talk and his complete denial that he was their hero. It also speculated that this might be brainwashing from his current guardians. The article called the aunts cruel and unjust. It accused them of kidnapping and turning Britain’s icon against them.

Harry immediately called Mr. Roberts and his lawyer in America, Mr. Prickle, to bury the witch. He gave a detailed explanation on exactly how the wand ceremony went, and what was said the first day he had breakfast with the Gryffindors. When he spoke to the solicitors, he left nothing out, not even his rudeness, he did, however, defend himself by saying that Skeeter had accosted him first.

The next day, Mr. Roberts, Sirius and Gilly went to the office of the Daily Prophet and confronted the editor. The argument that ensued would be remembered for quite a while as not only did Gilly tear the man a new one, she also destroyed his office.

“Just who the hell do you think you are? If I get my hands on that bitch you call a reporter,” the young woman asked as she slammed into the office of the chief editor. “How dare she touch my nephew.”

“Now see here…” was as far as the man got before the irate woman continued.

“You tell me where she is. I’m going to make sure she understands just what ‘cruel and unjust’ means,” Gilly all but shouted, her hair whipping around her face as she faced off the smug looking man behind the editor’s desk. That look was wiped off when the wind started throwing his papers and books around the room.

“Now look here…” the man stuttered as his office was torn apart.

“Don’t you think for one minute you are off the hook, jackass,” Gilly stated, pointing a finger at his head. “It’s your responsibility to make sure the articles printed in your paper are factual. So I’m holding you personally responsible for the damages to my reputation.” She glared at him and slammed her hands on the desk, leaning into his space.

“Now see here, you can’t come into my office and make these accusations. It is a known fact that Mr. Potter was kidnapped. It only makes sense that it was you who did it,” the editor was finally able to reply as he backed away and then ducked a book that flew at his head.

The very pissed off witch slammed her hands on the desk, only this time causing it to crack down the middle. The still unnamed editor looked scared. He had many people come in and throw fits when they didn’t like something printed, but never before had anyone cause such damage.

“A known fact!?” Gilly bellowed, her voice carrying throughout the building. “I’ll have you know that I have the papers to prove I didn’t do anything. Sirius Black and Madam Longbottom both signed off on the guardianship, so you tell me how that is kidnapping? If you were a good little editor you would have gone to Gringotts or the Ministry and received the full report, but no, you are just some stupid glory-hound asshole, who only wants a sensational story.”

She continued along that vein for a half an hour. And after the formidable witch finished with her rant, Mr. Roberts slapped papers on the unusable desk and informed the publishing supervisor that the paper was being sued for slander. While the first part of that article was mostly factual, the latter part was all speculation and can be refuted. So if they wanted out of the lawsuit they would print a retraction and an apology. He also said that if they didn’t want this scene to replay itself, they would keep Rita Skeeter away from the SMI team.

Sirius, being the smartass that he was, threw one hundred Galleons at the cowering man, ‘for damages’. The three trooped out of the building and went back to the houseboat, to let Harry know what happened.

The next day The Daily Prophet printed a retraction and posted an article that Gilly Owens was indeed the legal guardian of Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. It had quotes from the goblins, Sirius and Augusta stating that all the paperwork was legal. They formally apologized for the previous article.

Harry and his family wrote that the apology was accepted— for now. They did however warn the paper that next time they wouldn’t drop the suit. The gossip between the schools was mixed, they had all heard the boy explode, so they believed that part of the first article, but the second part was easily dismissed as lies, especially now that a retraction was printed. So they weren’t sure exactly what to believe. Either the Prophet was telling the truth or lying, one just couldn’t be sure anymore.

Hppmhppm

It was a week before the first task and Harry started hearing voices carry across the lake. Some were yelling, others were hissing. So that night he went into the Forest, donning his Invisibility Cloak, to see what was making the ruckus. He came upon an enclosure that housed four dragons. There were tents on the outside of the structure that contained around twenty men. Harry smirked to himself and snuck around the fence to see if there was a dragon unoccupied.

He finally stumbled on one with black scales and a lizard-like appearance. It also had yellow eyes, bronze horns and similarly colored spikes that protruded from its long tail. This particular dragon seemed to be more interested in her eggs at the moment, than the puny humans running around.

Harry smiled and thought, Perfect. He crept around the body of the dragon, keeping far enough away so that he wouldn’t be caught unaware. Just because he was invisible didn’t mean she couldn’t smell him. The dragon looked up from her eggs and gazed around the area in front of her. She snorted and flames shot towards the unseen boy.

“Whoa, peace,” Harry hissed, after he Jumped out of the way, “I mean you no harm.”

“Then why do you not show yourself?” the mother protested, thinking only of her eggs.

“I wanted to talk to you without your handlers knowing I am here. I want to explain why you and your babies were brought to this place. And maybe we can reach an agreement. It will be fun,” Harry explained quickly.

“How will it be fun? Can you promise not to hurt me or my young? What of the other females and their eggs?” the dragon questioned, not trusting this human for a minute, even if he could talk to her.

It wasn’t often that a human could talk to dragons. The last one that she knew of was a man named Voldemort, and he only wanted to control them. He found out quickly enough that the giant lizards were not to be tamed. It was only because they wanted a safe haven that they allowed the dragon-tamers to think they could be corralled. Of course, this dragon knew nothing about the Gringotts dragons, as they were taken very young and tortured into compliance.

“If we make plans and I convince the other people into agreeing with them, then yes, I can promise you and yours will not be hurt,” the tri-color haired boy solemnly swore. He would get the other three to agree, if not then they were on their own, but he figured they would comply, it was better to have the dragons on their side.

“Let us plan then,” the dragon said as she lowered her head to where she heard the voice.

So Harry explained why the mothers were here and what he planned. They talked through the night, and soon enough he was too tired to continue. So he bade her good night and Jumped to the shore and then to the boat.

Unfortunately for him Mr. Scott was up early and the wayward student took off the Cloak right when he was coming through the doors. “Just where have you been, young man?” the Vice Principal asked with a disappointed look on his face.

“I promise, I have a very good reason for being out this late,” Harry said, holding his hands up in supplication. He then hurriedly explained about meeting the dragon and the plans that were made. Mr. Scott nodded in all the right areas, but the disapproving look didn’t fade.

“Okay, I understand, however, you broke the rules— again. I think only a few nights of detention this time, since you did have a good reason. I have some worksheets you will be working on. I will let your guardians know you are in trouble again,” he said sternly.

“But…” the teen protested. It seemed like now that he was here, all he seemed to be doing was get in trouble. Back in the States, he never lost his temper at school, not even when that bully picked on him and his. Now that’s all he seemed to be doing, he wondered why that was.

“Harry,” Mr. Scott plowed on over the protest, “you have to understand that you are not above the rules. They are there for a reason. Now get to bed and try and get some sleep.” He took the boy by the shoulders and steered him towards the stairs.

Harry slumped his shoulders, in defeat and weariness, and trudged off to his bed. It was going to be a long day tomorrow.

The next day a very tired Harry Potter made his way to the castle, with the rest of the SMI team, for breakfast. Once again he, Neville and an unsympathetic Jordan sat at the Hufflepuff table. Jordan was upset that Harry hadn’t woken him and Neville to go see the dragons. Neville trusted his brother and he knew it might have been dangerous, but he did make Harry promise that they could meet the mothers before they left.

Harry sat across from Cedric and passed him a note, unnoticed by the rest of the students. The seventh year read the note under the table, looked at Harry and nodded. Everyone ate the meal and talked about nothing in particular, still going over the differences in cultures, but keeping it light. There were some at the table who glared at Harry, they were very loyal to Cedric and thought the Boy Who Lived was trying to show their champion up. Harry ignored them.

Just when breakfast was almost over, Cedric got up and went to talk to the other champions. They were wary at first, but he talked them around. They left separately and met at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Harry got there last and smirked at them.

“So, what if I tell you guys, I can guarantee that you won’t be hurt in the first task?” he asked smugly, looking at each of their faces.

“‘Ow can you make such a promise?” Fleur sneered, making her face twist unattractively, which was sad since she was a beautiful woman.

“Oh, I know that you know what the first task entails, since I’m the one who asked Cedric to tell you. That’s beside the point, the reason I brought you all out here is because I have a secret weapon,” Harry answered the smug look never leaving his face.

“Okay, Harry, I’ll bite, what is your secret weapon?” Cedric asked a questioning gleam in his eyes. He wasn’t going to underestimate this young man, not if he and his family could get Skeeter to back down. As far as he knew, no one had ever done that before, not even Malfoy and all his money.

“Well… If I tell you, you have to promise not to freak out,” the fourteen year old hedged, the smug look dropped from his face. He wanted to let them know, but the way Sirius always reacted made him a bit wary.

“Vhy vuld ve… freak out?” Viktor asked, joining the conversation. He was looking at the boy speculatively, he knew nothing about Harry Potter and the kid intrigued him. He didn’t not for a minute believe all the hype around this teen’s childhood. Those books were just fantasy.

“Some would say what I can do is considered Dark,” the streak-haired boy answered with a casual shrug. If he was going to do this he needed to be seen as calm as he could be. He used every bit of etiquette that Luis drummed into his head to maintain his calm demeanor. He just wished he could maintain it around the Hogwarts students, but for some reason he had a hard time doing that in the castle.

The other three looked at each other; the same question seemed to be flitting through their minds. Finally after a minute of silent conversing the Hufflepuff said, “Okay, I promise not to… jump to conclusions.” The other two nodded in agreement.

So Harry told them about his midnight wandering and the talk he had with the Hungarian Horntail. He was rather impressed that they didn’t seem to be under the impression he was Dark. Viktor actually looked jealous. Fleur lost her sneer and listened carefully. Cedric did look wary for a minute, but as the story went on he relaxed.

The SMI champion asked what they were planning for their performance. It took a while to convince Viktor to change his tactics, but they came to an understanding that no dragon was to be hurt and they were to take extra care around the eggs. Harry promised to talk to the dragons and let them know each plan. They asked what he was doing, and he said he was going to use some family magic, and since they were all magic-raised they nodded.

After that meeting Harry gathered up Neville and Jordan and took them to visit the dragons. This time Harry talked to the blue-silver dragon, since the Horntail was occupied with the dragon-tamers. He told her the plans and let her tell the others.

It was going to be quite the show.

Chapter 18: Playful Dragons and the Date Problem

Chapter Text

November 24, 1994

The SMI’s silver and blue streak-haired champion woke up the morning of the first task with a big grin on his face. He hopped out of bed, showered and donned a silver and blue striped jogging suit, his name blazing in silver on the back of his jacket, with similar colored running shoes. He shook Neville and Jordan to get them up and ready.

“Harry,” Neville grumbled as he rolled over and glared at the boy with bleary eyes. “Why are you waking us up at 6 a.m.? We don’t even have class today.” He pulled the blanket back over his head and started to go back to sleep.

Jordan just shook his head and started to pull out his own jogging suit, only it was a green top with black pants. All of the kids were going to be wearing them. Unlike the other three schools, SMI never wore robes and it was too cold for the t-shirts, so they decided to support Harry and go with jogging clothes. “Yeah, Harry, I know you must be excited, but damn,” the dark-haired boy said.

“Sorry, guys, but I need to talk to Aunt Gilly,” Harry said as he poked his brother’s shoulder. “Last time I left you guys behind you got bitchy, so get up and come with me.”

“Right,” Jordan said as he headed to the bathroom, leaving the bothers to argue.

“Alright, stop poking me,” Neville complained as he too got out of bed.

“Well, if you weren’t so slow,” the youngest whined.

The elder brother mumbled and grumbled at having to get up so early, but pulled the same as clothes Jordan’s. After Neville dressed the three boys went to get some coffee in the kitchen.

“Where do yous think yous are being going?” Kippy asked, brandishing a spoon at the teens.

“It’s okay, Kippy, I have permission this time. I have to go and talk to Aunt Gilly,” Harry explained quickly.

“Yous better have,” Kippy harrumphed as she went back to cooking. She raised her boys better than to always get in trouble. “Drink yours coffee.” She waved her hand and three mugs appeared.

“Don’t worry about breakfast, we’ll eat there,” Harry said, though he did grab one of her muffins though. The boys grabbed a mug and a muffin and went to the living area to watch the morning news.

“At least the weather is going to cooperate,” Jordan pointed out when the forecaster said it would be sunny, but cold.

“Yeah, that’s something,” Harry said, sipping his coffee and then a big bite out of the muffin. He moaned in pleasure. He loved Kippy’s blueberry muffins.

After they finished, they put their mugs in the sink and went to the deck. They Jumped straight to Gilly’s front yard. The little table was still sitting there and even they felt the compulsion to sit at it. They went to the front door and knocked, hoping the couple was up. Even though, Harry had told his aunt he would be there, she might not have told Sirius, she was playful like that.

A very grumpy Sirius answered. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” he asked with a glare. He was still in his sleep attire of silk black pajamas. His hair was mussed and he did not look happy.

“Aunt Gilly knew I was going to be here,” Harry said as he held his hands out in commiseration and smiled.

The dog Animagus just growled and let them in and then he wandered off to get ready for the day.

Gilly was in the kitchen making breakfast. She was barefoot, but otherwise dressed in a pair of jeans and a green sweatshirt. “I’m making pancakes. You guys grab the fixings and set the table,” she said from the stove as she flipped a cactus shaped pancake.

Gary had taught them that when he first met them, and the whole family had been doing it ever since. The youngest aunt still felt bad for trying to spell the man away, but he was there to investigate Jimmy’s disappearance, and she hadn’t wanted to go to jail. It was a good thing the girls got rid of the potioned syrup.

“Okay,” the boys said, and then proceeded to do just that, laying out syrup, fresh fruit and butter.

Sirius appeared wearing an outfit similar to Gilly’s, though he had shoes on, and sat at the table. He grabbed a cup of coffee and frowned at everyone. The boys just laughed at him and helped Gilly bring the pancakes to the table. They ate the wonderful meal and talked of unimportant things. After everyone was full, they proceeded to the living room and sat on the comfortable couches.

“So,” the only woman started, “why did you want to meet so early?” she asked as she settled next to Sirius.

“Well, you know my plans, and I told you what the other champions will be doing, but I want to see them. So, I was wondering if you could take one of Sirius’ mirrors to the stadium and show me how it goes,” Harry said with a puppy dog look. “I mean, I have mine, but I want to see how the other guys do. I promised the dragons, and the champions, that none of them would be hurt.”

Gilly just chuckled and nodded. It was a good idea.

“What happens if the sun catches it?” Neville asked. A worried frown marred his forehead as he pursed his lips in thought. He knew of his brother’s promise and he didn’t want something to trivial to break it. “It might blind the dragon or the champion, that would be bad,” he added.

“Hmmm, I didn’t think of that,” the streak-haired boy said thoughtfully as he rubbed his chin. “You could put Aunt Jet’s shade spell on it,” he said suddenly, brightening up.

“That might work, sweetie,” Gilly said, nodding her head. “My concern is how are you going to be able to see the arena? The seats we’re assigned are pretty high up.”

“Oh, yeah that’s a problem.” He slumped his shoulders.

“Ah, worry not, my dear, Remus and I put in a magnifying charm. We figured that it would be a good way to spy on people,” Sirius said with a smile and a wiggle of his eyebrows, not having to tell just what they were spying on. He just smirked at their disapproving faces and showed them how to make that function of the mirrors work.

That decided, they turned the topic to their heritage and the Wizengamot. The two young Heirs expressed their opinion of how the government here had so far not impressed them. Sirius pointed out that maybe they could change it, but no matter what they decided on he would support them. The conversation went on for an hour, until the boys had to go back to the boat.

They met the rest of SMI in the living area. Mr. Scott greeted them from the chair he was sitting in and then asked, “Harry, are you ready for today?” He wanted to make sure the teen was prepared. He knew the plan, but it never hurt to be too careful.

“Yes, sir, I have everything planned out now,” Harry said with a nod and smirk.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” the Vice Principal said, then returned to reading his book.

“Don’t worry, Teach, I got this,” the young man said with confidence as he waved his hand lazily in the air.

Mr. Scott shot him a mild glare for the nickname and then once more returned to his book, a small smile played on his lips.

The rest of the students tried their best to get Harry to tell them what to expect, but the teen wasn’t talking. So they finally gave up and some started in on their homework, while others watched a movie. They spent the day idly and soon it was lunch. Harry and Mr. Scott had to go to the Champions' tent, while the rest ate lunch. Harry grabbed a sandwich to eat on the way. They Jumped to the shore and decided to walk the rest of the way and enjoy the nice, albeit cold, day.

When the stadium came into view, Harry couldn’t help but be impressed. It was a large, five stories high, wooden structure. The seats were all cushioned and there were stairs running up the sides and the middle of the rows. A large overhang shaded the seats, which made Harry think that the shade spell might not be needed for the mirror. He shook his head to clear that thought and look at the rest of the stadium. There was a large box for the judges and officials. Off to the side was a screened off area, where Harry knew the dragons were, he could hear them complaining from where he was standing and it was all he could do not to break out in laughter. He glance to the other side were there were two tents, one was where the contestants would wait and the other was the Hospital tent.

The two men made their way to the Champions’ tent. They were the second ones there, beaten by Krum and Karkaroff. The two contenders nodded at each other and stayed on separate sides of the tent. Not that they didn’t like one another, but they really never had a chance to get to know one another. Well, that and Karkaroff was glaring at Harry like he was trying to sabotage his champion just by nodding at him. Viktor was wearing nice Quidditch robes, red with brown fur trimming, with his name embroidered on the back.

Harry and his teacher held a quiet conversation in the corner, while they waited for the rest of the champions. Fleur was the next to join them, she shot a worrying look towards Harry, who just winked and smiled. The Beauxbatons’ student was wearing what seemed to be a formal form of her uniform. It was a light blue pants suit, with a darker blue over robe. Her name was also sewn on the back. She was accompanied by her Headmistress, the very tall, Madam Maxime.

Cedric came next, escorted by his Head of House. He too was wearing Quidditch gear, only his was colored yellow and black. The seventh year boy lifted his eyebrow at the casual wear of the youngest contender. Harry just smirked and shrugged, nodding to his Vice Principal, who was dressed in a pair of jeans and a green sweatshirt, like the rest of the adults from America.

Professor Sprout took her leave when the judges entered the tent. Ludo Bagman was also there, he gave an uninteresting speech trying to throw the champions off guard. He held out a bag and the four teens chose the dragon they had to get around.

“None of you are surprised,” Bagman said, glaring at the Heads, like it was their fault.

“We already knew, it’s not like the dragons were quiet,” Harry explained with a shrug.

“Well, yes, that may be so, but…” the man sputtered, and then stopped not able to think of a rebuttal.

“Don’t worry, we’re still plenty worried,” Cedric stated, trying to calm the flustered man.

“Yes, well, good luck to all of you,” the ex-Quidditch star said as he moved off and waved Harry to the side. Mr. Scott joined them and when the man tried to drive him away, the vice principal didn’t budge. They never knew what he wanted, since he left when he couldn’t get Harry alone.

“I’d watch out for him,” Mr. Scott warned as he watched the nervous man leave. “I hear he is a gambler, and he might have a lot at stack for this tournament.” He turned to his student, who was simply smirking at that tidbit of information.

“His loss if he didn’t bet on me,” Harry all but laughed, a bit overconfident.

“Just be careful,” the Vice Principal stated with a sigh, clapping his student on the back and joining the other adults.

The adults left and Harry went to the center of the tent and motioned for the others to join him. He pulled out his mirror and called, “Gilly Owens.” His aunt’s face filled the mirror and you could see the excitement and worry lining her eyes.

“Hi, sweetie, give me a minute to add the shade spell and get it to magnify,” she said quietly. Suddenly the already shaded area dimmed more and then the only thing you could see was the hair of her left eyebrow. The mirror turned and the Swedish Short-snout could be seen in the arena.

Cedric let out a whistle and stated, “That is one big dragon.” Looking at the beast that was filling up the entire little mirror, he couldn’t get an accurate idea on just how big, but from the looks of it…

“Just remember the plan, and you should be okay,” Harry said, clapping the older boy on the shoulder. They had gone over everything this last week, so if the others simply did what they said they were going to do, than no one should get hurt. “Guys, really don’t worry. If you stick to the script you will be okay,” he told the doubtful champions.

“Alright, Harry, I’m trusting you,” Cedric said as he firmed his resolve and straightened his shoulders.

Bagman’s voice could be heard explaining the task to the audience. Then the cannon went off and Cedric moved to the entrance, he glanced one more time at the streak-haired boy, who winked and waved, and then he left the tent. As he left the other three gathered around the mirror. They saw the Hufflepuff enter the ring and stop. The crowd was cheering for a good five minutes, and then they quieted when they noticed he wasn’t doing anything. So they waited to see what the Hogwarts champion would do.

Cedric stood until the crowd stopped cheering and then shot a spell at one of the larger rocks that lined the arena. He changed it into a large cow then directed it to the dragon with a motioned of his wand. He spelled two more, and they too went to distract the large fire-breathing creature. He held his breath to see what the female lizard would do.

The Short-snout played its part well. First it sniffed at the constructs, and then it roared, which caused the fake cows to moo. Then the dragon started to play with them, batting them around and generally having a good time.

Cedric didn’t let his guard down and kept to the outside of the arena. He darted from rock to rock, his eyes never leaving the mother. Soon he was at the nest; he crept over to it and grabbed the golden egg. He then hot-footed it back to the entrance and looked at the dragon. He looked back and was surprised that it all went off without a hitch.

The dragon was now corralling all three cows and cooing over them like they were part of her clutch. She was making them lay down near her nest and then curled up and went to sleep. The dragon tamers were shocked as they went into the arena to move her. they had to take the cows with them, to get the dragon to cooperate.

The Hufflepuff just shook his head at the sight and moved away. The audience was baffled, but the Hogwarts’ students and staff gave a good cheer for their champion. Talk broke out when Cedric made his way to the Hospital tent, Harry and the other two could hear Gilly’s neighbors gossip on how there was little action in the event, and they couldn’t understand why the dragon was acting like that.

Unknown to the champion, the Short-snout had kept a very close eye on the contestant. If he for one moment deviated from the plan then she would have toasted him. But he only took the golden egg and left, so she decided to have some fun. The only reason she knew what to do is all the plans were laid out over the week. When the cows were formed then she knew which actions to take.

The other three champions watched and smiled. The two foreigners hadn’t really trusted this American until that moment. They shared a look and a nod and confirmed they too would follow the plans. They watched as the dragon, the cows and the eggs were taken away and replaced with the Common Welsh Green and her nest.

The cannon roared and Fleur left the tent. As she entered the arena, she let out her Veela charm full-force, not that it would affect the dragon other than make it sleepy.

The Green lowered her head onto her feet and pretended to sleep. Just for fun she started to blow funny shaped smoke from her nose. For a few minutes the silent dragon tried to make a castle from the smoke, alas, even after all these years of practice that was something she could not do.

Fleur walked down the center of the ring and calmly took the golden egg. When she was returning a large cloud of smoke, shaped like a heart, enveloped her and made her cough. She batted it away and glared at the dragon, and then made her exit.

Beauxbatons stood and applauded their champion. The rest of the crowd gave a soft, confused applause as whispering started again.

When the dragon was replaced with the Chinese Fireball, Krum went to get ready. The cannon fired again and he went to the ring. As planned he didn’t hurt the dragon or her nest. He simply summoned his broom and tried to fly over the dragon. He whizzed and whorled over the beast and teased her head.

The Fireball made as if to snap at an annoying pest, but otherwise let the Bulgarian Seeker appear to out fly her. She shot fireballs at him, but made sure they missed. Her roars were deafening, but Harry was laughing his ass off at the things she was calling the irritating man.

Krum performed a Wronski Feint and grabbed the egg and flew out of the ring. The Fireball continued to snap her jaws at him until he was out of reach.

This time the entire audience cheered at the daring move. The dragons were switched again and the Fireball was replaced with the Hungarian Horntail.

Harry turned off the mirror and waited for the cannon. When he heard it he jogged out of the tent and waved to the spectators. He winked at the dragon and fired a dome spell on the nest. He then added the sunlight spell to keep them warm. The Horntail glanced at her eggs and was satisfied that they were protected.

The streak-haired champion then raised his arm, making sure to pretend to use his wand, and called clouds to form. The air thickened as dark clouds amassed over the arena. The wind kicked up and the sky around the dragon darkened. Harry then caused the air to chill more than it already was, and soon snow was falling. The wind started to blow harder and the flurry became a blizzard, making the Horntail sleepy.

Harry then Jumped to the nest and spelled a hole in the bottom of the dome on one side, making sure the sunlight spell was still warming the eggs. He snuck his hand in and snatched the golden egg and closed the hole. Then the youngest champion Jumped to the hospital tent, leaving the storm to blow itself out, it should only last a few minutes.

Harry pulled out the mirror, while the Hogwarts nurse checked him, and called his aunt. She smiled that he was okay and showed the stadium once again. The audience was quiet, but for a few murmurings, waiting to see what was next.

As slowly as it appeared, the snow faded and the clouds dissipated. The Horntail had wrapped herself around her nest and appeared to be sleeping. Everyone looked around to see where the SMI champion was. Ludo could be heard asking someone to go and check on the boy. The dragon handlers milled around the ring, but couldn’t find the youngest contestant.

Harry and Gilly just laughed at their confusion. Finally Madam Pomfrey sighed and told him to go and put them out of their misery. So Harry grabbed the golden egg and went to the entrance of the tent. He shot a look at Mr. Scott, who nudged Dumbledore and pointed to his student.

The crowd broke out in cheers, shouting and stomping their feet as they wildly clapped their hands.

The rest of the champions joined Harry to find out their scores. Every Judge, except Karkaroff, who grudgingly gave a six, gave Harry a ten for his great display of magic. The other champions glared at him, they were put out that the youngest of them didn’t tell what his plan was. So it was with great frustration that they viewed him placing first, with Viktor next then Cedric and last Fleur.

When the others glared at him, the tri-color haired boy just shrugged and said it was family magic, which was the complete truth. However, unlike here there were no constraints on family magic in the US, so he could tell them if he wanted too. And he might just do that, later, after this contest was done.

He was in this to win. He may not have entered, but he was damned if he wasn’t going to try his best. It wasn’t his fault they chose lame maneuvers for their dragons. Well, except Krum, because flying was awesome. They should just be thankful he gave them a heads-up on what to expect. If they had trusted him, they could have pulled off something just as entertaining.

Finally the other contestants left to find their Heads and see what was next. After they had gone, one of the dragon handlers came up to Harry and waved him to the side. “Hey, Harry,” the stocky redhead said, causing Harry’s eyebrow to quirk at the familiarity, “we need you to undo the spell you put on the eggs.”

“Oh, yeah, sure, not a problem,” Harry said and followed the man to where the nest still laid. He took out his wand and circled the clutch and the sunlight spell vanished. He made a sweeping motion and the dome disappeared.

“Harry,” the still unnamed redhead said, “do you think you can teach us that? We have a similar spell but it isn’t quite as hot as this one, and we still seem to lose some eggs. This would be extremely helpful.” His eyes pleaded for the young man to comply. It would be great if they could save more of the babies.

“Sure,” Harry shrugged, “it really isn’t my spell, but I can show you how it works.” So they spent a few minutes going over the incantations and as soon as the smiling handler understood, he levitated the nest and moved off to show his coworkers.

Gilly, Sirius, Neville and Jordan, who had been standing to the side, joined Harry in the now empty arena. They clapped him on the back and congratulated him on his victory.

“So now what?” the black, blue and silver haired boy asked.

“Well, you know what the second task is, but you really should try and open the egg,” Gilly pointed out. “Right now, I think Mr. Scott has something to tell you. He’s on the boat with everyone else, setting up a party,” she said gave him a huge hug. She was just so proud of him.

“Okay,” came the reply and they all Jumped to the shore and Jumped to the boat.

As Harry entered the room, a round of cheering and applause exploded. Kippy had gone all out and decorated the living area with blue and silver banners and streamers. They drank butterbeer, pop (fizzy drinks) and juice and ate the finger food the house elf made. Halfway through the party Mr. Scott held up his hands for quiet. When the room fell silent he made a small speech.

“Congratulations to Mr. Harry Owens-Potter for a task well done. I commend your bout of fair play in letting the others know what to expect. The show you put on dazzled the judges. I would like to think it is because of your schooling, but I know it was a combination of your family’s extraordinary teaching and SMI’s wonderful education. So here is a toast to a great first task, may the next two be just as good.” He lifted his glass and the rest joined him.

“To Harry,” was the chorus that echoed around the room.

Harry just waved and smiled. Gilly and Sirius cheered and clapped the boy on the back.

Mr. Scott held his hands up again. “Next there will be a Yule Ball where the champions will have the first dance.” He smirked at his youngest student, knowing the boy’s girlfriend was still in the States.

The group cheered, but Harry panicked. No one told him he’d have to find a date. Now he was going to have to write Jessie and tell her that this was something that he couldn’t avoid, and he just prayed she understood. He looked around at the females on the team, but they just grinned and shook their heads, pointing at the males in the room. The teen contender deflated; now he was going to have to go and ask a girl. He really hoped his girlfriend was forgiving.

“Cheer up, Harry,” Sirius said from beside him, “all you have to do is make a friend. There are plenty of girls that don’t think your some hero. Just find one of them and ask her.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Harry said, thinking that over. There were only a few Hogwarts’ girls that he knew that didn’t go all starry-eyed around him. He didn’t know them that well though. He shook his head and cleared his thoughts, then turned to Neville and Jordan. “I’m going to go and say goodbye to the dragons tomorrow. Want to join?” he asked.

“Yeah, we can do that,” Neville nodded.

Jordan smiled and nodded as well “It’s about time you let us come,” he said with a smile.

Harry had told them that they couldn’t be in on the planning and they would be bored if they showed up. That and he had been still trying to gain the dragons trust, so appearing with more people might hinder that. Now though, they should be okay. The three made plans for the next day, and then partied with everyone else, until Mr. Scott finally called a halt to the festivities and sent everyone to bed.

After classes the next afternoon, the trio made their way through the forest. It wasn’t until they could see the dragons that Harry pulled out his Cloak and they all got under.

“Cor, they are bigger up close,” Jordan whispered as he stuck close to Harry, which he had to do anyway, since the Cloak was only so big. As it was they were stepping on each other’s toes and grumbling about elbows. This would be the last time they tried this.

“Yeah, but they’re cool,” the streak-haired boy said as they made their way around the enclosure. The three boys were admiring the dragons as Harry pointed out and named each one. Soon enough it was time for them to go, so Harry made his way to the nearest one. “Sasha,” he whispered in a hiss. “I’m over here,” he added when she looked around. “I just came to let you know how thankful I am that you played my game with me. And to say goodbye, it was fun.”

“We would do anything to protect our young. Had any of those in the task not followed along, we would have destroyed them,” the Horntail said as quietly as she could.

“I understand, I would have expected as much. I did warn them,” Harry said, and he had. After the second visit to the dragons, he had informed the others that they would be in danger if they didn’t go along with him.

“I am thankful that you came to us and explained everything,” the mother dragon said, lowering her head to the speaker.

“Great, well, give the others my thanks. We have to go now,” the teen said as he patted her snout, and then the three boys Jumped back to the shore, not wanting to be under that Cloak any longer.

Harry went to the study room and sent off an email to his girlfriend. He explained what was going on and expressed his disappointment that she couldn’t be there with him. He waited for a few minutes to see if there was a reply. When his mailbox dinged, he opened the email and smiled. Jessie said she understood, but he better send something really nice for Valentine’s Day. They communicated back and forth for a few minutes, and then she had to go back to class.

Feeling much better, Harry said his goodnights and went to find Neville and Jordan. His brother was in the same boat as him and had to find a date. They talked about the girls they knew and tried to figure out who was single and who wasn’t.

“Well, since we mainly sit with the Hufflepuffs, there is Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott and Sally Anne Perks. None of them come across as fangirls,” Neville said thoughtfully, tapping his chin.

“There’s that little blond third year in Ravenclaw,” Jordan suggested. He was going with Nicole, who was the only girl their age on the SMI team.

“The strange one that sits next to me and tells me the nargles are infesting the people around her?” Harry questioned. He wasn’t sure if that was someone he could spend the night dancing with, although the entertainment value was alluring. She came off as someone who would have fun no matter where she was.

Jordan just shrugged. “She seems harmless enough. Besides, she can’t go unless someone asks her,” he added thoughtfully. He really didn’t see the need for age restriction, but then again this was a boarding school and they had rules that day schools didn’t have. So maybe there was a reason the younger years couldn’t go to the ball.

Neville smirked at Harry and said, “You could always ask that little redhead in Gryffindor.” He just laughed when his brother threw a pillow at him.

“No thanks,” Harry said with a shudder. That young lady followed him everywhere, whenever he was in the castle, and she completely creeped him out.

“Who said you had to limit yourself to Hogwarts, you could always ask one of the visitors,” Nicole said as she joined them.

“That’s true,” Harry nodded and started thinking of the girls he knew in Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, which weren’t many. They, however, might be in the same position he was and had boyfriends back home. The discussion went on till bedtime, but they came no closer to a conclusion. It did give Harry much to think about as he retired.

November 26, 1994

A few days after the first task, SMI went to breakfast in the Great Hall. They had eaten on the boat the last couple of days, to let any hard feelings blow over. As they entered the Hall, all noise stopped. They halted their entrance and waited. Then the whispers started and then the pointing. Harry and his team noted who looked unhappy or threatening. Most were okay with how the first event turned out, others were glaring at them. It was decided to split once again and see what everyone was thinking.

“Ah, yes, let us give a nice round of applause to our youngest champion, Harry Potter,” Dumbledore said, rising from his throne. The staff complied and most of the student body followed. The Hufflepuffs, bar Cedric and his friends, didn’t.

The Beauxbatons’ students gave a soft applause, whereas the Durmstrang confused everyone by giving a hearty one.

Harry, Neville and Jordan sat at the least hostile table, which was Ravenclaw. It was sad that the Hufflepuffs seem to take it as a personal insult that Harry was in first place. You would think they were more about fair play.

Fleur was sitting next to Cedric’s girlfriend, Cho Chang, or something. The Chinese girl glared at Harry and his friends, and then pointedly turned away.

“Hey, Fleur, how are you today?” Harry asked politely as he ignored the other girl and her rudeness. He was beginning to understand that Hogwarts didn’t teach etiquette to its students.

“I am well, ‘arry. Zank you for asking,” the French champion said, she nodded to the space in front of her that opened up as the boys approached.

The trio filled their plates with fluffy scrambled eggs and toast. Jordan grabbed some sausage, while the other two forwent meat. They ate their meal in silence and when the post came they pushed away their plates.

“‘arry, I wanted to zank you for making zings easier for us,” Fleur said softly as she twisted a lock of her hair, seeming a bit nervous.

“I only wanted to make it fair to everyone,” the tri-color haired boy shrugged. “I’m just glad you didn’t deviate from the plans.”

“I am as well,” she said firmly. “Ze Yule Ball is next, do you know who you will be asking?”

“Well, I was hoping to get to know some people before I asked anyone. I don’t want to have to make some poor girl’s night miserable if me and my date don’t have anything to talk about. Do you know who you’re going with?” Harry was glad that the Veela got over herself and was no longer snubbing the other champions.

“I have not decided yet. Et is ‘ard to find someone who does not fall for my charms,” she said delicately. “I have no wish to spend my night wiping ze chin of my date.” She seemed to sigh as if Harry wasn’t getting the hint.

Harry chuckled, “I am much in the same boat, without the benefit of Veela charms.”

“Yes, I imagine you are,” she nodded her understanding.

“So, Harry,” a seventh year boy interrupted, making Fleur glare at him, “how did you create that snowstorm? Did you learn it from your school? Is it something we can learn?” he leaned forward with the rest of his studious Housemates.

“It’s family magic so I can’t tell you much, but it’s actually pretty easy once you understand weather charms. The problem most people have is they want an instant storm and that makes it harder. All you really have to do is gather moisture from the air and consolidate it in one area, lower the temperature, and presto, a small snowstorm,” the SMI student explained casually. There was a bit more than that, but it was the root of the spell. If they were smart they’d figure it out for themselves.

“Our brother,” said one of the redhead twins from behind him.

“was drooling over,” the second one said, making Harry and his friends bounce their heads to him and then back to the first one when he continued,

“the spell you gave him,”

“for the eggs. You would,”

“think that you were,”

“Merlin incarnate from the,”

“way he talked about you,” finished the one who started.

“Fred, George,” Harry nodded to the correct twin. They had corralled him a few weeks ago and tried to give him the old map. He told them to keep it, since he didn’t attend this school. It wasn’t hard to tell them apart, Fred had more freckles on his nose than George. “So that was your brother, huh? He was so excited he didn’t introduce himself.”

“Yup, that’s our Charlie, he” Fred said,

“misplaces his mind if dragons are involved,” George finished fondly.

“Well, when you write to him or see him, tell him it was my pleasure,” the streak-haired boy nodded. He was glad to help the dragons.

“Will do, Harry,” they intoned together, and then returned to their table.

“Just how large is that family?” Neville said, after the twins left. “There are four of them at the Gryffindor table, and if I am not mistaken there’s one sitting at that the Staff Table.” He nodded his head to the redhead sitting next to Mr. Bagman. That one showed up right after the task, he said something about Mr. Crouch not feeling well.

“From what I understand,” said a dark-haired fourth year girl, “there is a dragon-tamer, the one the twins were talking about, and a curse-breaker. The one with the teachers is Percy, he graduated last year. Counting the four in Gryffindor, that’s seven kids in all. They’re quite poor, but very nice people. Well, if you don’t include Mrs. Weasley’s howlers.” The nearest students cringed a bit.

“That woman could strip paint off a wall with her yelling,” agreed a fourth year blonde. The rest nodded in agreement.

“Does she send them often?” Jordan asked. They were against the rules in SMI; the school felt they were abusive. If you wanted to yell at your kids you just waited until they got home that evening, though he could see that since Hogwarts was a boarding school that would be a little more difficult.

“Oh, yeah, every time the twins get caught she sends one. Not that it has any effect on them,” the brunette offered. “I’m Mandy Brocklehurst, by the way.” She held out her hand to Jordan.

“Miss Brocklehurst, I am Jordan Hilton. This is my friend, Neville Longbottom, and this is Harry Potter,” Jordan said as he shook her hand and indicated each of his friends.

“Nice to meet you all,” Mandy said causally. “These are my friends, Sue Li, Padma Patil and Lisa Turpin,” she added, nodding to each girl.

“Thanks for not introducing us, Mandy,” one of the boys sniped. “I’m Terry Boot, that’s Michael Corner and the other guy is Anthony Goldstein.”

The trio shook everyone’s hand and nodded their heads to those they couldn’t reach. Soon enough the whole of the Ravenclaw table introduced themselves, except that little blonde third year. The SMI boys exchanged looks and Neville, who was closest to her, asked her name.

“Hello, Neville Longbottom, my name is Luna Lovegood,” she said in an airy voice. “I see the nargles leave your school alone,” Luna said with a tilt of her head, like she was looking for something by his ear. “Stay away from the mistletoe, they breed there.”

With a confused look, Neville agreed to stay away from that plant. He had no idea what a nargle was, but he was sure he didn’t want one.

“You don’t want to talk to her,” the Chinese girl who shunned them earlier said snidely. “That’s Looney, she’s crazy and weird,” the girl sneered. “She should have never been sorted into Ravenclaw; I don’t even think someone like her should be in Hogwarts at all. She is just too insane, and her father isn’t much better. All she ever talks about is imaginary animals, she blames everything on them.”

“And you’re a bully and a bitch,” Harry snapped, making the Ravenclaws start at his language. He had been so polite up until that moment, so they had to wonder what happened. “You’d think that as someone older you’d help a younger student who is obviously in need, but from what I’ve seen of you since I sat here you are a complete and total bully.”

“Luna,” Neville said softly while Harry dressed down the girl and her friends, “does your Head of House know what they say about you?”

“Oh, it is alright,” the little blonde said with a wave of her hand, “it is just the wrackspurts infesting them. Professor Flitwick can’t see them, you see. So he can’t uninfest them.” She nodded her head as if stating a sad fact.

“Be that as it may, you should either tell him how to help them or he should take them aside and try to make them understand what they are doing is wrong,” Neville tried to argue.

Fleur came around the table and draped her arm over the small girl, “I understand some people are ‘urtful,” she said. “Being a Veela, I too was bullied. So believe me when I say, you must tell an adult or zey will not stop.”

Harry was still chastising the students of Ravenclaw, making most of them hang their heads for not stopping the harassment of Luna. Others were arguing back that it was their right to treat their Housemate that way.

“Your right? Who the f*ck told you that? I’ll bet if I talk to your Head of House, who looks to me like someone who was picked on as a child, he wouldn’t agree. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll do just that,” the SMI champion said, slamming his hands down on the table and getting off the bench. Jordan, Neville, Fleur and a reluctant Luna joined him. Many of the offenders protested, but they were ignored. The other House tables had stopped their conversation to find out what was upsetting the Boy Who Lived now.

The group headed straight towards Professor Flitwick. Mr. Scott, upon seeing their angry faces, sighed and moved forward to see what trouble his youngest student was causing this time. He stopped behind Harry and placed a restraining hand on the teen’s shoulder. He was beginning to think that someone was spelling the boy to act out. There was no other explanation for his volatile attitude. He was going to have to check the child.

The students came to a halt in front of the diminutive professor. “Professor Flitwick,” Harry said with a polite nod of his head, “I seem to be having a disagreement with your House. They appear to be under the impression that it is okay to steal from and intimidate Miss Lovegood just because she is different. I would think someone of your caliber would stop such nonsense.”

“Miss Lovegood, is this true?” the tiny teacher asked. When she merely nodded her head, he let out an irritated sigh. “I will address my House accordingly. Thank you, Mr. Potter, for bringing it to my attention.”

“Of course Potter would be the one causing trouble. I am sure he is exaggerating it, Filius. We do not even know this upstart. All he has done since he arrived is cause one scene after another,” the greasy-haired man sneered, looking down his hooked nose at the boy, which seemed to be his permeant expression when it came to Harry and his crew.

“Now, now, Severus, if there is bullying going on it is only right that we know about it. Though, I am sure you are correct and it is not to the extent he is stating it is. After all, if it were then Filius would have caught on to such happenings sooner,” The Headmaster said compliantly.

“Nevertheless, I will look into these accusations,” the Charms teacher said. “Miss Lovegood, if you will see me in my office after breakfast. We will go over what has happened so far.” He nodded to his quirky third year, berating himself for not seeing anything sooner.

The blonde smiled a dreamy smile, nodded her head at her Head of House and skipped away, causing the rest of the group to gaze wonderingly at her.

“Mr. Snape, I have warned you time and time again, to leave your hateful comments to yourself,” Mr. Scott said sharply with a warning glare. He kept his hand firmly on Harry’s shoulder to keep him from exploding at the Potions Master.

“That is Professor Snape,” Dumbledore said with a disappointed look over his spectacles.

“Whatever,” Mr. Scott waved away that argument, “It is clear to me why you cannot catch your students mistreating each other when you have such a man on your staff.” He then turned to the Great Hall, dismissing the protesting Hogwarts Professors, and said, “SMI students, it is time for class. Say your goodbyes and we will head out.”

The students said their farewells and made their way back to the boat. Fleur was in deep conversation with Madame Maxime, so Harry and his friends just waved and joined the rest of SMI for class. As a group they decided to walk to the boat so they could converse along the way.

“Harry, Harry, Harry, can’t you have one breakfast with Hogwarts without getting angry?” Cathy Montgomery said, causing everyone to chuckle, not even recognizing the fact that they had spent almost a month without incident.

“It’s not my fault they’re all pigheaded jerks,” the young man said as he pouted. “Besides, we sat at the Hufflepuff table for weeks and I didn’t explode,” he whined.

“Well, that’s one House I don’t think you’re going to find a date with,” Neville said to his cousin as he playfully shoved him.

“Dammit,” Harry said, “I got so caught up in Luna, I forgot all about that.” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration.

“I would say ask Luna, but I already did, while you were yelling at her bullies, and she said yes. I don’t know about you guys, but I like her weirdness,” Neville added, ruffling his brother’s hair. Harry nodded his understanding; he didn’t think he was patient enough to attend the girl properly, so he was glad Neville stepped up.

“You can probably forget most of the Slytherins as well. That Snape guy all but threatened them with expulsion if they even think about it,” said Matthew Sarris with a grimace. “Though some of them are willing to take that chance to hook up with a rich man like you,” he finished with a wink and a nudge.

“That man has been a pain in my ass since day one,” Harry complained, “I mean, I know my dad and his friends were jerks to him, but he really should have been over it by now.”

“Some people just don’t know when to let things go,” offered Mr. Scott. He had already told Dumbledore to keep his pet Death Eater on a leash, but it seemed not even the mighty Headmaster could tame that overgrown child.

“I’m just glad Aunt Gilly and Padfoot weren’t there,” the youngest teen said. “If you think I’m bad, you should see them when someone insults me like that. Thanks for holding me back, Mr. Scott,” he nodded his head to the man.

“Try and have an easier time tomorrow, huh?” he discreetly wave his hand to check for charms and saw the remnants of one, but he couldn’t tell how long ago it had been there. There was also the leash charm that was attached to his aunt. He would have to do a more in-depth look later.

“I’ll try,” came the reluctant response, making everyone snicker.

“Gryffindor might have a few prospects,” Mary Knowles said thoughtfully. “Their chasers all seem to think you’re a cute kid.”

“As long as it isn’t that stalker,” Jordan said with a shudder. “I wonder if her parents know just how intense their little girl is. Her brothers seem to find it funny,” he said with a shake of his head, knowing that if Maize acted like that their mother would take her to task.

Mary nodded in agreement. “They seemed to be egging her on. Doesn’t seem right to me to encourage a thirteen year old girl to chase a boy she doesn’t even know. Though that Granger girl kept trying to dissuade her,” she added thoughtfully.

“If Granger wasn’t so inquisitive I’d ask her, but I don’t see spending the night answering questions about my life.”

“Well you can count most of Hufflepuff out; they are sticking by their champion. It isn’t called the house of loyalty for nothing,” Steven Diaz said.

“Yeah, I figured that out for myself,” Harry shrugged, a bit miffed by that. He actually liked the girls there.

“Give them some time. I’m sure they’ll get over it soon,” Neville said, clapping him on the back.

“Yeah, maybe.”

They got to the shore of the lake and Jumped to the boat. Everyone went to their studies for the day. It was later that night that Harry sent off an email to his girlfriend complaining about how breakfast went. She sent back a reply that maybe he could save himself some frustration and ask his aunt, or even bring one of the older aunts over to accompany him. That lifted his spirits a bit and he said he’d talk to her Saturday.

The next day was spent getting to know the Beauxbatons’ girls, but they mostly giggled and batted their eyelashes at the charming young man. So he turned his sights to the Durmstrang girls, there were only three in that group, but they all had dates with their schoolmates. Harry got to know them better anyway. They were pretty down to earth, and it seemed that Krum had put in a good word for him.

Saturday came and the trio went to visit Gilly and Sirius. After they greeted each other they sat in the homey living room.

“So, Harry, how goes the date hunting,” Sirius asked with a wink.

The tri-color haired boy ran his hands through his hair in complete defeat. “Not well at all. It seems all the sensible girls are already taken.”

“Poor baby,” Gilly deadpanned, and then grabbed her nephew in a one armed hug. “Are they really that bad?” she asked.

“No, not all of them, but most of the Hufflepuffs don’t want to have anything to do with me, and I didn’t make any friends with the Ravenclaws. There were a few Slytherins that approached me, but they seemed to want a contract out of me and not a date. Which could actually be beneficial, but I was hoping to make friends,” he said leaning into his aunt’s hug.

“What about you guys?” Sirius asked the other two.

“I’m going with Nicole, we came to an understanding before we left Salem, that if there was a social function we’d go with each other,” Jordan said.

“I’m taking Luna Lovegood,” Neville said with a shrug. “She seems like a decent girl.”

“Yeah, we heard about what happened the other day,” Gilly said with a lifting of her eyebrow. She and Sirius decided to spend some time together, hadn’t gone to the castle all week. But after hearing about that day, well they might just have to have breakfast there more often.

“It’s not my fault,” Harry complained.

“I know, sweetie, and I’m proud of you for standing up for her,” she said, ruffling his hair.

“Me too,” Sirius added with a small smile.

“Jessie suggested that if I can’t find a date, that I could go with you,” Harry said, leaning his head back on Gilly’s shoulder, looking at her with puppy dog eyes. “Or we could bring one of the aunts over for the night.”

“If it’s really that hard to find yourself a date, let me talk to the aunts and we’ll see what we can do,” Gilly complied. Plans were already circulating in her mind. “If worse comes to worse, then I will be more than happy to be your date.”

“Oi, what about me?” Sirius asked indignantly.

“Do you really want to spend the night at a table with Snape?” Gilly inquired with a wink, which everyone but Harry caught.

“Maybe,” the dog Animagus said slowly as he saw the wink and noted the mischief dancing in her eyes. He smirked internally, man he loved this woman.

“I’ll give it one more week, if I don’t find a nice girl that I think will not go all serious on me then I’ll let you know. If not then hopefully you or one of the aunts will accompany me to the Ball.”

“How goes the gossip of Hogsmeade?” Neville asked, changing the subject since he too could see the mischievous look in his aunt’s eyes.

“My little table is always full,” Gilly said with a smirk. “Everyone wants to know all about the Boy Who Lived. Not that I tell them much, just enough that they know you’re a good kid.”

“Well, that’s good news. What are they saying about the first task?” Harry asked, wondering if the adults of Britain held the same grudges as the children.

“Most of them were damn impressed by your display of magic. I had to tell them how easy the spells were to get them to see that you aren’t some overpowered mage, or something. I also let them know it was Owens’ family magic, and that there was only so much we could tell them,” Gilly answered, remembering all the downplaying she had been doing the last few days. She even had to pretend to use a wand and show them smaller, but similar, spells to the ones Harry had used. Most went away satisfied that Harry wasn’t someone who was going to try and show up their kids, but with the knowledge that Hogwarts didn’t teach that kind of magic.

“I had to do the same with some of the members of the Wizengamot,” Sirius added, miffed that those old codgers were so damn spoiled.

They weren’t as easily distracted. They all but demanded that Harry show all of the Hogwarts’ students the spells he used. Those old men didn’t like the fact that some young Yank could do spell work their children didn’t know. Mr. Roberts argued them to a standstill, stating that it was family magic and they had no right to demand anything. Not wanting to set a precedent they backed down.

“I did tell the Ravenclaws the basis of the spells, if they look hard enough, they’ll figure it out. Then they won’t be as impressed as they first were, which will be a relief, I tell ya,” Harry said. Dealing with the other students was hard. He was glad the students of SMI didn’t view him as anything other than a kid, and treated him the same way they did Neville and Jordan.

“Let’s go into the village and get some candy for the Aunts,” Gilly said, getting up and grabbing her coat.

“That sounds like a plan; maybe we can do some shopping as well. I really haven’t had the chance to check out the stores here,” Harry said as he put on his winter jacket.

“That is because you keep getting detention,” Sirius said with a proud smile.

“Not my fault,” the steak-haired boy pouted yet again.

“You seem to be saying that a lot,” Neville pointed out.

“Do not.”

“Do too.”

“Don’t even start,” Gilly said with a laugh. “What are you guys, two?”

They bantered back and forth as they made their way in to the village for a day of shopping and relaxing. Now that Harry had asked his aunt about the Ball he was less inclined to be searching out a date. His aunt was still a beautiful woman, and he wouldn’t mind at all escorting her.

Chapter 19: The Blind Date and Luna

Chapter Text

A medium narration

November turned to December and the Ball was fast approaching. There were still a few tense breakfasts’, but nothing major like before. Mr. Scott watched his youngest student, and whenever he acted out, the Vice Principal would check him for charms. Sure enough, there were mild compulsion charms on the boy, the only thing was one was to make him like Hogwarts, or want to remain in the UK, but they seemed to have the opposite effect. The others were unknown.

He warned Harry about them and they kept an eye out to see who was casting it, but so far had no luck. Agent Mumford also kept a lookout and spotted many students and teachers like pointing their wands at the boy, but since no spells were seen there was little she could do, but cast a shield. She did note names and made sure that she kept a list, so when the alphabet did come, they could question them. Right now her hands were tied with bureaucratic tape.

Every night the poor boy would have to go through a cleansing ritual to make sure he was clean of spells. Gilly made sure to reapply hers daily, and then she tied them to the Sirius, Claire and the older students. It got to the point that she simply blinked her eyes and it was done. Harry had taken to wearing a shield ring and then the spells stopped affecting him. It had taken two weeks to get that ring from the US government. Now his temper was all his own, or according to Luna, the nargles.

Harry and his crew still sat at the Ravenclaw table, or sometimes at Gryffindor. They tended to switch, but liked to hang out with the Beauxbatons’ students. The French were appalled at the way the Yanks were treated and went out of their way to make the boys comfortable. Harry still made time for the other two champions, but because of the hostility didn’t sit with them for meals.

The youngest champion spent his time getting to know the most of the single girls from the other schools. Even the Hufflepuffs finally yielded to his charms, though most of them didn’t want him to sit at the Hufflepuff table. They were still upset at his victory, and were loyal to Cedric. That and most of them were spoken for, or they were fangirls.

He met with the Gryffindors and got a lot of gossip from the Brown girl and the Patil twin, but they weren’t the type of person you took to a formal social event. His assessment on Granger was correct; she fired off question after question and didn’t stop until he rudely got up and left. She did apologize after, but again that was not how he wanted to spend his night.

The Ravenclaws were out for pretty much the same reason. When he approached them, it was more like a quiz show than trying to get to know one another. Well, he couldn’t get to know them, because all the questions were about him and they would not stop until he answered them. That and there were many girls that were still upset with him over the whole Luna thing. He really didn’t care what they thought; he had no patience for bullies.

The two Slytherin girls, Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis, who had approached him, wanted contracts for family alliance. However, they made sure to let him know that they could not date him, since Snape was a dick and threatened to expel them. He just shrugged, gave them Mr. Roberts’s card and sent them politely on their way.

Gilly just took all of it in stride and told him in the middle of December to not worry any more, she had a plan. She talked to him about his suit and what colors he was going to be wearing, so the dress matched. Harry finally relaxed, handed her some money, thanked her profusely and let her do what she will.

The youngest SMI teen opened the golden egg once and then quickly closed it. When the ringing in his ears stopped, he put it aside until after the Ball. His schoolmates were very thankful. It didn’t really bother him; he already knew the task, so he wasn’t worried. However, since they only guessed that the something important would be a person, Death wasn’t sure, he was a tad concerned about them. That was okay he had plans in place to get whatever or whoever it was out of the lake as quickly as possible. This time he wasn’t going for showy, just fast and expedient.

Besides the elusive charms, there was a bit of excitement when Agent Mumford told the Owens group that someone was digging into Gilly’s past. They had gotten close to finding out about Jimmy Angelov, but the United States Magical Government blocked it. They even went so far as to Obliviate most of the New Salem’s women on the exorcism that they performed, with their permission of course. Most were glad to get that memory removed from their heads, though there were a few that kept it and were sworn to secrecy. So the only thing the reporter got was that Gilly dated a serial killer. The problem with that was that now those women might go back to hating the Owens family.

A week later, there was an article, by Rita Skeeter, in The Daily Prophet, which stated that Gillian Owens was a woman of low moral fiber. It questioned whether or not such a loose woman should be raising the Boy Who Lived. It mentioned all of her past boyfriends, the years she spent partying and then told of her wild fling with a serial killer. The major problem with this article was that it was all 100% true, but for the name calling. Rita had done a fine job at getting her facts straight. It picked on Sirius as well, stating that he was now dating the harlot and how low the House of Black had fallen.

Harry rebutted in the Quibbler, with quotes on how his aunt ‘changed her ways just for me’, and ‘I’ve never seen Aunt Gilly bring men home’ the lengths all of his aunts went through just so he could perform his duties to the Wizengamot. He mentioned all the tutors and all the love they showered on him daily. He even went so far as to say that if it had it not been for the open and honest way he was raised, he would not be the gentleman he was today. Luis and Claire backed his statements, confirmed that they had been hired when Harry was very young and what they had taught the two boys, and that they were still teaching them.

The women of Hogsmeade flocked to Gilly’s little table to get the inside scoop on her past. She was completely honest with them about her wild side, but kept all mention of both of Jimmy’s deaths to herself. Only that she had dated him, and that he was abusive. She told the tragic tale of how one night he had hit her and she ran from him, and after that he just disappeared. She never had any idea he was a serial killer, and how scared she had been when her now brother-in-law came to question her. She made sure to say that she was cleared of all charges. She kept Sally’s part to a minimum.

It all soon blew over and Gilly vowed she was going to bury Skeeter one day. Sirius said he would help. This time was a score in the woman’s favor as she only reported the truth, with quotes from former boyfriends. That didn’t stop Harry from warning her, once again, to stay away from his family.

Now it was almost time for Christmas, the houseboat was decked out in American style decor, such as a large frosted Christmas tree decorated with; sparkly silver and blue garland, shiny tinsel, glass ornaments, and white electric fairy lights. There was matching garland strung around the faux fireplace, with stockings hanging for each student, Kippy and Mr. Scott. The white fairy lights were hanging from the ceiling. Christmas cards were posted along the walls, from the families of the students. Presents were already piling up under the tree, wrapped in festive papers and ribbons. Christmas movies were playing on the video player, and in the classrooms, carols were heard at low volume. It all made for a very festive atmosphere.

Hogwarts seemed to go all out for their visitors and there were icicles hanging from all the banisters, and the walls were covered in frost. There were five large Christmas trees, with real fairies and blown glass ornaments. There were boughs of pine and cedar draped across the ceiling of the Great Hall. Mistletoe was placed in various spots, which the SMI group avoided so they didn’t get nargles. Snow drifted from the charmed ceiling, though it never touched the tables, nor was it cold. The armor suits that lined the halls were spelled to sing carols when you walked past them, which would have been good had they not sung different songs at the same time. All in all it looked very old-fashioned, yet impressive.

The closer it got to Christmas the more excited people got about the Yule Ball. Gossip on who was taking who ran rampant in all four schools on who was taking who and all those that had been shot down. Harry was smug in not revealing his date to anyone except his classmates.

Neville had no such qualms and was often seen talking to Luna. He even mirror called Mrs. Hilton and asked her about the things the young lady talked about. She informed him that Luna was a seer, but her sight was marred by the death of her mother, and influenced by her not quite there father. She suggested that Luna come home with them so that she could be taught correctly. Evie did say that nargles and wrackspurts were quite real, and to stay away from them if they could help it. After that illuminating conversation, Neville went to talk to Mr. Scott and Sirius about speaking to Mr. Lovegood about a transfer. They both said they would do what they could.

Since it was Christmas break there were no classes. Harry, Neville and Jordan made sure all their homework was done earlier that week and spent most of their time playing in the snow. The hover-boards were great for going down the lower hills on the mountain and everyone in the SMI had races.

Many of the other students wanted to know where the SMI School got such wonderful toys. They expressly wanted the product for their selves, and Harry spent a lot of time creating more, for a price. Since they were in a Wizarding World he charged 6 Galleons. Soon enough teens from all schools were racing down the hillsides, causing the staff of all the schools to fret.

The SMI nurse, Joanne Parks, made sure there was plenty of skele-gro for broken bones and such. Madam Pomfrey did the same for the Hogwarts students. Beauxbatons and Durmstrang had their own medical personnel. Everyone was relieved that injuries were minimal and the hover-boards were quite safe.

December 25, 1994

It was finally the day of the Ball. Harry was dressed in a nice tuxedo, piped with silver and blue, with a crisp dark blue shirt, and shiny dress boots. His hair was styled to look deliberately mussed, in that just came out of the wind way. Neville and Jordan opted for school colors and were identically dressed in black suits with green piping, though Neville’s shirt was dark green and Jordan’s was a crisp white. None of the SMI team wore robes, all the boys dressed in various colored tuxedos and all the girls were decked out in beautiful ball gowns.

Neville left early to make sure his date was escorted out of Ravenclaw. Though Professor Flitwick stopped most of the abuse, there were still times that the group of bullies cornered the young lady. Since Luna had a bad habit of brushing them off instead of reporting them, they upped the times they ridiculed her. So the older boy wanted to make sure she was ushered from the dorm to the Great Hall without consequence.

Harry also left early to go and pick up his ‘date’. He arrived at his Aunt Gilly’s nicely decorated house. “Aunt Gilly, I’m here. Are you ready?” he called as he came through the door. He stepped inside the warm house and removed his winter coat. Instead of hanging it up, he draped it over his arm.

Sirius came down the hall all dressed up in a tuxedo, the suit itself was black, but had red and gold trimming. He wore robes of the same color. He had a smirk on his face and was fiddling with his gold stag cufflinks.

“Sirius, I thought you weren’t going?” Harry said confused. Then he spotted his aunt joining them in a racy red dress with a gold cape. “Okay, what’s going on here?” the tri-colored teen said, getting worried they were pulling a prank on him.

“Well, we talked it over and decided it would be best if you went with someone your own age,” Gilly said mischievously. Sirius just grinned with a humorous gleam in his eyes.

“You got me a blind date?” the flabbergasted teen asked, doing his best not to mess up his hair by running his hand through it.

“Kinda,” the red-blonde said vaguely, and then she laughed at her nephew’s fallen face. “Alright, we’ve tortured him enough. You can come out now,” she called down the hall.

Dainty footsteps were heard as a beautiful teenage girl came into view. Her long blonde hair fell straight down her back, held back from her cherub face with a diamond bow shaped hairclip. The silver, floor length dress, which was tight in the bodice showing her very ample chest, and flared to the floor from the waist, with splashes of shimmering blue throughout the skirt, while the bodice had one blue strip that ran diagonally from the left shoulder down the right to her waist. She matched Harry’s tuxedo perfectly. The winter cloak she carried was the perfect blue. Diamond earrings and necklace showed themselves brightly, accenting the silver in her gown. Her sparkling green eyes were filled with mirth, and there was a wicked smile playing at her pink lips.

There in all her beauty was his girlfriend Jessica Jenkins. They had been dating for almost a year now, and they were still going strong. They met last year on a school fieldtrip, where they all went to see the Magical United Nations building. She was even at his last birthday party, though she didn’t stay long past the gifts, since her mother didn’t approve of them dating at such a young age, but her father didn’t mind, which was weird, because it usually was the other way around.

“Jessie, how…? What…? I don’t… Oh thank God, you’re here,” Harry finally settled on, and ran his hand through his hair, then grimaced at the styling gel on it. He quickly waved his hand and the mess was gone, but he vowed to wash that gunk out as soon as he could.

“Harry, you’re so cute when you’re flustered,” his girlfriend said as she planted a kiss on his cheek, careful not to leave any lipstick behind.

“Surprise!” the two adults shouted, both bouncing like little children.

“Thank you,” Harry said sincerely, “I don’t know how you convinced her dad, but thank you. Not that I was against taking you, Aunt Gilly, but I’m glad you get to spend the night with Sirius.”

“Daddy was actually the easy one to talk around; it was Mom that put up a fight. The only way they’d let me come is if I promised to stay off the houseboat at night,” the blonde teen explained.

“How did you convince them to let you come on Christmas?”

What he didn’t know was that that had been the main fight over her coming. It was Mrs. Williams that finally explained that this would be educational for their daughter that finally brought Mrs. Jenkins around.

“Well, we had a small celebration last night and we’ll have the large one on New Year’s Eve,” she confessed with a blush, she was not proud of the way she acted with her parents. It was childish and emotional, but she really wanted to be here for him. She was grounded the rest of the Winter Holiday, when she returned so she was going to make the best of the two days she was here. “Tonight we dance and tomorrow you’re going to take me around this quaint little village, and then the next day the castle, after that I have to go home,” she stated firmly as she tucked her arm in his elbow.

“I am at my Lady’s command,” the streak-haired boy with half-bow and a kiss on the cheek. After gathering cloaks and winter wear, they all Jumped to the front of Hogwarts. Harry and Jessie made their way to where the other Champions were. Harry looked around the Great Hall and was silently impressed.

From the front windows of the castle you could see a walking area that was shielded from the snow, it looked to have bushes and benches lining paths that were lit by live fairies. There was a fountain in the center and a few shrubs depicting Father Christmas and his reindeer.

McGonagall came to the doors of the Great Hall and let the students enter, asking the champions to wait. Harry introduced his girlfriend to the others, at the same time taking in their dates. He was surprised to see Granger was escorted by Krum. She looked good in her lilac dress, with her hair tamed and pulled into a loose bun. Krum was in formal robes that were colored red with brown piping. Fleur looked as radiant as ever in a straight floor length, shimmering light blue gown. Her date had on blue and bronze dress robes, and seemed to be having a hard time concentrating. Cedric and Cho matched in black and white. Cho snubbed Harry and Jessie, causing Cedric to quietly reprimand her. She looked surprised at that, but quickly gave apologies.

McGonagall came back into the Entrance Hall and announced they were ready for them. Harry and Jessie were first in line, followed by Krum and Granger then Fleur and her date, who was introduced as Roger Davies, then Cedric and Cho.

As they entered the Great Hall, whispers broke out about Harry’s date, everyone wanting to know who she was. The four house tables had been removed and hundreds of little tables, which seated six, took their place. There were two long tables at the front of the Hall. The staff of all four schools was seated at the first table and the other officials were at the second. It took all of Harry’s training not to groan when he noted that he was seated next to Percy Weasley. He had heard about the inquisitive young man from the twins.

After they were all seated, Dumbledore stood and announced that dinner was served and the dancing would begin when the feast was finished. Harry and Jessie looked at the tacky golden plates, and then at each other, both had cute little wrinkles on their noses. Neither liked the fact that they would be eating off such ostentatious platters. They were both pretty down to earth people, but ‘when in Rome’. They shrugged and ordered after a minute of conversation about what was on the menu that was placed next to the water glasses. Harry ordered the duck and chestnut stuffing, while Jessie contented herself with pork chops and mashed potatoes with a roasted vegetable side.

It didn’t take long before the questioning began, Harry was getting quite use to the rudeness of the wizards he met in this country.

“So, Harry,” Percy interrogated as he neatly cut in to his roast beef, “where have you been hiding this entire time? Minister Fudge was quite worried when you didn’t appear your first year. Headmaster Dumbledore assured us that you were well and just in training.” He took a bite of his food, but his eyes never left the young man’s.

“I was not in hiding, as you put it. I was simply living my life. My godfather, Sirius Black, knew where I was,” he said, shrugging it all off as if unimportant and turned back to his meal.

“Yes, well, Mr. Black is not what anyone would call responsible,” the redheaded young man said with an air of distaste. “He has never supported the Ministry, and is a well-known ladies’ man,” he said in a stage whisper. “The report in the Prophet says the lady who raised you isn’t much better,” he said with a sniff.

“Be that as it may, he is still the only legal adult who could sign off my guardianship,” Harry rebutted with a small growl, warning the redhead to back off. “And you would do well to leave my aunt out of our conversation,” he said violently as his longish hair lifted a bit.

“You would do well to not underestimate the Wizengamot,” Weasley warned, placing his cutlery on the table. “The Ministry will see that you are raised properly,” he snapped back, like they were the last say in everything.

“And you would do well not to underestimate the United States Magical Congress. Your vaulted Ministry has no jurisdiction on me,” the tri-colored teen snapped back and a small wind started to rise.

Jessie laid a hand on his arm and brought his attention to her. She shook her head and winked. Harry calmed down, firmly put his attention on his date and stopped talking to the annoying redhead. There was no way he was going to let some pompous windbag ruin his night. So he pointedly turned his back on the man and smiled at Jessie. “Sorry, my dear, let’s talk of light things,” he said as he kissed her cheek.

He and Jessie were just starting to catch up on their missing months and were having a wonderful conversation, only for Harry to start being questioned by Granger about his seemingly powerful magic. He tried to keep his temper, not wanting Jessie’s surprise to be wasted. So he answered in polite, succinct statements. He gave her enough knowledge that with a little research she could get the theories down on her own, and then pointed out that he was not her date and ignored her.

After about a half an hour, the dinner plates disappeared and dessert was served. Harry had chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream, and Jessie tried the treacle tart. When dessert was finished, Dumbledore rose again and asked everyone to move to the side of the Hall. When they complied, he waved his wand and the tables moved to the side, opening up a dance area. The band for the night, the Weird Sisters, set up their instruments on a raised stage that appeared to the left of the dance floor, and prepared to start the Ball. The lights dimmed and soon only the square dance area was illuminated.

Harry held out his hand to Jessie and guided her to the dance floor. The band started with a waltz and the champions and their dates took the floor. They were all graceful in the way they glided to the music. When the piece finished the audience clapped politely and soon enough other couples joined in the dancing. After an hour of classical music the Weird Sisters upped the beat for the younger crowd.

Harry and Jessie went to the walking garden get out of the crowded Great Hall. Jessie still looked lovely, thanks to cooling charms. They walked hand in hand and talked of unimportant things. They came across many couples making out in the bushes, which caused them to giggle. Until they spotted Snape walking down the path and send stinging hexes into the shrubbery. The wayward couples would then get reprimanded and if they were from Hogwarts they also lost points. The Potions Master spotted Harry and Jessie, but since they were only walking, he just sneered at them and moved on.

“I really dislike that man,” Harry quipped as the dour man left. “There are times I just want to punch his ugly face. You should’ve read some of the stuff in my parents’ diaries, he isn’t a nice man. Though, to give him credit, he did overcome a really bad childhood,” he mused out loud.

“Well, let’s leave him out of our conversation then. Tonight is for romance, so let’s talk about us,” his lovely lady said, taking him by the arm and drawing him to one of the benches.

“Then I won’t say anything at all about my time here, it really hasn’t been pretty. Instead, I will only wax poetic about how beautiful you are and what a wonderful surprise it was to have you by my side at this great shindig,” Harry said, taking her hand and planting a gentle kiss on her knuckles.

“You’re such a flatterer, Luis would be proud,” she praised, then leaned over and bussed his cheek.

“One of these days, we’re going to get to some serious making out, but this is not the venue for that. Let’s go find Neville and I’ll introduce his lovely date. I think you’ll like her, she’s very different.” He stood and held his hand for her to join him.

Jessie smiled at her perfect gentleman. Her eyes held promise for the future time they would get to some heavy kissing. She took his hand and let him guide her back to the Hall.

When they entered, a flash of light blinded them and that hideous lady reporter converged on them. “So, Harry, are you going to introduce your date? My readers are just dying to know,” Rita smiled with her parchment and green quill ready to misquote anything the boy wonder said.

Harry simply summoned the camera, opened the back and let the film fall to the floor. He then took his date firmly by the arm and moved away from the two Prophet employees.

Gilly, having seen what was going on, moved to intercept the hated reporter. She tore the green quill out of the air and broke it in two, and then ripped up the parchment. “I don’t know what I have to do to make you understand that my family is off limits to you, but I warn you I will not take anything more of your reports sitting down,” she hissed in the woman’s face.

“I am not afraid of you. You don’t even carry a wand,” Rita sneered back, though she did shiver as the temperature dropped. “Are you a squib? Do you think the Ministry will let you keep the Boy Who Lived when they find out you can’t do magic?” she asked, pulling out a regular dicta quill. She could see the headlines now as many different ones formed in her head. She was going to do her best to bury this woman who almost got her fired. “So tell me, Gillian Owens, what is it like to be around such powerful people, when you have no magic?”

“Oh, lady, you can’t even begin to know how wrong you are,” Gilly said, getting in the woman space and once again tearing up her writing instruments.

Sirius joined her at that time and pulled her back before she started to make a big scene. As it was many of the students were staring and some of the dignitaries as well. They all started whispering about what Rita had just stated, and there would be rumor soon. He smiled at Rita in a very sinister manner. “Ms. Skeeter, you know me, you know my political pull; do you really want to take me on?” he asked menacingly.

“I will find out your story, Gillian Owens, my readers have a right to know,” the vulgar reporter threw over her shoulder as she moved away from the couple.

“I wish Jim would visit her,” Gilly said as she glared at the retreating woman.

Sirius barked with laughter, “That would be great. We should ask Harry if he could talk him into it. Though I doubt that… man has any sense of humor.”

“Come on, let’s dance,” Gilly said taking his arm and leading him to the dance floor.

Harry and Jessie, in the meantime, caught up with Neville, Luna, Jordan and Nicole. They were seated at one of the tables near the doors. Neville was watching the youngest male Weasley ignore his date, one of the Patil twins. The redhead seemed to be glaring at Granger and Krum, like he was personally offended that she wasn’t with him, or he could be jealous of Krum.

“The wrackspurts are infesting him, and if he doesn’t get out from under that mistletoe, then he and Hermione are going to get into a fight, because of the nargles,” Luna predicted in a dreamy voice. “It is never good when you have both.”

“Not our problem,” Harry said without sympathy. It was up to Krum to protect his date. He guided Jessie to the only other open chair, then turned and grabbed another from the next empty table. “Is everyone having a good time?”

“Yes,” came the choired response, making them all grin at one another.

Harry just smiled and settled next to his date. The group talked of the dancers, dinner and what they received that day for Christmas. Harry stated that the best gift he got that day was the lovely lady by his side. The Ball ended at midnight, Gilly and Sirius joined Harry and Jessie at the entrance. They pulled on their cloaks and Jumped to the cottage.

“Where are you sleeping, Jessie?” Harry asked, just remembering this was a one room house.

“Sirius set up a temporary room in the back,” she answered. It was a little room with only a bed and a tiny dresser, since she was only staying for two days. They figured she would only go there to sleep, spending most of her time with Harry. She was content with the arrangement. “I would show it to you, but that would not be ladylike.” She winked at him and led him to the living room.

“You’re right, Luis would have my ass if I went into your room this late at night,” Harry nodded his agreement and then let out a huge yawn. Jessie mimicked the yawn and the two teens started giggling. “Let me say goodnight, beautiful Lady,” the young gentleman said and slowly kissed his date on the lips.

Jessie, having been waiting all night, decided to make this more than a polite kiss, grabbed his neck and deepened it. They broke apart after minutes of not breathing.

Harry put his forehead on hers and smiled a flirtatious smile. “Well, that was wonderful, unfortunately I have to go,” he said. Then he gave her one more kiss and then pulled away. He Jumped to the shore and then to the boat, Mr. Scott looked at his watch and sighed, the young man was only a few minutes late, since it was Christmas he let it slide.

The next two days were a whirlwind of activity for the young couple. They explored Hogsmeade together, even went to the rundown pub of Hogshead, and met Aberforth Dumbledore, who didn’t have a very high opinion of his brother, though he never mentioned why. They spent time in each of the food establishments in the village and found The Three Broomsticks was more to their liking.

The next day Neville and Luna joined them as they toured the castle, with Luna as their guide. She made sure to point out all the places that her creatures hibernated and steered them clear. The small group took her warnings, with a bit of salt, but fond smiles. Jessie found she liked the quirky girl and hoped they could get her transferred to SMI the following year. The little third year Ravenclaw was smart and she could catch up on non-magical studies with a little tutoring.

Harry and his girlfriend, of course, took time out to get in some heavy make out sessions, never going too far. Though they were hormonal teens, they weren’t quite ready for more than necking. Once they got caught by Mr. Scott, who scolded them for taking advantage of her parents not being around. They mumbled apologies and did better at hiding.

On the third night Harry had to say goodbye. They were at Gilly’s and Sirius’ cottage waiting for the portkey. While Jessie could Jump, going across that much distance was a bit much. He gathered his girlfriend in a tight hug and whispered in her ear, “I’m going to miss you. Thank you for a wonderful Christmas present.” He made sure to hold her close to let her know his words were real.

“I’ll miss you too. You’d better email me every day, and I’ll see you when you get back,” she whispered back, with misty eyes. She had had a great time and didn’t want to go, but her parents were already up in arms.

The two held on to each other until Gilly cleared her throat, “It is time, Jessie. Grab your suitcase, the portkey is leaving in one minute.”

The couple kissed one last time and Harry moved away. In a minute Jessie was gone. The teen grabbed his aunt in a hug, and thanked her for arranging everything. Gilly just smiled and said she would do anything to keep her nephews happy.

All in all it was a wonderful holiday.

December 29, 1994

It was a chilling winter day. The snow was blowing hard, and piling up high around the castle and its grounds. The SMI students were sitting in the living area of the houseboat, with cups of cocoa; reading, playing games or watching the TV. The faux fireplace was hard-pressed to keep the area heated, but the room was cozy. Kippy was making sure everyone had what they needed to be comfortable, whether it was hot drinks or blankets. They had all just finished a hot lunch of onion soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Mr. Scott excused himself right after lunch and stated he would be returning soon and that Cathy Montgomery, as the oldest, was in charge.

Harry, Neville and Jordan were playing one of the many board games, Monopoly, and just enjoying the time out of class.

“Harry,” Jordan said as he moved his boot piece around the board, “did you figure out your egg yet?” he asked for the benefit of the other students.

“Nope,” the boy with the tri-colored hair said, “I opened it again and it just shrieked at me. I’m going to take a closer look at it when classes start. Right now, I’m just relaxing; it’s not like I don’t know what the second task is,” he lend in and whispered.

“True enough,” the dark-haired boy agreed.

“Are you going to tell the others?” Neville asked as he rolled the dice then moved his hat piece to Park Place and paid Jordan the rent.

“Well, I want to see if they figure it out first. I’ll give them till the end of January, if they haven’t got it by then than I’ll tell them what’s what.” Harry said quietly as he moved his dog piece passed Go and collected $200.

“Sounds like a plan,” his brother stated. “Don’t want to make it too easy for them.” He nodded in agreement.

“Who do you think is going to be put down there?” Jordan asked as he bought Boardwalk. “You owe rent,” he crowed, to his sun-bleached friend, when he rolled a two.

“I hate you,” mumbled Neville as he handed over the money and rolled again passing Go and collecting his $200.

Jordan just smirked back and stacked his money.

“If I had to guess it will be Aunt Gilly. She has already stated that if she is not asked and just kidnapped then she has Mr. Roberts ready to file suit,” Harry said as he purchased the final space for his monopoly, Marvin’s Garden.

The other two nodded and continued their game. After about an hour, Jordan boasted his victory and the boys put the game away. They were just settling in front of the TV when Mr. Scott and Sirius appeared with… Luna Lovegood?

“Everyone, can I have your attention, please,” The Vice Principal said loudly. The noise stopped and all eyes turned to the three people at the door. “For those of you that don’t know, this is Luna Lovegood, she is going to be joining us here at SMI. Make her feel welcome.”

The students moved as one, getting up and going to the waif of a girl. They introduced themselves and shook hands with her. Luna was a bit dazed by the attention, and when Neville noticed he went to her side. She smiled dreamily up at him and leaned closer.

“Okay, everyone, go back to what you were doing,” Mr. Scott said as he guided Luna into the living area. “You can meet this young lady later when it is not so overwhelming. Thank you for understanding.”

Luna, having been raised a British pure-blood, was looking around the room in awe. Her eyes landed on the television and they widened in fascination. She, of course, heard of such a TV from the Muggle-borns, but she had never seen one.

“Come on, Luna, let me show you around. I can explain everything you don’t understand,” Neville offered as he placed his hand on her arm.

“It is so bright in here,” Luna said airily as she let the young man guide her around the room.

Harry and Jordan went to join Sirius on the couch, where he had tiredly plopped down. “What happened?” Harry asked. “I thought we were going to bring her over next year.”

“His mum,” Sirius said, pointing at Jordan. “Gilly was talking to her on Boxing Day and Evie warned her that little Luna needed to be removed from the castle as quickly as possible. Seems her housemates didn’t bow out like we thought. According to Evie, they were actually planning on hurting her pretty badly. Oh, they would have been caught, but their punishment would have been detention and the loss of house points,” he spat, a sneer on his lips.

Sirius knew from experience that Dumbledore would not prosecute students that hurt other students. And while he felt his undeserved time in Azkaban more than made up for the attempted murder of Snape, via werewolf, looking back the lack of discipline in Hogwarts had been detrimental to him. If this school showed the consequences of ones actions, then maybe he wouldn’t have gone after Wormtail.

“Okay, but how did you get the transfer done to soon?” Harry asked, a bit confused, usually it takes months for these things to go through.

“Xeno, Luna’s father, signed over temporary custody to me,” the dark-haired man answered with a shrug. “He isn’t quite sane, and he knows it. So to protect his little girl, he just signed on the dotted line and packed her stuff.”

“How does Luna feel about that?” Jordan inquired as he watched Luna and Neville go around the room.

“She is actually very thankful, seems she thinks her dad will get help now that she’s not there,” Sirius answered.

Mr. Scott gave Xeno the names of a few Healers he knew so that the publisher could get treated. Xeno had told them that he only held off so Luna wouldn’t be picked on more for having a father that was in therapy. He didn’t know that she was already being bullied, until Flitwick sent him a report. Now, though, he could get the help he needed.

“So, she’s a cousin now?” the tri-color haired teen asked as he ran a hand through his hair.

“Nope, more like a foster sister. She’s only related to you and Neville like all of the pure-bloods in Britain, many times removed,” Sirius said with a smile.

“That’s a relief, I don’t think Neville could handle it if she were closely related,” Harry sighed as he watched his brother talk softly to the quirky girl.

“Which is one of the reasons we went with me and not Gilly,” the older man said seriously.

It had been a bit of a debate. The aunts had wanted to get the temporary custody, but Evie put her foot down and said it had to be Sirius, since he had more of a political pull on England’s side of the pond. Gilly was especially happy to have a little girl to dress up.

“So, do you think she can catch up with the rest of us? I mean, I know she was in Ravenclaw, but just how smart is she?” Harry asked as he watched Neville patiently explain what the faux fireplace was and how it gave off heat with no real fire.

“Mr. Scott will test her tomorrow to see how much tutoring she’ll need. According to Filius, she is one of the most intelligent students in her year. Her only problem is that she peppers her essays with imagined creatures as an explanation for things that can’t be explained,” Sirius said with a small smile. “Which is what was bringing her grade down. Evie said she’s going to be teaching our new young seer to see reality.”

“Do we have an extra mirror?” Jordan asked.

“I’m going to whip one up tomorrow, while Luna does her testing.”

The three fell silent and simply watched the young couple get to know each other better. Then Harry and Jordan got bored with watching and joined them. Sirius felt his job was done for the day and Jumped to the cottage.

The next day they journeyed to the castle for breakfast, everyone was thankful they could Jump to the front doors, well not the new youngest, but Neville took her. She thought that mode of travel was wonderful and beat trudging through the snow any day. Everyone knew she would pick it up soon.

The Hogwarts Headmaster met them at the door. “Miss Lovegood, while I understand you wanting to see the wonders of the Salem Magical Institute’s… houseboat, I cannot condone you sleeping there. I am going to have to give you detention and take 50 house points away from Ravenclaw,” the old man said with a disappointed look at the young girl.

“Headmaster Dumbledore, do you not read your missives? Luna Lovegood is no longer a student of your school. We sent the transfer papers to you yesterday,” Mr. Scott said, confused. He made sure all the paperwork was filled out correctly, and that it went to the Headmaster first.

“Alas, I do not recall authorizing a transfer of one of my students, therefore it must be a mistake,” Dumbledore said in finality. In reality this year had been so busy that he had let his paperwork fall behind.

“Headmaster, I was the one who signed the transfer, as is my right as the Head of the House of Ravenclaw,” squeaked Professor Flitwick, from his place next to his boss. He too was confused that Albus was protesting this, but that wasn’t going to stop him from making sure the man understood that this was all legit.

“And I also completed the forms as the Deputy Headmistress,” McGonagall stated as she joined the group. She knew the old man had fallen behind, since she was the one who took up most of the slack.

“Why was it not brought to my attention verbally?” Dumbledore inquired, the disapproving look was still on his face, though it was now aimed at his staff. He was not happy that SMI stole one of his brightest students.

“Albus, you told me you didn’t want to deal with what was happening with Miss Lovegood,” snapped the Transfiguration Professor. “You stated quite clearly that everything to do with the situation would be left up to me and Filius.” She was starting to wonder if the man was senile.

“Yes, I do recall saying such,” Dumbledore said as he stroked his beard. “Well, what is done is done. Shall we adjourn to breakfast?” And he turned away, silently fuming over his mistake.

Harry, Jordan and Neville had surrounded Luna during the adults’ debate. Now they went to the Great Hall, with Luna still in the middle, and pondered on where to sit. Ravenclaw was out, seeing the group of girls sneering at Luna. Hufflepuff was also dismissed as there were still students there who were not happy with SMI being in first place. That left Gryffindor or Slytherin.

“So which table do you think we’ll get the less flak from?” Harry asked, turning to the other students.

“I would like to sit at Gryffindor. I want to explain to Ginny what is happening and why I left,” Luna said as she glanced at the red and gold table.

Harry shuddered as he imagined just how that will go, but inclined his head in agreement. He understood that Luna’s only friend needed to know what was going on with her. So the four youngest made their way to Gryffindor and sat next to the Weasleys. They made sure to sit on the opposite end from the Ravenclaw table. So their backs weren’t presented to the bullies. Dishing up some fruit, eggs and toast, they listened in on Luna telling Ginny what occurred the night before. The youngest Weasley nodded in understanding, while Granger asked personal questions about Luna’s father.

“That is none of your business,” the short-tempered boy snapped, causing Neville and Jordan to put their hands on his shoulders.

“Oh, it’s alright, Harry,” Luna said, turning her big grey eyes to her defender, “she is infested with wrackspurts.”

“There is no such thing as wrackspurts,” retorted the bushy-haired girl.

“And you know this how?” Harry asked snidely, not caring if he was being rude.

“They’re not in any book I’ve read,” Hermione said smartly.

“Look, I want to have a peaceful breakfast at this table,” the weary boy said as he ran a tired hand down his face. “So, you stop asking questions that are none of your business and I’ll stop snapping at you. It’s not like we haven’t had this argument before.”

“Fine,” Granger huffed and grabbed her book off the table and left in a fit of pique.

Harry looked around the table and asked, “Anyone else want to ask personal questions?”

The youngest Weasley male opened his mouth, only to have the twins slam their hands over it.

“What the lovely Miss Lovegood,” stated the one on the left.

“does with her life isn’t our,”

“business. We’re just happy,”

“that she found people,”

“who can help her and her father,” they finished together. They then removed their hands from their brother’s mouth with a warning stare. An embarrassed Ron got up and stormed out of the Hall.

“So, Harry,” inquired the dark-skinned boy —Dean Thomas, Harry thought— “any idea what you’re going to do for the second task? I have to tell you that stuff you pulled with the dragons was wicked.”

“Well, I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you I’m not going for flashy this time. I’m only going to do what needs to be done as quickly as possible,” the youngest champion answered with a shrug, glad it was not a rude question.

“Oh, I think you’re still going to impress people,” predicted Luna as she ate some of the fruit on her plate.

“Well, be that as it may, it’s not what I’m setting out to do,” Harry explained to the blonde.

She just nodded her head and gazed at the spot right next to his left ear. It was a bit disconcerting to have her study the air around his head. He hoped he wasn’t being infested with nargles; he needed to keep his mind on task. As if hearing the young man’s thoughts Luna took the butterbeer cork necklace from around her neck and placed it over his head.

“There, now they can’t get to you,” she said seriously. Then she started to hum a little tune and turned back to her breakfast.

Harry heard snickering from the table of the wise and focused on Cedric’s girlfriend, Cho Chang. She just pointed and laughed at his new accessory. Harry lifted his eyebrow and then pointedly turned away from the girl and also returned to his breakfast. He thought it was cute and matched his rope bracelet. And like the bracelet if it gave him extra protection, well he’d wear it proudly.

Ginny Weasley was torn between feeling happy for her oldest friend and jealous that she was now in the company of the Boy Who Lived. She glanced back and forth between the two pondering on their new relationship. Would Luna take her crush away from her? Oh, she had heard the rumors about the beautiful girl that was Harry’s date to the Ball, but she dismissed them after hearing the girl went back to the States, meaning she couldn’t be that important.

Harry, seeing the emotions that flitted across the face of the only girl Weasley, moaned internally. Maybe he should write to her father about her obsession. He made a mental note to ask his godfather later. He had heard about what had happened in her first year and wondered if the girl had received counseling for her trauma. Sirius was debating on whether or not to compensate the Weasley’s for that fiasco, since he left Britain without finishing his task.

As the morning meal came to a close, Neville started fretting. Luna was going to be tested and he worried about how far she was behind in non-magical studies. The girl in question didn’t seem a bit concerned. Soon enough the dishes disappeared and the SMI group met at the entrance. They made their way outside unmolested and Jumped to the shore, Neville taking Luna, and then to the boat.

“Alright, Miss Lovegood, if you will follow me, we’ll get those tests out of the way,” Mr. Scott said after everyone divested themselves of their outerwear.

Luna just nodded and drifted to his side and followed him to the classrooms. Harry and Jordan tried to keep their friend occupied, but his attention kept wandering to the doorway. Soon they gave up and let him brood. Hours later the Vice Principal and the newest student came out and Luna had a huge smile on her lips, her eyes sparkled with mirth.

She sat herself next to Neville and gave him the short version on how well she did. “I did well on all of my magical tests,” she explained, “and for someone of my upbringing I did remarkably well on the non-magical ones.”

Neville sighed with relief and gave her a one-armed hug. Harry and Jordan joined them and congratulated Luna on a job well done.

“Thank you,” she nodded to the trio of boys. “I am going to be quite busy the rest of the holidays. So if you will excuse me, there are books over there I need to start with,” she said, pointing to the large bookcase on the far wall. She got up and grabbed one of the text books and curled up in an armchair and blocked out the rest of the room.

“Now that that is over, let’s play a game and leave her to it,” Harry suggested, a bit put out that the snow was still falling and they couldn’t go hover-boarding.

“Yeah,” Neville concurred, and they did just that.

The following week was spent getting Luna up to date on all the non-magical classes. No one was upset that they were spending their vacation on studies. It was boring on the houseboat and the storm hadn’t let up yet. Gilly and Sirius visited often and brought Luna some winter clothes, as it seemed most of her non-Hogwarts’ wardrobe was sundresses. Gilly had a great time playing dress up with a girl, introducing her to a new fashion sense.

Harry pulled his godfather aside and asked him about the Weasleys and if Ginny ever got help getting over her first year. Sirius replied that he didn’t know and would ask her father next time he was in the Ministry. He wanted to get a trust setup for her anyway.

Classes stared again and Luna joined the boys in magical studies and etiquette. Luis was patient with the quirky girl and made sure the boys treated her like a lady. It was now part of the class that they practice things like holding out chairs, and greeting a lady. Though they had these lessons before, there was never someone to practice with, since the aunts were barred from the lessons, after the first time Luis asked them to join. Gilly teased the boys so much that Luis made her leave and promise to never come back.

Agent Mumford also took it upon herself to teach the new girl how to defend herself. It was slow going as there was no PE in Hogwarts so they had to start from scratch. So Claire started with stretches and simple exercises mostly stuff you can do inside; jumping jacks, chin-ups and sit-ups. And then she worked Luna up to basic body throws and where to hit someone to do the most damage if they grab you.

Soon enough everyone settled down into a new routine and the merging of Luna into SMI was now seamless. Breakfast with Hogwarts was still a task in patience, but Harry hadn’t lost his temper in the weeks that followed. He did note that Ginny wasn’t following him around anymore, and the twins seemed to be helping her more and more. He figured that Sirius had done what he said he’d do and the girl was now on her way to recovery. Ron looked at her with jealousy, though Harry had no idea why. So he asked the twins.

“What’s up with your brother?” he said one Monday at breakfast. “I noticed all last week he was glaring at his sister.”

“Ronniekins is just upset that,” twin number one started.

“little Ginny has money,”

“and he doesn’t. It was something,”

“that Dad and your godfather,”

“set up to help her recover.” the finished together.

“So he’s jealous of a bit of money? I would think that he would be happy that his little sister is getting the help she needs,” Harry said as he sneered at the youngest Weasley male, who glared back. The twins nodded and went back to their meal.

Ginny, upon hearing them talk, blushed and hid her face in her hair. She was now seeing a Mind Healer once a week, here at the castle. Sirius Black was paying for it, though he wouldn’t tell them the full reason why. Just that he had been responsible for getting rid of the book that possessed her, and that he failed.

January 15, 1995

It was the middle of January when Harry finally figured out the egg. Well, it was by accident. He was outside at the request of the rest of SMI, who were tired of hearing the earsplitting noise every time he opened it. So the teen was sitting on the cold deck trying to puzzle out the annoying object. He knew it had to do with the lake and Merpeople, but he couldn’t figure out how to get the clue, Luna would just giggle at him and call him silly when he asked.

He had been sitting here for hours, trying spell after spell and then he finally got so frustrated that he threw the open egg into the lake. When it floated back to the top a bubble popped and he heard the singing. Running a hand down his face in utter disbelief, he sighed. He should have known to put it in water. He summoned the egg and closed it.

Stomping back into the living area, he threw himself on the closest couch and pouted.

“What is wrong with you?” Neville asked as he joined his brother.

“I just can’t believe how stupid I can be sometimes,” said the sulking streak-haired teen. “It was so simple; just add water,” he said in mimicking voice.

Neville laughed at Harry’s plight and soon Jordan and Luna joined him. The others in the room looked at the near hysterical teens and one of them asked what got them in such a state.

“Just add water,” Neville said between guffaws.

Harry couldn’t help it, now that he thought about it, it was quite funny. So he joined in the merriment. When they finally calmed down, Harry said he was going to take a bath with his egg and the teasing started again. Smiling good-naturedly, he simply got up and went to do just that. After the song confirmed what he already knew, the tri-color haired teen took the egg and gave it to Mr. Scott, stating he figured it out and the school could have it as a memento.

Now all he had to do was wait and see who was taken, he already warned Luna that she was at risk. Everyone already knew his plans and no one was overly worried. They simply went about their business.

It was towards the end of January, and Cedric came up to Harry after breakfast. “Hey, Harry, join me a minute?” the seventh year Hufflepuff suggested.

Harry just nodded and went with him to the Entrance Hall. “What’s up?” he asked as he casually leaned against the wall.

“Have you figured out your egg yet?” Cedric asked, taking up the spot next to him.

“Yeah, a few weeks ago,” the young man answered. “I was going to wait till the end of the month to see if you guys got it.”

“Oh, well, then, thanks for that, I guess,” Cedric replied, a bit upset that he couldn’t return the favor. “Do you think the other two figured it out?”

“Don’t know, but I’ll find out in a week,” Harry shrugged and gave the older boy a questioning look.

“Yeah, that’s all I wanted to say,” he answered the unasked question. The two left and joined their classmates.

Harry explained to his friends what the conversation was all about, when they got back to the houseboat. Many were thankful that the Hogwarts champion had a sense of fair play. Before the month’s end, both Fleur and Viktor asked him in much a similar way. He replied in kind and the four contenders set about preparing for the underwater task.

The weeks went by and Harry started to find love potion in his breakfast more and more. Those compulsion charms were also becoming daily. The ring he wore was tweaked to make sure that none of the charms or potions got past the checks. He was starting to get very, very angry at the students and staff of Hogwarts. They just wouldn’t let him be, so he begged Mr. Scott to be exempt from breakfast and the Vice Principal debated on it, but finally decided that it would be bad for the foreign relations with the French and the Durmstrang students and staff. They were not the problem and he didn’t want to be seen as snubbing them.

Harry moaned and groaned at his plight and was determined to find out who was trying to keep him here.

Chapter 20: Valentine’s Day and Breakfast Arrangements

Chapter Text

February 14, 1995

On a very cold February morning Harry woke up, rolled over, looked at the calendar and noted the date with a groan. Now that he was back in England and no longer sheltered under the house charms, he expected to get a lot of mail. He had already received quite a bit these last few months. Most of it was fan mail begging him to stay in England and protect them, which made him scoff. Some were business propositions, which he sent off to Mr. Roberts and Mr. Prickle. Every now and then he’d get cursed letters or packages, which he handed off to the adults, who would note the curses, who sent them and then sue the pants off the person. That is, if they were stupid enough to address them. Unaddressed ones were sent to the American and British Aurors to be investigated.

His classmates took to teasing about all his mail, but he put up with it good-naturedly. He even let them read them and help with replies. They all thoroughly enjoyed that. What they didn’t enjoy was the spells and charms they had to check him for nightly. So far all they found were some very mild compulsion charms, which were all geared to make him like the UK. Harry was good at fighting those off and they usually coincided with the times he exploded in the castle. In addition, even though they didn’t find any more love potions he had to take a nightly flushing potion, which really wasn’t as bad as you would think. If there were no potions in his system then the flushing potion did nothing, so all Harry really had to do was drink the vile stuff.

Today was going to be bad. He was still getting doe-eyes from the female population of Hogwarts and Beauxbatons. Something he tried to stop with stories of his girlfriend, Jessie. That didn’t seem to hinder the fans though. He got many coy looks and they would say that his girlfriend wasn’t worthy of him and they could make it so he would forget her. This caused him to lose his temper on more than one occasion. He was getting quite a name as a hot-head and you would think that the young ladies would back off, but, no, it just made them want him more. He was just happy that the Weasley girl was leaving him alone, mostly.

Shaking himself from his thoughts, he grudgingly got up, took his shower and dressed in his normal jeans and T-shirt. It being Tuesday, he grabbed his non-magical books for classes and woke up his best friend and brother.

“Come on, guys, I’m not facing this day alone,” he said as he poked Neville. Jordan, who was always easier to wake, got up with the noise and stumbled to the bathroom to prepare for the day.

“What is so special about today?” Neville asked groggily, turning over and giving Harry a bleary-eyed glare.

“It’s Valentine’s Day,” was the succinct response.

“Oh, sh*t,” the sun-bleach haired boy said as he jumped out of bed and frantically started pacing.

“Why are you concerned? You bought Luna’s present ages ago,” the boy with the streaked hair asked, watching his brother move about the room. He scratched his head in confusion and sat on Neville’s bed.

“Yeah, but now I have to worry if she is going to like it,” the older boy state as he walked up and down the floor in agitation. He kept running his hand through his hair and nervously mumbling to himself.

“Neville,” Harry said as he grabbed his brother’s arm, “she’ll love it. Just looking at it shows you put a lot of thought into it.” He smiled at the boy and gave him a reassuring squeeze then dropped the arm.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re right,” Neville sighed, and then threw his brother a thin smile. Fumbling through his trunk, he too got ready for the day.

After the brothers got dressed, they joined Jordan and the rest of the SMI group, along with Gilly and Sirius, to make their way to the castle. Jumping to the entrance, they made their way inside. Harry stopped at the entrance and looked around.

The Hall was decked out in large plastic-like pink hearts and red and white streamer, with glitter falling from the enchanted ceiling that didn’t quite make it to the students. There were paper doves that flew around the decorations, and some conjured cupids that were pretending to shoot bows at the girls, which made them giggle.

In the SMI students’ opinions it was actually tastefully done. Their school had parties in the classrooms at lunch time, where they would hand out the cards. Their decorations usually consisted of paper hearts and poems. Many of the SMI students were missing their significant other. And these decorations reminded them that the Hogwarts students were almost always around theirs, which left them all feeling homesick. Thank God for the internet, where they could at least talk to their loved ones.

The four youngest sat at the Gryffindor table. Harry, keeping as far away from the youngest Weasley as possible, sat at the end of the group. Now that she was getting help, she didn’t quite creep him out as much as she used to, but there were times when she relapsed and being as it was Valentine’s Day, he wasn’t taking the chance.

“So, what’s got you so upset about today?” Jordan asked, dishing up some fruit for his pancakes.

“I’m worried about the mail and love potions,” the tri-color haired boy stated, looking up at the ceiling, while Luna placed some eggs on his plate. He gave her a wane smile, and waved his hand over it. When it came back clean, he just picked at his food.

“Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot about that,” his friend commented, also looking up at where the owls would come in. “Well, the mail part anyway. We’ve got your back for everything else.”

The group fell silent and ate their meal. Soon enough the parliament of owls flooded the room. Hundreds of them swamped the red and gold table. Harry, Jordan and Neville all pushed their plates away, as they always did when the mail came. They never ate after the owls showed, making sure to get enough before it happened. Since SMI was a day school they didn’t have owl post, they never got over the fact that the birds were allowed in the Great Hall during meal times.

Sighing in frustration, the three boys started waving their wands at the birds, checking for curses. They still didn’t want the other schools to know they could do wandless magic. Not until Harry completed the tournament. Most of the letters were harmless and those that showed not to be were banished to the adults at the Head Table. You could see the anger on the faces of Mr. Scott and his family. The rest of the missives were untied, put in a pile, shrunk down and placed in Harry’s pocket to be looked at later.

“Aren’t you going to read them?” Hermione asked, wanting to see who would write the boy hero.

“It is rude to read letters at the table,” Harry explained with a bit of a snap.

“Besides, it’s no one else’s business who wrote him,” Neville added a tad more gently, giving the streak-haired boy a small glare. He too was tired of all the ‘discussions’ held at the table, be they from the charms or not.

“Look, Granger, I’ve been here for months and made it clear time and time again that my business is my own. I’ve argued with you ‘til I’m blue in the face, so I don’t understand why you keep harassing me,” Harry said as he ran his hand down his face. “That goes for all of you,” he growled as he shot a cold look at those who were listening in, making many of them blush and return their looks to their plates.

“And I keep telling you that you’re our hero. We should know what you’ve been doing and what you’re going to do,” the bushy-haired girl snapped back. She was firm on her stance that Harry should be in the limelight. It would boost the morale of the British wizarding public.

Besides, the Headmaster had taken her aside and convinced her that the Boy Who Lived should return to England. He suggested getting to know the young man better and impress upon him the virtues of Hogwarts. He said that since she was the smartest witch her age, she should have an easy time of it. The last time they spoke the man was disappointed in her lack of success. So now she was trying harder, but he was arguing back harder. It was a never-ending battle between the two stubborn teens.

Seeing the stubborn look on her face, like she was going to argue more, and since he was done with his breakfast, Harry got up and stormed out of the Great Hall, his friends and brother hot on his heels. “I am this close to sitting with the Slytherins and taking my chances of being hexed,” Harry said, holding his forefinger and thumb close together.

“Slytherins aren’t all bad,” said Scott Wilder, who had been sitting at that table since day one. “They’re actually pretty cool,” he added with a shrug. “A bit standoffish, but for the most part they are just like everyone else. Besides you wouldn’t have to worry about those compulsion charms there. None of them want you here.”

“Do you think I’d get jinxed if I sit there? Because, I gotta tell ya, I’m sick and tired of having the same argument every breakfast, and I’m sick of the nightly cleansing rituals,” the youngest male student complained, folding his arms in frustration.

“No,” the older boy said thoughtfully, “if you sit with the fourth years and down. But, you’d have to watch out for Malfoy. Now, there’s an asshole in the making.”

“Yeah, and you could always sit next to Krum. He seems to like you,” added Cathy Montgomery, who had also sat with the Slytherins and talked with the Bulgarians a lot.

“Maybe you’re right; I’ll give it a shot tomorrow. I do like Daphne and Tracy, they’re pretty cool, and they don’t go all moon-eyed at me.” And with that they went to their classes and completely forgot about the mail in his pocket.

It wasn’t until after classes that the SMI team gathered in the living room and they went over the letters. There were a lot of sappy poems and love letters. There were even a few marriage proposals, which everyone had a good laugh over. There were some downright terrifying ones that had pictures of naked women, which would have been fine, but most of them were not attractive women. Those were sent to Gilly and Sirius so they could be answered by an adult.

After the letters were done and thank you notes were written, the group handed out their own Valentines. These were simple ones that you could find in a supermarket, since most of this group was just friends. The older students left to use the computers first and that left the younger students to talk among themselves. They were all happily playing games or watching chic flicks on the TV.

Neville, who was sitting on one of the couches next to his new girlfriend, nervously handed a small package to Luna. He had decided to wait until the older years were busy doing something else, that way they didn’t pick on him if she didn’t like it, or if she liked it too much.

The little blonde took it with her dreamy smile and carefully opened it. Inside was a beautiful silver necklace that had a small colored charm, depicting an animal. The creature looked like a cross between a miniature unicorn and an enlarged armadillo, in that it had white fur and a silver armored body. It was roly-poly like an armadillo. It had a small pony head and short pony-like legs. There was a silver crumpled horn on its forehead. Luna gave a squeal of delight and handed it back to Neville demanding he put it on her.

“Wherever did you find it?” she asked in wonder as she stroked the charm, like it would bring her luck. Her eyes were wide with disbelief that anyone believed her that it was real. She and her father had looked for years and now here it was right before her. That led to tears forming for just a moment then she smiled again and looked at her boyfriend.

“Evie told me what the Crumple-Horned Snorkack looked like and I had it commissioned,” the blushing boy explained, his eyes going to where she was fingering her pendant, which laid right were a fourteen year old boy’s eyes shouldn’t wander. As he admired her assets, Neville thanked all the little gods that his aunts invested his trust fund. That necklace that lay on her chest was expensive.

“It’s beautiful,” the blonde said and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She then snuggled up next to him and noting where his eyes were, stopped fiddling with the charm. She was not used to boys looking at her that way, and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. Perhaps, Mrs. Hilton would have some advice, or maybe Miss Owens.

“So, what did you get Jessie?” Jordan asked Harry, turning away from the sappy scene, though he was happy for his friend.

“I got her a nice diamond necklace, shaped like melding hearts and a box of Honeydukes chocolate,” was the answer. Harry decided to treat her right, since she came down and saved him on Christmas.

“I’m sure she’ll like that,” Jordan said with a nod. He wasn’t seeing anyone at this time, so no one got presents from him.

“She did, but her mom didn’t. I don’t know what that woman has against me, but I’m glad her dad likes me,” Harry sulked back on the chair. Jessie had sent him an email that the present was scorned by her mother, who stated that the necklace was much too extravagant for teens to be giving each other. It was only with her dad’s intervention that she got to keep it. There was quite a fight at their house that night, and Harry felt bad for causing it.

“I wonder what Gilly and Sirius are doing,” Neville said, hoping to change the subject.

“Oh, they’re having a wonderful evening,” Luna said airily with a secret smile that only females can pull off.

The boys nodded and took her at her word, being used to Evie, Luna was easy to understand. Harry was hoping that it all worked out for his godfather and aunt. He was happy they were going to have a good time.

Same time at The Three Broomsticks

Madam Rosmerta is a romantic, so she made sure her bar had the right atmosphere for days like this one. The light in the pub was dim; the candles on the tables were giving off only a soft glow and the overhead lights were muted. There was romantic music playing in the background. Couples of all ages dotted the tables, each with their own wards, just for tonight. On the weekend the students would come and the establishment would be brighter, but tonight was for the adults.

Sirius and Gilly were at a table in the back, with privacy wards erected. The simple dinner they had been sharing, of fish and vegetables, was mostly eaten on the plates in front of them. Glasses of wine were half finished and off to the side.

Gilly was in a flowing gown of light green, while Sirius was dressed in robes of black with the same colored green piping. They were staring into each other’s eyes and the atmosphere was getting heavy. Gilly could tell by the look in his eyes that Sirius was thinking hard on something.

He finally he looked at his hand, which was entwined with hers, as if he came to a decision. He lifted the clasped hand, kissed it and then gently settled it back on the table. He reached into his pocket and took a ring box out. He gently placed it on the table and kept his hand over it.

“We’ve been dating quite a while now,” he said softly, retaking her hand in his. “I’ve waited until the right moment to ask.” He paused. “Gillian Owens, will you marry me?” he asked in a fearful whisper as he opened the box and showed her the ring.

If you had told him when he was a teen that he would be settling down, he would have thought you were taking the mickey. But now, that’s all he could think about. It was just too bad that he and Gilly would never have children, which is why he was leery about asking. She had done a wonderful job at raising Harry and Neville, and he was worried that if she couldn’t have kids then she would turn him down flat.

Tears welled in her eyes and she looked between the ring and the man across from her. Never would she have thought he was thinking about marriage. She grabbed his hand and nodded her head yes, not being able to speak the words, praying the entire time that the curse was finally lifted. Sally has been married for over fifteen years and her husband still lived, that and she was pregnant with the first boy in hundreds of years. So hope was abounding. She had dreamed of this day her entire life.

Sirius took the ring and placed it on her left ring finger, and then whooped with delight. He then knocked over the table to get to her, causing many of the patrons to look up at the noise. He grabbed his now fiancé and whirled her around the room, making her laugh along with him.

Madam Rosmerta got the attention of the two by coming up to them and letting off a bang with her wand. “Sirius Black, why are you making such a ruckus?” she snapped, waving her wand to right the table and clear the mess.

“She said yes!!!” the happy man shouted as if that was all the answer needed, and given the day, it was.

The barkeep clapped her hands in delight and called for the best bottle of Champagne. A young woman, hired just for this day, ran to the back to get it. “Go back to your table and celebrate. Quit tearing up my bar,” she said fondly, grasping her hands in front of her and beaming a look of delight at the couple. She knew this would happen soon; they had that look about them.

“We’ll take it with us,” Gilly said, grabbing the bottle that the barmaid brought from the back.

“Oh, young love,” the cheerful pub owner said as she watched Miss Owens, soon to be Mrs. Black, pull her boyfriend out of the establishment. She then shook her head and went back to tending the bar.

“We have to call the aunts,” the red-blonde said as she grabbed a protesting Sirius and dragged him down the street and to the cottage.

“But, I wanted to celebrate,” the dark-haired man whinged, trying to go back to the pub, but Gilly was stronger than she looked. He was pouting at the missed party that could have happened. Madam Rosmerta was quite the partier, if she felt it was appropriate.

“We will, but family first,” Gilly promised as they made it to the house. “Where’s your mirror?” she asked as she pushed him on the couch and cuddled up with him.

“In my pocket, where it always is,” he said, taking it out and handing it over, his grump gone with her enthusiasm. The excitement that filled the air at the cottage made him realize that the woman he loved was just overwhelmed and needed her aunts support to help ground her.

“Aunt Frances, Aunt Jet,” the blondish woman said excitedly in the object. She was bouncing in her seat with delight.

“Gilly-bean, what’s got you so happy?” Jet asked upon seeing her niece’s smiling face. She had a bet with Frances and Sally that something romantic soon. She thought it would be later, but Sally bet on today. She should have known better than to bet against the older sister. Sally always knew what was going on with her Gilly-bean.

“We’re getting married,” Gilly all but shouted with Sirius looking over her shoulder.

“She said yes,” the dark-haired man said with a beaming smirk, like he never had any doubt.

“That’s simply marvelous,” Frances said, and if she wasn’t holding the mirror she would have clapped her hands. “Darn, now I owe Sally five dollars.” She snapped her fingers jokingly.

“You bet on me?” was the mock affronted comeback. Gilly was just too happy to let something so trivial bring her down.

“Of course we did, sweetie, you know we can’t not meddle in your life,” Jet answered with a smirk.

“You didn’t cast a spell did you?” the newly engaged woman asked with narrowing eyes. She wouldn’t put it passed them.

“No, dear, this is all you,” Frances answered sincerely, much to the relief of the couple.

“When is the wedding? You better not have it there,” Jet said with a stern look as she brought the focus back on the good news.

“We haven’t gotten that far, but, no, we’ll wait until we get home,” Sirius said reassuringly, not wanting to get on the aunts’ bad side. He had planned on doing it in the USA anyway, that’s where all his friends were.

“You’d better tell the boys before you tell anyone else,” warned Jet, knowing her nephews would be upset if they were left out too long. “We’ll tell Sally, she’ll be so pleased you’re settling down.”

“Right, I’ll get right on that. I just wanted you two to be the first,” Gilly said with a bit of apprehension, wondering just how well they’d take her getting hitched.

“And we thank you for that, dear. You’d better hurry, it’s getting late there,” Frances said with a fond smile.

“Okay, I’ll talk to you more tomorrow. Good night, Aunties. Done.” And the mirror went blank. She shot a worried look at Sirius and he gave her an encouraging smile. “Harry Potter,” she said at the mirror.

It took a minute, but Harry’s face soon filled the mirror. “Aunt Gilly, are you okay?” he asked at her worried look. Luna said they were going to have a good time, so he didn’t understand why she was anxious.

“Well, sweetie, something happened tonight and I’m concerned on how you’ll take it,” she answered honestly. Sirius was in the background with a proud smile.

“Oh, so the dogfather finally popped the question,” the streak-haired teen said with a smile, making the adults’ jaws drop. “I knew ages ago,” he smirked, not mentioning Evie being the one who told him, just to make sure he was okay with his aunt getting married to his godfather.

“So you’re fine with it?” Sirius asked, getting over his shock.

“Yup. I am the one who told you guys to get together. Besides, I already love you both as if you were my parents,” he said, giving them a shy grin. “Don’t worry about Neville; he’ll be just as happy as I am. I’ll let him know as soon as we’re done.”

“That was a nice sentiment, and we feel the same way about you. But, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to celebrate. See you in the morning. Done,” the man said and the mirror went blank and he pocketed it.

“Sirius, I wasn’t done talking to him,” now it was Gilly’s turn to pout.

“He is an understanding kid,” Sirius said, waving off her concern. He then looked deep into her eyes and said, “Let’s see how creative we can get with that Champagne.” He took her hand and led her to the bedroom. Needless to say, they could get very inventive.

The next morning Gilly and Sirius met everyone on the boat, so she could show off her ring. It was a small gold ring with a tiny diamond. When asked why something so small? Sirius said that Gilly never liked flashy, that she was a down to earth witch at heart and that just showed everyone how much he truly loved the woman beside him. Besides, she thought it was sexy.

Congratulations were given, hugs were passed around and everyone made their way to Hogwarts. This time the older students sat with the Gryffindors and the group of four made their way to Slytherin. They sat near the Durmstrang students, but being raised as they were introduced themselves to everyone near.

“So, Potter has finally deemed Slytherin worthy of his attention,” Malfoy sneered, from his place further down. “Why should we have to put up with the boy wonder?” he asked with his nose in the air.

“I thought all of the foreign students were welcome at any table,” Harry responded stiffly, dishing up eggs and toast, but keeping his eye on the stuck up Brit. He cast his revealing charm and ran his hand over the plate to make sure his ring didn’t go off. He got some sneers, but also some nods for his actions.

“They are,” said Krum with a glare to the uppity blond, who cringed back, not wanting to get on such a public figures bad side.

“Why do you guys sit only here then? I mean I’m sure other tables would kill to have you join them,” Harry asked as he dished up some sausage.

“Ve feel more velcome here, because our school is thought to be Dark,” he explained to the SMI champion.

“You’ll never change people’s minds if you don’t mingle,” the youngest champion said with a shrug. “That is the whole point of the tournament— foreign relations.”

“Go back to Gryffindor where you belong, Potter. And take your motley crew with you,” the Malfoy heir snapped, the shrunk back at all the hostility that came his way.

“Shut up, Draco,” Daphne Greengrass said snidely, “you don’t speak for everyone here.” She flashed a smile to Harry. The contract between his and her family was well taken, it had to do with the business her family ran, and using his name to promote the newest product. They sold potions, and the one they had him endorsing was a hair elixir that would streak your hair the same way as the Boy Who Lived. It was flying off the shelves and if you went down Diagon Alley then you would see many wizards with multi-colored streaked hair. The most popular were the Hogwarts House colors.

“Yes, Malfoy, do be quiet,” said a seventh year further down. He was graduating soon and he didn’t have to put up with any Malfoy, since he wasn’t joining any part of the Ministry.

“When my father hears about this,” the boy said, causing everyone who had heard it before to roll their eyes. He had only been saying it since first year and they were all getting tired of the phrase.

“What could your father possibly have to do with this? Other than raising you with poor manners,” Harry asked with genuine curiosity.

“He is very high up in the Ministry,” Draco answered, his nose in the air.

“Really, what position?” That might be a bit of useful information. If he got the kid to think for himself, then perhaps there could be political ventures in the future.

That caused the young man to squirm. “Well, he doesn’t actually work there, but he does have the Minister’s ear,” the uppity blond confessed, making many of his house mates snicker.

The SMI group scoffed.

“From what I’ve heard of your Minister, that’s not hard. I could probably get his ear if I wanted to.” Harry shrugged the boy off and went back to his meal. So much for that idea, he thought. This jackass couldn’t politic his way out of a wet paper bag.

“The second task is near, have you figured out vot you are going to do?” Viktor asked softly. He had been working on a spectacular plan since this child had showed him up during the first task.

“Yup, and I’ll tell you, this time nothing flashy,” Harry said just as quietly.

“That is good, ve other champions vould like to catch up,” the Bulgarian said with a quick nod.

“You know, since we’re having such a difficult time eating without fighting, I’m going to ask that a separate table be added. You’re more than welcome to join, if I can do that,” the tri-colored haired boy said thoughtfully. He wondered why they hadn’t thought of that before. It could cut down on all the charms and potions. Well, at least the potions part, charms could be cast from across the room.

“That vould be most velcome,” Krum answered, nods of his classmates agreed. While they were most welcome with the Snakes, they were still looked down upon as foreigners. That and the professional seeker also had to check his food for love potions. He whispered to Harry that he too underwent flushing every night. The younger boy nodded in commiseration.

The Beauxbatons’ students were probably getting the same snubbing at the Ravenclaw table. However, Harry didn’t know if they were being laced with potions, but he wouldn’t put it past the students to try and ensnare Fleur.

Hogwarts wasn’t making a good impression on anyone.

The breakfast went better than it had a Gryffindor, but there were some pointed glares sent their way, making it tense. Snape’s sneer the entire time didn’t help. After the awkward meal, they got up and went to class. After classes Harry, Neville, Jordan and Luna went to talk to Mr. Scott. They knocked on the door and were bid to enter. Taking seats in front of the Vice Principal, they stated their case.

“Mr. Scott, I’ve tried to keep my temper. I’ve sat at every House table there is, we are not welcome at three and are under constant questioning at the fourth. I’m begging you again, can’t we just skip breakfast in the Great Hall. Or could we have a separate table where those that actually like us can eat in peace?” Harry all but pleaded. The rest nodded in agreement. “We could charm it to keep the… well not enemy but the untrustworthy away.”

“I know you have, Harry, and I am proud of you for doing your best. However, it is expected of us to get to know the other schools. I know you are tired of being… flushed every night, so I will look harder into getting a separate table for the champions and their friends,” Mr. Scott said, holding up his hands in an I’ll-do-my-best way. “I have a feeling Dumbledore will fight it, though, so do not get your hopes up.”

“I really hate this school,” the youngest champion groused, folding his arms and slouching in his seat.

They talked about it a bit more and the teens left with nothing settled. They joined their classmates and did their homework. The trio spent the rest of the night introducing Luna to video games. She had held off on learning more non-magical entertainment until she got caught up on classes. Now, however, she was simply fascinated with the games and characters, they made sure to keep her away from the more violent games since that was not in her nature.

February 19, 1995

After the talk with the four students, Mr. Scott decided that since his champion wasn’t made to feel welcome in the Great Hall, they would take meals on the houseboat. He talked to the Madame Maxime and Headmaster Karkaroff, since he didn’t want them to think it was in anyway a plot against them. He was surprised when they agreed to do the same, since their students were treated unfairly as well.

After three days of the boycott, Dumbledore called a meeting with all three Heads, guardians and champions. So Mr. Scott, Gilly, Sirius, Harry made their way to the headmaster’s office. All of them wearing their jeans and school T-shirts with school jackets for the Scotland cold. They met Madame Maxime, Fleur and her parents, Viktor and Headmaster Karkaroff along the way. The champions fell to the back and had a quiet conversation about their treatment by the Hogwarts students, while the adults were talking about how they were going to present their case. They made it to the gargoyle and Mr. Scott gave the password.

After they were bid to enter, Harry noted that all four Heads of House were there, along with Cedric, who seemed to be relaxed. There was also a very ugly man, with scars and a false eye that swirled around as if it was looking at everything at once. The youngest champion waited until everyone was seated, and then took his chair. He waved to the Hogwarts champion and got a wave in return.

Dumbledore looked over his half-moon glasses at Harry and said, “Harry, my boy, I am most disappointed that you feel that you cannot dine with the Hogwarts student body.” He was acting like this was all Harry’s fault, which made the teens blood boil.

“I’m not your boy,” he snapped and was going to go further, but Mr. Scott raised his hand and stopped him. So he folded his arms and waited.

“If your students had any manners this would not be a problem,” Mr. Scott said, causing the old man to focus on him. They had agreed to let him be the spokesperson of the group, since he had the least volatile temper. “Harry is constantly bombarded with spells and a few times we found love potions in his food. No one should have to put up with that. We tried to get along with your student body, but they are rude, condescending and, for some God knows why reason, feel it is their right to judge and control him.”

“If your spoiled brat didn’t pick fights with everyone, then our students would treat him better,” Snape snapped with his sneer firmly in place. “I do not believe for on moment that anyone at Hogwarts would want this… child.”

“Shut up, Snivellus. Why are you even here? This is supposed to be for the Heads and guardians,” Sirius countered.

“Severus has my complete confidence,” the Hogwarts Headmaster replied with a small smile, as if they should just take his word.

“Be that as it may, this meeting is for the guardians of the champions. I am afraid I am going to have to ask him and the other teachers to leave since none of them are in charge of a champion, barring Professor Sprout, of course,” Mr. Scott said with a smile to the dumpy Herbology Professor, and then he looked at the assembled teachers with a raised eyebrow.

McGonagall huffed, Flitwick looked confused, Snape sneered, Moody grumbled and Sprout beamed. Dumbledore looked affronted that anyone would tell him he was in the wrong.

“I must insist they stay, since it is their students you seem to have a problem with. Accusing my students of trying to ensnare the child is very incriminating and they have a right to defend them. Now then, Harry, my boy, can you please enlighten us as to why you are not eating in the Great Hall? I can assure you that we want you to be most welcome.” His grandfather twinkle lit his eyes.

Mr. Scott dropped the subject of the teachers and let his student answer about his boycott. It would be simple to just ignore the others, besides, one should pick their battles and that was a minor one.

“Sir, I have asked you repeatedly not to call me by my given name as I have not given you leave to do so, and for the last time, I am not your boy, do not call me that,” Harry barked, wondering what it would take to get people to treat him with proper manners. He felt that he deserved some respect, since he treated all the adults with respect, even the asshole that couldn’t open his mouth without spewing insults. “As to your question, besides the constant attempts to keep me here in the UK, Gryffindor feels they can ask me personal questions, no matter how many times I tell them it is none of their business. Hufflepuff is put out that I am in the lead. Ravenclaw is upset that we took one of their own. Slytherin hates me mostly because their Head of House tells them to,” he answered, glaring at the greasy-haired jerk, who merely looked back with a condescending jeer.

“I am sure that if you had a bit more patience then they will endeavor to make you feel comfortable,” the Headmaster replied, heading off his Potions Professor from making any comments. “I do not believe that anyone in my school would try and keep you here against your will. I am sure it is your imagination.”

The SMI group glared that the man, and Gilly was just about to tell him off when the deep voice of the Beauxbatons’ Headmistress stopped her.

“And what of za way zey treat our students? Are we not as important as young Mr. Potter? Do you believe we are also lying? There ‘ave been a few attempt to get Fleur under the influence,” Madam Maxime said with a huff. “We came ‘ere to better relationships with England, and we are looked down upon by most of your student body. Fleur is given looks of pure scorn at mealtimes,” she stated, very upset that they were being ignored. It seemed that the only person Albus was trying to appease was the SMI champion. She was regretting letting her school enter this contest.

“Yes, Dumbledore, even Viktor is frowned at and there have been many times he too has been potioned. I vill let you know here and now, ve are tired of it,” Karkaroff added with a fist slam on the desk. “Your school has no manners and some of them are criminals. Ve vill be eating on our boat until you,” he poked a finger at the aged man, “teach them some and do something about those potions.”

“I have a compromise,” Mr. Scott said, holding up his hands. “Add a table in the Great Hall for our three schools. It will be spelled to keep those of ill intent away. If your students want to mingle then they would be welcome, however, should any of them come to ensnare anyone sitting there, we will simply add an addition to the houseboat, and all but your school will be welcome. How do you think the press will feel about that?” he nailed, knowing that Dumbledore wouldn’t like that one bit. “Know this, we are recording all incidences with the charms and potions and if our government has to come, then by damn they will find out who is trying the line theft and they will be prosecuted.”

“I am sure we need not take such drastic measures,” Dumbledore said quickly. This wasn’t turning out the way it was supposed to. All of the schools invited were to get along and allies were supposed to be made for the coming war. As of right now, Hogwarts was being alienated. Harry Potter held the school in contempt, if this continued then the boy would never come back to England and all would be lost. “Perhaps you are correct and a table for our guests would be best. I only ask that you give the Hogwarts’ students one more chance to impress upon you the value of making friends.”

“I was making friends, sir,” Harry said, folding his arms across his chest, “until I won the first task. Then your students seemed to get huffy. While Fleur and Viktor took it with good grace, well so did Cedric, but the only House I felt comfortable eating at turned up their noses at me.” He gave a grateful smile to the older boy.

Cedric blushed; he had tried to tell his house that Harry was a great guy, but they were loyal to a fault.

“I will add a table and speak to the children on the importance of making allies,” Dumbledore said, stroking his beard. “The house elves will check all foods before it is delivered. We will make every attempt to not have anything happen to your champions.”

“If you weren’t as stuck up as your father…” Snape started only to be interrupted by a blast of wind that knocked him backwards, making his chair fall.

“I thought you were told to shut up,” Gilly snapped as she stood her hair whipping about her face.

“Please, Ms. Owens, calm yourself,” Albus said, making placating gestures with his hands, while the other Hogwarts’ professors checked on their Potions Master.

“I will calm myself when you keep that man on a leash,” she retorted, the wind not letting up one bit, causing parchment and small trinket to fly around the room. “He is one of the main reasons we’re having such a difficult time adjusting to your… hospitality. His constant grumblings about Harry are annoying to listen to, and you just sit there and let him put down a fourteen year old boy. Not once did you say ‘that’s enough, Severus’. No, you just look at him like he is making a funny joke. How the hell to you expect your students to be forthcoming or innocent when your staff is full of bullies?” The breeze was now throwing larger items around the room, though they didn’t appear to be hitting anyone.

The professors looked affronted by that accusation, though they had to admit that Severus did constantly make snide remarks on the SMI champion. Moody was leaning back against the wall watching everything with his roaming eye, his hand on his wand.

Sirius stood up and pulled Gilly into a hug, trying to get her to calm down, the whole time glaring at the Headmaster and the Potions Professor. “Come on, sweetie, let’s go. This meeting is over.” He cut a glare at the fallen man, and pulled her to the door.

Everyone stood and Mr. Scott’s parting shot was, “This is your last chance, Dumbledore. We didn’t enter this tournament, but we have done everything we could to get to know you, your staff and students. It is now up to you, we are done, the ball is in your court.” And with that they all filed out, leaving a small mess and flabbergasted people behind them.

“Can we really add an addition to the boat?” Harry asked his Vice Principal as they walked to the Entrance Hall. Madame Maxime, Fleur and her parents were trailing behind, and Headmaster Karkaroff and Viktor were in front of them. Gilly and Sirius were at his side.

“Yes, we can extend part of the living area and make it a dining area. We did not want to do that, because we wanted you guys to be at home,” Mr. Scott answered. “We felt that if we made it as casual as possible, you would relax more.”

“Well, it worked. It’s the only place I can relax, well, besides Aunt Gilly’s,” the streak-haired boy said, giving his aunt a one-armed hug, making her smile in return.

“I do hope this works,” Mr. Scott sighed, he hated the fact that there seemed to be a constant battle just to eat a quiet breakfast.

“So do I,” Harry sighed with him. “But, if it doesn’t then maybe instead of making a dining area, we can just extend the living area for meals and invite the other two schools over. We really haven’t given the tours we promised when we first got here. I mean, we have talked curriculum with the other students, but they don’t seem to believe us.”

“You are right, I had forgotten about that. I guess we have all been remiss in our duties as well. I will talk to the Heads tomorrow at breakfast and let them know that we can accommodate a group of five at a time,” Mr. Scott said, a bit enthusiastically. He wanted to show everyone what a great school SMI was.

“That’s great,” the tri-color haired boy said as they came to the entrance of the school. They said their good-byes and made their way to the boat and let the students know what had happened.

Luna took on a dreamy look and said, “It’ll be for the best.” She nodded her head as if it was a foregone conclusion.

“What do you see, little Luna?” Neville asked as he sidled up to her side, putting his arm around her waist and guiding her to the sofa.

“Oh, there will still be a bit of a fuss, but once that’s done everything will settle down,” she said as she sat and leaned her head on his shoulder. “You won’t have to worry about those charms from the students anymore, though I would be wary of the staff.”

“Can you see who?” Harry asked urgently.

“No, just the nargles over the Staff Table,” she said with a sad shake of her head.

“Damn, well, the second task is in a few days, so I’m going to go over my plans a bit. I’ll see you guys later,” Harry said as he got up and left the room. He went to his bedroom and looked in his trunk to make sure he had everything he needed. When he confirmed that he did, he sat and went over the short meeting. He didn’t trust that scarred up man, who he thought was the DADA professor. There was something about him that made Harry agitated. As he mulled over why that was a voice made him jump.

“Young Harry, I have come to impart some knowledge to you,” came an eerie voice from the foot of his bed.

Whipping his head around to see who it was, he relaxed when he saw Jim standing there in all his creepy glory. “What’s up, Jim?”

“I need you to ask your godfather what he has done with the vessels that once housed the horcruxes,” Death replied.

“Okay, any reason for that?” the tri-color haired boy asked, settling back on his bed.

“There is an item that you will need in the future. You also need to read the story of The Three Brothers depicted in the book The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”

“So that book is important,” Harry said, running his hand through his hair. “I started reading it, but it’s mostly children’s tales.” He never got around to comparing the two books, but now that Jim was making and issue out of it, well…

“As young Mr. Ronald Weasley said, there is truth in fiction,” was the vague answer.

“Alright, I’ll read it and ask Sirius what he did with the items,” Harry sighed and pulled out the two books from his trunk and placed them on his nightstand, so he wouldn’t forget.

“Very well, until next time, young Harry,” Jim said with a nod of his head and then stepping back into the shadows he was gone.

“Weird,” Harry said with a shake of his head. He then went to find Mr. Scott to tell him that he was going to his aunt’s house. After he was given permission, he grabbed Neville, Jordan and Luna and they Jumped to Aunt Gilly’s front yard. They knocked on the door, not wanting to walk in on the newly engaged couple.

Sirius answered, looking distinctly rumpled, making them glad they knocked. “What’s up? You look thoughtful, Harry,” he said as he ushered them into the living room, where Gilly was sitting on the couch. Everyone took their seats.

“I just got a visit from Jim. He told me to ask you about the things that were once horcruxes,” Harry answered with a questioning look.

“Hmmm, I wonder why he wants you to have them. I put them in my vault, not sure why though,” the godfather said thoughtfully. It had been a compulsive need to add them to the vault. “Did he say why you needed them?” he asked.

“Something about the Tale of The Three Brothers,” the streak-haired boy said with a shrug. Until he read the books he would have no idea what the fuss was about.

“I know that story. It’s about three brothers that tricked Death, or something, and got an item each for their troubles. Let’s see, the oldest got an unbeatable wand, also called the Elder Wand. The second received the Stone of Resurrection. And the youngest got an Invisibility Cloak. The two oldest died rather quickly, but the youngest hid from Death until he was very old,” Sirius recited what he remembered. “Death was actually very manipulative when he gave them those items. The older two got exactly what they asked for, but didn’t receive what they wanted.”

“I got an Invisibility Cloak from the Potter vault. Do you remember the name of the brothers?” Harry asked now very interested.

“Hmmm, let me think. I don’t know if they mentioned the last name,” the older man said, thinking about the story he had heard long ago.

“It was Peverell,” Luna said, making everyone’s head snap in her direction. “You will find that in the older book,” she added dreamily.

“Oh,” was all Harry could say. Well that answered that question, but he’d read them anyway.

“Dumbledore has the Elder Wand,” she added distractedly.

“Well, that sucks,” Neville said, cutting a glance at his brother to see how he was taking that bit of information. Harry only looked thoughtful.

“One of the horcruxes must be the Stone, I think it was on a ring,” Sirius said tapping his chin, going over everything he had destroyed.

“You said it was a Resurrection Stone, how exactly does that work? Because, I gotta tell ya, I don’t want to be raising the dead,” the SMI champion said firmly, glancing at his aunt, who gave him a sad smile. He had been told about his aunts’ folly in that particular bit of spell casting and had no compulsion to follow in their footsteps. The older aunts had no problem bringing up all the bad things that could happen with that branch of magic.

“It doesn’t raise the dead, per se, more like it brings back spirits. The second brother died of a broken heart when his love couldn’t return to the living. From what I remember, she as in a lot of pain when he brought her spirit to earth,” Sirius said, going over long forgotten memories.

“That bites. I wonder what’s supposed to happen when all three tools come together,” Harry said, pondering if this was the power Voldemort knew not. But that didn’t make sense Voldemort would’ve heard the tale when he was younger, wouldn’t he? He thought. Well, maybe not, after all he was raised in a non-magical orphanage.

“It’s supposed to make one the Master of Death,” Luna answered, “but, really, no one is Death’s Master.” She shook her head at the silliness of magical folk for believing that one could control a deity.

“Well for some reason, Jim wants me to have them. He said they’d help me in the future.” Harry ran his hand through his hair and sighed.

“They are powerful tools,” Sirius stated, not wanting Harry to be disappointed that all the clues led to a dead end.

The others were looking on with various degrees of inquiry. Jordon remembered the story, vaguely, but couldn’t add to what Sirius and Luna said. Gilly, of course, never heard the tale and was interested in what it entailed. Neville was bored, though he did get to snuggle with Luna.

“I’ll go to the vault and get all of the defunct vessels, tomorrow. Maybe there’s another reason you need to have them,” Sirius said. “Now, if that is all, you interrupted something I want to get back to.” He sent a wink to his fiancé. Gilly smiled and made a shooing motion at the teens.

“Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to hear it,” Harry said as he stood and headed towards the door. The others followed. They Jumped to the shore and back to the boat and had a quiet evening playing video games.

That night Harry read the tales in both books and Luna was right, there wasn’t a name in the modern one, but his ancestors were in the older one. The stories were mostly the same, but the feats of magic were more grandiose in the newer version, so he knew that the older one was probably more truthful. While the brothers did do some fancy spell work, they weren’t Merlin incarnate. After reading the two books, Harry now knew that all the Hallows were his by right and decided that he would do everything to get them back.

The next morning everyone Jumped to the Entrance Hall and made their way to the Great Hall. There was indeed another table added and Beauxbatons was already seated, so all of the SMI students went to join them. There were a lot of guilty faces among the Hogwarts students, so Dumbledore must have impressed upon them that what they were doing was wrong. Durmstrang soon joined the table and everyone one ate compatibly.

“So, Viktor, Fleur, have you figured out what you’re doing for the second task?” the SMI champion asked as he served up some hot cereal with fruit.

“Da,” the Durmstrang boy said. “It vill be a great show. I vould like to make up some of the points I lost to you.” He smiled to show he was mostly joking; it looked out of place on his normally apathetic face.

“Oui, I will strive to do zis as well,” the Veela added, with a nod of her head.

“You guys aren’t strategizing without me, are you?” Cedric said as he sat next to Harry and grabbed some eggs and toast.

“Nay, I just asked if they’re ready,” the tri-color haired boy said, giving the Hogwarts champion a playful nudge.

“And what about you, Harry?” the older boy asked.

“I’m not doing anything flashy,” Harry said with a shrug. He had already said this many times. It wasn’t his fault if they didn’t believe him.

“Do you really think they’re going to use people?” the Hufflepuff asked, looking at his girlfriend, who was looking rather upset that he wasn’t sitting by her, but for some reason she couldn’t sit at the new table. The Hufflepuff eyed her put out face and wondered to himself why he was still dating her.

“I think so. Aunt Gilly said if it is her they’d better ask first, or she is going to go to town on them,” Harry said with a glint in his eye.

“Vot does that mean… go to town?” Viktor asked, with a raise of his eyebrow.

“It means, she’s going to sue the pants off them,” Harry answered with a malicious gleam.

“Ah,” the Bulgarian said and returned to his breakfast. He was happy that he could now sit to breakfast and not have to worry about being drugged. He did wonder who they would use for his hostage, since none of his family was present. Fleur was fretting because all of her family was here for the event, and she didn’t want any of them in the bottom of that cold lake.

“Oh, hey, guys, I wanted to invite you to tour the houseboat. Mr. Scott said he was going to set it up, but, if I ask, then maybe after classes today, we can give you guys a quick look-see,” the youngest champion rambled excitedly.

Cedric all but bounced in his chair, while Fleur looked impressed and Viktor was stoic as ever. They had all heard the older SMI students talk about what was on the houseboat and were happy to be invited. So after breakfast Harry asked his Vice Principal and was given permission to give the champions a tour. After classes they met the on shore and Harry Jumped to the boat and back, then handed each a hover-board. Fleur didn’t like the board, but handled it with grace. The two other males enjoyed the crossing. They skimmed across the lake and after some warming and drying charms, they went into the boat.

“This is the living area, as you can see very little magic is used here,” Harry said as he guided them around the room. “We have a room in the back for magical studies.”

“Vot is the box vith the moving pictures?” Viktor asked, looking at the TV, which two students were playing video games on.

“It’s a television. Non-magical can use a device that captures movement and then they broadcast it over waves that are picked up by the satellite dish, then the pictures shows on these devices. It is for entertainment, but can be used for education,” Neville explained, having done this once with Luna.

Judging from the looks on their faces, he wasn’t do that good of a job, so he decided to show them the dish and then get a book that Luna read, so they would understand better. He hoped.

“Why is it so very bright in ‘ere?” Fleur asked in wonder. This was something she could get used to, because sometimes her eyes ached from doing homework in candle light.

“The non-magicals have a way to harness electricity and make it move through wires to operate the devices and lightbulbs. So we don’t have to do anything by candlelight, well unless we want romance,” Jordan answered.

“Zat is a lot of wires,” the French woman stated, wondering where all the wires in question were hidden and how they got them to the boat.

“We have a generator and solar panels to power the boat,” Jordan answered to the unspoken question. And then seeing their confused faces said, “I’ll show you later.”

And the questions and answers went for the few hours the champions were on the boat. Cedric looked like he was in heaven. He had always wanted to see how Muggles lived. Fleur was fascinated with the computers, and what they could accomplish. Viktor looked completely out of his depth, but was impressed. The boys showed them the wonders of video games, and all the champions, bar Fleur, were blowing each other up for a few hours.

After the guests left, Sirius showed up with a Mokeskin pouch that had the destroyed horcruxes in it. “The diary isn’t in there, and Jim said there’s one more,” the godfather explained as he sat next to his godson and handed over the bag. “It’s a snake, which hangs around the Dork Lord. So if we get the chance we have to kill it first,” he added worriedly. He didn’t like the fact that Harry had to do any killing, though if things go as planned the only thing Harry would have to do away with was Voldemort.

Harry looked in the bag and saw the Stone; he pulled it out and examined it. It was a square, black stone with a symbol on it. You could barely make out the circle, triangle and slash, but if you look hard enough it was there. It looked just like the older book said it would. He had to wonder why the newer book didn’t have the description, but figured they didn’t want people to hunt the item.

“That was a nasty bugger,” Sirius said with a grimace. “There was a vicious curse on it, took me a few days to get it off.” He shuddered as he remembered almost putting the ring on. If Remus hadn’t stopped him he’d be dead. There was a compulsion charm on it, and for some reason that kept them from taking it to the goblins, but it didn’t stop them from destroying it their selves.

“So now all I need is the wand, which is owned by one of the strongest wizards of this age. No pressure,” the green-eyed boy said with slumped shoulders. He was good, but he didn’t know if he could stand up to Dumbledore. Then again, he had to fight a wizard that was just as powerful. Perhaps…

“Worry about that later,” the dark-haired man said, clapping the teen on the shoulder. “For right now, concentrate on the second task.”

“Yeah,” Harry said with a sigh as he put the Stone back into the pouch. Sirius left, and Harry spent a quiet night with his friends. He was glad the breakfast situation was now solved, hopefully, well, Luna said there would be an issue, but it would be over quickly. He’d worry about everything later, now was the time for friends.

Chapter 21: The Alphabet Cometh

Chapter Text

February 24, 1995

“f*ck, it’s cold,” was the first thing Harry said when he got out of bed the morning of the second task. The electric heaters in the room didn’t make up for the small drafts that all houseboats had. It was warm under the covers and the general overall room, but the floor was freezing. Pulling on a pair of woolly socks, a thick pair of black sweatpants and a just as thick green sweatshirt, he went to wake up his friend and grumpy brother.

After much poking of Neville, the older boy got up. As usual, Jordan rose first, having woken from the noise. They got dressed and made their way to the living area. Kippy handed out mugs of hot cocoa. They sat and sipped the beverage until the rest of the school joined them. After everyone was assembled they Jumped to the castle and made their way to the champions’ table.

“All ready for the task?” Cedric asked as he joined them with a few of his mates.

“Yep. You?” Harry said, spooning up some hot cereal and grabbing some fruit.

“Yup. Are you going to tell me what non-flashy thing you’re doing?” the older boy asked as he dished up his breakfast.

“Nope. You?”

“Nope,” the seventh year Hufflepuff said with a chuckle. “But then again, I’m trying for flashy. Professor Moody helped me out a bit,” he said in a whisper as he leaned in a little. “Well, what he wanted was for me to tell you, but, you said you had it covered so I went with the idea.” He shrugged in a what-can-you-do manner.

“That’s weird, I thought the teachers weren’t supposed to help,” the boy with the streaked hair said questioningly and then took a bite off his apple with a thoughtful look on his face.

“Maybe, but he did it on the sly. He gave me a book on rare plants and told me to give it to you to borrow. However, like I said, you had it covered, so I read it myself. He was pretty put out when I told him you didn’t need it,” the sandy blond said with another shrug.

“Huh,” was the reply, and they went back to their meals. Hmmm, he thought, I wonder if that man has anything to do with those charms. Why else would he want to help me? I’ll let Mr. Scott know.

The meal progressed and the same questions about their readiness were asked by the other champions when they joined the table. It was a good breakfast. None of the other students asked what they were doing, and when the mail came no one bothered Harry about who was writing him. This separate table was a godsend, those intent wards worked like a charm, and the people who sat there had some manners.

The compulsion charms tapered off to two, they were still mild enough that Harry could fight them off without problems. No more potions were found in either Harry’s or Viktor’s meals. Agent Mumford was keeping record of all the charms and when the alphabet got here, which she was sure would be soon, they would know when and where, they just had to find out who and why.

Since it was Wednesday, the students had class that morning until the task began. When the afternoon came and it was time, Harry went to his room and donned a black non-magical diving suit, some gloves, a knit hat and sneakers, and put the rest of his gear on the deck. Then the entire SMI group, all bundled against the cold in school colored sweats and thick jackets, went to the stands, while Harry went to the pier.

The three other schools’ students laughed at his attire, he just ignored them and looked to see who would be missing from his group. He was shocked to see his aunt in the audience, though she seemed quite angry and was being held back and talked to by Augusta. It appeared the older woman was trying to keep her calm, judging by the fast whispering going on. Sirius wasn’t there, so he must be the person they thought Harry would miss the most. The youngest champion removed his hat, ran his hand through his hair and mentally prepared for the task ahead.

“What are you wearing?” Cedric asked as he came and stood next to the younger boy. He stood in the cold like it was just another day, which to him it probably was.

“It’s a diving suit,” Harry answered with a shrug, bouncing on his feet to stay warm. Though Massachusetts got cold there was a bite in the air here that they didn’t get in New Salem. It chill went straight to your bones and took up residence. Harry just thanked all the little gods that they had electricity on the boat.

“What is a… diving suit?”

“It’s what non-magicals wear when they have to go deep in the water,” the tri-color haired boy clarified, and then went into a deeper explanation at the other boy’s confused look. “It keeps you dry and most of the chill off. That way you don’t freeze to death when you get down deep.”

“Yeah, but how will you breathe?”

“There’s more to it, but I’ve got it stashed.” He waved the question away.

“Aren’t you supposed to use magic?”

“How do you think I’m going to get to my gear?” Harry answered with a wink, causing the other boy to shake his head and chuckle.

The other two champions came up to the two boys and were deeply impressed by the virtues of the suit. They were not happy that they were going to be freezing in the depths of the cold lake.

Fleur was very worried that her sister was missing. Viktor still didn’t know who his hostage was.

A warning bell tolled and the three older champions removed their robes. Cedric was in old-fashioned swimming trunks, Fleur was in a bikini, and you could see she was cold. Viktor sported a smaller model of swimwear. Warming charms were thrown quickly at the Veela and she sighed with relief. They then spent a minute to warm the males, each casting the charm on the other.

Bagman’s voice came over the crowd and the whispering stopped as they listened to him tell what was happening for this task. “Aaannnddd now our champions must face the chilly depths of the Black Lake to retrieve what they will miss the most. Let’s watch and see what each one has come up with to get that prize.”

The complaining started when the audience realized that they were going to be staring at the lake with little to no action being seen.

The cannon went off and Viktor jumped over the lake and his legs morphed into a shark’s tail and a bubble head charm went around his head just before he hit the water. A large splash accompanied him and he leaped into the air, showing off for the fans.

Fleur also leaped over the water and she morphed into a full mermaid, with a fish’s tale, scales on her body and a full set of gills on her neck, leaving the ability to cast if she had to. She made a leap in the air to show she was in complete control of her body, gave a cheerful ‘hello’ to the audience and dove gracefully into the water.

Cedric swallowed some gillyweed and jumped in the water before it took effect. Then he too showed off his ability to talk and swim.

Harry Jumped to the houseboat and put on the rest of his gear, which were a pair of goggles, a small air tank, the mouthpiece and his fins. Then he looked at the map, found Sirius, folded the map and dropped it on the deck and dove to rescue him.

Black Lake lived up to its name, it was dark and murky. Harry had a hard time seeing where he was going. He swam down and used the silent point-me charm to make sure he was going in the correct direction. He ran into the Giant Squid and sent the creature a tickling charm, causing it to purr, if water creatures could purr that is.

He came upon a village in the depths of the lake. It was made of coral and had statues littered throughout. There were mere-people everywhere, pointing and appeared to be laughing. Some of the younger ones played in the bubbles he was creating. The inhabitants seemed mostly harmless, there were a few that were guarding certain buildings, but for the rest they were simply watching him swim by.

Harry swam on; he wasn’t too worried about his godfather. He didn’t think that the British Magical Ministry would be stupid enough to actually endanger anyone. Still, he tried to make good time. It was in the center of the village that he saw four statues. Tied to each one was a hostage. Harry took a minute to figure out who belonged to whom.

Sirius was of course his and he was dressed in non-magical clothes that stuck to his body. Granger must be Victor’s, she was in her nightgown and it was floating up to her knees, it seemed they were smart enough not to embarrass the poor girl. That bully, Cho, had to be Cedric’s, she was in more provocative nightwear, but someone charmed it so you couldn’t see her assets. While the little blonde girl must be Fleur’s, who was wearing what looked like travel wear, she must have just come to visit for the task when she was taken.

The boy with the streaked hair was fuming about the fact that there was a child in this dangerous task. He hoped her parents knew where she was, and if they didn’t then maybe they would join the lawsuit. He waited around to see if Fleur showed up and soon enough saw all three champions swimming in a race to get to their hostage. You could see the French Veela was very upset that her little sister was tied to a statue in the middle of a freezing lake.

Harry waited until all of the others got their prize, and then he untied his godfather and started to the surface. When they hit the top Sirius came to and gasped for breath.

“So,” Harry asked casually as he wandlessly banished his headgear and air tank to the houseboat, “did they ask you?” He tried to Jump, but it looked like you needed something under your feet to do so.

“Nope, and I can tell you, that was a big mistake,” the jokester grinned as he started to swim, after he too failed to Jump to the SMI territory.

“Bigger than if they snagged Aunt Gilly?” the teen asked as he too started to swim.

“Yup, I’m a pure-blood,” Sirius said as if it explained everything.

“Right,” was the reply.

They got to the boat, dried off and Jumped to the pier. The crowd slowly clapped since they really didn’t get to see how he did what he did. All they saw was him disappear and then reappear with his godfather.

Gilly flew down to make sure they were okay, followed more slowly by Neville, Jordan and Luna. Nurse Parks joined them, waved her wand, casting a warming charm and then made sure the two that had been in the lake took some Pepper-up Potion. She then receded back into the crowd.

After much reassuring they decided to wait for the other champions, instead of going to the hospital tent. It was very boring. While they were talking, the judges made their way to where the small family stood. “Harry, my boy, you were supposed to use magic to get your hostage,” the old man said, disappointment in his face and voice.

“I did,” Harry said with a nonchalant shrug, no longer bothering with honorifics for this man, “and quit calling me your boy, dammit,” he bit out.

“Alas, I do not believe that your form of Apparation counts,” Dumbledore rebutted.

“It was magic. The rules said use magic. I did. Just because it wasn’t something spectacular doesn’t mean it wasn’t done. It’s not my fault the rules said nothing about using non-magical help.” He faced the old man with a rising of his eyebrow.

“He is correct, Dumbledore. The rules do not say he cannot use his diving gear,” Mr. Scott said in defense of his student.

It was at that moment that Fleur emerged with her sister, she had morphed back into her regular form and you could see she was frozen to the bone. Victor wasn’t far behind, also in his normal body, dragging Granger behind him, with a very confused look upon his face. The medical personnel of all the schools flocked to the champions and covered them in towels and robes and handed out the Pepper-up Potions.

The judges went back to the stands as the crowd exploded with clapping, stomping and cheers. Cedric came up only five minutes later. He had to wait for the gillyweed to stop working, so his girlfriend went to the shore without him to be nursed by Madam Pomfrey.

After much deliberation the scores were given. Fleur was first, getting full points from all the judges, even Karkaroff, for the full body transformation, so she was awarded fifty. Victor placed second, since his half body transfiguration was deliberate; his score was forty-nine. Cedric was third for his use of the gillyweed. He was given forty-seven. And Harry placed last, for using Muggle equipment, but only just, since he did return first with his hostage. He was awarded forty-four. The youngest champion didn’t care; he was still in second place.

“Oh, by the way, Mr. Crouch, Headmaster, you will be hearing from my lawyer,” Sirius said cheerfully as a smug Gilly gave him a one-armed hug around his waist. “Cheers,” he said as he and his soon to be wife Jumped away.

Harry, Jordan, Neville and the rest of the SMI students laughed their asses off at the gobsmacked looks on most of the judges’ faces. They all got up and Jumped to the boat.

“Did you see the looks on their faces?” Jordan asked as he collapsed onto one of the chairs.

“It was hysterical,” Harry said as he made his way to the end of the room near the dorms.

“Yeah, they were scared Aunt Gilly was going to sue. They must have figured that since Sirius is British he wouldn’t,” Neville said, still chuckling as he pulled Luna to one of the sofas.

“I’m going to go change,” Harry said, and turned to do just that. After he put his sweats back on he rejoined the rest of the students. Kippy fussed and gave him a huge mug of hot cocoa and grumbled to herself about freezing lakes and wacky wizards.

“Well, that was entirely boring. I think I would much rather have had classes,” Nicole said, picking up the book that was on the table next to her.

“Oh, believe me, I know. I didn’t want to be in that lake. It was f*cking freezing,” the green-eyed boy said, giving a full body shudder.

“It wasn’t very warm where we were either,” Neville argued. “But, I suppose the lake would be colder.”

“So, Luna, are we going to get any flack for Harry’s exhibition?” Jordan asked, changing the subject.

“Not much,” she answered in her dreamy voice, “mostly from those that didn’t like us before the task. Though, now the other students will be more welcoming, since Harry placed last. Too bad Cedric didn’t get a higher score.”

They all settled down and did their homework for the day. Harry made sure to shoot off an email to Jessie to let her know how the task went. The rest of the night was spent partying and soon enough it was time for bed.

The next morning they went to the Great Hall and sat at their table. The other two schools joined, along with a large group of Hogwarts students. It was the first time the table was full.

“I want to zank you for giving us a challenge,” Fleur said as she loaded her plate with crepes.

“What do you mean?” a very confused Harry asked as he also filled his plate with the French pancakes.

“‘Ad you not done such a wonderful show the first task, we would not ‘ave pushed ourselves to do better,” she explained. “I was going to do a simple bubble-‘ead charm, but I wanted to impress my school. I worked very ‘ard on my transformation. It was all because a leetle boy … ‘ow you say, showed me up.” Her eyes sparkled with mirth.

“Oh, well, then you’re welcome,” the green-eyed boy said.

The other two champions said much the same, while the rest of the SMI students explained what Harry had done to the magical raised. It was an enjoyable breakfast, until two people decided they had been ignored long enough.

Granger came and sat next to Harry and said importantly, “You know, Harry, if you had come to Hogwarts you would have been able to do something more magical in that last task.”

The streak-haired boy actually spit his juice across the table and looked at her in amazement. “What?” at first he wondered how she got to the table. Then he realized that she actually thought she was doing what she was doing with good intentions, plus she meant no harm, therefore not triggering the wards. Unfortunately, those were some of the flaws in intent wards.

“Well, it’s obvious that your school didn’t teach you how to use magic to go underwater,” she said in her I-know-better-than-you-do voice.

“You just keep thinking that,” Harry said with great sarcasm dripping from his voice.

“You really should think about transferring here,” she continued, ignoring the snipe.

“We don’t want his kind here,” came the stuck-up voice of Draco Malfoy, who was not actually at the table, but near enough to not have to raise his voice. So while he truly believed what he did, he meant to be harmful.

Harry shook his head and said, “You two take the cake. Don’t worry, Malfoy, I don’t want to come to this backwater institute.” And he turned back to his breakfast, causing Granger to bristle at the slight on her school.

It was at that moment that McGonagall, Snape and Mr. Scott descended on the group. “Is there a problem?” Mr. Scott spoke first, hoping to ward off the other two professors.

“No,” sniffed the blond-haired boy as he turned and made his way back to the Slytherin table.

“Of course not, Professor,” said a more contrite Granger.

“Harry?” the Vice Principal asked.

“Not if she leaves,” the younger boy said with a shrug.

“Honestly,” huffed the bushy-haired girl as she got up and stormed off.

“There really wasn’t a problem,” chimed in Neville, “just Granger trying to get Harry to switch schools. No cussing or fighting or anything.” He too turned back to his meal, having said his piece.

“Very good, Harry,” Mr. Scott said, clapping the boy on the shoulder.

“If you were…” Snape started only to be cut off by McGonagall.

“Severus, your job is done here,” she said in a voice that brooked no argument.

His cloak billowed behind him as the Potions Professor stormed off. The Transfiguration Professor gave a tight smile and followed. Mr. Scott giving the boy’s shoulder one more pat, rejoined the Staff Table.

Harry really needed to visit his aunt and Sirius to see how the man got kidnapped in the first place. “Hey, guys, up to visiting the adults? I want to know how they got my godfather,” he asked his friend and brother.

“After classes?” Jordan inquired, he too wanted to know.

“Sounds like a plan,” the youngest boy said and they all returned to eating.

Classes went smoothly. Mr. Scott made the announcement that they were going to give tours of the boat and asked that everyone volunteer at least once to show people around. Harry and Neville were down for later that month, since they already showed the champions. Mr. Scott and his two oldest apprentices were scheduled to take the first group and then it would go down the line. It would all start this weekend.

Harry and the gang finished their homework and told the Vice Principal that they would be visiting his aunt. After getting consent and told to be back before dinner, they left Jumping straight to the front yard.

Gilly was at her little table with one of the Hogsmeade residents, the cauldron’s fire was going full blast to ward off the chill. She waved the group to the house and they went to find Sirius. He was sitting in the living room, sipping a cup of tea and reading the Prophet.

“So, Dogman, want to tell us how they got you?” Harry asked as he plopped on to one of the arm chairs.

The man’s face took on a sheepish look as he rubbed the back of his head and gave a small smile. “I was being stupid,” he confessed with a small blush on his face, like he had been caught in the cookie jar. “I went to get your Aunt Gilly some chocolate. Since we were so sure they were going to snag her, I didn’t keep a lookout for myself. I mean, I’m a Lord and a pure-blood, we didn’t think they would have the balls to snag me. So we warded the house every way we could to keep anyone out, which is why I went out. I heard someone call my name and turned and the next thing I knew I was waking up in that freezing lake.”

“That’ll teach ya,” Harry said smugly.

“Oh, believe me; I got an earful from your aunt about not protecting myself better. She was in a state all night long, trying to figure out what happened. Not that she was overly worried, just that I disappeared. She knew what was happening, but well… anyway, it was a good thing Gussy showed up or she would have leveled Hogwarts. That would have been bad politics,” he said with admiration in his eyes for the woman he loved. He knew she was powerful when angry, and it would have been wicked to see that power unleashed on the organizers of this fiasco.

“I’m shocked that Gran could hold her back,” Neville said from his place on the sofa. “How did she even know to come?”

“I’m not, Aunt Gilly respects older women,” was Harry’s rebuttal. She may not always listen to the aunts, but she did respect them deeply.

“Kippy went and got her,” Sirius answered the other question.

“It also helped,” said Gilly from the doorway, “that Evie mirrored in and told me that he was fine. She warned me that if I took out my anger on those bastards that it would cause more problems in the long run. It was all I could do to sit here and wait.” She moved into the living room and sat on Sirius’s lap. “I’m glad Gussy showed.”

“Me too, babe, me too,” the dogman said and kissed her on the nose.

“Anyway,” whined Harry, “before you two get all mushy. When are you going to confront the Headmaster and can I be there?” he asked in an excited voice, not wanting to miss that fight.

“Tomorrow, Mr. Roberts is coming by, and we’ll be going over the paperwork, and no you can’t be there. Sorry, sweetie, but adults only,” was Gilly’s reply.

“He is an adult,” Luna reminded them dreamily. “He’s going to have to assign a proxy soon if he doesn’t want to sit on the Wizengamot while he is finishing school.”

“Dammit,” the boy with the tri-colored hair all but yelled, “I completely forgot about that. Do we even know anyone who could be proxy?” he looked to the other member of the Wizengamot in the room.

“Well, Dumbledore has been sitting as your proxy since you disappeared, but I’m guessing you want someone else. Let’s ask Mr. Roberts when he comes tomorrow. His firm is neutral, so he may have some ideas.” Sirius rubbed his chin in thought.

“That and he can get someone to draw up a contract for the person assigned,” added Jordan. They all nodded their heads at that and changed the subject to how Harry did on the task. The rest of the visit was spent teasing the couple about letting their guard down and soon enough it was time for dinner, so the students left back to the houseboat.

The next afternoon Mr. Scott came and got Harry for the meeting with the Headmaster. They Jumped to the castle and set off to the office. After giving the password, they trooped up the stairs and Harry knocked. After being bid to do so they entered the room and noted that Dumbledore, Snape, Gilly, Sirius and Mr. Roberts were all in the room. The tension could be cut with a knife.

“Ah, Harry, my boy, please sit,” the old man said jovially, waving to the chairs in front of his desk.

“Hello, old man,” the teen said as he sat down and promptly ignored the scoffing from the teacher and the affronted look on the headmaster.

“And a cheery good afternoon to you too, Albus,” Mr. Scott said sarcastically as he too took a seat.

“Of course, good afternoon, Mr. Scott,” Dumbledore said as an afterthought.

“So,” Harry said, turning to his aunt, “why is the air so prickly?”

“The Headmaster won’t make Snivellus leave. We’ve been talking for over twenty minutes that that man doesn’t belong here,” she spat, the air started stirring again.

Before an argument could ensue there was another knock on the door. Bartemius Crouch Sr. entered and took a chair behind the Headmaster.

“Severus has my complete confidence,” Albus said wearily, like he had been saying it over and over again. You would think by now he would get the clue that they didn’t care.

“Well, he doesn’t have mine,” Sirius rebutted again. “For the last time, Albus, you can tell him whatever you want when we’re done, but I will not speak to you while he is in the room.” He folded his arms over his chest, and leaned back in his chair as if these were his final words on the subject. Everyone on that side of the desk copied his movements and no one said another word.

Surprisingly it was Barty who broke the silence. “Really, Albus, make the man leave so we can get on with this… fiasco,” the Ministry worker snapped. He never trusted the ex-Death Eater.

“You should also dismiss the creepy guy in the corner,” Harry added, looking at the DADA Professor hiding under a disillusion spell.

The scarred man removed the charm, barked with laughter and shouted out, “Constant Vigilance! Good job, Potter.” He nodded his head towards the youngest in the room.

“What is the meaning of this?” Gilly said, standing from her chair. “We came to you to talk business, and you have people hiding in the corner! Just what kind of man are you? You’d better get your act together Dumbles, or I’m going to start getting angry!” she yelled as she slammed her hands on that antique desk, causing everything on it to rattle.

“I meant no harm. These men have my complete trust; however, you and yours are unknown. Can you begrudge an old man for being cautious?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Don’t you give me your grandfather routine,” she snarled as her hair started to lift. The other members of her family stood with her, each placing a hand on different shoulders, but looked angrily at the Headmaster for this blatant display of distrust. “We didn’t ask to come here. We didn’t ask to be scorned at every turn. We didn’t want to be kidnapped and placed in the Black Lake. However, this is what has happened since the moment we stepped foot in your school.”

“Albus, tell your watchdogs to leave,” Mr. Crouch said firmly, hoping to calm the very frightening woman.

“Alastor, Severus, if you will excuse us,” the Headmaster conceded in a tired voice. Snape gave the group a scornful once over and left the room. Moody, one the other hand, gave Harry a praising look before he followed. “Now, perhaps, we can get down to business. But, first, Harry, my boy, why are you here?”

“Well, Albus, ole chap…” the young man started as he sat, followed by Gilly and Sirius.

“That is Headmaster or Professor,” the old man corrected with a disappointed frown.

“And I’ve told you time and time again, my name is Mr. Potter, not Harry or my boy. If you are not going to listen to me, why should I show you any respect?” Harry stated with a disappointed look in his eyes, making them twinkle. He wished he had glasses so he could mimic the old man completely.

“Very well,” Albus sighed, he didn’t seem to be winning any points tonight.

“Back to your question,” Harry said with a broad smile. “I’m here because Mr. Roberts and Agent Mumford are a bit upset that there seems to be no progress on finding out who put my name in the Goblet. It’s been months now and Ms. Mumford is standing by waiting to hear good news from you, so she doesn’t have to call her bosses and report that nothing is being done. See, if she has to do that then Magical Britain will be flooded with the alphabet soup by morning,” he finished smugly, like it had been the plan all along, which it had.

“What exactly does that mean… alphabet soup?” Barty asked, with sweat forming on his brow.

“You know, secret agencies, FBI, CIA— alphabet,” the teen answered with a shrug.

“Aren’t those Muggle agencies?” the very nervous man asked, making the ones on Harry’s side of the desk share a look.

“We have the magical equivalent,” was Mr. Scott’s answer, taking over the conversation.

“I am sure such drastic measures are not needed,” the Headmaster said, looking over his half-moon glasses.

“We told you from the start we wanted to see something being done. Nothing has, so your time is up. If you do not give me something during this meeting then Agent Mumford will call her boss and it will be out of your hands,” the Vice Principle said casually.

“Alas, there is nothing to report,” Dumbledore said tiredly. “We have searched every venue and could find no one who wanted to put this young man’s name in the Goblet of Fire. We have come to a standstill. I am sure that your… agencies will do no better.” He didn’t let them know that the DMLE didn’t look that hard, they, like everyone else in the Magical Britain, wanted Harry Potter to stay.

“Really, I don’t remember being questioned,” Harry said sarcastically.

“We felt that you were telling the truth and did not take that course,” Albus stated with a wave of his hands.

“Looks to me like you didn’t try hard enough, because no one I’ve talked to said anything about being questioned,” the tri-color haired boy said snidely.

“Like I said, it is now out of yours and our hands,” Mr. Scott said firmly, in a tone to tell his youngest student to drop it.

“I’m afraid I cannot let your government come here,” the irate Headmaster stated. He stood and whipped out his wand and made a sweeping motion, stunning the SMI contingent to their chairs.

Harry, seeing his opportunity, used the Owens magic and thought the Wand to his hand. The Elder Wand flew across the room and landed on his thigh. Disarming the old man gave him great pleasure. Now he had all the Deathly Hallows. He just had to figure out what to do with them.

At the same time Gilly, in a blink of an eye, unstuck herself and waved her hand to release the others. When he felt his bonds loosen Harry grabbed the wand. When the rest were released, they all stood; Harry, Sirius, Mr. Scott and Mr. Roberts pointed their wands at the other two. It happened in a split second.

Barty was sputtering that he had nothing to do with what Dumbledore had planned.

“You just made an enormous mistake, old man,” Gilly’s chilly voice filled the air as she waved her hand and stunned the two on the other side of the desk. “You must be the stupidest person I’ve ever met. There is a lawyer present and you stunned him and four others with the intent to wipe their memories. Do you really think you are all that powerful? Or that we didn’t have backup plans just in case you did something like this? I hate people that think they are above everyone.”

Dumbledore wasn’t listening to her rant. No, his eyes were solely on the boy who now held the Elder Wand. His lifelong dream was crashing right in front to his eyes. His mind was in turmoil, he knew the Potters had the Invisibly Cloak. However, they didn’t have the Resurrection Stone. Perhaps if he found it first he could keep this young brat from gaining the power of the Hallows.

“Mr. Scott,” Mr. Roberts said, joining the conversation for the first time, “can you tell Agent Mumford we have a situation here?” Mr. Scott nodded his head and left the room in a hurry. The rest of the group sat down, and the lawyer got a predatory look on his face, “Now, let’s talk lawsuits.” He started pulling out sheets and sheets of parchment.

The Owens group got vindictive looks on their faces and they all settled down and let the attorney handle it.

“Now,” Mr. Roberts stated as he looked over the parchment in his hand, “as you know kidnapping a pure-blood is against the law, since you didn’t ask Mr. Black if he wanted to participate in your games. it constitutes as such.” His smile got bigger. “You’ll probably hear from the French as well, kidnapping a child without parental permission is a big no-no,” he added, wagging his finger at them in a very unprofessional way. “I have talked to Miss Granger; she decided not to join this suit. I have yet to talk to her parents though. Miss Chang and her parents have also declined.”

“I am sure it will not be held against us in court,” Dumbledore said, knowing he had a lot of sway over many of the Wizengamot. He was pleased that his students didn’t turn against him. “It was merely for entertainment purposes and not meant to be harmful.”

Albus was still trying to move the rest of his body so he could get back the wand. He was frustrated that the only thing he could move was his head; it was an impressive piece of magic, yet still annoying. Without the use of his hands he could not call the wand back to him. It did make him wonder how the stunned Harry accomplished such a feat.

Harry seeing the man struggle put the wand in his Mokeskin bag and smiled smugly.

“My client doesn’t agree and neither do the Delacours,” Mr. Roberts said, and his smile got wider, if possible. He always liked putting hubristic men in their place. His firm had been trying to get something on Dumbledore for years. They didn’t like that one man held so many prestigious positions and were all agreed that no one should hold that much power, so if this lawsuit and the American government played out the way they planned then it would take some of those positions away from him. The Headmaster’s earlier actions would be held against him.

Shaking himself from his happy thoughts, he continued, “You took my client off the pavement, stunned him and put him in the bottom of the Black Lake in the middle of February. You snatched a child from under the eyes of her parents and did the same. That is placing them in a harmful, possibly deadly, situation. Now I can’t speak for the Delacours, but I have informed them of this lawsuit and they are speaking to their attorneys.”

“Surely, Sirius, you could see that it was all meant in good humor,” the old man said, turning to his former student with a twinkle in his eye. “You and your fellow pranksters had no problem setting up innocents when you attended this very school.” He gave the man a serious look, trying to remind him of the leniency that was given to him when he almost got Severus killed.

“And you had no problem brushing off attempted murder,” snapped the Animagus. “What would you have done if that prank had gone too far? Would you have swept it under the carpet? No big deal; just a poor little half-blood, with no political standing. What’s that compared to two pure-bloods who can give you money for your vigilante group? As much as I hated Snivellus, and still do, you should have disciplined us far harsher than you did.” His eyes flashed with regret and then steeled in anger to glare at the old man. Sirius now knew it was thanks to Gilly and her family the he had matured enough to understand what he did was wrong. Not to mention the scolding he got from Harry, who didn’t talk to him for weeks when he heard. He didn’t need the Headmaster trying to guilt him about it. He was still put out with the man for getting Snivellus off and leaving him in Azkaban.

This was the main reason they did not pursue the compulsion charms and love potions. Albus too many names Dumbledore would have just swept it all under the carpet. He would have smack whoever on the wrist and told them not to do it again. He showed that he had a lot of pull in the Wizengamot and DMLE, since nothing had been done to find out who had put Harry’s name in the Goblet. Now that the alphabet was coming, whoever was caught will be prosecuted for whatever they were guilt of. Plus, Harry had the full backing of the American Government.

“You should learn to forgive, Sirius, my boy,” the Headmaster said and were he not petrified he would have waved his hand. “Just like that time, there was no one hurt and therefore it should be forgotten.” Now that he felt he couldn’t manipulate Sirius’s past to his advantage, he would dismiss it so it couldn’t be turned on him.

“That’s not why we’re here tonight,” the barrister said sharply. “We’re here because you broke the law and are now being sued for it.” He knew of the prank in question, it had been all over the school when it happened and caused more animosity between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Since he had been in Slytherin at the time, he had a hard time getting around it when Sirius started using his firm. But, with Harry being the man’s godson, he put it aside and blamed the Headmaster for the strain it put on the two Houses. “Let’s not forget the attempt to Obliviate of all the people here, I’ll be filing a separate suit for that, that one will be criminal.”

“There must be something we can do to appease you, gentlemen,” Crouch spoke up. Bribes weren’t uncommon in the Ministry and he had no problem doing just that. “And lady,” he added quickly at Gilly’s look.

“Nope, sorry, these lawsuits are going to happen,” Sirius said with a malicious grin. This was the man who threw him in prison without a trial; there was nothing Barty could offer to get him out of this predicament. He hated Crouch more than he hated Snape.

“Here are the complaints we’ve filed. You should receive a summons as soon as it appears on the docket,” Mr. Roberts said, placing the parchments on the desk, not caring that neither man could get to them. “If I were you, I’d be ready to answer some serious questions from the DMLE about the criminal charges.”

Just then the door opened without anyone knocking. Mr. Scott and Agent Mumford walked in and stood behind Harry. The agent threw some papers on the desk. It was what held them up, these had just been faxed to her. “Tomorrow this place is going to be crawling with agents. You better warn your staff and students that they will all be interrogated. Letters should be sent to parents so they can be here, or we will just take the questioning to them,” Claire said, folding her arms in a no-nonsense manner. “These are the orders from the ICW and they are all legal. Had your Ministry done its job, and had you not threatened our citizens, we would not have to do this.” Oh, yeah she was mad. She was going to throw the book at this… person. “And don’t think we’ve forgotten all the mind altering things that have been done to Harry. We will find out who, and they will be prosecuted.”

Dumbledore sighed. He had tried so hard to keep the ICW out of the happenings in Britain, now every single one of his plans to get the Boy Who Lived to move back to England were ruined. It was even worse that he no longer held the Elder Wand. He attempted once more to get free of the spell that blasted woman had placed him under, but to no avail, which made him wonder just how powerful she was, and how much she had taught Harry. There was no way the boy would sacrifice himself if he were powerful. If he had the Hallows, well, all was lost.

Crouch started to sweat again. He had his own worries and this stupid tournament and the idiotic lawsuit were the last things on his mind. He still had no clue where his wayward son was. He didn’t even bother to get loose; he was too worried about landing in Azkaban. Thank goodness he had freed Winky the moment his son disappeared; now she couldn’t be questioned about the goings on in his household. He had no idea what happened to her and really didn’t care, as long as she wasn’t a liability. Still his believed dead son was still out there and probably causing mayhem. If they found his son, well, then his life would be over. He might be able to bribe his way out of prison, but his career would be done for.

“Well,” Mr. Roberts said jovially, “looks like we’re done here. See you two in court.” He took up the rest of his parchments and put them in his briefcase, stood and made his way to the door, the rest followed.

Everyone trooped out, Gilly being the last. “I told you not to make me angry,” she said with great cheer, and waved her hand to release the two men. She then slammed the door behind her as quickly as she could, threw a temporary locking spell on it, not wanting to have to fight them if they gathered their wits enough to start throwing curses. The SMI group and Mr. Roberts made their way down the stairs and got to the Entrance Hall unmolested.

“You know,” said the barrister, “I’ve never been on your houseboat. Can I come and take a look around?” He was eager to see the updated equipment he had heard so much about, maybe he could get the firm to move their offices to non-magical London so they too could get these wonderful inventions.

“How very thoughtless of me,” Mr. Scott said, a hint of pink on his ears. “Of course, you are welcome anytime. Can you Jump?”

“Not yet,” was the sheepish answer. “Miss Owens has been teaching me, but I don’t quite have a handle on it.”

“That is not a problem, I can take you,” the Vice Principal said, holding out his arm for the man to grab.

They Jumped to the shore and then to the boat. Mr. Scott showed the attorney around and waxed poetic on the use of computers and how it would make the man’s job easier. The older two men wandered off to the computer room so Mr. Scott could impress Mr. Roberts with how the kids did their homework and kept in touch with their families. He would take him to the office and show him the fax machine, without which he would never complete his work.

Harry, upon entering the boat, jerked his head to the stairs, he wanted to go to the practice room. It should be empty this time of night and he wanted Luna to hear what happened. Because of the room wards, she couldn’t go to their dorm. Harry, Neville, Jordan, Luna, Gilly and Sirius all moved to the room. Harry told them what happened in the office. They were shocked that the Headmaster would try and go to such extremes to keep the government from interfering. The youngest male laughed and said it served the old man right. And then he sobered, reached into his Mokeskin bag and held up the Elder Wand for them to see.

“That is a very powerful wand,” commented Sirius, who was a little spooked that his godson was now the Master of Death.

“Yes, it is,” spoke a voice from the shadows as Jim stepped forward.

“So, what does it all mean?” a confused Harry asked.

“Nothing for you to worry about right now,” Death said with a dismissive wave of his boney hand. “What you need to concentrate on is that you now have powerful tools. I know you plan on using the Cloak in the final task. I suggest you keep all the Hallows with you at all times. They could be most useful when you least expect it.”

“So there is something I need to worry about later?” asked the boy with the tri-colored hair, a wary look in his eyes. He didn’t miss that tidbit of information, and was now worried that this whole Master of Death thing was more than what the story made it out to be.

“Yes, later,” the skeletal man said, not offering any more than that. “Heed my words, keep the Hallows close,” he said, and then he disappeared the same as he always did, into the shadows.

“Sometimes he really pisses me off,” Harry said with a grumpy tone to his voice.

“Still, what he did say was important,” Luna predicted, making everyone look up. “Those tools are going to be vital in the final task, and the following fight.”

“Can you see how?” Neville asked, worried about his cousin.

“No, the nargles are interfering,” the little seer said. “You’re not wearing your necklace,” she accused the youngest champion.

“Oops, I forgot to put it back on after the task. It would’ve floated off me in the water and I didn’t want to lose it,” the youngest male said, making the girl glare at him. “I’ll put it back on when we’re done here,” he quickly said at that look.

She simply nodded and stared at the creatures currently muddling the boy’s mind.

“Okay,” Sirius said, “now that we’ve talked to Death and got in his normal riddle, let’s get down to what you’re doing for the final task.” He was going to let the FBI and Mr. Roberts handle the attempted mind-wipe.

So they spent the next half an hour going over the finishing touches on the plan and how Harry could use the Hallows to their fullest extent. It was decided that he would keep them in the Mokeskin bag tied to his belt. It was now time for dinner and the newly engaged couple went home. The SMI students joined their peers and had a nice meal of mac-and-cheese with hotdogs. Mr. Roberts joined them and was delighted to partake in the simple American fare.

Harry approached the man when dinner was done. “Mr. Roberts,” he said politely, “I have a dilemma that I need your help with. Can you come to the magic room?”

“Of course, Mr. Potter, it’s one of the reasons you pay me,” the lawyer said as he grabbed his briefcase and stood to join the boy.

The two went to the room and Harry conjured two chairs. Mr. Roberts threw up some privacy wards. They sat and the attorney waited for his client to begin.

“I need a proxy for my Wizengamot seat,” Harry stated, running his hand through his hair, “since I don’t plan on taking it until I finish school, if at all. I’d also like to get what laws the old man has voted for in my stead. I don’t trust him to vote for things I’d approve of.”

“I can have someone for you in the next day or so,” the man said, settling back in his chair. “So, rumor is true, you might not come back at all?” he added as an afterthought.

“Well, I have been training all my life to take the seat, but the way these people are treating me makes me want to run away as fast as I can,” the tri-colored teen said firmly. “After what happened today, and that man being in charge, well, let’s just say that the United States politics are looking very appealing.”

“Yes, I’ve heard the stories about your less than polite treatment by the Hogwarts staff and students,” Mr. Roberts nodded, rubbing his chin in thought. “Not to mention the press,” he added with a wicked smile, pleased that he had silenced the Prophet and that damned Skeeter. “Until criminal charges are filed there is little I can do. However, I will be having my firm draw up papers to help with their investigation.”

“It has a lot to do with those stupid books,” groused the young man, slumping in his seat.

“I did try and get them banned, but there are no laws against them,” Mr. Roberts said a bit aggressively, thinking the teen was blaming him for not doing better.

“Oh, I don’t blame you,” Harry waved the defensive voice away. “No, I fault this backward society.”

The barrister sighed in relief and perked up at the new challenge. “Tell me what your political stance is and I’ll see who we have to take up the position as your proxy.” He pulled out some blank parchment and a non-magical pen, which was just given to him by Mr. Scott.

The two went over Harry’s views on magicals, magical creatures, laws, non-magicals and general politics. It took the better part of two hours to get it all on paper and Mr. Roberts said he would have a few people for Harry to interview in the next few days. With that the man gathered up his papers and went to thank Mr. Scott for an enlightening evening and the wonderful writing instrument.

Harry joined his friends, who were playing a rousing game of Life, which Luna was winning, and told them what he and Mr. Roberts talked about. Soon enough it was time for bed and everyone put their games, homework or books away and went to their dorms.

The next day as predicted the United States agents swarmed the castle. They had been on stand-by waiting for the go ahead for months, and were ready with questions and to take affidavits. Right now they were questioning the staff and recording everything that was said on recording crystals, making sure that each person they talked to knew that whatever they said could be used against them. There were a dozen men and women. They didn’t even care it was Saturday, they had waited long enough.

The Hogwarts staff, on the other hand, cared that their weekend was being interrupted by these pushy Yanks and were not very helpful in their answers. That and they were extremely upset that anyone would be as thorough as these men were. They were disbelieving that the Headmaster was being vilified in such a manner. What they didn’t seem to realize is that the hostility they were showing was making it easier on the agents to see just what was going on in the castle.

The other two schools gave honest answers, since they had nothing to do with Dumbledore or the Boy Who Lived being put in the tournament. They gave permission for their students to be questioned, since they were all over age. Karkaroff was questioned thoroughly about his time as a Death Eater, what he had done since he went back to his home country and where he stood now. He made sure to tell them about Viktor being potioned and that he would be taking it up with the ICW soon.

Agent Mumford was standing behind Harry with a vicious look that dared anyone to tell her she shouldn’t be there. It had been decided that she would need to guard him better in case their questioning was taken out on the teen. There was actually a small argument that morning on whether the young man should join the school for breakfast. Harry won by stating that she was going to be with him and that he had handled himself fine the night before.

When the SMI contingent made their way to the Great Hall for breakfast, they spotted the men in business suits talking to the staff. It made them cheerful that they had one-upped the British Magicals who had done nothing to impress them thus far.

“So,” Cedric asked as he sat at the table, glancing at the mean looking woman who stood behind Harry like a bodyguard, “what’s with the Muggles?” He then looked at the men in suits that he had never seen before, wondering how they got into the castle.

“They’re not non-magical,” answered Harry, who was sporting a huge grin. “They are the magical equivalent of the CIA and FBI.” At the confused looks he explained, “Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.” This only caused more confused looks. “The MIA, which is the Magical Intelligence Agency, is here to get a better understanding on the politics of the British Ministry of Magic. The FBI: Magical Branch is here to find out how my name got into the Goblet of Fire and a few other things.”

“Wait, why would they need a better understanding of the Ministry? I thought that was all public information,” the confused Hufflepuff asked.

“Well, as I understand it, the USA isn’t under the ICW so they don’t interact with your Ministry very often. They want to make sure that any civil war that broke out in this country didn’t bleed over to the States and with the hostilities between the pure-bloods and the new magicals, or what we call the Returners, it’s sure to happen soon. So they are using Harry’s name being drawn, since it a Ministry event, as an excuse to get the info they need to report the state of your government to the head honchos of our government,” Jordan explained as he finished his coffee, thankful for the pot that was in the middle of the table as he poured himself some more.

“Ah, and the… FBI?” his voice cracked with the mention of war. He had been a young boy when the war with He Who Must Not Be Named was going on, but he remembered the fear well enough to not want it to happen again.

“They’re going to find out who put my name in the Goblet,” Harry said again with a shrug. He had far more faith in the FBI than he did in the DMLE of Britain. “When they find the person who did it, that person will be brought up on attempted murder charges. They will be extradited to the States to stand trial.” He didn’t mention the compulsion charms, because no one needed to know.

“Can they do that?” one of Cedric’s mates asked. Everyone had been listening to the conversation.

“Sure, I saw the papers last night. The ICW is pissed that little has been done by your DMLE and they want answers. So they gave the go-ahead for the alphabet to be here,” the younger teen said.

The talk turned to less important things and breakfast continued peacefully, though the thoughts of the Hogwarts students were in turmoil about how there were foreign government officials all over their school. The talk of civil war had many of them worried. Being Hufflepuffs they had always looked up to the Headmaster and taken him at his word. However recent happenings were making it clear that the old man might not have been quite truthful with the student body. They would have a House meeting tonight to discuss what the SMI group told them.

Every now and then they looked to the Staff Table and saw many silent arguments. The one that seemed the most pissed-off was Snape as he was questioned about his time as a Death Eater, how the Headmaster had gotten him off, just what he had done as a spy and where he stood today. Unlike Karkaroff, he was less than cooperative.

Just as Harry and his friends got to the doors of the Great Hall, “I cannot believe you are doing this, Harry,” came that dreaded voice of Granger. A glare firmly on her face, though when Agent Mumford glared back she smoothed her face to a more questioning look. She being Muggle-born knew just who the men in suits were and was irritated that anyone would bring them to the school.

“I’m not doing anything,” he snapped. “I have no control over the government.” He really wished this girl would leave him the hell alone.

“Right,” she said scoffed, “The Boy Who Lived has no say in politics.” She eyeballed the woman who she knew carried a gun, but her question will be answered. Besides, she wasn’t threatening the streak-haired boy, yet.

“Not in America, there I’m just some punk ass kid,” he said smugly. He knew it was the old man’s own fault that the agents were here, and nothing anyone said would change that point of view.

“The Headmaster is a great man,” she said in a harsh voice, “and you are trying to ruin his reputation.” She didn’t believe for one moment this boy had nothing to do with the men who were questioning everyone.

“And I say again, I have nothing to do with this. So why don’t you take your unrighteous indignation somewhere else.” With that said he turned and left the affronted girl to stew. The rest of the SMI students and Claire joined him.

He could hear Cedric say as he left, “He’s right you know. You’re accusing him of something he has no control over.” They never heard her reply as they made their way out of the castle.

“So, Luna, please tell me that’s the last we’re going to hear from the know-it-all,” Neville begged when they got to the houseboat.

“Oh, yes, Cedric is going to talk to her and McGonagall is going to take points and assign her first detention, since she tried to start a fight, which they were warned not to do,” the little seer answered.

“Thank God,” Harry said in a loud voice, causing everyone to chuckle.

Mr. Scott entered the room followed by Professor Flitwick and five of his seventh year students, who were all carrying hover-boards and had happy faces. “As you can see this is the living area, where our students play games, eat and generally relax,” he said, showing the group around the room. “Over here we have the entertainment center, which houses the TV, the VCR and the gaming system. Our students are scheduled for when they can play, since there is only one, since our seniors are on self-study, they can play during school hours, when they are not tutoring, and the younger students can utilize them in the evening. There is also a movie night for everyone, or if the system is not being used then anyone can watch a movie.”

“What delightful things you have here,” squeaked the tiny professor, who was clapping his hands at the marvelous inventions. It was too bad they wouldn’t work in the castle; some student might not get in as much trouble if they were to have something to occupy their down time. He glanced at Luna with remorse.

“Yes, they do keep our students out of trouble, mostly,” Mr. Scott said, echoing the Charms Professor’s thoughts and shooting a playful glare at his champion, who gave him an unrepentant grin. The Vice Principal shook his head and then moved the group towards the bookcases explaining the board games and recreational books. After he explained the rest of the living area he moved to show them the computer room.

“Oops, I forgot about that,” Harry said with a snap of his finger. “We’d better get our lecture notes together so we don’t come off as unprepared.” Though they did rather well with the Champions, it might be better if they sounded more professional to the other students.

“Yeah,” Jordan agreed, and they conferred on what could be explained using simple words for the rest of the night.

It was a very thoughtful and impressed group of Hogwarts students and professor that left when the tour was completed. It had been one thing to see the school books and hear from the SMI students, but it was quite another to see communications that were instantaneous. Not to mention easier to read homework and out of this world entertainment. Professor Flitwick had gotten the spell to ward off the opposite sex for the dorms, which he felt would be far more useful than collapsing staircases.

Harry and his group decided to finish their homework until it was time for them to play the video games. It was a relaxing Saturday, now that the government was here to take most of the pressure off Harry and Mr. Scott. They were sure that the Headmaster would get his comeuppance.

Chapter 22: Some Minor Smack Downs

Chapter Text

February 28, 1995

A few days later Mr. Roberts came after classes with a young man who looked like a snob with his well-cut robes and expensive suit, brown hair, slicked back like that jerk Malfoy's, and hard brown eyes and granite features that screamed arrogance. The lawyer beckoned Harry to the magic room. When the three of them got there, Harry conjured seats while Mr. Roberts put up silencing wards.

“Harry, this is Mr. Jake Butcher.” He waved toward the brunette man, who was standing stiffly by his chair. “He’s the one who has the closest political views to yours, though he has agreed to vote in your stead as you deem it. Mr. Butcher, Harry Potter.”

“Hello, Mr. Butcher, it is nice to make your acquaintance,” Harry said formally, walking over and holding out his hand. He was curious as to why Mr. Roberts thought that this obviously rich, haughty, young man would be the best proxy for him, since they seemed to be complete opposites. But, since the attorney hadn’t led him wrong yet, he’d give the guy a chance.

“Mr. Potter, it is a pleasure,” the brown-eyed man said as he shook the offered hand. He stood around the same height as Mr. Roberts, so average. The two shook hands, nodded heads and took their seats.

“I have a few questions,” the tri-color haired teen said, sitting up straight as the whole affair dictated decorum. He pulled it off even if he was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Luis would be proud. “First, what do you think of Albus Dumbledore?” To him this was the most important question.

Mr. Roberts had told him the laws the old man had voted on as Harry’s proxy, and while most of them were things the teen would have agreed with, there were some he most definitely did not. Such as, the law that prevented pure-bloods from getting the same trials as others, which Harry was completely against.

“I believe, like Mr. Roberts, that the man has too much power,” Mr. Butcher said with a sniff. “I do not think he uses that power wisely. He gives too many second chances and innocent people suffer.” He was a teenager in the last war and most of his family had suffered at the hands of the ‘reformed’ Death Eaters. The laws those people have passed since the war, systematically cut off Muggle-borns from ever holding a place in the government. Were he to get this position it would be a great achievement, and he would be thumbing his nose at those arrogant bigots.

Harry nodded in agreement and then went on with the interview. “My second question, and please, don’t be offended, is, what is your blood status, and how do you feel about the class structure in this country?” he asked, keeping his voice and face as apathetic as possible, not wanting to give away the fact that he hated Britain’s class system, especially the pure-blood elitists.

“I am a Muggle-born. However, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, therefore can navigate through the pure-bloods and the only way they know I am not of them is by my name. I feel the pure-bloods will wipe themselves out in the next hundred years,” the formal man said, sitting stiff and ready to leave if this Yank was an extremist. There were a few half-bloods that sided with the pure-bloods, Snape comes to mind