Progress Notes: Complete... arggg... it's been complete for a year now, in fact, the entire story has been complete for a year! I can't fault my wonderful beta, thekillerpie, he's been marvelous. But I'm "abandoning" the story on PS. If you would like to read it in its entirety, you can find it at MuggleNet Fan Fiction, Harry Potter Fan Fiction and Sink Into You Eyes. You can also find my other stories on those web sites. Thank you for all your wonderful comments. IHateSnakes
Weariness, too deep to feel any longer, enveloped Ginny Weasley. The tears had stopped days ago, and now she was empty, worn, more drained and tired that she ever thought a person could be. But the worst part of it was the real possibility that all her help had been for nothing. This emptiness pressed down upon her heart; her constitution reeling from the events of the past weeks. She gasped for breath, wondering when the next attack of anxiety or fear would wrack her body and mind. Many times over the past week the Healers and her family - those remaining of her family - tried to take Ginny away from Harry’s side. Even the gentlest of prods earned them a wrath they had never before experienced. No words were spoken and no threats made, but the look in her fiery eyes said everything. She would only allow the medicines to be administered a few times a day when she took a quick trip to the loo, but even these were becoming less frequent.
By the fourth day after the battle, the Healers had done everything they could do and it was plain to all present that the two would either recover together or die together; there simply was no way to understand what was happening to them. Harry made no response to any stimuli, though his flesh was clearly healing; Ginny consciously refused any attempts to aid her, and she was clearly dying.
By the sixth day the situation had become so desperate that Fred and George Weasley had gone home to summon their parents. Ginny appeared to have slipped into a coma; her breathing was erratic, her skin cold and clammy. She hadn’t eaten in days and her cheeks were becoming hollow, but her long flaming red hair shrouded the two with colour amid their white sheets and pale skin.
On the morning of the seventh day, Arthur Weasley had managed to drag Molly from their son’s graves and bring her to the hospital. He felt guilty forcing her, but also knew that if Ginny died without Molly seeing her one last time, his wife would crack, and be lost forever. The news from the Healer that day was guarded; there was no change in Harry, but Ginny had seemed calmer overnight. What the Healer had not told the parents was that this reflexive behavior was a body’s sign that in just hours, perhaps even minutes, the end would come. The Healer encouraged Arthur and Molly to go to the bed and speak with the two teens. He hoped that the words themselves would comfort the parents; Harry and Ginny were now beyond his powers.
After talking with the Weasleys, the Healer told Remus Lupin and Tonks the entire prognosis. Remus thanked the Healer and looked into his wife’s eyes. If he was looking for strength and comfort he found none, only pain and sadness, deeper than any he had seen in a long time.
Fred and George spent most of their time with Ron and Hermione. Ron, however, was clearly on the mend so Hermione thought it was just the fact that they could not handle the stress in Harry and Ginny’s ward. Her suspicions were confirmed when she returned to the room after a break one day and found both Fred and George red-eyed and sniffling, speaking about their sister and friend in the past tense.
Harry Potter was indeed alive, but struggling within himself, trapped inside a mind unable to break through to consciousness. He had no physical sensation whatsoever, but some part of his brain told him that he might not be dead. Harry took this with a grain of salt; perhaps this maddening sensory deprivation was his body’s only way to cope with the terrible curses he had absorbed to ensure victory. The spells and curses of wizards ordinarily die with them, but Voldemort was no ordinary wizard and the lasting proof of this was Harry’s inability to return to a conscious state. It seemed to Harry that Voldemort might have had the last laugh after all.
At some point, shortly after the last battle when he had passed out, Harry became aware of something else. What he was experiencing was an awareness of an influence to his mind, it was dragging him, pulling him, to a place he was not certain he wanted to go. But he did go, slowly at first, very, very slowly. Harry had no way of knowing how much time had passed since the battle, but he had become accustomed to the pull and even found it comforting in a way since it was absolutely the only awareness he had experienced outside his own thoughts. In this suspended existence Harry did not think he could just give up and die since he was not completely confident, yet, if he was alive.
Finally, Harry resolved to stop fighting the mysterious pull and just let go to see what would happen; after all, if he was going to die he might see Sirius and his parents, perhaps even Dumbledore. At this thought he instantly felt, for the first time really felt, something happening. Harry was being pulled through the barrier that had been keeping him trapped. A painful sensation that his mind was being squeezed through a portal from oblivion back to awareness was only tempered by the force pulling him back to life. That same, vaguely familiar pull. When his senses finally began to return he knew a wall had finally been broken down and he felt he was becoming himself again. Then Harry started to dream.
His mother was calling him, and his father, too. Harry, Harry, can you hear us? We’re here with you.
Harry, we’re here. Please Harry, the whole family is here, Ginny’s here with you, too.
“Ginny?” Another, stronger feeling registered with that name. What was Ginny doing here? His mind was spinning and for one panic filled moment Harry thought he had died along with her but she could not be dead! These conflicting realities frightened and comforted him at the same time.
“NO!” His mind screamed, but this time he had heard himself. With a nauseating rush that left him dizzy and confused, Harry started to struggle. Now he knew he was alive, he could not only hear himself, he felt his bruised arms and legs thrash about, and he felt the warm bed where he lay, and he saw shapes moving in a fog of blurred vision, the awful taste of potions in his mouth, and finally, with an almost comic relief, Harry could smell himself and logically associate it with the feel of an unwashed body. He was lying on his side, in a rather uncomfortable position, there were arms wrapped around him and a face coming closer. If he was really dead he hoped it would be his mother’s face; it somehow came as no surprise to him that the first face he saw looked like that of Molly Weasley, eyes blood-shot, with deep, dark bags under them and tears streaming out. Yes, it was most certainly Mrs. Weasley smiling down at him.
The only thing Harry could utter, after all he had thought about was, “Ginny?”
Molly Weasley, through her tears, could only nod her head and say, “Yes, dear, she’s right here with you.” And with that, Harry smiled and slipped from consciousness into a truly peaceful slumber, and dreamed things far more pleasant than he thought possible.
The next morning the ward was filled with people that Harry knew, even though he was still sleeping and could not know they were there. Ron was awake and continuing his recovery, though his physical injuries were far more serious than Harry’s. Remus Lupin had come into Ron’s room when Harry started to regain consciousness the previous night and gave the three Weasleys and Hermione the good news. Hermione gave Ron a quick squeeze on his hand before dashing out with Fred and George, then stopping, she looked back to Ron, and in the sternest look and voice she could muster, told him to “stay put.” Ron did stay and thought about how happy Hermione looked, and that Harry was going to be ok.
Adding to the amazement of the Healers, Ginny, too, had awakened that morning, asking weakly for her mother. When Harry started to stir, though weak herself, Ginny insisted on staying until Harry could talk and tell her that he was truly back. Ginny thought she had heard Harry ask for her the night before, but she had to know it was not just a dream. Finally, Harry turned and smiled at Ginny, with a sigh of relief she let Tonks and Hermione help her from the bed to a chair,. When she asked for something to eat Fred ran over to her and held her arm up cheering: “A true Weasley if ever there was one. Bring the wench some food!” Everyone broke into a cries of acutely needed laughter, except his mother who tried to look reprovingly at him, but could barely keep a straight face.
Outside the ward door, Harry’s Healer was staring, speechless; not only had the unlikely happened, but the impossible had happened. However, his astonishment did not last long, there were dozens of other victims of Voldemort and his Death Eaters still needing care. After one more quick look into the room, where he met Molly Weasley’s grateful eyes, he returned to his rounds.
As Molly looked from the Healer back to the room, her eyes met everyone there, one at a time, and for the first time in many, many days, she had only tears of joy for everyone to see.
Shortly before 8 o’clock the next morning, the former Prime Minister Anthony Linden, walked into the reception area next to his old outer office. Now it was the office of his successor, Brian Thompson. Thompson’s person secretary and chief of personnel greeted the former Prime Minister, and then watched with amazement as he proceeded to walk past them, ignore them, actually, open the outer office door, close it, lock it, and shortly thereafter they heard the opening and banging shut of the inner office door. The secretary started for the phone but the chief of personnel got to the intercom first and pressed the talk button, only to hear his new boss tell him to “bugger off”, and that he would call if he needed anything.
Inside the office, Prime Minister Thompson watched Anthony enter, slam the door shut, and lock it. It was rather comical, Thompson thought, he was going to get a tongue lashing for some silly comment or another he had made in the campaign. As Anthony locked the door he steadied himself and turned to the Prime Minister.
“Well? Has he dropped in on you yet, Brian? And don’t give me that look, you know bloody well who I’m talking about.” Staring at the Prime Minster’s puzzled face, Anthony’s expression turned to annoyance and he collapsed into one of his old chairs. “Bugger.” Was all the Prime Minister heard, quite a few times, actually.
“Anthony, I’m afraid you’re not making much sense. Has who dropped in on me?”
Smirking at his old opponent, Anthony stood up, and walked over to a corner of the office where hung a rather small painting of a balding man with a large nose. Turning back to the Prime Minister, Anthony said sarcastically, “Nice painting, Brian, how long have you had this little bugger?”
“I’m quite certain I don’t know, Anthony. Now what’s all this about?”
“Just watch and listen.” Anthony said, his voice ripe with triumph. Turning back to the portrait he said in an officious voice: “Fudge, I want Fudge.”
The Prime Minister rose and walked over to the same corner and looked at the picture, then turned back to his guest. “You know, Anthony, I have had a few minor problems to deal with, left over, don’t you know, from the previous administration. I haven’t really had time to work on redecorating the office…and if you’d like a sweet we can walk over to the pantry.”
Annoyed with both the portrait and the Prime Minister, Linden tried another approach. “Ah, yes, Prime Minister, then would you kindly do me the favor of removing this picture?”
“Anthony, get a grip on yourself,” the Prime Minister replied, now a little annoyed.
“Please, Brian, humor an old friend for a moment. Just…take it off the wall. A simple procedure.”
“Very well, Anthony, here.” the Prime Minister walked the final step to the small frame and reaching out with one arm tried to move the painting. After a small tug or two, and then a heftier one, the Prime Minister gave up. “Well, it appears to be stuck, Anthony. What shall I do now, rearrange some furniture?”
Anthony again smirked at the Prime Minister and replied simply, “No, no, that won’t be necessary. Let’s look at this together, shall we.” Pointing at the picture, “Here, Brian, come a bit closer, would you? That’s good, look at this fellow’s eyes, odd, aren’t they? And that hideous mouth! Needed to have his teeth fixed, I’d wager. And did you ever see such a nose? Oh, and look, his head is way too shiny, that’s quite a bald spot, wouldn’t you say?”
The Prime Minister looked closely at the painting for a moment then, shaking his head as if to clear it he backed off. “Oh get a grip, Anthony, I don’t have time for this. It’s just an ugly painting of an ugly man. I’m going to call for some tea and I want to know your real reason for being here. No more of this poppycock.”
The Prime Minister started walking back to his desk, annoyed, and a bit concerned about his old friend.
“Who are you calling ugly?” An angry voice retorted.
The Prime Minister stopped and turned around, the voice sounded nothing like Anthony’s. Was there someone else here? This really was becoming silly. When he looked back, Anthony was wearing a self-satisfied grin and then turned back to the portrait and said simply, “That was the Prime Minister. Now, I want Fudge.”
“Bloody Muggles.” The voice spat back, though the Prime Minister thought he heard something like “buddy nuffles.”
“Yes, yes, thank you, sorry for that comment about your nose.” Again, the former Prime Minister was speaking to the portrait.
Thompson walked back to the corner and looked at Anthony, who just smirked again and dipped his head toward the wall and said amusingly, “Ah, good show, Brian, please take a look at our little friend now.” When the Prime Minister looked at the portrait he was astounded to see that the little man with the buck teeth, long pointy nose, and bald head was no longer there. “Sensitive old bloke, wouldn’t you say, Brian?”
The Prime Minister was not quite sure of what was going on, he certainly heard something, and the portrait was now empty, but this still seemed a bit like a colossal prank. Hoping that it really was a prank he eyed his friend suspiciously and again started back to his desk.
“Oh, no, Brian. You’ll miss all the fun.” Taking the Prime Minister’s arm, Anthony led him, not back to the desk, but to the opposite side of the room where the oversized fireplace sat empty and cold. “Yes, this should do, let’s sit here for a bit, would you like some tea?” Sitting down in a stiff-backed old chair the Prime Minister looked at his friend.
“Anthony, what’s so bloody special about sitting here?” Real annoyance now creeping into his question.
“Yes, yes, I know, I’ve taken up a lot of your precious time, but this really is quite a spectacle. Watch the fireplace, Brian. That’s a good fellow.” Standing beside the seated Prime Minister and a half step back, the former Prime Minister stood patiently for a few seconds when Thompson started to turn around. “Patience, Brian, you really don’t want to miss this. That’s right, just watch the fireplace.”
The man’s lost it, the Prime Minister thought to himself. And I’m just as bad, sitting here waiting for a sodding Santa to pop out of the fireplace. For another long moment nothing happened and this time the Prime Minister was not going to listen to his friend, he had had enough. Standing up abruptly and swiping Anthony aside with his arm he had taken just a few steps back to the desk when he thought he’d heard a whooshing sound and felt a flash of warmth on the back of his neck. He paused for just a second and continued his trip.
“Come now, Brian, you’ve missed the best part. Here, let me introduce you to an…acquaintance of mine.”
“Hello, Prime Minister,” a distinctly new voice had said, “Cornelius Fudge.”
The Prime Minister stopped this time. Turning around with a mixture of annoyance and apprehension the Prime Minister saw, standing next to Anthony, a short, slightly overweight middle-aged man wearing emerald green robes with a matching hat, and an annoyed look on his face. “Fudge?” was all he could think to say. With a start he remembered Anthony’s earlier comment and glanced to the portrait seeing that the man had returned to his original spot and was pointing toward the fireplace.
“Well, there’s Fudge, just like you asked.”
Thompson felt weak-kneed but managed to walk toward the visitor and extend his hand, albeit hesitantly. “Brian Thompson. And, uh, are you Fudge?”
“Yes, yes, that’s me.” Fudge exclaimed lightly, then looked over to the former Prime Minister. “You know, Anthony, you really are not supposed to summon me like that. The new Minister is most unhappy when we have to…interact with the Muggles. I hope this is important.”
“Yes, Fudge, you know bloody well it is. Where the deuce have you been these past two years?” Anthony appeared to the Prime Minister as if he were going to erupt; his usual pink face had turned a distressing shade of scarlet.
“Yes, well, that change of jobs we spoke about and the war…”
War? What war? The Prime Minister thought warily. “Now just hang on there a moment, Fudge. And you too, Anthony.” The Prime Minister could not decide whom to question first. Looking back to Fudge, Thompson asked just one of the many questions racing through his head. “Where did you come from?”
“Ah, yes, sorry about that Prime Minister, I came by the floo network, but I don’t suppose Scrimgeour or Linden here have spoken to you about that, have they? Anthony, this must be something of a shock to your friend here, why don’t we sit and have some tea and sort this out?”
With a quick motion of his arm, Fudge pulled out what Thompson thought was a stick. Waving it in the air for a flash he thought he saw a chair come out the end, a chair to match the other two in front of the fireplace. Then Fudge tapped the small table and an entire tea service appeared and the aroma of Earl Grey instantly filled the air. This had all happened so fast that Thompson was a bit dizzy and he shook his head hoping the entire day was a dream.
Anthony stood to the side this entire time entertaining a smug smile, as if he had pulled off the entire trick himself. But as soon as the chair and tea appeared he sat and looked to Fudge.
“I say you owe us an explanation, Fudge. You may not like to interact with us but that Voltmeter fellow has caused quite a stir.” Then Anthony sat back into the chair and eyed Fudge.
“Voldemort, Anthony, Voldemort. Yes, well, the most important thing now is that he is finally destroyed. Yes, let’s focus on the positive side of this, shall we?”
“NO WE BLOODY WELL SHAN’T. YOU TWO BETTER START MAKING SOME SENSE. AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THAT STICK?” Now it was the Prime Ministers turn to erupt. As angry as he had ever been, the Prime Minister was also becoming worried. War? Things appearing out of nowhere? “WHAT IS GOING ON? I WANT ANSWERS, AND NOW!”
“Ah, yes, Brian, you see Fudge here is a wizard.” Anthony’s voice was a little too calm for the Prime Minister who was looking back and forth at the two as if…
“A wizard, Anthony?” The Prime Minister said in his most sarcastic voice. “Oh, yes, that WOULD explain everything, how convenient.” Thompson spat out in disgust. “And when will Merlin appear with King Arthur?”
“Mr. Thompson, will you kindly refrain from using Merlin’s name in vain?” Fudge looked affronted and peeved.
“I’m warning you two, for the last time, who are you?...” pointing to Fudge, “…and what is this poppycock about?” Thompson glared at Anthony.
“Please sit down, Brian.” Anthony tried to calm him a bit. Remembering back to the first time he met Fudge, Anthony made a suggestion. “Fudge, why don’t you convince the Prime Minister here? Perhaps the same way you convinced me a while back.”
“Oh, very well, I suppose so. Prime Minister, would you please pick up your tea cup?” Fudge asked politely.
“No, I bloody well will not!” Brian was becoming petulant.
“Please, sir, indulge me for a moment and I will answer any questions I can.” Fudge offered. The Prime Minister looked suspiciously at the man in green and then picked up his empty tea cup, his index finger dangling the cup by its handle. “There, thank you. Now would you mind holding it in the palm of your hand, and upside down?”
Why not? The Prime Minister thought, shaking his head, I’ve gone this far…in for a penny in for a pound, eh? Turning the cup over and placing it in his palm, the Prime Minister saw Fudge remove the stick from his robes again and point it at the cup. Fudge looked nervously at Anthony with a mild look of surprise on his face.
“So sorry there, Minister, haven’t done this one in a long time.” Fudge smiled sheepishly, looking embarrassed, and waved his wand again. This time a soft purple light shot from the end of Fudge’s wand and struck the teacup. As if in a slow motion the Prime Minister watched the cup turn into a gray mouse. Too startled to move, he looked up at Fudge and tried to say something but nothing seemed quite adequate enough to describe his thoughts. He sat back into the chair, still holding the mouse in his hand. Fudge again waved his wand and the mouse turned back into a teacup.
“There now, that’s better. How about some tea, Minister?” Fudge said cheerfully, waving his wand and this time the teapot poured three cups of steaming tea and then returned to the server. Fudge helped himself to a lump of sugar. Anthony, who had been watching Brian the past couple minutes, now smiled and picked up his cup, sipping the tea and watching his friend over the rim.
“No! I don’t know what’s going on here but there are no wizards waving bloody sticks and turning teacups into mice.” Standing up again, Thompson looked toward the door and started to head that way. After a step or two he stopped, his back to his guests and appeared to be thinking. After another moment he walked to his desk and pressed the “Speak” button on the intercom.
“Jane, please cancel all my appointments for the rest of the morning and notify Scotland Yard that I will need to speak with them later today.” Without waiting for a reply the Prime Minister turned back to his guests and spoke.
“Alright, suppose this is true and I’m not dead or demented, two possibilities I am still seriously entertaining. If you…Fudge…are really a wizard why is the whole world in such a bloody mess? Why haven’t you fixed things up? And why has no one heard of you before Anthony and I?”
Looking somewhat annoyed, Fudge stood and replied: “Prime Minister, for sixteen hundred years the wizarding world and the Muggle world have co-existed, usually in harmony, almost never in conflict. I’m sorry to say that the past few years have been one of those times when our worlds have met and the consequences, though not through faults of my own, have been horrendous. Let me finish…” Fudge held up his hand and said quickly when he saw Thompson about to speak. “…this entire conversation would have been utterly impossible as recently as the early 1990’s. Until then we had strict laws in place to keep us apart, as we had been for centuries, and these were good laws.”
“Gentlemen, the wizarding world is…different than yours. What we believe and what we practice would never be accepted in your society. Your very questions prove this point. You asked me why we haven’t done anything to ‘fix up your world.’ Prime Minister, what would you have us do? You yourselves have everything you need to exist in harmony with one another, just as we do. Your tools are simply different than ours.”
Fudge stood and walked over behind Linden’s chair. “Our world suffered grievous losses in your Second World War; that was the last time we tried to work surreptitiously for your good. Two entire blood lines were exterminated and two others nearly so. So please don’t think we are not entwined with this world of yours, we are most deeply involved, we are, after all, humans also. We just understand the forces of life differently and recognize that they need to be separate.”
“Fudge, why don’t you tell him about…Volde-whatever? He really does have a right to know.” the former Prime Minister asked reasonably.
“Anthony, you may think you are entitled to know facts and events occurring in our world, but please remember, Voldemort was a unique case that we hope will never again be repeated, much like that Hitler fellow you had to deal with.”
Seeing the two men were not to be dissuaded, Fudge sighed and continued. “Prime Minister, Anthony, many years ago an immensely powerful wizard reappeared in our world, we believed…well, we hoped he had been destroyed in 1981, but that’s another story. We came to realize a few years ago that he had not died. He was, in fact, growing in power until he was finally able to return to his body; that was, oh, about 1994. He then spent the next three years calling back his old followers and gaining allies.”
Turning to the tea service, Fudge poured himself another cup. As he walked about, Thompson glanced at Linden with a “You knew all this?” look on his face.
Fudge continued his story between sips of tea. “ It was during these years, ending only a few days ago, that his path of destruction bled over to your world, if you will…ah…forgive the pun. Voldemort knew from a prophecy made in 1980 that only one person could destroy him. His assaults on the non-magical world, your world, were part of his quest to draw this boy out into the open and destroy him so he would have free reign everywhere.”
“A boy did you say?” Thompson interjected.
“Yes, one rather unique child by the name of Harry Potter.”
“Wait a minute, I seem to have heard that name recently, or is that just another hallucination, too?”
“No, you may very well have heard his name in public, there has been a great deal of celebration the past few days. You see, Potter was able to destroy Voldemort just last Sunday, once and for all. So we wizards have had a great deal to be celebrating about. Sometimes the wizarding community gets a bit out of hand and, well, you know what happens at large parties.”
“So thanks to this Potter fellow we’re safe again?” This time it was Anthony’s question. “And everything will be back to…normal?”
“Yes, we believe so…we hope so. Voldemort’s death made the control of his servants much easier. There may be a small problem here and there with rounding up the last of his followers, but mostly we shall return to our world and leave you be.”
“Now Prime Minister, and you too,” Fudge looked at Linden, “I must make this perfectly clear. I was given special permission to speak with you today and you should not expect me to answer another summons. In fact, Minister Scrimgeour, he’s our equivalent of a Muggle Prime Minister, has forbidden me from meeting with you again, and I must agree with him. Your world, and our world of magic, cannot be rejoined. And now I bid you good day, gentlemen.”
Before either man could protest, Fudge sprang to his feet and walked with decision to the fireplace and threw what looked like a hand full of dirt down at his feet. They heard him say “Ministry of Magic,” and in a flash of green smoke he was gone.
“So, Brian, you wanted to speak with me about the transition, I believe. Let’s go and check your calendar.” The Prime Minister just nodded and walked shakily to his desk, with a couple looks over his shoulder at the fireplace along the way. An hour later Anthony Linden exited the office and bid good day to the staff. Huddled around the outer office door they just stared as he walked by. Yes, Linden thought to himself, let’s see how he handles himself now.
Minerva McGonagall sat in the Great Hall at Hogwarts finishing some of the daily correspondences. Her office in the east wing had been destroyed and she was using the head table as a temporary desk until Filch could arrange a suitable office for her. The note this morning from Remus Lupin about Harry’s recovery pleased her greatly. For all her stern exhortations to Harry over the years, Minerva was really quite fond of the boy, and hearing of Harry’s recovery helped quell some of her uneasiness with taking over the job of Headmistress of Hogwarts. Only a few weeks remained in the term and McGonagall did not want to close the school down in spite of its terrible damage.
The other wizarding schools around the world offered spots for the students but few had accepted the offers. Her preference would be to finish the year as best they could and then move to a temporary location while Hogwarts under went repairs. The Board of Governors seemed to think this was the best route, also.
Next order of business, Leavers Day. A few weeks before, the seventh years had voted for Harry to offer the welcome address and Hermione Granger the closing remarks. She knew Harry disliked public speaking but the vote was more than an affirmation of his character, it was a vote for his life. There were few dissenting votes, and they all came from Slytherin. This greatly disappointed the headmistress; she was hoping the school would, once and for all, bind together against a common foe.
Of the many students at Hogwarts almost one hundred would not be present for the Leavers Day. Some had been withdrawn from school when things got bad a few weeks earlier, but many of the missing students had died at the hands of Voldemort’s Death Eaters that last terrible day. McGonagall knew all the murdered students and had contacted the families of each, but she refused to dwell on the loss, lest it distract her from her more vital job of running the school. She scribbled a few notes about Leavers Day and then called for her owl, Ailenn, to take the message to the House staff.
Next, where to house the students for the final few weeks? All the dormitories had been destroyed and almost all the remaining areas in the North and South wings were classrooms.
And what about the N.E.W.T. exams? Should they be postponed school-wide?
Filch’s request to exorcise Peeves was a perennial issue. Albus has left it alone but…come to think of it, she had neither seen nor heard from Peeves all week. Thank the stars for small miracles.
The house elves, the reconstruction, the Ministry investigators, a note from Neville Longbottom… the list went on and on and on…and where the devil is Filch with my new office?
Liam Keane woke from a deep sleep to the sound of a telephone ringing. Groaning and turning over in his bed, trying not to disturb his wife, Liam looked at the clock. Three-thirty in the morning! “Hello, this better be good.” He croaked out. It took him a moment to recognize the voice he had not heard over a phone in, well, in a very long time.
“Liam, so sorry for waking you. Liam, are you there? This is Tiernan…your brother.”
“Tiernan, what the devil…is everything alright? Mum and Dad?” A twinge of apprehension woke Liam up quickly.
“Yes, all’s well in Dublin. Say, Liam, I know this is dreadfully inconvenient, but can I pop in for a moment? I have a rather delicate thing to discuss with you.”
“And I can assume that it can’t wait till morning?” Was the older brother’s grumpy reply.
“Well, no, not really.”
Looking at the caller ID on his phone Liam saw that his brother was calling from London. “Will you catch the first flight this morning? If you can get to Heathrow by 5 AM I can pick you up at the airport.”
“No, I wouldn’t want to trouble you. How about in twenty minutes, will that give you time to wake up?”
“Well, yes, twenty minutes would be fine, but…”
“See you then.” Click. The connection was broken. Liam looked at the phone, was the caller ID wrong? It clearly showed a London city code.
Twenty minutes later Liam heard a gentle knock on his front door. Surprised now, more than annoyed, Liam opened the door to see his brother carrying a small briefcase and wearing what looked to be some retro-1890’s barrister robes.
“Good morning, brother, how are you today?” Tiernan greeted his brother with far too happy a tone at this hour. Rubbing his eyes for the umpteenth time since the phone call, Liam stepped aside and jerked his thumb toward the kitchen where he had been fixing coffee.
“Come on in, coffee or tea?”
“Nothing, thank you, I’m working the graveyard shift and it’s almost time to go home to bed. Don’t want anything keeping me up.”
“Yes, what an unusual idea, brother.” Liam muttered under his breath. “I hope you don’t mind if I have another.”
“No, please go right ahead.”
“Tiernan, you’re far too cheery to be here announcing a death or divorce, what’s going on?”
“Ah, yes, that’s right, let’s get right to the point. Liam, do you know where mum and dad sent me when I was eleven?”
Oh god, why is he bringing this up? Liam had quite forgotten about it over the past twenty years. “Well, no, Tiernan, mum would never tell…”
“Good, good, smart woman she is, our mother. Liam, I went away to a school for, well, for people with special abilities, as it were.” Tiernan tried to smile off his fumbled words, smiling at his brother. His brother just stared. “That is to say, it was a school for kids with magical abilities.” Another embarrassed smile.
“Mum and dad sent you to a clown school?” Liam knew it was a lame comment, though his brother’s garments did seem to fit the appraisal.
“No, Liam, they sent me to a school for wizards.” THERE, I’ve said it, now let’s move on.
“Sorry there, a magicians school then?” Liam was clearly not completely awake.
“Liam, I know it’s early but please don’t be dense.”
Liam though he might just punch his brother, and he had not done that in over 20 years, so he just continued to stare blankly, letting his brother make a fool of himself. Maybe I’ll get a laugh out of this before I throw him out. “Now Liam, please listen carefully, I am not a clown or a magician, I am a wizard. Look, I have a wand and everything, see?” Tiernan drew his wand out of a deep pocket in his robe and showed it to Liam.
Liam sat at the table, took a sip of coffee, and considered his brother’s comment. “May I see that, Tiernan?”
“Well…we’re really not supposed to, but, I guess it wouldn’t hurt. Here you are.” Tiernan handed the wand to his brother.
Standing, Liam took the wand from his brother’s hand. He looked at it for a minute and tossed it on the kitchen table. He then looked his brother in the eyes and said: “Please leave, I’m going back to bed. Come back this evening if you want to have dinner and make some bloody sense.” With that, Liam put his arm around his brother, hoisted him off the chair, and gently pushed him out the door, closing and locking it.
BANG!“That was not polite, Liam.” A voice from behind him said. Whirling around, started by the voice, Liam was even more startled to see his brother. Looking back to the door and his brother twice more he saw Tiernan hold out his arm and say: “Accio wand.” The wand on the table flew into Tiernan’s hand and he said gently, “Well, brother, shall we try this again?”
Liam eyed his brother suspiciously but nodded all right, and sat back down. “Ok, you got my attention, Obi Wan, what’s going on?”
“There, now! That wasn’t so bad, was it? Just needed a bit of convincing, eh?” Tiernan joked lightly and smiled at his brother across the table. Then in a more serious tone.
“Let’s try again, Liam. I’m a wizard and the Ministry of Magic has a job offer for you.”
The figure on the towpath walked wearily forward. I am so tired, he thought, so bloody tired. It was late evening and time to find a spot to lie down for the night. With no money and no desire for human contact he turned off the towpath and moved toward a small outcrop of stones that would shield him from a northern wind. Huddling down on his haunches he removed a worn blanket from his pack and threw it on the ground. Then, watching carefully for any people, he took a wand out of his coat and waved it over the blanket. Putting the wand away the man lay down and fell asleep, another day lost was all he could think. Another day lost. But his life, and a few others, was about to get worse.
As the man slept two young boys from a nearby village came across the stranger with worn clothes and a bad odor. Dramatically, one of the boys, only nine years old, held his nose and tip-toed toward the vagrant. He opened the front of the tramp’s coat and looked for anything interesting, but the only thing he saw was a beautiful piece of wood with a shiny tip. Grabbing the stick the boy held it up in triumph and ran off with his friend.