Harry James Potter - known across the wizarding world as The Boy Who Lived - was having the best summer of his life. Up until this year, he had been required to spend at least some of his holiday with his odious relatives, the Dursley family, due to an ancient magic surrounding their house that protected him from his enemies – which included the dark wizard Voldemort and his followers. However, after his godfather, Sirius Black, had returned from 'the dead' on Harry's sixteenth birthday and been proven innocent of criminal charges he had been wrongly imprisoned for, Harry was able to move into the Potter ancestral home with his godfather, his father's other best friend Remus Lupin, Sirius' cousin Nymphadora Tonks (who strangely preferred to be known by her surname) and later Sirius' sometime girlfriend Leona White and Remus' lover Emmeline Vance. This summer, he was also joined by three people closer in age to himself: his eleven-year-old cousin, Jamie, and two third cousins, Susan and Anita Bones, who had been orphaned due to an attack on their family by Voldemort's followers) about a week before Christmas.
With the three girls at the castle to keep him company, the first couple of weeks of the holiday passed relatively quickly and with rather more fun than previous years had. However, Harry was keenly aware that something was still missing, in fact if he were perfectly honest four or five things - or rather people - were missing: his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, his girlfriend Ginny Weasley and his other two "comrades" Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. However, it was his birthday in about a fortnight and he was fairly sure that Hermione and the Weasleys at least, would be coming to stay at Gryphon's Eyrie then, but he was waiting for the letter from Ginny to confirm this.
At that moment, Harry heard a winged creature fly through the open doors leading to the balcony. Opening his eyes and sitting up, Harry confirmed that he did indeed have an avian visitor, specifically a very familiar snowy owl. "Hi Hedley," said Harry, reaching under his pillow for his wand holster. "Have you got a letter for me?"
The owl hooted in agreement and flew to Harry's outstretched arm. When he landed, Harry quickly untied the letter attached to his feet. "Why don't you go and wait in the Owlery?" he suggested. "I'm sure Velik will give you something to eat."
Hedley hooted gratefully and took off again, swooping back out of the balcony doors. Harry slit open the envelope and removed the note within:
I hope you and the others are doing fine. Things are pretty tense here, Dad, Bill and Fleur are never at home and I'm pretty sure that the twins are working for the Order too. Ron and Hermione are busy with studying and research, but as I've finished my holiday work, things are pretty dull for me, so I can't wait to come to see you on your birthday.
See you soon,
Harry smiled, he couldn't wait to see Ginny again, and his two best friends of course. Putting the letter to one side, he got up and began to gather the things he needed for his morning training session.
When Harry walked into the dining room a few hours later, most of the permanent residents were present: Jamie, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, and Civis the Hobgoblin were there, as were the Guardians Jason Draper and Corrine Anderson. Harry slid into his seat between Sirius and Jamie and turned to Remus. "How's the research going?"
"I'm not sure, Harry," the werewolf admitted with a sigh. "Rex, Leona and I have gone through about two-thirds of the scrolls in the library, but we haven't found the right one yet. I'm going to go back as soon as I've eaten to give Leona a break," he paused as Velky set a plate of food in front of him. "Rex thinks we'll be done by the end of the week."
"And if you don't find what you're looking for?" asked Harry. "What do we do then?"
"We keep looking, Harry," Remus replied calmly. "We must find it..." Harry nodded. "The safety of the world depends on it."
Everything was relatively quiet for the next couple of days, but when Corrine flew out to where Harry, Civis and the girls had flown to for a picnic and Apparition practice, it was obvious that something was wrong. Harry stood up and moved to her side as she fought to catch her breath. "What's wrong, Anderson?" he asked her once she stopped panting.
"Remus and Dr. Chrystan need to see you in the library immediately," she replied.
"Have they found something?" Jamie asked.
The red-haired half-demoness shrugged, "I don't know, but they said it was urgent."
"Tell them we're on our way," Harry told her.
Corinne nodded and took off again.
"I'll clear everything up," Civis offered. "Then the rest of you can take the horses back."
Harry - who had already mounted his stallion, Ravlin - nodded and pulled Jamie up behind him and took off. Susan and Anita took only a moment to mount the dapple-grey gelding, Susurrus, and followed.
Thanks to the speed of the two Granians, it only took a few minutes to travel the ten miles back to the castle. When they landed outside the stable, Harry handed Ravlin over to Jamie and then set off for the keep at a run. When he entered the Library, he found that several other people had joined the two scholars: Sirius, Leona White, Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick, and Mad-Eye Moody.
"Have you found it?" Harry asked eagerly as he moved to join them.
"We have indeed, Harry," Remus confirmed and indicated the piece of parchment spread out on the table. "Rex, do you mind?"
"Thank you," said Remus and bent down slightly to get a better look. "Now, it's written in Ancient Latin, which I'm… a little rusty at, but I'm sure Rex will correct me if I get anything wrong?"
After receiving another nod, he continued. "The bad news is, this is the most complex ritual I have ever seen," Remus admitted. "We need to locate a magical sceptre and five magical rings, pair up each artefact with six people along very specific emotional criteria and then hold off Voldemort and his allies long enough to cast a complex, eighteen word spell to power up the ritual and then another spell to activate it"
"Can we do it?" Sirius asked.
Dr. Chrystan thought for a moment before answering. "If we can locate the Sceptre and the Channelling Rings and we can find six people with the right connections and enough power to survive the ritual, then yes. If not..."
"Then we must find them," concluded Dumbledore. "Quickly and quietly so that Voldemort does not find out and move against us."
"So let's get on with it," said Harry and left.
Harry, Jamie and Sirius spent much of the next two weeks in the dungeon vaults, which housed many the valuable jewellery, paintings, statues and other treasures that Harry's family had acquired over the centuries and by the time Hermione, Mark, the Weasleys and some of Harry's other friends descended on Gryphon's Eyrie to celebrate the two Potters' birthdays, the three of them had unearthed two of the rings: the Accipus Sapphire and the Fide Emerald. However, after spending the next three days searching with no effect they decided that the sceptre and the other rings must be stored somewhere else.
Harry and Jamie's birthday party was a great success by itself as it featured probably the most sumptuous feast the house-elves had produced yet and the exciting Quidditch match between the 'youth team' - featuring Harry, Ron, Jamie, Ginny, and the twins; and the 'old hands' - Charlie, Sirius, Draper, Helena Weyling, Bill, and Betty Kale - which finished after four hours of intense and occasionally brutal action when Harry caught the Snitch giving the victory to the 'youth team' by a whopping two-hundred points.
The presents themselves were also more than satisfactory: Harry received the usual selection of clothes, books and sweets as well as an Argentium throwing knife in a dragonhide quick-release wrist holder from Tonks and a Pocket Secrecy Sensor from Mad-Eye Moody; Jamie also received quite a few presents, almost as many as Harry, although the two presents that pleased her the most were a knitted jumper from Mrs Weasley and the Firebolt racing broom that she got from Harry.
The next couple of weeks passed quickly, with the students spreading their time between studying, flying out to the mountains to explore and have picnics, and - in the case of Harry, Ron, Ginny and Jamie - practicing Quidditch with help from Charlie, the twins, and Betty Kale, who in addition to being a friend of several of the Guardians, was a Beater for the Holyhead Harpies.
Later that evening, Serina Weyling returned to the Eyrie with a package and some good news - she had broken into Malfoy Manor and removed the Sceptre of Amor from Lucius Malfoy's treasury. Two days later, Bill returned from a search of the goblin antique shops in Diagon Alley with the Verus Onyx, and after a search of the Gringotts sale archives, Fleur also added the Libido Ruby to the tally.
"Only one more to go," Harry reminded the Defence Council when they joined in the Gryphon's Eyrie Library that afternoon.
"Yes, there is," agreed Dumbledore. "And I believe I know where the last one is, but we may have problems getting it."
"Why?" asked Harry. "Where is it?"
"In one of the rooms at the Department of Mysteries," Dumbledore replied. "I have tried to retrieve it, but they have increased security since last year's break in, and now even Serina cannot penetrate it."
"I could get it," Dr Chrystan suggested.
"Could you, Rex?" asked Harry, hopefully.
The brawny historian smiled wolfishly. "No problemo."
Dr Chrystan left immediately for London. When he returned three hours later, he was carrying a small black box. He went immediately to the dining room and handed the box to Harry. Harry looked down at the box, then up at the librarian. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Yes, it is."
"I don't want to know how you got it. Do I?" Harry asked.
"Probably not," Dr Chrystan agreed.
"Well, that answers that," said Harry. "I guess it's time to get this show on the road."
He walked over to where the two ex-Marauders were sitting chatting with Tonks and Leona and bent down to talk to them. Both men listened for a moment and then nodded to show that they agreed, when Harry moved off and slipped into his chair between Jamie and Ginny, Remus got up and headed for his study.
"What was that about?" Ginny asked him once he had finished serving himself. Jamie opened her mouth to answer but a look from Harry silenced her.
"Sirius, Remus, Leona and I have been working with the rest of the Defence Council to unearth a spell that will give us a chance to defeat Voldemort," Harry told her. "Unfortunately, the only spell we could find is incredibly old and complex and requires six mystic foci and some very specific magical bonds to work."
"And that box contains one of the foci?" Ginny asked.
"Yes, the last one," Harry confirmed. "Now all I have to do is figure out who should join me in the ritual."
"Yes, the spell needs the magical power of six people to work," Harry told her. "I think that most of them will be wizards but I'll need at least one witch because of the nature of one of the bonds." Here he paused. "I've asked Remus to contact Professor Dumbledore, Hagrid, your mum and dad, and if he can spare the time, Mad-Eye Moody. I want everyone in the auditorium at midnight. I'm going to do the ritual then."
Both girls looked a little nervous at this prospect, but agreed to spread the word.