At five minutes to midnight, Harry entered the auditorium with Ginny, Jamie, Mark and Civis in tow - most of those he had invited were already there: the Weasleys (except for Percy of course), Hermione, Luna, Neville, Romulus, Blaise, the Bones sisters, Sirius, Remus, Leona, Emmeline and Tonks were all present, as were Draper, Troy, Harker, Dr Chrystan, Mad-Eye Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"Who are we still waiting for, Gin?" Harry asked as he moved to the centre of the room.
"Just Hagrid and Professor Dumbledore," Ginny reminded him softly, after glancing around the room.
"Good," said Harry. "Then I can get started with the explanation. Professor Dumbledore will probably explain things to Hagrid on the way here."
Ginny nodded her agreement and then at a glance from Harry, took Jamie and Mark by the arm and towed them over to where Hermione and her family were standing. Harry took a deep breath and looked around the hall. "I am sure most of you are probably wondering why I have called you here today at such a late hour. I'm sorry, the hour was unavoidable, and I will be as brief as possible.
"Just over a year ago - not long after Sirius fell into a portal into Necrodemus, a death dimension from which he was rescued by an ally of ours, Lord Aduro Deunatus - I discovered that sixteen years ago Sibyll Trelawney, during a job interview with Professor Dumbledore, told him the following prophecy: 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 that 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…
"As most of you know - or could probably guess - the prophecy refers to me," Harry concluded dryly. "At the time, no-one actually knew what the 'power the Dark Lord knows not' could be. Just over a month ago, Dr Chrystan located a reference to a ritual which fit the bill, and a few weeks ago, he and Remus managed to find the actual spell itself."
At this moment, the door behind Harry opened and Hagrid and Professor Dumbledore entered, followed by Professors McGonagall and Snape. "I hope I'm not too late, Harry?"
"Not at all, Professor," Harry reassured him. "I was just bringing everyone up to speed."
"Then by all means continue. Do you have any objection to Severus and Minerva joining us?"
Harry shook his head. "As I was saying... A few weeks ago, the scroll on which the spell was written was found in the library here at Gryphon's Eyrie and we were able to find out exactly what the spell was. The spell, called Amorae Excisium, is a Spell of Destruction created by the Lord Guardian Amor of Caelum to destroy those who use the darkest of magic. It is split into two elements: one part, the actual spell itself is an invocation eighteen words long written in Ancient Latin; the other part, is a Power Channelling Charm which will give me the power needed to activate the spell.
"The first part I will attend to myself, but the second part requires that five people be bound to me by five magical stones so I can share their power. It has taken us a while to locate the stones, and also the sceptre I need to deploy the spell, but we have them all now, so it is time for me to select my stone bearers, and after careful thought I have."
Here he paused and turned to Civis who held out the wooden box he was carrying. Harry flipped open the lid to reveal the five Channelling Rings arranged in a pentagram around the Sceptre on a red velvet case - the same case that Serina Weyling had stolen from Malfoy Manor. Harry reached in and plucked out the first ring, then turned back to the assembled crowd. "First. Ron Weasley."
Ron grinned and walked up to Harry.
"Ron, I know our friendship has had its ups and downs over the years, but the day we first met on the Hogwarts Express, when you were able to look past the myth of the Boy-Who-Lived and accept me as who I really was, just plain Harry Potter, was one of the best days of my life up till then, and your continued acceptance is still vitally important to me now. So for that reason, I want you to take the Accipus Sapphire."
Ron nodded, took the ring, and slid it onto his right ring finger; then as if obeying an unspoken instruction he moved to stand at Harry's right. Harry turned back to Civis and retrieved another ring. "Jamie Potter."
When Jamie joined him, he looked into her eyes and spoke. "Jamie, you have been part of my life for less than a year, but already I cannot imagine life without you. From the moment I met you I have felt a kinship with you, and your faith in me has helped me a lot during what hasn't been an easy year. So for that reason, I would like you to have the Fide Emerald."
Jamie held up her right hand and Harry, with a smile, placed the ring on her ring finger. When Jamie had moved to her place on his left, Harry took a third ring from the box. "Hermione Granger."
"Hermione, when we first met we didn't get along - I couldn't stand your attitude and you couldn't see past my fame. But then something happened - with Ron's help, I rescued you from a mountain troll - and we became friends. And from that day, you have been my most loyal and true friend, always there when I needed you, and always looking out for my best interests, whether I realised and appreciated it or not. So Hermione, will you take the Fedilis Amber and help me again?"
Hermione nodded and Harry slid the golden-yellow stone onto her right ring finger. Hermione paused for a moment, then walked behind him to stand behind and little to the right of Ron. With Hermione in place, Harry took the second to last ring from the case. "Ginny Weasley."
Ginny rose from her perch against the wall and walked over to him. When she was within arm's length, Harry reached out and took her hand. "Ginny, you have been part of my life since I first joined our world. At first, I only knew you as the little sister of one of my best friends and the girl who had a crush on me; then I knew you as the girl who had been duped by Voldemort and taken into the Chamber of Secrets; it wasn't until two years ago, in my fifth year, that I truly began to get to know the real you: the prankster, the Quidditch player, the person who was able to get through to me during some of my worse days that year… But it wasn't until New Years Day that I truly knew what you meant to me. Ginny, you are my soulmate, my girlfriend, and my love. Will you take this ring, the Libido Ruby, and stand by my side against Voldemort?"
Ginny looked into his eyes and smiled. "I will."
Harry slid the ring onto her hand and waited for her to take her place at his back; then he removed the last ring from the box. "Sirius Black."
Sirius glanced at Harry in surprise, then at Remus, but didn't move until Leona and Tonks prodded him forward. When he stood within arm's length of Harry, Harry spoke. "Sirius, Godfather, you have been an important part of my life for only the past three years - due to circumstances beyond our control - but during that time you have always tried to be honest with me, and not hide from me what I needed to know and that has made a great difference to me. For that reason, I would like you wear the Verus Onyx. Will you wear it and loan me your power against our common enemy?" he asked and held out the inky black jewel which gleamed in its gold setting. Sirius nodded and slipped on, then took his place between Ginny and Jamie.
Harry turned once more, took up the gold sceptre, and turned back to face the others. "Now, the pentagram is complete," he declared. "When the time comes, our power, and that of the Sceptre of Amor, unified by the Concordia Diamond at its tip, will banish Voldemort once and for all."
Harry paused for a moment, then looked around his friends, family and allies. "And I for one, can't wait."
Harry left the auditorium alone; he wanted to give everyone a chance to take things in, but by the time he got back to his room, Ron was waiting for him.
"What's up, Ron?" he asked, brushing past his friend to reach his door and unlock it.
Ron followed him inside and took a seat. He looked a little reluctant to say anything. "It's just, about what you said to Ginny when you gave her ring to her..." There he paused. "Are you...?"
Harry smiled to himself; he knew he'd have to deal with this issue soon, so he knew what he wanted to say. "Relax Ron, I would never even think of doing anything with Ginny that she - that we - weren't ready for. We've only been together for about nine months and unlike you and Hermione we haven't been best friends for years."
"That's good Harry, but if you do hurt her..." he trailed off, but it was obvious what he wasn't saying.
"I won't Ron," Harry assured his friend. "We haven't got to that point yet to be honest. Sure, we've kissed and we hug a lot, but the closest we've got to what you're worried about was the times we fell asleep studying on the sofa in the common room or my office. We haven't talked about aloud, but I think we've both decided to take it slow for now."
"Good," said Ron, getting up and heading for the door. "I'll see you in the morning, Harry."
Once he was alone, Harry undressed and got into bed. A few minutes later he was asleep, and despite his denials, his dreams - which were about him and Ginny - were of a kind that the girl herself might approve of, but her youngest brother would not.
Two days later, Harry was sitting at the breakfast table enjoying a late breakfast with Mrs Weasley, Sirius, Ginny and Jamie, when he realised they hadn't yet done one of their summer traditions. "Sirius?"
His godfather looked up from his breakfast at him. "Yes Harry?"
"Aren't we going in to London for our supplies? Term'll be starting soon."
Sirius nodded. "I wanted to try and get the thing with the Scroll of Amor out of the way before we went in," he admitted, glancing down at the black onyx ring on his right ring finger. "We could go today if you want to."
Harry thought about it for a minute or two before replying. "Okay, how soon can everything be ready to go?"
"We can go as soon as everyone's together. Bill and Fleur have to work, but Jason, Corinne, Jarred and Antonia are free. With Remus, Tonks and I along you should be safe enough."
"Don't forget Civis," Harry reminded him.
Sirius grinned. "No kidding, he's not someone to mess with."
True to his word, they managed to round up the other students within an hour and Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron immediately.
"Let's split up," suggested Harry, when they left Gringotts Wizarding Bank about an hour later. "Ron, Hermione, could you stay with Remus and Tonks?" His two friends nodded agreement. Harry pondered for a moment then turned to the main clump of the group. "Neville, Luna, you can have Draper and Anderson; Susan, Anita, you can have Menotti and Laken."
"Which leaves Civis and I with you and Ginny, Jamie and Mark?" Sirius said.
Harry nodded, "As long as that's okay with you all. Gin?"
"Sure Harry," agreed Ginny. "Where shall we go first?"
The other two nodded, as long they got what they needed they weren't too bothered. "I need to get some new robes, then we need to stop off at the Apothecary and then meet up with Ron and 'Mione in Flourish and Blotts."
"Sounds good," Ginny agreed. "Let's go."
"You can go anywhere in Diagon Alley you want to," Harry told the group. "But I want everyone to meet back at the Leaky Cauldron in three hours."
The group agreed immediately; then Neville, Luna and the Bones sisters disappeared immediately with their bodyguards in tow, and after a minute or two Ron and Hermione disappeared in the direction of the bookshop, while Harry and his group headed for Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions.
In Madam Malkin's, Harry bought two new sets of black Hogwarts uniforms, and a more fancy set of black and red velvet dress robes. He also got another set of robes each for Jamie and Mark, but Ginny refused an offer of new robes saying that the ones Bill had bought for her the year before were still good enough. Realising that he'd actually paid for those too, Harry decided not to press the issue and handed over the gold for the robes they had selected, took one of the proffered bags, and indicated that Civis should take the other.
After a brief stop at Gladrags, they headed for the Apothecary. Romulus and Blaise were in there buying their new potion-making kits. Harry and Ginny quickly assembled the ingredients they needed for their own potion kits, added a few items for Jamie and Mark, and took everything to the counter. Before Ginny could object, Harry handed over enough gold to pay her things as well as Jamie's and Mark's.
"If you want to pay me back you can buy me an ice-cream," Harry told her as the group left the shop. Romulus and Blaise's bodyguard, Barbara Freen, stepped out from the shadows at the side of the building and fell in beside Sirius.
They met up with Ron and Hermione in Flourish and Blotts; Ginny, Jamie and Mark headed for the fiction section while Harry went to look for their friends: Hermione, as usual, had her nose buried in a book - Alchemical Applications of Animal Blood on this occasion - but surprisingly Ron also seemed to be intently reading a book of his own, Harry peeked at the title of the book. "Legal Principles in Law Enforcement? Why are you interested in that?"
Ron jumped. "Harry! You made me jump!"
"Sorry. The book?" Harry asked again, indicating the law text.
Ron shrugged, "I don't have the grades to get onto the Auror program, so I thought I'd look into becoming a Hit Wizard."
"That's great Ron," said Harry with feeling. He'd been a little worried for his friend when Ron hadn't got into Advanced Potions, he knew Ron had wanted to become an Auror almost as much as he did. "Have you told anyone yet?"
"I discussed it with Hermione and Mum a while ago, and Draper agreed to put in a good word for me," Ron admitted. "I'll tell Professor McGonagall when we get back to school. As for everyone else... I tell them when I'm ready. Okay?"
"That's fine Ron, but don't wait too long."
"I won't Harry," Ron assured him. "Have you got your books yet?"
Harry shook his head, "I wanted to find you first. Give me ten minutes?"
"No problem Harry."
About ten minutes later, the now somewhat larger group left the bookshop and headed back to the Leaky Cauldron, stopping off for ice creams on the way. When they got there, Neville, Luna, the Bones sisters and their guards were waiting. Blaise, Romulus and Barbara Freen Flooed back to Romulus' house, and everyone else returned to Gryphon's Eyrie.
Three days before the start of term, Harry's guests (apart from Mark Evans) returned home, leaving Harry alone except for Jamie, Mark and the other semi-permanent residents.
On September the first, Harry rose earlier than usual and the students - accompanied by Sirius, Remus, Tonks and Leona - Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron so that the Order could pick them up and drive them to King's Cross.
To be continued...
A/N: Well, that's Chapter Two, I hope you like it, please let me know. I'll get Chapter Three up as soon as I can but things are a little busy at the moment so it'll probably be a while. As always, reviews will be greatly appreciated. Anyone interested in receiving updates prior to posting or viewing the draft versions of this fic should sign up to my Yahoo! Group. The link is on my signature line of all Perch posts. Any problems or questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.