"I flew twenty miles to get here from the base. I want your report and I want it now," said a tall, lanky woman with short blond hair that fell to just below her ears. She looked to be in her early forties, and she carried a sword in a holster on her hip. Other than Ron and Harry, no one else was quite sure who she was.
"Does anyone else feel like a three-year-old every time she enters the room?" Ron asked Harry, quite seriously.
"Me," Harry whispered back.
"No more whispering. Report!"
"Commander O'Reilly, we've already sent in the official document. If you want a report, read that." Ron sounded irritable and tired, but the woman wasn't about to give up.
"If I wanted to read the official report, I wouldn't have flown the twenty miles to get here." The commander's eyes were ice blue, and they pierced Ron's with what seemed like anger. In truth, she was sympathetic.
"Excuse me," Hermione broke in. "I'd like to know just who you are."
Ron grinned. Hermione could be wonderfully abrupt when she wanted or needed to be.
"Commander Raina O'Reilly," she said, and Hermione was only faintly surprised by the accent that crept back into the older woman's voice when she pronounced her name. "And who are you?"
"Hermione Granger, soon to be Hermione Weasley," Hermione said, and her eyes sparkled with joy.
Ron couldn't contain his excitement either. So Hermione wasn't that mad at him. She still wanted to go through with the wedding!
"Ah, I've been hearing of you, young lady. You're after changing the world, is it?"
Hermione blushed. "Just pieces."
"You might want to start in this corner, with your fiancé," Raina said, her eyes giving away her sense of mischief. "He's after needin' a bit of changing, methinks."
Shrugging, Hermione walked the short distance to stand next to Ron's side. "I'm thinking that he's perfect just the way he is."
Raina smiled. "Ah, ‘tis young love."
"That's the best kind," Anna said as she leaned into Remus, his chest supporting her back.
"'Tis true," Raina agreed, and heaved a little Irish sigh.
"I'm Anna Lupin."
"Pleased to meet you," the commander said with a grin. "You're Potter's godmother, isn't it?"
"I have that honor," Anna said.
"It's more like a constant thorn in her foot," Harry mumbled to himself. "Ouch! You didn't have to elbow me, Ginny."
Raina ignored the couple's bantering. "I'm thinking that you must be Remus Lupin then," she said, and looked directly into Remus's eyes.
"That's my name," Remus said and winked.
Raina nodded in approval. "Well, Potter, aren't you going to introduce me to your wife?"
Harry grinned. "I like to keep her all to myself."
"You're still newlyweds, then? I thought so."
Ginny caught herself blushing, and stepped forward. "Ginny Potter."
The two women shook hands.
"And how are your beautiful children? Potter's been showing the pictures when he comes into the department."
The famous Weasley blush only grew redder, and Ginny smiled. Her twin boys were now her favorite subjects of conversation, but she was well aware of most people's attention span when it came to other people's children.
"Do you have about a month?" she asked, making Raina laugh.
"Oh, not this minute, dear, but I'm thinking we could work something out. Nothing like a chat about the wee ones to brighten up the day, yes?"
Ginny nodded. "I'll keep that in mind."
"I still want that report, you two."
Harry and Ron exchanged glances. Finally Ron spoke. "Is there a specific reason why you had to come and get the report directly from us, Commander? Off the record."
"I never said any of this."
"Understood," both men said, and the others in the room nodded in agreement.
"The Department of Magical Law Enforcement thinks that the body you've found on your grounds belongs to a Death Eater supporter who goes by the name of Cassandra."
"Do they?" Harry sounded amused. "Now why would they think that?"
"Well, official reports of her…" The commander paused. "You don't need me to tell you any of this, do you?"
Harry shrugged and leaned against the wall. "No, not really. If you'd like to go through the formalities, of course, I could stand here for a while. I need a nap."
"Why don't you tell us something we don't already know, Commander?" Ron chose to lean forward on the kitchen counter, and looked the woman straight in the eyes. "How about treating us like we have a grain of sense in our brains?"
"Well, I'd be after doing that, if you did have a grain of sense. Why didn't you put any notation in your report?"
"For complicated reasons," Harry said before Ron could open up his mouth.
"Your arse could be on the line for this, Potter."
"If my arse isn't on the line every month or so, I feel like I've dropped behind."
"For Merlin's sake, don't be so flippant. As your commanding officer, I've got to know what's going on. This isn't about me being a woman, is it?"
Both Harry and Ron looked at the women they were lucky enough to be in intimate relationships with. They both erupted into laughter.
"If there is one valuable lesson we learned from Hogwarts and the years after," Ron said, "it's that women should never, never be underestimated."
"It's a shame Draco didn't know that," Harry muttered. "I'm sure his life would be a lot easier."
"Yeah, it's a bloody shame for him. It's damned lucky for us," Ron said.
"It's got more to do with the fact that the less people that know, the better off we all are," Harry said. "It's certainly nothing personal."
"I want to know."'
"Harry," Ginny spoke up suddenly. "Tell her."
Harry whirled around and looked his wife straight in the eye. "What?"
"Tell her. Somebody in the department other than Ron has to know. In case…" She broke off, but Harry knew what she meant.
"While you do that, I'll put the baby down," Anna said and left.
So they told Raina the whole story, some of which she knew, most of which she didn't. She nodded, gasped, frowned, and smiled in all the appropriate spots.
"So Draco has resumed Dark activity," she said. "I'm not surprised a' tall. Welcome back, Anna."
Ron ignored them. "We're not certain that Draco is behind all of this."
"Well, we know for a fact that Draco was behind the attack of your wife and your friend, Potter. Why wouldn't he kill his mistress?"
"Because it just doesn't make sense. There was a reason Cassandra lasted as long as she did with the Death Eaters. We don't know how or why, but Draco managed to keep her alive this long. Only to kill her months later? I don't think so. That's not very logical," Ron argued.
Hermione, who was watching her fiancé very carefully, agreed. "Draco is extremely conniving, and he depends on the fact that his plans will work. Unless Cassandra had completed her purpose, I don't see why he would kill her."
"I say what I said earlier this evening," Ginny interrupted. "We're not going to be any help if only one of us can think clearly. I'm sorry, Commander, but we've been up quite a long time. I'm in desperate need of sleep, and the boys will be waking up in a few hours."
The commander nodded. "Point taken, Mrs. Potter. However--" she held up a finger when everyone made movements to leave "--there is one more point that needs to be discussed.
"What is that?" Harry nearly snapped.
" ‘That' is what to do about the child that you and Ron found."
"Doesn't the Ministry have some place to put her?" Ron asked, a frown on his face. "It seems like there was an official orphanage a few years back for children whose parents were Death Eater victims."
"There was," Raina agreed, "but they don't want to take the child."
"Why not?" Harry stood up straight now. "What's wrong with her?"
"Her parents," Raina said with a shrug. "Death Eaters and all that."
"Oh, for goodness' sake! There's no way the public could know about that…" Ron exploded.
"Well, you remember that blanket the baby was wrapped in, right?"
Harry nodded. "What about it?"
"Well, it seems that none of you looked closely enough at it. It had one word embroidered on it."
"Yes?" Harry asked impatiently.
"Can they do that?" Anna asked. "Can they deny her the right to shelter and basic needs because she's a Malfoy?"
"In a word," Raina said with a shrug, "yes."
"That's ridiculous!" It was Anna's turn to be angry. "That's like denying Remus a job because he's a werewolf! Her parentage shouldn't make a bit of difference. It's like the War hit the wizarding world on the head. This sort of prejudice is just as bad as all that pureblood nonsense."
"I agree," Hermione said. "But it's perfectly legal, believe it or not."
"Well, what are we going to do about that poor child?" Ginny asked. "We need to make a decision quickly. I'll feel terrible if her fate is hanging in limbo."
Raina took a deep breath. "Actually, I was hoping one of you could take her."
Shock permeated the room, and the silence was deafening. "Well, don't everyone speak at once."
"Ron and I can't take her," Hermione said finally. "We aren't married yet, and we're not ready."
"I agree," Ron said.
"As much as it pains me to say this," Anna spoke up, "Remus is losing more and more of his strength as the years go on, and I am still having a negative reaction to the clairvoyant cells in my body. We'll both be lucky to see Orion reach twenty. I just don't think we could take on another one, knowing that we wouldn't live to see her come of age."
The rest of the group let that statement sink in for a while. It was a well-known fact, but no one dared to speak of it most of the time.
"That leaves us," Ginny said.
"Yes, yes it does," Harry said, and shook his head. "We already have two around her age, Ginny."
Ginny nodded. "Is that a bad thing or a good thing?"
"I don't know," Harry said.
"Well, I don't either."
"I'm thinkin' that you two need to be after thinking about this," Raina interrupted. "But could you do a poor Irishwoman a favor and keep the babe overnight? I'll be after her in the morning."
Ginny and Harry looked at each other, silently debating.
"We could take her," Ginny said finally.
"Good! I'll be back in a moment." Raina Disapparated with a pop.
"I'm sorry, Ginny. If there was some way I could take on a baby," Hermione started, but Ginny cut her off.
"We've always wanted a large family. It's just growing a bit quicker than we expected. Besides which, we haven't even decided to take her in."
"You two being who you are? I think you've already made up your mind, you just don't know it yet."
"She's such a precious little girl," Ginny muttered. "So pretty and delicate."
Harry grinned and wrapped his arm around Ginny's waist to nuzzle her neck, a habit of his that was made easy by Ginny's short stature.
"Not as pretty as you," he whispered.
"You really are tired," she whispered back. "You're embarrassing yourself willingly."
"Nope," he disagreed. "Just desperately in love with my wife."
"Well," Ginny said. "That's a good thing."
"'Tis," Harry imitated Raina. "'Tis a very good thing."
There was a popping sound, and then Raina was back in the room with them. "If you could just sign these papers the Ministry will let you take her for the night…"
"Actually," Ginny interrupted again, "we've decided to take her permanently."
"I had a fey feeling about that," Raina said with a grin. "So I brought those papers, too!"
"You take ‘be prepared' to a whole new level, Commander," Anna said, the respect evident in her voice.
"My fey feelings are rarely wrong," Raina said so seriously that no one dared to laugh.
The two real Seers in the room looked at each other and grinned.
"How often do you get these fey feelings?" Ginny asked curiously as Raina pulled several pieces of parchment from a briefcase and fished out two quills.
"Oh, every and now and again." Raina's tone was dismissive and she smiled at herself. "Don't be after teasing me, then."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Ginny protested.
"If you could just sign here," Raina said and marked the correct lines.
"Be happy to," Harry said, and took a minute to read what he was signing, "after Hermione and Ron, our resident barristers, look over this."
Hermione and Ron leaned over the parchment together, and whispered a few sentences to each other, but for the most part, they didn't need to communicate verbally.
"Everything looks to be in order, Harry," Ron said finally. "The only thing that Hermione and I have concerns about is this naming clause."
"What's that?" Harry asked.
"Basically," Hermione tossed her head, "it says that though you're taking custody of her officially here, part of her name has to remain ‘Malfoy' until her twelfth birthday. Then she can decide for herself what she wants to do."
"It's standard for most refuge children whose parentage we know of," Raina said.
Ginny sighed. "Well, that certainly makes it more complicated for our little girl."
"Is there any way to get around it?" Harry wanted to know.
"No, I'm afraid not," Hermione said after she read over the document again. "It's binding, almost concrete, really."
"She doesn't have to sign her name that way," Ron said, "but her legal name has to be Malfoy, or even Malfoy-Potter."
"I want part of her legal name to be Potter," Harry said firmly.
"I agree," Ginny said.
"Malfoy-Potter it is, then," Ron said. "Just specify that here… well, I suppose I can do that…"
After about an hour of filling out forms, Jessica Anne Malfoy-Potter was theirs.