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Harry lay on his bed, an open book in front of him, but the teen was lost in thought as he stared at the door looking completely lost in his own world. He was thinking about Hermione, she had fully moved in nearly two weeks ago, but she remained in the guest room opposite Harry’s room. Even at Hogwarts they had not shared a room, Hermione had always stayed in the guest room despite the teasing they got from their friends.
“Does she think I am a prude or old fashioned?” Harry asked aloud. It was not, in fact, Hermione that was against the idea of them sharing a bed, but Harry, himself who had stopped Hermione joining him at night. Harry knew married couples shared a bed, but he was also a teenager and did not want to accidentally touch something that Hermione did not want him to touch.
“Talking to yourself, again?” Hermione’s voice drew him out of his musings.
“First sign of madness,” Harry quipped making the two teens laugh out loud.
“Seriously, are you doing all right?” the girl asked him.
“Do you think we are moving too slow?” Harry patted the bed as he sat up.
“What do you mean?” The bushy-haired teen responded as she tucked a leg underneath her when she sat down.
“Well, we are married, but we are yet to share a bed,” Harry replied.
“Harry, I know why you have not wanted to share a bed. You are too much of a gentleman and I do not want to push you,” Hermione responded carefully. “You have not had the best upbringing, so you have not exactly had the best role models.”
“I am not sure,” he shrugged his shoulders and settled back into the pillows.
“I am ready when you are, I am not going to push you to sleep in the same bed if it makes you uncomfortable,” Hermione replied staring at her partner.
“Thank you–“ Harry began to say when he abruptly cut off cocking his head as though he was hearing something. He frowned as though listening to something Hermione could not hear.
“What?” she asked, but he silenced her with a finger. Harry got up, pacing the room in silence before indicating Hermione should follow him. She was curious and a little bit weirded out by Harry’s behaviour. She followed him through the house, passing Draco’s door, which lay open. The blond was lying on his bed staring at the ceiling but did not indicate he had heard them. The pair passed the rest of the rooms in the family wing before heading down the large stairs to the entrance hall. Still, Harry was silent as though hearing non-existent sounds.
At the bottom of the stairs he stopped, looking around to find whatever he was hearing. After a couple of moments, he started forward again with Hermione trailing in his wake. She was still none the wiser, but she would follow Harry into hell. Then Harry stopped outside his fathers’ study door, which was closed. Before Hermione could stop him, Harry flung the door open to find several shocked faces. Sirius of course was there, with Amelia, Remus and Narcissa.
“Harry, what are you doing?” Sirius asked, but got a finger held up like Hermione. She followed the other teen into the room, gently closing the door behind her. As the door sealed, she caught a flash of black light out of the corner of her eye. How had Harry broken the Ward on the room, were her thoughts. But her attention was drawn back to Harry who approached a table the adults were stood over. On the table were three innocuous items, which included the Slytherin locket with its green serpent on the front. She also noticed a ruined book next to the locket, knowing this was Riddle’s diary from their second year. Finally, a new object drew her attention, it was a tiara. It was absolutely stunning, and Hermione gasped breaking the spell in the room.
“What are you doing, Harry?” Amelia immediately asked.
“How did you break the Wards?” Sirius followed up quickly.
“I could hear them,” Harry responded.
“You what?” Sirius asked dumbfounded. Remus approached the teen, like someone approaching a wounded animal.
“What do you mean ‘you can hear them’?”
“The diary is lifeless, I can feel nothing from that, but the locket and the head thing I can hear it talking. Like I could hear the basilisk,” Harry replied, his eyes still on the locket and tiara. But Remus had a hold on his arms. Hermione thought that might be necessary as Harry looked at the items hungrily.
“He can hear them speaking Parseltongue,” Hermione supplied then looked at the objects, “are they Horcruxes?”
“Yes, Remus has returned from the library in Alexandria with proven methods to destroy them,” Sirius returned, not taking his eyes from Harry.
“He can hear them,” Hermione suggested.
“Yes, which might be a great asset,” Amelia replied sharing a glance with Sirius who glared at the woman.
“Can you put them away?” Hermione asked as she approached Harry. She gave Remus a look and turned Harry from the items. He was still spaced out as Narcissa put on a pair of dragon hide gloves then put the locket and tiara into a box. As soon as the box was closed, the air felt much lighter, and everyone seemed to breathe better. Harry still appeared dazed, so Hermione looked around at the adults with a slight blush on her cheeks and kissed Harry. At first it was like kissing something dead, then Harry seemed to come to life wrapping his arms around Hermione and deepening the kiss, his tongue seeking hers out.
“Hem hem,” someone did an almost perfect impression of Umbridge causing the two teens to pull away from each other sheepishly.
“You can move into my room tonight,” Harry leaned into whisper in her ear as he brushed a stray hair away. Hermione body shivered at Harry’s words.
“Now, can you tell me what is going on and how you got through the Wards?” Sirius asked impatiently.
“I could hear the locket talking to me, calling me,” Harry responded.
“You can hear them?”
“Yes, quite clearly,” Harry responded them looked down his embarrassment, “Erm, I created a spell to unlock the Wards.”
“You created a spell?” Hermione asked shocked.
“Yes, I have been dabbling. I think it is easier because it is a Black Ward,” Harry told them, still looking at his trainers, “and I have yet to test it on a Ward outside of Hárasteorra.”
“Interesting,” Amelia remarked looking at the teen with unbridled curiosity.
“Take a seat, you may as well join us, although I do this under duress,” Sirius sighed.
“Why?” Harry asked a bit hotly.
“You are barely sixteen, there are more capable adults in the room to deal with this,” his father replied.
“But should I not get a chance to help when I have one of the damn things stuck in my head!” Harry answered angrily. Hermione had never seen Harry like this before, this was the first time he had rebelled against Sirius.
“You may have one in your head, but that is not going to stop me from having adults taking the lead. You should be thinking about girls,” Sirius looked at Hermione, “and quidditch, enjoying being a teenager.”
“I have never been ‘just a teenager’ not when I have the dark wanker after me,” Harry muttered irritably. Sirius and Remus looked wide-eyed at each other as Harry sat down. While Sirius assumed the Lord’s chair as everyone else found a chair in the study, which was now a little tight. Remus vanished the table and placed the box with the Horcruxes on top of Sirius’ desk. Sirius stared at the box for a few long minutes then looked at Harry who had his arms crossed in a good impression of a sullen teenager before he indicated Remus should begin.
“Hermione, Harry, you know the prophecy and know about the Horcruxes. They are an object keeping a soul, in this case the Dark Lord’s,” Remus reminded them. “They are created with the foulest magic out there, using cold-blooded murder and a secret ritual, that we thought had been lost to time.”
“Did you find much in Alexandria?” Hermione’s eyes lit up. Harry knew the book-worm would love to visit and had planned on one day taking her there. The dark-haired teen looked at her from the corner of his eye still not willing to co-operate with the adults in the room.
“Not as much as I would have liked,” Remus replied, “but I did find out more things about Herpo the Foul than necessary.”
“Do you know how many Voldemort created?” Hermione, ever the perceptible one, asked the adults.
“We are thinking three, five or seven,” Sirius replied, “but we know Harry destroyed the diary.”
“You also have the Locket and Ravenclaw’s Diadem,” Hermione indicated the box.
“Clever girl,” Sirius muttered.
“How did you know what it was?” Narcissa asked.
“Slytherin’s Locket and now Ravenclaw’s Diadem, I think Riddle violated the Founders’ ancient items,” Hermione said with disgust. Harry sat next to her, letting his partner do all the talking. The teen had tried to forget that he had a Horcrux in his head since he was told several months ago. Then Sirius had angered him, by claiming the adults could do everything. Was he not the one with it in his head? Was he not the one who defeated Voldemort as a one-year-old and faced him again several times since? Harry brooded as the others spoke. Hermione could feel the anger coming from Harry, so she gently placed a hand on his, rubbing her thumb against the boy’s hand.
“We believe that too,” Narcissa said gently as she watched Harry.
“We also believe Neville destroyed another one when he killed Nagini,” Remus added surprising the pair of teens.
“What?” Harry looked up at his pseudo-uncle, his anger ebbing away slightly with Hermione’s presence.
“After talking with you and Neville, and knowing the way Nagini had been described,” Amelia told them, “the snake had been changed by foul magic.”
“So that is at least four then, which leaves five or seven or possibly more,” Hermione counted them on her fingers. Once again, the adult seemed to share looks with each other.
“We think Horace Slughorn might know,” Narcissa told them.
“The potions master?” Harry wrinkled his nose up in disgust.
“Yes, though I had intended for you and Remus to persuade him to teach at Hogwarts, we also found out he may know something about the Horcruxes,” Sirius answered them, then looked to Amelia.
“As you know, I cannot get involved in Dumbledore’s Case, due to my being close to you, but I saw some transcripts today from his interview,” Amelia explained, “and it seems that the old man keeps pleading with Shacklebolt for you to find Horace Slughorn.”
“Why does he want Harry to see this Slughorn?” Hermione asked fully taking Harry’s hand, then looked at Sirius, “and I thought you might be reluctant for Harry to meet anyone the Old Goat recommended.”
“Horace Slughorn used to be the Head of Slytherin, and beside Snape is one of the best Potion’s Masters in Britain,” Narcissa explained. “Remus and Harry were going to recruit him for Hogwarts, as the man likes to ‘collect’ people.”
“I would be reluctant to let Harry cross paths with someone Dumbledore recommended, however Cissy has vouched for the man.”
“Apparently, Horace knew Tom Riddle when he was in school so may have spoken to him about any number of things,” Amelia answered Hermione’s original question.
“So, what are you going to do with those?” Harry asked, eyeing up the box.
“Destroy them,” Sirius answered firmly. “Soon!”
“Can I ask a question?” Harry looked at Amelia, who nodded, “why could you not keep that great dungeon bat in custody?”
“Harry!” Hermione slapped the teen on his arm but grinned at him as Remus and Sirius laughed out loud. Narcissa just rolled her eyes at the teen’s question.
“Because even though he was a former Death Eater, he has been clean for the last several years,” the stern woman remarked, but cracked a smile.
“Clean, my ar–“ Harry muttered though he was cut off.
“Do not finish that sentence, young man,” Narcissa eyed him firmly. He gulped as he got the evil eye from Hermione too.
“Yes Ma’am,” Harry bowed his head as the two marauders sniggered.
“Do not think I have forgotten you too,” Narcissa eyed the pair who looked like naughty school children.
“What have we done?” Sirius asked innocently.
“Oh, you know exactly what you have done,” the woman answered. Harry and Hermione looked at each other knowing now was the time to leave. They quickly escaped as they heard Sirius whine like a dog. When the door closed behind the two teens, Sirius seemed to slump into his chair, dragging a hand across his face.
“Has he ever challenged you like that?” Amelia asked.
“No, not in the last year,” Sirius replied. “Sometimes I want to wrap him up in cotton wool and take him abroad, let someone else deal with Voldemort.”
“He is sixteen now,” Remus reminded his friend, “he will not let his friends be targeted when he could defeat Voldemort.”
“I know, but he is still a child, my child,” Sirius countered.
“I do not think he has ever been a child,” Narcissa said quietly.
“I know,” Sirius replied equally as quiet before looking around the room for something to change the subject. “Remus, did you find out anything on Jonathan Knight?”
“According to all sources he is a fairly unassuming man. He has a wife and three children, which he dotes on,” Remus replied reading from a folder. “By all accounts he is fairly average, does the job well and has risen through the Ministry. He is a pureblood, but of such a minor house. It seems he has a completely mundane background.”
“I have never heard of him,” Narcissa admitted, “but I do not pay attention to who is in each department.”
“He has risen through the ranks quietly, but from what I have heard he is rather boring,” Amelia added.
“Which makes him suspicious,” Sirius settled back in his chair.
“Who has taken over as head of Department of Education and Family Services?” Narcissa asked.
“Harold Tofty,” Remus replied.
“Lady Marchbanks has fully taken over as interim Minister now,” Sirius added.
“What is she going to do when a new Minister is elected?” Narcissa asked, she had always liked the formidable older woman.
“Retire, she told me she had done plenty of years’ service looking after the education of our children,” Amelia responded. As the adults had continued to talk Hermione had dragged Harry away from the study and into the kitchen, quickly throwing up a silencing charm.
“Are you all right?” she asked. Harry began to pace running a hand through his already messy head.
“Honestly, no. I was angry when Remus would not let me defend my own home, now it seems they are talking about the Horcruxes without me,” Harry ranted as Hermione listened.
“I know you have done everything on your own, Harry, but you are not alone now. You have mostly competent adults,” Hermione told him.
“When are adults ever capable?” Harry muttered as Hermione continued.
“You also have me, Neville and all the other heirs. You do not have to do everything alone now. Let your father and the others worry about the Horcruxes.” Harry paced for several more moments before the tension flooded out of his body and his shoulders dropped.
“You are right as always,” Harry sighed defeated, “But I am still lodging a complaint.”
“I will send a note to the higher powers,” Hermione joked as she dropped her spell, and the pair left the kitchen. By the time they had reached the upper floor they were giggling.
“Having fun?” Draco was leaning against his door frame.
“Of course, even better for seeing your face, ferret-face,” Harry returned with a laugh at the sour face his cousin made.
“You will not ever let me live that down. I could have a cool name from my Panther form, but no, you call me Ferret,” Draco whined.
“Could be worse, we could call you a weasel,” Hermione chimed in as they followed the boy back downstairs, Draco protesting all the way, and into the library. Harry settled by the fireplace as the other two went to go get books. As Harry dozed lightly the other teens joined them in the library except Susan, who was away with Hannah.
“What have you got there?” Harry heard Ceph ask as he lay with his eyes closed.
“A book about Arthur, Myrddin and the Order of the Round table,” Draco responded.
“Are you really related to Morgana Le Fay?” Riley asked, awe in his voice. Harry opened his eyes to see Danica, Riley and Ceph on the floor with some books looking up at Draco and Hermione, who were sat opposite him.
“Yes, I am,” she responded.
“Even better you are related to Hector Dagworth-Granger,” Danica spoke up excited and Hermione had a gleam in her eye.
“You know about Dagworth-Granger?”
“He is only one of the greatest Potion master’s from the last five hundred years.” Harry groaned, the Black ward was another book-worm like his partner and Draco. Harry looked at his little brother.
“We need to go and talk about sports?” Harry grumbled getting an enthusiastic nod from Ceph.
“Boys!” Hermione said sticking her tongue out at Harry. But she relaxed now knowing Harry had calmed down. The girl knew there would be more conflicts again, after having no family for fifteen years she knew something was bound to happen.
“So, tell us more about the Order of the Round table and Camelot?” Riley asked eagerly.
“Camelot has had many names, from Caerleon to Camlann, after the river it supposedly exists besides. But now no-one knows where it is, or was,” Draco began dramatically. Harry snorted; Draco was such a drama queen. How had he not noticed that in the last five years? “But it was the capital of Arthur’s Kingdom after the death of King Uther. By this time King Arthur had gathered fifteen knights around and anointed them the Order of the Round Table.”
“Who were they?” Ceph asked, his eyes shining with excitement.
“Brunor Le Noir, our common ancestor was one of the first, but there were others like Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad, Sirs Bedivere, Kay and Tristan,” Draco continued, now standing, his form shadowed by the firelight. “But they took oaths to protect Camelot and the kingdom. They also secretly gathered and swore to protect the Pendragon line and eventually the return of Medraut or his followers.”
“Are there still followers out there?” Riley asked, looking younger than his twelve years. Danica just rolled her eyes at her two best friends. Hermione hid a grin, reminded of herself when she was that age, except her two friends were in her house and not a different house.
“Some say there are, some say there are people out there waiting to resurrect Medraut and bring back the glory days of the Wizarding world,” Draco answered.
“Sounds a bit like Voldiepants,” Harry added getting a glare from the three youngsters.
“I am sure bringing back witch hunts, disease and death will go down well with everyone,” Hermione spoke scathingly. Draco just ignored her.
“Through time, the Order of the round table have protected the descendants of King Arthur. They were there during the Norman invasion of Wales, pushing back the Roman empire before joining the first and second crusades, the descendants of Brunor Le Noir now called the Black’s,” Draco grinned at Harry, “fought alongside the many descendants of Arthur coming back to England injured but alive.”
“What about the holy grail?” Ceph asked and Draco looked at him astonished. Hermione smirked, looking at the blond.
“Even in the Muggle world, we have heard of the Holy Grail,” Hermione explained.
“What is the Holy Grail?” Riley asked.
“It is a legend, that the drinker from the grail will become immortal. Immune from illness and aging,” Draco warmed to the story of the grail, “unless a person was seriously injured then they would live forever.”
“Wow, imagine living forever,” Ceph’s eyes lit up.
“I think it would be terribly boring,” Hermione commented, “Besides, the grail is a legend, no one knows it truly exists.”
“Another legend found with the Order of the Round Table is that they were told to protect the Grail from everyone who might wish to use it.”
“Do you know how the Grail was created?” Danica now asked.
“No, it is mentioned here and there in books but nowhere about its creation other than God creating it. Personally, if it was created, it was created by an extremely powerful wizard or witch, thousands of years ago probably from the Babylonian or Sumerian civilisations.”
“What happened to the descendants of King Arthur?” Riley got back to the original subject they were talking about.
“When Wales was taken over by the English, Arthur’s royal family fled. Some say they were all murdered, while others say they fled to the New world,” Draco responded.
“New World?” Harry mouthed to Hermione who grinned at him.
“America,” was the mouthed return.
“Do you believe somewhere out there is the many-times great grandson of King Arthur?” Ceph asked.
“I honestly cannot say, there are so many legends swirling around Arthur and his knights,” Draco shrugged his shoulders. Riley, Ceph and Draco got into a debate about whether the Pendragons still existed while Harry and Hermione moved to a table to read some books, making notes as they did. Sometime later one of the elves popped in to inform them lunch was ready.
Harry held Hermione’s hand as they walked through the gardens of Hárasteorra Hall. For the last day of July, it was a beautiful sunny day with a high temperature of 22֯c (72’F). They enjoyed the walk through the gardens looking at the various flowers Neville had suggested over the last year. The pair reached the edge of the wards and a stunning wood of trees, where Harry now led Hermione. In the centre of the tall trees was a large stone that positively hummed with power. Hermione gasped.
“What is it?”
“The Northern Wardstone, beside the Heartstone this is the strongest and only visible Wardstone. It is said to lie on a meeting point of Lay lines,” Harry explained and could see Hermione looked absolutely fascinated.
“Why are we here?” she asked, turning back to Harry.
“I have not been completely honest with you,” Harry returned getting a frown from Hermione, “when I spoke to the Hat, after Dumbledore captured us, I downloaded lots of information about Myrddin’s magic and several rituals.”
“But what has that got to do with me?” Hermione asked, cautiously.
“On the summer solstice; Neville, Draco and I performed a ritual to reunite the different parts of Myrddin’s staff. It has once again become the staff, Draoidheachd,” Harry explained, and seeing Hermione’s impatient face quickly continued, “I knew I was not destined to use Draoidheachd, but you, being the descendent of Morgana and Myrddin are.”
“Me? No, something that powerful should be used by a powerful witch or wizard,” Hermione whispered, unsure of herself.
“But you are powerful. Try summoning it, call out Draoidheachd,” Harry returned. The young woman looked at him, as though expecting a joke. She cleared her throat and called out.
“Draoidheachd.” The staff appeared in her outstretched hands without any fanfare, which Harry thought was a bit anticlimactic. Meanwhile Hermione studied the staff which measured about six foot tall. The wood was a yellowy-white colour made of two entwined branches. About halfway up was a handle wrapped in deep blue cloth, looking similar to the cloak of invisibility. On the very top was the red ruby that had once lived in Excalibur, that Hermione had only seen once or twice.
“Oh, wow,” she breathed, as felt the power humming through the ancient object. “Have you told Sirius or Remus about this yet?”
“Erm, not really,” Harry faltered getting a frown from Hermione, “I have kept it hidden in my room.”
“You really should tell Sirius,” Hermione replied, but Harry stilled. He hissed something under his breath and the staff disappeared before she noticed he had dropped his cane. Both his wands had slid from the disillusioned wand-guard she knew Harry wore on his forearms.
“Show yourself,” Harry suddenly shouted looking past the Ward Stone. Hermione heard the sound of someone moving through the woods, then Severus Snape appeared looking worse for wear. He was clutching his arm and had cuts all over his face.
“Potter, erm, Black,” he muttered then collapsed to the ground.
“Hermione, send a Patronus to Dad to get him here, tell him he might need help,” Harry told the young woman while never taking his eyes off the fallen Potion’s master. He barely heard his partner call out ‘Expecto Patronum’ nor did he see the silver crow disappear off.
However, he did hear a couple of pops as several people appeared behind him trusting Hermione to have his back.
“Harry,” Sirius said carefully.
“Snape just showed up, I do not know how he got through the wards,” Harry told them.
“I am not going to stand here,” Andromeda said, then she came into Harry’s field of view kneeling down beside Snape. She began to assess him waving her wand over the fallen man’s body.
“Andromeda?” Sirius asked.
“He is alive, just exhausted. Whatever power he used to get through the Wards has severely depleted him. He will sleep for a day or two, but I can heal his injuries while he sleeps.”
“Elkley,” Sirius called, and Harry finally turned around to find both Remus and Sirius with their wands trained on the Potions Master.
“Yes, sir,” the smartly-dressed elf appeared.
“Take Snape to the guest bedroom, we shall follow shortly,” Sirius told him, then turned to Remus, “You had better get Amelia, she only just left.”
“Were you kissing her again? She was supposed to leave half hour ago,” the werewolf Marauder grinned at his friend. Sirius gave a look at Harry before grinning himself.
“You are such a bad example,” Andromeda huffed as she apparated away at the same time as Elkley left with Snape.
“At least I have not made Amelia pregnant yet,” Sirius returned as Remus blushed.
“I am going to be involved,” Harry told the pair.
“No, you are not,” Sirius returned glaring back at his son.
“I am old enough to decide and if you want me to become the figurehead of the Alliance, I should be involved in ALL aspects,” Harry snapped angrily. Hermione felt the waves of anger rolling off the boy.
“You are barely sixteen, we spoke about this, this morning,” Sirius re-joined.
“And I think you are wrong! I am competent and should be involved,” Harry answered his father back, then stalked off leaving the two men alone with Hermione.
“Harry has not had trusted adults in his life, and to find Dumbledore manipulated him, he needs to feel included,” Hermione told them succinctly before following her partner. Remus and Sirius exchanged looks, not knowing what to think before they apparated back to the house.