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Harry and Ron and Hermione

“It might seem like you have to burn down the whole forest to drive off the darkness, Harry,” Dumbledore counselled, “it might seem like it’s the only way to feel warm and bright again. But I do suggest that you remember that shadows disappear at the flick of a switch.”

It already felt like a lifetime ago. Harry had spent the first eleven years of his life in mundane cruelty, surrounded by his loveless loved ones and a future that wasn’t only grim, but still unimaginably far away. Then the next seven had been taken up with both his amazement and joy at entering the wizarding world, and the shock of potent terror at the knowledge that this paradise contained far more horrors than the cupboard under the stairs. Dumbledore was right in that situation, when he was small, and needed to make the shadow a little less deep in the long space under the Dursley’s stairs, he could sit up, reach out, blind, and turn on the light.

Voldemort had been so easily dispatched, though for seven years the boy had been filled with the knowledge and the duty that he was the only one who could defeat the dark lord. Now that the spirit of evil had exited the world, this specific instance of dire deeds and evil thoughts, fear and cold destruction of courage, Harry felt somewhat empty.

Purposeless.

He had of course returned to Hogwarts after the summer, wherein it became his intention to collect the required qualifications to enter employment within the Ministry of Magic. If defeating dark wizards was the thing he did best, he might as well do it for a living. But as the leaves turned from green to brown, and the clouds gathered once more about the ruined keep, he found himself focusing less on a bright future, and closer on a past that sometimes felt so real he could reach out and touch it.

Trauma did that to a person.

The master of death, Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, who had died surrounded by his friends and family.

You could never go home again, he’d heard once. He felt like he’d never been home in the first place. The stress was sometimes so much he had to scream into a pillow, bat some luggage around the room, or walk long in the grounds of the castle, eschewing conversation or attention in being quiet, and concerned, and alone. His friends were there, but the three of them hadn’t been speaking much that year.

Well, the three of them hadn’t, but Hermione and Ron had been almost inseparable since they finally gave into their emotions. They’d spent the summer together too. Despite the fact they’d spent a year on the run together as a threesome, and had more or less lived out of eachother’s pockets, he still missed the camaraderie. Perhaps it was just needing that sense of danger, of adventure about the world that captured his imagination so completely.

At Hogwarts, he’d always felt as if he belonged. But now, with most of his friends already graduated and back in the world, he felt more alone than ever. It was so hard to focus during his lessons now, seeing as how he felt as if he’d lived a lifetime’s worth of magic. How could he sit through another Defence Against the Dark Arts when he had successfully defended the world from the Dark Arts? What more was there for him to learn?

As for the class itself, the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher had long been a cursed one, with the member of staff in that position either being unable to complete the year due to some unforeseen magical malady befalling them, or being so shocked by the requirements of the class that they swore to never take it up again. Despite the fact that this was the first year of the curse supposedly being lifted, as it was Voldemort himself that had cursed it, the teachers of the school were taking no chances. Instead of instituting a new faculty member as a guinea pig to test whether the curse was still around, they had all banded together to share the role. Thus Professor McGonagall was Headmistress, Transfiguration Teacher and Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher. Hagrid was Care of Magical Creatures and Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, and so on. This was in the hope that by sharing the curse between the whole of the teaching body, the magic would be spread so thinly that it couldn’t hurt all of them. But this remained to be seen.

He was sat on a bench in the grounds, wand in hand, gripped so tightly his knuckles had turned bone white, staring out onto the Forbidden Forest, and beyond it Hogsmeade, when Hagrid the half giant groundskeeper of the school sat down next to him. The bench leaned in a see saw manner, with Hagrid dipping the side he was in into the ground. He grumbled, annoyed, before turning to his young friend.

“It’s a rare sight that Hagrid gets to sneak up on someone,” he laughed, giving Harry a nudge. “What’s wrong Harry? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Nearly Headless Nick gave the two of them a dirty look as he floated on by.

“I see ghosts all the time, Hagrid,” said Harry, lifting the corner of his mouth in a facsimile of a smile. He didn’t quite manage it. “It’s the ones who I don’t see any more that’s the problem.”

The resurrection stone. Seventeen years of grief and agony, but a few shining moments of contact with his parents. Voldemort had tainted that too, just like he tainted anything else pure and good.

“Well, I don’t like seeing someone so young looking so peaky. Eh, let’s talk a walk down to the cabin, I’ve got something to show you besides.”

Harry smiled, this time genuinely. Whatever it was Hagrid had in store, it was generally small, very dangerous, and full of teeth. This was bound to be good. As they stepped away, Hagrid put a meaty hand in front of Harry and stopped him, speaking in as much of a whisper as he was able.

“And word of this doesn’t get to the teachers, I’m on thin ice with the Headmistress as it is.”

There was no doubt in Harry’s mind that this was the case. Hagrid had always been a nominally distant part of Hogwarts faculty, and had been able to exercise a modicum of freedom, and risk, when living so far from the school itself. Coupled with a liking for the dangerous creatures in the world, it often produced some hilarious results as Hagrid was not the best at corralling his secret projects.

“No sign of Hermione and Ron?” he asked, as they climbed down the long path to the foot of the forest.

Harry shook his head. He’d seen them at breakfast, but by the time lunch had rolled around there was no sign of them.

“More for the two of us then.”

Hagrid was one of the good ones, Harry decided. Someone who had managed to come out of a relentlessly difficult childhood, losing his father at the age of thirteen, and losing his place at Hogwarts, his true place, a short time after that. How could someone who had seen such rank and complete darkness continue to be so loving, friendly and attentive?

“Come in, come in, come in, come in, come in,” Hagrid encouraged in a sing song way, bringing up a small spare chair and placing it in front of the fire next to his own huge seat. The hut was warm and smelled of smoke and something else, but Harry couldn’t work out what it was. “Tea?”

Harry nodded. And as quickly as he’d just sat down, Hagrid was on his feet again, darting this way and that around the room, boiling the kettle, cutting some cake, asking Harry how he was doing, seemingly at the same time. It was a marvel, though Harry was focusing on the embers in the fire a little closer than he normally did. The way the flames danced around the smouldering wood, it looked just like how magic burst from the end of a wand. Potent, deadly. He felt fear in his heart again, though the thrust of a mug of tea into his hand was enough to jolt him back into the world.

Hagrid sat, spilling some tea on his left leg, but grimacing through the pain, rather than doing anything to alleviate it. He’d finally sat down, and probably didn’t want to show how much he’d hurt.

“Is that alright?” Harry asked, as the steam rose from Hagrid’s knee. The groundskeeper was pounding on his other leg with a closed fist, and tensing his jaw as tightly as he was able, but he wasn’t doing anything about it.

“Just fine Harry, nothing to worry about…”

There was definitely something to worry about. Madame Pomfrey would not be best pleased seeing Hagrid needing another repair spell and a night in the infirmary.

“Anyway, take a look at this.”

He pulled out a large wooden box from the space by the fire, and lifted it at such an angle that Harry could see inside, but it also caught the light. Harry’s eyes narrowed as he eyed the contents, seeing only a silver, sparkling substance, not unlike gunpowder or ground rocks.

“What is it?” Harry asked, looking closer, but Hagrid yanked the box right back, as if to say that the contents were ever so slightly dangerous.

“I was tending to some of the centaurs on the Hogsmeade ridge, bartering with them and the like. Those boys drive a hard bargain, and play cards a lot better than I might have thought…”

They both realised what he’d said for a second, but Hagrid pressed on after a moment.

“Seems like something’s spreading pure silver powder along the forest floor. Collected some of it up so I could have the Headmistress take a look at it. Nothing out in those woods should be producing this whatsoever. Might be something, might be nothing. But it needs looking at by someone smarter than me. I was hoping young Hermione might have an idea.”

Harry agreed that was probably the case, but the room did go quiet after that comment. The two friends sat in front of the fire, feeling the warmth of the flames and of their company, and kept quiet as the sun set slowly outside. Soon it was time to return for evening meal, so Harry said bye and headed back inside.

He decided that night he was going to brave the great hall, despite the fact he’d been eating his dinner in the dormitories most nights, just so he wasn’t surrounded by so much noise. Seeing as how he had an excuse to talk to Hermione and Ron, this was probably a good time to press that. He really missed them. It didn’t feel like there was the three of them, more like the two and one. He did get a lot brighter seeing them sat in the usual spot in the hall, with Hermione having her head buried in a book and Ron munching on a chicken leg, he would have almost been forgiven for thinking it was years previously. They might have changed so much, but they hadn’t changed that much.

“Hagrid’s been looking for you,” Ron said, with a mouthful of chicken.

“Ronald,” Hermione scolded, “mouth closed.”

They had a silent argument for a second, conducted only with eye contact, but soon they turned back to Harry.

“I saw him, he said he was looking for you,” Harry shot back, sitting down and filling his plate with the food on offer.

Hermione shrugged, this was the first she’d heard of it.

“Well if he needed something he should have said. How’s your potions work coming along? Slughorn is going to go spare if you miss another piece of homework,” Ron said once again through a mouthful of food.

Harry sat down and just smiled at them, and for a moment, he forgot everything that had been troubling him. He might have to rush some potions homework for Slughorn, but that, for the moment, was the peak of his worries.

-

RAF Boulmer Base, Northumberland, United Kingdom.

Sgt Timothy Campbell stalked another step through the solid treeline, keeping his body crouched and attempting to make as little noise as possible. He had been posted to Boulmer Base a few weeks previously as an intelligence analyst, focusing primarily on sound and energy data coming in from both the skies of England and from across the North Sea. In his younger days he had been the one to first flag an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean, as well as assist with some particularly sensitive moments during the Cold War. Now he was outside, in the middle of the night, in his dress uniform of all things. There had been a commencement ceremony at the base that night, congratulating their newest fleet of fighter pilots, as well as honouring him for joining the team. It had been a particularly fun evening, and he’d spent most of his time talking to one of the girls from the informatics pool, she’d rebuffed his advances, but he’d had fun trying.

Stepping further into the brush between two trees, the sergeant felt an unexpected dip in the ground, which his foot fell into. A deep puddle, with the water going up to the middle of his left calf. He had to go even deeper to extricate himself, just to stop from falling in completely. It was freezing cold by the time he was out, and even darker. Autumn just wasn’t the time for being outside in Northumberland, he might have fared well had it been the summer.

But the disturbance hadn’t come in the summer.

In the time since he’d began his career at the base, Timothy had noticed some strange atmospheric readings for what should have been a neutral part of the world. The nearest nuclear active sight was across the whole country, and there wasn’t a power station for miles and miles. Yet any readings the receivers made were always pointing in the direction of the air being slightly more electromagnetically charged than anywhere else he’d worked. The other analysts called it the Boulmer Bump, and had managed to successfully filter it from their results, but the cause itself still remained a mystery.

“Best not to worry about it,” Commander Ray Weatherby instructed him, looking the image of the affable RAF major. White, perfectly straight moustache, his suit was always 100% pressed and perfect, and he spoke as if he’d fell through a wormhole from 1940. Sometimes Timothy suspected just that.

The only issue was that if the readings were an anomaly, then they should be a consistent anomaly. If the air was 0.3% more charged because of the Bump, then it should always have been that wrong, but the difference was sometimes in magnitudes, and sometimes not there at all. It was singularly confusing, and after piecing through all of the receiver technology atop the base, as well as travelling up into the hills in his own time to inspect the exterior readings also, he could see no reason for anything to be coming in incorrectly. As it turned out, most of the technology had been replaced as recently as a few years before, and the wiring had been gutted and replaced only that year.

There was no reason for a disturbance.

Which confirmed his theory, that if the measurements were picking up an anomaly that could not be replicated with the receivers themselves…

Then there was an actual anomaly.

Truth be told, he’d had a few to drink as he’d returned to the office for some of his belongings so he could turn in for the night. Seeing his computer screen, the only light in the office, was still turned on, he sat down and began the shutdown procedure.

Only he noticed something that had to be an error.

This had to be an error.

Usual background readings for any kind of electromagnetic energy fluctuated between 1 and 10 joules, sometimes more if they had the missile guidance systems online, or if there were an electrical test. But what he saw on the screen…

BGD READING 102EE

That was a worry, considering the ‘EE’s showed that the screen was attempting to display a number five digits long in a space only allowing three. Three was more than at Chernobyl. Not radiation, just the electricity in the air. Like static. He had to retry the check. He sat down and put his drink on the desk, rebooting the system and running through the standard procedures.

BGD READING 128EE

ACTIVE READING 41E

He almost spat out the champagne. Logging through the various receivers to see where the problem was, he saw that one of the smaller receivers on the North Sea side, about three miles east of the base, was showing the highest readings, with everything else spilling out slowly from there in a normal distribution. That was the epicentre. With no time to alert his superiors, and sure that it was all just a mistake anyway, he rushed from the base and out into the forest. It should only take about ten minutes to get to the receiver anyway.

That was half an hour before the puddle incident, and he still couldn’t make head nor tail of where he was. He’d been through basic training, and had some night time navigational instinct, but all of that seemed to be falling into irrelevance. The fact of the matter was that he was completely, hopelessly, lost.

That’s when he heard a sound up ahead. The kids from the local villages did often come out into the forest at night to drink and worse. The fact that a storm was coming in would turn back many adults and dog walkers, but not the kids. They were so determined to get messed up that they would brave the gales and the rain.

“Who’s out there?” he called, stumbling a little. “Anyone I know?”

Silence. This was concerning because there had at least been some sound previously. Timothy didn’t know what compelled him to put a hand on his service revolver, especially considering it was illegal by UK law for him to take it off the base, but he did suddenly feel like he needed an extra level of protection.

“Hello? No one to worry about, I’m just from the research station.”

No answer again. Were it kids they’d probably already be on their way, but the sergeant couldn’t help but feel as if he were stumbling onto something a lot less palatable than some teens messing about in the woods. The sea roared nearby, which told him he was at least closer to his destination than he’d thought. Closer to the disturbance. As the whispering grew once more, he realised he maybe didn’t want to be so close to the disturbance.

“Who’s out there?” he asked, this time with a lot more authority. The revolver spilled from the holster into his hand, the weight a relief in a tense moment. His approach slowed and he adopted a more defensive stance, minimising his centre of gravity and presenting a smaller target. Stupidly, he’d already not only revealed his position, but also that he represented the air force. It could just be a lost homeless person up ahead, but it could be something worse.

The alcohol should have given him a little extra courage, but instead he found the slight lapse in his orientation, the blurriness of his vision and the slight ringing in his ears to be more distracting than anything else. If he was entering a fight, he’d have preferred to have been in full mental faculty than confident.

A shape moved up ahead, Timothy ducked down and kept still for a second. Still moving, still whispering. Looking down at his arm, he did feel the hairs standing on end, a slight crackle in the air as the static ran between the trees.

Just what in blazes was going on?

He narrowed his eyes, making out the shape to be a man, walking slowly and purposely through the woods, glancing about occasionally. General field tactics dictated for him to attempt to engage from the rear, which had caused some sniggering from the other recruits in his original training, but now the tactic did make a lot of sense. Unable to completely make out which direction it was heading in, he decided to move south, and then attempt to upend it.

Moving away from the shape, he began to feel as if he were doing the right thing, it was a frightful image, and one that was causing difficulty, but he kept his cool. It was heading in precisely the direction of where he’d been when he was yelling through the trees. A brief flash of light, and then back to darkness. In the second of inferno, he was able to make out a black robe, and a single white, very spindly hand protruding forward from within the cloth, holding some kind of thin implement.

This was too odd for him to tackle alone, and bringing the service weapon into play might kill someone the air force were going to be very interested in speaking with. Thus he brought up his walkie talkie, and buzzed into command. While he whispered, the dispatch didn’t have the same degree of decorum, and asked for his call sign in clear, loud tones. Before he could silence the device, the thing was walking toward him, no doubt drawn by the sound. The moon caught the white hand as it approached.

Timothy couldn’t help but notice a power on the ground where the thing had been walking. It reflected moonlight, and looked distinctly alien in these parts of the country. It almost looked like silver powder.

Spotting the prone airman on the forest floor, the wizard’s hand raised and a voice uttered the words for the killing curse. A shock of green energy fried the air as it thudded through Timothy Campbell, ending him there. The dispatch at the station continued asking for his call sign, before hanging up in frustration.

“He’s gone,” she muttered angrily, not knowing just how correct she was.

The figure tread across the ground, bending down and taking a good look at the man who had accosted him. He looked so pathetically human, mundane, not quite deserving of life. He had been fighting a war, as his uniform demonstrated.

There was going to be another war, the one to end the others.

-

Back at the base, a blonde woman from the informatics pool popped her head around the door into the analysis department, and found no signs of the man she’d assumed was going to be collecting his stuff from in there. She might have been a little harsh earlier, and was wanting to see if he wanted a second attempt at wooing her. Stepping further into the room, she did notice his computer was turned on, and the page he’d been on before he’d left in a hurry. With her meagre statistical training, even she instantly knew where he’d gone. The North Sea receiver showing now 253EE, and then in a flash, 0. Something was going on.

She’d not been able to find Timothy anywhere else on the base, not to mention his own quarters, and couldn’t help but assume he was out walking through the storm in an attempt to get to the bottom of all this. She sighed, this was totally like him, but she was going to have to go and get him. However, she wasn’t going to brave the ran and the gales without telling someone where she was going, she pulled out a bulky mobile phone and called it in with the site security that there was a strange reading at one of the exterior stations and it looked like an analyst was caught in the storm.

Caught by whom though?
So this is the second chapter of my Harry Potter story, Harry Potter: Wizarding War. It takes place both during the first wizarding war and then immediately after the second in both the wizard and muggle worlds. I'm trying to add as much as I can to the mythos without stepping on any toes. Please give it a read and favourite or review. Thanks!
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December 18, 2016
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