Harry Potter's Little ProblemHarry Potter's Little Problem
a story by Jephael
* * *
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story takes place in the spring of 1999, a year after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. Some elements of the movies like certain characters' mannerisms and catchphrases are used.
It was a quiet afternoon in Diagon Alley as Ron Weasley helped his brother look over the inventory of his joke shop Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. "Bloody hell, George! It never ceases to amaze me how many crazy ideas you come up with!" he said as he picked up a trick wand that changed into a large pickle.
"It's a gift, mate. I really appreciate you helping me these last few months. I have to admit I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle running this place without Fred here." George sighed as he walked over to a wall that had a large frame with a photo of him and his late twin at their brother Bill's wedding. Despite the fact they had matching suits on, it was easy to tell which was which as George had gotten his ear blown off nearly a month before the picture was taken. "That's funny."
"What is?" Ron asked.
"I just noticed Harry in the background of this picture talking with Victor Krum. Except Harry looks like himself instead of that muggle boy we disguised him as."
Ron stood next to George and looked at the picture. "Yea, you're right. That's pretty weird!"
Just then the front door to the shop opened and in walked their father Arthur. "Good afternoon, boys!"
"Hey, Dad." Ron and George said simultaneously.
"Quiet day at the Ministry. Not much was going on, so my supervisor said I could leave early. How are things going here at the shop?"
"Pretty good. We had fourteen customers today." George replied as he pulled his head away from the photo.
"Fifteen if you count that old lady who almost bought those Extendable Ears." Ron added. "Too bad she wasn't interested."
"To be honest, I'm glad she didn't buy anything." George admitted "I'd prefer my products not to be in the hands of anyone older than Bill or smarter than Hermione!"
"Oh speaking of Hermione, there's a letter from her and Ginny that was delivered to the Burrow just after you left this morning." Arthur mentioned. "They'll be coming home next week after graduation!"
"I bet you're excited, Ron!" George said teasingly. "After that kiss you gave Hermione on New Years, I bet you're dying to snog her on the Fourth of July!"
Ron's cheeks began to turn red. "I thought I heard you in the other room giggling."
"It wasn't just me, mate. Charlie and Hagrid were there too!" George added with a grin.
"At any rate, your mother and I are planning a surprise party for Ginny, and if the two of you could help out, we'd appreciate it very much." Mr. Weasley said.
"Not a problem, Dad. Infact, this gives me a chance to test out some new party favors Fred and I invented last year." George mentioned. "Ron, why don't you handle the invitations?"
"Oh sure, give me the hard job!" Ron said sarcastically.
Three days later Ron was sitting by himself at the Leaky Cauldron enjoying a butterbeer.
"Freshen your drink, Mr. Weasley?" a lovely young red-haired waitress asked.
"No thanks, Dana, I'm good. I had a pretty big breakfast."
"I can tell from the syrup stains on your shirt." Dana replied with a giggle. "So have you bought Hermione her gift yet?"
Ron had just taken a sip of his butterbeer and coughed it right up out his nose. "Bloody hell, Dana! You better not be going around telling people what I have planned."
"Of course not, Ron. You and George have been my best customers since I started working here last fall, and it's tough for a halfblood from Dublin like me to earn my keep around here. I'd never betray your trust! Besides, I thought maybe I could help you sweep Miss Granger off her feet when she shows up!"
"I've been doing pretty well on my own, thank you very much!" Ron boasted.
"That's not what your brother told me!" Dana remarked.
Ron shook his head and smirked as he got up from his seat and gave Dana a tip. "Don't believe a word that one-eared git tells you!"
Dana let out another giggle. "I'll keep that in mind! Oh hey, how has your pal Harry Potter been lately?"
"Been doing all right, I suppose. I haven't seen him since last Easter. My brother Charlie mentioned something about going with him to New York City to help track down a couple of rogue Death Eaters that fled to America with a dragon."
"That sounds awful exciting! I'd love to visit America."
"I for one like the west coast better than the east coast." a familiar voice said from behind them.
Ron turned around to see his old pal Neville Longbottom standing there. "Hey, mate! Long time no see!"
"Yea, I've been spending a lot of time with Hannah. We were in the states just last Easter and checked out the Grand Canyon. It was pretty cool."
"Oh that's nice!" Dana replied. "Is Hannah planning on coming back to work here?"
"She wants to eventually, but Mr. Abbott is still pretty grief stricken about the death of his wife so Hannah spends a lot of time at home comforting him."
"That's kinda selfish of him if you ask me!" Ron retorted.
"Hey, show some respect! That's my girlfriend's family you're talking about!" Neville shot back.
"I didn't mean it like that. I'm just saying he should really let Hannah live her own life and move on with his own."
"You Weasleys have a funny way of expressing your opinion!" Dana remarked. "Anyway, I'd better get back to work. These tables aren't going to clean themselves!"
"See you later, Dana." Ron said with a wave.
"Does Hermione know about her?" Neville asked Ron.
"It's not like that, Longbottom! Dana's a confidant. Besides, she's more George's type. I think they kind of fancy each other. Oh by the way, we're having a surprise party for Ginny in July. Think you can come to it?"
"Of course I will! Anything for one of my oldest friends! Is it all right if I bring Hannah though?"
"I don't see why that would be a problem." Ron answered as he finished his drink. "Well, I better get back to the shop."
Just then Bill Weasley came running into the tavern. He was panting heavily and sweat ran down his forehead. "Ron, thank goodness I found you!"
"Bill, what's the matter?"
"It's Fleur. She's having the baby!"
"You're joking." Ron said with a laugh.
"No, I'm not! Mum is with her at the cottage right now! Come on, we've gotta get there!"
"What about George?"
"Dad's helping him run the shop, but we need you with us since you're going to be the godfather."
"I'm the... what?!"
Meanwhile, about 400 hundred miles away at Hogwarts, Hermione Granger agonized over the homework she still had to do for Potions class. "Oh, this is impossible! Honestly, I don't know how I'm going to be able to finish all of this before the end of term!"
"You really need to chill out, Hermione." Ginny said as she patted her friend on the shoulder.
"I can't, Ginny. This is too important!"
"Come on, you helped Harry and Ron defeat the most powerful dark wizard ever last year! How can potions be so difficult?"
"Don't get me started on that brother of yours! He thinks just because I love him and accept him for who he is, he doesn't have to come back to Hogwarts with me! I can understand Harry's reasoning for not coming back, because even without finishing school, he's still getting an education in Auror training! But with Ron there's just no bloody excuse!"
Ginny made a mischievous grin. "Aw, you said you love him!"
Hermione chuckled when she realized what she had said and closed her books. "Yes, yes I do love him. What about you and Harry?"
"We haven't talked much since last Christmas, but that's because he's been so busy. He said he'd like to do something special with me sometime." Ginny sighed as she sat down in an armchair. "Do you think he's thinking about me?"
"I wouldn't doubt it, Ginny. Well, I hate to cut our conversation short, but I really need to get to the library and do some studying." On her way out of the Gryffindor common room, Hermione bumped into young Dennis Creevey. "Dennis, you really have to be more careful!"
"I'm sorry, Miss Granger. I just really have to find Ginny!"
"She's right over there. Is everything okay?"
"Yes, everything's fine. I've been doing really well in my Astrology classes."
"That's good to hear! Your brother would be so proud!"
"That means a lot to me, Miss Granger."
"How many times do I have to tell you to quit being so formal with me?"
"I can't help it. It's a gentleman thing. Colin and I learned it from our dad."
Hermione smiled as she patted Dennis on the cheek. "You're going to make some lucky girl very happy one day!"
"Actually, that's what I need to talk to Ginny about. I met this Ravenclaw girl the other day. She seems really sweet and I like her an awful lot, but I'm kinda nervous about asking her on a date."
"Oh, well, why not ask me?"
"I didn't want to bother you, Miss Granger. Besides, Ginny's really good at giving me advice. But thanks anyway. Give Harry Potter my best whenever you see him again!" Dennis said as he waved to Hermione one last time before entering the dormitory.
* * *
Harry Potter stood quietly atop the Empire State Building's observatory as he looked out at the city of New York. He had never seen anything like it in his life. It was so breathtaking, he almost forgot what he was here to do.
"Hey now, Harry. Now's not the time to be nodding off on the job!"
"I wasn't nodding off, Kingsley! I just wanted to get a look at the skyline."
"Aye, that's New York for you. There's something magical about this place that makes good-natured folks like us all mushy. Unfortunately, it also makes some ill-tempered people, like our target, go crazy."
Harry nervously gripped the handle of his Firebolt broom. "Tell me again who this rogue Death Eater is."
"She's a young woman by the name Helena Malfoy, a cousin of your old friend Draco's." Kingsley Shacklebolt explained. "She has been sighted in Romania just a few weeks ago haggling with some dragon trainers over some unhatched horntails before coming here to the states."
"Let me guess, she's got a baby horntail with her." Harry remarked.
"Good guess, my boy. Best take care of your broom. Proudfoot and I went through a lot of trouble retrieving it for you."
"Don't worry, Minister." Harry said as he mounted his broom and kicked off into the air. "I lost this once, and I don't plan on losing it again!" Harry did a barrel roll before heading southwards. He flew as high in the air as he could so as not to attract any attention from Muggles that may be wandering the streets at 3:00 in the morning, but he still had to take care not to fly too close to skyscrapers where there might be people able to see him from the window. It wasn't until he reached the World Trade Center that he noticed some odd sparks emanating from the taller of the two Twin Towers. He flew in between the skyscrapers to get a closer look when a shrill female voice cackled.
"So this is the Boy Who Lived!"
"Miss Malfoy, I presume?" Harry said, maintaining a bit of decorum as he faced his nemesis. "I see you take after Aunty Bellatrix." he joked as he noted the girl's disheveled dirty blonde hair and the black dress she was wearing. If it wasn't for the look of pure madness in her eyes, she might've been somewhat beautiful.
"I'm not related to the Lestranges, you twit!" she shrieked.
Harry chuckled as he landed at the edge of the building where Helena stood. He then noticed the dragon egg Kingsley had mentioned. "Having a bit of breakfast are we?"
"No, you near-sighted dolt! I'm attempting to cast a spell on the Muggles who inhabit this pathetic city!"
"As a junior member of the Auror Department, I'm afraid I can't let you-"
"STUPEFY!!!" Helena screamed, causing a jet of red light to fly from her wand.
Harry's shield charm was all that kept him from being knocked over the edge of the building from the force of Helena's Stunning Spell. "What say we not do this up here? I enjoy flying as much as the next wizard, but being at this elevation tends to make me a little woozy."
"I thought the mighty Harry Potter wasn't afraid of anything, least of all a lovely dragon maid like me!"
"On the contrary. I fear many things. I've never been too fond of rejection. It can be very painful. Were you ever rejected, Helena?"
"Nice try, Potter. I know just what you're up to! You're pretending to sympathize with me so I'll let my guard down. You're not the first to attempt that ploy with me either!"
"I take it you're not a social butterfly then."
"You're really pushing my buttons, Potter!"
"Likewise. Now turn over that dragon egg or else!"
"Piss off, you scar-faced bastard!!!" She snapped as she aimed her wand at the egg, which started to crack open.
Harry's heart started to pound as the adrenaline coursed through his body. "All right, have it your way." He said as he made a mad dash for the baby Hungarian Horntail that had fully hatched.
"MINITOUR!" Helena screamed as a blast of yellow energy burst from her wand, hitting Harry square in the chest.
Harry tripped and dropped both his wand and his broom. "Never heard that spell before. What is it, some kind of tickling charm?" he said with a chuckle.
Helena made a mischievous grin. "Lets just say you won't fit in your traveling cloak any longer!"
Harry bent down to pick up his wand, but as he did, he noticed it was growing larger, and so were Helena and her dragon. A sudden horror came over him. "It's a shrinking spell!" he said in a high pitched voice.
* * *
A few weeks later Hermione, Ginny and their friend Luna Lovegood were sitting in a compartment of the Hogwarts Express especially made for graduates. Younger students would pop in and out congratulating them on their degrees, and ask them what their plans were for the future.
"I'm trying out for a couple of Quidditch teams. I hear the Holyhead Harpies are looking for a new Seeker." Ginny explained to one First Year student.
"I'm going with my dad to the Mediterranean to study natural wildlife." Luna chimed in looking up from her copy of The Quibbler.
"That sounds nice, except for one thing." Hermione interjected. "Last time I checked your father was still in Azkaban for trying to sell us out to Voldemort, and his hearing isn't until October."
"That's okay. I'm not in any hurry."
Ginny shook her head and chuckled. "It'll sure be nice to see the boys again, won't it?"
"Depends on which boys you're talking about. Are you referring to your brothers or just your one brother who happens to be my boyfriend and his best friend who happens to be your boyfriend?" Hermione responded in a rather peculiar voice.
"You're still no good at doing impressions, Hermione."
"Oh, come on, Ginny! That was a spot on Percy, wasn't it?"
"Percy? You sounded more like Professor Snape. Oh my God, I just had a brilliant idea! You could dress up like Neville's grandmother and do that Snape voice!" Ginny said.
Luna immediately burst out laughing. "Neville's grandmother! HA HA HA HA!!!"
Ginny and Hermione couldn't help but join in their friend's laughter.
Ten minutes later they arrived at Kings Cross Station. Hermione and Ginny hugged Luna goodbye before leaving Platform 9 and 3/4. It didn't take them long to find Mr. and Mrs. Granger standing outside.
"Mom! Dad!" Hermione said happily as she hugged her parents.
"Oh, it's so good to see you!" Mrs. Granger said.
"We're so proud of you, sweetheart! Top grades in your entire class!" Mr. Granger chimed in.
"Well, I don't like to brag." Hermione looked back to see her friend smiling back at her. "Oh, where're the Weasleys? I thought Ron and his folks would be here with you to greet us."
"They've been a little preoccupied the last few days with their first grandchild!" Hermione's mom said with a smile. "How does it feel to be an aunt, Ginny?"
"I wouldn't know. I haven't met the little fella yet. Besides to be honest I've never really gotten along with Bill's wife. I think it's got a little to do with how flirty she is with Harry. It just annoys me sometimes. Oh, 'ello, 'Arry! Lovely day, isn't it? Give us a kiss!"
Mr. Granger couldn't help but chuckle a little. "I don't blame you one bit, my dear. I remember a long time ago when I was courting Hermione's mother in college. There was this chap from Belgium who couldn't be more arrogant. He'd try to sweep her off her feet by regaling stories of the Swiss Alps and all these other far off exotic places that he probably learned about from reading catalogues in the bus terminal! One day I finally said to him Now see here, my friend! This here is my lady and nothing you say or do will ever change that! So you best be on your way! The next thing I knew I was in the hospital wing getting stitches in my left arm."
"Apparently the fellow was a big fan of pro wrestling." Mrs. Granger added.
Ginny stifled a laugh. "Ouch. That had to be embarrassing!"
"On the contrary. That very encounter was what got me interested in dentistry!" Mr. Granger said proudly. "You see before I was interested in bio-chemistry, but then-"
"Uh Dad, I know how much you love to tell this story, but we really should get going." Hermione said.
"She's right, dear. We promised Arthur and Molly we'd get them to the Burrow by dinner." Mrs. Granger added.
"Oh very well. I should save that story for the party anyway."
"What party?" Ginny asked.
"The party your parents are planning for your birthd-"
Mrs. Granger slapped her husband on the arm. "She's not supposed to know about that!"
"Oh. Oh dear, I'm so sorry. I completely forgot it was supposed to be a surprise. Lord I am such a knucklehead!"
"It's all right, Mr. Granger. Odds are I would've found out anyway. My brothers are terrible at keeping secrets, especially from me!" Ginny said with a devilish smirk.
An hour later Ginny and the Granger family arrived at the Burrow. Molly was the first to greet them with open arms. "Oh it's so good to see you all! I've got supper cooking on the stove and it'll be ready in about ten minutes. Ron's in the living room with Mrs. Tonks and the children."
Ginny and Hermione entered the house and were immediately taken aback by the sight of Ron sitting in a rocking chair cradling a month old baby girl. On the other side of the room Hagrid was sitting on the floor with the Lupins' son Teddy.
"Awww!!!" Hermione and Ginny said together.
Ginny went over to Hagrid. "Oh he's so cute."
"Aye. Just a year old and he's already learned to walk! Such a pity he'll never get to know his parents." Hagrid's beady eyes started to well up with tears.
Ginny patted Hagrid on the back. "He'll have all of us to look after him though."
"I know. It's just Remus and Tonks were so looking forward to being a family. It just breaks me heart."
Meanwhile Hermione went over to Ron and gave him a kiss. "I never thought I'd see the day, Ronald Weasley cradling a little baby!"
Ron blushed. "Don't get too used to it. Soon as Bill and Fleur get back from work they're taking little Vicky back home with them."
"Little Vicky?" Ginny asked.
"That's just a nickname I gave her." Ron explained. "Her full name is Victoire Weasley. She was born on May 2nd."
"May 2nd? Why does that date sound so fami-" Hermione gasped. "Oh my God! She was born exactly one year after the day we defeated Voldemort!" Hermione said excitedly.
"Aye. It's a pity Harry's been so busy. We wanted to have a celebration on the anniversary of You-Know-Who's demise at Hogwarts, but we knew we couldn't have it without the Boy Who Lived there." Hagrid mentioned.
"Oh well, as long as he's here for my party I'll be happy." Ginny said.
Ron's eyes went wide as he looked at his sister. "Bloody He- who told you about that?!"
"My dad accidentally spilled the beans to her." Hermione said. "Try not to make too big a deal about it, all right? He feels bad enough already."
"Who feels bad enough about what?" Molly asked as she came into the room. "Dinner's almost ready, so I want you all washed up before Bill, Fleur, Arthur, Fre- uh, George get here." Mrs. Weasley hung her head as she went back into the kitchen.
Hermione followed Molly into the kitchen. "Mrs. Weasley, are you all right?"
"Oh I'm... I'm fine my dear." Molly answered between sniffles. She had clearly been crying earlier, but she was starting to cry again. "I'm just... so glad that everyone's here safe and sound."
"Mrs. Weasley, please take a seat. What's wrong?"
"I can't... I can't tell you."
"You can't tell me what?" Hermione asked.
"If I tell, you and Ron are going to run off looking for him and put yourselves in danger again!"
"Looking for who? Mrs. Weasley, please tell me what's going on."
"Harry's missing!" she wailed. "He's been gone for almost a month!"
Hermione stood in shock. "Why hasn't this been reported?"
Mrs. Weasley composed herself. "Because Kingsley doesn't want anyone to know. He feels directly responsible for Harry's disappearance. Only Arthur, Hagrid and a few other people in the Order know. We've been taking turns traveling to New York City to look for him, but we haven't had any luck."
"This is awful! Listen, I'll help you get dinner ready if you promise to take Ron and me to see Kingsley."
Molly nodded. "Very well. I'm sorry, Hermione. I know I need to put more faith into you kids and let you be grown ups. But it's hard. I told Nymphodora once that when she became a mother she'd know how it feels to worry about her babies."
"Well, when the time comes I'm sure you'll tell me as well." Hermione said as she hugged Mrs. Weasley tightly.
The next day Ron and Hermione went with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to The Leaky Cauldron to see Kingsley Shacklebolt. It was early in the morning, so there weren't too many patrons in the dining room, but the Minister escorted them into a private room to speak anyway.
"I had a feeling you two would get involved." the Minister said with a sigh. "We were hoping Harry would be found by now, but sadly we haven't any luck."
"How the bloody hell could you just loose him like that?!" Ron said angrily, his cheeks turning pink.
"Ronald, calm yourself!" Hermione said as she put her hand on Ron's leg. "Minister, can you tell us anything peculiar about how Harry vanished?"
"All we could find were his wand and broom, which we bought back."
"Did you run a scan on them to see if any spells had been used?"
"We did, Miss Granger. Sadly, we couldn't detect anything peculiar. Harry's last spell was a shield charm used to deflect Helena Malfoy's stunning spell."
"Malfoy?! You didn't tell Arthur and I this Death Eater was a Malfoy!" Molly said sternly to Kingsley.
"That's because I'm well aware of the lifelong conflict between your family and the Malfoys. Also, I wanted to keep as many details of this predicament as hush-hush as possible. If word gets out that the Boy Who Lived has vanished without a trace, there could be a massive uproar in the wizarding community!"
Hermione's eyes lit up. "Trace? Wait a minute! How old is Helena Malfoy?"
"According to the Black Family Tree she turns 17 in about a week." Kingsley replied.
"Then we have to get to New York straightaway!" Hermione said as she dragged Ron out of the room.
"What the bloody hell has gotten into you, Hermione?!"
"I've got a plan, Ron. It's a long shot, but it may be our only chance to find Harry! First thing's first. We need to get on a flight to America! It's too far away to Apparate and I'm guessing the Order wouldn't allow us to use a Portkey."
"Why not take the Ford Anglia?" Mr. Weasley said from behind. "Hagrid and I have been fixing it up for the last couple of years. Sadly it wasn't ready in time for the war, but better late than never!"
"Are you mad, Arthur?! Don't think I haven't forgotten the trouble that car caused when Ron and Harry used it!" Mrs. Weasley said.
"Yea, but it practically saved our lives, Mum! Besides that time we took it without anyone's permission. This time I promise we'll be careful with it!"
"Fine, but I still don't like the idea of you flying around in that thing!"
"If it'll make you feel any better, Mrs. Weasley, I'll drive it." Hermione said.
Arthur Weasley looked his wife in the eyes. "Molly, you told me yourself last Christmas how proud you are of the kids for being so grown up. Haven't they proven themselves capable of taking care of themselves?"
"You're right. I'm sorry, children. I'm just being a worry-wart. You have our support."
"Thank you Mrs. Weasley."
"Hermione dear, please call me Mum!" Molly said with a smile. "Now get out there and find our Harry!"
* * *
It was quiet as usual as Harry paced back and forth from wall to wall in the tiny birdcage he had been imprisoned in for the better part of a month. Though at this point Harry had no way of knowing exactly how long he had been trapped there. He sighed as he took a bite out of a ripe apple twice his size. "What I wouldn't give for a butterbeer right now!" he said quietly to himself. He couldn't get over how high-pitched his voice now was, thanks to the miniaturizing spell. He had hoped the spell would've worn off by now, but as time went on he soon came to realize that there was a good chance the spell was permanent. "If only Hermione were here. She'd know what to do." Harry said with a sigh.
Just then the sound of a door being violently pushed open could be heard and Harry's captor emerged. "Miss me, Mr. Potter?" the figure said with a scratchy voice. He kept his face hidden behind a scarf, but it was easy to see the man was very old looking.
"Not as much as I miss my friends back home! When am I gonna be let out?"
"You'll be let out when the master says you can! Until then I'd suggest you quit being an ungrateful little git! If it wasn't for me, you'd have been dragon food long ago. That Malfoy brat had no business going off on her own with that unhatched Horntail. It took the master and I four years to obtain it! But no matter. Now that we have you, we can easily get another! Hell, I'd wager we could make them give us a dozen Horntail eggs!" the man said with a laugh.
Harry could feel his stomach churn as he became angrier at the old man. "If I had my wand right now I'd let you have it!"
"Spare me, you pint sized martyr! Even if you had your wand, it'd do you no good at that size. The Miniaturizing Charm renders most witches and wizards powerless. Of course the spell hasn't been used in over a century... until now! Hell, even if the Ministry found you here, I doubt they'd have any immediate means of curing you."
"Terrace, you blithering fool! Quit chit-chatting with Mr. Potter and come help me! We've got work to do!" a voice boomed from the other side of the door.
"Sorry, sir. I'll be there in a moment." the old man said in a quivering voice. He turned his head back at Harry and furrowed his bushy eyebrows at Harry. "I'll deal with you later, Potter!"
* * *
"Do we really have to be all the way up here?" Ron said nervously as he looked out the observation deck on the roof of the World Trade building.
"Oh honestly, Ronald. The way you and your brothers are always flying around on your brooms, I figured you'd love this." Hermione said as she stepped closer to the fence barring them from the roof.
"That's just it though. I don't have my broom with me. If something were to happen up here..."
"Ron, I promise you nothing bad is going to happen up here. Now come on! We have to use the trace before any Muggles show up!"
"Why don't you do that while I keep watch?" Ron suggested.
"Oh fine!" Hermione said with a sigh as she turned around and looked out at the beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty. "It's too bad we couldn't have come here with you, Harry." she said to herself as she closed her eyes, took out her wand and made a strange incantation. As she opened her eyes she could see familiar looking red flashes of light emanating from a particular spot on the roof that must have been Helena's Stunning Spell. "There has to be..." It was then that she noticed a strange yellow flash of light just near the ledge. Hermione couldn't make heads or tails as to what kind of spell would cause such a strange projection.
"Hermione, come on! Finish up quick! Someone's coming!" Ron said frantically as he grabbed her by the shoulder.
Hermione waved her wand and said "Finite Incantatem." which promoted the flashes of light to fade away. "It's a good thing that didn't take long."
"Hey what's going on up here?" a voice called from inside the building.
Hermione quick pulled Ron into an embrace and started kissing him passionately just as a security guard showed up. "Sorry, sir. We we just admiring the view and got caught up in the moment."
"Well, you lovebirds might want to skedaddle. We've been getting reports of some weird stuff going on up here and we're a little hesitant right now to let too many people up here at a time." the portly gentleman said. "Enjoy your stay in the Big Apple!"
"We will, sir. Come on, dear!" Ron said as she took Hermione's hand and lead her back into the building. As soon as they got to the elevator Ron looked at his girlfriend and asked "Um, would you mind telling me what the bloody hell that was about?"
"I didn't want to arise any suspicions. Muggles in this country tend to be very jumpy. Anything bizarre causes them to panic!" Hermione explained. "Besides, I thought a little snogging would help you calm down." she added with a smirk.
Ron blushed. "I have to admit, I did feel a lot more relaxed! I haven't felt that relaxed since Harry tricked me into thinking I drank that Liquid Luck potion. Speaking of Harry, did you find out anything?"
"All I know is some obscure charm was used. It gave off this strange yellow light."
"Blimey, Hermione, don't tell me you can't figure this out! You're like that bloody Batman character I've been reading about in the Muggle comic shop! He's a Muggle detective and he defeats all sorts of weird people with his smarts!"
"Yes, and he dresses like a flying rodent! Are you saying I should put on a fur coat and call myself Squirrel Girl?!" Hermione snapped.
Ron had to chuckle at that mental picture. "Actually, I'd pay good money to see that! But seriously, Hermione, there has to be some way to figure out what this spell is."
"Well, I guess I could check my book of international spells." she replied. "Come on, we'd better get back to the car! Those parking garages charge you up the arse just for a couple measly hours!"
"How much money do you have on you?"
"400 American dollars, which is about 40 Galleons."
"40 Galleons? Bloody... 40 GALLEONS?!" Ron shouted just as the elevator doors opened.
Two elderly gentlemen were standing at the doorway looking flabbergasted at Ron.
* * *
Harry paced back and forth in his cell. He was too worried to eat. He knew he had to figure out a way to free himself. It was then he noticed for the first time a keyhole in the door of the birdcage, and just a few inches away was a key. It was a long shot, but there was a good chance it was the key to the cage. Harry knew he had to act fast, so he grabbed the long stem from the apple he had been eating and yanked it off. Harry carefully made the stem into a hook and reached his arm out through the bars as far as he could. Just then he heard footsteps and the faint sound of voices just outside the door to the dark room.
"Terrace, you dunce! How could you be so dumb as to leave the keys right there on the nightstand where we've been keeping the boy?!"
"I'm sorry, Master! I plum forgot!"
The doorknob rattled for a few seconds, though the door didn't open. "Why won't this damn door open?!"
"It automatically locks, sir. Hang on, I left my key card in the bathroom. I'll be right back."
"Well, hurry up, you idiot!"
Harry knew he had no time to waste. He jabbed the apple stem as hard as he could, and as luck would have it, it caught the key to the cage. Harry dragged the key towards him until it was finally in his hands. He used it to unlock the door and got out. Even though he was now free, he was still in danger as he was standing in plain sight. He could hear the sound of Terrace's loud footsteps approaching once again.
"Hurry up!" Terrace's master shouted.
Harry quickly spotted a lamp just on the edge of the nightstand with the power cord running down the back of the table. Thinking fast he ran towards the edge, grabbed hold of the cord and slid down just moments before the door swung open. Harry reached the floor just as the lamp was turned on. Harry peaked out to see the face of Terrace's master, and he couldn't believe his eyes. "Albert Runcorn?" he whispered.
"Terrace, you imbecile!" Runcorn exclaimed as he ran towards the desk and picked up the cage. "You incompetent IMBECILE!" he screamed as he threw the cage to the ground.
"I am so sorry, Master!" Terrace quivered.
"Sorry doesn't get my dragon egg back! Sorry doesn't help me in the least! I lost everything because of that Potter boy, and with him in my grasp I was going to get it all back! But you have completely ruined everything with your stupidity!" Runcorn took out his wand and aimed it at Terrace's temple. "Avada Kedavra!" he shouted.
Harry watched in horror as green light lit up the small room for a brief second, followed by the sound of Terrace's body collapsing on the ground.
Runcorn composed himself and picked up the birdcage before stomping out of the room.
Harry crept cautiously out of his hiding spot and ran towards what remained of the man who had been tormenting him this whole time. He couldn't believe his eyes when he noticed Terrace had a face similar to Argus Filch, the caretaker of Hogwarts, only much younger looking and a little dapper. Harry wondered if it wasn't possible they might be related, though he had no time to think about that. He had to escape before Runcorn came back. Fortunately, he noticed a laundry basket full of dirty towels, so he quick ran towards it and climbed in. It wasn't before long several men showed up in Muggle paramedics' uniforms.
"How long ago did you find him, Mr. Runcorn?"
"About ten minutes ago. I was brushing my teeth when I heard my colleague shouting for me to call 911!"
"I'm afraid there's nothing we can do at this point. Your friend is dead." one of the paramedics said while checking over Terrace. "He seems to have suffered some sort of cardiac arrest."
"Sir, we're gonna have to ask you to step outside while we move the body."
Harry could tell from the one medic's Brooklyn accent there was a good chance he was still in New York, but he had no idea where exactly. He made his way from one room to the next, though as more people came into the place, it became harder to hide. However, seeing these people definitely helped him start to figure out where he now was.
* * *
The sun was beginning to set as Ron and Hermione made their way through the city. Ron still couldn't believe his eyes as they walked through Times Square.
"Blimey, I don't think I've ever seen anything like this!"
"I know. I've been here before and it still amazes me." Hermione said as she fished through her purse. "If it weren't for the current circumstances, we could do some sightseeing."
"Oh well, we can always come back for another visit, can't we?"
"Maybe someday. It would be great to check out the World Trade Center again when we're not busy looking for Harry." Hermione said as she pulled out a disposable camera.
"What's that for?"
"I promised my parents I'd take some photos of Central Park, while we're here." Hermione answered as she looked up at the gradually darkening sky. "It's almost nightfall. We'd better find a place to stay."
"Can we stop and get a bite to eat first? I'm kinda hungry." Ron mentioned.
Before long they were on the outskirts of Central Park. Ron still couldn't believe his eyes. "Bloody Hell! This place makes the Forbidden Forest look like a golf course!"
"Yes, but we won't find any magical creatures here!" Hermione exclaimed. Just then she felt someone poke her on the shoulder, startling her. She spun around to see a young couple standing arm in arm.
"My apologies, miss." the blonde haired man said in a thick southern accent. "I just proposed to my girlfriend and we wanted to get a picture to commemorate the occasion. Would you mind taking it for us?"
"Oh, it would be my pleasure!" Hermione said as she took the camera from the man. Hermione stepped back until she got the couple in frame and said "Say cheese."
The flash of light from the camera startled Ron.
"It's an old camera." the girl explained as she took back the camera. "Belonged to my parents."
"Thank you so much! I'd love to return the favor and take a photo of you and your boyfriend."
"Oh that's awful thoughtful of you." Hermione said as she handed her camera over to the man before posing with Ron.
"Y'all smile nice and big now!" the southern gent said as he snapped the picture. Before he had the chance to hand it back to Hermione, a bearded man in ragged clothes grabbed it and ran off. "Hey!"
The thief darted across the street towards the park, and Ron went chasing after him.
"Come back here, you ruddy git!" Ron shouted as he whipped out his wand.
"Ron, don't!" Hermione shouted from a few yards back, but there was no stopping him.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Ron said under his breath. As luck would have it the hover charm sent the would-be mugger flying into a tree, causing him to drop the camera into the grass.
Hermione finally caught up just in time to see Ron walking towards the thief.
The man was now petrified as Ron now stood right over him. "P-p-please... please don't hurt me!" he pleaded as he handed the camera back to Ron.
"You shouldn't take things that belong to you, you know."
"I'm sorry, sir. I beg you, I just wanted to buy some food for myself and some friends."
Hermione walked up to the bearded fellow. "If we give you some money for food, do you promise never to steal again?"
Tears now welled up in the old man's eyes as he nodded.
Hermione handed him a $20 bill. "You'd better get out of here."
"Thank you, dear." he said as he ran off, though he didn't get too far as he was quickly apprehended by two police officers accompanied by the young couple Ron and Hermione met a moment ago.
"That was some mighty impressive running you did there, fella!" the man said, but now without the southern accent. "Sorry to have fooled you, but my partner and I were working undercover. This guy you just helped catch is a notorious con man known for ripping off tourists like yourselves."
"Well, I'm happy to have helped, officer!" Ron said proudly as he shook hands with the detective and his partner.
After giving their names, Ron and Hermione thanked the police who pointed them towards the Plaza Hotel on the other side of the park where they could spend the night. The female officer was more than happy to escort them there.
As soon as they were alone in their room, Ron grinned as he handed the camera back to Hermione, though she didn't look too happy with him. "You're a nincompoop. You know that?"
"Is that any way to thank me?"
"Well, I could slap you a few times!" Hermione said angrily. "For heaven's sake, Ronald! What were you thinking going after him like that?! He could've pulled a knife or something! Not only that, you know we're not supposed to use magic on Muggles, especially while we're in America!"
"What was I supposed to do, just let him get away with ripping us off?! Criminals like that deserve to be brought to justice!"
Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed. "You've been reading way too many of those ridiculous comic books!" she said as she reached into her bag and pulled out a bikini and a pair of swimming trunks. "Oh well, as long as we're here it'd be nice to go for a swim. They've got a lovely pool here! I saw it once in an old Christmas movie."
"Where'd you get those?" Ron asked.
"Your mom and I did some shopping in a couple outlet stores last winter. I was going to surprise you with these on our trip to the beach over the Fourth of July." Hermione explained.
"That's awfully thoughtful! I'll uh... I'll go change in the bathroom and let you change here in the bedroom." Ron blushed a little as he took the swim trunks and headed through a door, which turned out to be a closet.
* * *
For the better part of a day Harry had been running around from hallway to hallway, corridor to corridor trying to figure out a way to locate anyone who might be of help. The only problem was in his current state he couldn't just walk up to someone. At one point Harry narrowly avoided being grabbed by a two year-old boy who mistook him for an action figure, but luckily the child's mother picked him up before he could get ahold of the shrunken wizard.
As luck would have it Harry found his way to an elevator door. As he waited for someone to show up he thought he heard a familiar voice.
"Who in their ruddy mind calls that a candy bar?!"
Harry couldn't believe it when he saw Uncle Vernon stomping down the hall wearing a Hawaiian shirt and swimming trunks. He seemed to be by himself, but he was talking on a cellular phone.
"Yes, Marge, I'm enjoying myself here in New York! I told you that you could come with me on my business trip! Yes, I know you can't bear to leave Ripper at home by himself but... Marge? Sister, dear, you're breaking up! Oh bloody hell!" the portly man said as he hung up the phone and pressed the button for the elevator. As the doors opened a young wealthy couple walked out. "Swell evening for a swim, aye?" Vernon said sheepishly, though the couple scoffed at him. "Well, excuse me!" he said under his breath as he stepped into the elevator.
Harry quick ran through the doorway and ducked behind his uncle's foot. As the elevator went down the shaft, Harry had the fiendish notion of biting Vernon on the ankle, but he decided not to as it might alert the fat old man to make a scene, and Harry couldn't afford to be caught.
Moments later the elevator reached the ground floor and Vernon stepped out, unknowingly being followed close behind by his 2 inch tall nephew.
As they reached the pool area, Harry started to realize where he was. "This a hotel." he said quietly with a smile. He saw children playfully splashing in the pool and their parents relaxing in beach chairs.
Then something caught Harry's attention, and he couldn't believe what he saw. Across the room his two best friends Ron and Hermione were sitting in a hot tub together. Harry was overjoyed. He almost wanted to yell out to them, but like before he knew he couldn't in his present state. Fortunately though Uncle Vernon was heading right for the hot tub.
"Excuse me, mind if I join you?" Vernon asked them.
"Uh sure, no problem." Hermione said.
"Thank you." Vernon replied as he put his key card and shirt on a nearby chair. "Oh what a stressful day I've been having. Nothing but bothersome board meetings and the like." he spoke as he got into the hot tub. "Look at me yammering on. Where are my manners? The name's Dursley by the way. Vernon Dursley." he said as he reached out his hand.
Hermione's face went white, having immediately recognized the name of their friend's uncle. "Pleasure to meet you. I'm... Lucy Lovegood and this is my boyfriend... Nicholas Natwick. We're from Australia."
Vernon wasn't buying it one bit. He could tell a lie when he heard it. "Wait a minute, haven't I met you two before?"
"No, sir." Ron replied meekly. "We're from Australia. Put another shrimp on the barbie, aye!" he said in a bad impression of Steve Irwin.
"Ron, please don't talk!"
"I knew it! I knew I recognized that red hair and that smug face! You're one of those wizard boys who put a spell on my Dudley! You're Potter's friend."
"Actually it was my brothers who did that."
"Ron, shut it!" Hermione yelled.
"I'll have nothing more to do with your kind! You've done enough damage to my life, you hear me?!"
Vernon's loud voice was starting to attract attention, so Hermione grabbed him by the arm and pulled him in close. "Listen, I truly am sorry for the trouble my friends and I have caused you in the past, but there's nothing we can do about it! What's done is done and no amount of throwing a tantrum will change any of that! The least you could do is let bygones be bygones! Besides, it's not like you were totally innocent the way you treated Harry over the years!"
"Don't you dare mention that boy's name!"
"And don't you talk that way to my girlfriend or I'll have you hanging by your toes!" Ron said with his teeth gritted.
Hermione was now also getting red in the face. "That's it! I've had all I can take! I'm going back to the room to take a shower!" she said as she got out and stormed off without even drying off.
"Well, aren't you leaving too!" Vernon asked Ron.
"No, I usually try to keep my distance when she's mad like that."
"What exactly are you two doing here?"
"Not that you'd care, but we're looking for Harry. He's been missing for some time now!" Ron explained.
"Are you sure he's still alive?"
"God, I hope so! Just between you and me, he can get under my skin sometimes. We'll be hanging about and enjoying ourselves when suddenly something peculiar happens and he'll obsess about it until he figures out the answer!"
"He always was nosey." Vernon said with a chuckle. "I remember when he was a toddler, he kept asking me how the television worked. I really did care for the boy once upon a time."
"What made you stop caring for him?" Ron asked.
"I really don't know. It's sort of funny though. Last year Dudley decided to take up psychology and help children deal with grief over the death of loved ones. He says he has Harry to thank for that choice."
Harry couldn't help but smile at that comment.
"Listen, tell your girlfriend I'm sorry for losing my temper earlier. I still have some issues to deal with."
"It's all right, sir." Ron said as he shook Vernon's hand.
"Oh and if you do manage to find Harry, please tell him to come visit us back home."
"Sure." Ron said as he got out of the hot tub and dried off.
* * *
As soon as Ron was back in the hotel room he took off his swimsuit and knocked on the door of the bathroom. "Hermione, are you in there?"
"Mind if I come in?"
"I don't know, I'm still pretty upset with you!"
"That was the second time tonight you nearly blew our cover! Are you trying to get us in trouble?!"
"No, Hermione! I... I was trying to defend you. I love you, Hermione. I hate to see anyone mistreat you in any way."
Hermione opened the door a crack. She was wearing nothing but a towel. "I love you too, Ronald. But I'm a big girl, and I can fight my own battles."
"I'll try to remember. Did you have a good shower?"
"Actually, I haven't gotten in yet. I'm still a little rattled by that altercation with Mr. Dursley."
"You should've stuck around. He really is a nice guy when you get to know him a little. Though he could use a breath mint." Ron said with a chuckle.
Hermione laughed so hard she lost hold of her towel. The two of them were now standing bare naked in front of one another. "Hey um, would you like to get a shower first?"
"To be totally honest, I kind of want to get in with you!" Ron said with a smirk.
"Ronald Weasley, what would your parents think?"
"They'd probably wonder why we're wasting time just standing here in our birthday suits!"
Hermione grabbed Ron by the arm and pulled him into the bathroom.
Back in the bedroom, Harry was trying to think of the best point in time to make his presence known to his friends, but he had to wait because he didn't want to ruin such an intimate moment. However it quickly dawned on him that there was a good chance Ron and Hermione might start having sex. At this point he realized no matter when he got their attention, it was going to be awkward.
About half an hour later Ron and Hermione came out of the bathroom wearing robes, much to Harry's relief. Though he was standing in plain sight, they didn't seem to notice him. The two lovebirds were now sitting on the edge of the bed together with their arms around each other's shoulders.
"Thanks for that backrub, Ron. I feel so relaxed now."
"Me too, Hermione. I'm kind of hungry though."
Hermione giggled. "When aren't you hungry?"
"I can't help it. Snogging you gives me an appetite for some reason!"
"I dread to find out how your stomach reacts after we shag!"
Harry chuckled at that comment. It was then he suddenly felt a speck of dust go up his nose. For a second he could barely breath until he let out a loud sneeze.
Ron and Hermione were startled by the high pitched sound. They looked down in shock as they saw a tiny figure resembling their friend coughing and sputtering.
"Oh my God!!! Harry?!" Hermione said as she gently picked him up.
"Bloody hell! Harry, is... is that really you?" Ron asked.
"Yea, it's me."
"But how did you get like this?"
"Apparently Helena Malfoy knew of a Miniaturizing Charm, which she used on me. But listen, that's not important. We have to apprehend Albert Runcorn! He's the one behind this entire mess, and he killed someone earlier."
"That's horrible! Why would he do that?!" Hermione asked.
"It's a long story, but we have to find him fast!"
Ron and Hermione quickly got dressed and made their way to the front desk in the lobby of the hotel where they spoke to the concierge. "Excuse me, sir. We're looking for someone."
"Can you give me a name?"
"I do believe there was a fellow by that name. He had been staying here the last few weeks, but I'm afraid he might've checked out this afternoon."
"Did he check out by himself or was he with someone?" Hermione asked.
"I beg your pardon, miss?"
"Nevermind. Ron, we've got to get Harry back to the Ministry!"
"But what about Runcorn?"
"We'll deal with him later! Right now we've got our friend to worry abo..." Hermione turned back to notice the concierge looking befuddled at her. "Uh, ahem! We'd like to check out please."
"Very well. Let me just get your bill."
* * *
Three hours later Ron and Hermione were back in the Ford Angelina with the pre-shrunk Harry Potter and already halfway back to London.
"So um, Harry, how long were you in our room?" Ron asked sheepishly.
"Long enough! I'm just glad I sneezed when I did. I was afraid any minute you two would be getting busy right in front of me!"
"To be totally honest, Harry, I wasn't really in the mood to go all the way with Ron. We were just fooling around to ease the tension."
"Yea, Uncle Vernon can get people riled up easily!"
"Were you at the hot tub when we encountered him?" Hermione asked.
"Yes. Infact I found him first a couple of floors above! I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted you two there! After you stormed off, I decided to stick around and keep an eye on Ron, then I just followed him back to the room."
"I thought I heard something squeaky on the way back!" Ron replied with a grin.
"Well, the important thing is we have you back, and as soon as Runcorn's been captured we can put this whole mess behind us!" Hermione said happily.
"But what about Harry's condition?" Ron asked.
"I've already contacted Hagrid and Ginny about it. They said they'll do some research on the spell Helena used. There's got to be a potion or reverse incantation to change him back to the right size!"
"There'd better be! I don't want to spend the rest of my life this way!"
A few short hours later they were back at the Leaky Cauldron where Ginny, George, Hagrid and Kingsley were waiting for them.
Hagrid couldn't believe his eyes when he saw his best friend. "Blimey, Harry! I haven't seen you this tiny since the day ye were born!"
Harry chuckled and smiled. "It's good to see you too, Hagrid."
"Aye." Hagrid picked Harry up and patted him on the head.
"Okay, I did some digging and it turns out this Miniaturizing Charm was created back in the 17th century and used to move heavy furniture and other objects around." Ginny explained as she showed everyone an excerpt from a book. "On occasions the spell was used on unruly ogres and trolls, and even more rarely on fellow witches and wizards in dueling matches and as practical jokes."
"Sounds like a neat trick to me!" George replied with a laugh.
"There's just one thing though. The reversal spell is very unstable. In 1885 two young wizards were shrunk and upon being changed back, they exploded! That's why the charm was outlawed ever since!"
"Yikes!" Ron responded.
"So how do we get Harry back to normal without the risk of poppin' him like a zit?" Hagrid asked.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and even George all became a little unnerved and grossed out by their large friend's choice of words.
"I have an idea, but we have to take him to Hogwarts straightaway!" Kingsley said. "We'll take the Floo Network."
On their way out the pub, Ron and George caught sight of their friend Dana who came running up to them. "Hey guys, I haven't seen you in weeks! Where've you been?"
"Sorry, Dana. We really don't have time to chat." Ron said.
"Yea, we've gotta get to Hogwarts!" George added.
"Well, I actually just got off work. Would you mind if I tagged along?"
"Blimey, what's the hold up here?!" Hagrid asked as he turned around with Harry still in his hands. "Come on you two. We don't have time to stand around and flirt with pretty bar maids!"
"Hey I'm not a bar maid! I'm a waitress, thank you very much!" Dana replied.
Hermione turned back and stood next to Hagrid. "You boys mind explaining to me what's going on?"
"Hermione, this is Dana. She's a half-blood from Dublin." Ron explained.
"Oh, you're Hermione? It's so nice to meet you!" Dana said as she walked up to Hermione and they shook hands.
"Nice to meet you too. So how do you know Ron and George?"
"Oh it's kind of a funny story, but it actually happened my first day here!"
Hermione couldn't help but be curious. "Would you care to join us? We were just on our way to Hogwarts."
"I'd love that! Never seen the place before, but I've heard amazing stories from the boys!"
George smirked as he turned to his brother. "You're in so much trouble, Ron!"
* * *
It was precisely 5:00 in the evening when the group arrived at The Hog's Head in Hogsmeade.
"Why did we go here first, Kingsley?" Ginny asked.
"Unfortunately, the castle's connection to the Floo Network was damaged during last year's battle, and is still under repair, so I've arranged for us to meet with Professor Slughorn here. He should be able to help restore Harry."
"Why couldn't we just go to his house then?" Hagrid asked.
"It wouldn't be wise. He's been under a lot of public scrutiny ever since someone let it slip that he was the one who informed Tom Riddle of how to create Horcruxes." Hermione mentioned sharply as she eyed George.
"Hey, give me a break! I was still grieving over Fred's death at the time! I wasn't thinking clearly!"
"That line only works on Mum you know." Ron replied solemnly.
Just then Professor Horace Slughorn entered the inn. "Terribly sorry I'm so late!" he said short of breath. "My my, I'm surprised to see so many of you here!"
"Trust me, Horace, this is only a small gathering, and I intend to keep it that way!" Kingsley replied. "No one else can know of Harry's present condition or the details of his unexplained absence until he's been changed back!"
"Well, there's no time to waste then, is there?" Hagrid said excitedly.
"By all means then, lets head for my office in the castle. I should have the necessary ingredients for a potion to counteract the shrink spell!"
As soon as the group reached Hogwarts they were greeted by Professor McGonagall. "Well, I didn't think I'd see you lot again any time soon!" she said sarcastically.
"Unfortunately, this isn't exactly a friendly visit." Hermione responded.
"When is it ever?" Ron rebutted.
McGonagall smiled. "Believe it or not, Mr. Weasley, I've missed you and your brothers' presence over the last school year."
"Aw, isn't that sweet?" George said with a grin as he shook his old teacher's hand. "I've missed you too!"
"Come on, you lot. Lets get into the Great Hall! I'm sweatin' like a pig out here!" Hagrid complained.
"What're you doing wearing all that fur in the summertime anyway?" Dana asked. "You can die from a heatstroke that way! Happened to my uncle, God rest his soul!"
"I'm half giant though. The weather don't effect me nearly as severely as it does humans."
Ron and George couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the Great Hall now fully restored to its proper glory. "Blimey." they both said in unison.
"Amazing isn't it?" Hermione said. "Ginny and I couldn't get over how well the Ministry fixed up the place before we came back for our final year."
"I'd be glad to give you all a tour while Slughorn takes care of Harry." Professor McGonagall suggested.
"That'd be nice!" Dana replied happily. "I never got to see a magical school before."
"Would it be all right if I looked after Harry?" Ginny asked.
"I'm sure he'd appreciate that." Hagrid said as he handed the hero wizard to her. "Poor little fella's been asleep since we got here."
"I don't blame him. He's been through hell the last few weeks!" Kingsley stated.
The moment Ginny and Kingsley were with Professor Slughorn in his office, the potions expert immediately got to work on concocting a special mixture of chemicals. "It's times like this I wish I had the level of expertise Severus Snape had! Granted he didn't have very good social skills, but the man was a miracle worker! He probably could've cured Harry in a quarter of the time!"
"How long will it take to prepare the antidote?" Ginny asked.
"It should only take a few minutes, though this isn't the antidote per-say. It's merely a molecular stabilizer that will keep Harry from exploding upon being returned to his proper size. He'll have to soak in it an hour before we can use the reversal spell on him."
* * *
Meanwhile Ron, Hermione and George were showing Dana the Gryffindor common room where they had spent many evenings hanging around with their friends. "This is so cool!" the Irish girl spoke. "If I had gone to Hogwarts, I probably would've spent all my time here."
"If you don't mind my asking, Dana, why didn't you attend Hogwarts?" Hermione asked.
Dana let out a sigh. "Because of my father. He attended Hogwarts around the same time Ron and George's parents did, except he was in Hufflepuff so he never knew them... though I doubt it would've mattered anyway. He never fit in with any groups or clubs. He was an outcast. It got to the point he didn't even care about magic, so he dropped out and moved to Dublin where he attended an ordinary Muggle school and became interested in playing soccer, which was how he and my mother met. They got engaged shortly after graduation and had me shortly after getting married. It wasn't until just after my eighth birthday when I started displaying signs of rather odd abilities that Dad told Mum and me the truth. Luckily for him she was open-minded, having been a hippy in her early teens. Nevertheless my father was worried I'd go through the same ordeal he went through at Hogwarts, so he forbid me from attending. However, my mother took an interest in my magical background, so she contacted the Ministry and they set me up with a special home school program designed by Professor Dumbledore himself!"
"Blimey, Dana! You never told us all of that before!" Ron said.
"You never asked."
"That reminds me. I'd still like to know how Ron and George met you."
"It's kind of funny really. It was last October when Bill found out he was going to be a father!" George started the story. "He was feeling rather nervous about the idea of parenthood, so to get his mind off it, me and Ron decided to take him to the Leaky Cauldron on Halloween, which just so happened to be Dana's first day of work. So we're sitting there at the bar having ourselves some butterbeers when Dana comes up with a bowl of nuts and asks us if we'd like any. Bill and I each turn our seats and take a handful, while Ron doesn't even bother to turn his head as he reaches for the bowl, only instead of getting a handful of nuts, he gets a hold of her..." Before George could finish, he started bursting with laughter.
"Hey, it's not funny!" Ron said as his cheeks turned red.
Hermione couldn't help but giggle a little. "I'm sorry, Ron, but even I have to admit that's pretty funny! So what happened afterwards?"
Dana smiled. "Well, after a few seconds of awkward silence I asked him if that was always how he picked up girls. Before he had the chance to apologize, Bill did it for him and offered to give me an extra tip. Though a couple of days later Ron showed up by himself and told me how sorry he was for the mishap. I told him I was over it. Besides, I've been through way worse. One time during spring break my junior year of high school a boy thought it'd be funny to spank me on the arse at the beach. I simply returned the favor, but with my foot!"
"I would have too!" Hermione responded. "Hey I just thought of another question. What made you decide to come to London and get a job there?"
"Yea, and did you ever get a wand?" Ron added.
"I've always used my father's wand. It's always been a perfect fit for me!" Dana explained. "As for coming to London, I've wanted to see my magical roots ever since I was a teenager, so I got myself a job and saved up enough money to travel. But then that awful war you were all in got started, so I decided to hold off on the trip and attend a local college in the meantime."
"Lucky for you we won, or I doubt you'd want to visit this place!" George remarked.
"Right. Say would it be all right if we went to look at the Quidditch pitch? I've always been fascinated by that game!"
"Actually, I was thinking it'd be nice to go there with Harry once he's back to his full grown self." Ron replied.
"Why don't we go to the library in the meantime?" Hermione suggested.
"I was wondering when you were gonna say that!" Dana said with a smirk.
"So were we!" Ron and George said simultaneously.
On their way down the staircase the group quickly ran into Argus Filtch. "What're you overgrown brats doing messing about in the corridors?!"
"Not that it's any of your business, we're showing our friend around the school!" Hermione said. "And I'll thank you to quit being so nasty to every child who attends here from now on!"
Filtch sneered. "Annoying little mudblood!"
Ron nearly lost his temper and was about to punch Filtch, when George stopped him.
"Is there a problem here, Argus?" Professor McGonagall asked as she came up the staircase.
"No problem at all, madam. Just dealing with these whippersnappers!"
"That is enough, Argus! I've told you on countless occasions not to harass Mr. Potter, Miss Granger or any members of the Weasley family should they come back to visit!"
"Aw, to hell with this job! I'd rather be locked up alongside Miss. Umbridge! She was ten times the Headmistress you'll ever-"
"That does it! Argus Filtch, you are hereby fired from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! I'll give you two hours to pack up your belongings and vacate the grounds!"
Filtch grunted as he stomped down the staircase.
"I wouldn't give that git ten minutes!" George mentioned.
"Come, children. Professor Slughorn says they're ready to restore Harry."
Several minutes later they were back in the Great Hall with Kingsley and Hagrid. Professor Slughorn emerged alongside Ginny who was holding a small bowl filled with sticky blue liquid that Harry had been soaking in.
"Hey Harry, are you feeling all right?" Ron asked.
"To be honest it feels rather soothing. Plus I've got Ginny's pretty face to keep my spirits up!" Harry said with an odd look on his face as if he was drunk.
"The potion has a tranquil effect, so he may be a little out of sorts for a while." Slughorn explained. "Now then, as soon as the clock strikes 6:15 we can use the reversal incantation on him."
"What do you mean we?" Hermione asked.
"Well, even with Harry covered in this potion the reversal spell could have some unstable effects. His ears or toes could grow faster than the rest of him! So it helps if more than one person perform the incantation."
"What's the incantation?" Hagrid asked.
"There won't be any need for that incantation when I'm through with the lot of you!" an angry voice shouted at the front doors to the castle came open and the angry figure of Albert Runcorn entered.
"You've got a lot of nerve showing up here, Runcorn!" Kingsley said sternly.
"Shut it, Shacklebolt! When I'm done here, you'll all be dead and Harry Potter will be nothing more than a stain on my shoe!" Runcorn pulled out his wand and aimed it straight at Kingsley and shouted "STUPEFY!!!"
Kingsley fell to the ground and hit his head hard on the floor.
"You ruddy coward, hiding behind a magic wand!" Hagrid said angrily, though at the same time he was too scared to go towards the man.
Runcorn scoffed. "You pathetic halfling! I'll see to it I have your head on a pike!" Runcorn raised his wand and aimed it at Hagrid's neck.
That same moment Dana took out her wand, aimed it at Runcorn and shouted "Expelliarmus!"
Runcorn's wand went flying out of his hand. "You wretched bar wench!" he said angrily as he ran towards her.
George promptly protected Dana by standing in front of her and shouted "Locomotor Mortis!"
Within seconds, Runcorn's legs were locked together, causing him to fall face down on the ground.
Hagrid picked up Runcorn's wand and snapped it in half. "Who was going to cut whose head off?"
That moment, the clock struck quarter after 6. "It's time." Slughorn said as he pulled Harry out of the bowl and lied him down on the table. "Miss Granger, Miss Weasley, would the two of you like to do the honors?"
The two of them nodded as they stood on either side of the table and aimed their wands at Harry.
"Professor, what's the incantation?" Ron asked.
"Finite!" Slughorn answered.
"Huh, sounds simple enough." George replied.
"Finite." Hermione and Ginny said softly together.
As the energy from their wands hit Harry, his body seemed to absorb the blue liquid. A moment later he slowly began to grow, like a balloon gradually being filled with air, until finally he was his full size again.
That same moment Kingsley came to his senses and sat up, though the back of his head was killing him. "Did anybody get the number of that broom handle?"
Dana chuckled as she and George helped the Minister to his feet.
Meanwhile Ginny, Hermione, Ron and Hagrid were taking turns hugging Harry.
"It's good to have you back, mate!"
"It's good to be back!" Harry said with his deep voice. "Say is anybody in the mood for a game of Quidditch?"
"We thought you'd never ask!" Ginny said with a smile.
"I wouldn't recommend it for a few weeks though." Slughorn replied. "Your body is still decompressing from having been shrunk for so long."
"He's got a point, mate. Besides, we've got all the time in the world for that!" Ron said with a grin.
* * *
A couple of months later the Weasleys threw Ginny's birthday party and nearly all of her old Quidditch teammates showed up, except for her ex-boyfriend Dean Thomas, though it was probably for the better.
George decided to introduce Dana to Charlie who had come in from Romania for the party. Though Charlie was a handsome and rugged looking fellow, the two of them didn't seem at all interested in one another. However, it wasn't that big of a deal as Dana soon came across Seamus Finnigan, Harry and Ron's Irish friend who she hit it off with right away!
Ron meanwhile decided to show everyone his graduation present to Hermione, which was a six foot book shelf. Hermione was so overjoyed she tearfully kissed Ron several times in a row.
Despite the festivities, Harry couldn't help but feel a little down.
"What's the matter, dear?" Molly asked.
"I guess I'm still a little rattled from the whole ordeal with Runcorn."
"No need to fret, Harry. It's all over now!" Arthur exclaimed.
"I'm not so sure, Mr. Weasley! I've made so many enemies over the years, and several of them are still out there looking for me. I just... I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can never have a normal life."
"So what? Being normal is overrated anyway!" Hagrid said. "Besides, we've always got yer back! Now go on out there and ask the birthday girl for a dance while the night's still young!"
Harry gave his old friend a hug and took a big swig of butterbeer before walking up to Ginny. "May I have the next dance?"
A moment later on the dance floor Ginny whispered in Harry's ear "Thanks for flowers and breakfast in bed this morning."
"Oh it was the least I could do after how well you looked after me while I was recovering."
"Well, I'm hoping the Ministry doesn't put you on anymore dangerous assignments. I'd hate to have our wedding day spoiled because you got turned into a newt or something." Ginny said with a chuckle. "Did you tell anyone else yet that we're engaged?"
"Just your parents, Hermione, Hagrid and Neville. I'm a little hesitant to let your brothers know. Frankly they scare the shit outta me! I can't blame them though. If I had a little sister, I'd be protective of her."
Just then Dana came up to Harry and Ginny. "Hey guys, I hate to break it to you, but the Weasley boys are listening in on your conversation." she said as she pointed to a pair of Extendable Ears just a few inches from the dance floor, which lead all the way to the table Ron, Charlie, Bill and George were sitting.
Ginny was red in the face. "Real bloody mature!!!" she said sarcastically.
"Uh oh, we've angered the birthday girl!" Charlie said with a chuckle.
"No, worse. We've angered the future Mrs. Harry Potter!" George added, causing them all to burst out laughing.
Ron walked up to the dance floor and hugged Harry and Ginny. "Congratulations, and sorry about the prank. George swore he'd dock me a week's salary if I spoiled the fun."
"It's fine, Ron. Besides I'd take a prank from the Weasleys over being locked up in a smelly birdcage any day."
Moments later Molly brought out the birthday cake and everyone sang to Ginny as she blew out the candles.
"Did you make a wish?" Hermione asked.
"I didn't need to. My wish already came true!" Ginny answered as she gave Harry a kiss.
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