Harry, Sally and Hermione were crouched on the edge of a forest, staring out towards Malfoy Manor. They had chosen this as their first target, because, they had decided, it was more likely they would find Draco here than anywhere else.
Sally looked at the others, and then her hand slipped to the amulet round her neck. She saw Harry smirk, and realised that she was doing it again.
Ever since The Order had presented her with the amulet at the start of the summer, she had taken to playing with it during times of stress.
"Yes, Richard, I know what I am doing" She smiled at him "But you can tease me later" She looked over "Okay. On three?" They nodded "One. Two. Three!"
The three members of The Order vanished.
"Guys?" Sally looked up from her book as Harry and Hermione came in to the room "What's up?" Neither of them replied, but Harry took her hand, and pulled her up "Honey?" They made no reply, but led her out of her room and downstairs to the front room of Susan's house "Guys – if you don't..." She trailed off as she realised they weren't alone any more. The entire Order was facing her. She paused, then turned back to her boyfriend "Is it my birthday or something?"
"Yes" Harry smiled "But that's not why we're here" He and Hermione walked over to the group, and turned to face Sally "We found a solution" She stared at them for a moment, then smiled.
"Really?" She looked at them imploringly "This isn't some evil joke?"
"Would I do that to you?" Harry asked, then – when she stared at him – he continued "Okay, yes, I might do that, but not about this" He turned to Sirius.
"After you were attacked, we started looking in to the curse" He sighed "But, to cut a long story short, we couldn't find a cure" He saw Sally's face fall "So we decided to search in another direction" He turned to Remus, who continued the story.
"We found stories in the past about amulets that allowed mortals – muggles – to do magic. At first we assumed they were just fairy tales, but to cut a long story short, again, we found out they were true, and – with help from a few of our contacts abroad" He glanced at Viktor "We found one" He held up a crescent shaped amulet with a ruby in the middle of it. Sally just stared at it, then turned back to Sirius.
"Yes" Sirius nodded with a smile "There are a few rituals we have to do, to bind it to you, and it will take you a while to get used to it, but..." He didn't finish his sentence because Sally ran across the room and crashed in to his chest, hugging him.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" She whispered, then turned to the others "Thank you – all of you" Remus held out the amulet, and she reached out and took it.
"We can start at 6 o'clock this evening" Sirius said "And the younger ones" He glanced at Harry, Sally, Hermione and Luna "Shouldn't make any plans for tomorrow – the blessing ritual can be kind of tiring"
They re-appeared next to The Manor walls a moment later. All three crouched, and looked around.
"No alarms" Hermione whispered "Can you see anyone?"
"No" Harry shook his head, then glanced at the door "Summer – any protection spells?" Sally raised her wand, and a few moments later she shook her head.
"It's clear?" Hermione asked.
"Yup. We go in and search the place"
"If we find Malfoy?" Harry asked.
"Stun him, and bind him" Sally replied "Then cast an invisibility spell, so they won't find him" She paused "Same for everyone else"
"Okay" The three of them walked over to the door, and Sally pushed it open.
"Richard – take point. Miranda – watch our tail"
"Okay" They walked to the left, and Harry slowly pushed the door open. Sally followed, wand held in front of her.
"My Lady?" Harry gave a short bow, and held out Sally's wand "I believe this is yours"
"Thank you, My Lord" She bowed back, and then took her wand. She glanced at Hermione – the only other person in the room – then held her wand up "Lumos" The end of the wand burst in to light, causing Harry and Hermione to burst in to applause "Nox" As her wand went out, she turned and threw herself in to Harry's arms.
"So – are you ready to show the others?" Hermione asked "I mean – after you are done kissing your boyfriend to death"
"I think I am" She smiled.
"Good, because they are all waiting in the front room" Hermione smirked. Sally nodded, and all three of them walked out of the room, and down to the lounge of The White House. Just as Hermione had said, the rest of The Order were waiting. Hermione and Harry stood to one side, then Hermione turned to face The Order "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Miss Sally-Ann Perks – witch"
Half an hour later, Hermione held her hand up.
"Someone's coming" She said quietly. Sally gestured for them to stop, and the three pushed themselves against the wall of the corridor they were in.
A few moment later, Narcissa Malfoy walked round the corner, and found herself facing three wands. She opened her mouth, but was hit by a silencing spell before she could say anything.
"Mrs Malfoy" Sally said "Can I ask you to push your sleeves up?" Narcissa stared at her, then slowly raised each of her sleeves "No Dark Mark?" Narcissa shook her head "Good" Sally paused, then yelled "STUPEFY!" Narcissa collapsed, and a moment later, vanished as Hermione made her invisible.
"So – we aren't killing her" Harry asked.
"You know the rules, Richard" Hermione replied.
"It's simple" Susan said "Anyone who is carrying a Dark Mark, we deal with" She looked at the others "Agreed?"
"Yup" Sally replied, and Harry, Hermione and Sirius nodded.
"Anyone else, we... kidnap and hand over to the DMLE" She looked at them "This will cause complications, and make things harder, but..."
"But you don't want to kill someone who might be innocent?" Harry asked, and Susan nodded.
"Anyone who doesn't agree?" She looked around, but no one replied "Good"
"You know the rules, Richard"
"I know" Harry sighed "So – do we leave her here, and pick her up on the way back, or take her with us?"
"Leave her here" Hermione said "She won't wake up any time soon, and it's unlikely anyone will find her" She looked around "I don't think Draco's here"
"Me neither, but we should search the rest of the house, just in case" He shrugged "We might find something to tell us where he is"
"Okay" Hermione levitated Narcissa's body in to a cupboard, and locked it shut, then turned to the others "Lets go"
Sirius walked in to his lounge, and sat down next to Susan.
"Not yet, no"
"Do you think that's good or bad?"
"Probably good" Susan smiled "If anything had happened, I am pretty sure we would have heard by now"
"Okay" He leaned back and sighed, then looked around "Where are the others?"
"Viktor and Luna are waiting at her house, along with Eric. Remus..." She gestured out the window to the moon in the sky "Myrtle went back to Hogwarts – if she stays away for too long, the other ghosts tend to notice – and the Grangers are coming over in about ten minutes"
"Good" Sirius closed his eyes, then opened them again almost at once, not happy with the images his mind presented "So – how long now?"
"So – we are done?" Harry asked.
"We have searched every where we can see" Hermione replied "There's no one else here aside from Mrs Malfoy"
"Okay" Sally smiled "Did either of you find anything helpful?"
"I found Draco's diary" Hermione smirked "But I wouldn't entirely class it as helpful" She held it up "I think we should leave it here"
"Why?" Harry asked, and Hermione blushed.
"It's mostly personal stuff" She said, still blushing "I am pretty sure it won't be any help, and I don't feel right about taking it" She glanced at Harry, who nodded in agreement. Sally shrugged.
"Okay – put it back where you found it, then go do your thing"
"Sir, yes sir!" She smirked when Sally frowned at her "Sorry. I just thought everything was getting a little bit serious" She reached round, and pulled off her backpack "Any suggestions as to where I can put them?"
"I have a couple" Sally said with a smirk, then she turned serious again "Do you know where the centre of the house is?"
"More or less" Hermione replied "If you give me five minutes or so, I can cast a spell to locate the focal point of the wards – that should be the centre of the house"
"Okay" Sally looked at her watch "Five minutes. Richard and I will go and get Mrs Malfoy, and take her outside"
"I will be as fast as I can" Hermione turned and left the room, while Harry and Sally exchanged a look.
"Do you think she is having a tad too much fun with this?" Harry asked.
"Don't ask me – you are the one who has known her the longest" Sally replied "Has she always liked making things go boom?"
"Now that you come to mention it..."
"We were thinking how we could be more useful" Claire said "I mean - I know I am teaching the three of them strategy, but..." She glanced at her husband "Well – we had a talk last night, and we think we have come up with something"
"I have a few friends who work in construction" Arnold said "We go back a long way, and they owe me a few favours" He glanced at Remus "I kind of told them what was going on – the coming war and all – and they agreed to help out"
"They know about magic?" Remus asked in surprise.
"No" Claire shook her head "But they know that that there are going to be a few terrorist attacks before the end of the year, and that we are going to try to stop them"
"Good" Remus smirked "I mean – given that we are setting up a paramilitary group and are going to kill a lot of pure blood members of society, I think that violating the statute of secrecy might be overkill"
"As long as we don't take a lot in one go, they can cover the shipments as part of their business" Arnold smiled "What about the government?"
"The Ministry will cover it up" Remus smiled "They got very good at that during the first war, and I can't imagine they have lost their touch"
"Excellent" Claire smiled, then gave a small chuckle "I think that, if there's a choice, you will want to give this to Hermione. I think she will enjoy it the most"
"Well – let me tell you about one of her chemistry classes..."
Harry levitated Narcissa out of the cupboard, and set her down.
"Is the silencing spell still active?"
"Ennervate" As Narcissa woke up, Harry held out his hand, and helped her up.
"We are The Order of V. We came here for your son, because he is a wanted Death Eater. However you are not, and so we will turn you over to the DMLE, and they can decide what to do with you. If you understand, nod your head" She waited for Narcissa to nod "Good. If we let you walk, will you try to escape?" Mrs Malfoy shook her head "Very well – come with us" She started walking towards the door, with Harry trailing Narcissa. When they reached the front door, they stunned her again, and then Harry levitated her through and out in to the garden.
"Where are we going to leave her?" He asked.
"We don't have to leave her anywhere" Sally smiled, and pulled something out of her robes "Early back to school present from our late Minister"
"Sal?" Remus called out to Sally "Do you have a moment?"
"Of course, Professor" Remus smiled fondly at her.
"Are you ever going to call me Remus?"
"Sorry. Force of habit" She shrugged "What can I do for you?"
"Actually - I have a present for you" Remus reached in to his robes, and pulled out a collection of keys "Here"
"Thank you" She stared at them, then back at him "What are they?"
"It seems that, before he died, Minister Fudge gave Sirius a portkey that goes directly to the DMLE offices. He thought that we might need it at some point"
"Okay..." She flipped through the keys, counting them "There are twenty keys here"
"Well – after Minister Fudge gave the portkey to Sirius, he gave it to me" Remus said with a modest smile "I managed to reverse-engineer the spell, work out how to duplicate it and..." He gestured to the keys "I thought they might be useful if you managed to capture someone who wasn't marked" Sally stared at him for a moment, then hugged him.
"Thank you, Professor"
"And you didn't tell me this before because..." Harry stared at her.
"I thought it would be funny" She smiled. He continued to stare at her for a moment, then gave a small laugh.
"Fair enough" He took one of the keys "So - I put it on her, and activate it?"
"Pretty much" Sally said, then held her hand up "One second" She pulled out a scrap of parchment, and a quill, then wrote a quick note and stuck it to the front of Narcissa's robes "Okay – you can do it now" Harry turned, place a key on Narcissa's stomach, then tapped it with his wand. A moment later, she vanished.
"Okay. So all we have to do is wait for Miranda..."
"I'm here" They turned to see Hermione coming out the door "We should get beyond the wards before we detonate it, otherwise bad things might happen"
"Define bad" Sally said.
"Well – our heads would be ripped from our bodies and scattered in several parts all around the grounds" Hermione replied with a smile "And that's the best outcome"
"Okay – beyond the wards it is" She looked around "Let's go" She watched as the other two vanished, then, taking the amulet in hand once again, followed their lead.
Sally walked in to the front room at The White House, and found Sirius, Susan and Harry waiting for her.
"I want the truth"
"About what?" Harry asked.
"This amulet" She held up the present they had given her nearly a month before "I have been researching it, and I can find no records of anything like it" When no one responded, she frowned "I know I am no Hermione or Remus, but I am not stupid, and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't treat me as if I were" The other three looked at each other, then Sirius nodded.
"Okay" Susan said "You are right. The amulet isn't exactly what we told you it was"
"We found out that we couldn't restore your magic very early on in our search" Sirius said "The curse that you were attacked with was identical to the one that The Goblet used to ensure participation in The Tournament, and there is no counter curse"
"But we did find records of a..." Harry trailed off, trying to think of the word "A magical battery, for want of a better phrase"
"A battery?" Sally looked at them in confusion.
"Basically, it can absorb magic, and then let whoever is wearing is use the magic it has stored"
"And how does this magic get absorbed?" Sally asked, but then her mouth fell open "That was was the ritual was for?" She yelled "All of you gave up some of your magic in to this?"
"Yes" Harry said, standing up and walking over to her "We did it for you, because we couldn't stand to see you so unhappy"
"And how happy do you think I will be now, knowing what you sacrificed for me?" She glared at him "You should have asked first"
"We didn't think you would say yes" He replied, not turning away from her glare "And, before you ask, we didn't have to ask anyone to do this. When we told them what we had found, every single member of The Order volunteered"
"That's because they need me to fight Voldemort" Sally snapped back.
"No" He smiled at her, then her hand, and brought it up to his chest so she could feel his heartbeat "They did it because they love you. And because they are your friends" He leaned over and kissed her gently. She let him, then fell in to his arms.
"I'm sorry" She whispered "And thank you" She glanced at her mother and uncle "And thank you two too" She held on to Harry for a few moments, then pulled away "Are you going to tell the others that I know?"
"That's up to you, darling" Susan smiled "If you don't want them to know, we will keep it between us four"
"No" She shook her head "I think they should know how grateful I am" She reached down and took the amulet in her hand "And how much it means to me"
"Okay" Sirius nodded "I will ask them to come over tonight, and we can tell them then"
The three students re-appeared outside the wards of Malfoy Manor, then Harry and Sally turned to Hermione.
"When's it going to go off?" Sally asked.
"I set the spell for a three minute countdown, and activated it when I left the door. So I would say it will be any second..." She pointed, and all three watched as a huge series of explosions ripped through the building. Flames of all different colours shot out of the roof and windows, and less than a minute after the first explosion had started, the Manor was nothing more than smoking rubble.
"...now" Hermione beamed "Well – that was pretty good"
"Pretty good?" Sally laughed "That was amazing! I have never seen anything like it"
"I don't think anyone has" Hermione replied, still beaming "And to be honest, when my dad suggested magically modifying C4, I thought he was crazy. But" She gestured back to the ruins "It appears to work very well"
"You can say that again" Harry said, then slapped his hand over her mouth "Not literally" She pushed his hand away.
"Spoilsport" Sally watched the interplay between her friends with a smile, but then coughed.
"We should go before the aurors arrive" She said "But, there is one last thing to do"
"What's that?" Harry asked.
"This" She turned, and pointed her wand skyward "FIDELUS AD VICTORUM!" When the spell had finished, she turned back to her friends "So – what do you think?"
"Pretty" Hermione said.
"They'll certainly know it was us" Harry added.
"I think that was the idea" Sally smirked, as they continued to gaze up at the giant, flaming-red V that now filled the sky above the remains of the Manor