Zum Wohle der Allgemeinheit

The wind whispered through Lemnos’s cypress groves, stirring the sweet scene of pine sap. Harry breathed it in with the tang of the ocean and placed Lemon Sorbet’s mask over his face.

‘On we go.’ He grabbed the longest key from the bunch. ‘Epidamnus.’

The cypresses whirled away in a green blur and he smacked into a dark-robed figure.

‘Ow,’ Astoria whined. ‘Who was that?’

‘Sorry,’ Harry said, glancing at the other bright coloured masks. ‘Why is everyone up here?’

‘Oh you’ll like this, Lemon Sorbet,’ Astoria said, flapping a hand at Colin. ‘Move Wild Cherry. Be more tame.’ 

Daphne sighed and sidestepped. ‘You can see from next to me.’

He stepped forward.

Corpses hung in the air, covering their faces with their hands as they floated in a loose triangle above the trees.

A prickle of unease crawled down his spine.

‘Look familiar?’ Astoria pointed her wand at them.

The triangle of bodies shrank into a circle, scattering crows from the trees beneath, and shifted back into a triangle again.

‘We were just wondering if we should get closer and take a look,’ Luna said. ‘I can’t glean anything from the dead.’

Dragon grunted. ‘Might as well. Probably fucking Violette.’

‘Violette?’ Daphne shook her head. ‘Those are the Saxon aurors. Violette has no reason to kill them, and even if he did think there was some gain for France in doing so, he wouldn’t dangle them up there like puppets, it would only risk the discovery of his part.’

‘I think that’s the most you’ve said all week, Smooth Mint.’ Astoria snickered. ‘Has Lemon Sorbet got you talking?’

Daphne sighed.

‘Let’s go take a look,’ Astoria chimed. ‘Come on, Tame Raspberry.’

‘That is not my name,’ Colin muttered.

‘Fine, fine, Flaccid Kiwi.’ She vanished and appeared at the edge of the woods with a loud crack.

‘Risky,’ Luna murmured. ‘What if they’re still in the trees?’

Harry wrenched the world back past him and stepped out beneath the bodies with a soft snap. The other unspeakables appeared around him.

A single corpse hung within the shifting shape, arms outspread in welcome and eyes wide open.

‘Otto Vogt,’ Daphne said.

‘He’s looked better.’ Astoria beamed. ‘Hey Wild Cherry, fancy another team-bonding exercise?’

‘Thanks, but no thanks, Pistachio Surprise,’ Colin replied, pulling his camera out and taking a few quick pictures. ‘Do we have any idea who did this?’

Anthony Goldstein edged forward. ‘There is some kind of ward around them. It’s really faint. Not even enough magic to be dangerous.’ He picked up a branch and tossed it under Otto Vogt’s body.

The corpses shifted from the triangle to the circle and back around the silhouette of Otto Vogt. 

Harry’s blood ran cold. ‘It’s Grindelwald’s mark.’

Daphne and Astoria stared up at it. 

‘Ah, fuck,’ Dragon muttered as he strode forward. ‘Not more idiot wannabes. Let’s just take them down and get rid of it all.’

A shimmer rippled through the air.

Luna, Colin and Anthony tensed. Harry slid his wand from his sleeve.

Otto Vogt’s corpse shivered and jerked.

‘Not more fucking inferii,’ Dragon hissed, snatching out his wand.

‘Guten Tag,’ Otto Vogt called in a deep soft voice. 

Dragon froze. ‘Oh shit,’ he muttered. ‘Oh fucking shit.’

‘What?’ Colin demanded. ‘A talking inferius is nowhere near as bad as a clown inferius. All the intestines are where they should be, too.’

‘Grindelwald.’ Dragon’s arms dropped to his side. ‘That’s Grindelwald’s voice. I’ve heard his speeches. That’s him.’

Daphne and Astoria pulled off their masks and exchanged a short glance.

Harry removed Lemon Sorbet’s mask. ‘How did he—’

Otto Vogt’s corpse shuddered. ‘For years I rotted in shackles behind the bars of my own stronghold, watching as much of the world as I was permitted to see by my jailers and wondering if perhaps, in the end, I truly had been wrong. If maybe what I had believed so strongly had just been my own despair projected upon the undeserving. If maybe you all simply deserved a greater man than I to help you come together and stand tall. The guilt gnawed at me worse than any of the indignities I endured as the price of my failure. And yet, nearly half a century after I failed for the second time, nothing has changed. And I cannot sit by and do nothing, not while I still have even a drop of magic left in me.’

Otto Vogt’s body shuddered and convulsed, small tongues of golden flames flickering on his tongue as the other corpses crumbled to dust and poured from the sky like rain.

‘My estranged brothers and sisters, I am old now. Too old, truth be told, but someone must fight for all of us rather than flags and gold and greed, so I extend to you one last invitation. If, like Marie, Karsten, Ansgar and so many others who have already come to us, there is any hope left within you for a better world, any belief that there is some good we might yet serve for the benefit of all, then take my hand and join me… You know the words.’

The golden flames burst from Otto Vogt’s mouth, blackening his lips and melting his skin like wax; they ate into his face as he floated in the sky above them, swelling into a shivering amber shroud. 

Nothing lasts forever. Harry bit the words back as the fire swallowed Otto Vogt’s corpse. Not sunsets. Not wishes. Not dreams. Not even hope. 

‘Marie, Ansgar and Karsten,’ Colin repeated. ‘Does he mean—’

‘Who else?’ Luna asked.

They stared up as the burning body shrank to a glowing golden hand. It drifted down, hovering before them, extended in greeting.

‘Nobody tempted?’ Astoria chimed in. ‘Lemon Sorbet?’

‘I’m a bit busy,’ Harry replied. ‘Although… I think I might be about to get busier.’

‘Will anyone go?’ Colin asked. ‘To join Grindelwald, I mean. Like, how could they? He lost twice. Everyone knows he was a monster.’

‘He doesn’t sound like a monster,’ Dragon said. ‘I’ve listened to his old speeches. Mostly he just talks about how bad things are and how we should be trying to make them better for everyone instead of hoarding scraps for ourselves.’

‘By killing all the muggles? And enslaving the survivors?’ Anthony Goldstein snorted. ‘Fucking pull the other one, mate.’

‘Well, he says it’s us or them,’ Dragon replied. ‘What else can you do when it’s like that?’

‘If it was us or them, then he might be right,’ Daphne said. ‘But we don’t know that’s true.’

Better hope than despair. A small smile crept onto Harry’s lips as he glanced up, catching Daphne’s blue eyes. 

‘We also don’t know that it’s not true.’ Astoria grinned and waved her mask at the hand. ‘So if nobody’s keen on going off to Nurmengard to meet a really really old powerful wizard about to throw the entire magical world into chaos, we should probably contact London.’

‘They must know,’ Harry said. ‘That message wasn’t just meant for us.’

‘There will be others sent across the world,’ Daphne murmured. ‘And if three of the Fürst-Elects have joined him, people will believe.’

‘Saxonia won’t get a vote until they choose a new Fürst-Elect,’ Astoria said. ‘So that’s three votes for Grindelwald, one very visible vote that can’t be cast for why you shouldn’t vote against him, and three more we don’t know. The Germanic States teeter on the edge of the Greater Good already…’

‘And he’s fucking Grindelwald,’ Colin muttered. ‘Dumbledore isn’t going to stop him this time.’

‘More like Grindelold,’ Astoria said. 

Daphne sighed.

‘Why should we stop him?’ Dragon took off his mask and swept a hand through his long red hair. ‘He’s not wrong, is he? Muggles are driving us further and further every year. More obliviations. More rules. More hiding. More of my friends dying because if a muggle spots a dragon outside of its little cage they might get upset that they’re not actually the biggest fish in the pond. More of my family dying because the magical world is falling apart and people will kill to stop it from being fixed.’ He held out the white mask and stared at the snarling red dragon. ‘You know what. I’m fucking done. Little Gin will just have to understand. I don’t give a fuck about the rest.’

Harry slipped his wand from his sleeve. 

‘No,’ Astoria caught his arm. ‘We don’t kill each other, Lemon Sorbet. Not unless we have no choice. If we can’t trust each other, this will be no fun at all.’

‘It’s a waste,’ Daphne muttered. ‘Us killing each other.’

‘If you’re going to go, Charlie Weasley, you should go now.’ Astoria beamed. ‘Don’t let us catch you later, or we’ll have to popsicle your clogs.’

Harry snorted and tucked his wand away. 

‘I could have taken him,’ Charlie Weasley snapped. ‘I don’t need any of you going easy on me.’

‘Lemon Sorbet’s a very good flavour of ice cream,’ Astoria said, snickering under her breath. ‘He’s Daph’s favourite colour of ice cream.’

Daphne poked her sister in the hip. ‘Hush.’

‘Sorry, Daph.’ 

Charlie tossed his mask into the dirt and crushed it under his heel. ‘Fuck Britain. Fuck Voldemort. Fuck Dumbledore. Fuck Amelia Bones and Susan Bones and fucking Perfect Percy and our stupid fucking parents. Fuck all of them.’ He reached out and took hold of the golden hand. ‘Sorry, Gin. It’s for the greater good.’

He burst into a shower of amber fire and disappeared.

‘Show-off portkey,’ Anthony muttered.

‘It’s alchemy, not a conventional portkey,’ Harry said. ‘It’s too far to Nurmengard even for a really good portkey.’

Daphne’s cool blue eyes flicked to him. ‘Tom is correct.’ She dipped a hand into her pocket and pulled out a slim piece of dark glass. ‘We are to return to London. Immediately. A summit is being held in Copenhagen.’

Copenhagen? Then Grise is probably about to—

A high-pitched wail burst from his pocket.

Daphne tensed, taking deep breaths.

‘What on earth is that, Tom?’ Astoria demanded. ‘Shut it up before it upsets Daph and I curse you.’

‘My least favourite sneakoscope-like object,’ Harry replied, sticking a hand into his pocket and fumbling around until he got a finger through Violette’s ring. 

The screaming stopped.

‘That’s better.’ Astoria beamed. ‘Right, every ice cream for themselves. See you back in Susan Bones’s fancy office.’

Harry pulled Lemon Sorbet’s mask on as the others vanished and apparated back across the string of tower tops and to the white cliffs. He pulled out the acorn, feeding his magic into it and waiting as it blossomed into a mirror.

‘Mon Amour?’ Fleur’s face appeared.

‘Stuff has happened,’ he said. ‘I don’t have time to explain it all. Basically, Grindelwald appears to have gotten out of his cell and everyone’s now off to Copenhagen. Tell Grise and Liliana that Lemon Sorbet seriously wounded Violette, that’ll avoid us being discovered just yet.’

She nodded. ‘I will take your place if I can. We can speak in Copenhagen.’

A soft hollow pang knifed through his ribs. ‘Je t’aime, mon Reve. I miss you.’

Fleur’s blue eyes softened. ‘I miss you too, mon Coeur. Au revoir.’

The acorn shrank back into the pendant and Harry dropped it under his robes, apparating into the Minister for Magic’s office. Team Ice Cream stood in a quiet line before the ornate wooden desk. Susan stared at the green lampshade, drumming her fingers on a stack of files.

‘So…?’ Astoria waved a hand between the lampshade and Susan. ‘This summit?’

‘What’s happened?’ Daphne asked. ‘We got an… invitation.’

‘Almost everyone did,’ Susan muttered. ‘He sent them to most major public places and I’ve no doubt a few from Britain went off to him. Our wards were useless. Fortunately, my aunt was thorough about ensuring the supporters of magical supremacy were weeded out of important places. As far as I know, the only ministry personnel who betrayed their country was Minister for War Terry Boot’s undersecretary, Faye Dunbar.’

Weeded out and buried in mass graves. Harry grimaced. More than a few would have gone to Grindelwald if they knew about that. 

‘We have—’ Susan glanced at her pocketwatch ‘—three minutes and then the summit starts. It may be… heated, I don’t exactly know what to expect.’

‘Who’s coming?’ Harry asked.

‘Everyone who was there before. Except those who have openly declared for Grindelwald.’ Susan smoothed her pinstriped suit out and sighed. ‘As far as we know, and some of this is just rumours, but Ostirrikia, Alemannia, and Hesse, Thuringia and Westsalia have all joined Grindelwald—’

‘Saxonia’s aurors are all dead. Otto Vogt too,’ Daphne murmured. ‘That’s how we got our invitation.’

‘Shit.’ Susan rested her hands on her hips and glowered at the portraits of former ministers on the walls. ‘Shit!’

The portraits fled their frames.

‘Fucking cowards,’ Susan muttered. ‘When it’s wand legislature they’ve got a thousand and one opinions, but when it’s something important they abandon the sinking ship like rats.’

‘Nurmengard is in Burgundia,’ Daphne said.

‘I know where Nurmengard is!’ Susan spat. ‘I know I got elected because my aunt got murdered and everyone hates the old pureblood politicians, but I am not an idiot.’

Daphne twitched. 

‘Smooth Mint means that Burgundia is probably also on his side or under his control,’ Astoria said. ‘Leaving Wendburg, Baiavaria, what’s left of Saxonia and the closest ally of the Germanic States, Polans, to still choose a side.’

‘The rumours are that the Sunset Princedoms have also joined him, because they began expelling all but essential wizards and witches from within their domains without any warning today,’ Susan said. ‘Unlike Voldemort, I’m told Grindelwald did not call on the non-human magical elements in either of his wars. He wished to exert control over the ministries and ICW first, which makes this a concerning change if true.’

‘Vampires,’ Daphne muttered.

‘Fantastic,’ Harry said. ‘So, Copenhagen?’

‘We have a minute,’ Susan replied. ‘How are things in Greece?’

‘Team Hedgehog is dead bar one member, as you know. But Dragon has joined Grindelwald.’

‘Shit,’ Susan breathed. ‘Don’t tell Ginevra Weasley. Or anyone. We’ll deal with that later. Anything else?’

‘I put about twenty holes in Violette,’ Harry said.

‘Fuck!’ She pounded the desk with the heel of her hand. ‘For a year I would’ve traded an arm to hear that and now someone finally does it, it’s when he might have been useful to fight against Grindelwald!’

‘Sorry?’ He smothered a flash of humour. ‘He might come back in a few weeks, but they were some pretty serious holes.’

‘Good work, Lemon Sorbet,’ Daphne murmured.

Astoria snickered. ‘It’s a shame, Smooth Mint and I were quite looking forward to seeing the two of you in the same room at some point. It ought to have been good fun.’

Daphne prodded her sister in the side.

‘Is that it?’ Susan demanded.

‘Suleiman is down to about eight ortas and there’s nothing left of Lysander or his Greek aurors,’ Astoria said.

‘Nobody cares about the Greeks, they would’ve sat it out like always anyway.’ Susan growled under her breath and picked up a rune-engraved wooden oar from the floor behind her desk. ‘Okay, time to leave. Before we go, be aware that the Ministry and the Wizengamot have, in our emergency session, agreed that the priority is stopping Grindelwald and preserving the Statute. We will not allow another Voldemort to run rampant across Europe and therefore every effort must be made by us to be cordial and agree on a peace deal to allow us to oppose him united.’

Harry grabbed hold of the blade of the oar as everyone huddled around it.

‘Thoril,’ Susan said.

The green lampshades and empty portraits lurched and blurred into smooth grey walls. Curved horns full of flickering red flames floated above them, throwing soft shadows across the floor.

‘Main hall.’ Susan glanced at Astoria and Daphne. ‘I don’t know the way. Which way is it?’

Astoria stepped forward.

‘No,’ Susan hissed, snatching her arm. ‘Just tell me. I have to go first.’

‘At the far end of the corridor,’ Astoria said.

Susan drew herself up and smoothed out her pinstriped suit. ‘Right. Let’s go. Don’t rise to anything that gets thrown at us.’

Harry fell back to the rear of the group, drifting past the stone carvings and the short, gnarled little fir trees floating in their glass pots.

A circular table sat on the stone floor of the conference hall, lit by more floating horn torches, and beyond them through the glass dome the lake and forest stretched off into the distance. Présidente Desrosiers sat at one end, the iron rose hair pin sticking through her tight grey bun, and the Duforts whispered in a little gaggle behind her.

The acorn pendant flashed hot against his heart and he smothered a small smile as he met the eye of the blue-haired, brown-eyed witch beside the triplets. 

Je t’aime. Harry cupped the necklace and fed a little of his magic into it. Je t’aime, mon Reve.

Fleur smiled at him across the table as the delegates stood.

Tsarina Bugrov. Suleiman and two janissary captains. President Lee, with Megan Tarbeck and Grant Hardsworth. Senor Osuna. Harry’s gaze strayed to the empty chairs. But no Germans.

‘Minister Bones.’ Helka indicated the nearest place at the table.

‘Helka Aefirsdottr.’ Susan dipped her head and glanced at the unoccupied seats. ‘I see we’re not last.’

‘I’m afraid you are,’ Helka said, folding her arms over the silver-charm-adorned leather jacket. ‘We had best begin. There is no time for ceremony.’

Présidente Desrosiers stood as they made their way to their seats. ‘I will go first.’

‘Very well, Lea.’

‘Grindelwald is a great threat not just to each of our nations but to the entire magical world. I saw both wars he waged for his Greater Good. Our fight must cease.’ Desrosiers’ eyes flashed. ‘Immediately.’

Susan swallowed and rested her shaking hands on her lap beneath the table. ‘Britain agrees. We are prepared to return Sint-Maarten if France returns Crete.’

Desrosiers shook her head. ‘I did not come here to haggle. Things stay as they are. It matters not who controls what so long as the Statute is defended. We can squabble over things like that later.’

‘I agree.’ Tsarina Bugrov slammed her hands on the table. ‘Kyiv can wait a little longer to determine its own fate. If Grindelwald is not stopped, it will have no choice at all.’

Senor Osuna inclined his head. ‘We, too, have not forgotten what Grindelwald is capable of or the danger he poses to us all.’

Helka turned on her heel. ‘Suleiman?’

The white gem on Suleiman’s purple turban gleamed as he glanced out the window. ‘Egypt stays independent.’

‘Done,’ Susan said.


‘No.’ Susan shook her head, balling her trembling fingers into fists. ‘That’s it.’

Suleiman’s thin eyebrows arched into a shallow vee. ‘Without me, what chance do we have against Grindelwald? Even so old as he is, he will not be bested by any other. You are all young or spent the last war far from its front. Grindelwald was unstoppable then, he will be nothing less now.’

‘If you wish to fight him alone after we’re defeated, by all means, Suleiman,’ Présidente Desrosiers snapped. ‘You have Egypt. It is enough.’

Suleiman adjusted the collar of his sleek grey robes and ran a hand through his short beard. ‘Very well. Our first thought must be to contain the fire before it spreads—’

Joseph Lee barked a short laugh. ‘And the great old powers decide what is to happen to the world amongst themselves once more. No. British aurors run amok across my country, using dark magic to spread horrors. Torturing, mutilating, murdering and razing our homes because we dared to oppose the oppression of their protectorates. Grindelwald is your problem. Another monster your corrupt, decadent empires have spawned. The United Magical States of America will not prop up your regimes or shield you from the consequences. Indeed—’ he grabbed the edges of his waistcoat ‘—we will only grant you the peace you desire if you liberate those lands you have enslaved in the Americas and agree not to meddle in their affairs again.’

‘Blackmail?!’ Susan snapped. ‘We will not be held hostage. You started this. Stirring trouble for no good reason!’

Grant Hardsworth winced.

‘If you will not agree to respect the rights of the people, there will be no peace,’ Joseph Lee declared as Megan Tarbeck nodded along, a fierce gleam in her eyes. ‘We will not bow to foreign despots and their campaigns of terror against our nation. And when we have scoured your monsters from our land, we will muster our full strength and hurl you back into the Atlantic.’

‘Then leave this table,’ Susan retorted. ‘Britain has heard enough lies and provocations from you and your country. Fuck off back across the Atlantic.’

Joseph Lee sneered. ‘Britain’s time is done. Europe’s time is done. The Dark Ages are over.’ He shoved his chair back and stood. ‘Our demands stand. And the state of war between our nations will continue to exist until you satisfy them.’

The three Americans vanished with a loud crack.

‘Good riddance,’ Senor Osuna muttered. ‘What a self-righteous little man.’

‘We cannot fight Grindelwald if you’re fighting America,’ Suleiman said. While we have been bleeding, Grindelwald has been conserving his strength.’

‘America will not last long.’ Susan glanced over her shoulder at them. ‘We will force them to peace in one swift campaign.’

‘Team Ice Cream to the rescue,’ Astoria whispered.

‘I would be a good moment to consider containment, then.’ Suleiman drew a long thin wand from his waist and conjured a shimmering map of Europe. ‘We must assume that the Germanic States have once again fallen prey to Grindelwald’s words. Burgundia, Ostirrikia, Alemannia and the intertwined trio of Hesse, Thuringia and Westsalia are all likely in his hands already. Saxonia, Wendburg and Polans will try to resist, perhaps, Tsarina Bugrov…?’

‘I’m already there.’ Tsarina Bugrov grinned and swept her hands through her silver charm-adorned braids. ‘I can defend my Slavic kin. It is the purpose Russkaya was created to serve.’

Harry smothered a snort. Of course.

‘Saxonia’s force was wiped out in Greece,’ Susan said. ‘To the last auror.’

‘Then we draw the line at Polans, or Wendburg if possible, but I fear Grindelwald will move too fast for us to establish strong wards there,’ Suleiman said, sketching a red line along the eastern border of the Germanic States. ‘I will prevent the Sunset Princedoms from going anywhere by engaging them on their southern border.’ He drew a second line just north of Constantinople.

‘What about Ostirrikia’s southern border? The one with your country just north of Greece?’ Présidente Desrosiers asked. ‘If you wish to contain Grindelwald, that gap must be plugged by someone.’

‘Perhaps Violette?’ Suleiman suggested. ‘He has garnered a certain reputation and I doubt he has left to join Grindelwald unless he is completely devoid of sense. Julien Aguillard was almost certainly part of this plot before his fortunately-timed demise.’

Harry’s blood froze. Of course he was. Of course. He was laying groundwork for Grindelwald’s rise in France and I killed him before he could bring it to fruition. The amber-masked man loomed large in his thoughts. Was it all Grindelwald? Julien. The Last Scions. Was it even Britain that attacked us at all? 

Susan coughed and studied her fingernails. ‘I think Violette might be unavailable.’

The Duforts stiffened and a little guilt gnawed at Harry.

‘Violette’s still alive,’ he said. ‘I just put a few holes in him.’

‘You lie,’ Isobel snapped. ‘Violette scattered your squad single-handedly.’

‘That was before me,’ he said. ‘Sorbet is superior to mere ice cream.’

Astoria snickered into her sleeve. ‘Don’t worry, I’m sure your little brother will be back soon.’

‘Then it falls to Britain,’ Présidente Desrosiers said. ‘Your unspeakables must remain in Greece to hold it until Violette is well enough to fight again.’

Susan scowled. ‘Very well.’

‘Italy is warded, neutral and simply not worth weakening our defences for or, in any likelihood, worth Grindelwald’s attention.’ Suleiman drew a red line along the French border. ‘And here, where France’s new wards lie, we should ready ourselves to push east with all the strength we can muster.’

Helka cleared her throat. ‘I cannot commit the Volsung Confederation to a war on my word alone. I must confer with my fellow rulers. I must confess it is unlikely we will agree to openly join the conflict; we have a long and strong history of avoiding such incidents.’

‘Of course.’ Suleiman folded his hands and inclined his head. ‘If we can contain Grindelwald like this, then once America is dealt with, we will be able to push through the Germanic States and defeat him for a third time.’

Tsarina Bugrov rose to her feet. ‘There is more. If Grindelwald has appealed to the vampires, he will have appealed to others. There are centaur tribes across Russkayan and Ikhanate lands that could well join with him, and troll tribes here in the Volsung Confederation and in the North of Russkaya and the Ikhanate lands. But of course, the longer wizarding conflicts run, the more likely the goblins will grow tempted to seek vengeance for their grudges, and they are always a threat.’

Harry glanced up into the pale grey eyes of Fleur’s disguise. Then let’s hope it runs just long enough for the goblins beneath the alps to rebel. The pendant burnt against his heart. Or, if they don’t, then I’ll find a way to make it look like they have. He touched a finger to the silver acorn and fed a little magic into it. Whatever it takes, mon Reve. Je promets.

‘If we’re staying in Epidamnus, who can go to America?’ Harry whispered.

Astoria drew him back a step and lowered her voice. ‘Neville Longbottom could be sent, but it’s well known that he lacks the stomach and knack for the sort of fight Ginevra Weasley has to wage.’

‘Dark magic and mutilations?’ 

‘I’m sure that’s an exaggeration,’ Daphne murmured. ‘Neville Longbottom is not entirely trusted by certain factions of the Wizengamot and the Ministry. He is kept in Britain because everyone knows he will fight in its defence, but are less sure how devoted he would be to its offence.’

‘I see, then who…’

‘There is no other choice but Neville,’ Astoria replied. ‘Anyone capable and inclined to fight already is fighting, or is employed in other essential roles in Britain.’

Harry studied the pinstripes of Susan Bones’s suit shoulder. ‘I could go.’

‘What about your illness?’ Daphne asked. ‘You were pushing yourself before fighting Violette…’

‘I can push myself a little more,’ he said. ‘But after I’m done in America, I will have to rest for a good while.’

‘Well,’ Astoria chimed in. ‘I’d imagine Violette will pop back up around then, so it shouldn’t matter too much.’

A little niggle of suspicion chewed at Harry. Do they suspect? He squashed it. How could they? And if they did, they’d do something, not just make jokes.

‘We will suggest it to Minister Bones,’ Daphne murmured. ‘Given the admirable results you’ve produced in Greece, she may well prefer to send you over Neville Longbottom.’

I hope so. Harry took a long quiet breath in through his nose. If she doesn’t, Lemon Sorbet’s illness will have to flare up and I’ll sneak in the muggle way.

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