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Of Dark Detectors and Burnt Toast
By Dianne

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Category: Open House Challenge (2006-2)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Comedy
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: G
Reviews: 24
Summary: ** Winner of Best Overall & Best Ingenuity in the Open House Challenge **
Minister Scrimgeour asks Harry Potter and the DA to participate in what he calls an Open House. Harry refuses and discourages members of the DA to particpate as he feels the event will become nothing more than a recruitment of canon fodder for MLE in the upcoming war. When the Minister pulls one more publicity stunt against Harry for his refusal to endorse the Open House, he finds himself surrounded by the DA at Ginny's bidding.
Hitcount: Story Total: 4962

Author's Notes:
Okay, where to begin. While reviews are welcome, I really don't think anyone wants to hear about reviewers personal pet peeves in stories. While this may amuse some, it strikes me as superior minded. There is never a call to be overly aggressive, this is not American Idol and none of you are Simon. I'm not even speaking for myself so much here as I am for other authors. I have won challenges and catergories before but that is not why a person enters these things. It is first and foremost a hobby and not all of us have a need to win but we do we have the need for some common courtesy and that does not include obvious snippy remarks meant to harm rather than help or motivate. I was horrified a few challenges ago that I wasn't even a part of, to read some of the judges remarks. For goodness sakes the replies to these nasty comments from some people were almost apologetic in tone and that is sad. People are not paid to write these stories. Reviews are the pay and hopefully people can learn from them but no one should be left feeling like they have to apologize. All I am saying is that when you are judging you hold a writer's creativity in your hands and you have the potential to discourage a lot of people with needless and thoughtless reamarks, As for me, I've written enough good and bad stuff not to worry much over reviews anymore but I worry about new people, you know, the ones who write things like 'this is my first challenge etc. Be nice to them, or you could squash someone's hobby or happiness.



"And I thought Fudge was a wise guy!" Harry spat venomously, handing Ron an owl post he’d just opened. "I can’t believe McGonagall approved this."

"Completely mental," Ron agreed.

"What has Minister Scrimgeour done now?" Hermione asked as Ginny grabbed the letter from Ron’s hand and held it so that she and Hermione could read it together as they sat at the long Gryffindor table in the Great Hall..

Dear Mr Potter,. I am pleased to inform you that our own MLE Department will be holding its first ever Open House at Hogwarts School on May fifteenth.

I daresay with rumours of increased attacks on the wizarding and Muggle worlds at large, recruitment of new MLE personnel has decreased. I have word that your little club, the DA, has had no such decline in enrollment. I feel we have something to offer you in exchange for helping us bolster our numbers by promoting the MLE Department through word of mouth among your club members and school mates.

I understand that you are in your seventh and final year and no doubt have first hand knowledge of our need for a call to arms. At the same time, we do not wish to panic the public, do we? You are in a unique position to help your friends choose a career with the MLE.

Come June, many of your fellow seventh years will leave Hogwarts for good with no clear goal in mind. However, with a positive recommendation from you, that jobs with the MLE Department is the career path to choose, I am certain you would be doing them a great service.

At this point in time, we are in particular need of Hit Wizards as well as general MLE employees, but as you know, an Auror is an elite position which many of your friends will not qualify for. Having said that, should this Open House/ Recruitment Campaign prove successful, it would enhance your eligibility for such a position dramatically.

What we propose is that your DA club and members of the MLE put on an impressive display of dueling, hand to hand combat, new spells and dark detection devices for your entire school. Not only will interest of applying to the MLE go up, but we will show ourselves prepared to defend against attack and I will get a chance to meet future voters of tomorrow in a positive light. That’s right Mr Potter, I will be the master of opening ceremonies and I am cordially inviting you to be official student body representative to the MLE for this entire event.

May I remind you that a favourable letter from the Minister of Magic himself can erase a lot of poor marks and other smudges that would otherwise make your application to the Auror Academy a sure fire rejection?

R.S.V.P. by no later than May seventh. Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour.

"Well, I’m not telling the DA what to do or what not to do," Harry said. "But I am not being a part of this circus."

"Harry, you lead the DA, how can you not be a part of this?" Hermione asked.

"Hermione, this is nothing but a recruitment drive for young people to join in the war against Voldemort. Scrimgeour isn’t trying to help us win, he’s bolstering the army so the public will get off his back about his lack of solutions to keep Britain safe," Harry said as Ginny nodded her head in agreement.

"I’ve already made sacrifices to keep those I care for safe..." Harry’s voice trailed off, looking at Ginny,. "…So I’m not about to start campaigning for Scrimgeour’s purposes. It’ll just get people killed."

Ginny made no comment to Harry’s words and his purposeful gaze in her direction. She expected no less of him. She knew how much it had cost him to give her up, and she would have been surprised to see him do an about face and offer up his friends from the DA just so Scrimgeour could have some more cannon fodder come June. She did not know why he always thought he had to do things all by himself, but she would give him time to figure it out.

There was a peace that came from the fact that she had expected he would leave her at the end of their sixth year;, a peace that came from the fact that she truly believed that he would also come back to her once he realized he wasn’t meant to fight the looming war against Voldemort all by himself. She had all of this faith without even knowing what the prophecy held.

Even though Harry scribbled out a note of false regret that he couldn’t be a part of this demonstration, it wasn’t long before Scrimgeour had recruited enthusiastic students to set up committees for the festivities. Posters went up on every wall in the castle and the upcoming open house was the buzz of the entire school. Very few actual DA members planned to participate in the demonstrations which were to take place on the grounds in separate booths. By the first week of May, the sprawling green grounds resembled a carnival of sorts. Scrimgeour spared no expense as there were even juggling acts hired to entertain and annoying mimes could already be seen rehearsing on the grounds.

Harry rolled his eyes as he thought about what Dumbledore’s reaction to the whole ludicrous affair would have been. He actually smiled, figuring that at least Dumbledore would have enjoyed the jugglers. The mimes on the other hand would .likely have found themselves trapped in real boxes. Harry wondered if anyone had even thought of background checking the acts that were brought in to entertain between bouts of the recruitment drive.

As Harry pondered this question, he sighed deeply, knowing that he would have to involve his DA members now that it came to it. An open carnival- like atmosphere with no one really watching for security leaks was a disaster waiting to happen, even if there was a delegation of MLE officers on hand. This meant being a part of the show with a vantage point from the higher stages which afforded a better view of the audience as well the ability to station people around the grounds to look for anything suspicious.

There was a collective groan from the DA at their next meeting as Harry informed them of his new revelation. Harry hated to inform the DA members that he wanted them to get involved with the demonstrations now, after having just spent the last several weeks telling them every reason he could think of why they shouldn’t participate. But what was worse was that they had only one week to prepare.

"Look, I think the MLE officers that are coming don’t know that they’re being used as much as we are, and I know for a fact that the Weird Sisters wouldn’t play a venue if they knew it was for recruitment into the war. They shun anything establishment-oriented...look at that song that just came out, Wave Like The Queen And Fade To Black," Harry said to the unusually quiet class as he looked at the entertainment roster. "Scrimgeour is planning on riding on the Weird Sister’s coat tails by giving a speech once they’re done their first act, when everyoneis in the ‘feel- good mode’."

"Well, you could divert attention from Scrimgeour by taking your shirt off," Lavender Brown giggled as Harry groaned. "Well, it would work you know."

Lavender had a point, although Harry wasn’t taking his shirt off for anything.

"Lavender has a point," Harry said out loud without thinking as Ginny led a round of whistles of appreciation amongst the females of the DA. "No, not about taking my shirt off, about diversionary tactics.

The DA spent the afternoon coming up with overlapping events that would take place while Scrimgeour gave his speech. They all agreed that It would have to be something great to make the students not listen to Scrimgeour, but Harry also felt that he needed to give them a reason not to listen. At least not until Scrimgeour admitted he was unable to see the wizarding world through this upcoming war and either stepped down or hired someone like Mad- Eye Moody to oversee training of new recruits and give them an actual fighting chance and not just send them blindly into a war that they knew little about.

When the day of the open house, which had been dubbed, ‘the carnival’ arrived, Ginny found Harry leaning against a pillar looking out from the Great Hall onto the grounds.

"I know that look," she told him.

"I know you do," Harry sighed without argument, the awful weight of the truth about the Horcrux burned in his mind and the bigger truth that the war had more to do with him than anyone else here today played on his conscience..

"So, are you ready to fight with Justin Finch-Fletchley?" Harry asked Ginny. He had set up demonstrations where female students were pitted against male opponents to prove that dueling had nothing to do with size or physical strength for the most part. This was a conscious effort on his part because there had been increased Death Eater violence of all sorts in the streets of London particularly against females, and though Harry wasn’t into the recruitment campaign at all, he figured these demonstrations may help someone in every- day life.

"You forget, Fred and George are my brothers, brothers are all I have. If I’m going to cower from a guy, it’s not going to be Justin, no offense to him of course," Ginny laughed.

"That’s my girl," Harry said before he could stop himself and the grin that had formed when the words left his lips faded just as one had appeared on Ginny’s face. No, she’s not your girl, Harry. Not anymore...

Harry and Ginny walked silently down to the lake’s edge where the festivities were in full swing. If the day weren’t such a farce, it might actually have been fun, Harry realized as his hand brushed Ginny’s several times on their walk. Each time he drew it back with a painful reminder that he couldn’t be with her yet, if ever at all.

Harry had to admit to feeling proud of his fellow DA members. Ron and Justin Finch-Fletchley were stoically ‘taking one for the team’ as giggling girls from first to seventh year lined up to duel them both magically and physically.

Justin was on his knees now as Ron patted his back in sympathy at the over enthusiastic third year that had just dueled with him.

"Bloody hell, she kicked me in the round tables," Justin groaned, panting heavily.

As every male in hearing distance cringed in sympathy, Ginny and Hermione giggled, trying hard not to be heard.

"That’s right, laugh it up you two. Justin’s just taken one for the team," Ron said seriously, causing Ginny and Hermione to abandon all attempts at not laughing too loudly.

Justin Accio-ed a pillow from the nearby first- aid. He then fixed the pillow over his lower torso. Taking a deep breath, he called tremulously, ‘Next!’

"Justin, you could always see Madame Pomfrey about your pain," Ginny teased, trying to keep a straight face.

"You are cruel, you know that?" Harry asked as Justin suddenly straightened up looking around fearfully as if the Matron had heard Ginny.

"Cruel to be kind, Harry," Ginny laughed. "See? Justin’s so freaked out that someone will call Madame Pomfrey he’s forgotten that he’s hurt."

"Evil genius," Hermione agreed, watching Justin continue to be too gentle with his younger opponents. "Justin is going too easy on them."

As Justin once again ended up sprawled on the platform, Ron whistled at the little second year who had inflicted great pain on Justin once again.

"Justin, mate, you have to stop being nice to them because they’re smaller than you," Ron laughed. "Trust me, that one down there is living proof of that." Ron pointed to Ginny. "Bad things come in small packages."

"Well, I can’t feel pain anymore there anyway," Justin winced. "I didn’t think that was physically possible, and I can’t figure out if it’s a good or bad thing."

This remark from Justin even had Harry laughing. Justin was a good dueler but he was just being too kind to the younger students. Harry had seen him take on Crabbe and Goyle on occasion previously but he had shown no mercy then, and the two Slytherins had walked away with donkey hind quarters. Professor McGonagall had given him detention but he did get an E in Transfiguration.

It wasn’t long before Justin was being led away by Susan Bones, his girlfriend. He gave a small happy smirk at Ron and Harry as Susan offered to take him to lie down in the shade of a tree and bring him some cold pumpkin juice.

"I think we know who the real evil genius is," Harry laughed wistfully as Susan and Justin walked out of sight.

The queues at the ‘Duel with a DA member’ booth grew very long with just Ron taking on the overly impatient first years who were out to prove something. Harry had promised himself that he would just be the overseer of events and not participate in any of them but seeing as how every other DA member was busy, he had no choice. Soon word spread that Harry Potter would be dueling at the booth right after the Weird Sister’s last act.

Kurly of the Weird Sisters took his final slide across the stage on his knees as Scrimgeour stepped up to the magical microphone but at that moment a Sonorous- Charmed voice announced the dueling demonstration by Harry Potter.

Upon hearing that none other than Harry Potter would be giving dueling challenges to those who had signed up previously on lists to duel Justin, there were exclamations of ‘Now he’s someone I want to go up against!’

After twenty demonstrations of students getting their arses kicked, Harry definitely saw the merit in Justin’s having left to be sympathy snogged and fussed over by Susan Bones. Now it was time for Ginny’s demonstration of her famous Bat Bogey Hex. Harry was happy just for the excuse to be near her though he knew he couldn’t have her and that he’d have to suffer the flapping discomfort of this particular curse just to be here.

Harry decided not to go easy on Ginny and he blocked all of her first attempts as they dueled back and forth, both becoming sweaty and intrigued by the intensity of the blocks and hexes. This was turning into an all- out duel and Harry didn’t even realize that all the while Ginny had begun to talk to him and he was answering her in front of a crowd of hundreds as he continually landed on his behind, only to be helped up by Ginny. Finally, after a particularly hard fall, he grabbed her hand suddenly and pulled her back down with him. She Jelly- Leg jinxed him and got up, dancing in a gloating fashion as Harry freed himself from it slowly.

"Still think you can do it all by yourself, Potter," she leaned down and whispered into his ear. "I’ve got news for you. You may not want me around because you think I’ll get hurt, but you’re the one on the ground right now." Ginny was careful no one else heard these words as Harry’s mouth hung open.

"Here you are again, trying to save these students, telling them to wait until we have a better government in place, but you know, for you, I don’t think that option exists." Harry had no idea how Ginny knew any of this.

A draw was called though no one doubted that Harry, like Justin had gone easy on his opponent.

It was time to show the new spells and Dark Detectors as promised on bulletins throughout the school all week. Scrimgeour’s frustrated voice could be heard tying to outdo the squeals of delight from the female students in particular at watching Harry and Ron duel one another near the end of the session.

Harry and Ron then demonstrated a new Headless Hat Charm, perfected by Fred and George Weasley for their shop’s new joke book, which made anyone or their target headless for an hour without the ‘stigma of hat head’ afterward.

There was utter silence as Harry told the crowd that in order to win this war, they were going to have to have to have ingenuity, and turn the mundane and everyday things into useful weapons against the Dark Side.

"Eraso Cranium!" Harry shouted as Ron’s head disappeared before the crowd’s eyes to excited gasps of excitement.

Harry let the crowd have it’s moment of pleasure as there were whispers among them about purchasing the book of jokes from Fred and George right away. After a minute, he ordered Ron to lie down on the stage.

"Now, if Ron here were a Death Eater, I would not only use the new Headless Hat Charm but I would also Stun him with this new Non Vitalis Charm, meaning no detectable vital signs. His fellow Death Eaters in a large battle would not try to Ennervate a headless corpse, thinking him dead; and thus, cutting down the number of your opponents who are revived with the Ennervation Charm only to come after you again," Harry told the crowd who took a moment to take it all in and then erupted into a volley of mass applause. Even the MLlE members who had abandoned Scrimgeour’s lonely podium seemed impressed and joined in the clapping. But this was one more secret out of the bag that a Death Eater could carry away with them if any of the invited general public were in fact criminals.

Scrimgeour’s delegation showed two new Dark Detectors, which were failures in Harry’s opinion, one being a magical tattoo detection device that made all magical tattoos, not just those with dark properties glow and show even outside of the clothing of the person sporting the tattoo.

Harry laughed thinking, Now here’s a fraud in the making as a scandalized Professor Trelawny held her bony hands over her slight behind as something that looked like a Hippogriff image glowed out from beneath her cloak when the Dark Detector was pointed at her.

Harry wondered if it would have shown the Dark Mark on the fake Moody in his fourth year. If it was impervious to Polyjuice Potion or other tamper methods, it could have it’s uses. And if it made people laugh at Trelawny’s antics as she ran around and explained that she was young and the tattoo had been a dare, then it was worth something after all.

As noon approached, some of the stages were struck and big fluffy mats were put in their places. Harry found Ginny carrying her lunch toward a large weeping willow. She tripped over one of the large roots that stuck up ungainly in the damp earth near the base of the tree.

"You’d think the magical world would have better paper plates than that," Harry laughed as he approached Ginny and helped her up.

"Well, it looks like some things don’t change," Ginny replied ruefully. "I didn’t even see you and just being near you makes me go head over heels."

Harry’s throat constricted painfully just looking at Ginny. It was the first time she had talked about her feelings toward him since they had broken up. Up until this point, the two of them had carried on acting like nothing had ever happened between them, at least on the outside.

Harry picked up the paper plate and used a Reparo Charm to put it back together and he cleaned the apple and wrapped sandwich wrapper off, wishing that hearts and souls could be mended as easily as the plate he had just fixed.

"Thanks," Ginny said, taking the offered plate back. Harry noticed that her hands were scratched and bruised. He took a napkin and dipped into the still icy water of the lake. Ginny protested that she was fine as he took her hand in his and turned her palm upwards and began to clean the scratches.

"Ouch!" Ginny exclaimed.

"Don’t be a baby," Harry smiled, conjuring a lollipop for her when he was done with the scratches.

"What’s this for?" Ginny smiled, popping it into her mouth.

"To make you be quiet for a minute while I talk to you," Harry admitted. "And because Muggle doctors give out lollipops to children."

"I am not a child, nor am I weak..." Ginny began, sounding very sick and tired of hearing that she was young and not ready to fight in a battle or stand by Harry’s side when he needed someone.

"Shhh! Please..." Harry begged, conjuring another lollipop and pulling Ginny’s cheek back and putting it in her mouth along with the other one, causing her to resemble an adorable chipmunk.

"Look, if today has taught me anything, it’s this: everyone is scrambling around to make plans to learn how to fight or hide or join groups for protection. I can’t tell you why those things are not an option for me, but I can tell you one thing. Last year Dumbledore told me that I don’t have to do this alone in this whole, ‘chosen one’ thing. I imposed that on myself. I thought that the pain from seeing Cedric, Sirius and Dumbledore die would drown out any pain I would feel from being apart from you so that I wouldn’t have that I wouldn’t have to see you die. But it hasn’t, Ginny."

"Well, how do you know that I’m not over you?" Ginny asked.

Harry closed his eyes. He deserved this and he knew it. He had broken her heart, despite her brave face. Every time she put her sleeve in the butter, spilled her pumpkin juice or bumped her head when he came anywhere near her, he could hear her heart tell him that she loved him still.

"Because I’ve watched three boys ask you out and you declined. Because you put so much into that duel we had that I almost lost just by the sheer power of your feelings washing through me. Believe me Ginny, I love you but I could kick your arse from here to the Astronomy Tower normally."

A pained expression crossed Harry’s intense features when he realized he’d spoken of the Astronomy Tower for the first time without the conversation being about Dumbledore’s Death. This was as painful as that had been. He wanted to make Ginny see that he had made a mistake in breaking up with her. It wasn’t as though he could call it a knee- jerk reaction for it had been a long time coming and the break up had lasted a year. But after Harry had told Hermione and Ron about the Horcruxes and had started to prepare to leave straight from school come the end of June, he knew something was missing.

Ron and Hermione agreed that they were coming with him to hunt for Horcruxes. He even had supplies packed already but still something seemed wrong and empty, and it wasn’t the gravity of the looming task itself. Ginny completed him in ways he couldn’t begin to understand, and although he knew how much he had hurt her, he prayed that Dumbledore had been right. Love was his greatest strength and he never known love like Ginny’s.

"What are you saying, Harry? That you want me back so I don’t trip and kill myself or die an old maid because I’ve turned a few dates down?" Ginny asked.

"Don’t think I haven’t been tripping too; you know how many dates I’ve turned down since this whole ‘chose one’ thing has come up?" Harry said a little too defensively.

"Oh, so now it’s ‘jump at the chance and come back with me before I leave at the end of the year’ and have the privilege of getting my heart broken come June when you leave? Yes, Harry, I know about it," Ginny said as Harry’s mouth dropped open.

"Thanks but no thanks," Ginny told Harry, turning on her heel, tears in her eyes, about to walk out his life for good.

Harry couldn’t blame Ginny. What right did he have coming to her like this?

"You can come with us," Harry said suddenly, realizing his mistake at once but powerless to take his thoughtless words back.

"I can come with you? I can come with you because you think I’d be a real help in your efforts against Voldemort or because you think I’d shrivel up and die without you or that you’d shrivel up and die without me? It’s like you forgot about our fight at the Ministry of Magic, Harry. I was there, and even if Sirius got killed, you can’t say that whole battle wasn’t a victory — a victory that I was a part of. You went around patting Neville, Hermione, Ron and even Luna on the back that day at the hospital wing for a job well done. Do you remember what you did to me?" Ginny asked, looking very wronged and hurt and like these words had been a long time coming.

"I couldn’t pat you on the back, Ginny," Harry said quietly. "It was hard enough to see my friends in the hospital wing after what happened at the Ministry but to see Ron’s little sister, Mr and Mrs Weasleys little girl, the girl who couldn’t walk straight when she was anywhere near me, in that hospital wing, was devastating to me."

"Then you just didn’t get it!" Ginny told him, once again trying to leave.

"No, I didn’t get it. Not until today when you had me pinned down talking to me just by sheer force of your will over mine. I see you for who you are now, Ginny, and even if it’s too late for me to have you back in my life where I need you, I need you to understand this. You are still Ron’s little sister, Mr Mrs Weasley’s little girl and apparently, the girl who can’t walk three feet without tripping when I’m anywhere near you, and I’m still the stupid prat who let you go. But something has changed about each of us. You know that. "

"This summer is the first one that I don’t have to go to the Dursleys and that’s a good thing, believe me, but it’s also the first time that I’ll be truly alone."

"That is not a reason for you to try to get me back, Harry. You know as well as I do that you have always got a place at the Burrow," Ginny told him evenly.

"A house is just a place to hang your hat, Ginny. A real home is in your heart and I know that now because I haven’t had a home since I let you go."

Ginny looked at Harry, deeply touched by his words but more, she believed him.

"Dumbledore told me I didn’t have to be alone in this whole‘chosen one’ thing and he told me that my strength was love. If that’s true, Ginny, then you are my sword and my shield, and I need you."

"A behind-the-scenes girlfriend I would never be. But a sword and shield? Yeah, I could do that..." Ginny dropped her plate and grabbed Harry into a fierce hug.

Harry felt like it took more courage and bravery to hug her back and kiss her passionately like he’d wanted to do for a year again than it would take to defeat the Dark Lord. For this hug and kiss, while it was his sword and shield was also his greatest weakness. I hope you knew what you were talking about, Sir. Harry thought as his silent oath to fulfill his duties went up to the sky like a prayer and washed over both of them.

Lost in his own world, Harry was jolted back to harsh reality when Rufus Scrimgeour suddenly grabbed his shoulder and spun him around roughly. In the Minister’s hand was a small pentagram shaped onyx colured object. Scrimegeour brandished the object in Harry’s face.

"Do you know what this is?" Scrimgeour hissed. "My Aurors have obtained this from the very forge where the brand that burns its mark into the flesh of Death Eaters was made. It is now used as a valuable Dark Detector. Do you know why, Mr Potter? Allow me to demonstrate."

Before Ginny could stop him, Scrimgeour held the onyx coloured metal to Harry’s forehead. Harry’s breath was taken away as he screamed as white hot pain shot through his whole body. He could vaguely hear Ginny trying to force the Minister to stop his cruel demonstration.

The last thing Harry heard before almost losing consciousness was someone yelling ‘Accio!’ and when he looked up from his kneeling position on the ground, Ginny held the onxy Dark Detector in her hand and the entire DA was gathered around her, wands out and trained on the Minister himself.

Scrimgeour looked like he knew he’d gone too far in retaliation for the lack of hospitality showed to him on this day but like all good politicians, he had an answer for everything and tuned into a showman right before everyone’s eyes.

Harry was too shocked at what had transpired when the object, which felt like smooth cold stone to his tremulous touch when held by Ginny or one of his friends, had burned him when held by Scrimgeour.

"Thank you Mr Potter for participating in this most entertaining demonstration and may I say you should consider forming a little drama club of sorts.," the Minister said, sounding very much like Gilderoy Lockehart.

"A round of applause for Mr Potter," The Minister continued, glaring at Harry as if he knew full well that Harry did not want anyone to know what he’d felt during that awful ordeal. Scrimgeour seemed equally as anxious to hide his Dark Detector results from the crowd and Harry suspected he would be blackmailed to agree with the Minister on everything if he didn’t want the fickle public to suddenly come under the impression that he was involved with anything Dark. Harry knew that in the eyes of the public and media, one could go from being the Chosen One to the Wicked One in seconds.

Harry’s head spun and he tried not to lean too heavily on Ginny. There was nothing for it. Harry had no choice but to agree with the Minister that what had just happened with the Dark Detector had been an act, or he would have to face grueling questions from members of the press who were always on hand when Scrimgeour was campaigning or doing Public Relations tours. But Harry had no doubt that this Dark Detector was functional, perhaps in ways the Minister hadn’t considered.

Why was the Dark Dectector, as Scrimgeour had called it, harmless to Harry when held by his friends and those he could trust but excruciating to touch when in Scrimgeour’s hands?

Scrimgeour explained to the crowd that this particular Dark Detector was merely a prototype and needed substantial retooling as Harry passed the stone to each member of his DA. As each person held the object, Harry squinted and touched it. Not once did the object burn in abject pain while held by his friends.

As the object was passed among the DA members, Harry was filled with a sense of pride. He didn’t know why he trusted something the Minister had endorsed but it didn’t matter. Somehow he knew that every one of them was loyal.

Harry took the stone from Ginny’s hand last. Her fixed gaze of fury toward the Minister never faltered as the politician sought to look anywhere but into her eyes.

The two MLE’s who had held Harry now stood beside him as if expecting him to attack the Minister at any moment. They were stunned when Harry grabbled one of men’s hands and held the object to his flesh. Harry drew the object back as quickly as he had thrust it upon the flesh of the man. It didn’t matter if it touched his scar or not, the pain had been fierce and seemed to be shared by the other person touching it. The object was indeed a Dark Detector but it would only help those who sought to question allegiance.

Harry somehow knew that if he held the Detector up to the Minister, the Minister would have felt his revolt in the way of pain. But it was then that Harry realized that the Minister was wearing Dragon Hide Gloves. In May, there would be no other reason for him to be dressed this way except for that he must have known that the Dragon Hide gloves would protect him from the pain from the object. Harry knew now why Scrimgeour hadn’t flinched when he has so dramatically held the object to Harry’s scar.

Harry hoped that the Dark Detector was nothing more than an indicator of infidelity or disloyalty. When Scrimgeour had so dramatically thrust the object onto his scar, Harry knew that he was trying to discredit him by making him look somehow related to the Dark Lord. Harry had to admit to himself that this fear had engulfed him when the pain, so sickeningly familiar had shot through his entire being.

Harry wondered what would happen if he was holding the object and he was the one seeking to determine loyalty or darkness on a foe as clever as Scrimgeour but as he stepped forward as if to shake hands with the Minister, intending to rip off his glove, the Minister side-stepped him and Harry was grabbed again by the two MLE’s.

Scimgeour had come completely unglued by being ignored en mass by most of his own MLE escorts and the public in general and he had no intentions of being touched by that Dark Detector. Before Harry knew it, he was shoved to the ground with manic force and the Minister’s eyes glinted dangerously.

Magical energy crackled in the air around the Minister and within seconds he was lifted and hung for a moment in the air as he ordered Harry, who had just been released by the MLE’s, to put him down at once. Scrimgeour’s guards made no move to help their boss as there were many wands trained in their direction.

"My pleasure," Harry smiled and a splash that could be heard throughout the entire grounds was heard as the Minister was dumped unceremoniously into the lake.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ginny suddenly threw her uneaten sandwich into the lake and immediately the giant squid appeared under Scrimgeour to devour the treat. Scrimgeour screamed like a little girl as an appreciative crowd of future voters gathered around to watch the show.

Suddenly, a strange gurgling noise erupted from the depths of the lake and the sandwich Ginny had so generously given to the squid was spit back onto the bank along with Scrimgeour who had ridden the gigantic belch the poor creature had let out.

"Did I mention I made the sandwiches for this open house?" Ginny said sheepishly.

"Er, no you didn’t. But it looks like you’re already sticking up for me!" Harry laughed as Scrimgeour squelched off, his shoes squeaking in a most undignified manner as he drew a round of boos from the crowd. He could be heard muttering about taking this matter up with McGonagall later.

"And you’re saving me from a lifetime of cooking classes and such from Mum so I can become a domestic Goddess or something, which we both know isn’t going to happen. Still want me?" Ginny asked with a smile as water dripped off the tips of her hair and down her face. Harry felt like he could just stand there all day watching all of the droplets fall in slow motion.

"I’d eat burnt toast for the rest of my life if it means you’ll be with me for the journey I need to take when school is done," Harry told her sincerely.

"Right, white or whole wheat?" Ginny asked with a straight face. "And for the record, I can make bacon and eggs," she pouted.

At the mention of breakfast food and Ginny cooking for him in the morning, Harry’s thoughts turned to waking up with her each morning on their journey. Hermione and Ron had agreed that they were going Horcrux hunting with him and having Ginny along, runny eggs and questionably cooked pork or not, the prospect of the journey no longer terrified him. And besides, burnt toast could be a weapon too!
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