Subject: [FFML] [HP][Draft1] Paladin Chapter 2
From: StudioPC
Date: 11/13/2006, 12:12 AM
To: FFML

Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the creation of J.K. Rowling. No money is  
being made from this and no such intent should be inferred.

----------------

Ginny awoke on a couch and for a moment, confusion wracked her body  
and then she remembered.

She wasn't in her world anymore. Somehow she'd been ripped away from  
her world, her family . . . Harry  . . .

"Fuck!" she snapped and sank into the couch cushions and tried not to  
think of the tears threatening to pour forth from her eyes. But they  
came anyway, and she had no choice but to let them.

The tears gushed, soaking the pillow, the blanket and her own bare  
skin. She grieved for her lost love, for the ones who even now, must  
be tearing Hogwarts apart, trying to find her. But they couldn't,  
because she wasn't even on the fucking planet! She was in another  
universe, where nothing was as it should be, and . . .  damnit!

She dashed a hand across her eyes and then gasped as the diamond on  
her engagement ring scratched her on her forehead.

She looked down at it. Harry was wealthy, more then wealthy. He could  
have bought her the most fabulous ring in the world, but instead he'd  
spent three months making her a ring by himself. He'd even  
transfigured the diamond out of a lump of coal he'd found near the  
Burrow fireplace. When he'd given her the ring, he'd told her that  
the steel was for their love, the diamond, transfigured out of that  
piece of coal was for the place that had brought them together, and  
engraved on the underside was a representation of the Basilisk that  
had nearly killed him while under the control of Voldemort's younger  
self. She'd spent the time helpless, also under Voldemort's control  
as he'd drained her life for his rebirth.

But the ring had meant nothing to Ginny as a whole until today. It  
was only a symbol and one that she had no need of any more . . . no,  
that wasn't true. She took a deep breath and dried the last of her  
tears. Right now, that ring was a reminder of home, of Harry, and her  
sanity.  It was her only link to home, and . . . and damnit, she was  
going back!

She threw off the covers and nodded grimly. She'd gotten here through  
some kind of door and doors went both ways. All she needed to do was  
find it again.

But on the other hand, she couldn't turn her back on this world  
either. They were in trouble and clearly needed help. More to the  
point, she needed their help to find the door again.

Only one thing to do.

* * * *

She found Remus in the kitchen, fingers steepled as he stared at the  
wall. Tonks also sat at the table, drinking tea.

"Good morning, Miss Weasley," he said to her. "Sleep well?"

"Wotcher, Ginny," Tonks said.

"I see you've appropriated some of Tonks' clothing," Remus observed.  
Gray eyes looked her up and down. "And used some sewing charms, I  
see." He gave her a small smile and Ginny shrugged. She and Tonks  
were of different builds, and the clothes,  perfect on Tonks' slender  
frame, didn't do well on Ginny, who was more of an amazon type. "Sit  
down," he said, and rose to get another empty mug. When it was  
filled, they sat in silence for a few moments and then Ginny nodded  
to herself.

"Professor, er, Remus, I've done some thinking and . . ."

"You want to to join the Order, provided that we help you get home in  
return. You can offer your knowledge of how Voldemort was defeated in  
your world to help us defeat the one here. We can trust you because  
where else can you go." He gazed at her. "Is that about right?"

When Ginny nodded in stunned silence, Tonks let out a noise of sheer  
exasperation and looked at Ginny. "It's spooky the way he does that.  
I'd swear he was a Ledgermains if it wasn't impossible for Werewolves."

Remus smiled at them. "Miss Weasley was sorted into Gryffindor and  
they rarely turn their backs on people in need, which we are. She  
needs our help to get home, and her knowledge of Voldemort's defeat  
is the only bargaining chip she has."

"How'd . . ." Ginny stared at him. "How'd you figure that part out?"

"Last night, you spoke of Voldemort in the past tense, so he's no  
longer a  concern. Your husband to be is the one who had to defeat  
him, and you were to marry him, which implies that even if you didn't  
see it, he's spoken of the details to you, if no one else. The last  
part, that is, why we should trust you, is obvious, I should think."

Ginny eyed him nervously. This Remus was brilliant. Scary, but  
brilliant.

Tonks stood up. "I'd better check on Krum and Diggory. Ta, Remus."

When they'd left, Ginny looked at Remus. "Is it safe to leave the  
castle?"

"More or less," Remus said, "though for safety's sake, we only go out  
in pairs or more and only if we need to."

"I need to. There's something I need to do, down at the lake."

Remus rose. "All right."

* * * *

They made their way down to the lake's edge, near two rocks that  
framed the path like guardians.

"We were to be married here," Ginny said. "As the sun rose. As a new  
day, a new life."

Remus thought that was rather poetic, though he didn't say that  
aloud. He understood what she was doing, perhaps even more then she did.

"I still remember the first time I saw him," Ginny said. "Every  
detail. Kings Cross station in London. He wore an old jumper, jeans,  
and his glasses didn't fit quite right. I didn't know who he was  
until Fred and George told us. I wanted to get on the train. To talk  
to him. Just . . . to talk. But Mum wouldn't let me."

"Fred and George?"

"My brothers. The twins. It was Harry's first year and he didn't have  
a clue about magic, he'd been raised by Muggles, you see and they  
hadn't told him a damn thing the magical world, they locked him in a  
cupboard, they . . . they . . ." Ginny took a deep breath and visibly  
forced herself to calm down. "He and my brother Ron became friends  
and when Ron came back for the summer, he went on and on about the  
things he and Harry had done and when Mum said that Harry could come  
and stay, I was so excited, couldn't stop talking about it."

"You talked his ear off, I bet," Remus said.

Ginny laughed, a joyous sound. "Actually, I hadn't been expecting his  
arrival. We'd never heard back from him, you see. So one morning, I  
came downstairs to ask Mum if she'd seen my jumper and there he was,  
sitting at the table eating breakfast. The Muggles had locked him up,  
so Ron, Fred, and George had taken this old car Dad had charmed and  
flown down to find him. As soon as I realized who it was, my throat  
closed up, I had a panic attack and then fled to my room and stayed  
there for the rest of the morning. For the rest of the year, it was  
all I could do say hello."

"Obviously something changed," Remus said. "What was it?"

"Umbridge." The name was growled out through teeth clenched tightly  
in hate.

"Short woman? Face like a toad? Thought she was cute and demure?"  
Remus asked and Ginny nodded. "Ah yes, her."

"Here?"

"Yes and no. She was in Slytherin, though it was her seventh year  
when I arrived and thankfully, we first years were beneath her  
notice. She went into the ministry I understand, and I believe they  
packed her off to Bulgaria almost immeditly."

"She became Fudge's right hand in my world," Ginny said. "Fudge, the  
Minister of Magic, got scared of Dumbledore, thought he was trying  
start a coup, get himself put in power. So he named Umbridge 'High  
Inquisitor' and sent her to Hogwarts to counter Dumbledore." She let  
out a snort of bitter laughter. "Like Dumbledore wasn't twelve steps  
ahead of her anyways. In any case, she had this . . . Quill, charmed  
that whatever you wrote with it, was etched into the hand holding it."

"A Blood Quill," Remus said. "Very old, very dangerous type of Dark  
Artifact. They're usually made from Harpy feathers. Illegal in every  
civilized country."

"Harry couldn't keep his mouth shut, about Voldemort's return," Ginny  
continued. "So Umbridge made him do lines with that . . . thing. To  
this day, he has 'I will not tell lies' scarred into the back of his  
hand. It makes me sick to see it and remember what she did." Again,  
she closed her eyes and forced her temper under control. "Meanwhile,  
Umbridge who was also teaching Defense Against The Dark Arts, was  
only teaching us text book theory, no wands. So Granger gathered a  
bunch of us together and talked Harry into teaching us what he knew.  
We called ourselves 'Dumbledore's Army' as a joke, and it helped me  
get my confidence up, made me more comfortable around him. I dated a  
bit, but none of them lasted long . . . when Harry and I finally  
kissed in my fifth year, I knew; I loved him. I'd loved him from that  
moment in King's Cross. He admitted that he'd been drawn to me since  
that day I came down the stairs, it just took him a few years to  
figure it out." She laughed again and Remus with her.

"So you both got what you wanted," he said. "Good things come with  
time."

She nodded. "After he proposed, Mum wanted to have the wedding at the  
Burrow, but Harry wanted it here, at Hogwarts. He said that this was  
where his life began, where he fell in love with me. He didn't care  
about the details, but he wanted the wedding here. I didn't care  
about anything, not even the wedding . . . well, not really," she  
chuckled. "If this was where he wanted to get married, well, why not?  
We could have gotten married in the town dump for I all cared."

"More interested in the Honeymoon, were we?" Remus asked, one eyebrow  
raised. Ginny laughed.

"More like I think it's a waste of time. More then once, I suggested  
to him that we run off to some place like Paris and get a flat  
together. Just skip all this nonsense, but no, he wanted to do it  
right and since it means so much to him . . ." She trailed off and  
shrugged.

Remus laid a hand on her shoulder. "He's a lucky man."

"Thanks," Ginny said. She gazed out at the lake for a moment longer.  
"It will happen, you know. I'm going to be Mrs. Harry Potter . . . or  
die trying."

"I can help with that."

Remus spun. Several men and one woman stood not ten feet away and  
Remus made a mental note to berate himself later for letting down his  
guard. "Trevor," he said out loud, crossing his arms. "So good to see  
you again."

"The name's Greyback, you slimy piece of crap!" one of the men  
shouted. He was a big man, with narrow, mean eyes and a scowl.

"Ah yes," Remus drawled. "Your 'true' name. So sorry. In any case,  
Trevor, what CAN I do for you?"

"Bad?" Ginny asked without moving her lips.

"Pack Alpha for the Forbidden Forest werewolves," Remus said, also  
not moving his lips. "Not that bright, but powerful and highly  
psychotic. If I get him mad enough, he might do something stupid."

"You'll understand if I'm not filled with confidence."

"Oh, its quite all right, I'm too terrified to come up with something  
better, you see."

"Do for me, Lupin?" Greyback sneered. "You got some nerve leaving  
that castle of yours."

"Health reasons," Remus said, crossing his arms. "A daily walk is  
good for the heart, you know."

"Why don't I tear it out of your chest and we'll find out?" Greyback  
said as the other werewolves fanned out and advanced, snickering as  
they placed themselves in front of the castle, cutting off any  
attempt to make it to safety.

"Ah," Remus said. "Ginny?"

"New plan?"

"Yes."

"Run for it?"

"Precisely."

They ran with the vigor of people whose life depended on being fleet  
of foot. Behind them, they could hear the sounds of the werewolves  
calling to each other, laughing.

"Playing with us," Remus said when they halted for breath. "They're  
driving us away from the centaurs, who would have shielded us, if  
only to spite our pursuers. Werewolves and centaurs don't get along  
very well, but are too evenly matched." Remus thought for a bit.  
"Even Greyback avoids the spiders and the harpies control the  
treetops. On the other hand, they're not pushing us towards the rest  
of the Pack, which is odd."

"Then where?"

"I'm not sure." Remus looked thoughtful. "Presumably Greyback has  
something in mind, but this could be nothing more then his idea of a  
game that involves us running ourselves to death." They jumped as a  
woman leapt out of the trees and made barking noises.

The chase was on again.

* * * *

Werewolves were made of sterner stuff than humans, but Ginny had  
matched him mile for mile and Remus was impressed. But nightfall  
would be coming soon and it was clear that she was reaching her limit.

Remus' greatest strength was that he soaked up information like a  
sponge. Whatever he heard, whatever he read, whatever he saw. Even if  
it didn't consciously register, he remembered it. That, combined with  
his ability to think very fast on his feet even under stress,  
should've meant that he could come up with a way to get them out of  
this mess, but this was different. The wolf didn't care about Ginny,  
the Order, or Voldemort. It only knew that the Alpha was angry and  
submission was required so that forgiveness or punishment might be  
administered.

It was taking every ounce of will he had to fight it, leaving little  
for running, and even less for thinking.

But nonetheless, his remarkable brain somehow found a way. As they  
were once more allowed to pause for breath, Ginny slumped against a  
tree. Night was falling fast and they had to find food, shelter, and  
protection. For Ginny, if not himself.

Desperately, he looked for a place to hide her. If he could do that,  
it would be easy to lead them away. He could keep them busy for the  
rest of the night and it would be easy to fool Greyback. He was no  
tracker and and only slightly better at hunting.

Remus harbored no illusions about his powers, and brutal self-honesty  
was another of his strengths. Greyback had the edge in strength, but  
Remus would bet his brain against the Alpha's any time, any where.

He grunted as the Wolf berated him for even thinking about opposing  
the Alpha and he furiously beat it down, forcing it back into its  
kennel. He had to surrender to it three days out of every month. He  
refused to let it dominate his thinking the rest of the time.

His gaze darted around the clearing, taking in the growing shadows,  
the trees, the earthen crypt, and the--

Crypt?

Remus looked more closely. It was a mound in the middle of the  
clearing. The back was angled and he could just make out stairs in  
the growing gloom. The wolves could only come at them one or two at a  
time. He looked down at the tree bark. Yes . . . yes, that could work.

Remus nodded. He was tired of running. It was time to fight, he  
decided, and ignoring the Wolf's howls of protest at the thought,  
dragged Ginny to her feet.

"More running?" she murmured.

"No, fighting. I found a place to make a stand."

Green eyes lit up. "Now you're talking."

Remus took out his wand and began to spray the tree and grass with  
alcohol as they backed towards the entrance. "Incindio," he shouted  
and they ran inside as the tree lit up in flames, the fire quickly  
spreading.

"Lumos," Ginny snapped as they started down the steps, Remus pausing  
to cast a barrier spell on the entrance.

"The fire will hopefully drive the wolves away and should summon the  
Order," Remus said to her as they went down the steps. "The barrier  
spell will keep the fire from coming down here as I'm afraid I'm  
simply not garnished properly for being cooked today. Do forgive me  
for being so unprepared."

"I think I can manage that," she said wryly.

"If the wolves do brave the flames and pass the spell, they'll be  
forced to come at us one at a time and most lack any training in  
magical combat. It should be easy to pick them off."

"And without them, Greyback will be afraid to face us?"

"Possibly. It depends on how badly he wants our heads and I cannot  
face him in combat."

"Why not?"

"Werewolves have a clearly defined authority structure. Greyback is  
an Alpha, I'm not. He's also a far more powerful wizard."

"You said he was stupid."

"Intelligence and power don't go hand in hand," Remus said. "The  
point is, I'm no match for him physically and magically. Sadly, he's  
just smart enough to avoid a battle of wits."

Ginny made a sound of frustration and then suddenly whipped around,  
peering towards the back of the chamber.

"Lumos," Remus said, igniting his own wand. "What?"

"Thought I heard something," Ginny said and moved off towards the back.

"Gryffindors," Remus muttered under his breath and raised his wand  
higher. "Lumos!" he said more firmly and the light from his wand  
brightened. Artful murals, once glorious, but now damaged and pocked  
with age covered the walls. He recognized Satyrs, elves, and several  
other creatures. He also noticed the many scenes of war. "Lumos  
Maximus!" he snapped, and the wand flared to it's brightest yet.

He gazed around the room, taking note of the columns, the open space,  
and the size.

"Not a crypt," he said softly, "a temple." And one at least as old as  
Hogwarts, if he was any judge. He frowned and ran his fingers over  
one of the murals, in which humans clad in leather knelt before a  
glowing figure. There was something familiar about this place . . .  
as though he should know it. He moved onwards.

In another mural, the glowing figure seemed to changing several of  
the leather-clad men into wolves and the scene stirred something in  
the Wolf's brain, it was almost like . . . like a . . . memory?

A third one showed the glowing figure surrounded by four figures. One  
in red, another in blue,  a third in yellow, and the fourth in green.  
On a hill in the background was a castle overlooking a forest. Was  
that . . .?

"Thanks for the beacon, Lupin."

Remus turned to see Greyback and the werewolves descending the  
stairs. Their clothes were burnt and soot blackened their faces.

"Trevor," Remus said, turning away from the murals. Unfortunately, it  
was all he could get out as Greyback unleashed his powers.

It wasn't magic, it was his power as an Alpha and it hammered at  
Remus, forcing him to his knees, making him bare his throat, binding  
him in its grip.

"This is the end, Remus," Greyback said softly as his hand grasped  
the front of Remus' neck. "I wonder how clever your mouth will be  
after I tear your throat out?"

"Do let me know should you find out," Remus gasped out. "I'm going on  
holiday and won't be here."

"Leave him alone," Ginny said. She stood not ten feet away, a war  
hammer in one hand, and her wand in the other. Blue eldritch fire  
surrounded her in a glowing aura and blazed from her eyes.

"Kill her," Greyback snapped and several of the werewolves leapt  
forward. Ginny raised the hammer high and then slammed it to the  
ground, creating a shockwave that threw them back, sending them  
flying into the walls, which they hit with a sickening thud and then  
slid down, leaving a trail of gore.

"You have defiled this place Trevor Willins," Ginny intoned, her  
voice overlaid with another, deeper voice. "Your blasphemy has no  
place in your master's house. BEGONE!"

Greyback merely sneered and raised his wand. "Avada Kedevra!" The jet  
of green light shot forth, only to be intercepted by the raised hammer.

"So you have chosen," Ginny replied in that same otherworldly voice,  
"so shall it be."

"Forget the traitor!" Greyback shouted, tossing Remus aside. "Kill  
the witch! Kill her!"

One of the remaining werewolves leapt at Ginny, only to be knocked  
aside with one swing of that hammer. She hit the wall near Remus with  
a thud and slumped bonelessly to the floor, a large knife clattering  
to the ground from her belt.

"Parvarus!" Ginny was shouting! "PARVARUS!" The blue fire blazed even  
brighter at the war cry and she waded into her attackers, bright blue  
flashes of light as the hammer struck flesh and howls of pain filled  
the air.

"Kill her!" Greyback shouted. "In the name of Voldemort, KILL HER!"

Remus didn't think, he didn't give the Wolf time to react. He seized  
the knife and leapt at Greyback, landing on the his back.

At that moment, several things happened at once.

Ginny raised the hammer high.

Remus yanked Greyback's head back.

A flare of green light, the curse that Greyback had fired, now came  
from the hammer, killing anything in it's path.

Greyback, realizing who was on his back, unleashed his power as Alpha.

Even as the Alpha power hit him, Remus drove the knife into the  
underside of Greyback's jaw, piercing flesh and bone, until it came  
to rest in his brain.

The green light struck Greyback, and because his legs were around  
Greyback's waist and his arm around Greyback's neck, Remus.

For Remus, the pain was indescribable. White hot fires of agony raced  
through his body. The Wolf did not howl, it screamed and he with it.

Greyback slumped to the ground, dead, and Remus passed out.

* * * *

He awoke to someone holding his hand and when he looked to see who it  
was, he saw Tonks, fast asleep. Carefully removing his hand from  
hers, he sat up and realized he was in the infirmary.

"You had us all worried, Remus," Snape said. The half-mad potions  
master sat on the next bed, staring at him with eyes bright in the  
dim candlelight.

"My apologies," Remus said.

"Especially McGonagall," Snape continued, "She actually put down her  
bottle of firewhiskey to see you . . . for about thirty seconds. Then  
she returned to her rooms." He giggled.

"I see," Remus said dryly and glanced out the window to verify that  
Severus Snape giggling had not, in fact, heralded the end of the world.

No, apparently not. Pity. He owed Filch five Sickles.

"Must be off now," Snape said, getting to his feet. "Lots to do." He  
left.

"He's getting worse."

Remus turned to see Tonks looking at him. "Worse, Tonks?" Remus  
asked. "That would imply that he was better at some point."

She sat up and ran a hand through her hair. "You've been out for  
three days," she said. "We found you and Ginny in this pit in the  
middle of a forest fire, dead werewolves all around. What the hell  
happened out there?"

Remus made a face. "I wish I knew. How's Ginny?"

"Up and around already," Tonks said. "And there's a new wrinkle  
that's been added, just this morning."

"Before you tell me," Remus said. "A bath and some tea, I think."

* * * *

Bathed and with some good strong tea in his stomach, Remus pulled on  
some robes and a cloak and went down into the kitchen.

The new wrinkle that Tonks had spoken of was immeditly apparent. On  
the table, clad in robes, was a man, barely six inches tall. Most of  
the adults at Hogwarts were gathered around the table. Ginny was the  
only one seated, and she and the little man were staring at each  
other, Ginny had a wild look in her eyes and she clutched the hammer  
from the temple in her hands.

Remus stared at the scene for a moment and then nodded. "Right. Tonks?"

"The little guy says His name is Parvarus. Claims to be a God.  
Ginny's God, to be precise."

"I claim nothing," the little man said, turning to look at them. "I  
am Parvarus, patron of warriors and Lord of the Forest. You owe me  
fealty as well, Were." He jabbed a finger at Remus. "I call you to my  
side, my child."

Remus crossed his arms and stared at Parvarus. "I trust, your  
Lordship, that you will be able to provide some proof of your claim?  
As it is, you're hardly Godish right now."

"I am appearing before you in a form you find non-threatening, for I  
am a God of Light. To gaze on my true form would blind any mortal."

"I see," Remus said and tilted his head. "Then perhaps a miracle?  
Some bread from On High, perhaps. A single loaf would be fine."

A brief look of panic flashed across Parvarus' face and then he  
raised his hands. "Behold!"

As one, everyone looked up.

And waited.

After a few moments, a slice of bread fell onto the table.

Remus looked at the table expectantly and Parvarus drew himself up,  
puffing out his chest. "If I gave you what you wanted, you mortals  
would become no more than pets and--" he broke off as Remus cleared  
his throat and raised one eyebrow. "Damn," Parvarus sighed and  
flopped onto the table. "Damn and blast."

"That's better," Remus said, and sat down at the table, opposite  
Ginny. "You have no power, do you? In fact, I daresay you were  
tapping Ginny's own magic in order to aid her against the werewolves  
in your temple and you're doing it now to manifest yourself."

Parvarus sighed. "Yes. A thousand years ago, my worshippers numbered  
in the thousands and the forests covered this land. My powers were  
infinite, and my brother Elos and I roamed freely with the mortals  
who lived here. I even gave some of them the ability to change to  
wolves by the light of the moon. Then, one day, one of the wizards  
who served me, Godric Gryffindor, came to me with three others, all  
outsiders and asked if they might build a school at the edge of the  
forest. They wished to gather all those of magical power in the land  
and teach them magic in safety."

"Hogwarts!" Krum exclaimed. The tall Bulgarian was a graduate of the  
secretive and mysterious Durmstrang in the far northern reaches of  
the continent. He was at Hogwarts for Granger's sake, and little  
more, but he was also brilliant at Runes and much of the protective  
wards on the castle's remains were his doing.

Parvarus nodded. "Yes. This very castle. Elos didn't agree with my  
decision, nor did some of my followers, most of them, in fact. Elos  
gathered them to him and then they left."

"Where did they go?" Diggory asked. Cedric Diggory was a Hogwarts  
Graduate and was a brave and honest young man. It was an open secret  
that he fancied Tonks, but she was either not interested, or enjoying  
being chased.

"The stars, or so Elos claimed. As the years passed, my worshippers  
left me, or died, or were seduced away by Outsider ideas. The wolf- 
men and women became savage beasts, bereft of their human minds when  
in their beast form and enslaved to the cycles of the Moon. Elos'  
doing, I suspect."

"And so eventually, you became a ghost of yourself, haunting your  
temple with only memories for company." Remus tapped his fingers on  
the table. "What about Ginny? Why do you claim to be her God?"

"I am the Patron of warriors," Parvarus said. "She came into the  
temple seeking help, seeking a way to defeat her foes. She has a  
warrior's heart and Darkness walks the world. I seek her sword, not  
her worship."

"Her sword . . ." Remus murmured. "Ah, you want a Paladin."

"Paladin?" Krum asked.

"Warrior of God, basically," Remus said. "Paladins were usually  
knights who could tap divine power to strengthen them in battle. They  
also wielded a few other powers as well. Healing, usually."

"But . . ." Ginny protested, "I never actually asked."

"You took up my hammer," Parvarus said. "You called upon me in  
battle. You accepted my help."

"You used my magic!" Ginny snapped. "Without asking!"

"Why should I ask?" Parvarus demanded. "I am a God!"

Remus slapped the table, the noise causing both Ginny and Parvarus to  
look at him. "Better," Remus said. "Paravrus, you are in no position  
to be giving orders OR making demands. Ginny, He's right, you took up  
His hammer and accepted His help. Technically, that constitutes a  
binding contract."

Ginny and Parvarus glared at each other.

"Remus," Tonks said, "maybe she should swear Sword Oath to Him."

"Why?" Diggory asked, "He's a God, right? He can just smite Voldemort  
and be done with it."

"It's not that simple, Cedric," Remus sighed. "Parvarus has no  
worshippers. Without that, he's little more than a poltergeist. No  
smiting."

"Even at my height I never smited. It upsets the balance," Parvarus  
put in. "We're only allowed to affect the mortal world through  
mortals sworn to us. Even the Darkness doesn't smite."

"Joan of Arc," Krum grunted.

"What about her?" Tonks demanded, but Remus was rubbing his chin in  
thought. The glimmers of a plan were beginning to form. But it meant  
he would have to . . . he pressed his lips together. So be it. A  
Slytherin did what needed doing and there was no getting around it.

"Actually, its not a bad idea," he said out loud. "The soldiers  
followed Joan because she inspired them, not necessarily for  
religious reasons. In the end, she was symbol."

"And we have a God handy," Diggory said. "Look, we dress her up in  
that armor that belonged to Merinda Magehorn. You know, the 'Warrior  
Witch' from the fourteen hundreds. Parvarus taps her magic for some  
miraculous healing and makes Himself look," here he smirked at Remus,  
"more Godish. She makes speeches about how Parvarus is aiding us  
against Voldemort and calls any witch and wizard who wants to fight  
to Him. He'll be right there, and they'll have seen some miracles  
already. We gather up an army and some of them will probably start  
worshipping Parvarus, so He'll get more powerful. When He does, so  
does Ginny and so does the Army."

"An Army of God?" Tonks asked. "Those have never worked out well."

"But they usually get the job done," Remus pointed out, " and we have  
one thing they didn't. The God we're following is right here,  
visible, and handy. Voldemort has wrapped himself in an illusion of  
invincibility and the only way to shatter it is to make people see  
otherwise. This could be exactly the way to do that."

Ginny looked around the room. For the first time since her arrival,  
she saw hope on their faces and it hit her hard. She could give them  
the hope they needed.

"Hold on," Tonks said. "What's Ginny gonna have to do? Is she gonna  
have to be his lover or something? She's got this Harry bloke, after  
all."

At Harry's name, Ginny dropped the hammer and her left hand shot to  
fist and her right hand closed around her left in a death grip, the  
diamond on her ring pressing into her palm.

"No, no," Remus soothed. "Sword Oath is exactly what it means. Ginny  
is swearing to fight and if need be, die in Parvarus' service. In  
return, Parvarus strengthens her and aids her in battle. The roles of  
concubines were reserved for priestesses and maidens, usually. By  
their very nature, Paladins spent more time away from the temple than  
in it. Difficult for shagging, that."

"She would have to keep my code," Parvarus said. "I forbid pillage,  
rape, and harming of any innocents. She is required to fight the  
Darkness, bring order to chaos, and dispense justice as needed. She  
will do this so long as she walks in the world."

"That brings up a point," Remus said. "You are aware that Ginny is  
not from this universe and that she will be going home as soon as we  
can figure out how to send her there?"

Parvarus nodded. "Yes, it would be the same as Death . . . or, I may  
be dragged through the door with her back to her world. As my  
Paladin, we would be bonded together in myriad ways. Going home may  
not be enough to break them." He shrugged. "So be it."

Everyone looked at Ginny, who was still clutching her ring.

"Ginny?" Tonks asked when the silence became too much.

"There's a good chance I'll get killed, isn't there?" Ginny asked Remus.

"Yes," Remus replied without hesitation. "Few Paladins died in bed of  
old age and fewer still did so with all their limbs. It's a hard and  
dangerous life. I can make no promises as to how you'll get back to  
your world, Ginny, only that for any danger you face, any burdens you  
bear, I will help you with them, any way I can."

"I'm in," Tonks said. "A short life, but a merry one."

"Same here," Krum said. "I'm sick of hiding."

"Yeah," Diggory put in, "better dead then a coward."

Remus looked at Ginny. "We're with you, but the final choice is  
yours. Will you do it?"

"Of course, I'll do it," Ginny said. "I'm a Gryffindor. But if I  
don't . . . if . . . tell Harry . . ."

"If he doesn't know already, he's an idiot," Remus assured her, " but  
yes, I'll tell him."

"Tell him what?" Krum whispered.

"That she loves him," Diggory whispered back.

"Wouldn't she have said that to him already?"

Remus heard the sound of Diggory's hand hitting Krum's head, but his  
eyes were on Parvarus as the God walked across the table and touched  
the hammer, which immeditly began to glow blue. "Ginerva Weasley," he  
intoned, "Daughter of Molly and Arthur, will you swear Sword Oath to  
me?"

Ginny took a deep breath and then gripped the hammer with both hands.  
"I will."

A corona of bright blue fire sprang up around mortal and God as a  
wind blew through the room, causing the candles to sputter and jump  
in their holders.

"Do you, Ginerva Weasley, swear Sword Oath to me as my Paladin?"

"I do."

"Will you honor and keep my code?"

"I will."

"Will you bear service to the Powers of Light, striving always  
against the dark, even unto death?"

"I will."

"Do you swear by both your sword and my hammer to render compassion  
to those who need, loyalty to those you choose to serve and justice  
to those you may be placed to command?"

"I do."

"Then I accept your oath, Ginerva Weasley, and bid you now to take up  
my hammer and bear it well."

The blue corona faded and the wind stopped abruptly.

Ginny blinked at them as though being roused from sleep and then  
looked at the hammer in her hands. It seemed different, somehow.  
There was a new shine to it, a distinct presence, and a strange  
symbol was etched into the sides.

Parvarus raised his hand and gestured. Half a loaf of bread fell onto  
the table.

"It's a start," Tonks noted.

"Right," Remus said. "Cedric. Go tell Mrs. Lovegood, Filch and the  
ghosts that we're having a meeting here in the kitchen in thirty  
minutes and then get Magehorn's armor and bring it back here. Krum.  
Go down to Snape's lab and get a sobriety potion, the strongest he  
has. Tell him about the meeting and then go feed the potion to  
McGonagall. By force if you have to. Then drag her back up here. I  
want a word with her before the meeting."

Both boys nodded and ran out.

"How decisive," Tonks said with a grin.

"Well yes," Remus admitted.

"I like it," Tonks said, ruffling his hair. "What are you up to, Remus?"

"If we're going to fight Voldemort's army, then we might as well  
start with Hogsmede itself," Remus said and looked at Parvarus. "For  
that, we'll need an army . . . and I know where to get one." He stood  
up. "I'm going to go get Granger." He left the room.

"Remus!" Tonks called and he turned to see her run out into the  
hallway. "Remember what I said about liking you being decisive?"

Yes?"

And then she was in his arms, kissing him with heat and desire  and  
his hands were undoing the fasteners on her robes and her bare skin  
was warm under his hands.

Then, just as suddenly, she broke the kiss and whispered in his ear.  
"Keep it up." She gave him a smile and then walked back to the  
kitchen with a wiggle of her hips.

Remus watched her go until she was out of sight and then swallowed hard.

Oh my . . .

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