Chapter 139 & 140 – Minister and OCEMA
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“Where? Victoria Underground Station? Yes. We will dispatch right away,” A wizard held the Wizarding Wireless, answering the wizard on the other side.

The wizard noticed the door to the hall open, and the girl with honey-coloured hair walked in. He hastily closed the Wireless, “Ma’am!”

“Don’t stop for me,” Aerith smiled at him, “Only you are here?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” He hastily nodded, sighing, “Last week it was full. We had many calls, but now…these Death Eaters don’t dare go out. I only had one after-hours. Someone stupid enough to think they can go and use magic in front of Muggles and get away.”

“Huh, that’s good, now only to get the big one,” Aerith smiled, “Thank you for your hard work.”

“Yes, Ma’am, my pleasure,” The wizard breathed in, putting his wand in front of his chest, bowing.

Aerith raised her eyebrow at the gesture, smiling as she backed away from the room. She went down to the second floor, the Department of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts. The one department that had changed the most. From Misuse to Observation and Control of Enchanted Muggle Artifacts (OCEMA).

She opened the door, peeking in, “Can I come in?”

“What do you mean they are asking to Enchant cars! As much as I want to, we can’t do that! Not in the time of chaos, tell them we’d file a report for permission!”

“Sir, they want to enchant toilet paper?”

“What will they do by enchanting a toilet paper!!!”

“Sir, they want to enchant their jackets…of some kind? They say they stop things like Bullets from Muggle weapons?”

“Bullets?! Like from Guns!” Arthur keenly raised his voice, “Right! Right! I know of those! They protect themselves with a jacket?”

“No…uh…it seems to be some cloth? I got a few and gave someone to study. We should know soon.”

“You said they want to Enchant it?”

“Yes, sir. Something like shield magic? So, it deflects the spells or stops some of them…bullets better? Maybe even magic?”

“Yeah, yeah, we can try it.”

“Arthur, that’s a bad idea!”

Aerith raised her ears, hearing Molly’s voice while they all didn’t realise she was there. She thought it was a pretty good idea. It was a good thing Molly continued.

“You know what happened before! They burned the Witches, and Church was always at odds with the Wizards! There is no way that they are only planning to fight against the Dark Wizards. Once they are done with them, they will come for us!”

“Don’t worry, Molly. Aer— Minister Gainsborough isn’t as naïve as others believe. She knows what she is doing. She has planned for that possibility.”

“How could she? She’s so kind; there are things she would never agree on.”

Aerith wanted to hear more, but then the noise in the department abruptly increased, and she couldn’t hear anymore. She stopped in front of the door, resting her right elbow on her left palm, her cheek on her right palm, tilting her head, “Gee, it seems that I need people to earn more confidence. Well, the least I can do is reassure Molly.”

She entered the room, this time making much more noise, “Hi! How are you all doing!”

‘Ah, maybe I should have practised the entry line before. Hope they don’t realise how fake it sounds.’

“Aerith!” Molly, who stood near the central table, straightened her body in surprise.

Looking at the expanded space, Aerith waved her hand, with nearly hundreds of cubicles still seeming too few, “I didn’t think I’d find you here?”

“Arthur hasn’t been home for a week, so I got him food and clothes. I got you food too.”

“Ah, no,” Aerith tucked her hands on her back, smiling at Molly, “Maybe later.”

Arthur let out a hollow laugh because of the awkward atmosphere, “Uh…Minister, do you want a report? You should have called me?”

“Oh, Uncle Arthur, it’s nothing like that,” Aerith shook her head, looking down, “I might have overheard.”

Molly’s cheeks turned pink, “Aerith, it’s not like that. You are doing a wonderful job, much better than Cornelius did…it’s just that, you might be a little soft on these Muggles…fooled by them, you know.”

“Molly,” Arthur hissed, hoping to stop her from talking about it.

“That’s fine. I understand why you might think that; after all, I banned those who know from talking about it. I can certainly trust you, so I don’t mind if you know,” Aerith softly smiled.

“Banned? What is it?” Molly looked at Arthur, who nodded, gesturing that he couldn’t say.

“Sorry, since it’s so important, Mr Kingsley suggested that a Jinx be put on it, much like Hermione did.”

“Much right so!” Arthur reassured her, “It’s good medicine, just bitter. Only right that a few people know of it.”

“What is it that you are talking about?” Molly confusedly asked when Aerith opened a portal, taking a book from the other side. She opened it, revealing enchanted pages, “You’d have to sign it. Not that I don’t trust you…I have to treat everyone equally.”

“No, no, this is very good,” Molly hesitated, signing, “You can’t seem like a pushover, or you’d be like Fudge, manipulated until it’s too late. Now, what were you talking about?”

“Well, first of all, I mainly banned it because I want to protect Cloud.”

“Cloud? Why? What is it about??” Molly furrowed her brows, fixing her gaze on the girl who was now the Minister.

“You see, at first, everyone thought about going to Cloud to ask him to be the New Minister after Dumbledore refused to take the post and suggested his name. Since they didn’t know where to find him, they came to me.”

“Arthur told me they only went to you to contact him, right?”

“Right, but that was when I realised he must have been planning the same thing as me. We both concluded—clearly him earlier than me, that if we allow Ministry to continue the way it is, burying its head in the sand, it won’t be long before something much worse happens. With the Muggles, they will fight back and will not differentiate between Voldemort and us. We are all threats.”

“You understand!” Molly exasperatedly breathed in relief, “That is why you must say something to Arthur. His love for Muggle Artifacts is making him go crazy!”

“Aunt, listen to me,” Aerith cutely pleaded, making Molly curl her lips, but she did calm down long enough to hear her.

“Well, he was preparing, and so was I, and he got much better support. From families of old that had lost too much in the First Wizarding War and were on their last legs. Like the Longbottom Family. Crouch Family.”

“Crouch? That Crouch? Didn’t he go?”

“He’s back to work, Molly! I met him yesterday, looked all good! Maybe even better than before, surely more determined!”

“Really!” Molly covered her lips, “But he was affected by the Unforgivable Curses! There is no cure for that, is there?!”

“He managed to find it.”

“He did not!”

“Yes, he did,” Aerith copied her voice and tone, only to get a smack.

“Don’t take that tone with me, young lady!”

“Sorry,” Aerith stuck out her tongue, “Anyway, he has a unique power, a weapon. Ancient, Sentient, Keyblade. They carry the power to lock and unlock anything and everything.”

“We can do that with spells?”

“What we can’t do is lock a portion of a person’s memories and experience so absolutely that it doesn’t affect them.”

“He locks the experience of Cruciatus and Imperius Curses?!”

“Exactly what he said,” Aerith grinned, “So you see, with all the support he had, there was no way I would get the job.”

“I would have voted for the boy!” Molly hastily nodded, wholeheartedly agreeing with her.

“True, while he might have support, in terms of his powers, he didn’t gather enough confidence in his ability to lead. So, I promised I would be good at negotiations and a better option since they could come to me without fearing anything, and Cloud would listen to me for sure. Werewolf, Cruciatus Curse, and I can sense if anyone of my people has been put under the Imperius Curse.”

“Wait, you can tell if someone is under Imperius Curse?”

“Yeah! She never fails to! All she needs is to look, and she can tell!”

“That’s brilliant!”

Aerith felt ashamed since she could only do that because of Libra. Cloud and Tifa could do the same.

“Yeah, moreover, he also has contacts with Muggle Agencies and keeps an eye on them. So he has a better idea about those and some friends who could come in handy like they are coming now.”

“Can I ask?” Molly stopped her, “How did you exactly get this position?”

Aerith breathed in, “Yeah, it doesn’t seem possible. He sounds like a perfect candidate. More deserving even.”

Arthur pressed his lips, nodding, realising the look in Aerith’s eyes, “But you did well too! Maybe even better than what Cloud would have done.”

“I doubt it,” Aerith shrugged; Cloud she could compete with, but the personalities in his head? Never.

“The problem was, Fudge already made Cloud out to be a Dark Wizard, and many of the families were Pureblood. His running away didn’t help the matter, and he never returned to Hogwarts. If he had taken his place in the Quidditch team, it would have helped his reputation,” Arthur sighed, “There was a possibility of unrest, and that was the last thing anyone needed. With Aerith, we get everything Cloud has to offer, and her reputation of being a Wizard, the same calibre as Dumbledore, and her personality, everything worked in the favour.”

“Oh,” Molly furrowed her brows, “But…that is not fair to Cloud! He’s the one who did all the hard work!”

“Yeah, it’s not fair,” Aerith agreed, “And it’s politics…something I don’t like either, but it’s mainly because I know why Cloud wanted this position. And I didn’t want him to be put through that.”

“What?”

“Whoever is the Minister now, Voldemort will come after them. That’s the easier way to spread his reign of terror. The first one he’d come after was either Dumbledore or me, and so he wanted to make sure to get that position and protect us. He would have gone to war with Voldemort alone if that meant keeping us out of danger.”

She raised her head, “But you know…we would do the same for him. Tifa almost did, and this is my way. It might not look like it since I have much more to offer than what Cloud does. I only have an army of Beings, and I am using him as a chip and all. But it seems Voldemort wants to avoid Cloud, and I am a much more tempting bait.”

“Anyway, getting to the main point. The reason for the ban is our last-ditch struggle. If Muggles completely turn against us, then…we will seal the magic world with Cloud’s powers. So, you see. No one can know.”

“Seal the magical world away?” Molly was stunned for a moment.

“Only if we fail. Until then, I would request everyone not to worry about anything, to not hold back, and to be true during their dealings with the other side. We will show ourselves for what we are to only those who need to be shown and try to build a relationship. If we fail, then so be it. We will look for other ways to survive and then flourish. I promise you.”

“Aw, my girl, you have grown so much!” Molly wrapped herself around Aerith, tightly hugging her.

“Hehe,” Aerith blushingly smiled, smugly raising her chin, “Aunt, you can’t hug the Minister like that. I have a reputation to maintain!”

“Oh, right,” Molly sneaked glances around, patting Aerith’s clothes, making sure she was proper, “Right. You look good. Anyway, where is Cloud? There are ways around even this. He is here, right? Protected?”

“Uh, yeah. I think I have somewhere to be….” Arthur muttered and turned to walk away when Molly held his shoulder, giving him a death glare.

“Where is he?”

She held Aerith too, who was about to sneak off, “Where is he?”

“In America,” Arthur wanted to struggle but gave up, “He doesn’t want to come here.”

“You should have pulled his ear and brought him here!” Molly worriedly said.

“Ok, ok, let’s do that. Aunt! Go get him!” A shine appeared in Aerith’s eyes, who grinned, “He would listen to you for sure!”

“I will,” Molly adamantly said.

“Take the kids too, Hermione, for sure. She might scold him enough to make him hear, and I am sure others would love a trip.

“At a time like this,” Molly felt uncomfortable.

“It’s perfect if it’s at a time like this. Please make this trip; it might be harder to pull him away from that place.”

Molly told them to take care and almost made their schedule, from eating to sleeping to coming back home, and then she left for home to tell the kids to pack.

Arthur let out a breath of relief, “Should we be warning Cloud?”

“Not at all,” Aerith grinned, “It wouldn’t be fun then!”

“Haha…yeah,” Arthur signed, with no say in it.

“Right, your report?”

“Yes, Minister.”

America, New York, Riverdale,

Natasha watched her fingers dance on the piano; though they weren’t as graceful as she would have liked them, she tried her best not to fall behind the other person playing the piano. She raised her eyes, hearing the sparks and her teacher’s voice.

“Don’t.”

Natasha blinked, curiously glancing since there were more and more people in this large theatre. She watched them, only for her teacher to remind her again.

“Don’t look away. Don’t let them know that you are looking. Though do see.”

Natasha raised her eyebrows, confused as to what her teacher meant, and then she raised her eyes to see her, to observe how she was seeing without looking. Her teacher was someone she was familiar with, someone she asked for.

At first, she was angry, and then she understood, which made it harder, and then she realised what she had to do. Since Cloud or Tifa or Aerith, for that matter, didn’t wish for her or Yelena to train and be in danger…wait, from what her new Teacher said, it was only Tifa and Aerith who didn’t want that. Cloud seemed more on the neutral side, and she had yet to figure out what game he was playing. From where her teacher stood, Cloud’s actions differed vastly from his personality and feelings on the matter.

Which brought Natasha back to another thing that bugged her. To the time when Cloud told her that he has multiple personalities. They didn’t get around to explaining that part, and she never asked.

Natasha watched her teacher sneak a peek, only for a moment, and she kept her eyes on the family; three had red hair, the Weasleys. Other than their mother, only Ron and Weasley came. She didn’t like Ron; he seemed to have a problem with Cloud, probably because of Hermione. She played, and Ginny even waved at her, but her mind was filled with the thoughts of finding out what her teacher meant by not looking but seeing.

It wasn’t until the third time that she noticed her teacher only looked when the family wasn’t looking. Her fingers stopped, and her teacher stopped too, “You noticed.”

“Ever felt that someone was looking at you? And you instinctively looked in that direction?”

“Do not look…but see,” Natasha muttered, “I don’t have to look…I only have to see; for that, a second or even an instance is enough, right?”

“Yes,” Her teacher stood up, walking past Natasha to move towards the Weasley Family, but the moment she was ten in their range, a warning resounded, “Stop where you are.”

Natasha looked away from the girl who was as tall as her and put the handcuffs on her teacher.

“Shelke, don’t do that.”

Shelke raised her eyes, glancing towards Cloud, who entered the theatre from the centre door. She had much to say, but knowing what was going on in his mind made her resign herself and leave.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

Cloud glanced at the brunette with brown eyes and didn’t say anything. He asked Molly, Hermione, Ginny, and Ron, “Why are you guys here?”

“Oh, Cloud,” Molly was unsure about what was happening. She widely smiled, hugging him, cupping his face, “Did you lose weight?”

“No?”

“You must have! Are you eating well here?”

“Yeah.”

“I heard from Aerith that you rejected the Protection from Aurors—”

“I doubt they would be protecting me and not the other way around.”

Ginny let out a laugh while the other two managed to suppress it, and Molly shot a look at her.

“What?! He’s right, isn’t he?”

Hermione cleared her throat, “Why are we in a theatre?”

“This is a concert hall,” Natasha’s teacher said, smiling, “He went through an effort to have this made so I could teach my daughter.”

“You had this made?” Ron felt his jaw drop, but Cloud shrugged, “Magic.”

“Right…right…” Molly looked at the woman in cuffs, “Is this…?”

“Oh, this,” Natasha’s alleged mother raised her hands, showing the cuffs, “This is Cloud’s…feti—hobby.”

“Melina,” Before Cloud could speak, Natasha did, with a stern voice, underlying with anger.

“Right, I won’t tease your hero too much,” Melina Vostokoff smiled, nodding towards Molly, “Time flashes, doesn’t it?”

“Uh….”

“This is Melina Vostokoff, Natasha’s…uh….”

“Fake mother? Are those the words you are looking for?” Melina helped him along, raising her eyebrows. She looked over to confused Molly and the children, “You see. I worked for this terrible organisation; they picked girls based on their genetic potential and then trained them to become cold-blooded killers. Natasha was one, and so was Yelena, and then one day, when we were on an undercover assignment, Cloud met with the girls, his oh-so-kind heart and unsurpassed intelligence, and figured out that they were in trouble. Even took two pennies from them and went around the world to save them.”

“So you see. Now, after he destroyed the organisation I worked for. I became his prisoner, but I am a trained killer walking past you to the door. Here they are?”

She effortlessly took the cuffs off, hanging them, “Though, they are more of a warning that one wrong move and I’d be dead than restrictions.”

Cloud covered his eyes; he didn’t need to see to know that Natasha had already stormed off backstage, and the Weasleys and Hermione were left shocked. Hermione much less about the information but more about this woman.

“Now then, I’ll be going to the ballet room. When that girl is done sulking, tell her to be there.”

Cloud breathed out, hearing her footsteps leaving, and even though he knew he should stay quiet, he had to say, “Do you think it would be easier on her if she hates you?”

Melina looked over her shoulder, maintaining her smiling face, “I am pretty sure she already has a new family. It matters little if she hates me or not.”

“You are her mother.”

“Now, Cloud. If you are sulking on the fact that she hasn’t called you Dad, don’t drag me into that,” Melina opened the door, “Remind her. I am waiting.”

Cloud watched her leave and look over to Molly, sighing, “Give me a few minutes. I’ll be with you. Shelke.”

“I am on it,” Shelke said, and Ron jumped out of his skin, realising that she was standing near them, and none noticed.

Cloud walked over to the stage, stretching his leg to put his feet on the edge, effortlessly raising his body to climb. He went backstage and didn’t have to walk a step further.

“I am sulking. I was too embarrassed to stand there and listen.”

“Hard woman to deal with, your mom,” Cloud patted her head.

Natasha sat on the floor, curling her legs, and he followed suit, sitting in front of her.

“She’s not my mom.”

“We have guests.”

“You have guests.”

Cloud stood up, removing the curtain to move to the stage. He stopped, watching her, nodding, “Ok. Fine.”

He turned to the four and shrugged, seeing their questioning eyes, “Don’t ask. Complicated.”

“Very,” Molly worriedly looked at him, “You need help?”

“No. I’ll show you around,” Cloud gestured, pointing towards the door, “This way, please.”
“Where? Victoria Underground Station? Yes. We will dispatch right away,” A wizard held the Wizarding Wireless, answering the wizard on the other side.

The wizard noticed the door to the hall open, and the girl with honey-coloured hair walked in. He hastily closed the Wireless, “Ma’am!”

“Don’t stop for me,” Aerith smiled at him, “Only you are here?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” He hastily nodded, sighing, “Last week it was full. We had many calls, but now…these Death Eaters don’t dare go out. I only had one after-hours. Someone stupid enough to think they can go and use magic in front of Muggles and get away.”

“Huh, that’s good, now only to get the big one,” Aerith smiled, “Thank you for your hard work.”

“Yes, Ma’am, my pleasure,” The wizard breathed in, putting his wand in front of his chest, bowing.

Aerith raised her eyebrow at the gesture, smiling as she backed away from the room. She went down to the second floor, the Department of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts. The one department that had changed the most. From Misuse to Observation and Control of Enchanted Muggle Artifacts (OCEMA).

She opened the door, peeking in, “Can I come in?”

“What do you mean they are asking to Enchant cars! As much as I want to, we can’t do that! Not in the time of chaos, tell them we’d file a report for permission!”

“Sir, they want to enchant toilet paper?”

“What will they do by enchanting a toilet paper!!!”

“Sir, they want to enchant their jackets…of some kind? They say they stop things like Bullets from Muggle weapons?”

“Bullets?! Like from Guns!” Arthur keenly raised his voice, “Right! Right! I know of those! They protect themselves with a jacket?”

“No…uh…it seems to be some cloth? I got a few and gave someone to study. We should know soon.”

“You said they want to Enchant it?”

“Yes, sir. Something like shield magic? So, it deflects the spells or stops some of them…bullets better? Maybe even magic?”

“Yeah, yeah, we can try it.”

“Arthur, that’s a bad idea!”

Aerith raised her ears, hearing Molly’s voice while they all didn’t realise she was there. She thought it was a pretty good idea. It was a good thing Molly continued.

“You know what happened before! They burned the Witches, and Church was always at odds with the Wizards! There is no way that they are only planning to fight against the Dark Wizards. Once they are done with them, they will come for us!”

“Don’t worry, Molly. Aer— Minister Gainsborough isn’t as naïve as others believe. She knows what she is doing. She has planned for that possibility.”

“How could she? She’s so kind; there are things she would never agree on.”

Aerith wanted to hear more, but then the noise in the department abruptly increased, and she couldn’t hear anymore. She stopped in front of the door, resting her right elbow on her left palm, her cheek on her right palm, tilting her head, “Gee, it seems that I need people to earn more confidence. Well, the least I can do is reassure Molly.”

She entered the room, this time making much more noise, “Hi! How are you all doing!”

‘Ah, maybe I should have practised the entry line before. Hope they don’t realise how fake it sounds.’

“Aerith!” Molly, who stood near the central table, straightened her body in surprise.

Looking at the expanded space, Aerith waved her hand, with nearly hundreds of cubicles still seeming too few, “I didn’t think I’d find you here?”

“Arthur hasn’t been home for a week, so I got him food and clothes. I got you food too.”

“Ah, no,” Aerith tucked her hands on her back, smiling at Molly, “Maybe later.”

Arthur let out a hollow laugh because of the awkward atmosphere, “Uh…Minister, do you want a report? You should have called me?”

“Oh, Uncle Arthur, it’s nothing like that,” Aerith shook her head, looking down, “I might have overheard.”

Molly’s cheeks turned pink, “Aerith, it’s not like that. You are doing a wonderful job, much better than Cornelius did…it’s just that, you might be a little soft on these Muggles…fooled by them, you know.”

“Molly,” Arthur hissed, hoping to stop her from talking about it.

“That’s fine. I understand why you might think that; after all, I banned those who know from talking about it. I can certainly trust you, so I don’t mind if you know,” Aerith softly smiled.

“Banned? What is it?” Molly looked at Arthur, who nodded, gesturing that he couldn’t say.

“Sorry, since it’s so important, Mr Kingsley suggested that a Jinx be put on it, much like Hermione did.”

“Much right so!” Arthur reassured her, “It’s good medicine, just bitter. Only right that a few people know of it.”

“What is it that you are talking about?” Molly confusedly asked when Aerith opened a portal, taking a book from the other side. She opened it, revealing enchanted pages, “You’d have to sign it. Not that I don’t trust you…I have to treat everyone equally.”

“No, no, this is very good,” Molly hesitated, signing, “You can’t seem like a pushover, or you’d be like Fudge, manipulated until it’s too late. Now, what were you talking about?”

“Well, first of all, I mainly banned it because I want to protect Cloud.”

“Cloud? Why? What is it about??” Molly furrowed her brows, fixing her gaze on the girl who was now the Minister.

“You see, at first, everyone thought about going to Cloud to ask him to be the New Minister after Dumbledore refused to take the post and suggested his name. Since they didn’t know where to find him, they came to me.”

“Arthur told me they only went to you to contact him, right?”

“Right, but that was when I realised he must have been planning the same thing as me. We both concluded—clearly him earlier than me, that if we allow Ministry to continue the way it is, burying its head in the sand, it won’t be long before something much worse happens. With the Muggles, they will fight back and will not differentiate between Voldemort and us. We are all threats.”

“You understand!” Molly exasperatedly breathed in relief, “That is why you must say something to Arthur. His love for Muggle Artifacts is making him go crazy!”

“Aunt, listen to me,” Aerith cutely pleaded, making Molly curl her lips, but she did calm down long enough to hear her.

“Well, he was preparing, and so was I, and he got much better support. From families of old that had lost too much in the First Wizarding War and were on their last legs. Like the Longbottom Family. Crouch Family.”

“Crouch? That Crouch? Didn’t he go?”

“He’s back to work, Molly! I met him yesterday, looked all good! Maybe even better than before, surely more determined!”

“Really!” Molly covered her lips, “But he was affected by the Unforgivable Curses! There is no cure for that, is there?!”

“He managed to find it.”

“He did not!”

“Yes, he did,” Aerith copied her voice and tone, only to get a smack.

“Don’t take that tone with me, young lady!”

“Sorry,” Aerith stuck out her tongue, “Anyway, he has a unique power, a weapon. Ancient, Sentient, Keyblade. They carry the power to lock and unlock anything and everything.”

“We can do that with spells?”

“What we can’t do is lock a portion of a person’s memories and experience so absolutely that it doesn’t affect them.”

“He locks the experience of Cruciatus and Imperius Curses?!”

“Exactly what he said,” Aerith grinned, “So you see, with all the support he had, there was no way I would get the job.”

“I would have voted for the boy!” Molly hastily nodded, wholeheartedly agreeing with her.

“True, while he might have support, in terms of his powers, he didn’t gather enough confidence in his ability to lead. So, I promised I would be good at negotiations and a better option since they could come to me without fearing anything, and Cloud would listen to me for sure. Werewolf, Cruciatus Curse, and I can sense if anyone of my people has been put under the Imperius Curse.”

“Wait, you can tell if someone is under Imperius Curse?”

“Yeah! She never fails to! All she needs is to look, and she can tell!”

“That’s brilliant!”

Aerith felt ashamed since she could only do that because of Libra. Cloud and Tifa could do the same.

“Yeah, moreover, he also has contacts with Muggle Agencies and keeps an eye on them. So he has a better idea about those and some friends who could come in handy like they are coming now.”

“Can I ask?” Molly stopped her, “How did you exactly get this position?”

Aerith breathed in, “Yeah, it doesn’t seem possible. He sounds like a perfect candidate. More deserving even.”

Arthur pressed his lips, nodding, realising the look in Aerith’s eyes, “But you did well too! Maybe even better than what Cloud would have done.”

“I doubt it,” Aerith shrugged; Cloud she could compete with, but the personalities in his head? Never.

“The problem was, Fudge already made Cloud out to be a Dark Wizard, and many of the families were Pureblood. His running away didn’t help the matter, and he never returned to Hogwarts. If he had taken his place in the Quidditch team, it would have helped his reputation,” Arthur sighed, “There was a possibility of unrest, and that was the last thing anyone needed. With Aerith, we get everything Cloud has to offer, and her reputation of being a Wizard, the same calibre as Dumbledore, and her personality, everything worked in the favour.”

“Oh,” Molly furrowed her brows, “But…that is not fair to Cloud! He’s the one who did all the hard work!”

“Yeah, it’s not fair,” Aerith agreed, “And it’s politics…something I don’t like either, but it’s mainly because I know why Cloud wanted this position. And I didn’t want him to be put through that.”

“What?”

“Whoever is the Minister now, Voldemort will come after them. That’s the easier way to spread his reign of terror. The first one he’d come after was either Dumbledore or me, and so he wanted to make sure to get that position and protect us. He would have gone to war with Voldemort alone if that meant keeping us out of danger.”

She raised her head, “But you know…we would do the same for him. Tifa almost did, and this is my way. It might not look like it since I have much more to offer than what Cloud does. I only have an army of Beings, and I am using him as a chip and all. But it seems Voldemort wants to avoid Cloud, and I am a much more tempting bait.”

“Anyway, getting to the main point. The reason for the ban is our last-ditch struggle. If Muggles completely turn against us, then…we will seal the magic world with Cloud’s powers. So, you see. No one can know.”

“Seal the magical world away?” Molly was stunned for a moment.

“Only if we fail. Until then, I would request everyone not to worry about anything, to not hold back, and to be true during their dealings with the other side. We will show ourselves for what we are to only those who need to be shown and try to build a relationship. If we fail, then so be it. We will look for other ways to survive and then flourish. I promise you.”

“Aw, my girl, you have grown so much!” Molly wrapped herself around Aerith, tightly hugging her.

“Hehe,” Aerith blushingly smiled, smugly raising her chin, “Aunt, you can’t hug the Minister like that. I have a reputation to maintain!”

“Oh, right,” Molly sneaked glances around, patting Aerith’s clothes, making sure she was proper, “Right. You look good. Anyway, where is Cloud? There are ways around even this. He is here, right? Protected?”

“Uh, yeah. I think I have somewhere to be….” Arthur muttered and turned to walk away when Molly held his shoulder, giving him a death glare.

“Where is he?”

She held Aerith too, who was about to sneak off, “Where is he?”

“In America,” Arthur wanted to struggle but gave up, “He doesn’t want to come here.”

“You should have pulled his ear and brought him here!” Molly worriedly said.

“Ok, ok, let’s do that. Aunt! Go get him!” A shine appeared in Aerith’s eyes, who grinned, “He would listen to you for sure!”

“I will,” Molly adamantly said.

“Take the kids too, Hermione, for sure. She might scold him enough to make him hear, and I am sure others would love a trip.

“At a time like this,” Molly felt uncomfortable.

“It’s perfect if it’s at a time like this. Please make this trip; it might be harder to pull him away from that place.”

Molly told them to take care and almost made their schedule, from eating to sleeping to coming back home, and then she left for home to tell the kids to pack.

Arthur let out a breath of relief, “Should we be warning Cloud?”

“Not at all,” Aerith grinned, “It wouldn’t be fun then!”

“Haha…yeah,” Arthur signed, with no say in it.

“Right, your report?”

“Yes, Minister.”

America, New York, Riverdale,

Natasha watched her fingers dance on the piano; though they weren’t as graceful as she would have liked them, she tried her best not to fall behind the other person playing the piano. She raised her eyes, hearing the sparks and her teacher’s voice.

“Don’t.”

Natasha blinked, curiously glancing since there were more and more people in this large theatre. She watched them, only for her teacher to remind her again.

“Don’t look away. Don’t let them know that you are looking. Though do see.”

Natasha raised her eyebrows, confused as to what her teacher meant, and then she raised her eyes to see her, to observe how she was seeing without looking. Her teacher was someone she was familiar with, someone she asked for.

At first, she was angry, and then she understood, which made it harder, and then she realised what she had to do. Since Cloud or Tifa or Aerith, for that matter, didn’t wish for her or Yelena to train and be in danger…wait, from what her new Teacher said, it was only Tifa and Aerith who didn’t want that. Cloud seemed more on the neutral side, and she had yet to figure out what game he was playing. From where her teacher stood, Cloud’s actions differed vastly from his personality and feelings on the matter.

Which brought Natasha back to another thing that bugged her. To the time when Cloud told her that he has multiple personalities. They didn’t get around to explaining that part, and she never asked.

Natasha watched her teacher sneak a peek, only for a moment, and she kept her eyes on the family; three had red hair, the Weasleys. Other than their mother, only Ron and Weasley came. She didn’t like Ron; he seemed to have a problem with Cloud, probably because of Hermione. She played, and Ginny even waved at her, but her mind was filled with the thoughts of finding out what her teacher meant by not looking but seeing.

It wasn’t until the third time that she noticed her teacher only looked when the family wasn’t looking. Her fingers stopped, and her teacher stopped too, “You noticed.”

“Ever felt that someone was looking at you? And you instinctively looked in that direction?”

“Do not look…but see,” Natasha muttered, “I don’t have to look…I only have to see; for that, a second or even an instance is enough, right?”

“Yes,” Her teacher stood up, walking past Natasha to move towards the Weasley Family, but the moment she was ten in their range, a warning resounded, “Stop where you are.”

Natasha looked away from the girl who was as tall as her and put the handcuffs on her teacher.

“Shelke, don’t do that.”

Shelke raised her eyes, glancing towards Cloud, who entered the theatre from the centre door. She had much to say, but knowing what was going on in his mind made her resign herself and leave.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

Cloud glanced at the brunette with brown eyes and didn’t say anything. He asked Molly, Hermione, Ginny, and Ron, “Why are you guys here?”

“Oh, Cloud,” Molly was unsure about what was happening. She widely smiled, hugging him, cupping his face, “Did you lose weight?”

“No?”

“You must have! Are you eating well here?”

“Yeah.”

“I heard from Aerith that you rejected the Protection from Aurors—”

“I doubt they would be protecting me and not the other way around.”

Ginny let out a laugh while the other two managed to suppress it, and Molly shot a look at her.

“What?! He’s right, isn’t he?”

Hermione cleared her throat, “Why are we in a theatre?”

“This is a concert hall,” Natasha’s teacher said, smiling, “He went through an effort to have this made so I could teach my daughter.”

“You had this made?” Ron felt his jaw drop, but Cloud shrugged, “Magic.”

“Right…right…” Molly looked at the woman in cuffs, “Is this…?”

“Oh, this,” Natasha’s alleged mother raised her hands, showing the cuffs, “This is Cloud’s…feti—hobby.”

“Melina,” Before Cloud could speak, Natasha did, with a stern voice, underlying with anger.

“Right, I won’t tease your hero too much,” Melina Vostokoff smiled, nodding towards Molly, “Time flashes, doesn’t it?”

“Uh….”

“This is Melina Vostokoff, Natasha’s…uh….”

“Fake mother? Are those the words you are looking for?” Melina helped him along, raising her eyebrows. She looked over to confused Molly and the children, “You see. I worked for this terrible organisation; they picked girls based on their genetic potential and then trained them to become cold-blooded killers. Natasha was one, and so was Yelena, and then one day, when we were on an undercover assignment, Cloud met with the girls, his oh-so-kind heart and unsurpassed intelligence, and figured out that they were in trouble. Even took two pennies from them and went around the world to save them.”

“So you see. Now, after he destroyed the organisation I worked for. I became his prisoner, but I am a trained killer walking past you to the door. Here they are?”

She effortlessly took the cuffs off, hanging them, “Though, they are more of a warning that one wrong move and I’d be dead than restrictions.”

Cloud covered his eyes; he didn’t need to see to know that Natasha had already stormed off backstage, and the Weasleys and Hermione were left shocked. Hermione much less about the information but more about this woman.

“Now then, I’ll be going to the ballet room. When that girl is done sulking, tell her to be there.”

Cloud breathed out, hearing her footsteps leaving, and even though he knew he should stay quiet, he had to say, “Do you think it would be easier on her if she hates you?”

Melina looked over her shoulder, maintaining her smiling face, “I am pretty sure she already has a new family. It matters little if she hates me or not.”

“You are her mother.”

“Now, Cloud. If you are sulking on the fact that she hasn’t called you Dad, don’t drag me into that,” Melina opened the door, “Remind her. I am waiting.”

Cloud watched her leave and look over to Molly, sighing, “Give me a few minutes. I’ll be with you. Shelke.”

“I am on it,” Shelke said, and Ron jumped out of his skin, realising that she was standing near them, and none noticed.

Cloud walked over to the stage, stretching his leg to put his feet on the edge, effortlessly raising his body to climb. He went backstage and didn’t have to walk a step further.

“I am sulking. I was too embarrassed to stand there and listen.”

“Hard woman to deal with, your mom,” Cloud patted her head.

Natasha sat on the floor, curling her legs, and he followed suit, sitting in front of her.

“She’s not my mom.”

“We have guests.”

“You have guests.”

Cloud stood up, removing the curtain to move to the stage. He stopped, watching her, nodding, “Ok. Fine.”

He turned to the four and shrugged, seeing their questioning eyes, “Don’t ask. Complicated.”

“Very,” Molly worriedly looked at him, “You need help?”

“No. I’ll show you around,” Cloud gestured, pointing towards the door, “This way, please.”

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