Every Tear Falls Down For a Reason (But I Promise I Won't Cry For You) by rayrae118 Chapter 1 I'm glad It's OK Not To Be OK was well received. This story will cover Harry's fifth year. I try to keep most major events the same, but twisting them to fit my own ideas. I tried to put in as many details from the book as I could remember, but keep in mind that I haven't read the book in years, so all those details came from memory, and the hundreds of other stories I've read that included them.
I apologize if I forgot anything major. Although there are some things that are intentionally left out, and will most likely appear in the next story. I also apologize for the delay in posting this story. Writing it took a lot longer than the last one, not helped by summer classes, three jobs, and a dead computer (made worse by the fact that the apple guys misdiagnosed and I had to bring it back when it died again 12 hours after I picked it up).
But I almost did it! My goal was to finish before classes started again, and I had my first class two days ago, so I was close. Disclaimer: I only own the plot Summer started off very differently for Harry than it had the previous year. For one, he didn't feel the oppressing sense of dread that accompanied the train ride back to London. For another, he didn't have to worry about how he would get his homework done, with all of his wizarding possessions locked up in the cupboard under the stairs until he managed to escape to the Weasleys.
Perhaps the best thing about this summer was that he wouldn't have to go back to Number Four, Privet Drive. It was good to have something happy to offset all the bad. Last year, Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he had been entered and forced to compete in the Triwizard Tournament, a competition that was so dangerous, so deadly, that three ministries had agreed to an age limit of seventeen or older.
Unfortunately, a previously thought dead Death Eater one of Voldemort's loyal followers had masqueraded as the Defense professor for the year, and entered Harry's name illegally, thus forcing him to compete or lose his magic. Harry had done so, and entered the final task a maze in which the Triwizard Cup was hidden in first place. Unfortunately, the entire tournament was a trap, and both Harry and fellow Hogwarts champion Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff house were whisked away by portkey as soon as they touched the Cup.
Taken to the graveyard of Voldemort's muggle father, Harry managed to keep Cedric safe while being used in a dark ritual to resurrect the Dark Lord. Fortunately, the two students had managed to return to Hogwarts relatively unharmed. Many things had happened that night; Amelia Bones had been surprised but eager to re-arrest Bartemius Crouch, Junior, as the polyjuice potion wore off, revealing him to be an imposter, playing the role of Alastor Moody, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.
The real Moody had been discovered in the seventh compartment of his own trunk in the imposter's bedroom. Amelia had taken Crouch away for questioning, though not before Harry had told her of Voldemort's return. Minister Fudge, on the other hand, had not been so quick to believe the two Hogwarts students. He refused to listen, though everyone told Harry not to worry, as Amelia knew the truth, and she would get things done.
Harry chose to believe them, especially since he knew his guardians, Sirius Black and Minerva McGonagall, would make sure that he was taken care of, should the need arise. As Minerva and Sirius had informed him, Dumbledore had also called up The Order of the Phoenix, an underground resistance group that had operated separately from the Ministry in the first war with Voldemort.
Both of Harry's guardians, as well as his pseudo uncle Remus Lupin, were members, and would continue to act as such, even if they were less than pleased with the Order's leader.
Dumbledore was still playing god with people's lives, and they were still trying to get him to leave Harry out of it. Needless to say, it wasn't working. Sirius had even offered the use of his Ancestral Home at Grimmauld Place for meetings, as Dumbledore didn't want members to come to Hogwarts and possibly be seen by those who shouldn't be aware of their involvement. Kreacher had done an all right job of cleaning up the house; it was still gloomy, but the dark artifacts were locked up in closed off rooms waiting for Sirius to go through and either remove to his vault in Gringotts, or destroy.
And it wasn't like the meetings took place throughout the house. Most of the time, members stuck to the kitchen, though Sirius had made a point to offer the use of the house if anyone couldn't get to their own home for whatever reason, and needed a place to stay. With the amount of wards in place, it was safer than most places in England.
Though Sirius had drawn the line at Dumbledore putting it under the Fidelius, with himself as the Secret Keeper. Sirius didn't trust the old man enough to allow that, and as he was the Lord Black, Albus had no choice but to drop the idea. The term had ended more somberly than it should have, though Harry and Cedric were happy to bring home a double Hogwarts victory in the tournament, both receiving a copy of the Triwizard Cup, and five hundred galleons.
Harry had given his share to the Weasley twins before they reached Kings Cross, since he really had no need for more money. Harry had returned to his first real home besides Hogwarts feeling multiple emotions: fear, concern, determination, happiness. The last was mostly for the fact that he had something to go home to for the summer, and because of the stunning redhead he was proud to call his girlfriend. Ginny Weasley had helped him more than he could ever begin to comprehend, and their relationship had deepened more than anyone knew.
They were still trying to figure out what this bond was between them, but they knew that it was something they would never want to go away. As soon as he returned to McGonagall Castle, Harry was introduced to his other Christmas present; Harry only hoped that his godfather and pseudo uncle had asked Aunt Minerva for permission first.
They had taken a suite of rooms on the third floor and converted it into a muggle style game room. There was a rather large television, a pool table, couches and armchairs, a card table, stereo system, and what looked like the latest video game system, stocked with enough movies and games to keep Harry and his friends occupied for years.
Harry knew that Dudley would have drooled over this setup. Sirius and Remus had explained that the entire suite was warded against magical interference, and everything would work the way it was supposed to.
Apparently, Lily had invented the spells in the course of her studying for a Charms Mastery. The research had been wonderfully accurate and successful, but as Lily had died before completing her Mastery, the spells had never become common knowledge. Sirius had found her research journal at Potter Manor, and had replicated the spells.
Harry vowed to show the setup to Mr. Weasley, as he knew the Weasley patriarch would love to see what his mother had created. He rather thought Mr. Weasley may have done some of his own research, fiddling with muggle appliances to get them to work by magic. He did remember Ron and Ginny mentioning the inordinate amount of time their father spent tinkering out in his shed, as well as their mother's fond exasperation for his love of all things muggle.
The second item on the agenda was to strengthen the wards surrounding McGonagall Castle and The Burrow. Bill was key to those plans, and had managed to get a Goblin warding team to assist him, resulting in a Burrow and Castle that would withstand any Death Eater attack, as long as Voldemort himself didn't show up.
And even if he did, the wards would give the people inside enough warning and enough time to get themselves out. McGonagall Castle was too large to place a Fidelius Charm around it, and it wouldn't be practical at this point to place the Charm around the Burrow too many people would need to be informed. But shy of that, the Goblins warded both properties like fortresses. Harry felt much better afterwards, knowing that his girlfriend would be safe; he also asked about the rest of his friends' homes, resulting in Hermione's parents needing to be informed of the situation, and talked into allowing a team to ward their house as well.
The Bones Estate and Longbottom Manor were soon similarly outfitted, and Harry breathed another sigh of relief.
Several days after Harry returned to McGonagall Castle, Amelia came to call; forewarned, Harry had asked Cedric to come over, and the head of the DMLE sat down with the pair and discussed what had happened in the graveyard. Cedric had seen quite a bit while petrified, and was able to confirm Harry's story. In return, Amelia told them what she had gotten from Crouch Junior. "He was quite out of his mind, we had to keep him silencio-ed when not questioning him.
But he also confirms your story of the resurrected dark lord. Crouch was sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss for his crimes, including the murder of his own father." She also explained how Crouch had escaped from Azkaban with his parents' help, and his role at the Quidditch World Cup the previous summer including his theft of her niece's wand.
Neither Harry nor Cedric were too cut up about Crouch's fate. They were both, however, furious that Fudge still refused to acknowledge the dark lord's return, saying that Crouch was too insane to be a reliable witness, and was actively repressing the information from becoming common knowledge through the Daily Prophet.
Amelia didn't think it would last too long, as she was more trustworthy, and had a lot of allies at the Ministry, but Harry knew that most people just blindly followed authority, and would believe the Minister simply because he was the Minister. Amelia also told Harry, once Cedric had left, that she had a colleague who would like to meet with him and his friends to test their Occlumency skills.
They set up a time before Amelia left to get back to work. At the beginning of July, Sirius finally managed to take Harry to visit his family home. It had been kept up by two of the Potter elves, Chloe and Fink Harry did not relish the idea of Hermione finding out that he owned house elves both of whom were in tears to be once more acquainted with Harry, and immediately bonded to their new master.
Harry had a look around, drooling at the library, and admiring the dueling room. They spent the whole day walking around the manor and grounds, Sirius telling Harry stories about his father, and the antics they used to get up to at the Manor.
While they were there, Harry also asked about the other properties he had learned he had in his possession at their meeting with his account manager Sharptooth last summer. In addition to Potter Manor, he also owned a cottage in Godric's Hollow, and a place called Lion's Castle in Scotland. Sirius sighed. "I don't think the cottage at Godric's Hollow was ever repaired," he admitted to Harry as they went outside to view the grounds, including a Quidditch pitch that rivaled Aunt Minerva's.
"I believe it was turned into a memorial, but we can go and check it out sometime, though I'm not sure when.
It might be better to wait until it's a little bit safer. It does belong to you, though, so if you want, we can see about getting it fixed up." Harry nodded. "I'll think about it," he replied. Truthfully, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with the place.
He didn't know if he could ever actually live there, knowing what had happened in that house. As they headed in the direction of several greenhouses sparkling in the afternoon sun, Sirius continued speaking. "As for Lion's Castle, I have to admit I'm not sure what it is. Sharptooth probably knows, though, so we'll ask him." The next day, Harry and his friends met their new Occlumency tutor.
Jason Holding was a middle-aged man who seemed to have many secrets. He was pleasant enough though, and tested their defenses one by one. Harry and Ginny were deemed the furthest along, with Hermione right behind them.
Susan and Neville were almost there, and Ron still had issues getting his shields to stay up. However, it was a good sign that all six of them could tell when Holding had entered their mind. Jason worked with them for several hours, going over their studies and correcting anything that needed to be corrected, showing them where the holes were in their shields.
He also taught them a few tricks to help keep intruders out, and praised them for being as adept as they were, considering they were self taught. He was truly impressed with the way their minds were organized. These kids were very creative. When Harry had talked with them about it, he told them that it was easiest to create something that they knew well for their mindscape. Hermione had created a library, with her memories placed in the pages of books. Neville had a greenhouse in his mind, using plants and tools to hold the memories.
Susan had created a meadow that she had spent a lot of time at when she was younger, simultaneously adding underground caves to store her memories, while Ginny and Ron both created representations of the Burrow. Harry's mindscape was what truly boggled Jason, though. It was a maze, full of twists and turns, with nooks and crannies holding what he assumed to be memory vaults, all reinforced with steel doors. The only reason Jason had even been able to see the maze at all was because Harry had lowered his wall of fire surrounding it, to allow the Occlumency master access.
When Jason retreated from Harry's mind, he actually had to steady himself for a minute, to wait for the dizziness to pass. "Good job, Harry," he told the teenager, smiling. "Your mindscape is truly unique, I don't think I've ever seen anything like that. Can I ask what gave you the idea?" Harry shrugged, grinning ruefully. "When I was thinking about it, I just wanted to make something that would confuse an intruder, even if they did manage to gain access.
So I thought about what would be confusing, and I remembered the trips to my vault in Gringotts. The fire just seemed like a good protection.
I'm still working on other defenses." Jason chuckled. "Well, what you've got is pretty good, Harry, but I won't stifle your creativity." He turned to the rest of the group. "All of you have done incredibly well. I'm glad I didn't have to tell any of you to tighten up your mindscapes.
A problem a lot of beginners make is that they create a scape that's too big. The bigger your mindscape, the more work it takes to protect it, and the more effort is required to keep your protections up." They all nodded, and Jason pulled Ron aside to give him a few more pointers.
He had noticed that, while Ron and Ginny had a common mindscape, Ginny had simply stuck to the house, while Ron had included the surrounding land, going out to their makeshift Quidditch pitch, and including Mr.
Weasley's shed as well. Jason gave the younger man a few pointers for strengthening his walls, and a few tips to help him organize a little better. He had noticed that Ron was struggling the most, but he was certain that the youngest Weasley male would get there.
When Jason left, all six students felt much more sure of their ability to keep unwanted attacks from getting past their defenses. Harry and his friends spent nearly every day together, either at McGonagall Castle, Longbottom Manor, The Burrow, or the Bones Estate. Usually it was at Harry's place, since he had by far the best library. They all agreed to work on getting into better shape Harry and Ginny kept up their morning runs, and the other four started waking up earlier to get in that exercise; Ginny and Ron Flooed over before breakfast every morning so that they could use Harry's Quidditch pitch, as it had more open space than they had within the new wards of the Burrow.
After Hermione's parents had been informed of the second rise of Voldemort, they finally agreed to get their house connected to the Floo network, so Hermione also went over to Harry's for their morning work out.
Neville and Susan both had sufficient space on the grounds of their homes, so they would join the others after breakfast. All of the adults were proud of their children for being so studious they had made a deal with Sirius and Remus that if they finished all of their summer homework, the two would continue with the same lessons they had had the year before. With Voldemort's return, it was more important than ever for them to be able to defend themselves. Molly was tearing up when she was informed that Ron was finished with his summer homework by the second week in July.
Two and a half weeks before Harry's birthday, Sirius and Remus started their Defense lessons once more. They were pleased with how much the students had improved, and soon moved on from the simple exercises they had used the year before, to more battle scenarios dividing up the children in different groupings, or sometimes going against the adults, to see how they fared, and then discussing what they had done right and wrong afterwards.
Everyone was introduced to Nymphadora Tonks, Sirius' cousin, who informed them with a grin that if they ever called her anything other than Tonks, they would regret it. Tonks had graduated from the Auror Academy the year before, and her knowledge was a valuable addition to their study sessions.
Tonks, for her part, enjoyed getting to know Harry and his friends, as well as her mangy cousin. They had seen each other a few times over the last year, as Sirius wanted to get to know his favorite cousin again, but she had been busy a lot, as she was a new Auror, and therefore at the bottom of the totem pole.
Azkaban was truly in the past for him, and he was the same fun loving person she vaguely remembered from before his incarceration. The added bonus of getting on good terms with her boss' charge was just an afterthought a happy coincidence. Susan was just as eager to learn as Harry and the others. The threat of Voldemort had spurred them forward more than anything else. Tonks began to join them more and more, and Harry noticed with a grin that she appeared to be rather keen on spending time with a certain graying werewolf.
Remus seemed rather oblivious, but a glint in Sirius' eyes told Harry that his godfather was also aware of the extra attention his cousin was giving his best friend. The Auror was invaluable to their defense lessons, and Harry and the others began to both long for, and dread, the days she came to the lessons. "Come on, it's not that difficult!" Harry picked himself up, again, and groaned, shaking himself off and rolling his shoulder, wincing at the soreness.
He shot his godfather a glare, which Sirius only grinned at. Grumbling about sadists and how he must have a death wish, Harry set himself to go again. His teammates Ron and Ginny also seemed to be regretting their wish to continue these lessons, while Sirius, Remus, and Tonks just looked gleeful.
The next round started the same way as the previous one; Ron was taken out after a few minutes, and Harry and Ginny tried not to let that disrupt their concentration. However, Harry and Ginny had one advantage that no one knew of. Harry, we're getting nowhere, very fast. I'll take defense, you drop back and go on the offense. Harry gave her a mental nod and a grin. Give me the strongest shield you've got. I'll start with Tonks, since she's the most dangerous, so shield me against the others.
They had had to work to perfect their mental talk while still firing spells and dodging. It had taken a few days, and some rather spectacular losses, but they were definitely improving. It helped that Harry was getting better with nonverbal spells as well.
The next instant, all of the watchers were amazed at the way Harry and Ginny suddenly acted in sync. Ginny stopped firing and threw up a shield, while Harry took a step back and concentrated on Tonks, boxing her in with stunners.
The Auror was unable to dodge, and had to resort to her own shield charm, backing up as the spells continued to fly at her. Sirius and Remus tried to take the kids out, but they couldn't get passed Ginny's shield. It wasn't a Protego, as that would usually only last through a few hits before disintegrating, even if the caster was stronger, magically, than normal.
Ginny and Harry had discovered the charm in the library the year before; it acted more as a spot shield, flaring up with each spell cast at it.
It required more concentration and power than a Protego, but it lasted much longer. It took Harry a little over a minute to take Tonks out, but he finally managed to get her with a disarming charm and a stunner almost simultaneously. That's one down. How're you doing, Gin? Ginny smirked mentally. They don't even know what hit 'em. Sirius next? Harry shook his head slightly. Remus. Sirius is strong at first, but he tends to tire out faster.
His spells are coming weaker now. Remus is the bigger threat. Ginny nodded her assent, once more praising her boyfriend's observation skills, and shifted her shield slightly as Harry began to attack their former defense professor.
Remus held up almost as well as Tonks, except for the fact that he got taken out trying to dodge one stunner, only to step into another. Sirius lasted about thirty seconds longer, before being taken out by a stunner of his own. Harry and Ginny lowered their wands, panting. Their friends instantly surrounded them, congratulating the pair, and asking how they had done it. Hermione revived Ron, and once he was filled in, also offered his congratulations, though slightly more bitterly, as he had been taken out early on, again.
Hermione was about to revive the adults, when Harry stopped her. There was a gleam in his eyes that reminded her of the Weasley twins as he walked over to the trio of knocked out adults and summoned their wands one by one.
Somehow, he wasn't surprised to discover that Tonks had more than one on her person. Once that was done, he and Ginny revived them. Sirius sat up, rubbing his head and groaning. "Nice job, you two," he complimented, getting to his feet. Remus also gave them his approval, though Tonks was a little slower to rise. "That was good spell work and teamwork," she said.
"Though you should never let down your guard, even after you've taken out your opponents." Her hand inched down into her boot, and she froze in shock for a moment, before looking up at Harry, surprise evident. Harry was holding up two wands, while Ginny held the other two. "Looking for these?" he asked, smirking. Tonks sighed and stood up. "Good job," she said ruefully. The group spent the next half hour discussing what Harry and Ginny had done, and why it had worked.
Then, they spent another hour going three on three Harry, Ginny, and Ron against Neville, Hermione, and Susan using the tactic the couple had employed. One person would be on defense, while the others took offensive positions. When it was time for supper, everyone Flooed home, happy but exhausted. That evening, Sirius and Minerva had to leave for an Order meeting, so Harry spent some time exploring the library.
The next morning, Minerva informed him that she had asked his friends to not come over until after lunch, as she and Sirius wanted to speak with Harry about something important. Harry sat down in the chair she indicated, rather nervous. Minerva sighed. "Albus does not wish for us to tell you anything, but I think you need to know what was discussed at the meeting last night." Harry swallowed, looking between the two adults.
He nodded, ready to hear whatever it was. Minerva and Sirius both settled themselves for a long conversation. "One of the things the Order is doing, Harry, is guarding something that Voldemort wants," Sirius began, and both he and Harry ignored the flinch Minerva tried to suppress at the name. Harry looked at his godfather. "What is it?" he asked. Sirius and Minerva shared a glance. "A prophecy," Minerva said bluntly. "Shortly before you were born, there was a prophecy made about You-Know-Who." Harry stared, trying to process.
"What does that mean for me?" he finally asked. Sirius leaned forward. "Dumbledore believes that the prophecy links the two of you together, and that is why he came after you and your parents." Harry looked down, considering what he had just learned.
Finally, after so many years, he knew why he was an orphan. He looked back up, his eyes blazing. "Do you know what it says?" he asked quietly but intensely. Sirius and Minerva shook their heads. "Albus won't tell anyone," Minerva informed him regretfully.
"But he has set up a guard duty so that someone is always watching the Hall of Prophecy, in the Department of Mysteries, just in case You-Know-Who sends someone to retrieve it for him.
Albus believes that he wants to know the prophecy badly." Harry nodded. "Why are you telling me?" he asked. Both adults looked a little confused.
"If Professor Dumbledore doesn't want me to know, why are you disobeying him?" he elaborated. Minerva and Sirius shared a look. "I'm through with listening to Albus simply because he's Albus," Minerva said bluntly.
Sirius and Harry smiled. "As for why we are keeping you informed, we discussed it, and truly believe that it is the better course. Albus may want you to remain ignorant for his own reasons, but I believe that if you know why things are happening, you will be able to make better decisions. All we want is for you to be safe." Harry nodded again, not trusting his voice, but thankful beyond words that his guardians actually trusted him enough to be able to be a part of the decision process.
He gave them both a hug, before heading off to grab his broom. His friends wouldn't be coming over for another couple of hours, and he wanted to think; his best thinking always seemed to take place on a broom.
Something about flying had always just spoken to him. XXX Harry wasn't surprised when he was joined less than an hour later by Ginny. She convinced him to land, and the two headed over to one of the trees that surrounded the pitch, where Harry set up some basic privacy wards, before he immediately began to tell his girlfriend of his conversation with his guardians.
Ginny did her best to offer comfort, but she knew that it would be a slow road. Harry had just learned the reason for his parents' deaths. She could feel his emotions and sense his thoughts, causing her to quickly sit back, giving him a slap on the shoulder. Harry James Potter, how dare you think that! Harry jerked, surprised, but Ginny was just warming up. It was not your fault.
Voldemort killed your parents, so blame him. You had nothing to do with it! Harry grimaced. But he came after my family because of me. Because of that stupid prophecy. Ginny lifted a hand to slap him again, but stopped when she saw Harry's expression. His eyes were so haunted and pleading, she couldn't stay angry with him. She sighed. Harry, you can't keep doing this to yourself. You're an amazing person, but you're too damn noble for your own good.
Harry smiled a little, and Ginny moved closer, wrapping her arms around him. I love you, and I will stand by you until the world comes to an end, but I hate how you take on all this blame. Just add it to Voldemort's tab, and let me help you when you go to collect. Harry chuckled a little, and nodded. Deal, he promised, leaning in to kiss her. _ _ _ Chapter 2 Wow, such a great response for chapter one, I'm so excited!
Sorry for updating so late in the day, I had to work all day =[ I'm going on about three weeks straight of working every single day, between three different jobs. I'm facing some serious burnout if I don't get a break soon.
I know the last chapter was a little slow, it was just the intro, I had to start the story somehow. I promise, it'll speed up soon. Enjoy! Last author's note, I swear! I have decided on weekly updates, since I'm still doing a little editing, so check back every Saturday! Disclaimer: Not mine Summer continued, and Harry was happy to see the progress he and his friends were making in their summer studies.
Occlumency training was going well; Jason returned a few more times to test them, and deemed Harry and Ginny competent, stating that they would most likely outlast Snape, and probably hold their own against Dumbledore. The rest of the group was getting there, and Jason told them that if they kept practicing, they would most likely all master the art by Christmas; Hermione, he said would be done by September.
He hadn't told any of his friends besides Ginny about the prophecy, but he knew he would, eventually. They all deserved to know, so he vowed to tell them by the end of the summer. One change was that Minerva and Sirius would no longer let Harry leave the Castle. After informing him of the reason for Voldemort's interest in him, their parental instincts seemed to kick into overdrive, and they were afraid to let him out of their sight. A far cry from keeping him informed so that he could make his own decisions, but Harry tried not to let it get to him, since he was happy to have guardians who actually cared about him.
It wasn't like it was a huge imposition, since McGonagall Castle was rather large, and with the extensive grounds, including the Quidditch pitch, covered by the wards, he could go outside, but all the same, Harry was starting to feel the chafing.
He wished he could at least visit his friends' homes the way he had on occasion for the last month, but Minerva wouldn't allow it, even though they were all well protected. A few days before Harry's birthday, he had finally had enough. Minerva had even taken to watching him while he was flying on the Quidditch pitch! It all culminated in a rather impressive blowout, but the result was that Minerva and Sirius allowed Harry to take Ginny out for a date in muggle London, with the agreement that both would wear glamour charms.
Harry happily agreed, and so that night found Harry and Ginny as two blond haired teenagers going to dinner and a movie. Thankfully, the youngest Weasley had been introduced to movies earlier that summer, by way of Harry's Christmas present, and had loved them immediately.
She was fascinated by what muggles could come up with, but at least she got it honestly. Her father had clearly passed down his love to his daughter. Mrs. Weasley had been much more reluctant, but finally relented after a long talk with Minerva and Sirius, and after seeing how closed in her own daughter felt; all of the children were feeling the over protectiveness of the adults, but were trying not to let it get to them, understanding why their guardians were acting the way they were.
Ginny Flooed over promptly at six o'clock, and had to catch herself as she saw Harry waiting for her. He was wearing a form fitting gray t-shirt that completely showed off his now defined muscles. The daily exercise had definitely been good to him. Over the t-shirt he had an open, emerald green button down shirt, and his dark wash jeans showed off his slim athletic figure.
Harry felt her desire, and grinned. Enjoying yourself, Gin? Ginny gulped, but sidled up to him and heard his own breath hitch. Completely. You? Harry swallowed. Ginny was wearing a pair of jeans that he felt should be illegal.
They looked like they had been painted on, and her tank top showed off her own muscles, as well as an expanse of skin above her pants. He wondered how she had gotten past her mother in that outfit. Ginny smiled and took a step back. Mum was in the kitchen when I left, I just called out a goodbye and stepped through the Floo before she could come in.
Harry chuckled, as Ginny unfolded a jean jacket and put it on, though she didn't button it up. "You ready?" she asked aloud. Harry nodded, taking out his wand and casting several glamours.
Ginny picked up a lock of her now blond hair, and looked at her boyfriend. He was a dirty blond, with hazel eyes, and his scar was now gone. Harry put his wand away. "What do you think?" Ginny stepped closer again and ran a hand through his hair. Not bad, but I think I prefer your natural hair color.
And I definitely prefer green eyes. Harry blushed, but he smiled, raising his own hand to run it down her cheek, and through her now blond tresses. I definitely prefer red, he agreed. Sirius came in at that moment, and the two teens stepped back, embarrassed. He smiled. "You two be careful. Keep your wands on you at all times, and if there's any trouble, Harry, you use that emergency portkey." Harry nodded. Minerva had made a portkey for him that would take him back to the Castle.
It was a bracelet that he wore at all times, and she had spelled it to be invisible to anyone except him. As portkeys were regulated by the Ministry, she had made him promise not to tell anyone about it, since it was unregistered.
If she had gone through proper channels, she would have needed to inform them of the location the portkey was linked to, something she did not want to do. Sirius smiled. "You kids have fun tonight." They both agreed with brilliant smiles, and stepped through the Floo one at a time for the Leaky Cauldron. Sirius let his grin drop when he was alone. He knew Harry was a responsible young man, but he couldn't help the apprehension that bubbled up as soon as his godson left.
With the uncertainty that clogged the air, he worried. He hoped they had done the right thing. Harry was definitely chafing at the bit, and he worried what might happen if they continued to keep him under house arrest. XXX Harry and Ginny enjoyed a nice dinner at a quaint little Italian restaurant before the movie, and Harry had more fun watching Ginny as they sat through the newest Batman film; her expression was awed, and he didn't even need the bond to know that she was completely enthralled.
As they walked back to the Leaky Cauldron, they spent most of the time talking through their bond about the evening. I had a great time, Harry, Ginny said, holding his hand and leaning into his side. Harry smiled. Me too, Gin. I'm glad Aunt Minerva and Sirius let us do this.
Ginny mentally shook her head. Forget them. Do you realize how much I had to go through to get mum to agree? Harry nodded. He did know how overbearing the Weasley matriarch could be. How did you do it? Ginny smirked. I asked dad first. As soon as he heard that I would be going to a muggle movie theatre, he took care of mum's objections.
Harry smiled again. Arthur had spent a rather amusing Saturday hounding Sirius and Remus for details on the spell work involved in setting up the entertainment suite, as they had taken to calling it. He had been fascinated by the television, and the gaming console; Sirius had beaten him rather soundly at pool, and the two Marauders had taught him how to play poker.
If they hadn't reminded him of the time, Harry was quite certain Arthur would have forgotten to return home for dinner. He was about to reply, when he suddenly felt something familiarly unpleasant. Something he had hoped he would never have to feel again. He looked around, alarmed, and realized that they were nearly alone on the street.
The streetlights were dimming, and an unnatural cold was descending. A glance at Ginny told him that she felt it too. Harry… Harry nodded. Dementors.
A twist of his wrist had his wand in his hand, and Ginny pulled hers out from her jacket pocket. Harry glanced up and down the street, glad that there weren't too many pedestrians, and saw them. Two large shapes were gliding towards them. Harry took Ginny's free hand in his, and pulled her with him.
Come on, he urged, the two running away from the threat. Unfortunately, the Dementors were faster, and soon caught up. Ginny was the first to stop, moaning as she relived some of her worst memories, leeching around her Occlumency shields. Thanks to the bond, Harry saw everything she was seeing, and he grimaced, pushing his own memories back behind his own Occlumency barriers. He raised his wand, thinking about Ginny, and their bond. "Expecto Patronum!" he yelled, and watched as Prongs shot out of his wand, charging towards the Dementor.
He nodded, satisfied, when a shriek drew his attention towards the second creature. He turned around and saw it hovering over a muggle observer. "Get it!" he shouted, and Prongs immediately took off after the foul creature. All around them, the lights were coming back on, the air was warming up, and the stars were coming back out. Harry knelt next to Ginny. "Gin? You all right?" Ginny shuddered, but stood up, using Harry as a crutch. "Let's get out of here," she implored.
Harry nodded, shaking back the sleeve of his shirt to expose the bracelet only he could see. He was about to guide her hand to the portkey, when she put her hand on it willingly. He looked up, startled. How'd you know that was there?
Ginny looked surprised. I can see it. Should I not be able to? Harry shook his head. Aunt Minerva spelled it to be invisible. Ginny shrugged. Maybe because of the bond?
Harry nodded thoughtfully. That made sense. He checked around him, and thankfully, no one was paying attention, so he murmured, "Home to the Hen House." The two disappeared from the street in London, and reappeared in the foyer of McGonagall Castle, Ginny laughing a little at the activation phrase. Harry just mentally shrugged.
With Sirius and Remus living there, I think it's just a little crazier than Aunt Minerva's used to, hence the Hen House part. A shout drew their attention to the stairs, and they saw all three adults in residence hurtling down the stairs towards them, wands in hand.
Harry grimaced, realizing just what had happened, and worried about what was to come, now that he had time to think about it. He knew that the entire household would have been alerted to their arrival, thanks to the new and improved wards: an alarm sounded throughout the Castle whenever someone arrived by portkey or apparation to the entrance hall.
A master list approved who could enter by Floo; if someone whose name wasn't on the list tried to arrive through the fireplace, they would be unable to get through. Minerva put her wand away now that she saw it was just the two teenagers. "What happened?" she asked worriedly, leading the two to the sitting room. Sirius and Remus followed, Sirius dispelling the glamours the two children were wearing as they all sat down.
Harry was about to explain, when Tibby popped into the room, carrying a letter. "This just arrived for Master Harry," she squeaked. Minerva nodded as Harry took the letter, a weight settling in his stomach. He knew what this was. "Thank you, Tibby," he replied. The elf nodded and popped back out. Harry read the expulsion letter before he handed it to his guardian.
Minerva read the note as well, before she folded it up and returned her gaze to her charge. "What happened, Harry." Harry gulped. "Dementors," he informed them. All three adults gasped. Harry grasped Ginny's hand in his, and elaborated.
"There were two of them. I cast a Patronus to make them go away, and we came right back here." Minerva nodded, knowing from the letter he had received from the Improper Use of Magic office that she needed to hurry, before anyone else might get wind of what had happened. She immediately walked over to the Floo, tossing a pinch of Floo powder in and calling out, "Bones Estate." A few minutes passed before Minerva withdrew her head from the fireplace, followed quickly by Amelia stepping out.
She read the letter that Minerva handed her, before sitting down and asking Harry to tell her what happened. Harry reported quickly and concisely. "We were on our way back to the Leaky Cauldron to use their Floo, when everything started to get cold, and the lights were going out. I recognized the feeling, and pulled out my wand. There were two Dementors coming towards us. I cast a Patronus that got rid of them, and we immediately came back here." Amelia nodded, looking at Ginny.
"Miss Weasley, do you have anything to add?" Ginny shook her head, coughing to clear her throat. "That's what happened, Madam Bones. Harry won't be expelled for defending us, will he?" Amelia shook her head, smiling reassuringly.
"Certainly not," she said decisively. "I will take care of this, don't you worry." Most of them nodded and sighed in relief, but Harry bit his lip. "The letter said that the expulsion came because this was my second incident, but the first one wasn't even me! A house elf smashed a pudding at my aunt and uncle's house four years ago, and I got blamed for it. No one asked any questions, I just got sent a warning.
That letter took away any leverage I had over the Dursleys that summer." There was a hint of sadness and anger in his voice. All of the adults acknowledged their own fury at the mention of Harry's relatives, but kept their irritation in check. Now wasn't the time. Amelia tilted her head in consideration. "If I could just have your memories of both events, I will be able to prove that the first incident wasn't you, and that tonight you were acting in self defense." She conjured up a few glass vials.
"There's no need to have a black mark on your record if you were innocent." Harry went first, followed by Ginny, and Amelia promised to get everything sorted out that night, before she gave Harry a hug. He returned the gesture, slightly confused, as the head of the DMLE stepped back. She smiled. "I'm proud of you, Harry. You used the knowledge you had, and protected yourself, your girlfriend, and any innocent bystanders." Harry nodded, embarrassed, as Ginny's hand once more slipped in his, and she squeezed tightly, resting her head on his shoulder.
Harry was really surprised, more than anything else. As much as he liked Amelia, and as important as she was to his godfather, he really hadn't spent that much time with her over the last year or so. This was the first time he really saw her as not just an authority figure, but as his godfather's girlfriend. Someone he could turn to like a parent or a guardian.
Truth be told, he sort of liked it. Amelia said her farewells before disappearing through the Floo to the Ministry of Magic. Ginny turned to her boyfriend. "You're teaching me the Patronus charm, Harry." The adults all seemed to be pleased with the idea of the kids learning the charm, but Sirius and Remus couldn't help but laugh when Harry just nodded and smiled.
"Yes, dear," he replied. Minerva headed to the fireplace to inform the elder Weasleys of what had transpired, but before she could through the powder in, the fire flared green and Mrs. Weasley stepped out. "Ginny!" she cried, rushing over to hug first her daughter, and then Harry. Both teenagers stepped back, confused, as Minerva suggested they all sit.
"How did you know?" Remus asked as he took a seat in one of the armchairs in the room. Molly sat next to her daughter, unable to let go as she thought of what could have happened that night. "Arthur was at work when he heard that Harry had used magic. He said you'd been expelled!" she turned to her seventh son. Harry grimaced and nodded. Molly looked even more worried, but calmed slightly when Minerva told her that Amelia was already sorting it out.
She informed them that Arthur had seen Albus at the Ministry, which was met by mixed reactions. Minerva thought he might be able to help, but was wary of any strings that may be attached to his assistance. Sirius and Remus were more willing to place their trust in Amelia than the Chief Warlock, and Harry and Ginny were inclined to agree.
Molly was leaning more towards Minerva's line of thought. The group stayed in the sitting room for a while longer, waiting for Amelia to return with news. XXX Amelia immediately headed to the Improper Use of Magic office after the fireplace at the Ministry spat her out in the lobby. "Mafalda." Mafalda Hopkirk, the head of the Improper Use of Magic department, looked up and greeted her longtime friend.
"Amelia, how can I help you?" Amelia grit her teeth as she stopped by the other woman's desk. "I've been informed that you've issued an expulsion notice to Harry Potter. I have evidence that will prove that he was acting in self defense." Mafalda looked startled, but willingly pulled out a law enforcement pensieve, which Amelia immediately deposited the memories into.
Before Mafalda could view the memories, Amelia had one more thing to say. "I'm shocked at your lack of procedure here, Mafalda. Time was, when an underaged witch or wizard used magic, an investigation would take place into what spell was used and why, before expulsion notices were issued.
Mr. Potter used a Patronus Charm. Didn't you even ask yourself why?" Mafalda looked a little guilty as she shook her head. "He already had a strike against him, Amelia.
This was his second offense." Amelia shook her head, overriding her colleague. "I also have his memory of the incident several years ago. I think you'll find that the offending party was in fact a house elf that managed to copy his magical signature to blame him, something you would have already known had you conducted a proper investigation four years ago." Mafalda looked startled, but she didn't say anything else as she disappeared into the pensieve as Amelia waited.
She didn't need to see the memories to believe Harry. The head of the Improper Use of Magic office returned to her office a few minutes later, looking shaken. She immediately began to pull a piece of parchment towards her. "I offer my upmost sincere apologies, Amelia. I will see to it that Mr. Potter is cleared of all charges immediately." Amelia nodded. "Thank you," she replied. She was about to leave, when several more people entered the office.
Minister Cornelius Fudge led Albus Dumbledore their way, looking very smug. Dumbledore also seemed to be pleased with himself. He faltered slightly at seeing the head of the DMLE, but didn't break stride. Behind the two men followed Delores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. She looked a little put out, but there was a gleam in her eyes that immediately set Amelia on edge.
"Mafalda, I need you to amend the decision to expel Potter. We will have a hearing for him to determine whether his use of magic was justified. Until then, he will remain suspended." Mafalda and Amelia shared a glance, before Mafalda returned her gaze to the Minister. "There's no need, Minister. Madam Bones has already shown me the evidence to support that Mr. Potter used the Patronus Charm in self-defense. I have already cleared him of all charges." Fudge spluttered a bit, trying to demand that the boy receive a trial, when Amelia stepped in.
"Cornelius, I have authenticated memories from both Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley, who was with him at the time, to confirm the presence of two Dementors in the area.
I think the more pressing concern is just what those two creatures were doing so far away from Azkaban." Fudge didn't seem to have an answer, but Dumbledore leaned forward. "That is an excellent question, Amelia. I do not recall hearing anything about rogue Dementors being loose in the country, and as the creatures are controlled by the Ministry, it may lend to the suggestion that someone deliberately sent the beasts after Harry." "Hem, hem." They all turned to the short, squat woman, both other females in the room trying not to flinch at her horrible pink cardigan.
"Pardon me, Albus, but I could have sworn you were just insinuating that someone in the Ministry sent Dementors after the boy?" Albus smiled genially.
"Certainly, I was suggesting nothing of the kind, Delores. However, the question must be posed." He turned back to Fudge. "Cornelius, I beg of you to reconsider the conversation we had last month.
You must see reason." Fudge almost turned purple. "He is not back!" he growled, before turning around and storming out of the office, Umbridge following behind. Albus sighed, turning back to the two women left.
He nodded. "I am glad to see justice upheld. I thank you, Mafalda, Amelia." With a nod in their direction, he also left. Amelia said her goodbyes and returned to McGonagall Castle to give them all the good news. XXX Amelia was somehow not surprised to find that Mrs. Weasley had joined the group, and she wasted no time in telling them what had transpired.
"You've been cleared, Harry." They all breathed sighs of relief, before Minerva pressed for more details. Amelia took a seat next to Sirius, and explained exactly what had happened, including Fudge and Dumbledore's presence.
Harry was glad that the headmaster seemed to be on his side, but they all began speculating what his goals were. Amelia sighed. "Fudge was adamant on giving you a hearing. I'm certain he would have tried to do something to damage your reputation in some way.
Hearings like this would normally take place in front of the heads of the DMLE and Improper Use of Magic Office; there would be no need for the Minister to become involved, but I don't believe Fudge would allow that to happen. He would want to be there." "And Dumbledore would know that," Sirius added his two knuts. "He would know what Fudge would want to do, and he would plan for it." "Do you think he wants Harry expelled?" Minerva looked scandalized, though they all knew it was more for the idea that her charge could have been expelled, than her surprise that someone would consider such a thing of the so-called Leader of the Light.
Sirius shook his head, leaning forward slightly as his hand found that of his girlfriend. "He definitely wants Harry under his watch at school, I have no doubt about that. But I think he would see a hearing in front of the Minister as an opportunity. If he were to get Harry cleared of the charges, it might make Harry feel more indebted to him." Minerva let out a hiss as she considered that idea.
It actually sounded rather plausible, and she hated that. Albus Dumbledore had fallen so far down in her eyes, but as she looked at the young man sitting next to his girlfriend, she knew that she didn't regret having her eyes opened in such a harsh manner. She loved her new life. There hadn't been children running around the Castle since her brother and his family had been killed, and she loved hearing the sounds of a younger generation echo off the walls once more. The adults spent a few more minutes discussing the turn of events, before Mrs.
Weasley left with Ginny, but not before the younger girl gave Harry a rather intense goodbye kiss. Even Molly had to smile at the pair, seeing how much her daughter cared for her boyfriend. Harry went up to bed after Ginny left, and the remaining adults once more settled in to talk, discussing what Dumbledore's motives may have been, and what he might do now that he had been thwarted.
According to IMDB, Batman Forever premiered in the UK on July 14, 1995. _ _ _ Chapter 3 Disclaimer: don't own Neville had asked Harry if they could celebrate their birthdays together, so July thirty-first found a rather large group gathering at McGonagall Castle. All of the Weasleys minus Percy, who seemed to be keener on sucking up to the Minister than spending time with his family, and Charlie who was still in Romania were there, as were Minerva, Augusta, Neville, Hermione, Susan, Amelia, Sirius, Remus, and Cedric.
Minerva had once more thought about inviting a few of her colleagues, especially after hearing some of the compliments they had for her charge. Filius was very impressed with the change in Harry over the last year, and both Bathsheda and Septima were pleased with the effort he had expended to first make it into the fourth year classes for Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, and then the effort he made to stay near the top of them. Septima, in particular, had told Minerva that Harry frequently competed with Hermione and Terry Boot, who had been the top two students during their third year, even going so far as to tie with Hermione for first in the class when the end of year results were tallied up.
It had been amazing to see the way her charge began to shine, once he had someone there to care about his schoolwork, and his progress. Many witches and wizards began to show specialties in specific subjects by the end of their first year, but due to Harry's subconscious repressing of his abilities and intelligence, he really hadn't shown any talent in one field above the others, until this past year. Charms, Arithmancy, and Defense were his specialties, without a doubt; though he had done well in all of his subjects, that was the result of hard work and determination.
He had wanted to understand the magic, and so he had practiced and persevered, until he had mastered each theory and every spell. After a few days of thought, Minerva decided that Harry's party should remain small, given the uncertain times, and let the idea go. Harry and Neville enjoyed their day, spending most of the morning flying with their friends, before converging on a rather fantastic lunch spread with two separate cakes; one was Quidditch related for Harry, while the house elves had, on Harry's request, put together a rather impressive picture of a lifelike jungle on top of the second cake.
The afternoon was spent opening presents. Neville received many Herbology related gifts, a wand holster from Susan and Amelia, and a few other odds and ends.
Harry had given him a Venus Fly Trap plant, which he loved immediately. Harry's pile of gifts was surprising for the soon to be fifth year. He looked at a few tags and saw that many of them were from students in the DA. Blaise and Daphne had teamed up to get him a book on politics that spoke in detail about the ins and outs of the Wizengamot and, in a subtle manner, told the reader how to use the loopholes of the governing body to ones own ends. Harry mentally grinned at the very Slytherin gift.
It would definitely come in handy. Other presents from DA members included cards, a few gift certificates to various shops in Diagon Alley, packages of candy, and other little baubles that let him know that they were thinking of him. Harry was almost speechless. I didn't realize I was this popular, he admitted to Ginny. Ginny just pushed another gift towards him and gave him a mental smile. You put yourself out there last year. You opened up and got to know your peers.
And guess what. They like you. You're a good person, Harry Potter. Harry blushed a little, but dutifully opened the next gift. It was from Cedric, and was a book on Quidditch plays and strategies that included a lot of information he figured would come in handy if he were Captain. He looked at his fellow seeker, confused. Cedric just grinned. "Hey, Angelina and Alicia are gone next year, so you've got a pretty good shot at it.
You'll be one of the longest standing members of the team." Harry shook his head. "Katie," he protested. Minerva jumped in. "Miss Bell has already expressed her disinclination to take on the mantle of captain," she informed them. "I considered her briefly this year, as Miss Johnson was being considered for Head Girl, and generally, we don't like to give the same person both positions before speaking with them first and making sure they can handle it, so we wanted to have a back up, just in case.
Miss Bell says she much prefers just playing." Harry nodded, startled to learn that he was basically a shoo in for Quidditch Captain next year, but decided he should worry about this year first, and turned to the next present. He opened the gifts from everyone in turn, and thanked them all profusely. Hermione had given him a book on careers in the wizarding world and the qualifications needed for each of them; Ron had given him a Cannon's poster and candy; Neville and Augusta gave him a photo album of their parents that had Harry tearing up a little as he flipped through the pages; Amelia and Susan gave him a sneakoscope and a stationary kit; Mr.
and Mrs. Weasley had given him some fudge and a refill for his broomcare kit, the twins gave him some more homemade joke products, and Bill had gotten him a book on warding. He loved Ginny's gift of a miniature model of a Hungarian Horntail. It was attached to a flat stone, but the wings fluttered a little as he held it. He opened several more movies and games from his guardians, to add to his collection, along with a few books on various subjects.
Cedric had to leave early, as he had promised his parents he would help out with some things at their house that afternoon, so he was gone before Harry finished opening gifts.
Once the older boy left, his guardians gave Harry what was probably the best present: permission to become an animagus. Before anyone else could say anything, Minerva promised that they would teach all of his friends.
They all turned to their own guardians, who nodded their approval to show that they had been consulted and agreed. Some had taken more convincing than others, but after they had had the pros laid out for them, even Mrs. Weasley had to agree. The idea of her children being able to get out of trouble should it be necessary was appealing, as much as she wanted to shelter them from the world. She wasn't naïve enough to think that they would just sit out of the war that was brewing.
Not when Harry was so likely to be involved, given his role so far. Fred and George seemed a bit put out that they weren't included in the present, but Molly drew the line at letting her mischievous sons gain yet another way to cause mayhem.
She did, however, swear the twins to secrecy; the fewer people who knew about this, the better, particularly since they weren't exactly planning on registering the kids' animal forms until the war was over, to give them every advantage they could get. The six friends, plus Fred and George, spent the rest of the afternoon talking about everything and nothing, just enjoying the summer, and each other's company.
The adults left them to it, and returned inside to have their own serious discussions. With a little nudge from Ginny, Harry finally told his friends about why Voldemort was so keen on coming after him. They were all shocked to say the least, and Hermione was very skeptical about the idea of a real prophecy, but Harry just reminded her about the one he had heard from Trelawney that had come true at the end of their third year. "I think prophecies probably exist, but you shouldn't live your life by them," Harry said firmly.
"They're more self-fulfilling than anything. I'm not going to change, just because of some prophecy that may or may not be about me and Voldemort." There was a very miniscule flinch from Susan, Hermione, Fred, and George, and a slightly larger one from Ron, but Neville and Ginny had no reaction.
Even the others' responses were much smaller than they had been before, which Harry considered progress. All of them felt like whacking him when he said he understood if they didn't want to be friends with him. Ginny slapped his arm. "Harry Potter, what have we talked about?
I thought I had broken you of this habit!" Harry winced and rubbed his arm. Ron was the next to speak. "You're my best mate, Harry. I'm with you, no matter what." Hermione and Neville nodded. "Honestly, Harry, how far do you think you would get without me?" Hermione admonished.
They all laughed at Hermione's prim attitude, and she smiled a second later, letting them know she was just joking though they all knew that they really wouldn't make it very far without their knowledgeable best friend. "You can have Voldemort," Neville said, forcing himself to say the dark lord's name. "There are a few Death Eaters that I owe a visit." Fred leaned forward.
Both he and George were the most serious Harry had ever seen them. "Harry, we're not exactly on the top of You-Know-Who's friendship list." George cut in. "The Weasleys are blood traitors, and proud of it." "Besides," Fred took over for his twin, "we're family. And family's forever." Harry actually felt a few tears form in his eyes, hearing that. He had always considered the Weasleys as family and they might very well become such in a few years but it wasn't something he had ever put into words.
Fred and George were so over the top, so fun-loving, that it was easy to assume that they didn't really do deep. And it touched Harry greatly, to hear that the twins considered him family. Ginny beamed at her older brothers, while Ron just nodded his head in agreement.
Susan put an arm around Neville's waist, leaning into her boyfriend as she focused on Harry. "Harry, you know we're with you, always. Face it. You need us." Harry nodded ruefully as he took his own girlfriend in his arms. "I know," he admitted. "I just thought I'd offer, give you guys an out if you wanted it." "Never gonna happen, mate," Ron said, and Hermione clasped his hand, beaming. The heavy conversation over, they all moved on to discussing their most recent defense classes, and plotting on how they could overpower their teachers.
They were all longing to beat them resoundingly, something that hadn't happened since Harry and Ginny's impressive display a few weeks earlier. Fred and George listened with interest, and considered the possibility of getting in on these lessons. They had spent a great deal of the summer expanding their joke products, fine tuning some ideas, and scrapping others. But from what they were hearing, their siblings and friends were learning some very valuable skills, and even more importantly, they were being taught by two of the Marauders.
They remembered the lessons they had joined in on last summer, and had seen a significant change in their own prowess over the school year. It sounded like this summer's lessons had only built on and expanded last summer's. It certainly was food for thought. Harry also asked about Percy. He hadn't seen the middle Weasley child since the last task, though he knew there was some tension there, something about a fight that had taken place between Percy and Mr.
Weasley. Ron almost growled. "Stupid git," he muttered, shaking his head. Ginny, Fred, and George looked almost as angry. "Percy came by a couple of weeks ago for supper, and ended up getting into a huge argument with dad about Voldemort and Dumbledore. Said dad was only going to drag the whole family down if he kept following the old man's lead," Ginny explained. "What did your dad have to say about that?" Susan asked curiously. She had met Mr. Weasley several times, and knew him to be a calm and collected, jovial and friendly man.
George clenched his teeth. "Said Percy would only end up falling further if he kept being led around by the nose by Fudge." That surprised Harry. He also knew Mr. Weasley to be a very easygoing man. For him to actually say something like that to his own son… he looked at Ginny, and saw confirmation in her chocolate brown eyes.
There was more to the story than what George had said. Ginny sighed and shifted so that she was leaning into Harry's side. "Percy called you unbalanced, said you were confusing fiction and reality, and a couple other things that I really wouldn't have thought possible. I mean, he's known you for years! You've slept under the same roof, and you've never given him a reason to doubt your sanity, but he's so blinded by Fudge and power, he won't realize his mistake until Fudge goes down." Fred nodded.
"Percy got offered a promotion. Junior Undersecretary to the Minister. Dad thinks he only got offered the post to spy on Dumbledore and you.
Clearly, Fudge still thinks things are all roses and sunshine between you and the headmaster, and between Dumbledore and mum and dad. I think Percy also thinks they're closer than they really are." "Dad said it didn't make sense," George picked up for his twin, "I mean, just a month ago, he was having to answer all these questions about whom he was taking orders from, when clearly, it wasn't Crouch, and now, a promotion?" "Dad told him to think about Madam Bones' support of your story, and Cedric's eye witness testimony, but Percy is just one of those people who trusts those in power blindly, because they're in power," Fred finished.
Hermione winced a little at that. A year ago, she had been one of those people as well. She probably still would be, if it hadn't been for Harry, and their uncovering of Dumbledore's manipulations. Ginny burrowed deeper into Harry's side. "Percy's proud," she reflected. "Even after Fudge is gone, and Voldemort's return is announced to the wizarding world," she ignored the small flinches from several of the group, "he probably won't acknowledge his mistake. I know it's hurting mum, but some of the things he said, I don't think even she would welcome him back until he apologizes, to all of us." Ron nodded his agreement.
He had heard a lot of the argument, even after Mrs. Weasley had sent them all out of the room, and he couldn't believe his brother was capable of acting like that. Even if Percy had always been more uptight and unwilling to bend than his other siblings, he had thought that he at least sort of liked Harry, but everything he had heard just negated that idea.
Harry rested his arm across Ginny's shoulders and drew her closer, hugging her gently. "I'm sorry," he murmured, knowing how closely knit the Weasley family was, and hating that they were arguing over him. George shook his head. "Not your fault," he replied immediately. Fred nodded. "Percy's just being a git. He should know better than to doubt you." "Family sticks together," George said.
"Percy's just forgotten that," Fred summed up. Ron was nodding his agreement now. "They're right, Harry," he told his friend earnestly. "You're a part of our family too. Percy's just too blinded by power to see what he's doing to us." "He'll come around," Hermione tried to assure her boyfriend. Neville watched the conversation around him in silence. Truthfully, he couldn't imagine someone turning their back on their family like that. He would give anything to spend just one day with his parents knowing who he was.
Percy had two amazing parents, and six siblings who loved him even at his most stringent, and he was still willing to throw that all away for a chance to ride on Fudge's coattails. The conversation was getting more depressing, so with a forced air of calm, Harry maneuvered it back to lighthearted topics, like which Quidditch teams were doing well, and who they thought would win the World Cup that year. And if Ron's defense of the Chudley Cannons was just a little bit more lackluster than it normally was, no one commented.
XXX Minerva returned from her staff meeting at Hogwarts a few days into August, feeling decidedly grim. Thankfully, Harry was alone for the moment, so she would be able to speak with him first. She found him in the sitting room with Sirius, going over the Animagus revealing potion.
They would each need to brew their own as part of the process, and the last ingredient was three drops of their own blood to make the potion work for them individually, so Harry was reading it over to make sure he understood everything. Minerva cleared her throat, and both men looked up. "I would like to speak with you about something, Harry, if you have a moment." Harry nodded, putting the potions book aside and sitting up on the sofa, looking concerned.
Sirius also gave his attention to his former professor. Minerva sat down across from them and sighed. "I've just returned from a staff meeting, and I'm afraid I have some… unsettling news." She paused, before continuing. "Albus was unable to find someone to take the place of Defense professor, so the Ministry stepped in and appointed someone. Delores Umbridge has taken the role." Sirius furrowed his brow. He knew that name… Harry bit his lip. "She's one of Fudge's supporters, right?" Minerva nodded.
"She is the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, and what I would consider a pureblood supremacist. She was the driving force behind many anti-magical creature laws that were passed over the last few years." Sirius growled.
The anti-werewolf legislation had made it even harder for Remus to get a job a few years back. Minerva leaned forward, her eyes searching as she took in her young charge. "Delores Umbridge is a very cunning woman, Harry. She is ruthless and power hungry. I remember teaching her, and even then I had some misgivings." Harry frowned. "Do you think she's one of Voldemort's followers?" Minerva shook her head slightly. "Officially? No. However, I do believe that her views are more in line with You-Know-Who's supporters.
I want you to be careful this year. Umbridge will not hesitate to go after you if she thinks she can get away with it.
As a professor, her power is limited, however, I think there may be more going on than what we see." "What do you mean?" Sirius asked curiously. Minerva looked at the dog animagus. "Cornelius is also a rather ruthless and power hungry man, and he has the Ministry under his control, so the next step would be to gain jurisdiction over Hogwarts.
He may be attempting to use Umbridge to do so. Albus has been very outspoken on You-Know-Who's return, something that Cornelius is not pleased about. Umbridge's appointment may be a way for him to silence Albus." That was definitely a sobering possibility that none of them wanted to think about.
Harry shook his head disgustedly. "Fudge is an idiot," he said lowly. "He's going to kill all of us because he can't wake up and smell the potion." Both adults looked like they agreed, but Minerva had to caution her young charge. "Be careful, Harry. For all his shortcomings, Cornelius is a cunning man." Harry met her gaze defiantly.
"Cunning on its own is worthless. You need more than cunning to be hazardous. The only reason Fudge is so dangerous is because of his position in society, and because he's so completely incompetent." Sirius snorted, trying to hold in his laughter.
"Couldn't have said it better myself," he approved. Minverva shot him a glare, but didn't say anything, as Ron and Ginny stepped out of the fireplace. Minerva turned her gaze to the new arrivals, and gave them a rather shaky smile that had Ginny worried, though Ron didn't notice anything, as she left the room. The rest of the group followed soon after, and Sirius led them all to the potions lab, picking up the book he and Harry had been studying as they left the room.
Once there, he had them all sit down and began to talk about their plans for the day. "Becoming an animagus is hard work," he informed them bluntly. "It takes a lot of effort and time. It isn't something to do on a whim. You have to commit.
And the first step is to brew the potion." He smiled at the grimaces both Ron and Neville wore. "I promise, no breathing down your necks and criticizing you in this laboratory. I'm not Snape." Everyone chuckled, feeling a little more at ease.
Sirius clapped his hands and with a wave of his wand, had the directions for the animagus potion on the board at the front of the room. "This is a complicated potion, and it is necessary for each of you to brew your own, in order for it to work properly for you. We will begin by discussing the process of brewing, and making sure that you all understand the steps, before we actually begin." What followed that day was by far the best potions lesson any of them had ever received.
As Ron put it towards the end of the day, "Have you ever considered applying for the Potions professor position?" Sirius grinned. "I'm no Potions master. I know this potion because James and I studied it inside and out when we were in school. Peter never really got the hang of potions, so we had to double check every step for him." His mood got a little sourer at the thought of the rat. Harry came up to them and smirked. "I don't think it necessarily has to do with your potions knowledge, Padfoot.
I think Ron was referring to the fact that we learned more in one lesson with you than four years with Snape, and you didn't call us bumbling fools or dunderheads once." Sirius shook his head. "You'll have to take Snivillus' appointment to professor up with Dumbledore. I certainly don't understand his decision. The man is without a doubt a Potions genius, but his people skills definitely leave something to be desired." Indeed, the greasy git's presence at Order meetings were definitely trying.
Sirius tried not to engage, but it was like the other man went out of his way to antagonize him. If it weren't for Remus and Minerva, he was certain by now he would have done something he definitely wouldn't have regretted.
"All right," he called their attention back to him. "Now that you understand the process, we'll begin. I know we don't have much time left today before you need to go home, but there's a twelve hour gap between steps one and two, so we'll start this evening, and I'll expect you all back here bright and early tomorrow morning.
If you're late, you'll need to start over, so set your alarms." They all nodded, eager to start. Several hours later, six tired students were setting their cauldrons up to simmer for the night. Harry was pleased with the way the afternoon had gone, especially since it had shown Ron and Neville that they could in fact do well at potions, if they understood the process first. He immediately excused himself and hurried up to his room to grab a few books that he knew his friends would benefit from.
Meeting his friends back in the sitting room, he handed A Complete Potions Guide to Neville, and Potions Making for Dummies to Ron. "These books definitely helped me the most. I swear, you'll learn more from them than Snape will ever teach." Ron looked a little offended to receive the book he had from his friend, and was about to comment, when Hermione unwittingly saved the day.
"Harry's right. He leant me Potions Making for Dummies last summer, and I swear, I learned so much more than I ever did in class. It was a lifesaver Ron, you really must read it." Ron looked a little mollified at that, and nodded his thanks, as did Neville. The Longbottom heir immediately went home to read the borrowed book, and three pages in, he understood why Harry had leant it to him.
Back at the Burrow, Ron hesitantly opened the book as he waited for his mum to call him down for dinner. Half an hour later, Molly came into his bedroom, looking rather confused. "Didn't you hear me calling you, Ron? Dinner's ready." Ron looked up, startled. "Sorry, mum. I'll be right down." Molly smiled, seeing her studious son. She took a seat on the edge of the bed, wiping her hands on a dishtowel. "What's that you're reading?" Ron looked down at the book, suddenly embarrassed.
"Harry leant it to me. We started the animagus potion today, and Sirius was so much better at teaching than Snape. He actually explains things, and we went over the whole potion before we even started brewing. Harry said this book taught him a lot, and Hermione agreed, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It makes things seem so simple. It uses really easy to understand explanations, and tells me why I need to cut a certain way, or stir in a certain direction." Molly beamed, so proud of her son.
"That's wonderful, Ron. I'm so pleased with the way you've grown over the last year. Your grades have improved so much, and you've become such a mature young man." Ron blushed. "We're all growing up," he replied, trying to explain what had caused his change in attitude.
He couldn't really point to one particular moment, it seemed like it had happened gradually over the year. "With what happened to Harry last summer, I've realized that I've been pretty sheltered. I've got a great family, and even though Harry's my best mate, I didn't really realize just how bad his life was until last summer. But hearing about it, and seeing how much he changed just by having a guardian who cared about him, it made me want to do better as well. And it's kind of hard to spend half a summer at Professor McGonagall's house and not become more studious." Molly chuckled a little, and Ron sat up, setting the book aside as he looked into his mother's eyes.
"Thank you." Molly startled. "For what?" she asked. Ron shrugged. "For being you. For being a great mum, and for loving all of us the way you do. Thank you for taking Harry and Hermione in and treating them the way you have. And thank you for realizing that Ginny and I aren't going to sit this war out." Molly looked even more shocked. Ron moved closer, taking his mother's hand in his own, squeezing reassuringly.
"I know you're afraid, mum. And I know we're still pretty young, all things considered. But Harry's my best mate, and I know he'll be in the thick of things, so thank you for understanding that Ginny and I aren't going to let him fight this alone." Molly smiled through her tears. Ron made to stand up, but she held him in place as she grabbed him in a tight hug. Pulling back, she gave him a searching look. "Are you certain you're all right with Harry dating your sister?" Ron smiled and nodded.
"It took a little getting used to, but I asked Ginny about their closeness last summer, and I knew from the start that it wouldn't just be a passing thing for them." Molly looked confused. Ron sighed. "Mum, I've seen them together, and I know they're young, but when I look at them, I don't see two teenagers having a fling.
I see the way Harry looks at her, and I know that he'll treat her right. And I hope that someday, Hermione will look at me the way Ginny looks at Harry." Molly raised an eyebrow, but just nodded and stood up.
"Dinner's on the table," she reminded him before leaving the room. Ron was about to make his way downstairs, when he once more found himself with company. Ginny shut the door and cast a locking spell followed by a silencing spell. Ron gave her a significant look, and Ginny shrugged. "Something Harry mentioned. The Trace doesn't know who casts the spell, it can only really tell where the spell was cast. Since we live with adult wizards and witches, we can get away with using the odd spell.
Don't go spreading that around, but if you need to use a spell every now and then, you can. Actually, Harry thinks that the new wards will block the Trace completely, but he's not certain, so it might be better not to risk it." Ron nodded, and sat back down on the edge of his bed.
"What's up?" Ginny bit her lip. "Did you mean everything you said to mum?" Ron sat up straighter, looking embarrassed. "You heard that?" Ginny nodded, before she moved quickly to give her brother a hug. "Thank you, Ron. Not that we needed your permission, but it means a lot to me that you approve of our relationship." Ron just nodded, too embarrassed to say anything.
Ginny pulled back, and smiled. "Don't worry, Ron, Hermione really cares about you. I think you'll get there, eventually." She left then, before Ron could speak, not that he could think of anything. He was, however, filled with a sense of hope. He liked Hermione, but he didn't really know what would happen between them. He wished he could have the sense of certainty that Harry and Ginny had together, but he knew he couldn't compare himself to them. That would only lead to jealousy and anger, and he was through with being that kind of horrible friend.
He had made a lot of mistakes over the years, and it was time for him to change. _ _ _ Chapter 4 Disclaimer: not mine The next morning, bright and early, found the six students once more in the potions lab, yawning as they worked on the next step in the process to becoming animagi.
Once they had reset their cauldrons, they all headed up for breakfast, since most of them had just rolled out of bed and headed over. Six o'clock was not a pleasant time for most of them to be awake, though Harry and Ginny were used to it, having fallen into the rhythm over the course of the school year, going for their morning run before breakfast.
The others hadn't quite gotten used to the earlier wake up yet, though they were getting better at it; even Ron had grudgingly admitted that waking up early and getting in shape had its benefits. Sirius left them at the dining room, as they had a couple of hours before they would need to attend to the potion, and he remembered being that age; though Harry seemed to like having him around, he would still enjoy having time alone with his friends.
As they ate, Harry filled them in on the new Defense professor. He warned them to keep their guards up, as he told them what he knew, and what Minerva had told him.
Hermione was very interested in their theories that the Ministry was trying to get its hooks into Hogwarts. "Is there a way to see a record of this Umbridge woman's actions while at the Ministry?" Neville nodded.
"The Chief Archivist for the Wizengamot would have a copy of all voting records and proposed laws, including who proposed them and what arguments were made on either side. But you would have to have a seat on the Wizengamot to request the records." Hermione looked at Harry, but he shook his head. "Technically, I haven't claimed my seat yet.
I have to be twenty-five, so Sirius is my proxy until then. I can ask him if he can request the records for us, or Neville could ask his grandmother, who holds the proxy for the Longbottom seat until he's of age to take over." Neville nodded his agreement. Minerva came into the room in time to hear their discussion, and it reminded her of something she had wanted to bring up with her young charge.
The students all offered their professor greetings as they finished eating, and once done, she asked them politely to give her some time alone with Harry. Harry looked a little nervous, but he willingly followed his guardian to the sitting room. She gestured for him to sit. "Nothing's wrong, Harry, I just caught the end of your conversation, and it reminded me of something I've been meaning to discuss with you." Harry nodded, reassured.
Minerva took a deep breath. "As you remember from last summer, Sirius made you his heir. You are also the Potter heir, and I don't wish to add on to your burden, but I would like to make you my heir as well." Harry blinked.
"I thought heirs needed to be a blood relative." Minerva nodded. "That's why I didn't bring this up until now. I've been searching the family trees, to see if there is any overlap, and it took me a while. What you need to understand, Harry, is that if I die without an heir, most likely, the McGonagall line will end with me.
My older brother was the head of house after our parents' death in the war with Grindlewald, but he was killed along with his family in the first war. My own husband and children were killed as well, so I am the only one left." Harry looked surprised that she had had a family. He had never thought to ask her about it. Minerva smiled sadly. "I didn't bring it up because I still miss them. I don't think that ever goes away, so don't feel guilty for not knowing." Harry nodded.
"So did you find a link?" he asked curiously. Minerva nodded. "Eight generations ago, a squib was born into the McGonagall line. He was cast from the family and lived in the muggle world. He gave birth to a daughter, who had a son, who had another son, who had a daughter… in any event, the line ended with a young girl, born Lily Evans." Harry gasped. That was certainly unexpected. "Since we are, technically, blood relatives, however far removed, it is enough for the Goblins to be able to declare you my heir, if you are willing." Harry bit his lip.
"What would that mean, being the heir of three houses?" Minerva sighed. "Well, it's not much more than being the heir to the Potter and Black families. As old as the McGonagall family is, we do not have a seat on the Wizengamot, so there is no need to worry about holding three seats. Your first child would take on the role of heir to the Potter family, your second, should you choose to have more than one, would be heir to the Blacks, and your third could be the McGonagall heir." Harry looked conflicted, so Minerva stood up and moved so that she was sitting next to him on the sofa.
"It will be a lot of responsibility, Harry, though there will be less of a spotlight on the McGonagall seat, as we are a Noble family, not an Ancient and Noble one. Aside from this Castle, most of our assets lie in stocks and shares. And with the way things are going between Sirius and Amelia, it is a strong possibility that they will produce a Black heir of their own, so you will be relieved of that responsibility." Harry blushed a little at the thought of Sirius and Amelia's intimate relationship, but he nodded, a little relieved at the idea that he might not have to bear the weight of three houses.
Two would be quite enough. He looked up at his guardian. "I think I'd like to be your heir," he said, smiling slightly. Even if it would be more work on his part, he glowed at the thought of having real, honest to Merlin proof that Minerva cared for him like her own child.
Making him her heir would be tantamount to her adopting him, though as much as he did love living with her, he would be keeping his own surname.
Minerva returned the smile, and hugged him gently. "I'm very glad," she replied. The two spent a few more minutes discussing the responsibilities he would have, and a trip to Gringotts to make it official, before Harry disappeared to spend some time with his friends. They were all happy for him, though Susan definitely blushed when Harry spoke about not being the Black heir forever. Truthfully though, she liked the idea of having a baby cousin to play with. Sirius came to get them when it was time to progress, and the rest of the day was spent working on the potion, and dueling practice.
Remus and Tonks were there for the afternoon, and put them through their paces in between steps on the potion. Fred and George Flooed over as well, and joined them for the Defense lesson. XXX Two days later, the potion was complete. They all added the last ingredient three drops of blood and watched as all six cauldrons turned the required violet color. It was certainly the first time Neville could remember a potion of his turning out exactly the way it was supposed to.
They all ladled their brews into glasses, before Sirius directed them into a nearby sitting room. This part of the Castle was mostly bare; the lowest floor comprised of only the dueling room and several potions laboratories, with an informal sitting room set at one end of the hallway. "You'll all be knocked out for about half an hour, so that you can see your form; I would suggest getting comfortable before you drink." They all took seats, before they looked around, and, as one, tipped the glasses back and swallowed the potion.
One by one, each of them faded into unconsciousness. Harry looked around at the scene he found himself in. It looked to be a woodland area, and he searched for some hint of the animal he was to become. Looking down, he noted that he had paws, and his fur was black. He padded through the trees for a few minutes, until he came across a watering hole. He looked into the water, eager to see what animal he was. Studying his reflection, he realized he was a panther.
He had bright green eyes, just like his own, and a slightly lighter patch on his forehead where his scar rested. As he finished studying the aspects of his inner animal, the scene shifted, and Harry looked around, shocked. He was now up in the air, soaring over acres of land.
He looked around, but couldn't tell what he was, other then the fact that it was flying. He swooped down, lower to the ground, and spied a lake; soaring over the body of water, he caught sight of his reflection, and almost fell out of the air in shock.
A phoenix. In this form, as well, he was also completely black, though the tips of the wings were tinged gold, with his emerald eyes. Harry was startled into wakefulness. A glance around showed all of his friends to be stirring as well, and that Minerva and Remus had joined them at some point, and looked to be waiting eagerly with Sirius to hear their forms.
Ginny looked as startled as he felt, and he could sense her confusion. Gin? She looked at him, wide-eyed. Two animals, Harry. Is that possible? Harry shook his head mentally. I don't know. Do we get to choose, or can we turn into both? Ginny shrugged slightly, indicating her own uncertainty. I can't believe it though. A magical animal? I thought that was impossible.
Harry looked through her eyes, and saw the brilliant red and gold phoenix soaring through the air majestically. He grinned at her. You look beautiful, he said, speaking of her magical form. Ginny studied his own image, seeing the black phoenix flying over the land. You look pretty regal yourself, Potter. Harry bit his lip slightly, seeing their friends coming together to discuss what they had seen.
What does it mean, that we have the same second form? Ginny didn't have any answers for him, so Harry made a hesitant suggestion. Maybe we should keep the phoenix to ourselves, for now? Until we know what it means? Ginny looked relieved and nodded her agreement, before they began to share their forms.
Hermione went first. "I'm a cat," she informed them. Minerva smiled proudly. "It definitely suits you, Miss Granger. Cats are believed to represent those who are intelligent, astute, and independent." Hermione smiled, pleased with her professor's approval.
She suspected some of it may have come from the fact that the Transfiguration mistress was a cat animagus herself, but she was happy, nonetheless.
Ron went next. "I'm a dog," he informed them. "A Golden Retriever." Sirius nodded, grinning at having a fellow dog in the group. "A form such as that would indicate that you are a protector, a resourceful man, and above all, a loyal person." Ron looked happy with that assessment, and Neville went next. "I'm a wolf." He looked surprised with the form he had. Remus seemed incredibly pleased with that one; having another wolf in the group would be nice.
"It means you are intelligent, cunning, loyal, protective, and compassionate, Neville. I have to say, I completely agree. Wolves take care of their pack, above all else.
I know that you will take care of your friends, no matter what." Neville looked pleased. Susan was next. "Eagle." Sirius nodded. "Dominance, freedom, power. I completely agree." Susan blushed, but smiled. Hufflepuffs usually had a reputation as pushovers, but, like her aunt, Susan had long established herself as being a grounded individual with a desire to break free and soar, much like an eagle would.
When they thought about it, her animal form really made sense. Ginny took her turn. She sent a half glance at Harry, before she spoke. "I'm a lioness." Nobody seemed surprised with that. "Courage, dignity, power. It means you're a leader, and a true Gryffindor," Minerva said, smiling. To be honest, she was somewhat expecting that form from Harry, but she wouldn't put it passed them to have the same form.
Harry, however, surprised them when he spoke. "Panther." After a moment's shock, Remus nodded, leaning forward. "Power again, courage, valor, passion. Panthers are often seen as guardians and protectors.
It is very you, Harry." They all nodded, and Sirius began discussing the next step. "You've all got a bit of a leg up, since you learned meditation for Occlumency. It's not something that can really be taught, but you need to figure out how to take your inner animal, and will it to move from the inside, to the outside.
You need to figure out how to let it break free." He had them all move to the library, where they spent several hours studying their forms using muggle animal anatomy books that Sirius had picked up from the Potter library a few days earlier, remembering that they had been left there after Sirius, James, and Peter had completed their own transformations.
Shortly before everyone left for the evening, Sirius guided them through the meditation, telling them to focus on their inner animal, and try and will it to move to the outside.
No one saw any change that evening, but that was to be expected, Sirius said. He told them all to take the animal books home with them, duplicating pages as needed, since several of the animals were in the same book. He then told them to spend one hour meditating every night, but warned them to use caution, and to meditate with another person in the room, just in case something went wrong.
XXX The next day, the students took some time off of studying, as Harry, Minerva, and Sirius had an appointment at Gringotts. The three left for Diagon Alley bright and early, hoping to avoid crowds and any unsavory beings. They were wary of being caught in public by any of Voldemort's followers. Harry was confused as he entered the bank, nodding at the two Goblins who were standing guard and receiving a nod in return.
Several Goblins were in the lobby, and not many were busy as it was so early. He was on the receiving end of quite a few looks by the creatures, but none of them seemed to be hostile.
It only took a minute for him to step up to a free teller. "Good morning, Hodrod," he said courteously, glancing at the nameplate on the desk.
"I have an appointment with Sharptooth, if he's available?" The Goblin looked rather startled, but he hid it well. "He is waiting for you, Mr. Potter. Urg!" Another Goblin came up to them.
"Take Mr. Potter and his guardians to Sharptooth's office." The second Goblin nodded his assent, but Minerva stopped him before he could leave. "I actually have some business I would like to take care of as well; I know I don't have an appointment, but would it be possible to see if Varnok can spare a few moments of his time this morning?" The two Goblins had a quick conversation in Gobbledygook, before Hodrod nodded. "I will see if he is available." "Thank you," Harry said, before he and his guardians followed Urg deeper into the bank.
He noticed more Goblins nodding towards him as they walked, and leaned closer to his guardians. "Why are they all acting so… courteous?" he whispered. Minerva smiled. "You've shown them respect, Harry. It's more than they receive from most of the wizarding world, and they return respect when it is given." Urg heard their whispered conversation, and turned his head.
"Mr. Potter, very few wizards actually take the time to learn the name of the Goblin who escorts them to their vault. You not only remembered the name, you did so years later, and you were genuinely pleased to see him again. You are a very unusual wizard, Harry Potter. Sharptooth also thinks very highly of you." They arrived at the correct office that moment, so with a thank you to their guide, the three of them entered the room and offered their greetings to Harry's manager.
Sharptooth looked up and smiled, a rather startling expression on a Goblin's face. "It is good to see you again, Harry, Lord Black, Professor McGonagall. I trust you are doing well?" "Very well, thank you," Harry replied, taking a seat after shaking the Goblin's hand.
"And yourself?" Sharptooth was startled for a moment, but he nodded after a second. "I am fine, Harry, thank you for asking." He picked up a few papers and passed them across the desk. Goblins, after all, did not like to waste time. "I have here the most recent statements from your investments. All of the companies are doing well at this time.
I have a few suggestions for companies you can invest in, if you would like to take a look. That is the second and third page in that packet." Harry nodded, flipping to the pages in question. One was a muggle company that was looking to make a more compact version of the videotape players.
If successful, the same movies that Dudley had watched on the telly would be able to be played from a disc, the same shape and size as a CD. The company was already well established in the technology world, but they needed more funds to try and make this idea a reality. The second was a startup company; the potential owners were two potions masters who wanted to open their own shop, and would sell already brewed potions mostly, though they hoped to make their wares affordable for everyone.
Harry discussed it with his guardians, before he agreed to invest in both companies. They both had the potential to be successful, and he wanted to take the opportunity while it was there. Sharptooth nodded, and made the necessary notations, before he held out another sheet of parchment. "I have here a contract with Mr.'s Frederick and George Weasley. They came to Gringotts last week to open up a vault to fund their start up business, Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes.
They have indicated that you are to have full access, as a silent partner. Their initial deposit is five hundred galleons." Harry glanced worriedly over at Sirius and Minerva, who seemed rather confused, though Sirius also looked pleased at the idea of his godson becoming a partner in a burgeoning joke shop.
"If this is acceptable to you, please sign on the line at the bottom." Harry looked over the contract for a few minutes, before consulting with his guardians, who indicated that it looked to be in order, so Harry signed the form and handed it back to Sharptooth.
"Anything you would like to tell us, Harry?" Minerva asked, raising an eyebrow. She was smiling slightly, though, so Harry knew she wasn't truly mad. Harry shrugged, looking down at his lap. "I gave Fred and George my half of the Triwizard winnings.
I don't really need any more money, and they've got some brilliant ideas. This is something they really want to do, and I think they'll be really good at it. I thought, with everything that's going on, we'll probably need all the laughs we can get in the near future." He looked up now, his gaze steely and determined.
"Please don't tell Mrs. Weasley." Sirius let out a snort. "Scared of your girlfriend's mum killing you, Harry?" Harry's replying nod was quite serious, something that only made Sirius laugh harder. A knock on the door interrupted them, and they all looked up as Varnok, the McGonagall Account Manager entered. He nodded to Sharptooth, before turning to his client. "I understand you wished to speak with me, Madam McGonagall?" Minerva nodded graciously.
"Yes, thank you for sparing some time Varnok. I promise it will only take a few moments." Varnok nodded and with Sharptooth's approval, took a spare seat and focused on his client. "How can I be of service?" Minerva reached out and wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders. "I wished to amend my will. Most of the bequests will remain the same, however, I would like to officially declare Harry as my heir and name him as the major beneficiary of the McGonagall Estate." Varnok considered.
"In order to do so, Mr. Potter must be proven as a blood relative of the McGonagalls." Minerva nodded, withdrawing a copy of the family tree she had uncovered and handing it over. "You'll see here, that his mother was a descendent of one of my own Squib ancestors. It's a bit thin on the ground, but it should be a passable connection." Varnok studied the tree carefully, before he folded up the parchment and nodded. "It should work well enough, especially considering there are no other contesters.
I will see it done. Is there anything else?" Minerva shook her head. "No, I thank you again for your time and your assistance." Varnok focused his gaze on the young man in the room. "It is my pleasure," he informed them, much to their shock. Varnok's smile was every bit as discomforting as Sharptooth's. "Mr. Potter has proven himself to be an ally to our race, and we are pleased to be of assistance however we may help." It did not escape anyone's attention, as Varnok left, that he had used a general 'we'.
It seemed as if the Goblin race was gearing up to stand behind Harry, should the need arise. Not Dumbledore, not the Light side, but Harry. Sharptooth finished with his notes a moment later, and he studied his client once more. "Was there anything else I can help you with, or do you wish to go down to your vault once more?" Sirius nodded, shifting in his seat.
"Harry asked me a while back about one of the properties he has inherited, and I was unable to give him any answers, so we are hoping that you might be able to help us out. Can you tell us anything about Lion's Castle?" Sharptooth nodded, glancing through the file on his desk, and pulling out one particular piece of parchment.
"Lion's Castle is located in the Highlands of Scotland. The location itself is Unplottable, but the closest town, as a frame of reference, is Elgin. I believe the Castle has been unoccupied for several generations now, as most Potters prefer to reside at Potter Manor." "How did we come to own this castle?" Harry asked curiously. Sharptooth held out the parchment so that Harry could look over the property. "As you are aware, you are a direct descendant of Godric Gryffindor.
Godric had two sons. The older one was killed in a war with a dark lord in his thirties. After the death of his brother, Adrian Gryffindor and his father decided that, in order to protect their line, and Adrian's life, he would change his name and leave Hogwarts, where he had resided with his brother and father.
Godric had Lion's Castle built so that his son and now heir would be able to live comfortably. Adrian Gryffindor became Adrian Potter, and he and his line resided in Lion's Castle for several more generations, before yet another dark lord threatened their peace, and they were forced to abandon the Castle. At that point, I believe Potter Manor was built, though your ancestors still retained ownership of Lion's Castle, even though no one lived there anymore." Harry nodded, understanding.
"Can you give us a way to go there and check it out?" he queried. Sharptooth shook his head regretfully. "Unfortunately, the castle was abandoned long before I became the Potter account manager. There is a possibility that, somewhere in the Potter or Gryffindor Vaults, there are instructions or a way to visit the castle, but I am sorry to say that I cannot help you." Harry smiled his understanding and handed back the parchment, which detailed what looked to be a rather comfortable home, though he was certain it must have changed in the last few generations since it had been inhabited.
"That's all right, Sharptooth, thank you for telling me about the castle." Sharptooth inclined his head, relieved that Harry understood his inability to help. "Was there anything else I can help you with, before you go down to your vault?" Harry and Sirius looked at each other, before Harry leaned forward. "I was wondering if it would be possible to see the Gryffindor Vault today." Sharptooth nodded his agreement, and rang a bell. Urg once more returned to the room, and the Goblin manager barked out his order.
"Take Mr. Potter and his guardians to Vault Thirteen." Urg nodded, hiding his surprise, as he led the trio of magicals to the carts, and down into the catacombs. No one had visited any of the founding vaults in decades, if not more. They went much deeper than anyone had been in a very long time, twisting and turning so much that Harry knew he would never be able to find his way back out again, before coming to a stop in front of a rather impressive looking door.
There was no keyhole, Harry noticed, stepping out of the cart. Urg nodded at the lifelike carving of the griffin that was sitting at chest height.
"Place your hand onto the carving. If you are accepted as the true heir, the door will open." Harry gulped. "And if I'm not accepted?" Urg's grin was not at all reassuring. Harry took a deep breath, before he placed his hand on the door. He felt something stir within him, similar to when his bond with Ginny had formed, but not quite the same.
The griffin carving began to glow softly, and a moment later, the door simply melted away, and Harry was left gaping at what was in front of him. He walked forward, almost in a daze. He barely noticed Urg stopping his guardians, explaining that only a direct blood relation could enter these vaults, and they would need to wait outside.
Harry wandered around for a few moments, studying the objects in the vault, rather than the piles of gold, silver, and bronze. He read a few titles of books he was fairly certain weren't in print anymore, admired the weaponry hanging decoratively along one wall, and the jewelry cases along the other. In one case he noticed a single ring, lying on a velvet pillow. It had a thick gold band, and what looked to be the same crest that he had just seen on the vault door.
On a red backdrop, there was a majestic looking griffin, rearing up on two legs, its wings unfurled as if it were about to take off.
Above the griffin were two crossed swords, and below, the phrase 'Ddewrder, Anrhydedda, Gwroldeb'. He had no idea what it meant, but he assumed it was the family motto. It certainly wasn't Latin. He was about to leave empty handed, when a slim volume caught his eye. He pulled it off the shelf, flipping through it briefly; it appeared to be a handwritten journal, and with a jolt, Harry realized that it had been written by Godric Gryffindor himself.
He stuck it in a pocket before exiting the vault. The door solidified in place once more, and Harry noticed the same crest that had been on the ring carved into the door. In his nervousness of opening the door earlier, he had only paid attention to the griffin, not the two swords or the words that accompanied it.
He turned to look at Urg. "Do you know what the phrase is above the crest? It doesn't look like any language I recognize." Urg turned to face the vault door, and then looked back at Harry. "The Gryffindor family originated in Wales; the family motto was 'Ddewrder, anrhydedda, a gwroldeb yn anad amgen'. In Welsh, it says 'courage, honor, and bravery above all else'.
On the crest, it was shortened simply to 'courage, honor, bravery'." Harry nodded. "I saw the Gryffindor ring in there. Is that something I should take?" Urg shook his head slightly. "In order to claim the head of Gryffindor title, you need to have reached your majority." With no more questions, the group made their way to the Potter Vault next. Harry wanted to look around a little more, and see if there were any books that he might find useful. He found a few that looked intriguing, which he packed in the bag that Sirius had brought, before wandering over to the jewelry cases.
He saw the Potter ring lying in one case, but he knew he couldn't officially claim his lordship until he turned seventeen. The Potter Crest was remarkably similar to the Gryffindor Crest, Harry noted with interest. Instead of a griffin, there was a lion rearing back on two legs, and instead of two crossed swords, there was a sword crossed with a wand.
There was no motto on the ring, but Harry had seen the Crest several times when he and Sirius had visited Potter Manor earlier in the summer, so he knew the family motto to be 'Courage begets honor, honor begets valor', again similar to the Gryffindor motto. Sirius had taught him a lot about the duties and responsibilities he would have as Lord Potter, as well as the laws he would need to live by, over the last year.
Sirius always made it interesting, and talked a lot about where the laws had come from. Harry taking on the mantle of Lord Potter at seventeen would fall under the End of Line Clause in the Old Laws, which dated back to the first rebellion with the Goblins. Most Lords were much older when they claimed their lordship, as many witches and wizards married young and lived longer than muggles. There wasn't usually a need to pass on a lordship until the wizard in question was in his thirties at least, and sometimes later.
It was entirely possible that sometimes, a lordship would even skip a generation. The End of the Line Clause had been instigated to allow younger wizards to take on the mantle of their families as soon as they came of age, so that the family would have a Head again. The Wizengamot wasn't nearly as old, and their laws were mostly derivatives of the Old Laws; although, they had instigated an age limit of twenty five for their members, which was why Harry had to wait longer to claim his seat than he would to claim his lordship.
He moved on, glancing over other pieces displayed in the cases, but the item that really jumped out at him was his mother's engagement ring. He didn't know why he took it, but he just knew that it felt right. He made sure, however, that neither of his guardians saw him take the piece of jewelry, not wanting to answer any questions.
He picked out a few books with interesting titles, placing them in the sack Sirius was carrying, before they left the vault. Two more quick stops, at the Black and McGonagall Vaults, and the group was once more on the ground floor. With a goodbye and a nod of thanks to Urg, the trio made their way once more down the alley. They wanted to get home quickly, to avoid any unnecessary risks, but Sirius insisted they make a quick stop so that he could get a certain gift for Ginny for her birthday; Harry grinned as he saw his godfather buy his girlfriend a wand holster.
He was glad that his guardians cared about her safety just as much as his. He still didn't know what he was going to get her, but he came up with an idea as they passed Quality Quidditch Supplies.
He turned his begging eyes on Sirius. "Please, can we stop there, just for a moment?" Sirius sighed. "Five minutes only," he said, avoiding Minerva's glare. Harry stepped inside the shop and looked around briefly, before he went to the counter and struck up a conversation with the wizard working that morning. Sirius and Minerva listened with interest as their charge debated the pros and cons of different brooms that would be best for someone wanting to play chaser.
After a few minutes, Harry decided on a Nimbus 2001, and he handed over the money quickly, taking the wrapped package with a grin and a "Thank you." The shopkeeper smiled in return as the group left. Sirius shook his head.
"A little expensive, don't you think? Don't get me wrong, Ginny will love it, but what about her mother?" Harry grimaced, but stood firm by his decision. "Ginny's an amazing flyer, and she needs a broom to match. Is it wrong that I want to spoil her?" Minerva smiled as they entered the Leaky Cauldron.
"Not at all, Harry. You care for her. That's a good thing." Harry smiled, and the three immediately took the Floo back to McGonagall Castle.
If anyone didn't know, DVD's were actually invented in 1995. I checked! There were some less advanced versions before that, but the actual DVD format was invented in '95. Another site says that DVD's released in Japan in 1996, so the timing sort of works.
Hey, it's fanfiction, I'm allowed to fudge the truth. Get over it. _ _ _ Chapter 5 I know a lot of you think that my animagus forms are cliché, but seriously, I think I'm allowed to be a little.
I never claimed that this story was completely original and unique. There are some animal forms that just fit Harry and the rest of the gang, so I used them. I know panther and lion are some of the most used forms, as are phoenixes, but it worked for my story.
Disclaimer: not mine Harry spent the rest of his day off from studying reading the journal he had picked up from the Gryffindor vault. It read more like an autobiography of Godric's life. Harry was quickly entranced, devouring the pages after he used a translation spell that Minerva had taught him, as the writing appeared to be in an old style Welsh language; he spent the afternoon learning about his early ancestor, and reading about the creation of Hogwarts.
His relationships with the other founders were discussed in detail, and Harry noted with interest that Salazar Slytherin and Godric had been as close as brothers, at least in the beginning.
He kept reading, and learned about the opening of the school, its success, and eventually, what had caused the disagreement between the founders. It wasn't so much that Salazar was a muggle hater, it was more that he thought muggleborns should be educated about their world before entering the school.
At that time, muggle commoners were mainly uneducated, and feared that which they didn't understand well, Harry snorted, not that much had changed in the last thousand years, in that respect. Salazar didn't think the muggleborns should immediately be thrust into a world they didn't understand. Many of them couldn't read or write, and didn't know how to act amongst witches and wizards, or in the presence of magic. The event that caused Salazar to leave wasn't so much a falling out, as Salazar had met a woman, fallen in love, and moved to the continent.
He was surprised to learn that Salazar's wife had been a muggle. Over time, the pedestrian arguments the founders had had, had been distorted and changed, until this millennium old feud had been born. It made Harry laugh, as he read about the real story.
It was amazing how much history could be changed. The later entries were even more intriguing for the young Potter heir. He learned about Godric's wife, and the soul bond they had shared. Godric documented the process, and wrote his opinions and views.
He noted in the pages that the bond signified their marriage, without the need for a ceremony, causing Harry to wonder if it had done that for him and Ginny as well. He wondered if the Goblins would know, and decided to ask at the next opportunity. He wondered what it would mean, if it did. Would they need to tell Mrs. Weasley? They still hadn't told anyone about the bond, despite their decision to tell Harry's guardians at the end of the previous school year.
They weren't ashamed, but they were a little afraid of how the adults might take the news, particularly if, as Harry now suspected, they were married. Would he and Ginny need to move in together? As much as he loved her, Harry definitely wasn't ready to take their relationship to the next level. After all, he had just turned fifteen, and Ginny was still thirteen for another few days.
They were too young to be thinking about that. XXX The next Defense lesson was a huge triumph, as Ron and Neville successfully managed to overcome Sirius. They all celebrated that, before once more discussing the highs and lows of their efforts. That done, they all got back to work, and spent the rest of the afternoon getting their arses kicked by Sirius, who seemed to have something to prove after he had been taken out by two fifteen year olds. It was only Sirius that day, as Remus had managed to get a job at a muggle bookstore and was working, and Tonks was on duty.
Those two were still getting closer, and Sirius was starting to drop hints to his old friend unfortunately, Harry thought that the old werewolf might need more than subtlety to actually ask Tonks out. He knew those two would be perfect for each other, if Remus would just let himself feel something.
He was too caught up in his beliefs that he couldn't have happiness to realize that Tonks was right there and wanted to be with him. Harry could see the same type of dysfunctional balance between Remus and Tonks that Sirius and Amelia seemed to have. Fred and George were doing quite well, and were applauded by the adults for their creativity, though Sirius, Remus, and Tonks implored the twins to learn the more serious ways of disarming and incapacitating.
Jokes wouldn't always work. Sirius and Minerva had spent several Order meetings observing the members, trying to decide if there was anyone else they could trust to help them train Harry and his friends; Sirius, Remus, and Tonks were doing a good job, but Tonks had still just finished Auror training, and Sirius hadn't been an active Auror in over a decade, while Remus had never had any official training.
Sirius had spoken with Amelia and Tonks, and both thought that Kingsley Shacklebolt would be a good choice to add to their circle.
He was a solid Auror and a good man, according to the two women who worked with him daily. Amelia told Sirius that he was a solid worker, and loyal to justice and doing what was right, rather then any person or office.
She wasn't blind to corruption, by any stretch, and she knew that there were Aurors in her department that reported first to Fudge or Dumbledore, rather then herself. Kingsley, though, would help them if they clued him in to everything that was going on. Alastor Moody was another possibility, but all of them agreed that he was too close to Dumbledore for them to risk it just yet. A few days later, Ginny turned fourteen.
It was a small party at The Burrow, with just immediate family, plus Harry, Neville, Susan, and Hermione. Percy was too busy at work, and Charlie couldn't get time off from the Dragon Reserve, but the rest of the Weasleys were there. Ginny spent a few minutes antagonizing Bill over his burgeoning closeness with one French Triwizard Champion, causing the Curse Breaker to blush and splutter out a mumbled response, but both Harry and Ginny could see the happiness Fleur seemed to have wrought in him.
Apparently, Bill had put in a good word for her with Gringotts, and she was now working as an entry-level Curse Breaker. The two had spent a good deal of time together over the last couple of months, and Harry knew that whatever relationship they were cultivating, it was probably serious; he had seen the way those two had looked at each other, before and after the third task. Most of the morning was spent opening presents, as Ginny unwrapped gifts from her family and friends.
She received mostly clothes from her parents, a few baubles that Charlie had sent from Romania, a book on Egyptian wards from Bill, candy from Ron, joke products from Fred and George, and books on various subjects from Hermione, Neville, and Susan. Harry gave her the present from Sirius, and Ginny was ecstatic to have a wand holster just like Harry's. She had seen how much easier it was for him to draw his wand, and in a fight, those precious few seconds could make all the difference.
Harry was noticeably nervous as he handed over his own present, even if she didn't have a direct link to his emotions. She unwrapped the brand new Nimubs 2001, stunned speechless. "Harry…" she almost whispered. Mrs. Weasley looked like she wanted to protest the expensive gift, but didn't say anything as Harry leaned forward and gave Ginny a kiss. "It's a practical gift," he told her.
"You're going to need to practice if you want to make the team." Ginny looked confused. "But there are no open spots this year." Harry shook his head. "Maybe not, but you remember that conversation with Viktor about the benefits of reserves. That's something I'm planning on bringing up with Angelina this year.
You'll make it onto the reserve team for sure, and then next year will be a breeze." Ginny smiled and ran her hands along the length of the broom handle, unable to believe that it was actually hers.
Harry chuckled at her awe. I wanted to get you a Firebolt, but I thought your mum might be less inclined to object with a less expensive model.
You're good enough that the Nimbus will make everyone else look like amateurs. Ginny blushed slightly, but she sent back a mental wink and a shove.
Damn straight, Potter. I could fly circles around you. Harry just grinned. I know, he replied. After a hearty lunch, the children all moved outside to fly around a little.
They managed to put together something that could pass for Quidditch, though their field was much smaller than it would have been, since their makeshift Pitch wasn't within the new wards of the Burrow.
Ginny broke in her new broom by beating the opposing team 200-20. Her team was definitely the more experienced one, with her and Harry for chasers and Ron at keeper, and that wasn't even counting the way Harry and Ginny could speak to each other in their mind. On the other team, Hermione was doing better at chaser than she had as keeper, but the combined force of her and Susan still wasn't enough to make a difference against the joint strength of Ginny and Harry.
And Neville had no experience at the goals. Fred and George basically spent the whole afternoon hitting their solitary bludger at each other, and Bill acted as referee. When the sun started to go down, Mrs. Weasley bade them all to come inside, where the teenagers all began to disperse to their own homes for the evening. Harry pulled Ginny aside to say goodbye, as he was the last one without red hair to leave Bill still hadn't managed to escape his mother to go back to his flat in London.
Once inside her room, Harry put up a few standard silencing spells, before he turned back to his girlfriend. "I have one more present for you." He looked much more nervous than he had when giving her the broom. Ginny furrowed her brow. "Harry, the broom was more than enough, you didn't have to " Harry shook his head, pulling out a small box from his pocket and turning it over in his hands.
"I know I didn't. This is something a little different." He looked into Ginny's warm brown eyes, and felt much better about what he was doing. "I finally got to visit the Gryffindor Vault a few days ago. There were a lot of things in there, but the most interesting was a journal that Godric kept.
I'll tell you a little more about it later, believe me, the truth is completely different from the legends, but that's not important right now. Apparently, Godric and his wife had a soul bond. His journal spoke about what they experienced, but something Godric noted was that their bonding seemed to constitute a binding marriage between them." Ginny leaned back in surprise.
She took in his nervous expression, and immediately tried to comfort him. "It's all right, Harry." Harry bit his lip. "Is that all right with you? I know we're young, but I really don't mind it." Ginny smiled and moved forward to kiss him. Pulling back, she didn't move far, still feeling comfortable in his arms. "I would love nothing more than to be married to you, Harry James Potter." Harry breathed out a sigh of relief, stepping back half a step and dropping down onto one knee.
He opened the box and Ginny gasped. "Ginevra Molly Weasley, would you do me the extraordinary honor of being my wife?" Ginny smiled, kneeling on the floor in front of him. "I would love to, Harry," she replied. Harry grinned and took the ring from the box.
From his pocket, he pulled out a silver chain. "I know we probably shouldn't tell anyone about this, so I thought you could wear the ring on this chain." Ginny nodded, speechless as she watched him thread the ring onto the necklace, and clasp it around her neck. She picked it up, studying it, and remembered what he had said about a matching ring to go with the necklace and earrings he had given her last Christmas. It was beautiful. The band was a rose gold of a medium width, engraved to look like tree bark.
Small rubies were spaced evenly around the band, and on top was a modest sized diamond, framed on either side by a smaller emerald. Harry pulled out his wand and tapped the ring. Ginny watched it intently, but nothing changed.
Harry smiled, covering her hand with his. "I disillusioned it. Now, no one can see it except us." She set it down and felt the comforting weight resting against her chest, before looking up into her… husband's… eyes, beaming. Harry gave her another searing kiss before he took down the silencing wards and led her back to the sitting room where the rest of her family was spending the evening.
He said his goodbyes, and stepped through the Floo. Molly smiled at her now fourteen-year-old daughter. "Did you have a good day, dear?" she asked. Ginny smiled, reaching one hand up to rest it over her invisible necklace. "It was great, mum." XXX Minerva knocked on the door to the Headmaster's office, and upon hearing his "Enter," opened the door. "You wanted to speak with me, Albus?" Albus set down the parchment he was reviewing, and smiled.
"Yes, Minerva, thank you for coming. I hope I wasn't taking you away from anything important?" Minerva held in her ire, and took a seat in front of the desk, ignoring the question and trying to get to the point of this meeting. "What did you want to talk about?" Albus sighed, and leaned back, observing his Transfiguration professor. "Yes, I wanted to ask you about your decision for the fifth year Prefects. Are you certain you made the right choice?" Minerva grit her teeth.
"I do not believe you have any right to question my decision. The appointment of Prefects does, after all, fall to the heads of house." Albus leaned forward, clasping his hands together on top of his desk. "Of course, Minerva, but don't you think that it is unwise to let personal feelings influence professional decisions?" Minerva stood up, her nostrils flaring as her eyes narrowed.
"Do not dare to presume that I let personal feelings influence anything. I am not Severus. Mr. Potter and Miss Granger deserve those badges, and they will get them." Albus sighed, shaking his head. "Harry has enough to worry about, and Severus' choices are his own, much like you are trying to tell me are yours." Minerva almost hissed. "Indeed. But I will be very interested in seeing whom he chooses for the fifth year Prefects. If it is anyone other than Mr.
Zabini and Miss Greengrass, I should like to know his reasons; those two are, after all, the most active in their year, and have been wonderful role models for the younger students." Albus leaned back again. "Ah, but you do not have any say in the Slytherin Prefects, Minerva, just like I have no say in the Gryffindor ones.
Correct?" Minerva clenched her teeth. "I understand that, Albus. I merely pointed it out as interesting conjecture." Albus was about to speak, when Minerva held up her hand and leaned forward.
"Do not underestimate any of us, Albus. Harry Potter is a wonderful young man who deserves to be able to live his life. I advise you strongly to stop meddling with it." Albus sighed again, spreading his arms in a gesture of compliance. "I care for him as well, Minerva. Can you not forgive an old man for caring perhaps too much?" Minerva growled. "You have a rather interesting way of showing it. No matter what you say, I will never forgive you for ignoring his parents' Will. He could have been Sirius' from the beginning; Sirius should never have gone to Azkaban, and I should never have lost all those years.
Sirius and I have been hard-pressed to undo twelve years of abuse and neglect that you so lovingly subjected him to. If that is all?" She didn't wait for him to respond, and simply swept out of the room, shutting the door rather forcefully behind her. Albus was left alone with Fawkes. He sighed, looking at the brilliant bird.
"It was necessary, my friend. For the Greater Good." Fawkes let out a mournful cry and vanished in a pillar of flame. Had Dumbledore been a little more willing to reconsider his plans, he might have actually considered the phoenix's departure to be a sign. However, he was so certain that his way was the only way that he just lamented that no one understood, and went back to reading the files on his desk.
XXX Minerva needed a few minutes to cool off after that conversation, and only when she was calm and collected, did she return home for the evening. She and Sirius spent some time talking about Dumbledore, and more than one curse was hurtled through the air at the old man's hidden motives. Minerva decided to hand out the Hogwarts letter personally the next morning, having gotten Susan's from Pomona the day before. All six students opened them around the table. Hermione squealed when she unwrapped the shiny Prefect's badge.
Everyone congratulated her and went back to their own letters. "Only a couple new books this year," Ron observed. "Hey, Harry… Harry?" He looked up to find his best mate staring, transfixed, at his own Prefect's badge.
Hermione looked up and saw it as well. "Oh, congratulations Harry! I knew you'd get it!" Harry met her excited gaze with confusion. "But… I don't…" Minerva sighed and leaned forward, capturing his attention. "You were the most obvious choice, Harry. Your grades are above reproach, you are a longstanding member of the Quidditch team, a founding member of the DA, well liked and respected amongst your peers. Whom else would I choose?" She was pleased that he seemed to understand her reasons, but she still hated the way he didn't realize just how special he was.
If Vernon Dursley hadn't already been in prison, she would have made a very special trip to Surrey to dispense her own special brand of justice. Ginny leaned over and gave her boyfriend a kiss. I'm so proud of you, Harry. You truly deserve this. You're a leader, and McGonagall recognizes that. Harry nodded slightly, smiling. Thanks, Gin. Everyone studied their own letters for a few more minutes. Susan also received congratulations on her own Prefect's badge, and the six went off to work some more on their animagus transformations.
No one had seen any change, though Harry thought he felt something when he tried to change his fingernails into claws a few days before. Nothing had happened, but he felt something stir within him. That evening, after everyone had left, Sirius came into Harry's room to find him reading the book Cedric had given him for his birthday. He smiled and took a seat on the edge of the bed. "Hey, pup, do you mind if we talk for a few minutes?" Harry looked up, his concentration broken.
"You know, pup doesn't really fit for me anymore. My animagus form is a panther." Sirius didn't say anything, and Harry furrowed his brow, taking in his godfather's nervous expression. He straightened up, setting the book aside. "What's up, Padfoot?" Sirius bit his lip. "You know how Amelia and I have gotten really close over the last year, right?" Harry grinned cheekily.
"So that's what they're calling it these days?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Watch it, pup." He smiled slightly, and continued. "I really like her, but I want to make sure that you're all right with it." Harry nodded, leaning forward. "Amelia's great, Sirius," he said sincerely.
"You two are good together." He raised an eyebrow of his own. "Now, what's this really about?" Sirius took a deep breath. "I want to ask her to marry me," he informed his godson bluntly.
He was surprised when Harry didn't seem to be. Harry just shrugged. "When?" he asked curiously. Sirius bit his lip. "I was thinking Christmas," he mused, before he shifted in his seat. "Are you all right with this, Harry?" Harry nodded immediately. "I want you to be happy, Padfoot." He looked down briefly. "Does this mean you're going to move out?" Sirius sighed and took Harry's hand in his own.
"You know I'll always be there for you, Harry. We're all growing up I guess, even me." Harry smiled a little at Sirius' light tone. "I will have to discuss it with Amelia and Susan, but I'm much more inclined to move to their home, than bring them back to Black Manor. You've seen the place, and even though Kreacher's cleaned it up a bit, it's still depressing. To be perfectly honest, I really don't want to worry about it not too many good memories, you know?" Harry nodded.
He did know, after all. Sirius smiled. "If it weren't for Order meetings being held there, I wouldn't have bothered getting it cleaned out at all. No matter what, though, I'll just be a Floo call away." He looked down, nervously.
"All this is really just speculation right now, anyway. I haven't even asked her yet." Harry grinned. "You know she'll say yes. How could she refuse you?" Sirius preened, before he deflated and ruffled Harry's hair. The teen jerked away, complaining, but Sirius knew he enjoyed it. "And as for calling you 'pup'… you'll always be my pup, just like you'll always be Remus' cub. Is that all right?" Harry nodded, smiling as he gave his godfather a hug.
Sirius' grin stretched across his face. "Good night, pup," he said, standing up and heading towards the door. "Night, Padfoot," Harry replied, settling down to sleep as Sirius extinguished the light in his room before leaving.
XXX Molly insisted on throwing a party that weekend at The Burrow, in honor of the three Prefects amongst her children's friends. They were all happy to spend some time relaxing and enjoying themselves.
They flew around the yard a bit, and spent some time listening to the adults speak of their own times at Hogwarts. Sirius and Remus told stories about the Marauders, and Remus' troubles at keeping his friends in line once he was made Prefect. They also told Harry about his father's time as Head Boy, with Bill chiming in on his own experiences. Molly and Arthur also had some great stories to tell, though one or two of them had Molly blushing, while her children roared with laughter.
Minerva of course had taught all of them, and was able to give them a teacher's view, which was rather amusing, as all of the current students were used to seeing her as the stern, unyielding Transfiguration Mistress, and were still getting to know the looser version of their professor that they had seen many times over this summer and the previous one. Fred and George of course couldn't let the opportunity to rib their younger friends for being responsible.
Harry, Hermione, and Susan took it all in stride, knowing that it was just the twins' special way of congratulating them. All in all, it was a rather pleasant Saturday afternoon. _ _ _ Chapter 6 Disclaimer: not mine It took quite a bit of convincing for Harry and his friends to convince their parents and guardians to allow them to go to Diagon Alley for their school supplies.
Molly was all for picking up everything herself, and Minerva was more inclined to agree, until Sirius and Remus took her aside and reminded her of all the work Harry and his friends had put in this summer, and how advanced they were for their ages.
But even passed all that, they were still just teenagers, and needed some time out and about. They had worked most of their summer away, and needed some play time. Minerva just sighed and agreed, but not before making Harry promise to be on his guard.
Harry agreed readily, so one morning in late August found Harry, Sirius, Remus, and Minerva meeting the Weasleys, Hermione, Neville, Augusta, and Susan at the Leaky Cauldron. Amelia wanted to come, but she was swamped at work; even though Fudge hadn't listened to a word Crouch Junior had said, Amelia had his testimony, and was going over the lists of names he had given, cross referencing with the first war, and trying to find evidence to look further into those people.
Top of her list were Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Avery, and McNair, the same names Harry had given her during their talk at the beginning of the summer. Since she couldn't come with them to the Alley, she had extracted the same promise from Susan that Minerva had gotten from Harry. The group made their way into the Alley, and Sirius looked around, keeping one eye on the crowd at large as he asked, "Where to first?" The look in Hermione's eyes clearly said she wanted to go to Flourish and Blotts, but Harry, with a quick glance at Ginny, spoke first.
"I need to get some money, how about Ginny and I go to Gringotts, and meet the rest of you in a few?" Sirius and Minerva eyed him curiously and a bit suspiciously, but Sirius nodded readily enough. "If you're not at Flouish and Blotts within half an hour, I'm coming to find you, deal?" Molly did not seem to be thrilled, but she didn't say anything.
Harry nodded, grinning, and took his girlfriend's hand, leading her down the Alley towards the gleaming white building that was Gringotts Bank. "Be careful!" Molly yelled after them. The adults wasted no time in leading the rest of the group towards the bookstore, though Harry's guardians were pondering his desire to go to the bank, especially without them.
He knew that they would be buying his school things, and if he needed spending money, they would provide that as well. Harry led Ginny into the bank and moved to the shortest line. Ginny kept her eyes straight ahead as she spoke through their bond. What's the need to come here, Harry? Especially just you and me, without the adults. Harry bit his lip, and stepped forward as the line moved. I had a thought, that the Goblins might know something about our soul bond.
I'm hoping my manager will be able to see me this morning, and can tell us more. Ginny looked over sharply. You didn't even make an appointment? Harry, the Goblins aren't just going to change their schedule to suit you. Harry was about to reply, when their turn came and he stepped up to the teller. A look at the nameplate had him grinning, as it was the same goblin he had spoken to his last visit.
"Hello Hodrod, it's nice to see you again." Hodrod peered at the wizard in front of him for a moment, before he broke into a toothy grin. "You as well, Mr. Potter. How can I be of service this morning?" Ginny looked startled at the friendly goblin, but Harry just spoke as if he expected it. "I know I don't have an appointment, but a matter of some importance has come up, and I was wondering if Sharptooth would be available for a few minutes this morning?" Hodrod glanced between the two magicals standing in front of him, and he nodded knowingly.
"I understand," he said. "Give me one minute. I will return shortly." Harry and Ginny nodded their consent, and waited in silence. The Goblin returned less than a minute later, and beckoned to the two. "Follow me," he informed them, leading the pair down the now somewhat familiar path to Sharptooth's office. Harry, why is this Goblin being so… nice? Harry grimaced internally. Aunt Minerva says it's because I was respectful to them, so they're returning the favor.
I'm also a rather wealthy client for them, so it's in their best interests. As for the rest, well, I just thought it makes sense to know their names and be courteous to them, and I said so. Griphook was totally surprised that I remembered his name four years later.
It just annoys me, that witches and wizards can be so uncaring. The Goblins see to our entire financial system, why don't people think they should at least show them the barest of common courtesies?
Ginny was surprised, but very proud, as she agreed. I understand, it is wrong. Growing up in the magical world, I guess I never really realized just how bad it is, the way Goblins and other creatures are looked down upon. It always just 'was', and I never thought about it.
The Weasleys aren't exactly big clients for them, but that doesn't mean we can't be respectful. They arrived at Sharptooth's office, and Hodrod knocked. "Enter," came the gravelly voice inside, so the Goblin opened the door with a slight bow.
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Hodrod," he said, stepping inside. Ginny followed suit. "Thank you for your assistance." Hodrod nodded, his bow deepening slightly, as the redhead smiled brilliantly at him. Thinking about the strange couple, the Goblin made his way back to the lobby to see to some less courteous guests.
Witches and wizards like those two children were rare, after all, he mused as he took his seat behind the teller's desk and painted on a sneer as yet another wizard demanded to be taken to his vault. XXX Sharptooth looked up and studied the couple that entered his office. Harry was leading a young witch with bright red hair.
He knew immediately who she was; after all it was his job to know his client. He observed the nervousness the two displayed, and gave them a light smile. "How can I be of service today, Harry?" Harry sat down, gesturing for Ginny to do the same, before he spoke. "I'm sorry I didn't make an appointment, Sharptooth, but I… we, wanted to ask you about something rather delicate." Sharptooth's smile widened, and he nodded understandingly.
"You want to know about the bond." Ginny reared back, but Harry just sighed. "So you do know," he said quietly. Sharptooth nodded again.
"It is not something that is readily visible to most, but those with the ability, can see it Veela, phoenixes, centaurs, unicorns… and Goblins. With the two of you in here, together, it would be impossible for me to miss." Harry bit his lip. "Can you tell us what it means?" Sharptooth shifted in his seat. "Basically, the two of you are considered married by those who can sense the bond. Under the Old Laws, you both received your emancipation the moment the bond was enacted, though I can tell that it hasn't been completed yet.
You are entitled to the full Potter inheritance, and Mrs. Potter should be added to the list of those permitted access to your Family Vault. I should mention that these Laws, while recognized by the Goblin Nation, are not by the Wizengamot anymore." Ginny startled at hearing herself addressed as Mrs.
Potter. She didn't even know where to start, but Harry clearly had thought things through already. It was almost as if he had expected that answer. "Does it mean anything else… for us?" Sharptooth seemed to understand, even though his question had been rather vague. "If you were older when the bond was solidified, it might be more noticeable, but as it is, you shouldn't feel any pull or desire to do anything you're not inherently comfortable with.
You're growing, as teenagers, and the bond won't change that, so just let your relationship evolve naturally. When I said that the bond hadn't been fully completed, I mean there is one last step to take, but that will only happen when the two of you are ready." Harry frowned. "What do you mean?" Sharptooth looked at the pair. "As soon as you become physically intimate, the bond will be completed." Both teens reddened, but didn't comment.
"Is there any way that people could find out about this without us telling them?" Harry asked worriedly. Sharptooth shook his head. "Soul bonds are rare. I believe the last one took place approximately six hundred years ago. There is a book in the Department of Mysteries that records all bonds, be they soul, life debt, or otherwise, but it is not checked normally.
I don't think it has been checked in two hundred years, actually. There is another copy of this book in Gringotts, but it is protected most powerfully. As I said, the only ones who will know are those who can sense the bond.
No one else should know unless you tell them." Harry nodded thankfully. "We would appreciate it if you could keep it secret. I know what people would say if they knew. And then there's the whole matter of Voldemort." Sharptooth nodded his understanding. "Yes, we at Gringotts are aware of your version of events from last June. Madam Bones is quite unlike most at the Ministry. She has endeavored to inform us of any matters that may relate to our sovereignty, including the recapture of Bartemius Crouch, Junior." Harry bit his lip but didn't say anything, and after a moment, Sharptooth continued.
"I have a few suggestions for you in regards to your bond, Harry, Mrs. Potter, if you have the time." Harry glanced at his watch, and nodded. They had another fifteen minutes before they needed to be at the bookstore. Ginny shifted slightly, and spoke for the first time. "Not that I don't love hearing it, but I don't think you should call me Mrs. Potter, at least not yet. Please, call me Ginny." Sharptooth grinned.
"Of course, Ginny. And may I say it is a pleasure to officially meet you. The former Lord Potter, Harry's grandfather, once spoke of the Potter curse, as it were. I am pleased to see that it his holding true." Harry furrowed his brow.
"What curse?" he asked curiously. Sharptooth's smile widened. "You should return to Potter Manor and look for photos of your grandparents, and their parents, and theirs before them.
Potters always end up with redheads. James once informed me when Lily was not present, of course that redheads were the only ones who could handle the Potter stubbornness." Harry laughed and nodded, agreeing completely. Ginny growled lightly, but her eyes were amused. Informing Sharptooth of their time crunch, the Goblin nodded. "Well then, I just need your signature on a few things, to allow your bondmate access to your Vaults." Harry signed the forms without hesitation, and Sharptooth moved on.
"I know this is not something you wish to think about, Harry, but now that you are the Head of an Ancient and Noble House in the eyes of the Goblin Nation, you should have an active Will." Harry nodded, reaching out to grasp Ginny's hand. "I guess, a few bequests to my friends, and then Ginny gets the rest." Sharptooth nodded, and Ginny tried to protest. "Harry…" Harry shook his head. "If something happens to me, Gin, I want you taken care of." He turned back to his account manager.
"One hundred thousand galleons each to Ron, Hermione, Susan, and Neville. Oh, and Remus, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, for all they've done for me. Ron gets my Firebolt, and Hermione gets my personal library. And permission to use the one at Potter Manor any time." He looked over at Ginny. "Can you think of anything else?" Ginny shook her head, unable to really say anything.
She knew Harry was wealthy, but he had just unconcernedly talked about leaving hundreds of thousands of galleons to friends, and the rest to her. And she knew the rest was somewhere in the hundreds of millions. She couldn't even comprehend such a sum, coming from the family she did. The Weasley family was not a wealthy one, though they never let that dampen their spirits. Sharptooth finished writing the Will, and Harry signed it, followed by Ginny, who was the witness.
That act done, the Goblin set aside the parchment. "As you are considered an adult by us, I can authorize your receiving the head of house rings for both the Potter and Gryffindor families, if you wish it." Harry looked at Ginny for a moment, before he turned back to Sharptooth.
"What would you recommend?" he asked curiously. Sharptooth only hesitated for a moment, realizing that he shouldn't be surprised, as this wizard had already proved his willingness to break down stereotypes. Most wouldn't even consider asking a goblin their opinion. He eyed the couple intently. "You have already mentioned your desire for no one to find out about this without your consent. In my opinion, if you were to wear either ring, people would know.
Even if the Ministry didn't acknowledge your emancipation, questions would be asked that you would not want to answer." Harry nodded.
He had been thinking the same thing. "I think I'd like to keep it to myself, for now. The less people know, the less they can use against you." Sharptooth inclined his head, showing a toothy grin. "Wise words, Harry. Is there anything else I can help you with?" Harry bit his lip. "I've been wondering for a while now, can you tell me anything about what being the heir of Gryffindor means?
I've seen the vault, and the ring, but what does wearing that ring mean? Do I have any say in matters at Hogwarts?" Sharptooth tilted his head to the side, thinking. "Not much is known about the heirs of the founders, I'm afraid," he admitted.
"Did you notice anything different about being at Hogwarts last year?" Harry shrugged slightly. "I felt almost like the Castle was welcoming me, when we arrived. And I think I was able to get the gargoyle to Dumbledore's office to move aside without giving a password." Sharptooth nodded. "I will tell you what I do know, but I'm afraid it isn't much. There are four empty seats on the Board of Governors, and four on the Wizengamot. These are honorary seats for the lines of the founders.
If and when you want to share your status with wizarding society, you could claim the Gryffindor seat on both governing bodies. You will be able to have a say in the functioning of Hogwarts, and will add another vote to use on the Wizengamot." He paused for another moment. "You may find that more secrets of Hogwarts are available to you, though you will need to find out exactly what those are on your own.
Hogwarts is her own entity, and she will no doubt decide what to allow you to discover." Harry furrowed his brow. "It almost sounds like you think Hogwarts is alive.
You said it was a 'her'." Sharptooth nodded again. "When the founders built the Castle, she was little more than wood and stone. Over time, and their continued tutelage at the school, she became more aware, as more magic seeped into her very foundations.
The legend says that, before Slytherin's departure, the four founders imprinted onto the Castle, leaving a piece of themselves behind, no matter where they went after their time at the school was over. Through the years, as more and more students walked through the halls, more magic seeped into the foundation.
The Castle became more alert. Hogwarts is very much aware, Harry." He waited another moment, to allow Harry to soak up that information, before he once more asked if there was anything else he could do for them. Harry shook his head, still thinking about what he had just learned. "I don't think so, thank you Sharptooth." Ginny looked over at her… husband. "Don't you need to get some money from your vault, Harry?" Harry shook his head, grinning ruefully.
"I just needed an excuse for us to come here. I still have plenty. And it's our vault now, Gin." Ginny and Sharptooth chuckled, and Sharptooth reached his arm over his desk. Harry stood up immediately and shook the offered hand. "I really appreciate everything you've done for us, Sharptooth." The Goblin nodded. "The pleasure is all mine. It is an honor to work with the Potter family, as I have for so many years.
And I look forward to doing business with you for years to come." Harry and Ginny smiled and nodded their goodbyes, and were surprised when Sharptooth himself led them back to the lobby. He gave them a short bow, which Harry returned pleasantly, before the two students hurried down the Alley towards Flourish and Blotts. XXX Sirius sighed in relief as he saw Harry and Ginny enter the store, just under the half hour mark. They both looked happy, and he figured they just wanted some time together.
Thinking back, he realized that most of the summer, Harry had spent his time with his guardians, or with all of his friends together.
He didn't think Harry and Ginny had spent much time alone together since they had left Hogwarts. All of a sudden, that blow up of Harry's, before the date that really shouldn't have happened, considering what had happened, made more sense.
It wasn't necessarily about feeling claustrophobic, it was more that he just wanted to spend some time alone with his girlfriend. He smiled at the pair, and received two happy grins in return, before they disappeared into the store, picking up the few books they needed namely, the book Umbridge had assigned, and Standard Book of Spells, Grades Four and Five, respectively.
As they were checking out, the group ran into Cedric, who was also doing his school shopping. "Hey, Harry," the seventh year grinned. Harry smiled. "Hey, Cedric. You ready for school?" Cedric grimaced. "I can't believe I've only got the one year left. It all seems so surreal." Harry nodded, understanding, and Cedric's expression changed to become happier. "But I'll be glad to see my friends again. And guess what?" He took out a shiny badge from his pocket.
It was emblazed with a gold HB, and Harry remembered seeing Percy strutting around with it a few years earlier. "Congratulations, Cedric. I knew you'd get Head Boy, but are you still Quidditch Captain? Aunt Minerva said they don't like to give both badges to the same person, usually." Cedric smiled, putting the badge away.
"Professor Sprout came to my house to speak with me before they made it official. I want to continue as Captain as well, and I think I can handle it." He peered quizzically at his younger friend. "What about you? Do you have a shiny new badge to call your own?" Harry blushed, and nodded. "Prefect," he admitted, his blush deepening when the older boy immediately hugged him.
"I knew it," Cedric said cheerfully. His mother came over to him at that point, and said her hellos to the large group her son was talking to, before she pulled Cedric away, telling him it was time to leave; while the Ministry may not be acknowledging Voldemort's return, she and her husband believed their son and Harry, and she was wary of being out in public for a long time.
The next stop Harry and his friends made was to Madam Malkin's, as all of the boys needed new robes, having grown several inches over the year. Ginny had grown as well, and also made a purchase at the clothing shop. Sirius wouldn't hear of Molly shopping out of the secondhand store located further down the alley, and insisted on including Ron and Ginny's robes in his purchase of Harry's. She tried to protest, but gave up after Sirius threatened to tie her up in order to make the purchase.
Next was to the Apothocary, so that they could replenish their potions supplies, where Ron was happy to realize that this would be the last year of having to deal with Snape. Harry shook his head at his friend. "Potions is a useful subject, Ron," he admonished quietly, making sure that they were alone.
"I know Snape is… difficult, but you could always continue studying on your own, and take the NEWT." Ron looked surprised at the idea. "Is that what you're going to do?" he asked curiously. Harry shrugged. "I really don't know," he admitted. "I want to continue with the subject, and I really did do a lot better last year, once I understood the basics, but I'm not sure if I could take two more years of insults and subjective grading.
I think I'll see what this year is like, and if I really can't handle it, I'll talk to Sirius and Aunt Minerva about independent study. If you want to drop Potions as well, we can ask about you joining me." Ron nodded, smiling a little.
"Thanks, Harry," he said softly. "That book you leant me was so helpful, and I really think I'll do better in class this year, but listening to Snape insult us all for being dunderheads is really distracting." Harry snorted and agreed. When they finished at the apothecary, their last stop was to get more parchment and quills. After that, Molly insisted that they not tarry, and the group hurried back to the Leaky Cauldron, departing for their own homes without delay.
XXX The rest of the summer passed peacefully, with more training, studying, and Harry and his friends preparing for the year to come.
Harry and Hermione were eagerly planning for the DA sessions. A few days before September First, Sirius found Harry in his bedroom, perusing his new Defense Against the Dark Arts book before bed, with a frown on his face. "What's wrong?" he asked curiously, closing the door behind him. Harry looked up, startled, and then threw a slight glare at the book in his hands. "This book is awful," he replied. "It's boring, and I've found at least three conclusions this Slinkhard character made that are wrong.
Why would anyone actually read this?" Sirius chuckled a little. "Umbridge assigned the book, Harry," he said, as if that explained everything. Which Harry had to admit, it probably did. Sirius took a seat on the edge of the bed. "Can you put that down for a minute, Harry? I'd like to talk to you about something." Harry nodded, setting the book aside. "What's up, Padfoot?" He was a little worried. Sirius actually looked serious.
Sirius fidgeted a little. He knew he needed to have this talk with Harry, but he really wasn't looking forward to it.
"Harry, I know you and Ginny are getting pretty close, but I just want to make sure you.
erm. know everything about. erm." Harry cut him off, looking mortified. "I know where babies come from, Sirius, we really don't need to have this conversation." Sirius nodded, looking a little relieved.
"I never thought you didn't know, Harry, I just thought we should talk a little about. consequences. You and Ginny are still pretty young, all things considered, and I don't want you to get into anything you're not ready for." Harry's face turned bright red.
"Sirius, we're not. I mean, we haven't." He paused to give himself a moment to collect himself. He forced himself to meet his godfather's comforting gaze. "We're not ready for that, yet. We both know that we're young. I promise, we won't go any further than we're comfortable with." Sirius nodded, even more relief shining through.
While he may not have liked the way it came about, he was grateful that Harry was such a mature young man. "I know you think that, now, but soon enough, you will want more. I'm probably not the best one to preach abstinence, but you know that it's not just about you. Consider Ginny's feelings as well, and if she says no, you listen, got it?" Harry nodded forcefully.
"I'd never make her do anything she wasn't comfortable with," he stated firmly, looking horrified at the very thought.
Sirius smiled. "I know you wouldn't, Harry, and I'm very proud at the man you're growing into. And even if you say you're not ready now, you are both still growing and maturing. Before you know it, that might change. So I want to take some time now to teach you a little about the ways you can prevent Ginny from becoming pregnant before you're ready.
Molly would probably kill me for doing this, but if you both do decide you're ready, just make sure you're careful. I won't tell you to wait until you're older, or married, because that would make me a hypocrite. I just want to make sure you guys are safe." What followed was actually a pretty interesting mini lesson, as Sirius taught Harry both the contraceptive charm, and how to make two different potions: one that would prevent Ginny from getting pregnant if taken before they had sex, and that would prevent her from getting pregnant if taken the morning after, if for any reason Harry forgot to perform the charm, or Ginny hadn't taken the first potion.
When Sirius got up to leave, Harry called out, stopping him as he reached the door. "Padfoot?" Sirius turned around, his hand still grasping the doorknob. Harry smiled. "Thanks," he said simply. Sirius nodded, smiling. "You're welcome, pup," he replied. "And if you have any questions, or need to talk, I'm here." Harry returned the smile, before Sirius extinguished the light and left the room.
XXX The night before September First, Sirius visited him again, this time with Remus in tow. Sirius handed him a photo, smiling sadly. "We thought you might want to see this. I was going through some old boxes at Potter Manor, and I found this." Harry looked at it, studying the black and white image in front of him.
He looked up, confused. Sirius explained, "That's the original Order of the Phoenix." He began naming the people in the photo, explaining what had happened to those that were no longer with them. "There's Moody, and Minerva. Edgar Bones, Susan's father; he and Susan's mother and older sister were killed a few weeks after that picture was taken.
Marlene McKinnon, no one knows what happened to her." His voice hitched slightly, and he kept naming people in the photo, as Hagrid, and then Molly and Arthur became visible, as well as several other members. There were names Harry recognized, and a few he didn't. And then… "Neville's parents there, you know what happened. Me, and Remus. And there." He didn't need to say anything, as Lily and James became visible.
Harry looked longingly at the photo, drinking in the sight of his parents. He looked up at his godfather. He didn't say anything, but Sirius understood, and gave the teenager a hug. Remus followed, and the three spent several more minutes sitting in silence. Looking around the room, Sirius picked up a framed photo of Harry and Ginny from the Yule ball. They were dancing in each other's arms, and looked almost to be floating across the dance floor. There was a definite tear in Sirius' eye as he looked at the couple in the frame.
"You two look so much like your parents here, Harry." Harry bit his lip, studying the picture as well. Sirius smiled, setting the photo back down. "I have one more present for you," he said, holding out a wrapped rectangular package.
Harry ripped off the paper, revealing a small mirror. He looked up, confused. Sirius smiled. "It's a communication mirror. I have the other one. Your father and I made them in school, so that we could communicate while we were in separate detentions. That one was James' mirror. If you just say my name into it, mine will vibrate, and we'll be able to talk." Harry nodded, unable to speak around the lump in his throat, but Sirius understood, and gave him another hug.
"You should get some sleep. We'll be leaving early tomorrow, to avoid any crowds," he said softly, pulling back. Remus smiled at the level of comfort those two had with each other. Sirius would really make an amazing father. Harry nodded again, and returned the sentiments when both adults wished him a goodnight before leaving the room. XXX September First was always a hectic day, but Harry had made sure to be packed the evening before so that he wouldn't have to worry.
He was dressed, fed, and ready to leave by nine thirty, and spent the remaining half hour making sure he had everything he needed. Susan stepped out of the Floo shortly before they were to depart, as Amelia had gotten called into work, and didn't want her niece to travel to the train station alone. At ten o'clock, Sirius, Remus, Susan, and Harry said goodbye to Minerva, and stepped through the Floo to the wizarding section of Kings Cross. It was a small segment of the station, heavily warded with notice-me-not, silencing, and muggle-repelling charms, amongst others.
It included a Ministry approved apparation platform and several fireplaces. Sirius and Remus framed Harry and Susan on either side, and immediately made their way to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. The two students put their trunks in an empty compartment; Harry suggested they get dressed immediately, so they pulled out their robes, putting them on and pinning their Prefect badges to the front.
Dressed, they went back outside to wait for the rest of their friends. Hermione and Neville arrived first a few minutes later, and placed their luggage in the same compartment as Harry and Susan. When they returned, Hermione was also dressed with her badge prominently displayed. For once, the Weasleys were actually early, arriving on the platform with a full fifteen minutes to spare.
They joined the rest of the group in saying goodbye to the adults. Mrs. Weasley hugged them all, tearing up as she ushered them onto the train, telling them to get settled and to have a good trip. Sirius and Remus just waved, smiling at Molly's antics. Augusta gave her grandson a hug, and Hermione's parents also gave their daughter her own goodbye.
Once they were all back in the compartment, Hermione, Harry, and Susan said goodbye to their respective significant others and left for the front of the train, and the Prefect's meeting with the Head Boy and Girl. Harry grinned and waved to Cedric as the three of them entered the front carriage. The Head Boy smiled back and left the Head Girl a Ravenclaw named Audrey Morten to speak with the three fifth years for a few minutes before the meeting.
When more Prefects began to filter in, Cedric left his younger friends and, with a wave to his girlfriend as she entered with the male sixth year Ravenclaw prefect, went back to the front of the compartment.
Harry smiled and nodded to the Prefects he was friends with. Katie grinned and sat near him as she entered with her male counterpart, and Cho waved from across the compartment. There were a few more fifth, sixth, and seventh years he had gotten to know better over the last year through the DA that he greeted with a smile.
Terry and Padma, his fifth year Ravenclaw counterparts, greeted him cheerfully, as did Justin, Susan's fellow fifth year Hufflepuff Prefect. The train began to move a few seconds later, so Cedric began.
"Welcome, everyone, and congratulations to the new fifth year Prefects." He looked around the compartment, taking note of the new faces and observing their attitudes to see what he would need to watch out for. The new Slytherin Prefects Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson were a bit of an unpleasant surprise.
The two had waltzed in just before the meeting began as if they owned the place, and were currently lounged out in their seats, not seeming to have a care in the world.
The smirk on Malfoy's face was distasteful, to say the least. Cedric and Audrey continued, outlining their plans for the year, and setting up a patrol schedule. As Prefects, they would need to walk patrols in the hours between curfew and eleven o'clock. They split up Prefects, and each would patrol twice a week. Harry was pleased that the Heads were actually thinking, and didn't pair Malfoy or Parkinson with any Gryffindors.
Some of the sixth and seventh year Slytherin Prefects were less hostile, but still aloof, though there were a few that would probably need watching, such as seventh year Montague, and sixth year Alexis Yaxley.
Harry and Hermione had the first patrol on the train, and so they left to walk up and down the corridors for the next hour. They ended up running into several DA members, including a compartment full of new second years that included students from each house, and spent a few moments chatting with them, talking about their plans for the DA. They broke up a few fights, accepted congratulations from many friends on their appointment to Prefect, and returned to their own compartment an hour later, happy to be able to relax for the rest of the trip.
Susan's patrol was next, so she left to go find her male counterpart, Justin Finch-Fletchley, though not before giving Neville a peck on the lips. Harry and Hermione told the others about the Prefect meeting, and Harry couldn't help but share his confusion over the Slytherin Prefects. "After the effort Blaise and Daphne put into the DA last year, I would have thought they'd be the obvious choice. They're already role models for the younger years," Harry mused. Ginny snorted.
"Yeah, but Snape's the one choosing. Did you really think he'd go with anyone other than Malfoy?" Harry shook his head, disgusted. "I guess not, but it was nice to dream about, just for a few minutes, the idea that he could be unbiased." "Keep dreaming, mate," Ron said dryly.
They moved on to other topics after that; Susan, returning from her patrol an hour later, had to conceal the eye roll as she entered the compartment to hear Hermione discussing OWLs and revision schedules.
The others were all listening with polite interest, but it was easy to see that they weren't really invested in her speech. Harry finally managed to get her to move on to a different topic, and they spent the remainder of the train ride discussing the news or lack there of of Voldemort. Harry made sure to put up privacy charms, as they talked about Fudge's idiocy, and what Umbridge might do as his lackey over the school year.
Malfoy and his goons stopped by shortly before they reached Hogsmeade. Harry discreetly took down the privacy wards as the Malfoy heir thrust open their compartment, sneering.
"Potter," he scoffed. Harry remained calm, and didn't say anything, simply observing the Slytherin. Malfoy then turned his attention to the others. "Weasel, how does it feel to be second best, again?" Ron grit his teeth, forcing himself not to say anything even as he acknowledged the truth in Malfoy's words.
"I think you should leave, Malfoy," Harry finally spoke. His wand was visible in his hand. Malfoy turned his gaze to Harry, and sniffed. "I don't think I follow orders from you, Potter. Unlike all those sniveling followers and fans you revel in." Harry snorted.
"Yeah, well your father would know all about being a follower, wouldn't he." The allusion to Malfoy Senior's status as a Death Eater was blatantly obvious. Malfoy took a step forward, and Ron and Neville immediately shot to their feet. Malfoy chuckled. "Careful, boys. I, unlike you, have been made a Prefect, so I, unlike you, have the authority to dock points and issue detentions." Harry finally stood, rolling his wand around in his hand as he casually commented, "And so do I, Malfoy.
And I promise you, I will give as good as I get. I'd keep that in mind, if I were you." He pointedly looked over at Crabbe and Goyle, before using his wand to silently push Malfoy and his cronies out of the compartment. He then shut and locked the door so that they couldn't get back in, before he sat down and re-holstered his wand.
"Brilliant, mate," Ron said, grinning as he also sat down. The rest of them followed, and Ginny took Harry's hand, calming him down as only she could. He was good at hiding his feelings, but Malfoy really ticked him off. They all forced themselves to go back to their conversation, and not let Malfoy win by continuing to stew over his visit.
Soon enough, they were pulling into the station, and Harry, Hermione, and Susan left to help organize the students, directing lost first years and helping students get to the carriages.
Harry was startled to hear someone other than Hagrid calling for the first years, but he didn't have much time to think about it. He and Hermione joined Susan and a few other Prefects in one of the last carriages up to the castle. He once more felt the welcoming rush of magic wash over him, and mentally smiled as his own magic responded warmly to the comforting presence. It was good to be back.
_ _ _ Chapter 7 Disclaimer: not mine Harry and Hermione waved to Susan and the other Prefects as they entered the Great Hall, joining Ron, Neville, and Ginny at Gryffindor table.
Before they had any time to talk, McGonagall was entering the room, leading a group of scared first years behind her. Harry listened to the Sorting Hat's song with half an ear, noting with interest that it spoke about uniting the houses and forging bonds to last, the same thing he had been trying to accomplish through the DA.
One by one, McGonagall called up the nervous new students. Harry clapped for each one, no matter what house he or she went to, and made a mental note of the names so that he would be able to acknowledge them later. Especially if any of them joined the DA. Finally, the first years were all sorted, and Dumbledore stood up. "There is a time for speeches, but this is not it. Tuck in!" He sat back down as the tables suddenly groaned under the weight of the food that appeared. Harry and his friends immediately dug in, Ron with more relish than the rest; it had been a long time since the candy they had consumed on the train.
Once they all had some food in their stomachs, the Gryffindors began to speak of their summers, sharing information and greeting friends they hadn't seen during the trip to school.
When the food had disappeared, Dumbledore stood up again, spreading his arms and smiling. "To our new students, welcome! To our returning students, welcome back! I hope you have all had wonderful summers, and are ready to get back to a year of learning. I have a few start of term announcements to give before I send you off to your beds.
First years should note that the Forbidden Forest is off limits to all students. A few of our older students should remember that as well." His eyes drifted to the Gryffindor table. "And next I would like to introduce two new professors. Professor Grubbly-Plank is here to take over for Professor Hagrid as your Care of Magical Creatures instructor." He waited while the applause died out. Many people were enthusiastic, as the lovable man tended to be a bit keen on the more dangerous creatures, but the reception at Gryffindor table was lukewarm, as they wondered where Hagrid was.
"And Professor Umbridge is here to take over Defense Against the Dark Arts." There was a minimal amount of clapping, as the new professor was an unknown, though Malfoy and a few of the more worrying Slytherins were applauding loudly, clearly knowing her through their parents.
Dumbledore beamed. "Those wishing to try out for their Quidditch teams should see " He stopped, but most people didn't know why, until he turned to his right, and they saw their new Defense professor standing up.
As she was so short, most hadn't even realized it until that moment. "Hem, hem," she spoke, her voice a girlish squeak that didn't match her body. Parvarti and Lavender were grimacing at her horrendous pink cardigan and frilly outfit. On top of her head sat a huge black bow. Harry's only thought was that she looked like nothing so much as a huge toad, with that bow representing a large fly.
Harry actually expected her tongue to snap out and grab it. Umbridge waited as Dumbledore sat down and gave her his full attention. She smiled widely, but it didn't seem to reassure most students. "Thank you, all, for your wonderful welcome. I so look forward to getting to know you all. I'm sure we'll be such good friends!" She paused briefly, and Harry, looking around, could see many students looking confused, or slightly sick, at the speech it sounded like it was made for five year olds.
"Hem, hem. The Ministry has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of vital importance. Each headmaster has brought something new to this historic school, and while each new head of this school has brought so much to the table, progress for the sake of progress must be prohibited." Harry looked around the room as he listened to Umbridge drone on and on, noticing that most students seemed to be tuning out, their eyes glazing over as their new professor talked.
Some conversations broke out amongst the students around the hall. Only a few people actually seemed to be paying attention, other than the professors; Harry, Ginny, and Hermione were three of them.
".We must preserve that which needs to be preserved, perfect what can be perfected, and prune those practices that should be prohibited." She sat down, and Dumbledore started clapping, his expression conveying polite interest. Most students were caught unaware, and only had time to bring their hands together once or twice before Dumbledore stood up and continued speaking.
"Thank you, Professor Umbridge, for those… illuminating words. Now, as I was saying, Quidditch Captains will see to the tryouts " "Well, he was right about one thing," Harry murmured.
"That certainly was illuminating." Hermione nodded, but Neville and Ron seemed confused. Ginny looked as unsettled as Harry. "What do you mean?" Ron asked, keeping his voice low as Dumbledore spoke. Hermione shook her head. "Honestly, Ron, weren't you paying attention?" Ron shrugged, but didn't speak, and after a moment, Harry continued.
"Did you hear that about progress for progress' sake being prohibited?" Hermione and Ginny both nodded. Neville leaned forward. "So what's it mean?" Harry grit his teeth as Dumbledore dismissed the students at that moment. "It means, the Ministry's interfering at Hogwarts." None of them had anything to say about that, as Hermione stood up and started calling for the new Gryffindor first years. Harry joined her, and together, they gathered up the eleven new students.
Hermione beamed. "Welcome to Hogwarts! I'm Hermione, and this is Harry. We're your fifth year Gryffindor Prefects." Harry put his hands in his pockets, and smiled reassuringly. "If you have any questions or problems, come see us. We're here to help." With that, the two of them led the new students up to their new home for the next seven years. They explained about the staircases, and a few tricks they had learned to learn their way around the castle.
Finally arriving at Gryffindor tower, Hermione informed them all of the password, and the Fat Lady's portrait opened, showing them all the comfortable common room. Once inside, Harry and Hermione gave them a few last minute notices. "Boys dormitories are up the stairs and down you your left, and girls are the same on the right. Be warned though, boys, you won't be allowed in the girls rooms, so I wouldn't try it." Harry grinned as the six boys all turned red, while Hermione just rolled her eyes.
"Once again, we're here to help you, so if you need anything, please don't be afraid to ask. We'll be around, so you should see us all the time." Harry looked around at the group, and then he glanced at Hermione, before continuing. "The last thing we wanted to tell you about is the DA. It's a study group that we formed last year for students who need or want some extra assistance with their schoolwork.
It's an inter-house group for all years, so I hope you'll all consider joining. We'll let you know when the first meeting is." Hermione nodded, as she wrapped up. "Now, it's getting late, and I'm sure you all want to settle in, so why don't you go up to your dormitories." The first years all scattered, and Harry and Hermione moved over to the chairs by the fireplace, where a group of students was gathered.
It included Ron, Neville, and Ginny, in addition to several now second year students, and a few third years. Harry smiled at little Evan and Sheila, who were now proud to be second years. "Hey guys, how was your summer?" Evan grinned. "It was great," he chirped excitedly. "My parents were really pleased with my marks.
They took me on holiday to France as a congratulations present." Harry nodded, his smile widening. "That's great, Evan." Sheila chimed in, talking about her own summer for a few minutes, before she paused. "We were wondering if you knew when the first DA meeting would be," she asked nervously. Harry shrugged, glancing at his friends. "We haven't really talked about it yet.
This year it'll be a little more challenging, since we'll need to coordinate between the Quidditch practices as well. It might be easiest to move the meetings to the weekend. We'll talk about it with McGonagall, Flitwick, and the other leaders, and we'll put up a notice when we have a time." Evan and Sheila nodded, thanking them, before jumping up and returning to their friends.
Harry shook his head, chuckling as he watched them run away. "Were we ever that energetic?" he asked rhetorically. Hermione looked like she wanted to say something, but Harry, looking at her, knew exactly what she was going to bring up, and held up one hand, as the other moved to rest across Ginny's shoulders, drawing her closer to him.
"Don't answer that, Hermione," he admonished. His fellow Prefect simply smiled and shook her head, leaning closer to her own boyfriend, who copied Harry's movements, though not without a look of amazement that she was being so open with him in public.
Hermione was usually a very reserved person, and limited their actions to pecks on the cheek or lips, and handholding, when in view of other people. Not that she went much further when they were alone, but he knew she was a cautious person, and wanted to take their relationship slowly. "So where do you think Hagrid was?" Neville asked. Harry bit his lip. "I don't know, but the fact that Dumbledore didn't say indicates that he probably doesn't want any attention drawn to his absence." Hermione nodded.
"Most likely, he's doing something for… you know," her voice dropped to a whisper as she leaned in, "the Order. You told us about it, Harry. Remus and Sirius even told you who some of the members are. Did they tell you if Hagrid's involved?" Harry shook his head slightly, his voice just as quiet as he answered, "They didn't say anything specific about him, but they did give me a picture of the Order from the first war, and Hagrid was in it." They stayed up talking for another half hour, before heading up to bed themselves.
They were lucky this year that September First had fallen on a Friday, so they had the whole weekend to get back into the swing of things, but it had been a long trip, and they were all tired. XXX Harry and Hermione spent most of Saturday showing the first years around the school, so that hopefully they wouldn't get too lost trying to find their classes. They ran into Susan and Justin with the Hufflepuff first years on the grounds during their tour, and decided to band together for the rest of the day.
Harry and Hermione had spent a lot of time at the end of August discussing what they would do as Prefects, and Susan had joined in as well, wanting to be a good leader for the younger years. Harry had mainly drawn on what he wished he had had someone to do when he was a first year, and they had gone from there.
Since they had the whole weekend, Harry thought it would be a good idea to help the new students get acclimated to the castle.
The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff first years quickly got to know each other, as the fifth years encouraged them to talk about themselves and their lives. It was easy to see which ones were more used to house boundaries, as those were more hesitant to talk to the others, but they soon opened up. The ones who were more eager were obviously muggleborns, or came from more liberal families, as they had no reservations about interacting with another house.
It was sobering to see just how divided Hogwarts had been for so long, that new students had learned from their parents or older siblings to be wary of those in different houses. Even if, traditionally, the only real rivalry was between Gryffindor and Slytherin, house boundaries had existed between the others as well, so Harry was glad to see that coming to an end. Sunday, Harry and Ginny went out to the Quidditch pitch immediately after breakfast, and, as suspected, ran into Blaise and Daphne.
Surprisingly, they were joined by Luna as well; Harry saw the way the Slytherin male looked at the younger Ravenclaw, and smiled. Those two made no sense, but they really did seem to work, and he was happy for his friends. He was glad they were still together. Daphne and Luna went to the stands to watch, while the other three immediately took to their brooms and started to fly.
A short while later, a fourth broom joined them, and Harry waved hello to an excited Colin Creevey. Blaise and Ginny also said hello and the four spent another half hour flying together. Eventually, Harry came to a rest beside Blaise, and the two of them watched Colin and Ginny for a few moments, before Blaise spoke. "You know, as much as I hate to admit it, you Gryffindors are growing on me." Harry chuckled, looking over at his friend.
"Colin does take some getting used to," he admitted. "Are he and Daphne actually together? I saw them getting closer at DA meetings last term, but I didn't think there was more to it." Blaise shrugged one shoulder. "I think she's amused by his… tendencies. She's got that whole 'ice queen' reputation, but for some reason, I think she actually likes him." Harry nodded his understanding, and spent another moment in silence, watching his girlfriend fly.
She really was quite good. After a minute, he looked over at the Slytherin. "How's Malfoy been?" He sounded genuinely concerned, which was nice for Blaise to hear. He shrugged again. "As unbearable as ever. He and Parkinson are already lording their badges over the rest of us. They just brought the first years back to the common room and told them not to bother their betters." Blaise sounded disgusted. Harry was as well. "I can't believe you and Daphne didn't get it. You two deserved to be Prefect so much more." Blaise just rolled his eyes.
"Unfortunately, things don't work that way in Slytherin." Harry nodded, understanding. Once more, he wondered just why Dumbledore kept Snape around: he was a horrible professor, an all around bully, and a disgraceful head of house.
Things had been a little different last year, slightly better once Harry had proved that he had improved in the subject, but the man was still an all around tyrant. The students spent the rest of the morning outside, before they all headed in for lunch together.
Snape and Umbridge both glowered at the mix of houses entering the Hall, but most people didn't even bat an eye. They had gotten used to the change over the last year, and were actually enjoying it; many students had made some good friends in other houses that they wouldn't have without the DA. The Gryffindors waved goodbye to the others and headed to their own table to eat, sitting in the empty seats by Ron, Hermione, and Neville. XXX Angelina Johnson sat down next to Harry as he and his friends were talking in the common room that afternoon.
Harry looked up and grinned. "Hey, Angelina, congratulations by the way," he nodded to the Captain's badge pinned to her robes. Angelina smiled. "Thanks," she replied. "Listen, I want to hold tryouts for a Keeper next weekend.
Saturday morning work for you?" Harry nodded. "I actually wanted to speak with you about that. Something Viktor and I talked about last year was the benefit of having a reserve team. Have you thought about maybe holding tryouts for all positions? After all, next year it'll just be me and Katie, plus whomever gets the keeper spot, assuming they're not a seventh year as well.
Not to mention all the problems with injuries we've had over the last few years," he grinned ruefully, knowing that those injuries mostly involved him. Angelina thought about it. "That's a good idea, Harry, thanks. All right, I'll put the notice on the board tomorrow." She went off to speak with the other members of the team, and Harry looked over at his girlfriend. Ginny grinned. "They're not gonna know what hit them," she said confidently.
Harry nodded and leaned down to kiss her. "You're going to blow the competition out of the water, Gin." Ron bit his lip and shifted in his seat. "Erm, Harry?" The couple pulled apart, and looked at him.
Ron coughed. "I was wondering if you might… erm… well, I want to try out for keeper, but I'd like to get some more practice in before tryouts." Harry nodded understandingly.
They had played a lot of Quidditch over the summer, and he knew Ron was a contender; his only problem seemed to be nerves. "How about we go down to the pitch a couple times this week, to practice." Ron smiled. "Thanks, mate. And Ginny, I know you're really good at chaser, so I hope you'll be able to whip me into shape." Ginny laughed lightly.
"I won't hold back," she promised. XXX Early Monday morning found the six friends on their now customary run. Five laps around the Quidditch pitch before five of them returned to Gryffindor tower, and Susan to Hufflepuff, to get ready for their first day of classes.
McGonagall handed out schedules at breakfast like always. She gave Harry his with a strained smile, which he returned. He knew that she was feeling some pressure, both from Dumbledore and Umbridge; she hadn't said anything, but she had returned from a meeting with the headmaster later into the summer almost literally breathing fire, and he had heard several loud crashes come from the dueling room before she had re-emerged, looking slightly calmer.
And Umbridge just needed every drop of patience anyone had, to stomach. That wasn't exclusive to Minerva. Harry examined his schedule, studying it to see which books he would need today. Schedule for Harry James Potter Monday: 0900-0950: History of Magic 1000-1150: Potions 1300-1350: Arithmancy 1400-1550: Herbology 1600-1750: Transfiguration Tuesday: 0900-1050: Charms 1400-1650: Care of Magical Creatures 2300-0100: Astronomy Wednesday: 1000-1150: Arithmancy 1300-1350: History of Magic 1400-1550: Herbology 1600-1750: Defense Against the Dark Arts Thursday: 0900-1050: Potions 1300-1450: Ancient Runes 1600-1650: Charms Friday: 0900-1050: Transfiguration 1400-1550: Defense Against the Dark Arts 1600-1650: Ancient Runes Ron groaned as he read through his schedule.
"Look at this, History and Potions back to back, first thing this morning! Are they trying to kill us?" Hermione and Harry rolled their eyes at Ron's dramatics, but Harry couldn't help but agree. Ginny chuckled a little. "Make sure you eat a good breakfast. Can't have Snape dock all those points on an empty stomach, now, can we?" Harry laughed, and obediently dug into his breakfast with relish. Ron grimaced, but returned to his food, easily eating three times what any normal teenager would by the time they had to leave to get their books.
The fifth years separated from Ginny early on, as she headed to Transfiguration and they made their way to the History classroom. XXX Potions class started promptly, as it always did. Snape never failed to keep the attention of his students, without even raising his voice. "As I'm sure you are all undoubtedly aware, this year is your OWL year.
As such, come June, you will be sitting your Potions exam. I only take those who achieve O's on their exam, so unfortunately, at the end of the year, quite a few of you will be saying goodbye." Snape looked extraordinarily pleased by this, as his eyes ghosted over to the Gryffindor side of the room, to Harry in particular. Harry just met his glare head on, ready to prove once and for all, that he wasn't as horrible at this subject as Snape thought. The professor flicked his wand at the board.
"The Draught of Peace. Instructions are on the board, you have an hour and a half. Begin." The students immediately got to work. Harry and Neville were working together, as Harry knew Ron and Hermione would like to share a table. Harry knew Neville's nerves were a big issue in this class, so he spent a good deal of time calming the other boy down as they got out ingredients and started to chop.
Since Neville had read the book Harry had leant him, it was pretty obvious that the boy had improved greatly since last year. All he really needed help with was blocking out Snape's presence. Ron was also doing significantly better, and the results of their summer studies were passable potions that they actually felt proud of. Snape's eyes bore into Harry's as he passed in the vial, but the professor didn't say anything, though his sneer was large enough.
Harry knew that, no matter how good he was in class, Snape would never see him as anything other than his father. It wasn't right, and it wasn't fair, but it was what it was, and he couldn't change it. He was only too thankful for the fact that OWLs were graded by an impartial third party, rather than the professors themselves. XXX The rest of the week continued to pass predictably.
Each professor spent a few minutes at the beginning of their first class discussing OWLs. Harry knew that he would need to put in a lot of work this year to keep on top of the load of homework, especially if the first week was just 'easing them into the new year'.
Hermione, of course, was on top of everything, but Ron and Neville were definitely feeling the strain, before they even made it halfway through the week. Harry was somewhere in the middle, but he figured that, considering he also had Prefect duties as well as DA planning, he was doing all right he ignored the fact that Hermione had all that as well and was doing much better than him.
She was just incredibly brilliant, and he knew he could never hope to match her. _ _ _ Chapter 8 Not that it's incredibly important, but I've realized that I'm counting Dennis Creevey as two years below Harry, rather than three. It's not incredibly important to the story, but I just realized that I didn't include him among the first years last year, and when he came up in this story, I was saying he was a third year.
Just in case anyone feels like nitpicking on my diversion from canon. And I can't believe so many people considered the possibility that I might not actually show that first Defense lesson! I guess I can understand, with the way I ended the last chapter, but note that I said 'the week continued to pass'. I didn't say that the week ended when the chapter did! So, here you go, I hope it lives up to expectations. Disclaimer: not mine Defense Against the Dark Arts didn't meet until Wednesday, giving Harry plenty of time to worry.
When he and his friends walked into the room, they found Professor Umbridge sitting at her desk, wearing either the same cardigan from the welcoming feast, or one just like it. That horrible black bow was still on top of her head. Harry led the others to several seats in the middle of the classroom, not wanting to sit too close to the woman he had heard so few good things about.
At precisely four o'clock, Umbridge stood up. "Hem, hem." The few people who had been speaking stopped, and the professor gave them the same sickly sweet smile as she had at the welcoming feast; it did nothing to set any of them at ease. "Good afternoon, class." There were some mumbled greetings, and Professor Umbridge shook her head.
"Tut, tut, that won't do. When I speak, you should reply with 'Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.
Now, let's try again. Good afternoon, class." "Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge," the class chanted back. Umbridge leered. "There now, that wasn't so hard, was it?
Now, wands away and quills out please." She turned around and pointed her wand at the board as the class grumbled.
'Wands away' had never been followed by an exciting lesson. 'Defense Against the Dark Arts A return to basic principles' appeared in a girlish cursive writing. Umbridge turned back to the students. "You have had four previous professors in this subject I believe, and none of them have used a Ministry-approved curriculum, so I do believe I will have my work cut out for me, won't I?" There was a little muttering, but Umbridge just spoke over them.
"Yes, I do believe that the constant changing of teachers and the unapproved methods have resulted in you all being way below the standards for your OWL year." Several students looked offended, but no one said anything.
Umbridge just smiled. "Fortunately, now that I am here, these problems will be rectified. Class, please copy down the following." She turned back to the board and pointed her wand, as more writing appeared. 'Course Aims: 1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic 2.
Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic can legally be used 3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use' She waited until the sounds of scratching parchment had ceased, before she spoke again. "Now, does everyone have a copy of Wilbert Slinkhard's Defensive Magical Theory?" There were a few halfhearted affirmatives, and Umbridge clucked her tongue.
"Let's try that again, when you respond I want you to say 'yes, Professor Umbridge', or 'no, Professor Umbridge'. Now, does everyone have a copy of Defensive Magical Theory?" "Yes, Professor Umbridge," the class replied in unison. Umbridge nodded. "Good. Now, please turn to chapter one, and begin reading. There will be no need to talk." There was some more grumbling as they all turned to the first chapter.
Harry perused the first few pages, but couldn't keep his attention on the words in front of him. He had looked through the book after buying it, and had been bored out of his mind within five pages. Not to mention all of the mistakes he had found within those pages.
Slinkhard was an idiot, and that was his professional and personal opinion. He glanced over at Hermione, to see that she hadn't even opened her book. She was staring at the words on the board, and her hand was up in the air. Harry looked at the board as well, trying to see what had captivated her so. He read through the course aims a few more times, and furrowed his brow.
He glanced over at Hermione again, and this time she looked back. She nodded slightly, and he knew that she had seen the same issue in the aims as he had, though she had caught it earlier. Back in the common room after her History class, Ginny felt Harry's annoyance and confusion. What's wrong, Harry?
Harry focused on the bond, trying to calm down as he realized what Umbridge's goal for this class was. She's going to kill us all. Ginny furrowed her brow. What do you mean? Her course aims. She doesn't intend for us to actually use magic in class. How are we supposed to learn anything if we can't practice? Ginny felt her own irritation spike. We'll talk about it more tonight.
But we have to do something. Harry mentally nodded, as Umbridge finally chose to acknowledge Hermione. "Yes, Miss " "Granger," Hermione said, lowering her arm.
"Hermione Granger." Umbridge gave her a false smile. "Miss Granger, did you have a question about the chapter?" "No," Hermione shook her head. "Well, then, I see no reason for you to be doing anything other than reading," Umbridge replied sweetly.
Hermione leaned forward slightly. "I have a question about the course aims." Umbridge turned to look at the board. "I don't see anything confusing there," she said, turning back to the class. Most of the students had abandoned the dry book to watch their classmate face off against the professor. "But Professor, there's nothing on there about using defensive spells." The other students immediately turned to the board, and several sets of eyes widened as they realized that Hermione was right.
Umbridge's eyes narrowed. "My dear girl, I can't think of any situation you would find yourself in, in my classroom, where you would need to use defensive spells." "But isn't this class supposed to prepare us for life after school?" Harry asked, somewhat rhetorically. Umbridge's eyes flashed. "Hand up, Mr. Potter." Harry's hand immediately shot up, but the professor ignored him, in favor of another student.
"Yes, Mister…" Dean lowered his hand. "Dean Thomas. So are you saying that the first time we're going to be using any of these spells will be at our OWL exams? Isn't there a practical part? How are we supposed to pass if we don't practice?" Umbridge grit her teeth.
"As long as you have a decent theoretical knowledge, that should be sufficient for you to pass your exam." Harry's hand was still in the air as he spoke up. "You still haven't answered my question. Aren't we supposed to be learning skills here to keep us alive out there?" Umbridge glared at him.
"Just what do you think is out there, Mr. Potter?" Harry lowered his hand. "Voldemort," he replied simply, as most of the class flinched and gasped. Umbridge stood up and walked over until she was standing in front of him. "Do not speak that name," she hissed, before turning to the rest of the class. "Now, you have been told that a certain deceased dark lord has returned. That is a lie." Harry glared.
"Unfortunately, Professor, Voldemort's Cruciatus curse is very distinctive. I don't think I could make that up." Umbridge's nostrils flared. "Twenty points from Gryffindor. And consider this a warning. Now, everyone return to your reading." "But Professor " "That's another thirty points from Gryffindor, Miss Granger.
I want silence for the rest of the class!" Umbridge shouted, returning to her desk and proceeding to ignore the class for the remainder of their time. Very few students actually got much reading done there, and the second the bell rang, Harry was out of his seat and moving towards the door. XXX Ginny was waiting for them in the common room, and wasted no time in jumping up to give Harry a hug the second he entered through the portrait.
Harry relaxed into her embrace, trying to let go of the anger he had felt in the presence of their new professor. Ginny led him back to her seat by the fireplace. She had felt his emotions, but unfortunately, didn't know exactly what was going on, beyond what he had told her. She wished it were possible to hear and see what went on around the other, even if they weren't speaking directly to each other. They could access each other's thoughts, on occasion, and replay memories, and hear what the other was saying, but as of yet, they could not actively listen to what was going on around the other.
Harry, what happened after we spoke? Harry grimaced. She said that Voldemort wasn't back, I told her I couldn't make up his Cruciatus curse, she docked twenty points, and then another thirty when Hermione tried to protest more that we weren't going to be using spells in class.
Ginny thought up a number of curses that she knew her mother would not approve of, as Ron, Hermione, and Neville all sat down around them and began complaining about Umbridge. "Harry, we can't just allow this to happen," Hermione said after a moment. "Can you talk to Professor McGonagall?" Harry shook his head. "She probably won't be able to do anything. After all, Umbridge is the professor, so she can theoretically run her class however she sees fit.
It would be up to Dumbledore to actually speak with Umbridge, but even he probably couldn't do anything. She was brought here by the Ministry, after all.
I doubt Dumbledore really has any say in what Umbridge does." "How did she even get hired as the professor here?" Neville asked.
"I would have thought, with the way things are changing in the Ministry…" Harry shook his head, cutting his friend off.
"Fudge is still in power, however shaky it is, and he's doing everything he can to remain so. Sending Umbridge here is, I think, a last ditch attempt.
Amelia is doing what she can, but she's still fighting an uphill battle. If you want my guess, Fudge will be out, one way or another, by the end of the year." Ron threw his Defense book on the floor. "If we don't get to practice any spells this year, I'm going to fail my exam, I know it!" he growled. Harry nodded.
"We'll make sure that DA sessions include a defense portion each week, so that the students can actually get a chance to practice. Speaking of, Hermione, let's see if we can talk to Professor McGonagall before supper, to see if we can get the first meeting underway.
I was thinking Saturday night." Hermione nodded, picking up her bag. "I'll go put this away and be right back." Harry smiled, giving his girlfriend a kiss before he stood up to return his own book bag to his room. "We'll see you at dinner," he told their other friends, before disappearing up the stairs.
XXX Minerva agreed to a Saturday evening meeting, and then inquired about the confrontation during their Defense lesson. Harry and Hermione explained, and Minerva sighed. "I know it's not ideal," she admitted. "But Delores is the professor, and we can't interfere. Please, both of you, be careful.
Keep your heads down and don't cause trouble." She sounded genuinely worried, so both students nodded and agreed, before they went to meet up with their friends for dinner. By the end of the evening, they had informed the other leaders of the DA of the meeting that weekend, and all promised to put up signs in their common rooms, and talk to their new first years.
XXX Saturday morning found Harry, along with the rest of the returning Gryffindor Quidditch team, out on the Pitch, with a crowd of approximately thirty students, from burly seventh years, to a couple of first year boys who looked like they didn't even know which end of the broom was up.
Angelina stepped forward promptly at nine o'clock. "Thank you all for coming," she shouted to make her voice heard, as any conversation dropped off. "Now, we're here looking for a new starting keeper, as well as a full reserve team.
So let's start by separating by position. All the beaters, go over to Fred and George. Seekers to Harry. Chasers to Alicia and Katie, and keepers to me." There was a flurry of movement, and a few minutes later, the students were separated. The chaser group was the largest, comprising of around twenty students, including Ginny and the two first years.
Harry was surprised to see both Dean and Seamus, along with Colin Creevey and one of his yearmates Ritchie Coote in the group of beaters. His own group of seekers included several second years Evan and Sheila and Dennis Creevey, now a boisterous third year. Ron had been joined in the keeper group by one seventh year, a sixth year, and a girl in Ginny's year, Victoria Frobisher. Angelina had everyone fly two laps around the pitch first, to get them all warmed up, and immediately asked the first years to leave when it was clear that they hadn't flown more than a couple of times before.
Next, she got the chasers into the air, and had the keepers go up one by one. She had each chaser make five shots against each keeper, observing both groups to see whom she wanted to further study. The fourth year keeper hopeful, Vicky, as she had asked to be called, was eliminated after the first round, as were four of the chasers who couldn't make more than two shots each. Angelina had the chasers all go again against the remaining three keeper candidates, and eliminated the sixth year keeper hopeful, in addition to another eight chasers who made fewer than three shots.
She then asked the six remaining chasers and the two keepers to return to the ground, while they spent some time with the seekers. Harry was pleased that both Ron and Ginny were still in the running, not that he had had any doubt. Any worries he had had about Ron had dissipated after spending several nights the previous week out on the Pitch; both Harry and Ginny had given the keeper hopeful everything they had, and Ron had performed admirably. Harry had the three seeker candidates get up in the air, and released two snitches.
"All right, the first two to catch the snitches advance." The three Gryffindors shot off, and Harry and Angelina observed them. She had asked for him specifically to help her with the seekers, since he would know what kinds of things to look for. "What do you think?" Angelina asked, not taking her eyes off the seeker wannabes.
Harry studied the three students for another moment. "Sheila and Evan are both small and speedy, which is good, but neither of them are really experienced enough to pull off some of the more complicated seeker moves." Angelina nodded, understanding. "What about Creevey?" Harry watched the excitable third year. "He needs some training, but he's got talent. If you had to pick one, he's the one I'd go with." Angelina nodded again.
"And your second choice?" Harry observed the two second years. "Sheila," he decided. "She's more comfortable on her broom." The new Captain smiled at her star seeker. "Good eye." Harry blushed, but nodded his thanks. A moment later, Dennis banked and went into a dive, coming up victorious, with a snitch clutched in his hand. Angelina told him to take a seat with the others, and they waited for the second snitch to be found.
It took another five minutes for Sheila to find the snitch, and her extra comfort on her broom proved to give her the edge, as she beat out her friend and yearmate. Harry and Angelina led the two second years back to the rest of the group. The students who had already been cut were still around, watching, and had been joined by several other students as breakfast ended and they leisurely made their out to the Pitch.
Hermione and Neville, of course, had been there from the start. Harry went off to the side where the rest of the team was standing with some of the cut players, smiling at the way Evan congratulated his friend before following Harry to the rest of the cut players.
They all turned to listen to Angelina as she set up a scrimmage. "All right, now that we have two full teams, we're going to set up a mock scrimmage.
For chasers, I want Weasley, Robbins, and McDonald on one side, and Peake, Hollister, and Gribbins on the other. For beaters, let's have Thomas and Coote on the first side, and Finnegan and Creevey on the other. Weasley, you take goals for the first team, Stebbins, you've got the other set.
And Sheila, you're on that team, Dennis, you're on the other one," she finished, pointing first to Ginny's team, and then to the second one, indicating where the seekers were to go. Fourteen brooms shot into the air, followed quickly by Angelina, as she released the bludgers, followed by the snitch and the quaffle.
Harry and the rest of the team watched from the ground for a few minutes. Harry found himself holding his breath every time the quaffle came close to Ron, but he was holding his own. "He's doing all right." Harry turned around at the comment, and nodded to the sixth year keeper hopeful that had already been eliminated, Robert Wiggins.
"Yeah, he's had some practice. His brothers and sister, you know?" The older boy nodded. "I had hoped to at least be a reserve, but no hard feelings. Truth is, I sort of only tried out because Cormac couldn't." Harry raised his eyebrow, and the Robert elaborated, "Cormac McLaggen, my dorm mate. He wanted to try out, but he's in the hospital wing. He's not bad, but truth is, I think your mate's better." Harry nodded, and returned his gaze to the game above him.
Ginny and her fellow chasers were destroying the seventh year keeper, which made him grin. Robert smiled as well. "Your girlfriend's in a league of her own, Potter." Harry glanced over. "She's amazing," he agreed. Angelina blew her whistle at that moment, calling all the starting players to the sky. She then switched up the teams, mixing up the chasers and beaters, before starting the match again and asking her fellow teammates to watch the hopefuls as she wanted their opinions.
The scrimmage ended an hour later, when Dennis caught the snitch hovering roughly three feet above the ground near Ron's hoops. Angelina blew her whistle again and gestured for them all to land. Once they did so, she smiled at all of them. "Thanks for coming out, everyone. I'll have the list posted by tomorrow morning." The crowd all left, but not before smiling at the way Hermione practically jumped on Ron, congratulating him on his performance. Once it was just the team left, Angelina led them all over to the side of the pitch.
"All right," she said, sitting down and gesturing for them to do the same. "What'd you guys think?" Fred leaned forward in his seat.
"The beaters were all pretty good," he admitted. "Not up to our standards, of course, but then who is?" George nodded, grinning. "They'll have to get up awfully early to beat us, Gred." Angelina shook her head.
"Who did you like the best?" The twins looked at each other for a moment. "Thomas and Creevey," Fred informed her. "Finnegan was almost as good, but Thomas was more accurate." Angelina nodded her agreement at their assessment, before turning to Alicia and Katie.
"What'd you think of the chasers?" Katie chimed in first, "Ginny was without a doubt the best. If I wasn't so sure of my position, I would be worried." Harry grinned, happy for his girlfriend. Angelina glanced over at him and rolled her eyes, smiling as well. "So Ginny… and maybe Demelza Robbins? She was pretty good as well." The chasers all nodded their agreement. "Hollister had some talent, but I think Natalie McDonald was better," she decided on one of Ginny's yearmates, and McDonald, a small and speedy second year that had surprised them all with her innovation and fearlessness on a broom, to round out the chaser reserves.
"I agree," Alicia chimed in. "Natalie made some very tricky shots." They moved on to seekers next. "Dennis caught the snitch at the end," Harry stated.
"But was he better?" Fred asked. He had been observing the beaters mostly, so he was trusting his sister's boyfriend, as he knew Harry was more knowledgeable.
Harry nodded. "Sheila has talent," he said, shifting in his seat. "But she's still pretty new to the sport; she's a muggleborn, so it's not like she grew up playing Quidditch. I know that doesn't really mean anything, I mean, look at me," he grinned ruefully, causing all of them to laugh.
"For that matter, Dennis is muggleborn as well. Maybe if they were the same year it would make it closer, but as it is, I think Dennis is more comfortable on his broom." Angelina inclined her head once. "I agree. Now, keepers?" That conversation took longer, but they were really just deciding which of their two candidates would be the starting keeper, and which would be a reserve.
What it came down to was the fact that Ron had stopped more goals. He seemed a little bit less confident in the air, but Angelina knew he had the potential, especially considering the Quidditch talent there was in that family.
That decision made, the team all headed inside for lunch. XXX That evening was the first DA meeting of the term. Harry was thrilled that they hadn't lost anyone other than the seventh years from last year, and many of the new first years had been convinced to come by their housemates. Minerva had to hide a smile as she saw Harry spend the first half hour just going over Defense, as many had complained about not learning anything in Umbridge's classes.
They split up by year, and Harry had some of the older students teach the younger years a few spells they should know at this point in their schooling. Harry and Ginny took the first years, Ron and Hermione the second years, Neville, Susan, and Luna the third years, Blaise and Daphne the fourth, Cedric and Cho took the fifth and sixth years, and McGonagall and Flitwick the seventh years.
For the remainder of their time, they operated much as they had the previous year, with various groups separating by which subject they needed help with.
Minerva and Filius held the leaders back when it was time to depart. When they were alone, the Transfiguration professor smiled. "I want to congratulate you all on your impressive efforts with this study group. Last year's end of year exam scores were the highest on record for this school in over fifty years." Harry blushed, but the rest of the students just looked extremely pleased. Flitwick also added his congratulations, and the students all left for their separate common rooms.
XXX Angelina had the Quidditch team posted early Sunday morning, and Harry was happy that he was able to see Ron's face as he realized he had made the team; they entered the Common Room just as Angelina was pinning the list to the board, coming back from their morning run.
Ron immediately dragged them all over to the board, trying to keep his nerves from showing on his face. His expression immediately changed from apprehension to excitement as a grin stretched from ear to ear.
"Look, Harry! I made it!" Harry smiled as he read. Gryffindor Quidditch team: Starters: Chaser: Angelina Johnson (C) Chaser: Alicia Spinnet Chaser: Katie Bell Beater: Fred Weasley Beater: George Weasley Seeker: Harry Potter Keeper: Ron Weasley Reserves: Chaser: Ginny Weasley Chaser: Demelza Robbins Chaser: Natalie McDonald Beater: Dean Thomas Beater: Colin Creevey Seeker: Dennis Creevey Keeper: Justin Trimble Harry laughed and gave his friend a slap on the back, before Hermione hugged him, giving him a peck on the cheek and offering up her own congratulations.
Harry gave Ginny a kiss as she read the board as well. Ginny just smiled. Not like I didn't expect it, of course, she mock-preened. Harry smiled. Of course, he agreed. You flew circles around the competition. Harry nodded to his other dorm mates as they came down, feeling a little bad when Seamus' shoulders drooped at seeing that he hadn't made the cut, though he congratulated his friend as Dean's face broke out into a massive grin. The Creevey brothers were similarly ecstatic to read their names on the board.
He smiled as Sheila congratulated Dennis as well, sad that she hadn't made the reserve spot, but not jealous or angry. Harry went over to her, and offered his condolences.
"You've got some real talent, Sheila. Honest, what it came down to was the fact that Dennis has a little more experience, and was more comfortable in the air. But I'm only here for a couple more years, so there will be an open spot." Sheila nodded, perking up a little.
"I know," she replied. "I knew Dennis was better yesterday, and I'm glad that I at least had a shot." Harry reached out and slung an arm across her shoulders, hugging her briefly. "Let me know if you want some pointers at all, and just keep practicing. There's always next year." He pulled back, and was pleased to see her face light up. "Thanks, Harry," she grinned. "I might just take you up on those pointers some time." She ran off to catch up with Evan for breakfast.
Harry watched her leave, the smile still in place. That was a nice thing to do, Harry, he heard Ginny say. He turned around to see his girlfriend making her way back down the stairs, clean and dressed in her uniform. He shrugged lightly. She does have some talent, it would be a shame not to cultivate it, he replied. They both watched Evan and Sheila leave the common room, whispering and giggling as they walked through the portrait.
If you're not careful, you might have two students asking for pointers, Ginny observed, coming to stand next to her boyfriend. Harry looked down several inches into her smiling face. He smirked a little. I'm not really sure Evan was meant to be a seeker, he mused. I kind of got the feeling he tried out for seeker because Sheila was, but he really strikes me as more of a keeper.
He's one of the tallest second years, I have a feeling he's going to rival Ron in a few years. Ginny nodded, understanding Harry's thought process. Maybe Ron can give him some pointers, then.
Harry snorted softly. "I think right now, Ron is probably more concerned with his own play," he murmured. "Maybe I'll bring it up next year." Ginny nodded again, smiling. Harry was probably right. "Sounds like a plan. Right now, though, you should probably shower. You kind of stink, Potter." Harry chuckled. "Yes dear," he replied, leaning forward to give her a chaste kiss, before heading up to his dorm room.
Ginny was always right, after all. And don't you forget it, Potter. Harry shook his head. Yes, dear, he said again, before grabbing his clothes to get ready for the day. XXX Classes continued in a similar fashion for the next few weeks. Defense was as boring as the first lesson, as Umbridge just had them all read the book. This led to an increase in students at DA sessions, as students learned that they were going over spells they should be learning in class. Saturday nights ended up becoming the permanent time for meetings, as the three Quidditch teams represented in the club all worked their practices around that time slot.
The length of the meeting also lengthened, including an hour in the beginning of just Defense work, before they moved on to other subjects for another hour. Hermione had voiced some concerns over the DA to Harry in private. They both knew their Defense professor would not approve of them learning defensive spells on their own, but there was nothing she could do, right?
It was a sanctioned club, so she couldn't protest. Unfortunately, the foul woman proved, a little over a month into term, that she could, in fact, do something. Harry returned from a practice with the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team Saturday afternoon to find most of his housemates crowded around the message board. "What's going on?" Fred asked as he pushed his way through the crowd.
The students moved to the side, and Harry was able to see what had their attention. Educational Decree number 23: By order of the Minister of Magic, Delores Umbridge shall be appointed to the post of High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. The High Inquisitor shall have the authority to examine, evaluate, and if necessary, remove any professors or staff at Hogwarts. Signed, Cornelius Fudge Minister of Magic Harry groaned.
Just what they needed: more Ministry control. He looked over at his friends and saw their similarly grim faces. All Gryffindors knew that things would be getting worse from here on out. For the next week, Umbridge paraded around the school as if she owned it. She had observed several classes, though none of Harry's, just yet. He just hoped that he would be there when she went to see how Aunt Minerva taught.
That memory would probably power a Patronus for months. Harry took Ginny on a date in the Room of Requirement Friday evening, and the two spent a wonderful night eating the meal Dobby had thoughtfully prepared for them, and then just cuddling by the fire in what was a very passable representation of the Gryffindor common room, although it was empty, and contained only one couch by the fireplace.
Other than that, it was void of furniture. When they returned to the actual common room, both students felt much calmer and happier. _ _ _ Chapter 9 Some reviewers have brought up certain questions, and while I have answered them in PM's, enough people have asked that I thought I should just put it here in an AN.
As I've mentioned before, I'm writing these stories as a series. Some information might seem extraneous, but like JK Rowling herself, I have more books planned after this one.
Call it foreshadowing, and pay attention to the details, they may be important later on! Maybe not this story, and maybe not even the next one, but eventually, those small details might become important!
I think this is my longest chapter ever! Enjoy! Disclaimer: not mine Nymphadora Tonks was confused. Amelia Bones, Director of the DMLE, and her boss' boss, had just popped by her cubicle and invited her over for dinner that night. That in itself was strange, considering she was just a recently graduated Auror.
She hadn't worked here long enough to be personally singled out by the head of the department, she thought. Although she knew she was valuable, as a metamorphmagus, that still shouldn't warrant being singled out like this. But because she had been invited by her boss, she couldn't exactly refuse, even if she had wanted to.
Perhaps it had something to do with how she had spent her days off over the summer. Teaching Harry and his friends had been truly enjoyable, maybe Director Bones wanted to talk about that, or maybe it was thanks for taking the time to teach Susan some defense?
Shrugging her shoulders, Tonks got back to work. Whatever the reason, nothing would be accomplished by worrying, so she returned to the paperwork on her desk. XXX Tonks was exactly on time, as she stepped out of the Floo with a grace that usually seemed to be lacking.
Looking around the sitting room, a knot she hadn't even noticed in her stomach loosened slightly as she saw both Sirius and Remus sitting on the sofa, the former with an arm around Amelia's shoulders as he laughed at something Remus had said.
Amelia looked up and smiled at her Auror. "Ms. Tonks, thank you for coming," she said, standing up to greet the young woman. Tonks tripped forward slightly, ignoring Sirius' snort and Remus' smile, as she shook Amelia's hand.
"Thanks for the invitation," she replied. "Though I will admit to some confusion over why." Amelia nodded her undestanding. "We will get to that soon," she assured, "Though I think we should eat dinner first, and leave the serious discussion for later, and if you even try to make a joke about your name here, Sirius, you will be sleeping alone for the foreseeable future," she added without even turning around.
Sirius closed his mouth immediately, and elbowed Remus in the gut when the werewolf unsuccessfully tried to hold back a laugh. Any further conversation was cut off as the fireplace flared again, and Kingsley Shaklebolt stepped out. Amelia went to greet him, and Tonks took that opportunity to say hello to her cousin and a certain handsome werewolf that she couldn't stop thinking about.
Of course, they deflected any subtle questions about why she was there. One of the Bones house elves popped in a few seconds later to inform them that dinner was ready, so they all moved to the dining room, where they partook in a light but truly delicious meal. Conversation was informal around the table. Kingsley seemed to have a better time of relaxing than Tonks.
Or perhaps he had been invited over for dinner before, and didn't read too much into it. But then, Kingsley had been an Auror much longer than she had. When the meal was over, they all adjourned to the informal sitting room, a different room than the sitting room Tonks had Flooed into. She was amazed at the size of the estate, it really was impressive. But then, the only other ancestral homes she had ever visited were McGonagall Castle and Grimmauld Place.
Grimmauld was dark and depressing, though she did like McGonagall's home. The Bones Estate was a little smaller, but had the same comfortable feel. As the daughter of a disowned Black, she had not had much interaction with any of the Pureblood circles, so she hadn't seen any of their fancy homes growing up. She had enjoyed her quiet lifestyle with her parents, and their home was comfy and lived in, but she knew that her mother often hurt over her family.
When Sirius had become the new Lord Black, and proceeded to invite Andromeda back into the family, while simultaneously disowning Belatrix, Tonks knew her mother had been overjoyed. Even though most of their family was dark and just plain embarrassing, there was a certain social stigma involved with being a Black.
Sirius hadn't quite decided what to do about Narcissa yet, though he had asked Andromeda for her opinion on the matter. Tonks knew her mother was torn, and she wasn't sure if they had reached a decision yet. It might depend on if Lucius was ever actually unmasked as a Death Eater. Amelia looked at her guests and smiled tightly. She, Sirius, Remus, and Minerva had discussed the pros and cons of bringing Tonks and Kingsley into their confidence.
Both were members of the Order of the Phoenix, something Sirius hadn't hesitated to inform her of the moment they had started coming to meetings, knowing that Amelia would want to know about as many of Dumbledore's supporters in her department as possible. Sirius was glad that Tonks wanted to join because she wanted to help out in the war as much as possible, not because she blindly followed Dumbledore everywhere, and both he and Amelia suspected the same was true of Kingsley.
They didn't want either of them to quit the Order, but they thought that, if they told both Aurors about Dumbledore's misdeeds and their own misgivings, the rose colored glasses may come off, and the Aurors would be interested in joining their own small circle as well.
For the next thirty minutes or so, Amelia and Sirius told Tonks and Kingsley the truth. The unaltered truth, starting with Dumbledore's sealing of the Potter Will, in order to place Harry illegally with his aunt and uncle; they touched on Harry's living situation there, including Dumbledore's authorization of funds from the Potter Estate to be paid to the Dursleys and their use of the same funds to spoil their own son. They told the two Aurors the truth of Vernon Dursley's imprisonment, and Harry's idea of having the muggle police arrest him for embezzlement, so no one would find out about his home life.
Amelia summarized what Minerva had told her of Harry's first few years of school. Everything they had discussed about Dumbldore's motives and reasons, their own theories and speculations. Remus chimed in from time to time, voicing his opinions when he felt they were needed, but content to leave Amelia and Sirius to take the lead, as he knew they had been involved before him, and probably had a better grasp on the situation.
When they were done, Kingsley asked a few clarifying questions, which Amelia answered grimly. None of them really wanted to think about the Leader of the Light acting in such a way, but they wouldn't brush everything under the rug the way some people might. "Not that I'm not grateful to be in the know and all," Tonks said, leaning forward slightly, "But why are you telling us all this?" Amelia shared a look with Remus and Sirius.
"I know you're both part of Dumbledore's Order," she replied, seeing the way Tonks tensed up a little, but plowing forward and not giving anyone a chance to interrupt. "I'm not going to fire you for it, Tonks, don't worry. I know that you both want to help in this war, and I know that you both believe Harry when he says Voldemort is back." None of them flinched at the name, something Amelia noted with approval.
She nodded crisply. "Tonks, you helped Harry and his friends this summer, and I thank you for that, not just for Harry, but for Susan as well. She loved being a part of those lessons. I'm not asking you to choose between us and Dumbledore, or between Dumbledore and the DMLE. What we were hoping was that you two might be interested in joining our own. circle, I guess you could call it." Kingsley furrowed his brow.
"What does that mean, exactly?" he asked, his voice calm with a hint of curiosity. Amelia smiled. "I'm hoping that you can be convinced to give up some of your spare time to help train Harry and his friends as well, next summer, and perhaps a little over the Christmas holiday," she told him. "If Dumbledore does or says anything that seems a little. strange, or wrong, I hope you will inform one of us.
I'm not asking you to actively spy on the man, but we've all agreed that he has an unhealthy interest where Harry's concerned." Amelia snorted derisively. "He actually thought that Blood Wards to protect him from Voldemort's followers was worth the years of physical and emotional abuse the Dursleys heaped on him." Tonks shook her head in disbelief.
"I can't believe he went through all that, and is still such a caring and generous young man," she marveled. Sirius nodded, smiling at his cousin. "He really is," he agreed. He sobered a moment later, and leaned forward. "Dumbledore won't be around forever. So many witches and wizards follow him blindly, just because he's Dumbledore, but I personally think he's getting up there in years, and spreading himself too thin, with all his positions in society.
We don't know what we're going to do about his meddling, but I have a feeling we'll all be much better off not trusting him blindly, or it may come that we'll all end up wondering just how it is we jumped off that cliff. Unfortunately, logic seems to be something missing from most of the magical world." Amelia shook her head at his cynical attitude, but truth to be told, she really couldn't fault it. Sirius clenched his jaw. "I can understand, in theory, why Albus thought the Blood Wards would be worth the trade off of abuse, but it's hard to rationalize it when I think about how I found Harry dragging his trunk down the street that night, half his face bruised, unable to breathe properly because of the broken ribs.
He was so focused on the outside threat, he paid no attention to the one on the inside." He took a deep breath. "Albus has a lot to answer for. Lily and James' Will clearly stated that Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper, and yet he sealed it and did nothing while I was sent to Azkaban without a trial. I guess I can be a little lenient there, because to be fair, Albus probably didn't know the exact wording of the Will, but then he sent Harry to the Dursleys, and he had to know what Lily's relationship was like with her sister.
There were four people listed that could have cared for Harry, and even without me, there were three others.
After Frank and Alice, Minerva was there, and so were your parents, Tonks." Tonks looked surprised; she hadn't known that her parents had been friends with the Potters. Sirius clenched his hands together, wringing them in his lap. "I don't think Albus is dark, I don't even consider that a possibility. I just think he's too set in his ways to realize that he might be wrong.
He's got this idea in his head, and he's so wrapped up in his plans and schemes, that he doesn't see the truth. If he doesn't wake up and see what's in front of his nose, he's going to lose something even greater. Harry looked up to him like a grandfather, until he found out what Albus had done.
I know I saw him as something of a parental figure, especially since my own were. well, you know." Remus nodded. "He was my savior," he admitted. "He let me come to Hogwarts, he gave me a job. I almost couldn't believe it, when I found out." Kingsley shifted in his seat. "I grew up in the West Indies, so I don't know Albus in the same way you all do, but I must admit it does seem strange, the way so many people follow his commands without even realizing it.
He may be your Leader of the Light, but he is a very manipulative person." They all agreed with that, and Kingsley sighed. "I'm glad you've brought me into this, Amelia, Sirius, Remus. I'm happy to help out, any way I can. No matter what anyone else says, I firmly believe that it will be Harry leading our side of this war. Even if I have yet to actually meet him, what I've heard from both Minerva and Molly tells me he is a strong and capable young man.
Let me know what you need from me, and I'll be glad to join you for these defense lessons." Amelia nodded gratefully. "Thank you, Kingsley. You'll be a great asset." Tonks resettled herself in her chair. "You know I'm in," she grinned. "Harry's a force to be reckoned with, especially with Ginny and his friends by his side.
When they all team up together, they really make quite a set." They all chuckled, as Sirius and Remus remembered some of their losses against those teens over the summer. "We'll be in touch about any training over Christmas," Amelia said, motioning for them to make their way back to the Floo, as it was rather late.
"But even if we decide not to have any sort of formal training, I'd like for us to get together. Kingsley, you should meet Harry, officially. His friends, as well, as I am certain they will all be in this war, standing right next to him." "Does that bother you?" Tonks asked curiously, as they moved back into the hallway.
"That Susan wants to stand on the front lines?" Amelia sighed. "She's my niece, and I've raised her as my own since she was a baby.
Of course it bothers me. But I raised her to be a strong, independent woman. I taught her to stand up for what's right, no matter how hard. I'm scared out of my mind, but I am also so intensely proud of her. She's fighting for what she believes in, and I couldn't be happier with that." They continued on to the Floo in silence, which wasn't broken until they were all standing around the fireplace.
Amelia said her goodbyes, and Sirius and Remus shook hands with Kingsley. Sirius gave his cousin a hug, before the metamorphmagus, with a gleam in her eye, moved over to hug an unsuspecting werewolf. Remus pulled back quickly, blushing red, but Tonks looked satisfied. Soon, she mused. He would cave soon. She knew it. Sirius chuckled at his friend's discomfort. "Tonks, you and your parents are invited for Christmas dinner, of course, I hope you'll come.
Andromeda and Ted haven't seen Harry since he was a year old, I'm sure they'd love to meet him again." Tonks nodded, smiling. "I'll pass along the invitation," she promised. Sirius looked satisfied with that. "Kingsley, you are certainly invited as well, if you want." Kingsley smiled as well. "I'll keep it in mind, and let you know." Sirius nodded. "We'll all talk again soon, we've got plenty of time to worry about the holidays." They all said their goodbyes again, with promises to speak soon about any unfurling events where Albus was concerned, before Tonks, and then Kingsley, stepped through the fireplace.
Sirius turned to his girlfriend once they were gone, and gathered her up in a comforting hug. "That went well," he stated calmly, relaxing into her embrace. He felt Amelia relax as well, as she nodded. "Much better than I had dared hope for," she agreed. Remus sighed. "I wish it wasn't necessary," he mused. "But I do feel good that we're doing something." Sirius nodded, pulling back and looking at his friend. "We're doing a lot more than something.
I have a feeling Kingsley's right: Harry will be leading this war, and we'll be right there, ensuring he survives. I'm terrified, but we're helping him train, so that when the time comes, he'll be ready." As it was getting late, Remus decided to head back to McGonagall Castle; he was working the opening shift at the bookstore tomorrow, and needed to get some rest.
Sirius, as he had been doing most nights since they had sent the kids back to Hogwarts, decided to stay at Amelia's, so after saying farewell to Remus, the two headed up to the master bedroom, and a good night's sleep. XXX Sunday evening saw Harry and his friends completing their homework or reading further ahead in the common room, as around them, their fellow Gryffindors worked on their own assignments. Harry had gone off to help the second years a while ago, while Ginny had been drawn in by a group of first years, and Neville had willingly let himself become the Herbology tutor for a few third years.
Ron still had to finish his own homework, and Hermione was busy trying to get ahead in her Transfiguration reading. "I just don't get why Umbridge can do all this." Sheila's comment was louder than she had perhaps intended, and drew a few eyes. "And why can Fudge have so much control over the school?" Harry sighed, noticing that many people were looking their way. He focused on the second year.
"What you need to understand is the history, Sheila. Hogwarts has always been separate from the Ministry, ever since the school was founded. The Founders worded it that way in the Charter, and when the Ministry was formed, it was agreed that they wouldn't interfere.
There are specific clauses written into the Ministry Charter as well." Looking around, Harry could see that he had the attention of most of the common room by this point.
From the first years that Ginny had been helping, to the seventh years in the corner. He sighed. "That's not to say Ministers haven't tried to gain control over the years. They have, many times. But the separation of education and government has always existed, and without going back and changing the Charter, there's no real way to gain control. These Educational Decrees are really one of the only legal ways Fudge has of asserting power." "How do you know all this?" Katie asked curiously, looking interested.
Harry blushed lightly. "Binns might only talk about Goblin wars, but History is interesting. I've got a lot of books on the subject, and I've actually read parts of the original Hogwarts Charter." "Really?" Hermione broke in, looking interested. Harry shrugged. "Only parts. The whole thing is about two thousand pages long.
I'll loan you the book with it later." Hermione nodded eagerly and Harry chuckled. He looked around the room before turning back to Sheila. "Fudge wants to gain control now because he knows he's slipping. He's losing his power in the Ministry.
Amelia… Madam Bones is circulating the real story of what happened last June, but it's not that easy to get a Minister voted out of office. And in the meantime, Fudge is digging his heels in and trying his hardest to keep his position.
He's using Umbridge to try and gain control over the school." He shook his head. "It sucks, and I know it just seems like it's just getting worse, but believe me when I say people are working on it." Sheila nodded, as did several others, and they all went back their work. Harry was interrupted a while later as Ron waved him over to where he and Hermione were sitting. Ginny and Neville were also drawn from their mini study groups. With an apologetic shrug to the second years, Harry went to join his friends.
"What's going on?" he asked softly, seeing the slightly confused and apprehensive expression on Ron's face. Ron was holding a small scroll in one hand. An owl was perched on the table in front of him, and Harry recognized it as Hermes, Percy's owl. He furrowed his brow in confusion. "What's Percy doing writing to you?" he asked.
"I thought he wasn't speaking with you all after that argument this summer." An argument he still felt guilty for being the cause of. Feeling his guilt, Ginny bumped his shoulder lightly, and he smiled, feeling better. Ron shrugged. "He hasn't contacted any of us since then," he confirmed. Hermione nodded towards the letter. "What does it say?" she asked curiously. Ron took a deep breath and unrolled the piece of parchment.
The handwriting was neat and elegant, slanting to the left slightly. It was very Percy. Reading over Ron's shoulder, they were all able to see what the middle Weasley brother had written. Dear Ron, I trust this letter finds you well. I know that, with our childish brothers, you do not have the best example to turn to at school at the moment, but please try to remember that this is your OWL year, and you must do well if you wish to obtain a decent job after graduation.
I was disappointed to hear that you had not been made a Prefect, but do not let that deter you from your potential. Ron, I know you consider Harry Potter to be a friend, but further interaction with him could be detrimental to your future prospects.
He's been implicated in underaged use of magic, and only got off on a technicality, and I have been assured by the Minister of Magic personally that his claims made the previous June have no backing in reality. He's unhinged, Ron, and if you continue to associate with him, you could damage many possible avenues. If you are worried about severing those ties Potter may be unbalanced, or even violent I urge you to go to Delores Umbridge, a truly delightful woman! She is working on bringing the school back to its former glory, and she will be able to assist you in any issues you may have.
She is unfortunately encountering little cooperation from the staff, though thanks to her appointment as High Inquisitor, she should find the job easier from here on. I am sorry that I was unable to see you more this summer. Though it pains me to speak ill of our parents, I find myself unable to live under their roof while they associate with such a dangerous crowd.
I can only hope that mother and father will one day realize their mistakes, and of course, I will be there to accept their apology when it comes. Do not let our parents' actions dictate your own, Ron, and do not let family ties blind you to the truth.
I sincerely hope you will think about my words, particularly the part about Harry Potter, and good luck on your OWL year. Your brother, Percy Harry tried to be objective as he read, but he had a hard time equating the teenager he had shared a house with for two weeks in the summer before his second year with the young man who would write such awful things about him.
Next to him, he could feel Ginny's mounting fury. He chuckled weakly, trying to dissolve the mounting tension. "Well, if you want to…" he checked the letter again, "sever ties with me, I promise, I won't hold it against you." Ron growled, tearing the letter to pieces. "That absolute git," he snarled. "He's shared a bathroom with you. He's lived under the same roof as you. You've never given him a reason to think anything bad of you, and then suddenly he get's a job in the Minister's office and he thinks you're mental?" Hermione shook her head, frowning, but Neville was almost as furious as the Weasleys.
"I can't believe Percy's so willing to throw away his family for a job," he commented quietly." They all turned to him, quieting as they realized that's what he was doing. Harry knew what Neville was thinking, and nodded soberly.
"I know," he agreed. "He's got this amazing family who might make fun of him for being uptight and studious, but still love him the way he is, and would never ask him to change, and he doesn't care. He'll throw it away just because the Minister doesn't want to admit Voldemort's back." Ron and Ginny looked almost shocked now as they realized just how much Percy's pulling away was hurting their friends.
Even Neville, who had never even really been close to Percy, or spent time with him at all, hated the fact that the man had an amazing family, amazing parents, something he would do anything for, and just didn't seem to care.
On impulse, Ginny stood up and went to give Neville a hug. The older boy responded immediately, grateful for the affection. Ron just awkwardly sat there, while Hermione gathered up the torn shreds of the useless letter, standing up and tossing it in the fire before she went and took over for Ginny, so that the fourth year could go comfort her boyfriend.
Ginny nodded in thanks, and the five students spent the rest of the evening in silence, just taking comfort in each other. XXX Hogwarts received yet another blow the following day.
Educational Decree Number 24 went up late Sunday night, so the school started off Monday morning on a depressing note. This Decree disbanded all clubs and organizations; in order to reform, they would need permission from the High Inquisitor.
Harry and his friends were about to go to breakfast, considering the implications of the new Decree, when Angelina entered through the portrait hole. "I'm glad I caught you, Harry. Have you seen the new Decree?" Harry nodded grimly. Angelina continued, "Then you know she's included Quidditch teams as well." Harry stared. "But " Angelina cut him off, "I've already asked for permission to reform, but Umbridge is taking her time, considering my request." She sounded sarcastic and thoroughly disgusted.
"So try not to antagonize her, if you can." Harry nodded, swallowing. "No guarantees, but I'll try. I don't think I have to say anything, she just hates me. Like Snape." Angelina and Harry's friends all laughed, before they decided to head to breakfast.
XXX The day passed by too slowly for Harry's liking. It seemed like an age before lunchtime, though the fact that he had back-to-back History and Potions probably contributed to that. The highlight of his day was when he walked into Transfiguration to find Umbridge sitting in the back.
Minerva started class like she normally did. "Good afternoon. Today, we will begin studying Vanishing spells." "Hem, hem." Minerva paused for a millisecond, but then continued speaking.
"Vanishing spells can be very tricky, so it is important to annunciate, and you must have the proper intent." "Hem, hem." Minerva closed her eyes briefly. When she spoke again, her voice was hard and she seemed to be suppressing an undercurrent of anger. "The incantation is Evanesco, and would you like a cough drop, Delores?" she asked as the unwelcome observer cleared her throat for a third time.
The High Inquisitor smiled sweetly and shook her head. "No, Professor McGonagall. I just wondered whether you had gotten my note." Minerva nodded curtly.
"Yes, I did." Delores just kept smiling. "Then you should be aware that your review is today." Minerva grit her teeth. "Obviously, I was aware, otherwise I would have asked you what you were doing in my class." Delores' smile diminished slightly, while Harry's widened a fraction. "Well then " Minerva interrupted, "Delores, I was under the impression that your review was to determine how I teach my classes.
Normally, I do not allow people to interrupt while I am speaking." Delores' smile disappeared completely, and she began to write hurried notes on her clipboard. Minerva took a deep breath and let it out, while most of the Gryffindors tried to hide grins behind their hands.
Under control, Minerva returned to teaching her class, and soon they were all getting to work on the Vanishing spell. Harry and Hermione, naturally, were the first to make any progress, successfully Vanishing their snails halfway through the class, earning them both ten points and a smile from the professor.
Delores waited until the end of class to ask Minerva some questions about her tenure at Hogwarts. Harry and his friends hung back for a moment, but when Minerva subtly shook her head at her young charge, he proceeded to lead the others out of the room. He would talk with his guardian later. XXX Minerva didn't show up for supper, something that Harry and his friends all noted, though none of them commented on it. Angelina came to find him as the meal ended, to inform him, Ron, and Ginny that the Quidditch team had gotten permission to reform.
She was practically beaming as she sat down next to Harry. "Apparently, Professor McGonagall interceded, and got Umbridge to give us permission to reform the team, so we're practicing tomorrow afternoon." Harry, Ron, and Ginny nodded, and Angelina got up to go tell the rest of the team. Harry said goodbye to his friends as they headed back up to Gryffindor tower, heading towards his guardian's office.
He wouldn't say it out loud, but he was worried about her. It wasn't like her to skip dinner, if only so that she could ensure all the students behaved. Minerva let him in almost immediately, closing and warding the door behind him, before she sat back down behind her desk, letting out a long sigh. Harry took a seat as well, dropping his bag on the floor. When he studied his guardian, he could see the signs of stress and fatigue lining her face. "Are you all right?" he asked cautiously.
Minerva glanced up sharply, before she relaxed a little, slumping in her seat. "I'm fine, Harry, thank you." Harry shifted in his seat. "Did everything go all right with Umbridge?" Minerva's gaze narrowed minutely, as she considered correcting her young charge about showing proper respect for a professor, but she just couldn't do it.
Some people just really didn't deserve it. She shook her head slightly. "You shouldn't worry about it, Harry." "I do," Harry's response was defiant, his voice almost desperate. He finally had a family, and he would do anything to protect that.
Minerva smiled, her gaze warming. "Everything will be all right, Harry. Delores may be Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, but I've been teaching here for almost thirty-nine years, and that counts for something." She got up and made her way around the desk. Harry stood up, his expression worried as he watched his guardian. Minerva drew him into a hug, reassuring him. When she pulled back, Harry looked much better. The Transfiguration professor sat down in one of the seats in front of her desk, pulling Harry along with her, so that he was once more sitting in the seat he had claimed.
"Harry, I know things are happening, and I know you're worried. But please try to remember that we're the adults. It's our job to take care of you. You shouldn't worry about me." She knew that her words wouldn't stop him. It was in his nature. Minerva rested a hand on his shoulder, squeezing reassuringly.
"I know you want to help, Harry, but I need to impress upon you how fragile things are right now. One wrong move, and things could get so much worse. As it is, we're doing the best we can." Harry nodded, biting his lip. "Have you heard anything from Amelia?" he asked. Minerva shook her head. "Cornelius is still in charge, and doing everything in his power to remain so.
I don't believe it will last much longer, but with the political climate being what it is, we need to employ all necessary caution. And that means keeping our heads down." Harry nodded, understanding. Minerva sighed, reaching up to ruffle his hair affectionately. Harry jerked away a little, but the small smile on his face said quite clearly that he enjoyed the affection his guardian was showing.
"As you know, Educational Decree Number 24 gives Delores the authority to disband any club or organization. I was able to get her to reform the Quidditch team, but she vehemently refuses to consider letting the DA continue. I'm sorry, Harry." Harry nodded again, understanding, and not surprised in the least. From the classes he had had with Umbridge, he knew she wouldn't want them to actually be practicing defense.
Minerva's next comment, though, had him raising an eyebrow. "However, I don't believe it would be wise to let such an important subject fall to the wayside." Harry furrowed his brow, reading between the lines. Minerva continued, her voice dropping to an almost whisper, as she spoke. "You understand that I cannot officially sanction anything, correct?" Harry nodded, his mind already whirling as he thought about what he could do. It was obvious that Umbridge had some ulterior motive, some reason why she was here, at Hogwarts, sabotaging an entire generation of students.
It was just as obvious that the professors couldn't do anything, not if they wanted to stay in a position to be able to help if needed. No, Harry and his friends were on their own for now. He didn't say anything to Minerva, just gave her a hug, which she returned gently, wishing him a good night, before taking down the privacy wards, and watching him leave her office.
Harry made his way quickly up to Gryffindor tower, where he joined his friends by the fireplace, informing them of his conversation with Minerva in a hushed voice.
Hermione's hand immediately went for a piece of parchment, and Harry knew she was writing down ideas for how to structure these new 'secret' meetings. He leaned forward, his voice dropping down to a whisper.
"If we do this, we need to make sure there's no way it could get back to Umbridge. Professor McGonagall put herself in enough danger just suggesting we continue. She could be in serious trouble if anyone finds out what she did." Hermione nodded. "We'll need to talk to the other leaders, and figure out a way to stay in contact, and to let people know about meetings, so that no one hears us talking about it." They all agreed.
"Where could we meet?" Neville asked. "We can't continue to use the DA lounge, obviously." They all thought for a few minutes, before Ginny suggested the Room of Requirement. "It's perfect," she said, her eyes sparkling with the idea of doing something directly against Umbridge's decrees. That woman was foul to the core, and she hoped to Merlin that they wouldn't have to deal with her much longer. "It can become any type of training room we want, and besides us, no one else knows about it." Harry nodded, smiling as he gave his girlfriend a kiss.
"That's a great idea," he replied, pulling back and turning to the rest of the group. "Let's talk to the other leaders tomorrow night, and we'll have to let everyone else know quietly. I think we should abandon the set Saturday meeting. If we're going to do this, we should make it harder for Umbridge to find out. If we change the evening every week, it'll be less predictable." Hermione nodded.
"Good idea." She wrote something else down on the parchment in her hands, furrowed her brow, and then added another idea. Harry, leaning over to read what she was writing, raised an eyebrow. Hermione looked up and met his gaze. Harry nodded his approval, and she smiled.
She put the parchment in her book bag, and pulled out her Transfiguration text, opening to the chapter on Vanishing spells, as the rest of them got out their own homework and settled in to work. XXX Harry and his friends managed to contact all the DA leaders quietly over the next day, so after supper found the group meeting in the Room of Requirement. Harry checked the Marauder's Map continuously, watching their dots disappear as they entered the room in groups of two or three.
When they were all present, he put the map away and sat down on one of the sofas that the room had provided. Once they were all seated as well, he told them all of his conversation with Minerva. "Are you all interested, and willing to do this?" he asked earnestly, looking at each of them in turn. Cedric was the first to respond, taking his girlfriend's hand in his and squeezing reassuringly.
"Harry, I was in that graveyard, same as you. I saw what… Voldemort… is capable of." He forced himself to say the Dark Lord's name. Around the room, there were a few flinches, but the majority of them had no reaction. "Umbridge is going to kill us all if we listen to her." He looked over at Cho and smiled.
"If I can help in any way, I'm there." Cho nodded, taking comfort in her boyfriend's confidence and presence. "Cedric's right. I'm willing to take the risk." "What about your parents?" Cedric asked worriedly.
He knew that her parents were more willing to trust in the Minister than his own were. Her mother worked for the Ministry, and she had told him that her parents had forbidden her from getting on the wrong side of Umbridge. Cho shook her head. "Some things are more important," she replied, a hint of steel in her tone.
"My parents can suck up to Fudge and Umbridge all they want, but I can see the writing on the wall. And if there's one thing I've learned from you, Harry," she turned to look at him, her gaze deadly calm. "It's that doing what's right might not be easy, but it's worth doing. We all have the choice. My parents have made theirs, but that doesn't mean I have to follow." Harry nodded, smiling his reassurance.
He was glad that he had such good friends. Blaise and Daphne shared a glance, before Blaise spoke for both of them. "We're with you, Harry, no matter what. Learning how to defend ourselves against Voldemort is more important than playing it safe." Susan nodded.
"Aunt Amelia says Fudge won't last much longer, and I fully believe that Umbridge is going to hang herself very soon, but we can't just wait for that to happen." She swallowed harshly.
"V-Voldemort won't care how young we are. Everyone here is in danger because that woman won't teach us to defend ourselves. If you're willing to take on that mantle, I'll follow." Harry actually felt the threat of tears build up behind his eyes.
He had become so much closer to all of these people in the last year, but to hear the level of confidence they held in him was… it was too much for him to even put in to words. All of the Gryffindors had already given him their support, so Luna was the last one to speak.
Her voice, when she gave her opinion, was so different from what they were used to, it made them all sit up and take notice. There was a strong and confident air around her, and her voice lost its dreamy quality as she answered the question Harry had posed, for once not even mentioning a single mythical creature.
"I trust you, Harry. And I want to help. My father always said it was a matter of time before Fudge tried to take over Hogwarts. He's given me full permission to do whatever I want to undermine their authority." Harry smiled. "Thanks, guys," he said sincerely. "Can you talk to members in your houses discretely, and I'm thinking if we meet here Saturday after supper, same meeting time as usual, and we'll hopefully have a way to communicate by then.
I think if we change up meeting days, it'll make it harder for anyone to see a pattern, and harder to get caught." "That's a good idea," Cedric commented. "Do you have any ideas on how we'll let people know when the meeting is each week?" Harry and Hermione looked at each other, before Hermione pulled out a couple of coins and held them up. "Harry and I spent our free periods today working on these, and we think it'll work.
Harry has the master coin," she held up the one in her right hand, "and when he changes the date on his, the rest will change as well. You can see here," she turned the coin slightly, indicating a series of numbers on the edge, "these numbers indicate a date and time. A Protean Charm will link all of the coins together." Cedric and Cho stared. "You can do a Protean Charm?" Cho asked incredulously. Hermione blushed, looking down. "Well, Harry and I had to work on it for a while today, but we think we've got it down.
We managed to link these two together, so it shouldn't bee too much trouble to make more." "Where'd you get the coins from?" Cedric asked. Harry bit his lip. "I conjured them," he replied quietly. Cedric shifted in his seat. "How long will it last?" he queried, knowing that permanent conjuration was not something most witches and wizards were able to achieve, and making anything last longer than a few weeks required a lot of power.
It wasn't something that was normally even covered until sixth year. Harry shrugged. "The stuff I practiced conjuring over the summer is still there, so a few months at least. If I had to guess, the coins will most likely last at least until the end of the school year. Hopefully we won't need to keep using them that long, but they should work if we need them to." "Blimey," Cedric breathed, his eyes wide. The other in the room were also looking at Harry with varying degrees of awe.
It was slightly more subdued in Daphne and Blaise's expressions, and dreamier in Luna's, but it was there. The conversation wrapped up pretty quickly after that; Harry was uncomfortable with the amount of admiration his friends were looking at him with.
He knew that it was rather impressive, but he really wished they wouldn't make such a big deal of it. XXX Potions class on Thursday morning was both amusing and entertaining for the Gryffindors, and most of the Slytherins. Umbridge had chosen that class to observe, and followed Snape around the room, watching him closely and looking into the different students' cauldrons.
"Is it wrong that I don't know who to root for?" Ron asked Harry quietly out of the corner of his mouth as they crossed paths on their way to the ingredient cupboard. Harry had to stifle his snort of laughter, as he headed back to Neville, and their table. Ron did have a point, he mused, as he listened to Umbridge ask the Potion's Master questions about his tenure at Hogwarts, and his desire to teach the Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
He almost laughed out loud when Snape told the woman that obviously he had been unsuccessful at obtaining the job, and she would need to speak with Dumbledore to ascertain the reason why.
XXX That weekend was a Hogsmeade weekend, which made Harry and his friends very happy. Harry strongly suspected that most of the school was reveling in the idea of spending a day out from under the oppressive regime of Umbridge. He and his friends made plans to meet up for lunch, as they separated into their respective pairs and headed into the village. Harry and Ginny decided to spend some time away from the crowds, not really needing anything from any of the shops.
They spent several hours just talking, both out loud and through their bond, as they wandered through the scenic area.
At lunchtime, the three pairs converged on the Three Broomsticks, and had a nice meal, before separating once more. Neville and Susan made their way up towards the Shrieking Shack, talking amicably as they went. It wasn't until they reached their destination, before Neville turned to the girl next to him. "Susan-" "Neville-" Both stopped as they spoke at the same time, laughing a little, before Neville indicated for Susan to go first.
The Bones heir sighed, looking up into the caring eyes of her boyfriend. "Neville, you're a great guy, and I really like you. I'm just not sure I'm ready for this yet. I'm sorry-" Neville cut her off, smiling.
"It's OK, Susan. I was actually thinking the same thing. We're not Harry and Ginny." Susan chuckled. "I don't think anyone is." Neville nodded. "I do like you, but I just don't think we should continue dating, at least for now." Susan looked immensely relieved. "Friends?" she asked hesitantly. Neville nodded again, holding out his hand. "Friends," he replied.
Susan took his hand, and together, they headed back towards the village. XXX Ron and Hermione headed out of the main part of the village after lunch, finding a secluded area where they could just talk. Hermione spent most of the time worrying about exams, and OWL's, but Ron managed to get her to relax for a little bit, and they whiled away the rest of the afternoon learning more about each other.
Even though they had been friends for years, there was still a lot they didn't know about each other. Hermione was incredibly pleased at how much Ron had matured since last year. When it was time to head back to the Castle, both of them felt like they had reached a new level in their relationship.
XXX That evening, in small groups, the entire DA trickled into a room on the seventh floor, just opposite the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy. A room that no one could ever remember seeing there before. When everyone had arrived, Harry stepped to the front, Hermione standing next to him, and the other leaders off to the side.
"Thank you all for coming, and for being discrete about it," Harry started. "As you're all aware, Umbridge's new decree has banned all clubs and organizations, including the DA. However, we feel that we shouldn't just waste a year of sitting in those useless Defense classes. I know many of us are worried about passing exams at the end of the year, including me.
But it's more than that." Harry took a deep breath. "Voldemort is back." He ignored all the flinches and gasps around the room. "He won't care how old you are; you need to be able to defend yourselves, and we want to help with that." He turned to look at Hermione, who took over, her voice shaking slightly in the beginning, but gaining strength and confidence as she went on.
"Harry and I spent most of the week making these," she held up a basket in her arms, filled with conjured coins. "Take one and pass it along," she handed the basket to Terry Boot, who was the closest. "These are fake coins, that will heat up when Harry changes the master coin, to let us all know when the next meeting will be. You'll find a date and time inscribed on the edge, where a serial number would normally be." "How did you make that work?" Terry asked, examining his coin.
Hermione blushed. "A Protean Charm," she admitted. A few of the Ravenclaws stared, as did most of those who were in their sixth and seventh year. "But that's NEWT material," Terry said. Hermione nodded.
"I know," she replied steadily. Most of the group was now looking at Harry and Hermione with even more awe than the leaders had earlier in the week. Hermione waited a few more minutes, until the empty basket came back to her. She then pulled out the second project she and Harry had been working on. "The other thing I was thinking was that we should all sign this contract, agreeing not to talk about the DA with anyone outside this room, even to each other." "Why not?" a first year asked timidly.
Harry took this question, stepping forward. "Umbridge is more dangerous than I think any of us really know," he informed them all, his voice calm but serious. "She can make things really unpleasant if she finds out that we're still meeting." He looked at Ginny, and on receiving her nod, continued on. "I've been warned several times by my guardians about her. She's close to Fudge, and according to Sirius and Professor McGonagall, her agenda and beliefs are more in line with Voldemort's.
We're not going to leave this contract where anyone will find it, but you should all be aware that it is binding. You are agreeing to not talk about the DA outside of this room, or you will be jinxed." Most of them looked less certain at that, but slowly, they all fell in line to sign the parchment, starting with Fred and George. Once everyone had signed, it was almost time for curfew, so Harry sent them all back to their dorms in small groups, checking the Marauder's Map to ensure that no one was near enough to be suspicious at the amount of people passing through the corridor.
Once everyone else had departed, Harry and his friends did as well, heading back to Gryffindor Tower for some much needed rest. XXX Harry begged off of a trip to the library the next day, and spent the entire morning in the Room of Requirement. He was caught up with homework, and thus decided to spend some time on a private research project.
Ginny knew that he had been distracted with something, but didn't pester him for details. If it was something he wanted her to know, he would tell her.
Harry settled down in a comfortable armchair the room had provided, and closed his eyes. None of his friends had seen any progress with their animagus practice, but over the last few days, Harry had had something of an epiphany. The magic required to successfully transform into an animal was more wandless than anything else. It was internal. That led Harry to think more about magic as an entity. If wandless magic was even possible, that would lead to the conclusion that magic itself resided in a person, not the wand.
Otherwise, muggles would be able to perform magic as well. That conclusion would then give way to the idea that any magical being would be able to use magic without a magical focus.
Harry wondered why young children were taught that magic could only be performed with a wand. Young ages were the most impressionable; the best time to learn something like wandless magic would be before they arrived at Hogwarts and started learning to use wands for everything.
A brief moment of thought later, a low coffee table containing a single feather was sitting in front of Harry. He mentally thanked the Room for providing, as well as Dobby for telling him about it, before he sat forward on the edge of his seat, staring at the feather as he tried to will it to levitate.
Nothing happened. Undaunted, Harry continued to focus. After what felt like hours staring at the feather, he was trying not to get discouraged. He closed his eyes and pulled his consciousness behind his Occlumency barriers.
With a single thought, he was behind the door that held his memories of his classes in Charms. He remembered learning about the theory of magic, and focused on one particular moment from his first year. One of their first essays had been to write about why wand movement and words were important in spells.
It was the way witches and wizards focused the magic in order to get it to do what they wanted. There had been a small section of their Charms text that had indicated that it wasn't necessary, but was used more as learning blocks.
It made it easier to perform the intended magic. He knew that words weren't needed; he had already started to master nonverbal spells, after all. But he still thought the words. Maybe that part didn't change, and he just had to think the spell while imagining what he wanted to happen.
Magic was all about intent, after all. Opening his eyes, he once more focused on the feather in front of him. Raising his right arm slightly, he pointed at the feather in front of him. "Wingardium Leviosa," he whispered, imagining the feather lifting into the air. And to his surprise, it worked. It only raised a few inches before lowering back down, but to Harry, it was as if he had won the Quidditch Cup. He grinned, and tried again, this time focusing more on the feeling of magic in his body.
It was there. He could feel it, as a current that ran down his right arm and jumped across the distance between him and the feather.
It wasn't visible, but in the same way he could see the bond that linked him and Ginny together, he could see this current. Magic. The feather lifted into the air once more, this time higher than before. It hovered for several more moments, while Harry studied the feeling. When he felt like he had a good grasp on it, he lowered the feather once more, flushed with his success. It was almost time for lunch, he knew, but he just wanted to see if he had it. The only other piece of furniture in the room, besides the chair he was sitting on, was the table the feather was lying on.
Thinking about the feeling he associated with Magic, he set his intent in his mind, pointed at the table, and uttered the Color Changing spell. The table turned a bright orange. _ _ _ Chapter 10 Disclaimer: not mine Harry joined his friends for lunch, but refused to tell them what he had been doing, and once more begged off, returning to the Room of Requirement for the rest of the afternoon. He spent several more hours practicing different spells without his wand, and by the time he had to leave for dinner, he had a good grasp on most of the first and second year charms, and a few minor hexes and jinxes.
His next step would be to see if he could transfer the theory of wandless magic over to the animagus transformation, but that would have to wait until later. XXX The next week passed by slowly for Harry.
He was only too thankful that Defense was only twice a week; Umbridge was testing his patience, trying to instigate a confrontation. He wasn't rising to the bait, however, utilizing all of his Occlumency training to remain calm. They had a DA meeting on Wednesday, after supper, that week. Harry and the other leaders had spent some time going over their lesson plans, but in the end, it really wasn't that different from before Umbridge's decree. Everyone in the club was happy that they were still learning, as they all left the room to head back to their dormitories before curfew.
It felt good to know that they were preparing for the worst. Even if the Ministry wasn't acknowledging Voldemort's rebirth, the story had still circulated, and most of the students believed Harry and Cedric over the Minister. It helped that Madam Bones was supporting their versions of events as well. Harry feared she might face retribution from Fudge for that, before they managed to sack him, but Susan laid his fears to rest, telling him that her aunt had been a staple at the Ministry for many years, and even Fudge knew that if he sacked her, it would just make people more willing to believe her claims.
XXX Harry once more secluded himself in the Room of Requirement on Saturday morning. He knew he had been neglecting Ginny, and his homework, over the week, but he really wanted to see if his theory on wandless magic would pan out. He even forgot about Sirius' reminder to always practice with someone else, just in case.
For several hours, he focused on the feeling he remembered from the previous week. He imagined his arm growing fur, his nails turning into claws, his hand to a paw. He saw no change until just before lunch. He was starting to think about leaving it for now, and coming back after he had eaten, when it happened. Giving it one more go, he opened his eyes to see his arm turning black as fur sprouted, his hand shortening slightly, as his nails lengthened.
He grinned happily, and flexed his claws, trying to get used to the feeling. After a few minutes, he decided to meet up with his friends, so he closed his eyes once more, and imagined returning his arm to normal. It took a little bit longer, but it happened. He made sure that the transformation was complete, before he left the room and headed for the Great Hall.
Ginny had felt his elation, but didn't ask him about it, knowing that he had been working on a special project, that he had promised to share with her, if it worked out. Taking in the grin that he had on his face as he sat down next to her, she guessed that it had. You're awfully happy, Harry, she noted, continuing to eat her meal as they spoke through the bond. Yeah, Harry replied, serving himself and beginning to eat. I had a good morning. Anything you want to share?
Ginny asked. Harry nodded mentally. Soon, he promised. When we get some time alone, I'll share it all with you. Ginny was content with that, and they returned to their meals. The rest of the weekend was spent doing homework, planning for the DA, and Quidditch practice. XXX With everything that had been going on over the last couple of months, Halloween snuck up on Harry before he had realized it.
He didn't feel like celebrating with the rest of the students at the feast that evening, so he asked Dobby to help him set up a nice dinner in the Room of Requirement for him and Ginny. Ginny met him there as everyone else headed down to the Great Hall. "Harry, this is beautiful," she admired, taking in the setup of the room.
There were candles around the room, as well as a few pumpkins floating in the air. The setting was an outdoor patio scene, with a single table set for two. Soft music was playing in the background, making her wonder if there was a wireless hidden somewhere. It reminded her of one of the movies she had watched at Harry's place over the summer.
It looked like a scene from a film set in Paris. The only thing missing was the Eiffel Tower in the background. Harry smiled, and pulled out her chair for her to sit down. They enjoyed a quiet meal, talking both out loud and through their bond. When they had finished, Harry stood up and held out his hand to Ginny. "Care to join me for a dance?" he asked impishly, smiling Ginny's favorite smile, full of a boyish handsomeness and charm, with a hint of deviousness.
She nodded and took his hand. The table melted into the stones, and Harry held Ginny close as they swayed to the gentle beat of the music. Is there a wireless in here? Ginny asked, resting her head on his shoulder. Harry briefly contemplated how much she had grown.
He was getting up there, himself, and though he would never match up to Ron, he felt he would at least reach a respectable height. Ginny was a few inches shorter than him, but she had definitely grown a lot since their dance at the Yule Ball, the year before. He placed a kiss on the top of her head, before hugging her even closer. I'm not really sure, he admitted. I asked the Room for some music to play in the background.
I don't really know how it works. Ginny smiled, feeling completely content in his arms. Well, I'm glad it does. This room is amazing. Harry nodded his agreement, and they remained silent as they continued to dance for a while longer.
Eventually, Ginny pulled away and led Harry back to the table, which reappeared for them willingly, now cleared of the remainder of their meal.
They sat down, still holding hands. "Spill, Harry. What is it that you've been working on for the last couple of weeks?" Harry bit his lip, contemplating how to present his self-study to her. After a few moments, he stood up again, pulling Ginny with him.
He concentrated briefly, and Ginny watched as the Room changed around them, transforming to the plain but warm and comforting room she had seen several times over the last year. A single sofa was sitting in front of a fireplace burning merrily against one wall. Harry led Ginny over to the sofa and pulled her down with him. "Ginny, have you ever thought about how we perform magic?" Ginny frowned, shaking her head. "Not really," she admitted. "We wave our wands in a specific way, say the incantation, and if we do it correctly, the spell works." Harry shook his head slightly.
"I've been thinking about it recently. None of us have made any real progress in our animagus practice, and a few weeks ago, I realized that the transformation is more like wandless magic than anything else. Essentially, that's what it is, right?" Ginny nodded a little, understanding him to this point. Harry continued, his voice growing more excited as he shared his studies with his… wife. Wow, that would take some getting used to. "A couple weekends ago, I spent a lot of time in here, seeing if I could do it." "Do what?" Ginny asked for clarification.
Harry smiled, turning to the empty space between them and the fireplace. Ginny gasped quietly in surprise as a table appeared, with a single feather lying on top.
Without saying anything, Harry pointed at the feather. Ginny gasped again, this time in astonishment, as the feather rose several feet off the table, hovering in the air steadily for a few moments, before lowering back down. Harry looked back at Ginny, to see her eyes wide and her expression amazed.
She was still staring at the feather. "Gin?" Ginny looked up, startled. She smiled slightly. "Sorry, Harry, it's just… I was always taught that wandless magic was impossible for most witches and wizards.
Only the really powerful could do anything without their wands." Harry shook his head once. "The more I think about it, the more I think that's not true." He reached over and picked up the feather, running it through his fingers as he elaborated. "I really think that wandless magic is something we all have the capability of achieving. I mean, if I were to posit that the animagus transformation is a form of wandless magic, and that the animagus transformation is something that all witches and wizards are theoretically capable of, then that would lead to the conclusion that wandless magic is something that all witches and wizards are capable of.
Understand?" Ginny nodded. It did make sense. Harry continued, "Even if not many witches and wizards become animagi, I think everyone is capable of it. It's just so hard that not many want to take the time to learn it, or have the inclination to finish the process. I think we are all taught so early in the development of our magical cores to use magic with a wand, that we become blind to anything else.
If we learned as children that we could perform magic without a wand, I don't think we would have any trouble with the concept. It's more about intent then waving our wands and saying a few words.
After all, how is accidental magic performed?" Ginny nodded again. "It's wandless," she concurred. Harry chuckled a little, setting the feather back down and taking Ginny's hand in his.
"There's a muggle saying that's pretty well known: Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know that, so he goes on flying anyway. If we didn't think it was impossible, would we have so much trouble with it?" Ginny shook her head. "You're right," she agreed. "So did you manage to get any further with the transformation?" Harry nodded. "It took me a while to get the feel of my magic down, but once I did, I managed to figure out how to do the spells wandlessly.
After that, I was able to transfer the theory to the transformation." He stopped talking, closing his eyes and concentrating hard on turning his arm into that of a panther. Ginny's gasp told him that he was successful. He opened his eyes and looked at his arm. It was once more black and furry, with a paw at the end. He flexed his claws and grinned at Ginny. "Can you show me?" Ginny's voice was quiet, mixed with excitement and a little bit of fear.
Harry nodded, turning his arm back to that of a human, with noticeably less effort than it had taken the last time. "Pull out your wand," he instructed. Ginny did so, and then, as Harry instructed, began casting the levitation charm several times at the feather, with instructions to concentrate on the feel of magic running down her arm as she cast the spell.
"I just tried to immediately perform the magic without a wand. I think it took me longer because of that. I think, if you focus on the feeling of magic with a wand, it'll be easier to transfer the theory over to a wandless levitation." After casting the spell over and over for almost half an hour, Ginny thought she knew what Harry was talking about.
It was a tingle that she could feel in her veins. It reminded her a little of the first time she flew a broomstick. Harry chuckled a little as she shared that thought with him. "I thought about our bond when I felt it," he admitted. Ginny smiled. "Now what?" she asked, lowering the feather back to the table. Harry held out his hand, and Ginny willingly placed her wand into it.
Harry set it down next to him, and then used his hands to raise her arm so that it was pointing at the feather. "Do it exactly like you were, just picture the magic flowing down your arm and into the feather. You can say the incantation if you want. I think it'll be easier for you to say it, at least at first, especially as you haven't had much practice with nonverbal spells yet." He let go of her arm.
Ginny nodded, furrowing her brow as she concentrated on the task at hand. Nothing happened. Undeterred, she kept pointing at the feather, saying the words "Wingardium Leviosa," over and over. For over an hour, the two sat there, Harry just letting her try, and being there for support. When Ginny started to get frustrated, Harry once more took hold of her arm. "Just relax, and concentrate on the feeling.
Like a tingle, right?" Ginny nodded, glancing over at him. She was momentarily deterred to see his face so close to hers. Harry smiled. "Feel that tingle moving down your arm, and picture it going from there, to the feather.
Imagine the feather rising into the air. Clearly picture what you want to happen." Ginny turned back to the feather, and following Harry's advice, she did it. The feather rose shakily off the table a few inches. She gasped in surprise, and the feather fell back down. "I did it!" she said happily.
Harry smiled and gave her a kiss. "A little more practice, and then we'll see if this helps you with the transformation, but right now, I think we're about to be caught out after curfew, and that just wouldn't look good, me being a Prefect and all." There was an impish and mischievous tone to his voice, and he was smiling.
Ginny returned the grin, and the two of them headed back to Gryffindor Tower. Thanks for spending the night with me, Harry said over their bond as they approached the Fat Lady. I really didn't want to be around all the festivities tonight.
Ginny nodded, squeezing his hand tightly in comfort. I'm always here for you, Harry. However you need me. Harry smiled a little, giving the password to the portrait, and leading his girlfriend… wife… yeah, he should probably not think about her as his wife, in case he accidentally slipped up and said it out loud at some point. You know, before last year, I didn't really think about tonight being the night… you know… my parents died.
The only thing my aunt and uncle ever told me was that they were drunks who died in a car crash. Ginny mentally growled at his former guardians, causing Harry's smile to widen a little, as they sat down on a sofa by the fire. They gave greetings to their friends who had been waiting for them, but all of them immediately returned to their homework or reading afterwards, knowing that Harry didn't really feel like talking. Last year everything got upstaged by the tournament, but this year it just really hit me, you know?
Ginny nodded mentally. We're all here for you, Harry. She said no more, and just moved over to sit next to Hermione, and the two girls struck up a conversation about a potions essay Ginny had to complete before her next class with Snape.
Harry found himself sitting next to Neville. Of all of his friends, he really felt like Neville and he understood each other the best. Susan also knew what it was like to lose her parents, but she had grown up in a loving home with her aunt Amelia.
Neville had been slightly ostracized by his family during his childhood, scorned for his perceived lack of magic. Of course, Harry knew that wasn't the case, as he had seen many times over the last year. All Neville had needed was a little bit of confidence. And his own wand. That had definitely helped. Ron, Hermione, Ginny… as much as they wanted to understand, they really didn't.
They could sympathize, and he appreciated that a lot, but they couldn't understand. "You all right?" Neville asked quietly. Harry looked over at his friend, and nodded. "Yeah," he replied, just as softly. "I think today's always going to be tough, but… my parents gave their lives for me. They died defending what's right. I owe it to them, and to myself, to not let that sacrifice be in vain." Neville understood, not needing any more elaboration.
After a moment, Harry turned the question back on the Longbottom heir. "What about you? You and Susan have seemed a little distant lately." Neville bit his lip, looking down at his lap for a moment. "We broke up," he admitted. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all turned towards them, hearing that statement. "What happened?" Hermione asked, closing her book.
"You two seemed to be doing so well." Neville shrugged. "I do like her, a lot, but we both agreed that we're just not ready for serious yet. We're still friends, and we both promised that it wouldn't affect the group.
We can still hang out together, and we won't get mad if the other decides to date someone else. I'm not mad, and neither is she, it was a mutual agreement." Harry nodded, understanding. Honestly, he probably shouldn't be too surprised. For all he had found his soul mate at the age of fourteen, he had to admit, that was rather strange.
He and Ginny just got along so well; they understood each other in a way not many would understand. Even Ron and Hermione had fights every now and then.
Harry still maintained that that was their way of flirting, but only in the peace of his own mind. He didn't fancy Hermione hexing him for voicing that thought. Even if, generally speaking, witches and wizards tended to marry earlier in life than muggles, fourteen was still pretty early.
Most people needed the time to grow and mature on their own, before they could think about sharing their life with another person. Hermione voiced her condolences before wishing them all a good night and departing for the girls dormitory after giving Ron a peck on the lips. Ginny was the next to leave, kissing Harry before giving Ron a pointed glare that even he couldn't misunderstand. He mumbled a "night", before leaving his two dorm mates alone.
Harry smiled, really pleased at the amount of understanding that his group of friends had. "So what are you thinking?" he asked once they were alone. Neville sighed. "I don't know, Harry," he admitted. "In all honesty, I really do like Susan, a lot, and I could see myself ending up with her.
I just know that I'm not ready for that amount of commitment yet. We can't all be you." He smiled at the end, taking the bite out of the words. Harry nodded his understanding. "Hey, I know Ginny and I are weird. We found each other early, and I think both of us has experienced enough pain and hardship to mature earlier than our peers." While he had told his friend about his childhood, this was really the first time he had acknowledged Ginny's first year.
The two of them had talked about it, a little, over the last year, and he knew that she had come to terms with what had happened, what she had been forced to do, but it wasn't something she liked to talk about, especially with outsiders.
"You two should take all the time you need, so that if it does happen, you'll both be ready for it. Because I can tell you mate, it's pretty amazing." He grinned unabashedly, and Neville recognized the look of pure love hidden in his bright green eyes. It was the look he had whenever he thought of Ginny. Neville smiled, nodding his agreement. "We agreed that we can see other people if we want, and we won't get mad or jealous. If it's meant to be for us, it will happen, and it will still happen in a year or two." Harry stood up, Neville following suit as they headed upstairs.
"If you ever want to talk, I'm here." They paused outside the fifth year dorm. "Thanks," Neville replied, before they opened the door and headed for bed.
XXX The week had been going so well, Harry thought ruefully as he headed towards the Transfiguration classroom, holding a note in his hands, doing his best not to wrinkle the parchment in his clenched fist. It really had been a pretty good week. Potions class on Monday had been pretty good, with Ron and Neville both successfully completing the assignment, and Gryffindor only losing ten points; he actually had managed to stay awake through History of Magic, and Hagrid had finally returned late Monday night, just in time for Harry and his friends to have him for Care of Magical Creatures on Tuesday.
The five Gryffindors had snuck out to see him and learn where he had been; Susan had had patrol duty with Terry Boot from Ravenclaw that evening, and so couldn't join them, but they had caught her up the next day. Giants! It was a little worrying that the Death Eaters seemed to have gotten the giants on their side, but Harry was happy to see his large friend, even if he did look like he had gone several rounds with a giant, and lost horribly. Harry arrived at the Transfiguration classroom just as the last class of the day got out, and he drew himself out of his thoughts.
He let the class of second year Hufflepuffs pass by, before he went inside, closing the door behind him once he saw that there were no lingering students. Minerva turned around and watched as her ward approached cautiously. She sighed. "What happened?" she asked, resigned that something had, by his stance and worried expression.
There was a hint of anger there as well. Harry bit his lip, handing her the note. Minerva's brow furrowed as she read. Looking up, she motioned for him to take a seat. "Tell me what happened," she all but commanded. Harry took the offered seat. "She's been trying to get a reaction out of me all term," he started.
"I've been using my Occlumency skills to stay calm and not rise to the bait. I know she just wants a reason to discredit me." "So what changed today," Minerva asked, not unkindly. Harry sighed, looking down. "She insulted my parents. Said they deserved what they got." Minerva hissed, her eyes narrowing. Harry looked up, a few tears gathering in his eyes. He could take insults to himself, but not his parents.
Not after what they had sacrificed for him. Vernon's sister Marge could certainly attest to his reaction to insults on his parents. "She also said that Sirius belonged in prison, and should have never been released." Minerva clenched her teeth, forcing herself to remain calm.
"While I certainly understand your reaction, unfortunately, Delores is within her rights to give detentions and take points. It says here that she has given you a week's worth of detention, and taken fifty points from Gryffindor. Please, Harry, just keep your head down and don't react to her taunts. You know what she's looking for, and you know that she's just spouting lies, so please don't rise to the bait." She sounded so distressed and unlike the calm and put together Transfiguration Mistress, that Harry just nodded and gave her a light one armed hug, which she returned gratefully.
Harry left to get dinner before he had to report for his first detention. He managed to wolf down some chicken and potatoes before saying goodbye to his friends and heading back to the Defense classroom. Umbridge was waiting for him with a sickening smile on her face. She gestured to the desk directly in front of her. "Have a seat, Mr. Potter. I've taken the liberty of setting up your desk. You'll be doing lines." Harry nodded slightly, feeling a knot in his chest loosen just a little.
Lines weren't so bad. He took a seat, setting his bag down before picking up the rather large quill. Umbridge's smile widened. "You will be writing 'I will respect my betters'." Harry grit his teeth but nodded. "How many times?" he asked, forcing the words out and trying not to growl.
"Oh, enough times for it to sink in," Umbridge replied sweetly. Harry could almost feel his jaw groan from the amount of pressure he was putting on it.
Looking down at the parchment, he noticed another issue. "Professor, you haven't given me any ink." Umbridge's smile, if possible, got even more sickening. "You won't be needing any," she said. Harry didn't respond, and just nodded and started writing.
As he completed the first line, a searing pain across his right hand caused him to pause. Before his eyes, the words he had just written appeared in blood on the back of his hand. They were only visible for a second, however, before they faded back into his skin, leaving the back of his hand just a little bit redder than before. "Is there a problem, Mr. Potter?" Harry looked up at Umbridge's query, and shook his head, returning his gaze to the parchment in front of him.
He wouldn't give the toad the satisfaction of knowing that he was freaked out. Across the bond, Ginny felt Harry's pain, and her own worry and fear spiked. She abandoned her Charms essay, sitting up straight. Harry, what's going on? Harry heard her, but he really didn't want her to know what was happening. I'm fine, Gin. I'll talk to you later tonight. While he spoke, his quill never wavered. Thanks to the Dursleys, he was pretty well equipped to handle pain, but that didn't mean he liked the fact that he was slicing his hand open over and over again.
Ginny gasped. She barely even acknowledged the fact that this was the first time she had actually been able to see what was going on around Harry when they were in different places.
A Blood Quill, Harry! Those are illegal, she can't just I'm fine, Ginny, Harry replied firmly, not questioning her knowledge. Please, just leave it until I get back to the Common Room. He felt Ginny nod, though he knew she wasn't happy about it.
Harry lost track of time, as he wrote line after line in what he knew to be his own blood. Finally, Umbridge called him up to her desk, which he did reluctantly. She tutted a bit, examining his hand as he forced himself not to flinch. "I really don't think you've gotten the message yet, Mr. Potter. I will see you again tomorrow night." Harry didn't reply, just nodded shortly and turned around, exiting the room as quickly as possible, barely stopping long enough to grab his book bag.
As he had expected, Ginny was waiting for him in the Common Room. It was just passed midnight, and the rest of their friends were no doubt already in bed. Harry took note of the expression on Ginny's face, and knew he would have to tread carefully. "Ginny." he trailed off, taking a seat next to her. Ginny didn't reply. By the light of the flickering fire in front of them, he could see many emotions in her troubled eyes.
After almost a full minute of silence, Harry tried again. "Ginny, I'm sorry." That caused a reaction. Ginny shuddered slightly, and turned to look at Harry. Her gaze was so pained, it caused him to cringe. "Harry, don't. Don't apologize for that, that woman. But you need to tell Professor McGonagall.
And Sirius. And Madam Bones. Umbridge can't be allowed to get away with this!" Harry shook his head slightly. "Ginny, please," his voice was strained. "Aunt Minerva told me to keep my head down.
It's just one week, and then I'll be done with it." Ginny stared at him for a few moments, her eyes searching. "Let me see your hand," she demanded, holding out her own in expectation. Harry didn't want to, but he obliged her. Ginny ran a finger gently over the reddened skin. Through her emotions, he could feel her anger, her worry, her pain, all for him. He didn't want her to hurt. He pulled his hand out of her grasp, and leaned forward, giving her a gentle hug.
They stayed like that for a while longer, before Harry pulled back. He took a look at her beautiful face, tears running down her cheeks, and carefully wiped them away. "I'll be all right, Gin," he whispered, pressing his lips gently to one tearstained cheek, and then the other. The salty taste lingered on his lips as he pulled back. Ginny shook her head, new tears forming in her eyes. "Harry, what she's doing is illegal.
You have to go to McGonagall." "No, Ginny." Harry's voice was lined with steel. "I won't give her the satisfaction." Ginny knew that that was the end of the discussion for that night, but she wouldn't give up. As every member of her family could attest to, she was quite a stubborn girl. Both teenagers went up to bed soon after, feeling completely mentally and physically exhausted.