Harry Potter and all other characters here are owned by JK
Rowling, Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and
Warner Brothers, Incorporated. No copyright infringement is intended.
I'm not making anything off this anyway.
A big thank
you to my betas: Cami for having a finer comb than I and Dale for
pointing out that the trees I kept stumbling upon WERE the forest.
I borrowed the names Prophylaxis and Nonpater Potions from Barb LP and Pete Murray with their permissions.
with all fan fiction writers, my only payment is feedback. So, please,
if you feel the need to rant, rave, or generally carry on, I'm here. If
you feel the urge to give constructive criticism or actually COMPLIMENT
me, I'll even pay attention ;)
Copyright April, 2005
On with the story!
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
through a cloud that left yet another layer of cold moisture upon his
body, Harry Potter gave a relieved smile. The reason for such an
unlikely reaction was simple: the Burrow had just come into view below
Just like the previous year, a detachment from the Order
of the Phoenix had shown up at his uncle's home and spirited him off
into the night. Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody led a group that included Auror
Kingsley Shacklebolt and Remus Lupin. Harry didn't recognise the rest
of the half-dozen witches and wizards. The Order had clearly been
Giving a hand signal to the other broomstick
riders, Remus led Harry toward the front door, Moody in close pursuit.
The rest of the ad hoc group landed a short distance away, outside of
the new Anti-Apparition Wards, and Disapparated after a quick wave.
helped Remus retrieve his trunk, which was suspended from Lupin's
broom, while Moody studied the surrounding land intently. As the three
wizards approached the door, it swung open and Mrs. Weasley approached,
arms wide open in invitation.
"Harry!" she greeted her de
facto seventh son, burying him in a massive hug. Remus received a
similar welcome, but Moody got merely a nod and a smile. That was
probably just as well. Harry didn't want to contemplate what the
paranoid, grizzled old Auror would do if he were on the business end of
one of Molly Weasley's ferocious hugs.
"Come in, come in," she
bid the three. "Warm yourselves in the front room. Go ahead and drop
that trunk there. Hot tea in half a moment."
his trunk and broom in the indicated corner, Harry stiffly made his way
into the living room of the Burrow, shucking his sopping wet cloak in
the process. Once there, his smile blossomed as he spotted his best
"Blimey, Harry," Ron said with a grin. "I think you missed a spot there. Part of your back is still dry."
Harry groaned as he spread his cloak in front of the fireplace. "In case you didn't notice, it's kinda raining right now."
snorted in humour has he spread his cloak near Harry's. "That's not
rain, Harry. That's called a thunderstorm. Repeat after me.
Harry looked at Remus in mild amusement.
"Just because you were named my guardian, Remus, doesn't mean that you
can treat me as a child."
"Sure he can," Ginny corrected him cheerfully as she came down the stairs. "It's his parental prerogative."
"Thank you ever so much for the support, Ginny," Harry said in mock aggravation as Remus gave her a grateful bow.
She smiled and curtsied back to her one-time professor.
"So how's your summer been, Harry?" Ron asked carefully.
and Ginny also paused what they were doing to hear the answer to Ron's
question. Harry had been corresponding with many people, but nobody was
quite sure of his emotional state after losing his godfather in the
running battle in June.
Harry sighed as he rubbed his hands in
front of the fire. "Better, Ron, better," he finally murmured, staring
into the dancing flames. "Thank you for the letters. They really did
"No problem, mate," Ron said softly.
Ginny was the only one to hear him. She gave her brother a smile as their mother came out of the kitchen.
"Tea is ready, everyone," she invited.
let everyone else get ahead before falling into line behind Ginny.
"Thank you, too, Ginny," he said quietly. "I've been thinking on the
advice you gave me."
She smiled back at him, but it was brittle.
Entering the kitchen, Harry saw Moody talking to Lupin for a moment before Mad-Eye walked out after a sharp nod toward Harry.
Remus moved around the table to hold a chair out for Ginny beside where Harry had already seated himself.
Smiling at the courtesy, Ginny primly sat down before turning to her brother. "See how that's done, Ron?"
"Whazzat?" Ron asked, looking up from his tea and a biscuit.
"Holding the chair for the girl," she patiently explained. "You could learn something about how to treat Hermione."
Ron sputtered for a few seconds before regaining use of his tongue. "What makes you think -"
"Oh, give it up, Ron," Harry said in exasperation.
Ron, for his part, clamped his mouth shut and refused to respond to the teasing.
"And you," Ginny rounded on the snickering Harry, "should be paying attention as well."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry replied with a gleam in his eye. "I'm taking mental notes on how to properly treat a lady, never fear."
"What's this?" Remus asked, accepting a mug from Molly with a smile.
"Ginny has been giving me girl advice all summer," Harry explained.
"He refuses to tell me who he's interested in, though," Ginny said, rolling her eyes.
"It's not Cho again, is it?" Ron asked in trepidation.
"No, it's not," Harry assured him. "It IS someone you know, though."
Ron frowned slightly for a moment, clearly running through a list of Hogwarts students in his mind. "Who -"
stopped at Harry's raised hand. "That's all I'm going say for now about
it. If I decide to do something about it, I promise that you'll be
among the first to know."
"So long as it isn't Pansy," Ron teased.
Harry snapped his fingers in disappointment. "Darn, you've figured us out."
Ron looked horrified. Ginny started coughing after she attempted to swallow and laugh simultaneously.
Harry rolled his eyes as he patted Ginny on the back. "Relax, Ron. It isn't a Slytherin."
Ron breathed a sigh of relief before going back to his biscuit.
Remus and Molly shared a smile.
pop sounded behind Harry, startling him into drawing his wand, standing
and aiming at the unexpected noise so quickly that his chair fell over
backwards. At that, he beat Remus by less than a second and Ron and
Ginny by little more than that.
Albus Dumbledore blinked at the four wands suddenly pointed at him. "Pleasant afternoon, all," he calmly said.
"Merlin, Albus, don't do that to me," Remus muttered, slowly lowering his wand.
"I thought there were Anti-Apparition Wards up," Ron frowned, also stowing his wand.
"Indeed," Dumbledore cheerfully agreed, completely ignoring the fact that he'd just gone through them.
Relaxing, everyone reclaimed their seats, Molly bustling off to get another mug and more biscuits for her newest guest.
Dumbledore took a seat and studied Harry over the top of his glasses. "Hello, Harry."
"Headmaster," Harry coolly replied.
Dumbledore sighed. "So you still have not forgiven an old man his mistakes?"
Harry shrugged. "Not totally, sir. But I am getting better. Nothing is broken yet, after all."
"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed. "Forgiveness is a long process, and I suppose I should be thankful for where we are."
Harry didn't reply to Dumbledore's words, just shaking his head at Ron's questioning look.
"I see you have not explained all of the events to your friends."
eyes hardened. "Last summer you made it abundantly clear how dangerous
putting anything sensitive into owl post was. I just got here. I
haven't had a chance to speak with them about it yet."
Dumbledore said nothing, simply looking at Harry.
"I don't believe you want to be present for that, Headmaster," Harry calmly advised.
Molly sucked in a breath.
immediately raised a hand to her, and she stilled. "He is most likely
correct. I have not been without fault in the past year in regards to
young Harry here," he acknowledged.
Harry didn't react. Everyone else settled back down, Ron and Ginny with frowns of confusion.
what it may be worth, Harry, I do apologise for my behavior towards you
for the past year. I believe I explained my reasoning to you?"
"Yes you did," Harry acknowledged, stopping there.
knowing he wouldn't be getting any further on that front for now,
Dumbledore said, "I came for several purposes. First, to learn how your
summer has progressed."
He shrugged. "Not too bad. Moody
scared Uncle Vernon enough that they all left me alone. You all
probably noticed that I was a much more active correspondent than
usual. I've even got all of my summer homework finished already, even
though I don't know what courses I'm going to be taking for sure."
Ron looked genuinely horrified. Remus smiled.
Dumbledore continued, "Secondarily, I have your OWL results." He
reached up and appeared to pull two envelopes out of thin air, handing
one to Harry and the other to Ron. "Your Astronomy marks took into
account the . . . distraction. Harry, you are permitted to re-take the
History of Magic exam if you wish due to the circumstances."
neither boy moved to open the envelopes (Ron was examining his with a
decidedly frightened expression), Dumbledore continued, "On to my third
topic: What you called the Defense Association. Would you perchance be
willing to continue that into the next school year?"
nodded. He'd already thought this subject through and knew what he
wanted out of it. "With a few conditions, yes, sir. I need an open pass
into the Restricted Section for myself and Hermione to do research for
the classes." At Dumbledore's grudging agreement, Harry continued, "I
would also like some sort of official status for the DA."
"It will be an officially sanctioned club," the headmaster assured Harry.
Ron and Ginny shook their heads. "Harry should get at least prefect status for teaching it," Ginny stated.
thought about it for a moment. "There have been times in Hogwarts
history when a student was granted the title of Associate Professor
when they assisted a full Professor. If you are willing, we could make
your Defense Association an adjunct to the Defense Against Dark Arts
class. Officially, you would be under the direction of that professor."
on who that professor is," Harry hedged, remembering most of his
previous DADA professors with something less than affection.
twinkle came back into Dumbledore's eyes. "I do not believe you will
have any issues working for this individual, though I will not reveal
their identity for the moment. Contingent on your acceptance of the
Defense Against Dark Arts professor, do you agree to these terms?"
have sole and absolute say on who is allowed to join and who is not,
fourth years and up only, and they all must sign a magically binding
club loyalty contract," Harry stated, not wanting a repeat of the
Marietta situation from last year or, even worse, Malfoy to join.
clearly wasn't happy with the conditions but agreed without comment
after a few more seconds. "Lastly, I wish to discuss your Occlumency
lessons with you."
Harry sighed. He'd also expected this
conversation, though he wasn't looking forward to it. Turning to Molly
and Remus he said, "I have a hypothetical question for you two. If
someone were to attempt to teach you sword fighting by handing you a
sword, saying 'defend yourself', never giving you any more instruction
than that, and then beating you senseless with his own sword over and
over, how would you classify that teacher?"
Molly was glowering, but she didn't respond.
Remus had a raised eyebrow. "Very poor," he simply answered.
Harry turned to Dumbledore. "There you have it, sir. Snape is a very poor Occlumency teacher."
Dumbledore frowned slightly. "Surely you have exaggerated -"
shook his head firmly, cutting off Dumbledore. "'Clear your mind.' That
is the ONLY instruction he ever gave me. Nothing on how to do it.
Nothing on what he was doing or how to defend my mind. I'm convinced
that his 'lessons' did more harm than good."
Molly Weasley looked ready to hex Snape the next time she saw him.
Remus was now looking angry. The sight of an angry werewolf made Harry very glad it wasn't him who was the source of his ire.
Dumbledore's voice was grave, "How have your dreams and visions been, Harry?"
"For the first three weeks, they were awful," he answered bluntly.
Dumbledore and Lupin nodded, already knowing this.
"After that point, I discovered another . . . mental technique that helped. The visions have been manageable since then."
"What is this technique, if I may ask?"
Harry chewed on a lip. "It's somewhat personal, sir. I'd prefer not to discuss it."
well," Dumbledore answered after a short pause. "In that case, I find
myself somewhat at a loss with regards on how to shield your mind from
Voldemort. There is no other Occlumency teacher available at this time."
didn't blink, simply staring at Dumbledore. "As you say, sir." For a
few moments, nobody quite knew how to respond to Harry's words.
hesitantly spoke up, "It's not a perfect solution, but I can teach you
some meditation techniques, Harry." At Harry's surprised look, he
continued, "With my . . . condition, I need to stay calm. My father was
a Muggle and he helped me learn some Muggle methods for keeping my
emotions under control. Maybe the same thing will help you."
"Thank you, Remus," Harry said with a genuine smile. He frowned in curiosity. "You're Muggle-born?"
Remus shook his head. "Half and half."
well," Dumbledore agreed. "Remus, I believe it would be a good idea for
you to teach Harry those Muggle meditation techniques. Perhaps between
his mysterious technique and meditation, Occlumency will not be needed."
Remus nodded his agreement.
stood. "Molly, thank you for the tea. Do have a happy birthday next
week, Harry. I shall see you at Headquarters tomorrow, Remus?" Getting
Lupin's agreement, Dumbledore Disapparated.
"No, I don't have any questions," Harry grumbled under his breath, so low that even Remus's advanced hearing didn't catch it.
Remus took a sip of his tea, studying the envelopes in front of Ron and Harry. "Are you two going to open those?"
shrugged and opened his, totally unconcerned. He scanned down the page
and announced, "Eight. 'O' with merit in Defense. 'O' in Charms and
Potions. 'E' in Transfiguration and Creatures. 'A' in Astronomy and
Herbology. 'P' in Divination. 'D' in History."
The room broke into a babble of Weasley voices.
Harry calmly folded the note and tucked it back into the envelope.
was studying him in interest. "You don't seem all that excited or
concerned, Harry," his guardian commented, voice barely audible to the
young man sitting next to him.
Harry shrugged. "Nothing I can do to alter them now. Why get excited about it?"
"Albus said you could re-take the History one," Remus mentioned.
bother? What Binns teaches is a total waste anyway. If he covered the
First War or Grindelwald, then I'd pay attention, but the endless
Goblin Rebellions are useless to me. I'm not going to fight a goblin.
I'm going to fight a dark wizard."
The Weasleys had quieted
down, listening to Harry and Lupin. Everyone became silent after
Harry's last statement, calm though it was.
He looked around at the solemn faces and just barely managed to keep from rolling his eyes. "Ron, how'd you do?"
his cue to change the subject, Ron reluctantly opened his envelope.
Taking a deep breath, he pulled the parchment out and unfolded it,
reading quickly. His face fell a bit. "Eight. 'O' in Defense and
Creatures. 'E in Charms and Potions. 'A' in Transfiguration, Astronomy,
Herbology and History. 'P' in Divination."
"Well done, mate," Harry smiled. "Hermione will be proud of you."
didn't do as well as you, and I can't get into the Auror track now."
Ron looked distressed at this, whereas his mother looked quietly
Harry ignored her reaction in favour of shrugging at
Ron. "Think of it this way: You don't have to ever have Snape in class
Ron grinned slightly. "Nice try, Harry. I guess I'll just have to settle for being the Cannon's Keeper." Everyone laughed.
Molly spoke up, "For what it's worth, I am proud of both of you." She stood and hugged both boys.
"Thanks, Mum," Ron mumbled.
"Yeah, thanks, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said. "Just out of curiosity, Remus, how'd my parents and Sirius do?"
smiled a bit as his mind traveled back in time. "James and Sirius were
best in Transfiguration. Lily was a genius at Charms. You're better in
Defense than any of them, though. You can't compare yourself to them,
Harry. You're all individuals."
Harry nodded. "I know. I was just curious. I guess it makes sense that Dad and Sirius were good at Transfiguration."
chuckled. "There is that. Your mother, on the other hand, was the best
in the school at Charms. She was the brains behind one or two of the .
. . items we produced."
Harry grinned, thinking of the Marauders Map.
stood. "I'd best be going. I'll be back tomorrow morning to go over
some legal stuff with you, Harry. We can also figure out a schedule for
me to teach you meditation then. I'll leave you in Molly's capable
hands until then and let you settle in, okay?" Seeing Harry's nod, he
retrieved his cloak before walking out of the Burrow with a wave.
A comfortable silence fell upon the cosy kitchen, and Harry sighed, settling his hands around his teacup.
"Hi, Harry. How's your summer been?" Ginny asked cheerfully.
turned his head and grinned at the small redhead. "Pretty quiet until
Moody and his rescue squad showed up this morning. Thank you for
"Have you had lunch?" Molly asked abruptly, realizing that Harry would have been traveling though lunchtime.
waved her off. "Not all that hungry, honestly." At her scowl, he
explained, "We stopped and had a bite to eat when Moody thought he saw
a Roc flying ahead of us."
"How was your flight?" Ron asked.
"Cold and wet," Harry said succinctly.
Molly darted forward to check Harry for fever.
Harry sighed and looked to the two younger Weasleys in the room.
Ginny hid a grin behind taking a sip of her tea. Ron didn't bother to hide his.
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
"Harry, can I talk with you?" Ginny asked hesitantly after Remus had left late the next morning.
Harry agreed distractedly, head still spinning with all the information
Remus had just given him. More guardianship papers, meditation
tutoring, and new Prongs and Padfoot stories all fought for attention
in his mind.
Seeing that Harry wasn't paying complete
attention to her, she took his unresisting elbow and drew him toward
the door. "We'll be near the paddock," she told her mother on the way
out the back door.
Harry fully became aware of his
surroundings again after Ginny had sat him down in the field and was
leaning against a nearby tree, studying him. He looked around at his
new surroundings for a moment before smiling up at her. "Kidnapping me
so you can have your way with me, Miss Weasley?" he asked, tone
somewhere between teasing and nervous.
Raising an eyebrow at his blatant teasing, she grinned back as much as her shock allowed. "In your dreams, Harry."
Harry mumbled something that she didn't hear.
she answered the question instead of pursuing whatever it was he'd
said. "I came out here to ask how you're really doing. You may be able
to fool Mum and Professor Dumbledore, but you're not fooling me."
Harry sighed. "I AM frustrated with Dumbledore," he acknowledged.
She was momentarily surprised, expecting more of a fight.
I admitted anything?" he asked with a grin. "Yeah. I decided early in
the summer that I would try to hold fewer secrets. That reminds me,
when we get back to school, I need to talk with all of you about the
"You're frustrated with Dumbledore?" she prompted,
sinking into a sitting position, laying aside the prophecy discussion
"You didn't notice how he treated me yesterday? I
don't blame you, really. It was pretty subtle." He started ticking
items off on his fingers. "Making me out to be the guilty party for not
having forgiven him for what happened last year. Why did he bother to
ask how my summer was? You know that the Order had a bodyguard on me
all summer, so he already knows how my summer went. Never one word
about losing Sirius, despite how much he knows Sirius meant to me. He
was expecting me to resume my Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape,
despite how he knows Snape and I feel about each other. Once I made it
clear how Snape treated me, did he bother to apologise for Snape's
actions? Did he offer to discipline him? Did he offer to teach me
Occlumency himself? No, he just went on to the next item on his agenda.
He also phrased the order to Remus, and it was an order instead of a
request, to make it sound like the meditation thing was his idea all
along instead of Remus's. I've recently realised how manipulative
Dumbledore really is without appearing to be. This is all on TOP of his
refusing to tell me anything at all last year." He paused for a moment.
"That all makes it sound like I'm angry at him, doesn't it? I'm not,
really. That's the only way I could explain how I feel. I guess a
better way to explain it is that I'm upset that it's come to this . . .
situation we find ourselves in."
Ginny's eyes were slightly wide. "But you seemed so civil with him."
shrugged slightly. "Being rude or disobedient won't get me anywhere and
would only make me look like a petty brat to everyone else. More
importantly, though, I still need his help. He does control the Order
and Hogwarts, and I will probably need both to help me beat Moldywart."
She nearly choked before laughing out loud. "'Moldywart'? Where did you come up with THAT?"
may disagree with some of the things that Dumbledore says and does, but
I do agree with his stance on Voldemort's name. I like seeing that, by
the way," he added.
She frowned momentarily, "Seeing what?"
"Your laugh," he said with a smile.
She blushed. "You're being quite forward, Mr. Potter."
open and honest, remember?" he asked with a nervous grin. "I got in
trouble and very upset in June because I wasn't told things. I can't
very well withhold information from those around me without being a
She studied him thoughtfully. "That bears
some thought, Harry. On to the next topic, though. You and Professor
Lupin seem to be getting along well."
"Yeah," Harry said
quietly, gaze turning inward. His thoughts were not dark, however, as
he kept a soft smile on his face. "We met at Mrs. Figg's house twice a
week all summer. He says I helped him, and I know he helped me deal
with Sirius's death. Don't get me wrong. The letters from you, Ron and
Hermione helped, but to have someone else sitting RIGHT THERE who cared
about him as much as I did helped a lot. In addition, at the beginning
of the month, Professor Dumbledore got him named as my legal guardian."
"I'm glad you had someone there for you, Harry."
He nodded absently.
In a more upbeat tone, she went on, "Meanwhile, I do believe your birthday is on Wednesday, is it not?"
"Yes, I do believe it is," Harry acknowledged, shaking himself into a more cheerful mood.
"Care to toss some ideas out for us?"
brow furrowed as he thought. His first inclination was to ask for
nothing (he was hardly used to anyone recognizing his birthday, let
alone giving him presents), but he knew that the Weasleys would insist
on doing something for him whether he wanted them to or not. He studied
the redhead in front of him for a moment before a sly grin slowly
formed. "I have a few ideas. Give me a while to think about it?"
"Sure," she agreed, vaguely wondering what his expression meant.
"Say," he said suddenly, "when is your birthday? I don't remember anyone ever saying."
gaze fell to the grass and she absently picked a wildflower. "There's a
reason for that." She didn't appear to want to elaborate, but she
eventually got out, "After the twins got me a pink bunny toy for my
fifth birthday, I don't like to celebrate it anymore."
that you're a bit old now for something like that, but what's wrong
with a pink bunny rabbit for a five year old girl?" Harry asked.
"It sang lullabies," she grudgingly elaborated.
"I guess I still don't see the problem . . ." Harry trailed off with a questioning look.
She huffed in exasperation, resigned to telling the story. "Remember that singing get well card I gave you?"
Harry quickly suppressed the grin that the reminder provoked and calmly indicated that he recalled the item in question.
inherited a good singing voice compared to the twins." She let it sink
in enough for Harry's eyes to widen before going on, "Add to that the
fact that the bunny sang at high volume and climbed out of any box or
closet I put it into in order to sing at my bedside."
Showing his Gryffindor mettle, he kept his composure. "Why didn't you get your parents or maybe Bill to shut it up?"
groaned and her head fell backwards to the trunk of the tree she was
leaning against. "It was also charmed to sing when I was the only one
in the room."
Harry lost the fight with his wide grin at this point. "So anytime your Mum came into the room -"
"She couldn't figure out why I was losing sleep over this cute, stuffed bunny rabbit."
"Sang when I was the only one in the room, right? Even if that meant at three in the morning."
Harry started laughing aloud before another thought made him ask, "Wait a second, if it was so loud, why didn't anyone -"
"Did I forget to mention the Silencing Charms that the twins had somehow managed to put up around my room?"
Harry laughed until tears came into his eyes.
She smiled at him despite the humour at her expense. "I like seeing that."
Wiping his eyes, he asked, "What, my laughing?"
She nodded. "You don’t do that nearly enough for a boy your age."
He sighed. "Not to put a damper on the conversation, but I have precious little to laugh about in my life just now."
"We'll just have to do something about that this year, won't we?"
He gave her a strange little smile that suddenly and inexplicably made her nervous.
to change the subject, she asked, "What is this mental technique for
stopping Moldywart's mental attacks that you didn't want to talk to
Professor Dumbledore about?" When he hesitated, she hurried on, "You
don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
He shook his head
slowly. "No, actually I don't mind telling you about it." He took a
breath and continued, "At the end of the fight at the Ministry,
Voldemort possessed me briefly. I think he was trying to get Dumbledore
to kill me. Anyway, what drove him out was when I thought about
Sirius." His face fell.
"His death was NOT your fault!" Ginny said immediately.
grimaced. "My brain knows that. Merlin knows you, Hermione and Ron beat
that into my head all summer in your letters. I just need to convince
my heart." He took a breath and continued, "Anyway, my thinking about
Sirius is what drove Voldemort out of my mind."
she'd made her point about assigning blame for Sirius's death, she
frowned at what he'd said. "Forgive how this sounds, but how would
thinking about the godfather you had just watched getting killed drive
him out of your mind?"
He nodded in agreement. "That was my
thought, too. You'd think my agony would make him stronger, not drive
him out. Dumbledore's theory was that it was my LOVE for Sirius that
Voldemort couldn't stand. So this summer when my visions and his
intrusions got bad, I tried an experiment. I thought about all the
people I love. That seemed to help."
This piqued her interest. "Really?"
nodded, now suddenly blushing and looking down. "Yep. Mum and Dad.
Sirius. Your parents, and to a lesser extent Ron and Hermione."
brief look of hurt flashed though her eyes, unseen by Harry. "More
people love you than that, Harry," she whispered quietly but apparently
not quietly enough. His suddenly piercing look caused her to stammer
quickly, "Professor Lupin, for instance."
An identical look of
hurt flitted across his features, unnoticed by the preoccupied witch.
"Yeah," he agreed quietly. Shaking his head, he said, "You never
answered my earlier question."
Just as glad to avoid such a treacherous conversation, she asked, "What question was that?"
"Oh, that. August eleventh."
He perked up. "That's just two weeks from now!"
"Noticed that, did you?" she asked dryly.
"So what do YOU want for your birthday?"
She waved it off. "I don't celebrate it, remember? Don't get me anything."
traces of humour fled from his expression, and he looked at her
intently. "Some of the best things in life can't be purchased."
Very unsettled by his sudden change in demeanour, she stammered out, "What might those be?"
"Oh, a handmade gift, an action, a favour, something like that," he said quietly, still peering at her searchingly.
you feel that way, Harry, then maybe I won't get you anything tangible
for your birthday," she tried to pass it off as light-hearted but was
seriously unnerved by his attention.
He nodded slowly. "That would be fine."
have you decided what you would like for your birthday?" she asked,
desperate to get out of the conversation that she didn't think she
could control any longer.
"A couple things come to mind," he
said, leaning back on his arms to study the passing clouds and
incidentally releasing her from his probing examination.
She was tempted to press him on such a vague answer, but the challenging tone he used kept her words unuttered.
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
"I am a hopeless git," Harry announced, falling back onto his bed in Percy's former room the next morning.
"Good morning to you, too, Cub. Sleep well?" Remus asked with a grin, settling himself at the desk.
"I'm serious," Harry objected.
was momentarily tempted to make the obvious joke, but that wound was
still a little too raw for the both of them. Instead he asked, "What's
"I told you about being more honest and open, right?
Well, I decided yesterday to tell Ginny what I feel about her. The
problem is that I keep chickening out at the last moment."
"And what precisely do you feel?" Remus asked, surprised to be having such a candid conversation with a teenaged wizard.
studied the wizard in front of him for a moment before deciding to tell
him the unvarnished truth. "An intense desire to learn if freckles
taste different than ordinary skin and to count all of them that she
may have on her body. Is that precise enough, Moony?"
grinned slightly but held Harry's eye. "More than I necessarily needed
to know, but believe it or not, I was almost sixteen once myself. I
know what you're going through, though you and I definitely have
Harry grunted, one hand coming up to
rub his temples. "Yeah, I'm the bloody Boy Who Lived. Do you realise
how much that actually gets in the way rather than helps? Almost nobody
sees ME. They just see this great, bloody title that I didn't do
anything to deserve."
"Gets in the way?"
"I can't have a normal conversation with anyone without them expecting me to do something heroic or some such thing."
speaks well of your character that you haven't been using that
notoriety to establish your own legend among the female students of
Harry let out a sigh. "Being noble is sometimes a right pain in the ass."
laughed outright at that for a moment before calming back down. "Why
Ginny, and how do you know this isn't just a physical attraction?"
one of only two girls that I can actually talk with and treat me as
Harry first and all that other nonsense not at all. She's stubborn, but
that's actually a good thing for me; she won't run away when I get all
moody. I don't KNOW that this is more than just an infatuation. I don't
know what real affection feels like, Remus. I don't know if what I feel
for Ginny is going to last, but I'd like to find out. Like I said
though, my infamous Gryffindor nerve seems to cower in a dark corner
anytime the topic comes up between us."
"You've definitely matured, Harry. I can't imagine ever having had this conversation with a sixteen year old James or Sirius."
"Yeah, well they didn't need to deal with a homicidal dark wizard out for their blood, did they?"
"Not until he was nineteen, anyway," Remus agreed calmly.
Harry winced. "Yeah."
to Ginny, though, I can think of two approaches. First is to pass
anonymous notes to her through Hermione once you get back to Hogwarts.
That's a bit juvenile and may not work, though."
Harry grimaced. "Don't think that I haven't considered that anyway."
"Second is to go into that dark corner and pull the Gryffindor courage back out, kicking and screaming if needs be."
Harry snorted in humour. "Now there's a visual. Getting all metaphysical on me, Moony?"
"Just using your own words, Lil' Prongs."
head snapped up to glare at his guardian. "If you ever call me that
again, I may have to start using you as my Defense sparing partner.
After I take your wand away from you."
Remus gave him a wide,
dangerous grin. "You're welcome to try at any time, Harry. Do remember
that I was once your Defense professor."
Harry grinned back at the challenge.
smile melted back into something more benign. "If there's anything else
I can do to help, please let me know. That's what I'm here for. Not
because I promised your parents and Sirius but because I honestly want
to help you, Cub."
Harry smiled at his de facto godfather. "Thanks, Moony."
The werewolf nodded once. "Meanwhile, I had some more meditation techniques to teach you, right?"
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
"I am a hopeless git," Ginny announced, falling back onto her bed.
"Good morning to you, too, Ginny. Sleep well?" the newly arrived Hermione asked with a grin, settling herself at the desk.
"I'm serious," Ginny objected.
Seeing that Ginny was not in the mood for her levity, Hermione schooled her expression. "What's wrong?"
can't seem to tell Harry anything about how I feel about him." Left
unsaid was what she actually did feel for him. Hermione already knew.
"What happened? I thought we'd discussed this and you were going to tell him."
"I was," the younger girl agreed morosely.
"So what's the problem?"
"When he's right there in front of me, I just," she waved her hand vaguely before finishing the thought, "can't!"
"Yes you can," Hermione responded calmly. "We'll just have to figure out a way of doing it."
was about to sink further into self-flagellation but paused. "He did
say he didn't want anything tangible for his birthday," she mused.
"There you go," Hermione said. "Just give him a card, saying you're giving him your heart."
"My heart isn't tangible?" Ginny asked in amusement, ignoring the implications of the suggestion.
"You know what I mean," Hermione huffed slightly but with a smile.
can't just SAY that!" Ginny objected, sinking back into her pit of low
self-esteem. "I can't do anything until I know how he feels about me.
If I say that and he doesn't feel the same, he'll think it just an
extension of my silly crush on the Boy Who Lived. But it isn't," she
insisted, mostly to herself.
"Whoa, Ginny, I believe you. You don't need to get yourself so worked up about it."
"So what do I DO?" the girl moaned.
"Hmm. He doesn't want a present, but wants something intangible instead, does he? This'll require some thought."
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
nothing much more I can teach you, Harry," Remus said later. "The
meditation technique I use isn't so much learning it as it is
practicing it. This is useful not only to hopefully keep Voldemort out
of your mind but also for relaxation. For that reason, I'd recommend
against thinking about anything distracting before you start," he
glanced significantly at the wall between Harry's new room and Ginny's.
Harry blushed. "I'll keep that in mind, thanks."
"I won't be able to be at your birthday party," Remus went on. "Full moon on the thirtieth. I'll send an owl with my gift."
"You don't have to do anything for me, Moony," Harry immediately objected.
"Nonsense," Remus returned. "I want to do something for you, Cub. I just haven't decided what, yet."
smiled, embarrassed, before his expression melted into a more sombre
expression. "What can you tell me about Voldemort's activities?"
frowned. "Not a whole lot. There've been a few dementor attacks, but
not widespread. One or two Death Eater attacks, too, but only on
isolated homes. He's been pretty quiet all summer, all things
"He's going to hit Azkaban sooner or later."
That's what we figure, too. He has too many loyal followers there not
to try to rescue them. Lots of Aurors stationed there, though.
Especially as the dementors are long gone. Listen, I'd better get back
to Headquarters," he went on, standing up. "As I said, I won't be able
to attend your party, but I'll see you before you return to Hogwarts.
Take care of yourself until then."
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
the thirty-first arrived all too quickly for Harry's taste. Most
teenaged boys enjoyed their birthdays, but Harry was not your typical
teenaged boy. Simply put, he disliked everyone making such a fuss over
"You'd better go down there before Mrs. Weasley drags you down, Harry," Hermione said in amusement, leaning on his doorway.
"Why are they making such a big deal about this?" he asked in exasperation, looking up from Quidditch Through the Ages.
seem to be rather fond of you," Hermione answered. "Personally, I can't
imagine why." Harry gave her a sour look that she grinned at.
"Seriously, this is what family does for birthdays, Harry. Come on.
Take your nose out of that book and come downstairs."
you and what'd you do with Hermione?" he returned, smiling. "The
Hermione I know would NEVER tell someone to stop reading."
She made a face at him that caused him to laugh.
Bowing to the inevitable, he put the book down and followed her out.
managed to pry him out of his hidey-hole," Hermione announced as the
two came down the last steps few steps into the living room.
"Come in, sit down," Molly told them from the kitchen.
entered to find a place at the head of the table empty with a small
pile of presents on the floor next to it. He was tempted to groan at
the Weasleys' actions, but he knew that would just hurt them. They were
only doing this all for him, after all. Deciding to make the most of
it, he plastered a look of curiosity on his face and looked around the
room at the sea of smiling faces. "Whose party is it?"
announced a feminine voice. Every eye in the room swivelled around to
find what looked like Harry's twin sister stand up from beside Charlie
(home for a rare visit) and move toward the head of the table. "Oh, you
all shouldn't have. Just for little ol' me?" The effect was marred when
she tripped, falling face-first into the pile of presents. A muffled
pop and a bright purple light sounded from under the girl.
Leaning down to help Tonks get back up, Harry laughingly asked, "Alright there, Harriet?"
"Wotcher, Harry," she replied with a grin, standing and beginning to brush herself off.
Harry took a good look at her and broke into laughter.
stopped her hand and looked up at him in mild annoyance. "I've been
working on this transformation for a while, Harry. I didn't think I'd
done THAT badly." She gave him her best pouting look.
He waved a hand. "No, no, it's not that. The likeness is actually pretty good. The only problem is the purple face."
She made an outraged noise and pulled out her wand, quickly conjuring a mirror.
"Err, that was us," George said while Fred raised his hand from beside his twin with a sheepish grin and nod.
"You gave her a purple face?" Charlie asked.
Harriet, now wearing a murderous expression, rounded on the twins with wand raised.
"Not intentionally," Fred hastened to explain. "The gift was set to just get Harry's hands."
"I don't think that explaining it now will help much," George observed to nobody in particular.
"Just tell me how to undo it," Tonks ground out.
Fred quickly pulled out his wand and cast a series of charms, Hermione
said to her, "Don't take it too personally, Tonks. If you spend any
time around this family," she shot a quick glance at Charlie, "you're
bound to get pranked by these two. It's just what they do."
Fred and George nodded frantically, trying to simultaneously look happy, honest, and contrite.
Tonks gave a wordless growl and returned to her seat next to Charlie, still wearing the face of Harriet.
Harry picked up the crumpled box with purple smoke still coming out of
one corner. Turning, he tossed it to George. He had only a moment to
see the look of barely suppressed panic on his face before both George
and Fred dove out of their chairs, letting it hit the chair back.
Another purple flash came from the box. Blinking the spots from his
eyes, Harry stared at the two Weasleys and suppressed a snicker.
"At least I can tell the two of you apart now," Tonks observed with a wide grin.
right half of Fred's hair was now a bright purple, contrasting
nauseatingly with his red hair. Similarly, the left half of George's
hair was now coloured. They turned to each other simultaneously, eyes
going from face to the other's hair. Giving sudden grins, they
scrambled to Tonks's still hovering mirror and stood side by side,
preening and enjoying their new look. Smiling happily, they sat
themselves back down, making no move to restore their hair.
shook his head and looked around at the various Weasleys in attendance.
"You realise, we should have guessed they'd react like that."
The entire room broke into laughter, causing the twins' grins to expand a notch.
took his seat and said, "Gred, Forge, thank you for the gift. It's been
loads of fun. Especially since it didn't happen to me."
wave of laughter swept the room as Harry picked the first gift to open.
He quickly had several gifts strewn about the tabletop. To everyone's
surprise, Ron had gotten him a book, Sneaky Seeker Strategies.
Mr. Weasley gave him the key to the bedroom he was now staying in. Mrs.
Weasley gave him a hand for the Weasley clock. These two gifts had
caused Harry to choke up for more than a few moments. Tonks, on behalf
of the Order, gave him The Auror's Field Guide, Auror Training Manual
and a wand holster for his forearm. Harry hid the two books quickly
before Ron spotted them. Charlie gave him a complete set of miniature
dragon figurines, reminding Harry of the Hungarian Horntail he'd drawn
from the bag at the beginning of the first task of the Tri-Wizard
Just after he'd opened Hermione's present, Hexes for the Vexed, a large barn owl swooped into the room and alighted on the back of Harry's chair.
immediately jumped up and cast a series of spells on the pouch
suspended from the owl's leg. After she gave Harry a nod, he pulled a
small notebook from the pouch. The owl left immediately.
Everyone was looking at Harry curiously as he looked at the cover of the notebook in shock. It had the initials S.B. and under it in a different ink, Padfoot.
Flipping through it quickly, he realised it was Sirius's personal notes
about learning to become an Animagus. A scrap of parchment was tucked
into the book.
I just found this
journal at Moony's place and thought you'd like to read it. I'm sending
it to you time-delayed so you'll get it on your birthday. No worries,
though. I'll be getting you something else as well.
from Sirius," Harry said into the silence, his voice barely steady.
Taking a calming breath, he laid the notebook down carefully.
Ginny laid a hand onto Harry's arm. "Are you okay?" she asked quietly.
Harry gave a jerky nod, eyes never leaving the notebook.
"It wasn't your fault, Harry," Hermione whispered.
he answered vaguely, still staring down at the innocent notebook.
Fifteen uncomfortable seconds later, Harry abruptly tore his gaze from
it and snatched up one of the two remaining presents. He unwrapped a
small cube of unremarkable black stone. One side was engraved with, Tap me with your wand to play the message.
recording cube," Hermione said her expression shifting from concern to
interest. "They can record and hold messages, much like a Muggle tape
Harry placed the cube down and tapped it with his wand.
Lupin's voice came out of the air, "Harry, this recording cube is half
of my gift to you. I'll bring the instruction manual with me the next
time I see you. The second half of my gift is a more personal bit of
advice." His voice paused for a moment before continuing, "Harry and
Ginny, you are the only two who can hear this part. Ginny, ask Harry to
drag it out of its corner, kicking and screaming. He'll know what I'm
talking about. Harry, if, after that conversation, you're still mad at
me, I'll willingly drop my wand. Happy birthday, Lil' Prongs."
Ginny looked over at Harry in curiosity. "Harry?" she asked.
face was mottled white and red as he glared at the inoffensive cube.
"I'm going to strangle him," he announced. He finally chanced looking
up at Ginny. "Later?" he whispered for her ears alone.
At her confused nod, Harry snatched up the last gift and started tearing it open in an effort to distract himself.
Everyone else in the room, not having heard the second half of Remus's recording, was glancing at each other in confusion.
By the time Harry got to the gift, a wide, shallow box, Ginny had paled.
looked at the box in puzzlement as he noticed Ginny start to fidget. He
opened it to find a sheet of parchment with fancy script of the style
that was typically the result of spell work. Tap to begin. Harry looked up at Ginny. "What's this?"
debated trying to speak but decided against it. The squeaking noises
she'd probably create wouldn't help her cause. She settled for shaking
her head and waving her hand at the parchment.
He studied the patient message for a moment more. "Who did the spell work?"
did," Tonks answered, now back to one of her normal faces, hair a
purple to rival Fred and George's. "I don't know what it says, though.
Ginny did the pen work after the first page. I just know it's a series
of yes and no choices."
Raising an eyebrow, Harry drew his wand.
Before he could move, though, he heard Ginny whisper, "Please be honest."
looked up at her again, but she refused to meet his gaze. Curiosity
overcoming his hesitancy, he tilted the box so nobody else could see
the parchment and tapped the page. The first message seemed to be
absorbed, only to come back out as, Do you believe more people than just Remus could love you? Two boxes, marked Yes and No appeared at the bottom.
Harry glanced at Ginny, but she was intently studying her hands. He tapped the Yes box. The message reformed as, Do you believe it's possible for my crush from first year to have grown into something else?
Swallowing thickly and not daring to look up this time, Harry again tapped Yes.
Do you WANT it to have grown into something more? Hardly breathing now, Harry hesitantly tapped Yes for a third time.
yes I had a crush on you back even before you rescued me from Tom's
diary, but that was the star-struck infatuation of a silly little
eleven year old over the Boy Who Lived. I've watched you for the four
years since then and come to several conclusions. You don't want all
the notoriety of being the Boy Who Lived. You are an often scared young
man, angry at how the world occasionally treats others. You will do
anything you can to right such wrongs, often at your own expense. When
you cannot act to fix such things, you take such a weight of undeserved
guilt that it's a wonder you've not been broken by it.
The Boy Who Lived is expected to defeat Voldemort. Harry will do it because it needs to be done.
The rest of the world sees the Boy Who Lived. I see Harry.
so for your birthday, I offer you the intangible gift of my heart. You
first stole it five years ago on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Now
that we're both a bit older, I'm willingly offering it to you.
Harry read through the page more than once before the full magnitude of what he was seeing sunk in.
"Well?" Ron asked in his usual blunt fashion.
Harry slowly rolled up the parchment before looking up at Ron. He needed the extra time to compose his face. "Well what?"
"What did she get you?" Ron asked in exasperation.
"She wrote a poem, if you must know," Hermione informed Ron.
looked from Hermione, to Ginny (who had yet to look up), to the pensive
Harry. "To get these reactions, it must have been some poem."
"Thought provoking," Harry agreed with a far-away stare.
"Can we read it?"
Harry shook his head, and Ginny looked up suddenly. "No, it was to Harry."
Ron folded his arms and leaned back in his chair in a clear expression of dissatisfaction.
Charlie and Arthur were studying Harry with slightly narrowed eyes.
Tonks and Molly were looking back and forth from Harry to Ginny.
Molly suddenly stood. "Dinner in half an hour." She headed to the stove, a sudden flurry of activity.
movement broke the spell holding the rest of the room. People started
to stand and move around, some coming over to study Harry's new gifts.
started strapping the new holster to Harry's forearm without his even
noticing. Once she had his attention, she explained that it shrunk the
wand for comfort as well as concealment. She also showed him how to
draw the wand quickly.
Harry tried it a few times. It was
little more than a flick of his wrist, but the timing was crucial else
the wand ended up flying away. He finally got it to work right after
nearly putting Charlie's eye out once.
Tonks praised his success after the laughter died down.
he said wryly. "That was a good Harriet look, by the by. Just out of
curiosity, why do it? So long as you're clearly Harriet and not Harry,
it's not like you can be a decoy for me."
She nodded. "That
was the original goal, you know. No, now I mostly use it for personal
amusement. Everyone knows what you look like, Harry. Especially after
your picture was all over the Prophet during the Tournament.
Harriet gets some of the most peculiar looks when she walks into the
Three Broomsticks or Leaky Cauldron."
Harry and Hermione chuckled. "Should I ask for royalties? You're using my image, after all."
Tonks grinned cheekily. "Naw, I'll just block the curse Malfoy throws at your back eventually, and we'll call it even."
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
meal as always, Mrs. Weasley," Harry praised, finally putting his fork
down after his second piece of birthday cake. Everyone else at the
table chimed in their own thanks and appreciations.
She blushed faintly at the praise. "Harry, you and Ginny should go for a walk. Boys, if you could help me clean up?"
"But, Mum," Ron objected, looking significantly at Harry and Ginny's matching blushes.
"But nothing. You get in here, Ronald."
Tonks looked torn for a moment.
realizing what she was thinking, spoke up. "Tonks, you can come along
and chaperone, which is what Ron wanted in the first place. Since
you're my assigned guard for the moment, that covers that
responsibility, too." He turned to Ron. "Okay by everyone?"
Ron didn't even blush at the accusation, merely nodding with a barely concealed smirk.
Ginny didn't look happy, but she followed along quietly as Harry held the door for her.
Once outside, Tonks spoke up, "I'll stay out of your way and out of earshot. Yell or shoot sparks if you need me."
"Thank you, Tonks," Harry said with a grin.
Ginny smiled at the Metamorphmagus as well.
Giving a cheery wave and smile, Tonks walked a short distance away from the youngsters, giving them a degree of privacy.
For their own part, they walked slowly toward the paddock, close but not quite touching each other.
"My prat of a brother," Ginny grumbled. "I can't believe he wanted us to have a chaperone."
shrugged, eyes on the stars above. "I think he wants us to be together,
but not TOGETHER, if you catch my meaning." He blushed at his own
Ginny made an unhappy noise. "He wants me to stay at the 'hold a boy's hand' stage until I'm thirty."
"He's your big brother."
"He's a big prat."
"No argument from me on that one." Harry chuckled.
lapsed into silence again, walking slowly until they were in a small
clearing among the trees. They took seats in the grass.
"I think your Mum suspects something," Harry broke the silence eventually.
Ginny shrugged uncomfortably. "My feelings aren't a surprise to her."
"Hermione and Tonks, too," Harry mentioned.
"Hermione knows. She helped me figure out how to do that scroll. Tonks is just . . . Tonks is Tonks."
Harry chuckled. That was all that really needed to be said about the Auror.
"You haven't answered," Ginny blurted out.
"About my . . . gift," she explained, eyes never leaving the blade of grass she was slowly shredding in her anxiety.
"I'm going to tell you two little stories first, Ginny," he said.
She had a brief moment of panic when he didn't give an immediate answer but sternly commanded herself to listen.
first is related to what Remus said to us in that recording cube. 'Drag
it out, kicking and screaming.' He was referring to a conversation we
had a couple of days ago. You know what I've been trying to figure out
how to say something to a girl I know. I've been owling you for advice
all summer, after all. I asked him the same thing. He gave me two
options. First is to pass anonymous notes to her. The second is to find
my Gryffindor courage and drag it back out, kicking and screaming if
needs be, and just talk with her."
"Good advice," Ginny concurred, voice barely above a whisper.
Anyway, the second story is actually an addition to something I've
already told you. Remember when I was telling you that thinking about
those people that I love helps keep Voldemort out of my mind?" He
caught her miniscule nod before continuing, "I didn't tell you the
whole list. The one thought I had that helped the most was of a certain
redheaded Gryffindor a year younger than me."
Ginny stopped breathing.
forward, he tilted her head up to look at him. In a whisper, he
continued, "I gladly accept the gift, Ginny." He held his free hand to
his chest for a moment before presenting it to her as if it was holding
something. "As an early birthday present, I'd like to present my heart
Swiping at the tears suddenly leaking out of her
eyes, Ginny lunged at him, knocking him to his back with her lying
mostly atop his prone form.
"Does this mean you accept?" he asked in a quiet, teasing tone.
She smacked his shoulder lightly. "Git," she grumbled around her happy sniffles.
The new couple luxuriated in the hug for several seconds.
"There's something I need to ask," Harry hesitantly whispered.
"No, I won't share you with your fan club."
"Funny. I thought you were the president of that, anyway."
Ginny didn't answer, which was an answer of its own.
"No, what I wanted to ask is whether you think we should keep this a secret."
She pulled back a little so they could both sit up. "Secret?" she asked in a wounded tone.
he answered immediately. "I am NOT ashamed of you, so get that thought
out of your cute little head right now. No, what I was asking is
whether you think we should keep the relationship a secret for your
She smacked his arm again, this time it wasn't light.
"Don't you dare suggest that, Harry Potter! I am not about to hide how
we feel." She raised a hand to his gathering frown. "I'm a Weasley. I'm
already in this fight, Harry. After the Chamber of Secrets, I'm even
more of a target than usual. Being your girlfriend won't change
Harry sighed, equal parts relieved and worried. He
wasn't so much worried over her becoming more of a target than she
already was (she was probably in the top five anyway), but rather for
more selfish reasons. If she were kidnapped, what would he be willing
to risk to rescue her? On the other hand, whether they made their
relationship public or not, it wouldn't change his feelings.
He was relieved at her answer because he wanted to shout it from the rooftops, he was so happy.
was watching his face as he thought. "Don't try to protect me from the
cold, cruel world, Harry," she whispered. "You know I've faced things
that are as bad as what you've faced. Don't treat me like a child. Let
me make my own decisions. Right now, that decision is to be your
He smiled and pulled her into another hug.
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
The couple re-entered the Burrow, hand in hand.
Molly took one look and smiled widely.
from his seat at the table, saw the same thing and sighed tiredly. He
stood and waved Harry back out the door, picking up a light cloak
against the chill coming with nightfall.
A now nervous Harry
nearly bumped into Tonks as she tried to enter the Burrow. It took a
half second for the Auror to realise the situation. She stood back and
waved Harry on past, a sympathetic smile on her face.
"Do you two know what you're getting yourselves into?" Mr. Weasley asked directly after the door closed behind him.
love each other, and we want to be together," Harry answered simply. In
the way all young men did, he knew that not acting as an adult now
would be the worst possible move.
he acknowledged. "On the other hand, we've each had to grow up quite
some time ago. Both in our first years, as a matter of fact."
Weasley winced at the truthfulness of the statement. "Okay, you have a
valid point. It's just . . . I don't want to see my little girl hurt,"
"Mr. Weasley, a war is about to start. I don't
want to be in it, but I'm going to be anyway. It could very well end up
killing me. I don't like to think about that, but it's the truth, and
we both know it. Nearly your entire family is in the Order, which means
they'll be on the front lines. Ginny could again get caught in the
crossfire. Even if Ginny and I weren't together, she might still get
hurt in one way or another. I don't like those facts anymore than you
do, sir, but we both know that those are all facts. All I can promise
is that I will do my best to not hurt her."
"You've grown up," Arthur said, giving Harry a sideways glance.
"Living in denial doesn't do anybody any good. Fudge has and look where it's gotten us. I can't afford to do that."
right, of course. On all counts. Whether you're together or not, she'd
be devastated if you got yourself hurt. Just promise me that you two
won't . . . do anything you're not ready for."
"Yes, sir," Harry agreed, blushing slightly.
"Has anyone, err, spoken to you about -"
Harry interrupted before the conversation got too embarrassing. He did
NOT want a repeat of that conversation. ESPECIALLY with Ginny's father.
nodded, looking faintly relieved. He studied the young man in front of
him for several seconds more. Giving a decisive nod, he held out his
hand. "Treat my daughter right, Harry."
Harry nodded solemnly and took his hand. "I intend to, sir."
Arthur turned and entered his home after Tonks, who'd been standing right there the entire time, opened the door for him.
Harry turned to her, blowing out a relieved breath. "Thanks for not interrupting at any stage tonight, Tonks."
what?" she asked in an overly innocent tone. "I'm your bodyguard for
the night. I've been looking outward for dangers. I haven't been
watching anything you've been doing."
Harry grinned at the
pretty Auror and Order member. "After I defeat Moldywart and become the
star Seeker for the English team, I might just have to hire you
"Promise?" she asked with a grin, waving him into the Burrow.
was chuckling as he entered the home, only to stop when he was
confronted by four Weasley males standing shoulder to shoulder, staring
at him. He studied their impassive expressions for a moment before
saying, "Um, Tonks? Help."
She just walked past them, chuckling.
"Traitor," he called after her. "That job offer just got revoked."
She laughed louder and threw a wave over her shoulder.
Pasting a friendly smile onto his face, he said, "Hi, guys."
None of them so much as blinked.
Smile faltering, he said, "Uh, please say something."
Charlie said, "It's come to our attention that you're now dating our little sister. Is this true?"
Shifting awkwardly, Harry gave serious thought to drawing his wand. "Yes, that would be true."
"What about Dean?" Ron asked.
Charlie waved that aside. "She just said that to wind you up, little brother."
Harry vaguely wondered where Charlie had heard that story, not that Harry hadn't come to the same conclusion.
Turning back to Harry, Charlie continued his interrogation, "What are your intentions?"
a brief moment, Harry considered answering, "Snogging her as often as
humanly possible," but figured it wouldn't go over very well with her
four brothers. "Treat her as a lady. One whom I happen to love with
everything I am," he answered instead.
Fred nodded fractionally, apparently satisfied with that answer. "Do you know what will happen to you if you hurt her?"
"Not specifically but I can guess."
"We will make the remainder of your life very painful," George said with perfect composure.
Potter, who'd faced trolls, acromantulas, dementors, Umbridge, Death
Eaters, and the most powerful dark wizard in living memory more times
than he cared to recall, swallowed nervously at the steady expressions
on the four wizards facing him. "I understand," he said as calmly as he
Charlie's sudden room brightening smile released the
tension coiling in Harry's stomach. "Take care of her, Harry. Welcome
to the family." He took a step forward and pulled Harry into a manly
hug, followed by the twins and lastly Ron.
"Don't hurt her," Ron whispered, his voice somewhere between an order and a plea.
"I'd rather die," Harry vowed quietly.
Ron gave one nod and headed up the stairs.
Charlie poked his head into the kitchen and called out a goodbye before quickly leaving.
that the coast was clear, George pulled a book from somewhere. He
presented it to Harry with a flourish as Fred said, "Considering
everything, here's our gift to you. Stop by the store sometime and we
can go over the business stuff with you, okay?"
Harry agreed, taking the book from George's hand. Wise Words for the Wooing Wizard. He looked at the twins in shock.
They grinned and nodded cheerily. Repeating Charlie's words of goodbye, the two left to return to their flat.
stunned, Harry slipped the book into an inconspicuous spot in the front
room before heading to the kitchen. Seeing Ginny, Hermione, Molly, and
Tonks sitting around the table, he dropped into the chair beside Ginny.
"So you survived the Weasley gauntlet?" Molly asked in amusement.
"I guess," Harry said, still somewhat dazedly.
Tonks said in amusement, looking at Harry's glazed eyes. "Must have
been some shock. Do you want to bring him back to reality, Ginny, or
shall I kiss him?"
This snapped Harry out of his stupor. "Thank you, no, Tonks."
"Drat," Ginny pouted. When everyone looked at her in surprise, she explained, "Now I don't have an excuse to kiss you."
"Should I act stunned again?" Harry offered with a nervous little grin.
"Great Merlin," Hermione groaned. "You two are going to be impossible, aren't you?"
smirked impishly at her. "If you want to join in the fun, I'm sure
there's a young wizard upstairs you could convince to help you out."
glared at the Auror, ignoring the snickers from the other two students
at the table. "Your own source of fun just left, didn't he?"
smiled innocently to raised eyebrows from the others at the table. "On
that note, I think I shall be leaving. Night, all." She stood and left
after a quick wave.
"Well, that was unexpected," Molly said,
staring at the door. She suddenly smiled and looked at Harry and Ginny.
"But not the least unwelcome, much like the two of you.
Congratulations. Just behave yourselves properly. That's all I ask."
Harry nodded quickly as Ginny said, "Yes, Mum."
Nodding in satisfaction, Molly stood and placed her mug next to the sink before heading upstairs.
also stood. "Harry, you may have a room to yourself now, but remember
that I'm sharing your room, Ginevra." She turned and followed Molly up
"What was that supposed to mean?" Ginny asked.
"She'll know when you come up to bed," Harry answered in amusement.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "How were the boys? They didn't scare you too much, did they?"
than the varied death threats, no," Harry said with forced nonchalance.
"I'm kidding," he assured her when she looked ready to start hexing her
siblings. "They didn't say anything really unexpected. Just to take
care of you. Fred and George gave me a book after that, saying it was
my birthday present."
He stood and led her into the front room, retrieving the book he'd partially hidden and handing it to her.
flipped it to a random page toward the back, only for her eyes to
widen. She slammed the book shut and handed it to Harry quickly.
"What's wrong?" he asked in concern.
"Nothing," she said in close to a squeak. She gave him a quick hug, a peck on the cheek, and fled upstairs.
Harry went into his room and got himself ready for bed. Once sitting in
bed, he flipped through the book quickly. Chapters on flirting, first
dates, later dates, proposing and so on. Toward the back, there were
chapters on charms and potions useful for the couple upon consummating
their relationship. Plus one on various techniques and positions. With
Red faced, Harry slammed the book shut.
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
It was the next week when the Order plus selected others held the wake for Sirius.
was held at Grimmauld Place, of course. Harry, Remus and Dora wore
traditional grey robes that marked them as family per Sirius's
direction. Everyone else wore black. It was the first time Harry had
ever seen Dumbledore in black.
Without a body, the ceremonies
were much abbreviated, but each of the "family" lit a special candle
that had been pre-spelled. The smoke from the three candles melded and
formed a hazy image of Sirius's face, smiling at the three.
very nearly came unglued at that point, but with Remus gripping one
shoulder and Ginny holding his other hand, he rapidly pulled himself
Most of the Order members came up and offered a word or two of condolence to Harry during the later mingling.
"How are you?" Hermione asked, sympathy in her eyes.
nearly replied with his traditional, "I'm fine," but held himself back
at the last moment. "It hurts," he whispered, more honestly.
laid her head against his arm, prompting him to pull her around in
front of him. He enveloped her into a hug and buried his face into her
hair to hide the threatening tears.
"It'll be okay," Ginny said, running her hands over his back.
The crowd created a bubble of space around the pair, respecting Harry's grief.
"Why?" Harry asked in a choked voice, for once unmindful of the others in the room.
sighed but didn't even try to answer that most unanswerable of
questions. Instead, she rubbed one hand up and down his back. It took
more than a few minutes, but he eventually regained his composure.
you know what Sirius used for his Patronus?" a voice asked at Harry's
elbow nearly an hour later as Harry was nibbling on some crackers.
He turned to find Remus looking at him in a melancholy way. "I didn't realise he could produce one," Harry honestly answered.
yes. All of the Order members can. He had the devil's own time
producing one after Azkaban, of course. That is, until he found the
happiest memory he had gained since. Actually, it was just after you'd
met him. We all were coming back from the Shrieking Shack. Before the
moon came out, do you remember what you and Sirius were talking about?"
frowned, trying to remember a conversation that had taken place two
years previously. "We were discussing the thought that he'd be free."
nodded. "Yes, and he offered to let you move in with him. Your
reaction, your instant and total acceptance of him, THAT was his
Harry began to tear up again.
smiled sadly and reached a hand out to grip Harry's shoulder in what
was already a comforting gesture to the both of them. "I didn't tell
you that to sadden you, Harry. Just a happy memory for the both of us
to have regarding that loveable, mangy mutt."
Harry smiled at
the description and slowly started to chuckle until he was making
enough noise to garner attention from some nearby guests.
nodded. "There. THAT is the sound Sirius would like to hear at his
wake. We should be remembering him with happy thoughts, not sad ones."
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
The remainder of August was calm at the Burrow, if one didn't count the merciless teasing Harry endured for dating Ginny.
with Ginny and Remus's support, came to fully accept the loss of
Sirius. It was still an ache on his heart, but Harry was slowly moving
There were a few Order meetings during this time, but none
of the students were invited. Harry was expecting this and didn't make
a big deal about it as opposed to Ron's vociferous complaints.
August thirty-first eventually came around and with it, the students' preparing to board the Hogwarts Express the next morning.
absolutely forbid it," Molly Weasley stated in a tone of utter
finality. Out of her line of sight, Ron was failing in his attempt not
to look smug.
"Why ever not?" Ginny asked reasonably. "All I'm asking is to continue to attend some harmless DA classes."
were hurt in connection with those 'harmless' classes," the Weasley
matriarch responded. "In the Department of Mysteries both of you were
seriously hurt!" She turned to the only non-redhead in the room. "No
offence, Harry dear, but association with that club is downright
dangerous. I will not have my little girl continue meddling in such
obviously dangerous activities." She folded her arms and gave a sharp
nod that clearly conveyed her opinion that the topic was closed.
of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Ginny's eye take on a hardness that
he'd only rarely seen. In the past it'd always involved a trip to the
hospital wing for the witch or wizard on the receiving end.
his life in his hands (literally and figuratively), Harry grabbed
Ginny's elbow and steered her toward the back door of the Burrow. "If
that's the way you feel, Mrs. Weasley, then I promise you that I will
keep Ginny out of all future DA meetings. We'll be in the paddock if
anyone needs us."
Only her shock at such a staggering betrayal by her boyfriend kept her silent until they were well out of earshot of the Burrow.
can't believe you just agreed to that, Harry James Potter!" she
bellowed, jerking her arm out of his grasp and rounding on him. "What
gives you the right to make such decisions for me? I can't believe she
even asked such a thing from me. As if I'm a CHILD that must be
protected from the big, bad world! How many times have any of THEM
faced the senior Death Eaters?"
"Once," Harry promptly answered, leaning against a tree, out of easy reach of her wildly flailing arms.
RIGHT," she snarled in agreement. "ONCE. Ron comes out of it seriously
hurt, can't afford running the risk of getting hit with ANY charms that
could possibly affect his mind. What happened to me in that very same
fight? A broken ankle that took fifteen seconds for Madam Pomfrey to
fix. That doesn't even count the OTHER time I faced Tom. I've faced the
bloody Dark Lord more times than the rest of the bloody lot of them put
together, and she has the incredible gall to try to keep me SAFE! What
an absolutely absurd idea! Doesn't she realise that you and I are safer
together than not? If I can't be in those DA classes, how in the name
of Magic can I help? I'm FIFTEEN. She has NO RIGHT!"
"You're right," Harry calmly confirmed.
"YOU!" she snarled, rounding on him. "You have no bloody right, either, agreeing with her!"
"I never said I agreed with her," Harry corrected her. "I merely said I'd keep you out of the DA."
"And what, pray tell, is the difference?" she asked in a low tone, still seething.
said I'd keep you out of the DA, something that would be easy for Ron
to keep track of. I never said I wouldn't help you learn to fight. If
necessary, I'll just tutor you separately after the main DA meetings."
Ginny's mood cooled when she realised that Harry was not in fact against her trying to help.
"Not that I think you need it," Harry continued. "You're as good as I am in Defense, after all."
Ginny blushed. "No, I'm not. I couldn't teach DA as well as you do, Harry. You know so much more than I do."
COULD teach it at least as well as I do," Harry disagreed. "I just have
a year's more education to draw on, a new pass to the Restricted
Section, and Hermione's research skills on my side."
couldn't disagree with that. She'd been one of the first to catch on to
all new charms that Harry had taught the previous year and usually
ended up helping out the other students after she'd mastered that
"The other reason that I interrupted your
conversation with your mother was because of what you were about to
say. You were about to ask why it was okay for me to actually lead the
DA when you weren't even allowed to attend, right?"
grudgingly nodded. That was the only problem she could see with them
becoming closer over the past five years and especially since beginning
a relationship a month ago. They knew each other too well. He could
predict her actions with frightening accuracy. As she could his.
continued his train of thought, "If you'd said that, you would just
accomplished two things. First, you could well have gotten Ron barred
from the DA as well, and we need him to stay in it to confirm that
you're not. Second, it would have made her feel bad. Everyone knows I
have to do this. Your mum deals with it by ignoring it. If we forced
her to think about it, it would drive her crazy with worry. No sense in
"I suppose," she grumped, the last of her boiling anger dissipating.
"Have I told you lately how cute you are when you pout?" Harry asked her with a smile.
Ginny attempted her best Weasley Glare, but the look on Harry's face made her want to melt instead.
"Much better," Harry pronounced, gathering her in his arms.
"How can you do that?" she asked in curiosity.
"Do what?" he asked, fitting her head in the hollow of his neck.
"Get me out of such a horrid mood."
"Many years of practise dealing with the infamous Weasley Temper," he teased.
She rolled her eyes, even though he couldn't see it. "Funny."
"Back to the conversation, though, I have a plan."
"Will this one work better than your last one?" she asked with a malicious grin.
flinched, thinking of how his plan from a week past had backfired
dramatically. And the de-gnoming duty that resulted. How Ginny managed
to avoid any punishment for that failed prank against the twins is
something that still eluded his understanding. "Okay, I'll tell you
what it is and you tell me. While I'm doing the DA classes, I'd like
you and Hermione to be in the library, researching a couple things for
me: New material for the DA and a way for us to defeat Tom. Afterwards,
we trade information. This will keep all findings confidential and has
the added benefit of keeping Ron and your mother happy."
She thought about it for a few moments before realising it was the best offer she was going to get.
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
September first, they all made it to the Hogwarts Express after their
usual morning rush. The security, Auror and Order, at Platform Nine and
Three-Quarters was as high as the students had ever seen.
kept his head down and tried to ignore it all, knowing it was for the
safety of everyone now that even Fudge-for-Brains had admitted to
After the train started moving, Harry was
left by Ron, Hermione and Ginny in a compartment by himself as they
went forward to the usual prefect meeting.
Harry had just
settled down with the latest Defense textbook when he heard a timid
knock. Harry looked up to find Neville smiling hesitantly at him
through the door's window. Harry smiled back and waved his fellow
"Hi, Harry. Mind if I share your compartment?"
"Not at all. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny are all off at the prefect meeting, so I'm alone for the moment."
"Ginny made prefect?" Neville asked, heaving his trunk to the rack.
"Yup. Mrs. Weasley nearly had kittens, she was so excited."
grinned at that mental image before asking hesitantly, "How have you
been, Harry?" When they'd parted, Harry had just lost his godfather at
the Ministry fight and Neville was honestly worried about the mental
state of his friend.
Harry smiled a little, touched. "Well as can be, Neville. Thank you for asking. How was your summer?"
grinned. "Really good! I worked at Uncle Algie's greenhouse most of the
summer. Had a great time and made a bit of pocket money, even after
buying a new wand." He pulled it out and proudly said, "Twelve and a
half inches, ash, unicorn hair."
"Good on you, Neville! I'll have to keep an eye on you in the DA. Don't want you showing up the teacher, after all," he teased.
Neville blushed. "That'll never happen, Harry. The DA is going to continue?"
frowned. "Probably. I talked with Dumbledore about it, and depending on
who the Defense professor turns out to be, I'll keep the DA going.
Openly this time."
Neville nodded firmly. "Good." He brightened. "Hey, I almost forgot. Thank you!"
Harry blinked. "What for?"
Neville looked bashful. "An 'O' in the Defense practical."
Harry smiled. "Great! I keep telling you, Neville; you're better than you give yourself credit for."
Neville, clearly embarrassed, pulled out the NEWT Herbology book and started reading.
Harry went back to the Defense book until the door opened and Hermione and Ron entered and sat, clearly disgruntled.
Ginny came in, equally upset but brightened when she spotted Harry. She unceremoniously dropped into his lap.
Luna seemed to drift into the compartment behind them, taking the empty seat next to Neville.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked, seeing that three of his friends were upset.
still a prefect, despite being part of Umbridge's Inquisition Squad,"
Ginny grumbled, making herself comfortable in Harry's lap.
"Inquisitorial Squad," Hermione corrected absently, rummaging in her bag for something or other.
"Whatever," Ginny sighed. "I'd rather not talk about it, frankly."
was looking at Ginny's position in clear interest. "Something you'd
like to tell all of us about your relationship to Harry?" he asked.
pondered the question for a moment. She then turned to Harry and gave
him a kiss, lingering long enough to make Ron shift in embarrassment.
Slightly breathless, she turned to Neville and shook her head. "Nope,"
she said cheekily, lying her head back onto Harry's shoulder.
Neville chuckled and even Luna gave a small, dreamy smile at the new couple.
looked around at everyone. "Before I forget, there's something I'd like
to talk to you all about. After the Welcoming Feast, could you all meet
me in the Room of Requirement?"
"The prophecy?" Luna asked directly.
Ginny said. At four questioning looks, she elaborated, "I've been
trying to talk with him all summer about it, but he refuses to say
anything until we're all together."
"I just didn't think it'd be fair to the others," Harry explained to her.
not that," she objected, momentarily ignoring everyone else. "I just
wanted to help you deal with it. Ron's told me you're still having
nightmares, and you get all quiet every time Mum or Dad talk about
Order business. It's obviously tearing you apart."
at her and sadly nodded. "Yeah, you're right. It has been bothering me.
However, for reasons that will become obvious, I wanted to tell you all
The other five agreed to his request without any hesitation.
"Luna, congratulations on making prefect," Harry went on, having noticed the silver badge, hanging upside down, on her robes.
"Why, thank you, Harry," the Ravenclaw answered, pulling a Quibbler out of her bag and holding it sideways to read.
Neville hesitantly spoke up, "Err, Luna? I thought you read the Quibbler upside-down."
"I didn't like how my horoscopes were coming out, so I'm trying it this way," was the simple answer.
The other five exchanged glances but nobody commented.
The door suddenly crashed open, shattering the glass in the window.
wand didn't get drawn only because his lap full of Ginny slowed his
hand down enough to let his mind catch up. "Malfoy," Harry sighed in
"Well, well," he drawled, flanked by his two
automatons. "Potty, two weasels, a mudblood, Loony, and Longbottom.
Somehow, you just seem to deserve each other."
"Thanks, we think so, too," Ginny said as Hermione laid a restraining hand on Ron's arm.
"How's your Daddy doing, Malfoy?" Neville asked, surprising everyone.
Draco stared in surprise at the normally timid Gryffindor.
"I've heard that the dementors are absolute hell to live with," Neville added.
growled before a light seemed to come to his eye. He turned to Harry.
"Why don't you ask your godfather that question, Potter? He knows,
after all." He made a mock expression of shock, "Oops, he's dead, isn't
Harry nodded, swallowing the instant rage trying to come
into his mind. "Yes, your Aunt Trixie killed him. And yes, he did know
what dementors were like, but he escaped after twelve years to come and
"Aunt Trixie?" Neville asked in confusion.
"Didn't you know?" Harry asked. "Bellatrix Lestrange is Malfoy's aunt on his mother's side."
Neville turned and glared.
smirked at Neville for a moment before turning back to Harry. "I think
my father won't take nearly so long until he's out of Azkaban."
"Please notice that I said Sirius escaped. Not rescued by his half-blood master."
It took a second before Neville asked, "Half-blood?"
Voldemort's a half and half. His father was a Muggle. Interesting how
he's so keen on killing Muggles when he's half Muggle himself, isn't
it? Somehow, I don't think that he mentions his parentage to his Death
Crabbe and Goyle were staring blankly as this new information slowly made its torturous way though their thought processes.
Malfoy paled. "You're lying."
Harry shook his head. "Tom Marvolo Riddle. Slytherin house, Head Boy, class of 1945. Look him up when we get to Hogwarts."
gaped for a few moments before pulling himself together. Giving a
half-hearted sneer to the room in general, he turned and left, his
personal bookends shuffling along behind.
Harry flipped his wand out of its wrist holster and pointed it at the glass shards. "Reparo." The glass practically leapt up and reformed the window, solid once again.
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
who that is," Ron idly commented, indicating the unknown, stunningly
beautiful woman at the head table while the new first years were being
She was the only new face at the table. All of the
rest of the Hogwarts faculty was present. Even the centaur Firenze was
standing at the end of the table. Harry supposed that meant the centaur
was still teaching at least some of the Divination classes as Trelawney
was also present.
Harry shrugged at Ron's question. "I'm sure
Dumbledore will be mentioning her name in a minute. I just hope she's
better than most Defense professors we've had."
"She could hardly be worse," Hermione commented.
"Shh!" Ginny hissed. "Don't say that, or you'll jinx us."
They looked forward again just as Ken Woolverton became the newest Hufflepuff, finishing the year's sorting.
stood, drawing all eyes to him. "I am gratified to see all the
returning faces and would like to welcome the new ones I see before me.
A few announcements before we begin our feast. The Forbidden Forest is
aptly named and therefore remains out of bounds for all students. Our
Caretaker Mr. Filch has categorically banned all items sold under the
Weasley Wizard Wheezes name."
Ginny and especially Ron seemed to puff up a bit in pride at this.
to the recent public acknowledgement of Voldemort's," almost all
students either flinched or gasped, "return, this year's Quidditch Cup
must be cancelled." Dumbledore raised a hand at the angry mutterings
from most of the school and the outraged shouts from each team. "I am
quite aware how unpopular this action will prove to be; however, in the
interests of safety it is a decision that I must make. In a small
attempt to regain some goodwill with you, there will be a Yule Ball
again this year." Excited whisperings started up, mostly by the girls.
was still speaking. "All of the so-called Educational Decrees from last
year have been revoked. Due to the . . . retirement of Professor
Umbridge -" he paused as a wave of muttering passed through the
students. "As I was saying, due to her retirement, we have a new
professor. She is an Auror, on temporary loan from the Magical Law
Enforcement Squad. Let us welcome Professor Nymphadora Tonks."
Tonks stood and waved a little timidly to the assembled students.
Ron and Ginny gaped in open astonishment. Harry bit down on a knuckle to suppress the laughter.
a moment, Hermione stood and led the rest of the slightly confused
Gryffindor house in applause. While she was doing this, Dumbledore
looked at Harry with one eyebrow raised in query. Knowing what he was
being asked, Harry nodded with a wide grin.
continued after the applause died out. "This past year, a number of
students formed a club called the Defense Association." He was again
interrupted, this time by shouting and cheering from various spots on
three of the four house tables. Harry flushed in embarrassment at the
display of loyalty. "It may interest you all to know that the lowest
OWL or NEWT in the Defense Against the Dark Arts practical earned by a
member of this association was an Exceeds Expectations." Harry smiled
happily at this news as Dumbledore went on, "So it bears some thought
by each of you whether you would care to join this club, which will be
open to all students in fourth year and above. Relevant information
will be posted in all common rooms in the next few days. Due to its
nature, this club will be under the supervision of Professor Tonks, but
will not be taught by her. Instead, the club's founder will continue to
lead it." Cheering started from the same locations that had previously
made noise, and Dumbledore had to raise his voice to finish, "Associate
All the former DA members were stamping their feet and cheering wildly. The Slytherins appeared to be in shock.
had such an expression on his face that Harry momentarily wondered if
the twins had somehow slipped him a "Super Sour Sherbet".
realising what it meant, most of the other Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs,
and Ravenclaws started clapping and buzzing with the news
"WHAT?" Malfoy's voice bellowed, nearly drowned out by the continued noise.
Unheard among the near riot the news had caused, Dumbledore clapped, causing food to appear at all the tables.
Malfoy, ignoring the food, stomped up to the head table and started yelling at Snape.
For his part, the head of Slytherin house simply glowered at Harry.
himself was being showered with well-wishes by all the former DA
members and all the Gryffindors who could reach him. "Get off, get
off," he laughingly ordered. "First meeting in a couple days. Notes
will be in the common rooms in plenty of time."
"What about the coins?" Justin asked.
"Keep them as souvenirs," Harry offered.
The DA members eventually drifted back to their own tables, leaving Harry to finally turn back to his dinner.
next half-hour was a pleasant time of laughter, catching up with
friends, and excellent food. Once he was finished eating and reduced to
sips of his pumpkin juice, Harry decided to take care of one order of
business immediately. He stood and rounded the Gryffindor table near
the head table, garnering more attention with each passing second.
Stopping beside Ginny's spot next to Hermione, he lowered himself to
one knee. In a carrying but not over-loud voice, he said, "Ginny,
gorgeous creature and light of my heart, will you deign to accompany
this humble wizard to the Yule Ball?"
Ron had a nauseated look
on his face at Harry's theatrics. Hermione looked somewhere between
amused and wistful. Most of the other girls in earshot were envious.
somehow managed to keep a straight face. "Yes, good sir, I do believe I
shall accept your most gracious offer to accompany you to the Yule
Smiling widely, Harry stood and leaned in for a tender kiss, causing most of the girls in the room to sigh.
"Alright, break it up," Ron said impatiently.
smiled at Harry. "You're getting really good at this whole boyfriend
thing, Harry." She turned her head to glare at Ron. "You could learn a
thing or two about how to treat a lady, Ronald Weasley." She stood up
with a sniff and stormed off.
Ron watched her go before turning back to his best friend. "Mental that one. Mental."
shook his head sadly as he took the now vacated seat next to Ginny.
"Ron, if you don't ask her in time this year, I can't be held
responsible for any results."
Ron sputtered for a moment
before applying himself diligently to his steak and kidney pie, earning
giggles and snickers from the nearby students.
A minute later,
Harry spotted Tonks walking down the aisle between the Gryffindor and
Hufflepuff tables. She stopped across from him and nodded. "Professor
"Professor Tonks," he returned, barely keeping the
amusement from his face. Now that she was closer, he recognised most of
the elements of her face, but the long, brown hair in a conservative
style was well out of character for her.
"Please stay after class tomorrow, and we can discuss your DA."
"Of course, Professor," he acknowledged with a slight nod.
"Tonks. Where have I heard that name before?" Neville asked, watching her walk away.
"She was one of the Aurors in the fight last June," Harry explained to him quietly.
looked over at Harry past Ginny's grinning face. "I don't remember any
of the Aurors being that good looking," he objected.
"She's a special case," Ginny answered in amusement. "If she doesn't explain it in the first week, we'll tell you about her."
(-) (-) (-) (-) (-)
" . . . is what we're going to be studying this year here in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Questions?"
"You're an Auror?"
"Yes, for a bit over two years now."
those looks, you can't possibly be an undercover agent," Malfoy
drawled. He cocked his head and added with a leer, "Unless you're truly
an experienced UNDER COVER agent."
"Ten points from Slytherin for insulting a professor," she said calmly.
"You can't do that," he objected, sitting up suddenly.
He clamped his mouth shut and slumped back in his seat, glaring malevolently.
up, Malfoy," Harry advised. "She's one of the Aurors that helped put
your father away. You can't possibly scare or intimidate her."
"Five points for insulting a prefect," Malfoy snarled back.
"Ten points for overstepping your authority," Harry returned. "Prefects can't take points, remember?"
flushed brilliantly and folded his arms across his chest in a clear
pout. Most of the class laughed, including some of the Slytherins.
"Let's not get too carried away, Harry," Tonks chided with a smile.
"Back atcha, Tonks."
"That's inappropriate familiarity and therefore preferential treatment!" Malfoy jerked upright in his seat again.
Harry sighed. "Why would she be giving me preferential treatment, Malfoy? After all, YOU are family to her."
kidding," Seamus blurted, staring at Harry. He turned to Tonks. "He's
kidding, isn't he, Professor? I mean, you're way too nice and good
looking to be -" He abruptly stopped and blushed.
Again nearly everyone laughed, this time at Seamus.
pity on the Gryffindor, Tonks said, "Yes, actually I am related to Mr.
Malfoy here. We're first cousins. My mother and Narcissa Malfoy are
sisters, though my mother was disinherited from the family when she
married a Muggle-born wizard. As for my appearance, Mr. Finnegan, it's
an illusion of sorts. I'm what's called a Metamorphmagus, meaning I can
alter my appearance almost at will." She shot Harry a mischievous grin
and suddenly morphed into Harriet, scar and all. Almost the entire
class gasped, heads swivelling from Harriet to Harry.
Sighing, Harry stood and walked so he was standing beside Tonks. "Show off," he whispered.
She winked at him and let the class study the two of them standing side by side for a minute.
back to her previous appearance, she said, "Twelve inches on the
advantages to having a Metamorphmagus among your available forces
during low intensity conflicts, such as the one we're currently
undergoing against Voldemort." She ignored the shudder that most of the
students displayed at the name. "Dismissed."
Harry mentioned as the last student was leaving. "Having the students
come up with more ideas on how to use your abilities."
"Shh," she said with a twinkle in her eye. Her entire demeanour changed as she studied him. "How are you doing, Harry?"
"What do you mean?" he asked, looking up from packing his book and parchment away.
"Something was wrong with you today. I just can't figure out what it is."
told Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna the prophecy last night
after dinner," Harry sighed. "I figured I owed them at least that much
seeing as how I drug them to the Ministry that night." Neville's
reaction was just as extreme as Harry had expected, not surprising, as
he had nearly been the chosen one.
Tonks nodded slowly. "How'd they take it?"
"About like you'd expect."
"Actually, I have no idea what to expect, seeing as how I don't know the second half of the prophecy."
eyebrows rose. "Whaddya know; Dumbledore really HASN'T told anyone," he
mused to himself. To her, he added, "I don't have a problem with you,
Moody, and Remus knowing, if you want."
She shook her head. "I don't need to know, so don't bother. I'm only worried about the repercussions on you."
He waved it off. "I'll be alright. They're all still speaking with me, after all."
"If you need to talk, you have friends, Harry," she offered.
He faintly smiled. "I might take you up on that one of these days. Meanwhile, you needed to talk with me about the DA?"
I'm officially responsible for it, so I have to take some interest.
I'll be attending most of the meetings, just so you know. Don't worry,
I'll always be overt unless I tell you otherwise. I heard about the
loyalty contract they'll have to sign. I'd like to know what all goes
into that before people start signing. If you need anything specific,
come through me first and we can go to Professor Dumbledore if needs
be. Any problems?"
He shook his head. "It'll be Friday and Saturday evenings after dinner in the Great Hall. Flyers will be going up tomorrow."