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Adventures of Harry Potter: Twists of Fate


 
 
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Old February 26th, 2005, 3:27 am
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Adventures of Harry Potter: Twists of Fate

Authors note: All names and places relevent to Harry Potter (friends, enemies, relatives, et al) are all strictly the property of J. K. Rowling. I'm only exercising my creative talents and working within the format provided. The principle of this story, which is my second piece--attempt--of fan fiction, is to write MY interpretation of the events of book six without compromising any of her works, or anyone elses. I have read so far, five fan-fics that I actually like, so if you see something resembling what you've written, consider it an honor and a tribute to good writing (and yes, this is a caveat emptor and mea culpa to the fact that I can't recall the names of the authors whose work I've read and liked here. So anyways, on with the show, which will run on average between PG and PG-13 on the movie rating scale.

The way the chapters are being written, is spending hours on end at Borders whiling the time away with writing with pen and paper. Chapter III is now up, and the second part of Chapter III will be up by Saturday at the latest. Sorry about the delay; but finishing the first part of chapter three has been very, challenging. Part II will be up, as stated by Saturday, and you will all be in for a decidedly different pace. Patience and enjoy.

The feedback for this story can be found at: Adventures of Harry Potter: Twists of Fate Feedback



Last edited by Aicerno : March 9th, 2005 at 7:48 am.
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Old February 26th, 2005, 5:49 am
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Adventures of Harry Potter: Twists of Fate

Chapter I:

It had been, he reflected, an interesting to end the school year. Definitely not the most pleasant way either with the memory of Sirius' death still fresh and painful. He looks at the snowy owl sitting on his dresser and gives a lopsided smile.

"Y'know Hedwig," Harry says softly. "I don't think I've ever enjoyed my time at the Durselys' so much..." Hedwig c*cks her head to one side and looking as if she was arching an eyebrow. Harry, on seeing this action lets out a small laugh, thinking of Professor McGonagall doing just the same action on many numerous occassions. As he writes a letter, he continues talking to the owl. "Instead of trying to keep me away from my friends, now I'm being actively encouraged to write them..."

"HARRY POTTER!!!," Vernon's voice comes bellowing up. "Have you finished that ruddy letter yet? It's almost time for dinner!"

Harry let out a chuckle before responding. Finally, he says, "Not yet uncle Vernon. I'm only part way through Moody's..."

"Well get it done with," Vernon growls back. "If you don't, you'll..."

"I'll what?" Harry asks with mock concern. "Miss dinner? What would Moody say then?"

The silence following that remark told Harry that Vernon was mulling that one over.

He returns his attention to Hedwig as he finishes the letter and neatly ties it and three others around Hedwig's leg.

"Take these to Remus, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny," He says to the owl. "I'll save Alastor's for tomorrow. It's only been twelve hours since his last response, and I have a total of three days to get back to him..." He was somewhat amused, knowing that he did not necessarily have to write directly to the old auror with the magical eye as long as he kept in touch with other members of the Order, but knowing that Vernon was rather keen on having the man satisfied that Harry was safe and well-treated, he did it anyways, usually as close to the start of the third day as possible just to keep from flooding Moody's inbox.

The best part of this situation--other than the relatively improved treatment that he received from the Durselys--was that he could more easily write his friends without fear of interruption.

Giving Hedwig a treat, Harry strokes her feathers, and says, "Safe flight." He watches his owl fly from the room and disappear into the night sky.

Giving out a loud sigh, Harry stands, then starts heading towards the door of his room, when he hears a call and then turns towards the open window. With no small degree of surprise, he watches as an owl flies into the room, landing on the window sill and then hopping onto the desk. He makes his way over to the owl, and unties the letter attached to its leg. Handing the bird one of Hedwig's treats after finishing the task, he watches as it takes flight, lets out a hoot and disappears into the night sky.

Taking up the parchment, he reads: "Hey Harry, it's Seamus Finnegan. This letter has two purposes to it: the first being that I'm sorry about the way I treated you earlier on this past year, as well as to congratulate you for being one of the best DADA teachers I've seen. Mam was impressed when I told her about my improvement in that subject. The other part is that I was just notified that I was placed into the next round of consideration for a raffle for front-row seats to a muggle concert for the winner and a party of five. The band is one of my favorite groups too, almost as well liked as the Weird Sisters. If I win, would you like to come? I've already written Dumbledore. ~Seamus."

"A muggle concert," Harry thinks to himself, pondering how he should respond. Outside of the Weaselys, no one from school had ever invited him to any activity... just then his thoughts are interrupted by Vernon's bellowing again, "HARRY POTTER!!! GET DOWN STAIRS NOW!" Standing, Harry rushes through the door, and down the stair case.

As Harry comes into the dinning room, Vernon says sarcastically, "Wouldn't want you to miss dinner," shooting a glare at his nephew-in-law, his face a dark shade of puce. "You would think to have the decency to show to dinner on time."

"Sorry Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia," Harry says softly, while getting out his words in as apologetic and contrite manner as possible. Taking his seat, he asks, "Where's Dudley?"

"Dudders is out with his friends," Petunia replies, shocking Harry with how much nicer and softer her normally waspish response was. "A good change," Harry thinks to himself. "I think it's that Piers boy," Petunia continues.

The conversation slows down as they begin to eat. Looking back on the past week in his head since arriving back at the Durselys from school, Harry had to admit to himself that this probably stood out as the best time he had ever spent here. "Remind me to write to Moody and thank him..." Harry says to himself, as an inner voice in his head adds, "Don't forget Arthur Weasely, Remus Lupin, or Nymphodora Tonks... not to mention Ron and Hermione." As that thought progressed to the next, he also realized that it was infinitely better than the week he had spent immediately following Sirius' death, and much better than the load of guilt and sorrow that welled up in him at the memory of his godfather's death. As this thought came in, it causes a twinge in Harry's lips, causing Vernon to stop speaking and glare at him, an eyebrow raised.

Noticing this, Petunia asks, "What is it Harry? You seem to be more quiet than usual." The memory of Harry's attempts to avoid their abuse in the past was still fresh, "Yet somehow this is different than that," Petunia says to herself. "Do you want to talk about it Harry?" Both Harry and Vernon look at her in surprise, while Vernon attempted to turn his expression into a glare as Petunia nearly chokes over the next line while avoiding Vernon's glare. "How was school for you this year?" She finally gets out.

Harry sits still, stunned for a moment by the question, and trying to mull over an answer. Feeling a choking sensation building at the pit of his stomach, he blinks twice, and then says simply, "I don't really know if I want to talk about it or not," as he feels a tear begin to build at the edge of his eye. "Even on the moment I do want to talk about it," he continues. "I'm not sure how much I can tell you, or anyone else for that matter. I will say that I probably did much better on my exams than I expected, with one exception..." His voice trails off as he contemplated his dismal attempts in the divination written and practical examinations.

"That's good," Vernon manages to choke out as Petunia nods in agreement.

"The best part of it was school although I had to put up with stuff that made the treatment that I got in times past from you Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, Dudley, and au-, au-, aunt Marge," he stutters out feeling the choking sensation building and ignoring the look of rage on Vernon's face while Petunia tries to placate him. Finally taking a deep breath, Harry says, "seem nice in comparison."

At this, both Vernon and Petunia managed to look absolutely horrified without trying to pretend. Before either could interrupt, Harry continues swiftly, as his voice starts to crack and the tear slides down his cheek... As the memories start flooding back, Harry says softly so that Vernon and Petunia actually had to crane closer to hear him, "Then my grandfather died; I almost got my friends killed..." Standing swiftly and pushing away from the table, he says with a hiccough "If you'll excuse me..." He makes his way determinably back to his room, while Petunia and Vernon glance at each other helplessly.

Once back in his room, he pulls his charm books out of his trunk and digs through them. Finding the charms he needs, he then takes his quill out and begins writing: "Professor Dumbledore, I know I'm not allowed to do magic outside of school, but I need some privacy. By the time you get this letter, I'll have placed an Imperturbable and locking charm on my room. I'll write to Hermione also as I am not feeling well at all and need to talk to her, as well as Remus. But I don't want to do both talks at the same time. Can arrangements be made so that they can come to Privet Drive please? Thanks. ~ Harry Potter. As he finishes writing, he sees Hedwig on the window and says, "Good timing. I have a letter for you to take directly to Professor Dumbledore." Hedwig bobs her head in understanding as Harry neatly ties the letter to her leg, and gives her a treat. "Be careful and have a safe flight," he says to her, and then watches silently as the owl takes off once again into the night, and then sits down and composes a note to his aunt and uncle. Finishing it, he slides it under his bedroom door, then places the imperturbable charm on the door and room, and an additional locking charm on the door itself.

Feeling like the surge of emotion couldn't be held in much longer, Harry sits down on his bed, opening the photo album that Hagrid had given him at the end of his first year to the page of the photo with Sirius and his parents on the Potters' wedding day. One look at the image of the trio was all it took for all of his rage, guilt, grief, and fear come washing over him like a tsunami and with the thought of Molly holding him in the Hospital ward following the Tri-wizard tournement, curls up on his bed crying.

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

Outside the room, Vernon Dursely and Petunia are talking...

"Blimey," Vernon says with a growl. "I think he's done magic; outside of school no less... think he'll be expelled?"

Petunia glares at her husband as she replies, "I doubt it. There's probably an extenuating or mitigating circumstances in this case..." She notices the note on the floor, bends down and picks it up. The look on her face makes Vernon draw up in surprise and worry, as she hands the note over to him to read.

"So that's why we can't get to the door," He mutters. "Or hear what's going on in there."

Seeing the worried look on his wife's face, Vernon gives her a hug then asks, "Think he'll be okay? Probably needs some time to himself..." Thinking over something he hazards a question, "With what he said earlier at the table, do you think that event where his godfather died and he almost got his friends killed... do you think they're related, maybe even the same event?"

Petunia shrugs, a frown on her face as she reflected back to the conversation. "Given how he left the table, I'd have to say yes..." she responds slowly.

Vernon ponders over this, and then asks, "And this Lord Volde, what's his name, might be involved too?"

"I don't know," Petunia stammers, shrugging again. "But I think we should and ought to be expecting guests soon about this..."

"Even if he writes to tell them how well he is," Vernon demands angrily. "Like that man at the train station told him?"

"Vernon," Petunia shoots back in annoyance. "Don't you get it? He's not well at all! If anything, I can't help but think that they were expecting this or something similar to happen. I'm just glad we didn't do anything to upset him." Seeing the look on Petunia's face as she falls silent, Vernon pulls her close to him, hugging her as her body shakes.

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

"Hermione Dear," Mrs. Granger calls out. "There is a guest to see you, Professor Dumbledore from your school."

In her room, Hermione listens to her mom's words as she sits talking with Ron. On the last bit, her hands fly to her mouth.

"Hermione," Ron asks. "What is it?"

"Professor Dumbledore's here to see me," she says shakily. She stands up and goes over to the door and leans out calling down stairs, "Mom, tell him I'll be right there." As Ron mutters, "Bloody hell..." under his breath.

Coming back in, Ron looks at her with a funny expression on his face.

"What?" Hermione asks sharply.

"Why would Dumbledore want to come here to see you?," Ron asks. "Grade from the OWLs get in?"

"How should I know Ronald," she says briskly with a tad of annoyance at someone missing the obvious. "I stopped going to divination remember? Besides you know the OWLs grade report isn't due until July."

Ron looks like a lightbulb just went off in his head, and then nods in agreement. Finally he says quietly, "Maybe it has to do with Harry. Go find out, and don't worry I'll be here..."

"Too right you will Ron," she says with a smile and nodding in agreement. She kisses him on the cheek, rubs her ribs where she had been hit with that purple flame from Dolohov in the Department of Mysteries, slips out the door and heads down the stairs and finds her parents sitting in the living room talking and laughing with Hogwart's Headmaster.

Walking up to the Headmaster, she says quietly, "Goodday Professor Dumbledore."

Dumbledore smiles gently, placing his hand on her shoulder as he stands. "Do not worry Ms. Granger, you are not in any trouble... if that is what you are worried about..."

Hermione's parents and Dumbledore both chuckle at the loud exhale of breath that Hermione had seemed to be holding in, and the look of relief on her face. Turning to Mr. and Mrs. Granger he says, "Thank you for letting Ms. Granger come to Hogwarts. She really is the brightest witch of her age."

Hermione blushes, smiling as she looks first at the floor and then moving her gaze from her parents to Dumbledore. A thought in her head said that Remus and Sirius had both said the same thing about her, at which a pang runs through her system recalling the events at the Ministry of Magic. Finally she says, "Somehow, as much as I appreciate the compliment, I don't think that's the reason why you came here."

Dumbledore chuckles again, as he says, "Are you entirely certain that you should have dropped divination, you could give Professor Trelawney a run for her money." Letting his face gain a more serious composure, he says, "However, you are quite right as to that. Have you received an owl from Harry by any chance?"

"It's been about four days since his last one," Hermione says carefully. "Why?"

"Hmm," Dumbledore says thoughtfully. "I sent a reply to Harry about that time ago with Fawkes, but I haven't received a reply."

"Professor," Hermione interjects worridly. "That's not at all like Harry, especially after what Professor Moody told him at the train station."

"I understand Ms. Granger," Dumbledore replies. Seeing the look on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Granger, he says, "I am going to need your daughter to help look after a mutual friend of herself and Mr. Weasely, Harry Potter."

"Did someone say Harry?" Ron asks, coming down the stairs and looking towards Dumbledore.

"Hello Mr. Weasely," Dumbledore says with a smile. "And yes, we were just talking about your friend Harry. He's having difficulties, and Hermione and I are just about to depart for his place. Pending of course..." he looks curiously at Hermione's parents who nod in agreement.

"Can I come too?" Ron asks, his voice mixed with concern, envy, a little jealousy and hope too.

"Unfortunately, not now," Dumbledore says noting the look of disappointment on Ron's face. "However, if Harry wishes it and feels up to having two visitors at once, I'll send Professor Lupin over to pick you up at the Burrow before heading over there. However, you can be of service... would you kindly inform your mother that Harry will be arriving to stay for the rest of the summer."

Ron nods in agreement, his face still read. Dumbledore chuckles as he says, "And no, this will not complicate your budding relationship with Ms. Granger, if that is what you are worried about."

Ron and Hermione blush, trying to hide their smiles while Hermione's parents and Dumbledore share a chuckle.

"Now Ms. Granger," he says softly. "Let us go."

As the two walk outside, Hermione asks, "What's wrong with Harry, and how are we getting to Privet Dr.?"

"I'll let Harry answer the first part, and the answer to the second is that we'll be taking a thestral," Dumbledore replies. "To inform you, as Professor Snape will be busy doing work for the Order, the reason for bringing you is that because of your grades in potions you'll be responsible for helping Harry heal. Madam Pomfrey will provide the dream-less sleeping draught, but I will need you to make the draught of peace."

"That means I'll be staying at Harry's then," she says, a nod acknowledging the responsibilities given to her. "Where will I make the potions then?"

"Alastor Moody will provide his trunk towards that end," Dumbledore replies. "The seventh room will be set up as a trunk, and you can either sleep in the trunk or in Harry's room dependent upon what yours and his needs happen to be."

"Uhhmmm." Hermione looked at Dumbledore, not altogether certain about this.

He nods in understanding and says, "I understand your concern, but from what I've seen of Harry's attitude towards you, you seem to be more in a position of best friend, older sister, or mother-figure depending on how fussy you get with him." Dumbledore chuckles lightly. "At the same time, you are also going to work as his healer until we can get a better system established."

"When will that be?" Hermione asks.

"Possibly within three weeks, maybe when school resumes," Dumbledore replies. "You and Ginny should be receiving owls from Seamus any time now."

"We have," Hermione replies. "Ron did too, still don't know who the group is though."

Dumbledore chuckles then pats the thestral. Helping Hermione onto its back, he climbs on and says, "Number 4, Privet Drive, Surrey." As the thestral takes off, he places a disillusionment charm over Hermione and himself.



Last edited by Aicerno : March 3rd, 2005 at 3:53 am.
  #3  
Old March 3rd, 2005, 3:48 am
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Chapter I, continued: Conversations much needed

The sky is black, and lightning flashes overhead moving from cloud to cloud. A small child is curled up on the ground, while a phoenix glides over him, and a circle of adults surrounding him. The sounds of chanting and phoenix song fill the air. On the boy's head is a lightning-shaped scar.

"Don't worry Harry," comes the voice of Lily Potter. "You're safe in here. Dumbledore will be there soon." She keeps herself facing outwards, away from her son, as she holds Jame's hand, who in turn is holding Sirius' hand, and so on, forming a ring around Harry Potter. The chanting and phoenix song blend together as dark figures try to penetrate the protective circle. Harry sees the people killed at the hands of Voldemort and his Death Eaters; members of the Order of the Phoenix, ordinary wizards, and muggles as well all holding hands in a chain of protection.

"Dumbledore will be calling you now," Jame's voice says. "It's time for you to wake up Harry," Sirius adds, his laugh like a bark.

A voice punctures through the phoenix song and chanting, saying, "Ennervate. Come and join us now Harry. You are safe now." as Dumbledore's voice echoes. Harry feels his eyes close, and the figures of the circle disappear as he wakes up. As his eyes open, he sees the faint outline of Professor Dumbledore and Hermione Granger standing before him, concern and love radiating off of them.

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

On landing at Number 4, Privet Drive, Dumbledore helps Hermione off of the back of the thestral, and then removes the disillusionment charm before going up to the door.

"So this is Harry's house," Hermione says quietly. "Professor, after what happened in the Department of Mysteries, do you think that I'll see the thestrals... after what happened to Sirius? I mean, I know I didn't watch him die, but I have this feeling..."

"I do not know, Ms. Granger," Dumbledore replies. "It may be possible, or not... depending on both you and the thestrals. We shall see." He goes up to the door, and before he can knock, Petunia opens the door crying, "Thank goodness you've come Dumbledore, he hasn't been out of his room for days."

As he and Hermione enter, Dumbledore nods, his face careworn and drawn. "Mrs. Dursely," He says. "This is Hermione Granger who is a friend of Harry's from school. She has agreed to work as his healer until such time as we can get him to a better establishment, like school." Looking at Vernon, he says to Hermione, "And these are Harry's aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursely." The three shake hands as Hermione says, "It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm sure we'll get Harry up and about with minimum difficulty." Petunia leads Dumbledore and Hermione to Harry's room, and then leaves them as Dumbledore says gently, "You may go Petunia, Harry will be fine."

After Petunia disappears down the stairs, Dumbledore takes his wand out, smiling. "I must remember to congratulate Harry on his charms," he says, undoing the charms. "I dare say this is one of the better jobs I've seen."

Finally, the two enter into the room and Hermione's hands fly to her mouth in shock as she gasps at the sight of Harry, laying on his bed... twitching.

Dumbledore steps forward, placing his wand before Harry and says, "Ennervate. Come and join us now Harry, you are safe." They watch as Harry stops twitching and jerking, becoming calm, and then opening his eyes. Harry looks from Dumbledore to Hermione--who hands him his glasses, while breathing out a relieved sigh--and asks as he shakes his head, "How long have I been out?"

"A fair few days, I suspect Harry," Dumbledore replies, looking over his glasses at him. "You've had the whole Order worried when you didn't answer my response..."

Harry nods, accepting the mild censure. "I saw him," Harry says. "Fawkes that is. He was there helping me, Mom, Dad, and Sirius were there too... and other people too. Forming a ring around me, with Fawkes at the centerpiece of the dome. They were keeping Voldemort out of my head. Their chanting combined with Fawkes' phoenix song was calming, as well as serving as protection, while I lay in the center sleeping with my eyes partway open. They were all holding hands, their backs to me... but whether they were wizard or muggle, they were united in one thing; they received their deaths at the hands of Voldemort and his Death Eaters."

Hermione is about to interject, when Dumbledore stills it by placing his hand on hers. "That is an interesting dream Harry," he says finally. "And I think you are correct in thinking that the muggle and wizarding world share a common enemy. I have some business to attend to regarding your late godfather, and I suspect that you and Ms. Granger have quite a lot to discuss yourselves. And no doubt, by now, you are hungry too. Petunia will have some food up shortly, and Alastor Moody should be by tomorrow with his trunk for you Hermione. Good day." Dumbledore turns, heads out the door, and vanishes. After Dumbledore's departure, Hermione grabs Harry in a hug. "I've been so worried about you," she says...

The two sit embraced for a moment, then Hermione asks gently, "What do you think Harry? You look aweful."

Harry wipes a tear from his eye as he replies carefully, "Then I probably look how I feel then." He shakes his head for a second time, saying "I should have listened to you... before we tried to get into Umbridge's office that second time, that day... If I had, then maybe?" the pained questioning look on his face causes Hermione to squeeze his shoulders.

"Look Harry," she says firmly. "Even if you had listened to me on that count; how do you know Voldemort couldn't have found some other way to get you to go there?" Keeping her hands on his shoulders, and looking straight into his eyes, she continues, "Look, I'm here to help you, and while I probably will never be able to understand how you feel, I am here to listen. And from the sound of things, you're still carrying things left over from three years ago, in addition to the death of Sirius and everything else that happened this last year. And I think it's time you dropped that load you're carrying."

Harry swallows, nodding in agreement, as he says, "I have to go against Voldemort, I'm the only one who can defeat him. I don't know what to say because I'm worried that if I tell those closest to me about what's weighing me down, that will further endanger their lives, more than they already are by the simple fact of their being close to me. Which makes them defacto targets..." he finishes, heaving out a sigh while looking at the bed.

"Look at me Harry," Hermione pushes again, her hands gripping tighter on Harry's shoulders. "You may have to defeat Voldemort alone, but that doesn't mean you have to isolate yourself from those you love, and who love you, and go in alone against him..."

Harry nods his head, his breath coming in ragged gasps as his brain stumbles along, trying to make each statement coherent. "I feel like I'm always being compared to my father and mother," he says simply. "Especially Snape and Remus, amongst other people. And I don't even know them... My last memory of them, requires an attack by a dementor to bring it out; and then people say I'm weak, or not a good flier... Why can't I just be me? Why does everyone feel the need to either prove themselves against me, or measure me against my parents? That's what ultimately led toward's Cedric's death, that and my foolish idiocy for us to share the triwizard cup..."

"Harry," Hermione says determinably. "I'm sure Amos Diggory has suffered enough for his decidedly stupid and ill-timed remarks. And not everyone measures you against your parents. I don't. Nor does Ron for that matter... and between us and some of your classmates, I'd say that's a good starting point to be going on with. And thinking of your relationship with Sirius, I'd have to say that Molly was probably wrong about him confusing you with James, I'd say that he's another one who you can definately count in your camp in that respect."

Harry sighs, running his right hand through his hair as he feels the all-too-familiar pang at the mention of his godfather's name. "I don't know why," he says. "But I feel like there's this pressure on me to have a solid relationship by the end of school, the last year. And yet I don't really know if I want one, or if I do, who it will be? Say I let my guard down, and let someone into my heart like that and they get killed like Sirius did, or my parents; or say I let them in and I don't survive my seventh year... Is it any way to live, keeping people out of one's life because sooner or later you know that they'll either be killed in battle or murdered, or even oneself, before the full potential of the relationship could be realized?"

Hermione sighs saying, "Harry, I don't blame you at all for being worried. But even with that in mind, think on what the best piece of advice Professor Dumbledore's ever given you..."

Harry pauses, reflecting on the last five years of wisdom gained from the old Headmaster of Hogwarts, combined with his past experiences. "I'd say that it was, 'It is not our stations in life that make us who we are, but the choices that we make within that life,' or something to that effect," he says quietly, with anguish combined with a flicker of relief writ large on his face.

Hermione nods in agreement as she says, "Look Harry, for as much as you resemble your dad James Potter, with your mother Lily's eyes, and share certain characteristics with them... you also share certain characteristics with Voldemort. But you are a unique individual from either of those three persons. You are Harry Potter, youngest seeker in a century, and one of the best instructors outside of Remus J. Lupin or Alastor Moody when it comes to Defense Against the Dark Arts. Yes you had help on the way, but you have a talent for it above and beyond what others can teach you... and while the DA was per-se my idea, at the end of the day you were the one who ran it. Not me, not Dumbledore." She chuckles as she adds, "And I must congratulate you on the locking and imperturbable charms you placed on your room, even Dumbledore was impressed. Personally, I don't think I could have done that good a job first time round. At the end of the day Harry," she adds, placing her hand over his heart. "It's who you are in there, and your choices that you make that matter more than who you resemble... You may share certain physical characteristics with your parents, but you are yourself and yourself only. Not them, and even Professor Snape should realize that by now." She adds the last sentence with a glare that actually brings a laugh out of Harry. Hermione smiles in return as she thinks to herself, "A good sign that. One down, and that'll do to be going on with as a start."

"Hermione, Harry," Petunia calls up. "Would you like to join us for dinner?"

Hermione looks quizzically at Harry who replies with a shrug, saying, "I could use some food and drink... I've been asleep for a while."

The two head out of the room and down the stairs, joining the Durselys in the Dining room.

Author's note: The remainder of chapter one will be posted promptly tomorrow, and chapter two should be ready by this coming Saturday.



Last edited by Aicerno : March 4th, 2005 at 1:25 am.
  #4  
Old March 3rd, 2005, 8:42 pm
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Chapter I: Continues:

"Hermione, Harry," Petunia calls up, unaware that the two had talked through the remaing part of the day. "Would you like to join us for dinner?"

Hermione looks quizzically at Harry who replies with a shrug, saying, "I could use some food and drink... I've been asleep for a while."

The two head out of the room and down the stairs, joining the Durselys in the Dining room. "Have a seat Harry, Hermione," Petunia says. "I'll serve." Dudley looks from Harry to his mother, a shocked expression on his face... and Harry is even harder pressed to keep a straight face when Dudley's gaze lands on Hermione.

"Harry," Hermione says with reproach tempered with amusement at Dudley's expression. "Instead of acting like a fish out of water, why don't you introduce me to your cousin?" A laugh escapes from Vernon, causing Dudley to look at his father with a degree of amazement and surprise.

"Dudley," Harry says, as he regains his composure. "This is Hermione Granger. Hermione, my cousin Dudley."

"A pleasure," Hermione replies brightly.

Noticing the new look on Dudley's face, Harry says with a smile, "She's one of my best friends from school, and she is the greatest witch of her age." The sight of Dudley mentally stepping back and recalculating his thoughts was a priceless one for Harry.

Finally, Dudley asks, "So where've you been?"

"In my room," Harry replies with a shrug. "I've had a rough year."

They sit and quietly eat their breakfast. After several moments, Hermione speaks up, "Mr. Dursely, when you go into work tomorrow, can you drop Harry and I off? We'll take the bus back here."

"Where do you want dropped off at," Vernon asks suspiciously.

"The mall or local shopping center," Hermione replies. "Depending on what's available. I think it would do to get Harry out in the air for a few."

Glancing from Dudley to Petunia, Vernon ponders over the request. Finally he says, "Alright... we leave at 7:30 on the spot, and don't get into any funny business."

Hermione and Harry nod in agreement and then excuse themselves from the table. As they get out of earshot, Harry asks, "So what do you have planned for us then?"

"Fun," Hermione replies simply. "You need to enjoy yourself. Live a little... See if we can find you a hobby outside of quiddich."

"Then I suppose I'll be in for as rough a night," He says with a chuckle. "As last night."

"Maybe," Hermione says dodging the question partly. "Maybe not... shall we get some sleep Harry?"

Harry goes to his closet and pulls out a spare blanket for her, and lays it on on the floor...

"That is for me, right?" Hermione asks.

"I'd thought you should have the bed," Harry stammers.

"I'll be fine," Hermione says. "Now let's get some rest."

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

The next morning, finishing their preparations, they go down the stairs and await Vernon at the van.

"Come on you two," he says with a growl. "Get in." They get into the car, and pull out of the drive.

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

Looking around the shopping center that he had been too so many times before with Dudley, Harry recalls his past experiences, and then compares it to his present.

"Y'know Hermione," He says. "This place doesn't look too bad when Dudley's not here."

They spend their time going from store to store, until several purchases and hours later, they find themselves playing normal chess at a table in the food court.

"You know Harry," Hermione says with a smile. "Those times playing wizard chess with Ron seems to be paying off... this is the sixth time in a row you've got me in checkmate."

Harry looks at the board, then looks sheepishly at Hermione. "Thanks," He says, the distracted look leaving his face.

"What were you thinking just now?" Hermione asks. "You didn't seem to be paying attention to the game..."

Pondering over his thoughts, Harry asks as a delaying mechanism, "Are you and Ron going together?"

"Well, Ron and I are going out... so to speak," she replies carefully. "We're not exactly sure how we feel about the other, but we've decided to make our relationship official and see how things work out..." her voice trails off on the expression on Harry's face.

"Well," Harry says sincerely. "I hope it goes better than my attempted relationship with Cho..." Seeing Hermione's quizzical look, he adds, "Look Hermione, I heard snippets of rumours suggesting something like that was going on. And you don't need to worry about my reaction, I'm not jealous. I love you yes, but if there had been a time for me to see if that love went in any other direction than where it is now; I would have asked you out towards the end of our second year. As it is, I like things how they are already between us. Besides, when you and Ron aren't fighting, I think that you'd make a really great couple."

Hermione blushes, hiding her smile by looking at the chess board and straightening the pieces. Feeling taken aback, and yet pleased, she lets Harry take the first move.

"So what about you Harry?" Hermione asks. "Anyone in particular that you'd be interested in?"

"A few," he answers thoughtfully, a smile flashing briefly across his lips. "Ginny being the first to come to mind, Susan Bones maybe, or Parvati... A few others. I just never really had a reason to think about it until just now. And after what happened between Cho and I... I don't want a repeat of that. As much as we've broken up, with the Marrieta Edgecomb incident being the final straw, that and after Sirius' death it feels like that relationship belongs to and was in a whole different universe; she's a good person and I still have some feeling for her."

"So what changed your mind?" Hermione asks.

"Between the song the Sorting Hat sang at the start of last term," Harry replies, taking his time in response. "My godfather's death, the betrayal of the DA by Marrieta, and then learning the contents of the prophecy just as school ended... As I was adjusting to all of that, compounded by what happened at the end of my fourth year, I came to the realization that I need to re-evaluate my priorities."

Hermione nods in agreement, looking at the chess board. Making her move, she says, "Check." Harry looks at the board, giving a slight frown as he moves and says, "Checkmate."

Putting the chess pieces away, he looks at Hermione and says, "How would you feel if I told you that there's one Slytherin girl that I'd be interested in going out with? Or better yet, how would Ron feel about it, as I have a sneaking suspicion that he'd rather me get involved with his sister? As it is, I'd say that the Gryffindor/Slytherin feud has lasted far too long..."

Hermione watches him pull out a sketch pad and charcoal. She ponders about her response, as he begins to draw--letting his memory and innate magical skills guide his hand.

After several moments of silence, Hermione replies carefully, "I think it would be a good idea, and a good step towards developing inter-house unity... As for what Ron thinks, you'll have to ask him yourself as I can't speak for him. Who are you drawing?"

Harry remains silent as he finishes out his drawing. Finally he says, "Take a look," as he turns the tablet towards her. "It's advice we both can live by and use... while we were in the bookstore, I decided to look up your patronus in a field guide."

On the page is a rough sketch of Hermione reading a book, while her patronus, the otter, stands beside her. The drawing carries the caption, "Don't forget to come out and play."

"Harry," Hermione says, her voice cracking. "For a first time effort... that's beautiful... beyond beautiful even... How did you do it? Do you think that charmed charcoal would be easier?"

"Thanks," Harry replies blushing. "It's one of the useful pointers I learned in my occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. I know it's harder without charmed implements like we can get at Diagon Alley, but I need to develop my skills, especially my innate magical and intellectual abilities." he pauses, reflecting for a moment, then says, "I'll do one for Ron sometime soon, probably when we go to Diagon Alley for our school shopping. Or maybe sooner, we'll see. Though, before we go... I'd like to drop by that piano store we passed earlier."

Hermione nods in agreement, and they gather their purchases, making their way down the hall. As they enter into the store, the clerk approaches them, asking, "Can I help you Sir, Madam?"

"I'm browsing right now," Harry replies. "But I would like to try a piano. What do you have?"

After thirty minutes or so of looking and not finding anything of interest, the clerk gets a thoughtful look on his face, "Maybe..." At Harry and Hermione's quizzical look, he adds, "Normally we don't allow the public into the back storage room, but we just got a new shipment in; some antiques too."

Taking the two into the back room, the clerk lets them wander around looking. Just then Harry's voice rings out, "Hermione! Look what I've found!"

The clerk and Hermione rush over, seeing Harry sitting before an ancient grand piano that has the Black family crest on it.

"You want to know how I feel Hermione," Harry says simply. "Listen." Letting his heart and the piano guide his fingers, a piece begins to rise up from the piano. It starts off sounding melancholy, then rises in pitch through sounding angry, then drifting through sadness, then calming down and sounding happy and relaxed. Hermione and the clerk sit spell-bound until the music stops and she sees Alastor "Mad-eye" Moody holding Harry's shoulder.

"Good one Potter," Moody says, his voice torn between amusement and irritation. "You and Hermione are a tad late getting home. I dropped by to drop my trunk off, and found you two were still here." He chuckles, adding. "I see that Sirius hasn't taken all of the charms off of that piece. Anyways, let's be going on back now."

Harry takes one last look at the piano, thanks the clerk, and then follows Moody and Hermione out.

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

On arriving back at Harry's room at Privet Drive, Alastor begins opening his trunk one compartment at a time as he tells Harry and Hermione, "I've arranged the seventh compartment into a bedroom with a potions laboratory for you and Harry, Hermione. You'll find all of the ingredients you need." On opening the last chamber, he gestures for the two to proceed him in going down.

"Bed'll be here," Moody says pointing. "And here's the potions lab..." Opening the door, Harry walks into the lab and being reminded of the dungeon in which his potions classes with Professor Snape are held. Opening the cupboard, he looks at the ingredients.

"So I'm only to make the Draught of Peace for Harry, correct?" Hermione asks.

"That's what Dumbledore says," Moody replies. "Although given the quantity of ingredients, I suspect that you'll be able to make what ever potions you need to get the job done. Oh and Harry, if Hermione's willing, take the opportunity to work on your potions. It will come in handy this year." Gesturing to them to leave, Harry closes the cupboard and follows Hermione and Moody out of the lab and up out of the room chamber. "Any last questions yet before I leave?" Moody asks.

"Professor Moody," Harry asks. "At the piano store, where I was playing on the... the Black family piano... what charms hadn't Sirius removed from it, before he died?"

Alastor Moody chuckles, "Wait 'till your birthday lad," he says affectionately. "You'll find out then. See you soon." With that, he disapparates.

Hermione looks at Harry, who looks back at her and shrugs, saying, "From the sound of it, I'll be taking newt level potions this year," as Hermione nods in agreement.

"Do you think we'll have any balls this year?" Harry asks.

"Don't know," Hermione replies. "Probably depends on a few things though. It would probably be a good idea, now that you mention it." She chuckles at the thought, and then asks, "Who would you take to the ball, if we had one...?"

"Well," Harry replies bashfully. "I'd probably like to take Ginny. Although if she were already taken as a partner, I'd like to have at least one dance with her though. Maybe Susan, don't know." he finishes with a shrug.

Leaning back against his bed, Harry says softly, "It's been an interesting time at school this past term; but even without Sirius dying, the prophecy is a lot to live up to, and yet it feels like it's already come true to a degree." Pushing the words out, he tells Hermione the full contents of his conversation with Dumbledore following his return to school from the ministry of magic, and of the contents of the prophecy. "And yet," he says, "I know it's better that I know it now, than if I never found out about it..." and finishes with how his scar served as a connection between himself and Voldemort, added almost as an after-thought.

Hermione looks at Harry, an expression caught somewhere between fear, awe, and respect on her face. "Well Harry," she says finally. "Voldemort may have marked you as 'The One,' but I wouldn't dismiss Neville on account of that. I also think Dumbledore's given you the best weapon you could have in the fight against Voldemort. It all depends on what choices you make of it..."

Harry nods in silent agreement, his eyes moist with tears. "And then there's Ron," Harry says. "Our team will be up for a new captain, and then there's the position of head boy too. Let's say that I'm considered for either or both positions, right now there doesn't look like a problem... but if I do get selected for either, or both of the positions over him, you know how he reacted after my name got entered into the tri-wizard tournement. I have a feeling that he's seeing his vision of himself in the Mirror of Erised coming true, and then all of a sudden, 'famous Harry Potter' blocks him..."

He sighs, then continues, "Cedric was under a similar pressure from his dad, ever since he caught the snitch in our third year. There are varying degrees of fame, but with Voldemort at the end of my tunnel, even if I survive... I didn't choose my fame, Voldemort gave it to me, and anyone who tries to compete is going to end up like Cedric... and for his sake, I don't want that to happen to Ron. We all stand a good chance ending up dead as it is without us competing for that... And then there's the subject of headboy, and let's say I get it... if you carry on as head girl, he may wind up getting the wrong idea about you and I simply because we're being placed together because of the duties of head boy and girl. The added irony is being placed into that position would put me almost in my dad's footsteps, sort of. Be that as it may, I value the friendship I have with you and Ron a lot, more than I can ever put into words. At the same time, I feel like we're approaching a cliff with this war that's coming and at some point I'm going to have to stand up and become the leading 'general' as it were, and I need to be placed into a position where I can help facilitate inter-house cooperation, and while I know I've failed dismally on that subject in the past, maybe being headboy will provide me the opportunity to make up for it. I do know that quiddich won't, as you said Hermione... but I need quiddich to keep up my reflexes, that's what helped save me in the cemetary that night Voldemort was reborn. It can help me personally, and as captain I'll be able to work on improving my strategic and tactical thinking."

A long silence descends upon the two as Hermione reflects on Harry's spoken thoughts. A million threads of thought seem to run through her mind as she considers her next statement, not the least of which was that he had changed dramatically from the boy she had thought she had known at the start of their time at Hogwarts, let alone how he had seemed at the start of the last term. She smiles, "Does that include anger management, and developing your skills at occlumency?"

He nods, the gravity of his expression almost humourous, as he says, "Yes."

They sit silently for some more time, then she says, her face equally serious, "I'll have to talk to Ron... but if Dumbledore is willing to consider and give you the position of Head Boy, to maintain our friendship I'll be glad to resign my post. But right now Harry, it's time for us to get ready for bed." Hermione opens Moody's trunk and then goes down into the room set up for her, slipping into the potions lab. Several hours later, she emerges with the draught of peace, and the potion provided by Madam Pomfrey.

"Take this," she says to Harry. "They'll help."

Harry drinks the beverages, and soon drifts off into a quiet slumber. After taking a few moments to tuck him in, Hermione reflects on their conversation, a thoughtful scowl on her face. Finally, she picks up a quill and several pieces of parchment and begins writing. After finishing the two letters, she says to Hedwig, "I need you to take this letter to Ronald Weasely at the Burrow," as she ties the letter addressed to Ron to the owl's right leg. "And this letter," she adds, now tying Dumbledore's letter to the owl's left leg, "to Professor Dumbledore. Be careful out there Hedwig and safe flight." She watches as the owl flies out the window, and then returns her attention to Harry.

"First to fight him by living," she says softly yet firmly. "Then learn to command... and try to find where your friends fit into the command structure... the war has begun." Her eyes begin to slowly close, and pulling out the spare blanket from Harry's closet, she curls up on the floor and falls asleep."



Last edited by Aicerno : March 4th, 2005 at 1:34 am.
  #5  
Old March 4th, 2005, 11:53 am
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Chapter II, Choices Decisions and Consequences:

Part I:

"Ron dear," Mrs. Weasely says worriedly. "It's been days since you've eaten or slept. What's wrong?"

"Letter from 'Mione," Ron mutters quietly. "Was I really that much of a prat at the beginning of the tri-wizard tournement?"

"What do you mean dear," Molly asks gently. "Did you and Hermione have a fight?"

"Not really," Ron replies, his face and ears going red as he now stares pointedly at the ground.

"Ron," Bill says encouragingly. "Mind if I take a look at that letter?"

Ron hands it over, then shoves his hands into his pockets, now fixing his gaze somewhere beyond the window.

"Dear Ron," Bill reads out. "Harry has been making a fairly rapid recovery since my arrival here at Privet Drive. I think he'll be fine once we work out the basic issues, which he hasn't really had the chance to talk about. That being said, you will need to talk to him Ron. There is a war going on, and if the three of us stand together, we'll make it through. Right now though, I see now that the good side is only just beginning to get organized. In light of what happened in the Department of Mysteries, Harry is the one who will ultimately have to lead the fight against Voldemort. And he'll need the help of every single one of us involved in this fight, and while he's forgiven you for how you treated him prior to the first task in the Tri-wizard tournement, he hasn't forgotten it either." Bill pauses in his reading and looks at Ron, a glimpse of understanding in his eyes. Taking another breath, he continues, "I told Dumbledore that should he consider Harry for the position of Head boy and give that position to him, then I would--to maintain our friendship and the relationship that you and I are building--willingly resign my post as head girl, should I be asked to fill that post. I also asked Dumbledore about the possibility of Harry's being made team captain for the Gryffindor Quiddich team. I know about your vision in the mirror of Erised but right now there are more important things to consider. Once Harry's learned to live, then he needs to learn to command. We can help him, but not if our vision's being clouded by jealousy or other things. On less sirius, yet equally important matters, Dumbledore says that we can indeed have another ball... indeed two of them, one at Yule, and another at Valentines. And I would like to ask you to ask me to be your partner for both. That being said, there's more to the dance than at first glance, so have a dance with at least one girl from every house other than Gryffindor. And remember your partner, me.~ Hermione"

"That's a pretty tall order she's laid on you," Bill says with a smile. "I take it that Harry tried to protest his innocence regarding how his name landed in the Goblet of Fire and selected as one of the Tri-wizard champions... and you in a jealous fit refused to believe him until after the first challenge was over..."

Ron mutters something under his breath, sounding like, "Yeah..."

"Look bro," Bill says. "Personally I don't see what your problem is. You have a guaranteed date with one of the best looking witches in your class, and an opportunity to help Harry devise quiddich strategies... besides, you can't trust the mirror of Erised."

"Why?" Ron asks. "What did you see?"

Bill chuckles at the memory, "I discovered it my third year of school," he says. "And all I ever saw was myself. Nothing more, nothing less. Although I do know a Slytherin girl from my year who discovered it, I liked her and was going to ask her out, but then she found the mirror. Missed two weeks of classes and almost wasted away by the time she was discovered. She underwent memory modification to return her to normal, left school, and they moved the mirror after that."

"Still Ron," Mr. Weasely adds. "I know it can't be easy for you, being the youngest man of our seven children. At the same time, we love you very much; your mother and I. And I agree with Hermione that what Harry's famous for is something one should never wish on another person, let alone oneself... as Amos Diggory is very much lamenting at this point."

"But Harry's still a child... he's still in school," Molly cuts in furiously. "And as I told Sirius, while that's the case those responsible for him should do so..."

"Molly dear," Arthur says, heaving a sigh. "Harry stopped being an ordinary person the day his parents were murdered, and he got that scar. He knows the full content of the prophecy now, and now he has to learn how to deal with that. The Order and Dumbledore will continue to protect him, but between that and Sirius' death, he's starting to realize that he's going to need to learn how to function on his own, while still keeping the social networks that will give him some degree of relief and comfort. He's as much a son to me as he is to you, but I think that Hermione's on the right track when it comes to dealling with Harry... and now that the war's started in earnest, I think that that will be important since he's target number one in the end."

Bill smiles and says, "Y'know, you just reminded me dad... I never knew Hermione to have a sense of humour."

"What do you mean son," Arthur asks.

"Did you get that pun she made of Sirius' name in the letter?" Bill asks, attempting to lighten the mood.

The three stand looking a bit blankly, when it sinks in, they all burst out laughing. As they do, rain begins to fall on the roof of the Burrow, gently at first, then building to a crescendo.

=========================================

"Thank you Professor Lupin," Harry says, wiping his brow.

"Not a problem at all," Remus replies. "I can certainly see why you're feeling pressured..." He pauses, smiling. "Hermione tells me that you've taken an interest in drawing, as well as the piano... namely the Black Family Grand."

Harry lets an embarrassed smile slip through as he replies, "Yeah. I figured the drawing would help with my learning occlumency. Y'know, present certain images without being an open book... the music part was something I recalled from a conversation with Hagrid back in year one, about the trick to dealling with creatures was to know how to calm them. Between the piano and the flute Hagrid gave me, I should be set."

Remus chuckles as he teases Harry's hair, "I guess those lessons with Professor Snape did finally pay off to a degree," Lupin says with a smile. "I have to go do some work for the Order now, feel up to talking to Ron too sometime?"

"Yes actually," Harry says. "As soon as is convenient."

"Of course," Remus says with a smile, then disapparating.

After Lupin disappears, Hermione looks at Harry questioningly. "So Harry," she asks. "Any thoughts as to who you're taking to the ball?"

Harry looks thoughtfully at his watch, pondering the answer, "I wrote to Ginny and Susan... seems they're as indecisive as I am," he replies. "I might ask Luna, given that we have certain shared similarities--like seeing the thestrals, and hearing the voices in the arch that Sirius fell through at the Department of Mysteries. That and it might be a good way to thank her for going to the effort to get my account of what happened following the tri-wizard tournement regarding Voldemort's return published in the Quibbler."

He pauses, then gathers his drawing stuff into a bag, and slips it over his shoulder. "Want to go for a walk?" he asks.

"Sure," Hermione replies. They head down the stairs and out the house, into the humid summer air, as the sun sends its beams lazily through the haze. As though moving of their own volition, Harry takes Hermione to the place where he first encountered his godfather prior to the start of their third year. "What is it Harry?" Hermione asks.

"A small memorial to Sirius," Harry replies. "I first encountered him here, while he was in his animagus form after blowing up my aunt and then running away from Privet Drive before the start of third year... Almost got ran over by the Knight bus that night..." He pulls out a drawing of a long-haired, bearded man standing beside a dog, with the inscription:"Sirius 'Padfoot' Black, Marauder, best friend, and godfather, may He rest in peace. B-_________, died-May, 1995 while battling against his death eater cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. Erected in memorium by Harry James Potter, godson, and assisted by Albus Percival Brian Wulfric Dumbledore."

"Harry, it's beautiful," Hermione says. "But won't anyone see it?"

"Only wizarding folk Hermione," Harry replies simply. "It's been charmed to resemble the surrounding shrubs should a muggle come by. That was Dumbledore's doing, he felt as if I'd done more than enough underage magic as it is..." he rolls his eyes. He stays silent for several moments.

"I take it you don't agree with some of the rules that the wizarding community has put in place," Hermione asks, breaking the silence after the appropriate interval.

"Not really," Harry replies. "I mean, I sort of understand it's as much for their protection as ours... but then I think of my parents... I mean, imagine being the first muggle attacked by Voldemort. You come home from work, finding the Dark Mark hanging over your house... you don't know what it means, but when you find the door unlocked, panic starts to rise up. As you go deeper into the house, you find your wife and kids dead... just like that. No marks, no bullet wounds, no blood... just several well-placed avada kedavras. And then maybe two members of the Memory Modification squad show up; or two aurors. Too late to actually help. They get the man's story, make the mark disappear if they can, and then 'Obliviate!' and the man then gets told some cockamany story about his family died and gets his memory erased in the process. It's dishonest to say the least. Up until I met Hagrid on my eleventh birthday, I had always been told that my parents had died in a car crash... and that was how I got this scar."

Hermione mulls over her friend's words, placing her hand on his shoulder. As they stand up, she says, "I see what you mean Harry, and it is dishonest. And the muggles can't even defend themselves either." She sighs, thinking it over, then continues, "If something like that happened to my parents and they tried that codswallop with me, I'd probably do something to keep that memory at any cost. As it is now, if they tried that, I'd make them have a taste of their memory modification spells." she says glowering.

They start walking further and further until they come up to the shopping center. Going past the shops, they find themselves at the courtyard and have a seat at the same table as last time. Pulling out his drawing gear, Harry chuckles to himself as he thumbs through the finished drawings in the pad.

"Who are you going to try next?" Hermione asks.

"I was thinking on a self-portrait," Harry replies.

Placing charcoal to paper, he closes his eyes to bring up a memory. As the piece becomes more developed, a teenage girl walking by with her friends notices. She whispers to her friends, and as they go one way, she comes over to the table and makes a motion for Hermione to stay silent. Finally, when Harry finishes, he looks up and sees her.

"Who are you?" he asks quizzically.

"Samantha Shoemaker," she replies with a smile. "I couldn't help but notice you drawing. May I see it?"

Harry turns it around for her to look at, and as she does, she glances up from the drawing to Harry's face. Finally she says, "From the look on that face, I'd say you had a rather tragic past, some recent tragedy too... and worry. And yet with all that, there's hope too; which is a good thing."

"Why's that?" Hermione asks.

"Simply because when one loses hope," Samantha says quietly, shaking her hair over her shoulder. "Then they've lost the ability to live." She takes a breath then asks, "Could I see that charcoal and sketch pad?"

Harry hands it over, and Samantha covers the pad, head held low as she draws on the page. Finally she pushes the pad over to Hermione and Harry who blanch at what they see... a skull with a serpent coming out of its mouth.

"Where did you see this?" Harry enquires quietly, almost demanding; while at the same time trying, yet somehow failing to keep his voice neutral.

"Back when I was a child," Samantha replies, her gray eyes cold and steady. "One of my maternal uncles drew it for me while he was in an asylum, just before he died. We called him 'Crazy Ivan,' in the family. On June 27, 1975, he went to visit my father's brother and his family at night. On arriving at the house, he found their bodies... as eccentric as uncle Ivan had been prior to that night, after that he went crazy so that we had to place him in an asylum. I know the date because that was the inscription he had on the drawing. I was ten at the time, and he hung himself five days later."

Harry shudders visibly as Hermione asks cautiously, "What's the official story?"

"That it was a domestic violence murder/suicide," Samantha replies darkly. "I never thought about it until my uncle gave me that drawing, but since his death, I've thought about it, and what I know of that family doesn't agree with what the official story says. Even my mom and dad, when they let their guard down agree that it doesn't make sense... my friends think I'm as crazy as old uncle Ivan for trying to find out what this is, but you two know."

Harry glances at Hermione, who shrugs as if to say, "It's your call."

Sighing, he says, "We know what that is, and I'll tell you the abbreviated version of what we know. And what either of us say, could get you into a whole lot of trouble and not just from the person or persons who made that mark. But, to keep you safe from the good guys, I'll make a deal with you."

He continues, "I'm Harry Potter, son of Lily and James Potter, and this is my best friend Hermione Granger. She's a witch and I'm a wizard and we're attending school at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry."

For some reason, he notes, that she doesn't seem as shocked as she should be for a muggle. Samantha nods, and asks, "Ok, what's the deal then Harry?"

"I'll tell you what this is," he says quickly. "Now that is. But I'd like to meet up with you again next week."

"You mean a date?" Samantha asks, thinking it over. "When and where?"

"Here," He replies. "Same time, same place."

"Deal," Samantha says with a smile.

Harry nods in agreement, taking a sharp inhale of breath, as though it were better to get the unpleasant aspect over with as soon as possible. Then he says, "What you just drew, is known in our world as the 'Dark Mark.' It is a signal used by a dark wizard named Tom Marvollo Riddle who now goes by the name of Voldemort, as well as by the followers of Voldemort whenever they killed another wizard or a muggle. This particularly nasty bunch of followers call themselves 'Death Eaters.' And some of them are almost as bad as Voldemort himself, even though they all make up his inner circle."

Samantha thinks this over, as she asks, "So how is it cast? And how do they kill?"

"The Dark Mark," Harry says. "Is cast by saying the words 'Morsmordre.' And their preferred method of killing is by using the Avada Kedavra curse, which is probably the worst of the unforgivable curses in either the muggle or wizard world. It has a green light, and leaves no trace of having been done save that the victims look scared to death... no blood, no bullet wounds, nothing at all."

Samantha asks, "Has anyone ever survived this curse?"

"In the entire existence of the curse," Hermione says in response, as Harry reveals his scar, "there is only one person who is known to have survived the curse. And you're looking at him. Voldemort personally killed Harry's parents when he was a baby, but when Voldemort then tried to kill Harry, his curse rebounded on him... Voldemort wasn't killed, but he was little more than spirit after that."

"When was this?" Samantha asks.

"October 31, 1981," Harry replies. "I was a little over a year old at the time from what I've heard from others about the subject."

"That's a curious scar you have there, Harry," Samantha says looking at it. "The result of when this killing curse rebounded off of you?"

"Yeah."

"Interesting," Samantha continues. "It is a lightning bolt, but from what I recall on reading about runes, I'd say that is the sigel rune you have engraved on your forehead. There was a German leader once, who used that same symbol on his special attack troops, the Wermacht SS."

At Harry's confused look, Hermione says, "I'll explain later," in an exasperated tone of voice.

After the serious tone of the earlier part of the conversation Samantha lets out a relieved chuckle as she says quietly, "I suppose what I've just heard is top secret stuff. Take care, and I look forward to seeing you next week."

The two watch as Samantha rejoins her friends, and then wanders off. As she disappears into the distance, Harry's eyes remain focused on where she was last seen. Shaking his head distractedly, Harry asks, "Did I just do what I think I did?"

"What?" Hermione asks, her face now being torn between amusement and puzzlement because of Harry's expression. "Tell a muggle about Voldemort?"

"No," Harry answers slowly and softly, his gaze returning to the spot where he had last seen Samantha. "Ask her for a date..."

Hermione chokes on her drink as she laughs. "I'd say that you did just that, Harry James Potter," she says with a smile. "When she was drawing, I was somewhat amazed at your restraint when her hair was within touching distance. That must have looked easier than catching a snitch for a handsome seeker like yourself, and harder to resist. I'm glad you did though."

A smile lights up Harry's face as they gather their stuff and head out.

"Y'know Harry," Hermione says after a while. "I think you were right about what you said earlier, especially after what Samantha just told us about her family. It is dishonest what the wizards do to the muggles, or can do... and they can't even defend themselves. But putting this war into perspective, by fighting Voldemort we're not just helping the wizarding world, we're helping the muggles too."

Harry nods in agreement as silence descends, and they step out into the pouring rain to make their way back to Privet Drive.

=========================================

"Ron," Mrs. Weasely calls out. "Remus will be here soon to take you to Harry's."

"Right mum," Ron calls back. "I'll be down in a moment, just need to finish packing a bit." He looks down at the scale model quiddich pitch with charmed figures that he got at Diagon Alley at the Quiddich shop. The four primary teams were set up in the school colours--Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin--while there were five extra teams as a special addition--they being Harry's favorite team, the Chuddley Cannons, Puddlemere United--Oliver Wood's team, and the national teams for Ireland and Bulgaria. Ron packs the pitch up and heads down stairs.

"Let's go," Ron says with a smile on seeing Remus.

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

"So Harry," Remus says. "That's how your dad got to be head boy, by saving Snape. I'm still not entirely certain which Snape liked least; having a debt to your father for saving his life or for being fool enough to fall for Sirius' attempted prank of luring Snape down a tunnel with a werewolf waiting at the other end. I must confess that I was no great success as a prefect at keeping your dad and Sirius in line..."

Harry's mouth twinges in a lopsided smile.

"Hermione also tells me," Remus says smiling. "That you've been smitten by a lovely young muggle girl. And contemplating asking a Slytherin to the dance... I daresay that this must be the quickest turn-around I've ever seen for someone to go from as shy as a mouse to being bold and assertive, you are indeed to be congratulated. Still though, after how things ended with Cho, and even with the war with Voldemort going on... don't feel like there's too much pressure to find someone to marry. There's still your seventh year, and even the time afterwards to consider that. For now, stay focused on building friendships and let your heart guide you from there. I take it you know what you're looking for?"

Harry pauses over the answer and then says, "Well, she would have to have a combination of intelligence and attention to detail like Hermione does. A good working knowledge of defense against the dark arts; if it is a muggle, she would have to be able to handle my being both a wizard and an auror. And in that case, the ministry of magic should look the other way as I'll teach her what rudimentary magic I can. I won't let someone I care about go unarmed where I'll be going, and I can't always be looking after them."

Remus nods and says, "Understandable. Maybe Dumbledore can get the Ministry to do something about that. Anything else?"

"Yeah," Harry says firmly. "On those occassions whem my temper flairs up, she needs to be able to weather the storm and help me think clearly before I do something stupid, like running off to the Department of Mysteries..."

"Ah yes," Remus says, his face torn between amusement and fond reflection, as he chuckles. "The famous Potter and Evans tempers." Looking at Hermione's expression, he smiles and says, "Believe me when I say I empathize Hermione. I managed to avoid both of their tempers, but I saw what happened to those who incurred their wrath... trolls and giants would be brought down."

"You've gotta be kidding us," Ron says.

"Some exaggeration, I will admit," Remus says. "But judging from Hermione's expression, I don't think I'm that far off in my description either."

"I've never been so scared of Harry in my life," Hermione admits, biting on her knuckle.

"Yeah," Harry agrees grimly. "It's not something I'm proud of either. She said I had this, saving-people-thing, which became obvious as of the second task in the tri-wizard tournement..."

"Look Harry," Remus says gently. "The act of coming to the assistance of one who appears to be in trouble if not grave danger is a lot like how you got the Philosopher's Stone from the Mirror of Erised in your first year. It is one of those, 'one who wishes to find it, but not use it' sort of things... when done out of the goodness of one's heart and with the right intent is a very brave and noble thing. One of the prized qualities of a Gryffindor, need I remind you. But not only that Harry, but it also seems to me, and this is also part of the equation when it comes to 'saving people', and that is the fact that while the 'rescued person' may have a debt to you, you allow them free reign to make their own choices as they will. And even if you never consider calling in their debt--even to the point of forgetting about that person or persons entirely--at some point circumstance may present itself where the person will repay that debt. However, that being said, I think that following Sirius' death that you are probably going to be a bit more judicious and analytical of a situation before acting on it. Would I be correct?"

"You would Professor Lupin," Harry says firmly. "And I will."

"And now, I think your friend Ron has something to say about Hermione's letter to him," Remus says sitting back, and letting Ron have the floor.

Ron sighs, his face red. "Look Harry," He says. "It's not easy being the youngest man in a family of seven, and not having a lot of money or even recognition outside of being a Weasely. Still though, there are things that are more important than fame or money... and that's friends and family. I don't think I realized how much of a prat I was being during fourth year, when your name came out of the Goblet of Fire. While you told me after the first task that you didn't need to hear my apology, I need to say it now. I never really took into full consideration what it means to be 'The Boy Who Lived,' until Hermione reminded me of what happened to Cedric at the end of the Tournement. And how his dad was sort of egging him into a competition with you and against you--maybe not intentionally but it had the same effect. It also took my dad, mum, and brother Bill to knock some sense into my head...

"Look mate, I'm not going to say this will be easy for me... and probably isn't going to be any easier for you either, and there will be times when I'll feel jealous... but I won't let that interfere with you or us. And I'll do whatever I can to help." He finishes and places his hand between himself, Harry and Hermione.

"As will I," Hermione agrees, placing her hand over top of Ron's. And then Harry places his own over top. "You two are my best friends, and I will be there for you as you are for me. Thank you."

With that, they cry in unison, "All for one, and one for all." As silence once again fills the room, Ron says, "Oh and before I forget Harry, with some help from my Dad, Bill, and Dumbledore, I got you this..." he brings out the scale-model Quiddich pitch. "It and the teams with it, have been charmed to realistically portray the teams whose uniforms the figures wear and how they play. The four main teams for yours are the Hogwarts House teams, and then there are five secondary teams; your favorite, my favs the Chuddley Cannons, Wood's team Puddlemere United, and then in tribute to the Quiddich World Cup: Ireland and Bulgaria."

Harry sits, staring speechlessly first at the Quiddich pitch, then at Ron... and then a smile comes beaming across his face as he says, "Awesome Ron, thank you."

"Harry," Remus says interrupting. "I have to run now, but you three enjoy yourselves. Ron, your dad will be by to pick you up tomorrow, and Harry... be expecting a letter from the Ministry of Magic soon. Though it will be taking place in Old Courtroom Ten, I assure you it will be good news." With that, Remus disapparates.

"Harry," Hermione says. "Old Courtroom Ten, isn't that where..."

"Where my trial was held for my performing the patronus charm to save Dudley's and my life just before the start of term," Harry finishes for her. "Yeah. Still though, it must be something good for Remus to be smiling like that." He pauses then turns his attention to Ron and the quiddich pitch. "So Ron, show me how this works," he adds gesturing to the pitch.

"Simple really," Ron replies, tapping the pitch as he says, "Slytherin Versus Gryffindor." The three watch as a referree steps onto the pitch, has the team captains shake hands, and then calls the teams into the air before releasing the balls. "The neat thing about this," Ron continues. "Is that in the competition against the house teams, you can actually devise strategies and tactics for the games, and update your teams information. If you have someone watching the game with omnioculars, you can cross-reference the pitch to the omniocculars and upload the information that way."

"Isn't that cheating Ron?" Hermione asks.

"Not really," Ron replies. "The purpose of the game is to analyze your opponents team, and then figure out how to beat them. Besides, what happens on the pitch doesn't actually affect the real teams, although what the real teams do will impact on the game with the omniocculars. I asked Bill about it, and he said that apparently Muggles have something similar, but that the figures don't move unless it's a video game. Which they have too for their sports."

"Sweet," Harry says, deeply impressed. "Thanks Ron, Hermione. You two are the best friends a person could ask for." They watch the game for several moments, when the sound of an owl at the window attracts their attention. Harry looks over, crosses to the owl, and removes the letter from its leg. When done, he watches as the owl flies off.

"What does it say Harry?" Ron and Hermione ask in unison.

Harry begins to read the letter aloud, "The Ministry of Magic, dated 16th June, 1995. Dear Mr. Potter, We ask that you promptly attend the hearing at 12 noon on the 31st of July in Old Courtroom Ten. The hearing is to inform you of the contents of the Last Will and Testament of one Sirius Black, last surviving male member of the Black Family, and the appropriate disposal of said estates under said Sirius Black's ownership. Your friends Ronald Weasely and Hermione Granger are permitted to attend as well. Until then. ~ Percy Weasely, Temporary Acting Minister of Magic."

"Bloody hell, Harry," Ron says, attempting to close his mouth. "I think you're about to become one of the richest wizards in England."

"I don't really care as long as I have you two as friends," Harry says fervantly. "Besides, what does it matter..." His voice trails off, catching Hermione's expression. "What's up Hermione?" Harry asks.

"What matters Harry is that Lucius Malfoy may have his sights on some of those lands," Hermione says seriously. "And don't forget the Lestranges... They already hate you enough as it is Harry without giving them further provocation..."

"What do you mean by that Hermione," Ron asks incredulously.

"I think if Sirius wanted to really provoke the Malfoys and the Lestranges," Hermione says. "I doubt if he could have found a better way than making his godson, the one who almost outright killed Voldemort the first time around, his heir and giving Harry the title of the last Black."

Ron gulps for a second, then says with a shaky smile, "Well, at least if nothing else, sixth year is going to be very interesting to say the least." Hermione though was looking at Harry Potter, concern on her face. Harry for his own part, was studying the letter as though it would gain him some access to Sirius' thinking.

"Harry?" Hermione says tentatively. "Do you feel up for all of this?" Ron, on hearing Hermione's question looks from her to Harry, suddenly looking as though he had been brought up to speed on the seriousness of the situation. To give him time to think, Harry stands up and begins pacing. As he turns, he glances at Ron and Hermione and then stops.

"Look Hermione," Harry says firmly. "You're doing much better at getting me out of my funk than you're giving yourself credit for. I knew you were the person I needed, even if I did manage to shout you down that one time, as you're the only person, other than Remus and Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall who get me to listen to reasoned analysis. That and I had an idea how well you did on your potions owl, which combined with how I trust you...

He stops, then looks at the question again. Continuing on, Harry says, "Lucius Malfoy is not an enemy I take lightly, although I do not take him quite as seriously as Voldemort. At the same time, I'm not so focused on the central figure that I'm forgetting who I have to get through to get there. And I want to repay the Lestranges for killing Sirius..."

At Hermione's worried expression and gasp, Harry looks at her and says simply, "Look, I know that I was upset about his death, still am too, to a degree anyways. But having thought about it over and over again, it's not killing that I want for the Lestranges, or the Malfoys either. Although I won't avoid killing them if it comes to a straight on battle. I'll have to find a way to conjure a shield that can stop the killing curse because they'll be only too glad to use it on me."

"So how do you propose to repay the Lestranges then, and the Malfoys," Hermione asks.

"Well," Harry smiles. "A half-blood wizard inheriting the remaining bulk of the Black estate who's brave enough to say 'Voldemort,' in front of Bellatrix Lestrange should be enough to send Bellatrix so far over the edge of insanity she'll land herself in St. Mungos permanently. And no doubt the two Lestrange brothers and Lucius Malfoy have probably attempted to purchase Black lands following the death of Mr. and Mrs. Black. Even if she did disown Sirius, the purchases may not be legal, and for a lot less than the properties are actually worth. And if that proves to be the case, then taking land away from them and giving it to the Order of the Phoenix to use will be a blow I'll be all too glad to make. And then of course, deciding on the commensurate reward to my friends as a truly insignificant attempt to say thank you; and insignificant only in so far it cannot truly convey what I feel."

At their stunned looks, Harry smiles and hugs them both. "'ook 'Arry," Ron says, his voice slightly muffled. "There's another owl..." As Hermione herself stutters out, "Th... th... thank you Harry." She gets up hurriedly, and goes over to the owl, and takes the letter from it. Reading it quickly, she looks up and says, "It's from Seamus."

"Well go on and read it," Ron says grinning.

"Dear Harry, Ron, and Hermione," she reads. "Good news, I've won the raffle for the concert. It's going to be held at Lombardi Stadium in London on the 29th of July, and we'll meet at the Leaky Cauldron on the 27th. The headliner act of the night is U2, which is a Dublin-based group. A good bunch of Muggle rockers. See you at the Cauldron. ~ Seamus."

"Bloody hell," Ron says. "I've heard of them. Good band too, popular anyways."

"We might as well stay at the Leaky Cauldron," Hermione says primly. "That will give us time to get our school supplies, and help Harry get himself some new clothes that are more appropriate for his hearing on the 31." Chuckling at the thought, Harry asks, "What, you mean me, get some actually tailored clothes?"

"Muggle clothes AND Wizard Clothes, Harry," Hermione says with a smile. "Even if you can't get your hair into line, at least you can look your best otherwise."

The three friends begin laughing.

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

The day dawns bright and warm as the sun flecks the sky with gold and maroon. Harry opens his eyes, and puts his glasses on. "Time to get ready for Samantha," he thinks to himself. Getting out of bed, he heads to the shower, and after that changes. Coming out of the bathroom, he goes back into his room and smiles at the still-sleeping forms of Ron and Hermione on the floor. Leaving a note for them, he grabs his bag, and heads out for the shopping center.

Finding himself outside before opening time, he sits down on the curb and begins to draw. A sensation on his scar causes him to look up and roll back behind some bushes. Peering out through the bushes, he sees a woman walking down the street, appearing to be normal... but for the sensation emminating from his scar. Something familiar too, when it clicks.

"What is Bellatrix doing here?" he asks himself. He waits until she's safely out of sight, and then goes to the doors which are finally opened. Going inside, he heads straight to the Piano store, and goes to the clerk.

"Oh good day sir," the clerk says smiling. "Back to play some more music on that old piano?"

"I am," Harry replies. Looking around, he says, "Look, I think you're a friend. I'm in trouble and there's this lady who's trying to hurt me. She may be coming around, and if she or anyone else asks you about someone fitting my description, tell them you never saw me before no matter what they do to you. My life depends on your silence. If I'm playing, I'll know when they're here because you'll hear the piano go silent, ok?"

The clerk nods, worried. "Don't worry sir, you'll be safe here."

"Thanks," Harry says smiling, and then heads back to visit the old piano once more.

By a quarter of one, his stomach growling in hunger, he leaves the piano store, and makes his way to the food court thanking the clerk as he leaves. At one, he sets down at his usual table in the food court; but a tingling sensation in his spine causes him to get up and move to another table, one that provides a good look, but without him being too obvious to anyone coming from most directions. Taking his flask out of his bag, he takes a sip. At two, he starts thinking that maybe he had the wrong day, when he sees Samantha come running into the food court. Stepping out of his hiding place, he looks around carefully then waves. Samantha comes jogging over to the place. He gestures for her to come in and sit, and she looks at him, puzzled at his watchfulness.

"Sorry I'm late Harry," she gasps. "I've been trying to dodge my friends all the way here. Out of curiosity, are you expecting company other than myself?"

"I don't know," he replies, finally seating himself. "One of my friends is an old Auror--dark wizard catcher--who suggests that one practice constant vigilance. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I think there's going to be trouble."

"Oh," Samantha says. "What a lovely way to start a first date. And how are you Harry?"

Harry blushes, smiling. "Sorry about that. I saw a woman who reminded me of the person who killed my godfather. My scar started tingling and I dove out of sight and behind some bushes. Other than my life possibly being in danger, I am doing quite well and yourself?"

They talk, their casual banter going on for two hours straight. Samantha asks, "What's the best way to contact you at school Harry?"

Harry puzzles this one over, and then asks, "How are your folks with pets?"

"Two cats, two dogs, a snake, a rabbit, and three African parakeets," she says with a smile. "Our house is a regular zoo. Why?"

"Well," Harry replies. "The easiest way to keep in touch with me is through owl mail since I don't think my school has a regular muggle postal address."

"Wow," Samantha says. "I am impressed. Please call me Sam... a school with no postal address, wizards witches and death eaters, oh my." She shakes her head with a laugh, her dark hair twisting in the air. "Strange, but cool. How long has this so-called statute of secrecy been in place dividing the 'real' wizarding world from the 'muggle' world?"

"Since the Middle Ages at least," Harry replies. "Although there are wizards who cause it to be pulled down sometimes though..."

"Like you?" she asks.

Harry thinks it over and then says, "I've done my share, mostly all accidental magic; but what I'm thinking of are the people who would like for nothing better than the muggles to go to war against the wizards and pull it down out of spite of both muggle and wizards. Voldemort and Grindewald are two of the most recent dark wizards who have shared goals, and attack both muggles and wizards alike..." Looking at the sheen off of her hair, he says, "Sorry about the mild tangent, but I like your hair by the way."

"Thanks..." she says, her smile disappearing. "Harry, what's wrong?" As he presses his hand against his scar.

"We need to get out of here," he says quickly. "Are your friends close by with a vehicle?"

"Uhmm..." Sam says. "When I lost them, I really lost them. Are you trying to scare me Harry?"

"If it keeps us alive, then yes, I am," he replies pulling out his wand. "I'm going to do a charm on us, fortunately I've had some practice at it. I'm going to disillusion you. Hold on and trust me." He taps her head with his wand, muttering the incantation, and then Sam feels a sensation like someone dropped cold water, or cracked a cold egg that was slowly running down her. Harry does the same for himself, and takes her hand, keeping his wand hidden, yet ready for action should need present.

"Follow me," he whispers in her ear. "I'll try to get us back to my place where my friends are. And what ever you do, don't say anything." They slip out of the concealed booth, and make their way down towards the piano store, and as they pass a petstore with a Burmese python in the window, Harry hears a voice hiss, "In here, now." He leads Sam into the petstore, and they hide under the cage. "There is danger here Harry Potter, you must go when I give the signal..." Another voice hisses, "Harry Potter, go through the back room behind the counter. You will find a shaft with some rope lying next to it. Tie it, and go down the shaft with the girl. There will be a fire escape right outside, before you get to the first floor. Too low and you will burn. Take the screwdriver.

The first voice, that of the python in the window, hisses "The traitor Nagini will not feed on you. The coast is clear, go now!

Harry grabs Sam's hand and runs for the door behind the counter. Seeing the screwdriver, he grabs it with his left hand and sticks it between his teeth. "Alohamora," he whispers, unlocking the door and going into the back room of the petshop. Grabbing the rope, he ties it off on the wall and lowers it down the shoot.

"What are you doing Harry?" Sam demands.

"Getting us out of here," Harry replies. "Alive preferably. Can you climb?"

"No," she hisses. "Can you?"

"I will now," he says. "What are you doing?"

"Great time to wear a loose blouse and skirt," she mutters. "Don't you look Potter."

"Ready?" he asks.

"Yes." comes her reply.

"You first," he says, keeping his eyes towards the door, as she slides into the shaft, holding onto the rope as she lowers herself down. When he feels that she's clear of the entrance to the shaft, he climbs in himself and begins lowering himself.

"Where should we stop?" Sam asks.

"Feel my foot?"

"Yes."

"Move when I move and stop when I stop," Harry says quietly. He looks around the shaft, and then begins moving down again.

"Harry," Sam says quietly in desparation. "My hands are getting sweaty. And my muscles are spasming. How much farther?"

He looks around, and sees the screws for the outside vent. "We're here," He whispers. Wrapping his left arm in the rope and twisting the rope around his foot, he places the screwdriver from his mouth to his left hand, while holding tightly on; then placing his wand in his mouth, he takes the screw driver and begins to unwork the screws. Once the screws are out, he places a disillusionment charm on the vent cover, and whispers, "Wingardium Leviosa." With the screen out of the way, he clambers out, and holds his hand down for Sam. "And no, I'm not looking," he says, "now grab my hand and get out of there." He feels himself pull into the shaft slightly, and then feels the weight lessen as Sam gets herself onto the fire escape. He keeps his back to her, when he hears something come into the room above them. He grabs the rope just before it comes sliding down the shaft. Pulling it out, he then ties it around the fire escape handrail.

"We're going down that?" Sam asks.

"Do you know a better way?" Harry retorts quietly. "There are muggle police out there. If we walk down, we'll alert them." He grabs the vent cover and places it back into its spot. Putting a disillusionment charm on the rope, he drops it over the side. "You first," he says. Sam nods, and he helps her get over the rail. Taking hold of the rope, she begins to lower herself.

"You know Potter," she says quietly hissing. "If we survive this, I think I'm going to take up rapelling. After this, rock climbing is going to look easy."

"Shh!" Harry hisses, and watches as two policemen pass underneath. "Something about some massmurderer named Potter," the one says to the other. "Wonder where he could have gone to, there's only one way in and out, when the mall's in lockdown." the other says. "Dunno."

"Finite incantatem," Harry says twice, aiming his wand at the two cops.

"Uhm," says the one. "What are we doing here?"

"Dunno," replies the other. "Uh, why is the mall in lockdown?"

"Got me..."

"Forgive me Dumbledore," Harry mutters to himself. "But I really need to get us out of here." Pointing his wand at first one, then the other police man, he whispers, "Imperio." Willing them to look up, he stares straight into the man's eyes and willing him to go have lunch with his partner far away.

"You know," the one says. "I'm hungry. Let's go eat. Somewhere far away."

"I agree," the other replies. And the two walk off.

"Down now!" Harry hisses. The two scramble the rest of the way down, and he causes the rope to catch fire. Taking her hand, they start running down the road. "How are we getting to your place, Potter? My parents are going to kill me if I'm late."

"Hopefully we can make it back so you won't be," Harry says. Looking around carefully, he removes the disillusionment charm from himself and holds out his wand. Just then the Knight bus arrives, and comes to a stop.

He sees Stan Shunpike open the door, and he says, "Stan be quiet and let me on. 50 galleons a piece says you and Ernie never saw me or heard me."

"Right you are then," Stan says with a toothy grin. "How many and where too?"

"Two," he says quietly leading Sam onto the Bus. "Number 12, Privet Drive. And another fifty galleons a piece says you don't remember that address after we've been dropped off." He hands Stan the money, and the bus takes off.

"We're here," Stan says, ignoring Harry while reading the daily prophet. Harry leads Sam down from the Bus, and takes her down the street towards his house. Walking around towards his back window, he calls out, "Hedwig, Hedwig! Here!"

The snowy owl flies out the window, and drifts down to where Harry is. He sees Hermione stick her head out of the window and look down. Scribbling a note, he hands it to the owl and says, "Take this to Hermione." The owl takes off and lands on the window sill.

Taking the note from Hedwig, Hermione reads, "Is it safe? Bellatrix almost caught us at the center. HP. PS-Sam is with me." She looks over at Ron, who looks at the note and mouths, "Bloody hell..." Hermione writes back quickly, "Have you been doing unforgiveable curses?"

When Harry reads that one, he starts shaking, as he writes out his response, "Which one?" Sending Hedwig back up he waits, tears building in his eyes as he watches Hermione and Ron's face. Hedwig returns to where he sits, and gives the note, "Crucio, AK. HM PS--Sam's being reported dead too."

Sam looks at Harry's face, then says "give me that". She writes on the message, "Do you idiots know the damage you're doing to this boy? Tell us now, is it safe? He's absolutely miserable. He has us under a disillusionment spell, and I'm very much fine and angered that his best friend is treating him like this. He just saved my life, and his as well. Samantha.
She hands the note to Hedwig who returns to the window, and hands the note to Hermione. Hermione hands it to Ron, who runs back into the room. Some time later, Hedwig returns to Harry with a note, saying, "Dumbledore notified, relieved, now what the hell's going on? HM. PS- You didn't answer about the curses.

Harry writes back, "Only did two unforgivables. Imperios on two policemen. You can Priori Incantatem my wand once I know it's safe to go in, but right now having just barely escaped Bellatrix with Sam's and my life, I'm not in the mood of potentially endangering it any further. You want the whole story, you and Dumbledore are just going to have to come here, because I'm not going anywhere right now. Now, who died, and if anything, I'm the one who should be asking what the hell is going on. It was Moody's training and the snakes at the pet shop that saved us. You're killing me Hermione you know that?" HP He watches Hedwig fly up and hand the letter to Hermione and Dumbledore. He feels Sam's hand tighten on his shoulder, and the grief overwelms him... "Harry, what did I do?" Sam breaths in his ear.

"Sorry," he whispers back. "My godfather did that to me after Voldemort's return, then he gets killed by Bellatrix; and just recently Hermione did the same thing... and now this..."

"Potter," Sam asks. "Do you love her?"

"Not romantically," he stumbles. "She's more like a sister to me at this point. But even that way, I love her yes."

"I swear, if someone doesn't do something soon; I'm going to hit her for doing this to you," Sam says grimly.

Just then, Dumbledore appears with Hermione beside him. "Harry," he says. "I think you can come out now. I had the feeling that Hermione was going to get herself seriously injured if I didn't step in. Now please tell me, what happened today?"

Harry drops the disillusionment charm from himself and Sam, who stares at Hermione in absolute disgust and anger. "Sam and I made an agreement, last week that we would have a date today. Just lunch and conversation. I woke up early, Hermione knew about it... and I left a note."

"Is that true Hermione?" Dumbledore asks looking over his glasses at her. "It is..." she mutters. "And the note?" "On the dresser, Professor." Dumbledore sighs, shaking his head. "I would want to talk with you over this Hermione, But I think Sam should have first rights. And no wands Hermione, you helped Harry, but now I think you're going to have to undue some serious damage. Please continue Harry."

"I arrived at the mall before opening time," Harry continues. "As I had my drawing supplies with me, I started to draw... and then my scar started hurting in a way that it hasn't before. I looked up, saw her, and rolled back behind the bushes before she could see me."

"Who was this she, Harry?"

"I didn't recognize her immediately, as I peered through the bushes," he continues. "But there was something about her, how she moved, the air around her, and then my brain seemed to go into this scanning mode, and then the name clicked, and it was Bellatrix Lestrange. I waited until I thought it was safe to come out, and then I went in to the center. Today I went up to the piano store to play the Black Grand, and I saw the clerk, and I told him that my life was in danger, particularly from this woman, and asked that he please, regardless of what circumstances he was placed in, to not tell them where I was. I told him that I would know if danger was coming, and that I would cue him by stopping my playing. At a quarter of one, I went to have lunch with Sam, who was running an hour late but I didn't know it at the time.

"I took the table Hermione and I usually sit at, when I felt my scar and spine tingle again." Harry continues. "Taking a page from professor Moody's bbbook, I found a table where I could see in most directions, but not be seen. Sam came up around two, and we started talking. Around 4, I felt the sensation again from my scar and put the disillusionment charms on us. Making our way from the booth, we were heading out when a python in the petstore window stopped me, and warned me to come inside. Apparently the snakes are upset at Nagini..."

"Nagini?" Sam asks.

"A snake," Dumbledore replies. "That I believe that Mr. Potter here set free from the zoo sometime back before his first year with us. Nagini tends to keep company with Voldemort these days. Continue Harry."

"Another snake told me what to do," Harry says. "That there would be a ventilation shaft, with a rope and a screwdriver. It told me where to go, how far down, so I tied the rope to a bracket in the wall, and let Sam go down before me. I unscrewed the outer vent cover, and used Wingardium Leviosa to get out of the way, while making it invisible so no one would see it. I got out, then I helped Sam out, keeping my back turned..." he blushes.

"That's when the rope started falling," he carries on after a deep breath. "I had a hand on it though, and pulled it out. I tied it to the rail of the fire escape, and made the rope invisible, and while we were climbing down, that's when the two policemen showed up almost directly underneath us. I heard them mention my last name in conjunction with a mass murderer, and that the mall was in lockdown. I had a feeling they were under the imperious curse, so I whispered 'Finite Incantatem,' twice one for each man. And I was right; unfortunately, we couldn't have held on much longer with them underneath of us like that so I whispered to myself asking for your forgiveness Professor, and then put them back under the imperio curse. I had them look up, and I stared at one of them in the eye, willing him to go to lunch with his partner. Somewhere far away. They did so. We clambered down the rope, and then before we ran for it, I set fire to it so no one could put a spell on it to see how we escaped. We got about a mile from the center, when I hailed the Knight bus, and gave them 100 galleons a piece to drop us off up the street and to forget they had even seen me. And that's my story."

Dumbledore looks tiredly at Sam, and asks, "Would you agree with this?"

"In so far as I can," Sam replies. "I was running an hour late, trying to get away from my friends. Everything else was spot-on, save Harry forgot to mention how he was trying to scare me to save me. He mentioned a woman, and that she had to do with the death of his godfather, I wouldn't know about the snake thing, I was wondering why we went into the pet shop like that. And I didn't know what spell Harry used on the police, it's not like we could shout out. But they left looking like they were heading out on a lunch break far away from that center. And we did get onto a triple-decker purple bus, pimply sort of fellow answered the door, but Harry cut him off, and gave him 50 galleons for each of us to get here, and then another 50 each for him and the drive not to remember us. The pimply guy was reading a newspaper called 'The Daily Prophet' ignoring us when we got off. And we did a lot of climbing on that rope."

"I suspected as much," Dumbledore says. "And he kept you under the disillusionment charm the entire time?"

"This is the first time I've been able to actually see my normal self," Sam replies. "Without looking like a human chameleon, that is."

"Normally," Dumbledore says softly. "We would have to have your memory modified so that you forgot any of this ever happened..."

"Look at him, **** you," Sam snarls. "He's got enough on him without his 'friends' abandoning him like this... And her.... her...." She snarls again, her glare cutting through Hermione like a knife. Bending down, Sam places her hand on Harry's shoulder. "He told me, that his godfather did the same thing in your office one night... and then She... did too; trying to help him back. And now, people die; they try to pin the blame on him, and you swallow it? They may have been close to us, in fact if my guess is right, you're going to say that it's my friends and the piano store clerk who were tortured and killed; and you believed that it was this kid who did it? If that's who he has for friends; I'm not altogether certain you are going to win this war against Voldemort. He's trying live with a weight that would kill just about most normal people let alone one of you... and the people he trusts the most, turn their backs on him; Did you see his face? Did you Hermione?..."

"Please Ms. Shoemaker," Dumbledore says. "I think there's been enough trouble today. Please help Harry to his room, and we shall see that you are made as welcome and as comfortable as possible."

She snorts derisively, but nods in reluctant agreement. Lifting Harry up, she slides his arm over her shoulder, and walks into the house. As Dumbledore heads in, Ron looks at Hermione sitting on the grass holding her knees close to her chest. "Are you coming?" he asks.

She shakes her head no, and he hears the faint sound of crying. "Hermione are you alright?" Another no. Finally, "WE failed him Ron, just as he was coming back too. I should have opened that note, I should have given it to someone who could have been able to help; WE should have waken up and gone with him if nothing else!"

"At least he got out of there without killing people..." Ron says.

"You don't get it do you?" Hermione asks. "People were tortured and killed to find out where he was, the police were put under the imperious spell under the impression that he was a mass murderer, like Sirius... I think I know how Harry must have felt to be pleading his innocence just now and I turned my back... I feel like a knife's cutting through me."

"You're taking that muggle girl too seriously," Ron says, holding her shoulder.

"And you're not taking her seriously enough," Hermione says through gritted teeth. "If anything, I probably let Harry go on his own because he was getting to the point where he could go out on his own, and I trusted her. I still do, although I doubt if she'll trust me..."

"Well if she knows what's good for him, she will," Ron says hopefully. "We are his best mates after all. Hey Remus," he says looking up. "Can you help Hermione cheer up? She doesn't think that muggle girl will trust us..." his voice trails off at the look on Remus' face. "What's wrong?" Ron asks.

"I can't say I blame Hermione for thinking that," Remus replies sadly. "Samantha's furious, and for good reason. Harry's gone back into remission. Dumbledore can't get through to him, I can't get through to him, and while Samantha is a 'muggle witch,' she can't even see him. We ran into James, Lily, and Sirius, and they're livid. Right now they've got him in a mental construct of the old house at Godric's Hollow, his physical body has a thready pulse, and his breaths are ragged. If you two want to help, you'd better pull yourselves together and get in there. Now." He stands up, and heads back towards the house. Ron helps Hermione to her feet and says, "Come on. We have work to do." They head back into the house, and head upstairs.

Going into Harry's room, Ron decides, is like stepping into a morgue, praying that you won't find your best friend on the other side of the sheet. Hermione looks at Dumbledore and Lupin, "I am really sorry about what happened, what can I do?" "And I," Ron adds.

"I think," Dumbledore says slowly. "That we're going to need to send you in after him Hermione, Samantha. And Sam, what grudge you have right now is going to need to be laid aside for the greater good. If we can get him back, then I'll let you deal with Hermione. Until then..." Samantha nods in agreement.

"For what it's worth," Hermione whispers. "I know what he felt like now. After the way you looked at me... I'm sorry."

Sam nods in acceptance as she lays down beside Harry, with Hermione on the other side. Dumbledore waves his wand, and the two fall asleep...

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

They find themselves in front of a simple two story house, with white walls and blue shutters. Trees surround the house on all sides but one. In front of the house stand two gryffins.

"Why have you come?" comes a deep throaty roar from inside the gryffins.

"We are friends of Harry Potter, and wish to speak with him," Samantha says quietly. "The girl beside me is the one who helped bring him back before."

"And she helped cause his relapse," the gryffins say. "It seems that Harry Potter does not have any friends."

"I am," Samantha says quietly. "He saved my life today, I'll not let you throw his away. Besides, she and Harry need to talk about what happened. If they are to move past it, he needs to live."

"Muggle," the gryffins say lifting their clawed paws and beating their wings. "Do not presume to tell US what Harry needs or does not need..."

Hermione looks toward where Samantha had been only to see a dragon, "Don't dare call me a muggle presumptuous fool. I love Harry Potter and I will speak with him as will his witch friend, interfere and you will regret it." Hermione watches as the gryffins begin to shrink, and then turn into people... Lily and James Potter.

"You would be Samantha then," Lily asks the dragon.

"I am," the dragon replies, returning to her human shape again. "And you already know Hermione Granger. She'll receive her punishments later, if it's alright with you... I'll handle it. But right now, your son's body is in serious danger of dying if something isn't done now to stop it. We need to talk to him."

Hermione had never seen the Potters look so old before, as they open the door and say, "Please come in." As she does, fear grips her heart, making her feel as she did when Samantha accused her of failling Harry. "Be strong Hermione," Samantha says gripping her elbow. "He needs you, I need you, don't fail us now."

They find themselves in a sort of hospital wing, with a cast iron tub with a glass window in it and tubes running out of it.

"What is that?" Samantha asks.

"An ancient wizard remedy with a new appearance," Hermione replies quickly. "Bath of quicksilver, it's potent medicine provided the patient takes less than twelve hours to respond favorably. The slower the silver fish go, the slower, and the longer the healing takes. He's been in for about thirty minutes, correct?" she asks the healers nearby, who nod silently in agreement.

"Harry," Samantha says. "it's Sam, I'm here with Hermione." The silver fish that had sped up at her name, now start slowing down again. The waters part, and two fingers come out of the water.

"Why?" Hermione asks Harry. "I'm sorry Harry, I didn't know. Maybe I thought you were doing well enough to go on your own; how was I supposed to know that Bellatrix was around planting rumours?"

"Maybe he wants to know, after you said you would help and trust him, why you turned your back on him when he needed you the most?" Sam says to her. They look through the water and see Harry's head nod slowly in agreement. "Why couldn't you have told him it was or was not safe to come in, like he asked?" "And why was Ron not doing anything to help, other than run messages to Dumbledore?"

"Are you angry with us, Harry?" Hermione asks. "I know you have the right to be."

An imperceptible shrug.

"I don't think he knows right now," Samantha says. "He's probably confused about the whole thing."

"What does 'P' mean, Hermione," Samantha asks.

"Harry," Hermione says. "Tap on your window twice for yes, once for no; understand?"

They watch as the fingers tap twice on the window.

"Harry," Hermione asks. "Does 'P' mean phoenix?"

Two taps.

"Do you want Fawkes?"

Two taps.

"Do you want to talk to me?"

Two taps.

"Are you angry with me?"

Two taps.

"Are we still friends," Hermione asks, tears in her face.

one tap, followed by another in the span of eight long breaths apart.

"I'd take that as a yes," Samantha whispers. "And don't push your luck."

"How do we call Fawkes, Harry?" Hermione asks.

"Another 'P'."

"Do you want a patronus conjured?"

Two taps.

"Do you want me or Samantha to conjure it?" Hermione asks.

Silence.

"Do you want both of us to conjure it?" Hermione asks.

One tap followed by another, again with a long span between them.

"I think he's fading," Samantha says. "How do you conjure a patronus?"

"Expecto Patronum, is the incantation," Hermione replies. "Harry's is a stag like his father."

Two taps.

"Do I need a wand for this?" Samantha asks, and then finds herself with wand in hand. "What do I do now?"

"Think the happiest thought you can find," Hermione says. "Focus on it, let it surround you, fill you, and then say 'Expecto Patronum.'" The two close their eyes, letting their minds sift through their thoughts. Finally, "Ready Samantha?" Hermione asks. "Ready," Samantha replies. "Expecto Patronum," The two cry out in unison... the otter and the doe leap into the bath of quicksilver, followed not long after by Fawkes, and then they see Harry sticking his head up out of the water. He looks at Sam. "A Dragon animagus with a doe as a patronus, now that's an interesting concept. I heard mum and dad discussing it earlier."

Hermione looks as though she's about to slink out of the room, "Hermione get back here." Harry's voice stops her. "We're not done yet. You wanted to talk, to bring me back. I didn't want to leave, but I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold on. You both helped me. Look Hermione, about the only unforgiveable curse I can cast with any degree of efficiency is the same one I can cast off without much of a problem--the imperious curse. And even then I only use it when absolutely necessary...

"Like hanging twenty-five feet off of the ground with two policemen under you," Samantha says.

"But I'm too nice and too kind to use crucio or even ak with the degree of profeciency that only a Dark Arts practitioner can have," Harry continues. "I still don't understand why you didn't believe me? And yes, I suppose I am angry, though not nearly as mad as my mum and dad. And yes Samantha, I know you are angry at Hermione too; I'm just glad to be back, can I please wake up now? This is the third time in a row I've come near dying, it's getting irritating. Oh and Sam, personally I think Hermione's punished herself enough as it is, without you beating her to a bloody pulp."

"How did you know?" she asks.

"Mum and dad told me," he shrugs. "I think dad likes your patronus."

"Let's wake up now Potter before either us do something I'll regret," Sam says with a smile.


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

"He's coming back," Madam Pomfrey says, feeling the pulse. She watches as Harry opens his eyes, and then Hermione, followed by Samantha.

"I feel like someone hit me over the head with a sledgehammer," Harry says stretching.

"I'm not surprised," Dumbledore says gently. "Two patronuses Potter, plus fawkes?"

Harry hangs his head, as he says, "Yeah, I was getting pretty far gone. Even in the quicksilver bath. I had a hard time replying to Hermione's questions. Even with her system of morse code."

"I hope," Dumbledore says. "That two near-death experiences is going to teach us to respond more forthrightly to your questions Harry. At the same time, do becareful about what language you use when in such circumstances..."

"Sorry Professor," Harry replies. "It just really hurt seeing what appeared to be Ron and Hermione turning their backs on me."

"So I gathered," Dumbledore says. "I suppose that I am once again partly to blame for this, as I wasn't entirely certain what you had managed to stir up this time. And once again Harry, I have underestimated your resourcefullness. Now, as for those cops you put under the Imperious spell... I believe they were found in Sheffield, about four hundred pounds the lighter from the food they were injesting."

"The fact that you encountered Bellatrix, though" Dumbledore says thoughtfully. "Especially this soon after leaving school, suggests that the Order is not the only one having you followed. You say it was one of the snakes who warned you? I shall have to talk to Hagrid about that one, yes indeed. Oh, and Ms. Shoemaker, if Harry is interested in inviting you to the school ball at Yule, you are indeed, truly most welcome to come. Even if he doesn't, would you still come anyways? I have always wanted to meet a muggle witch you know."

Samantha smiles, blushing. "Thank you..."

"Please, call me Albus for now, Samantha," Dumbledore says smiling. "You are a bit advanced in age, but who knows..."

"I think he's contemplating making you a student at Hogwarts," Harry whispers to her. "As a way of thanking you for your help."

She smiles.

"Now though," Dumbledore says. "Let us have increased security, and please Harry Samantha. If you decide to have any more dates, please inform myself or a member of the Order first, and then take Ms. Granger and Mr. Weasely with you?"

"Of course, Professor Dumbledore," Harry says contritely.

"Oh and Harry," Dumbledore adds before heading out the door of the room. "Seamus is very much looking forward to the concert."

"So am I professor, so am I," Harry agrees fervently.



Last edited by Aicerno : March 5th, 2005 at 3:23 am.
  #6  
Old March 5th, 2005, 4:45 am
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Chapter II, Choices Decisions and Consequences:

Part II:

The weeks following Harry's near-death experience pass by in a blur, each day a flurry of exploration exmination and preparation for the coming trials. One day, the four companions--Hermione, Ron, Sam, and Harry--head out to the spot where Sirius' memorial lies, and then branching out from there after genuflecting for several moments.

As they leave, Hermione asks, "Harry, do you want to head over to the shopping center? I know they'll probably have a different clerk now, after what happened... but I don't think Sam or Ron have heard you play the piano, the flute yes but..."

Before Harry can respond, Sam smiles saying, "I think that would be brilliant. What other surprises are you going to have in store for me Harry?" She chuckles, adding, "Let's do it." As they make their way towards the shopping center, Ron notices Harry looking around every five minutes or so.

"I think he's getting as paranoid as Professor Moody," Ron says watching Harry.

"Honestly Ron," Hermione says. "What should you expect after what happened to him..." They arrive at the center, and make their way to the piano store. As they enter the store, they see an oldish woman standing behind the counter. As she catches sight of Harry, she smiles saying, "I was wondering when I would be seeing you. I own the store, and from what I've heard from one of my clerks, you are probably our most frequent visitor here. And his favorite too, may he rest in peace."

She looks over Harry and his friends saying, "Beyond our conversations about you, he left a note explaining what you had said to him about being in danger and not to let anyone know about your whereabouts... he took your secret to the grave, despite the torture they put him through. The old Grand's still back there, so enjoy you four."

Harry smiles, thanking her, and adding that he felt that that particular clerk was probably one of her best employees. The four head back into the storage room, making their way to the Grand piano. Taking seats in a semi-circle around Harry, they watch as he sits down at the old piano, lifts up the keyboard cover, and begins playing... the music calming his shaken nerves.

As the music drifts in and out, a memory shifts into Harry's mind, and as he plays, he sees a much younger Sirius Black dancing with a girl, while a man that could only be Sirius' father was playing the piano. A voice comes in beside him, and he sees a shadow of Sirius, with a tear in his eye.

"What you are seeing Harry," Sirius' shadow says softly, "Is probably the only happy memory I have, while living in the House of Black. Yes, that's my father at the piano... I hated that man with a passion for all the times he beat me, while Regulus got off with nothing more than verbal warnings; but when Father sat down to play the piano, it was as if ours was a completely different family from what it actually was. As it was, he only did it twice a year, usually around Yule and New Years.

"I don't know if it was the right thing to do," Sirius continues, placing his right hand on Harry's right shoulder. "Making you my heir and passing the title of 'Last of the Blacks,' to you, as well as the full extent of what it means to be a Black. I told James when I saw him why I made the will out like I did. I wanted someone who would be able to put the Black estates to good use, but more importantly as an apology to you... for how our dreams of living together ended as they did..."

"Sirius," Harry says. "The dream didn't end just because you died. It's just shifted localities, while I live my life here, and you live your new life whereever you are. There will be a time when it's my time to join you, Dad, and Mum. As it is, I'm comforted by the memories I have of you, the photos of you, Dad, and mum, and the stories that I get--good and bad--of you guys from Remus."

"Yeah," Sirius says, giving a laugh like a bark. "Ol' Moony would have quite a few of those. By the way, I just found out about Sam from your Mum and Dad. From how Prongs sounded, I'd have to say you found a keeper with that one. Whereever the path lies that your heart takes you down, keep an eye on her. Y'know, she reminds me a lot of how Lily used to be in some ways. It's about time for me to go, any last thoughts for the moment?"

"Sirius," Harry replies. "You are the best godfather, and friend a kid could have, alive or dead. Thank you very much for everything. I love you and miss you, tell Mum and Dad I said the same for them."

Sirius' shadow squeezes Harry's shoulder one more time as it nods in agreement, saying, "Thanks for the memorial Harry, I love it." And with that, the memory fades, and Harry opens his eyes seeing himself in the backroom of the piano store. Ron and Hermione are holding each other crying, while Sam sits on the edge of her bench, squeezing the wood tightly between her fingers, while streams of tears fall down her cheeks. Even the owner of the store stands in the doorway, listening and moved to tears by the music.

"That was beautiful, Harry," Sam says, wiping her face with a handkerchief. "What's the piece called?"

Harry pauses, reflecting on his conversation with Sirius. Finally he says, "It's titled, 'A Rare Calm in the House of Black: A Conversation with Sirius.'" He gently places the keyboard cover down, as he lets out a sigh. Sam joins him on the bench in front of the Black Grand, and wraps her arms around him in a hug, her head nestled on his shoulder.

Finally the owner says, "Kids, it's almost time for the Center to close. Please feel free to come back any time, and thank you for sharing your music."

"You're welcome," Harry replies sincerely, as the four get up and settle their packs on their backs. "And thank you as well." Harry finishes as they head out of the store, and then on out of the center and into the lengthening twilight.

After some time in silence, Harry says, "Sam, I need to tell you something..." Harry looks up into the night sky, as they stand still, and then he relates his conversation with Sirius, blushing furiously as he comes to what Sirius said about Sam. When he finishes, he takes a breath and then says, "I know what I'm heading towards, but the future is vague, and there are times when I feel lost, terrified, even confused about what direction I'm going in... but when I'm with you, I don't know, it feels like a calm port in a storm..."

Sam takes Harry's face in her hands and looks him in the eye. "Harry," she says. "I have no better idea than you do about what the future may or may not hold for us. Maybe its too soon to tell where our hearts will guide us in this regard, maybe not... but you've opened yourself to me, and I can't find anything to express the thanks and joy I feel for knowing you... Do you believe in miracles?"

"You are a miracle Sam," Harry responds. She smiles, wiping away a tear. "And so are you Harry," she says softly. She looks up, and points out a shooting star, "Let's make a wish Harry."

"I wish," Harry says. "That no matter what happens, we will survive this time of strife together." "Biodh Se Aimlaidh," she whispers in agreement, kissing him on the lips.

"Oi, you two lovebirds," Ron calls out with a grin. "Does that wish include us?"

"Too right it does," Harry says fervantly with a smile, as Ron and Hermione embrace them in a hug. Looking at his friends, he smiles, saying matter-of-factly, "For better or for worse, the four of us are in this to the end."

After several moments, they release and Hermione looks up into the night sky. "Harry, Sam, Ron," she calls out, pointing up. "Look at how bright Sirius the Dogstar is glowing tonight..."

"Padfoot, Prongs," Harry says outloud. "Mum. Thanks for everything."


  #7  
Old March 6th, 2005, 2:23 pm
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Chapter II, Choices Decisions and Consequences:

Part III, The Coming of the OWLs:

"Harry," Hermione says. "An owl just dropped this off for you. It's the results of our OWL examinations. I just sent Hedwig off with a note to my parents..."

Harry chuckles, his stomach doing flip-flops as he opens the envelop and pulls out the letter, reading it to himself:

"Dear Mr. Potter, Here are the results of your OWL examinations. The Hogwarts Deputy Headmistress will be submitting your list of approved classes later. The numerical and coded grades to the appropriate class are as follows. ~ Griselda Marchbanks, Wizarding Level Examination Board.

O = 99 or higher. wr = written exam.
E = 90 - 99. pr = practical exam.
A = 80 - 89. cu = cumulative averaged grade.
P = 70 - 79.
D = 60 - 69.

+ 10 additional bonus points awarded for producing a corporeal patronus.

++ Because of the unusual circumstances that occurred during the end of the practical exam, 10 points are permitted, and the grade factored accordingly.

DADA: wr = 100, pr = 110+, cu = 105. O.
Transfiguration: wr = 95, pr = 90, cu = 92.5. E.
Potions: wr = 89, pr = 100, cu = 95. E.
Charms: wr = 90, pr = 100, cu = 95. E.
Astronomy: wr = 90, pr = 80 ++, cu = 90. E.
History of Magic: wr = 80. A.
Divination: wr = 70, pr = 60, cu = 65. D."


After Harry reads his grades out to Hermione, she says, "That's not too bad."

"Yeah," Harry agrees. "But I doubt I'll be allowed in the NEWT level potions though. Snape says he only takes 'O' students..."

"Professor Snape Harry," Hermione says, correcting him. "I know you and he don't get along, but you are going to have to work on your attitude with him..."

Remembering his words to Uncle Vernon prior to Marge's visit just before the start of the third term, Harry starts to say, "I will if he..." when the memory of what he saw in the pensieve in Professor Snape's office pops into his head. Almost as though cued in, he hears James telling Lily, "Well Evans, it's more the fact that he exists..." and causes his mouth to shut.

Hermione notices the expression on Harry's face as she continues, "Look Harry, regardless of whatever grudge Professor Snape has against the Marauders--of which Remus is now the only surviving member--his job can't be made any easier having to work as a spy directly in Voldemort's camp and be expected to provide Voldemort with results, and also provide necessary information to Dumbledore... Now tell me what happened that caused Professor Snape to stop giving you occlumency lessons..."

Harry thinks it over, and then tells Hermione the whole story of that night.

"No wonder then," she says quietly when Harry finishes. "Why you wanted to talk to Sirius after that. Seeing that memory that Professor Snape had of your parents must have come as a shock..."

"It did," Harry agrees, his mind working through memories as though calculating something. "Although not as much of a shock as my actually empathizing with..." He pauses as it clicks into place, his expression causing Hermione to become alarmed.

"I'm not angry, Hermione," Harry replies thoughtfully to the unasked question. "It just seems odd, that he would leave his worst memory in a pensieve in open view, especially with someone like me in the room."

Noticing Hermione's puzzled expression, he adds, "Pensieves and I don't exactly have the best track record. For some reason, they draw my attention and my curiosity--which Professor Dumbledore warned me to be careful about. Thinking it over, it's almost like Professor Snape knew what I would do, being left alone with that pensieve... Hermione, what would Voldemort have done to Professor Snape if I had actually been successful in my occlumency lessons--and as a sub-thought, I think I've realized why Professor Snape assigned the draught of peace as our first potion of the year."

Hermione looks thoughtful as she follows along Harry's thoughts, and then nods in agreement, "I'd have to say that the cruciatus curse would be the least of Professor Snape's worries if you had succeeded in occlumency," she says finally, a look of understanding dawning on her face. When the full implications of Harry's thought-processes sinks in, she gasps, asking, "How much longer do you think Professor Snape will be able to go on like this?"

"I don't know," Harry replies quietly. "But given how Voldemort will want some positive change--whether my death, or knowing the full content of the prophecy--in this situation, but keeps getting handed disappointments..." Harry shrugs as he says, "I know I don't like Professor Snape, but this puts a whole new light on things." For some reason, he notices a feeling in his chest, as though phoenix fire was burning away his anger.

Hermione nods, and then asks, "What about Sam? How does she fit in?"

Harry thinks it over, and then responds, "Our relationship is something that's going to have to be kept secret from the majority of the school, excepting a few trusted individuals. More importantly, the one person I don't want finding out about it is Draco, because if he finds out, his dad will find out..."

"But Lucius Malfoy's in Azkaban," Hermione says quietly.

"For how long?" Harry asks. The look in Hermione's eye tells Harry that she accepts the point. Finally Hermione asks, "So, do you think that it was random coincidence that Bellatrix picked Sam's friends and the piano store clerk as her targets for interrogating about you?"

"I don't know Hermione," Harry replies, attempting to look uncertain. "But given my responsibility as a student and other duties as they may fall to me while at school, I'm just going to have to pray that what happened was just random coincidence."

"Any more dates planned?" Hermione asks.

"Two more before we leave for the Leaky Cauldron," Harry replies. "Sam wants us to meet her parents before we leave for London. Yes, I will tell her my concerns, and you'll probably need to report some of this to Dumbledore too."

Hermione nods in agreement as silence descends upon them.

Part IV:

At noon, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find themselves outside of the Shoemaker house. Harry steps up to the door, knocking. Sam opens it, beaming when she sees Harry and his friends. "Come on in," she says. "We've just put on a spot of tea for lunch." Leading the trio into the house, they come into the drawing room where Sam's parents are seated around a coffee table.

"Mum, Dad," Sam says. "This is Harry Potter, and our mutual friends Ron Weasely and Hermione Granger. Harry, Ron, Hermione, my parents, Steven and Rebecca Shoemaker."

"It's a pleasure to finally put a face to the names Sam's told us about," Steven and Rebecca say in unison. Steven adds, "I especially want to thank you for getting Sam out of that jam alive back in June Harry."

Harry smiles, blushing and looking at the floor, while Ron mouths to Sam, "Did you tell them everything?" "Only what I know," Sam mouths back in response, while Rebecca heads into the kitchen, and comes out with a tray laden with a large teapot, open-faced sandwiches, cookies and scones, and cups. Placing the tray on the table, she pours out the tea. Harry takes his eyeing it curiously, and then sniffing it.

"Harry," Rebecca says with a smile. "I'm sure you'll make the best dark-wizard catcher ever. You don't have to worry, you are amongst friends."

"Siriusly mate," Ron adds. "Do you really want to be like Moody? That's no way to live being that paranoid... if you had to model yourself after an auror, I think Tonks and Shacklebolt would be two better examples." The group shares a laugh and then fall into their meal. After they finish, Steven lights up a pipe, and a rich, mellow aroma wafts into the air.

"Now that's a brand 'Dung should learn to smoke," Ron whispers to Hermione, who nods in agreement. "Much more pleasant."

"Harry," Steven says mildly. "You and Sam are intent on exploring and persuing this relationship further?" As the two nod in agreement, Steven continues, "Sam tells me there's a war going on... I was a soldier in my own day, with the Special Air Service. After two tours in Vietnam, a tour in Argentina amongst others, I retired so that I could spend time with my family. She also tells me that while you have an important role to play in this war, you are still in school..."

Harry says, "That's true sir."

"Statutes of Secrecy are usually in place for a reason," Steven continues, but on seeing Harry's expression softens. "That wasn't a chastisement Harry. Given the predicament that Sam placed you and Hermione in, you took what was probably the best route possible. I did warn her that discovering the truth could be worse than accepting the lie... but what's done is done. While Sam has experience dealling with magic, I think there is probably a decided difference between dealling with it on the astral plane, and encountering it in real life. Especially when killing curses are brought into play. As a concerned father, and former combat soldier, I do not want my daughter defenseless. I am certain you can appreciate that."

Harry nods in agreement, looking at Steven in the eye.

"In addition to everything else you have," Steven continues. "You are in part taking on responsibility for her well-being, emotionally and physically. And you are doing the same Sam, with regards to Harry. Even with his uncertainty when it comes to significant relationships... My question for you Harry, are you ready for this responsibility?"

Harry looks thoughtful, waiting a moment or two before responding carefully. Finally he says, "Mr. Shoemaker, as far as your daughter's being defenseless, arrangements are currently being undertaken so that--given the state of things--will not be the case. Even if I have to teach her myself. Amongst others, she'll have access to basic protection spells." He pauses, and then continues after taking a deep breath, "On the relationship aspect, which is not unrelated to the first issue, yes I am uncertain about WHO I want ultimately. However, I am also gaining a better idea and getting better at knowing WHAT I want and don't want as far as significant relationships go. And even if we choose other romantic partners down the road, she gives me a peace of mind that I need, and will need, in the coming months and hopefully years... I know that what we have now, is special, even with the uncertainty of war, and I made my resolve on that end when we met. I won't pretend and say that I'm not worried... saying I'm scared would probably be more accurate; and as good a wizard as I am, I have no idea what the future holds... just what my present holds. I can only do so much, but all that it is within my power to do to help and protect her, I will... as for the rest of it, the rest is up to her. And you will just have to trust us to know and do what's best, sir."

Steven looks at Rebecca who nods in agreement. Looking at Harry and Sam, both of whom seem to tense up in anticipation and dread... when a cat leaps up on Harry's lap.

Smiling, Steven says, "You and Sam can relax now, Harry. That was spoken like a true soldier... I like your judgement, and wish you the best of luck in this war, and more particularly to you and Sam. I think you guys could use some time to talk about this and other issues." With that, he and Rebecca stand and leave the room, letting the four fall into discussion about the twists and turns of events and shared concerns.


  #8  
Old March 6th, 2005, 4:04 pm
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Chapter III:

Part I; Classes, Concerts, and Inheritance; Installment I:

"So this is Hedwig," Sam says petting the snowy owl. "When do you leave for London again?"

"Tomorrow," Harry replies, letting out a sigh. "Probably early tomorrow morning too."

He looks up as an owl lands on the window. He walks over to it, and takes the letters from the bird's beak. Watching it depart, he hands one to Sam, and opens the other. As she opens hers, she reads, "Dear Ms. Shoemaker, In light of recent events, I have arranged a meeting for you with Mr. Ollivander on the First of August so that you may begin your preparations for the coming year. It may of course be easier for you to utilize Harry's books from First Year. Please meet Harry at 10 AM at the Leaky Cauldron at this address in London at 9 AM on the first. ~ Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"So what does yours say, Harry?" Sam asks, curiously.

"Well," He hesitates, then starts reading, ""Dear Mr. Potter, due to the unusually low number of owls obtained in this year's potions exam, Professor Severus Snape has agreed to allow 'E' students into his NEWT level potions class. In addition to regularly scheduled classes, the DA--at the request of the Ministry of Magic, the new Defense against the Dark Arts instructor, and the School Headmaster--has been reinstated for this and subsequent terms, with you to remain as instructor and leader of it until such time as you become an auror, and find a suitable replacement. The headmaster has also agreed to begin a special project that is a form of advance transfiguration of which you are one of the select individuals. ~ Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. P.S. Mr. Potter, it pleases me to no end that you have been selected as captain for the Gryffindor House team."

He looks at Sam, and grins, "Looks like I'm going to have one busy year. Fun though." Just then a second owl lands on the window, and Harry takes the letter from it, and the owl departs as he opens and reads it aloud.

"Dear Mr. Potter, congratulations on making the captaincy of the Gryffindor House team. Minerva wishes me to say that while your first game in that position may not be the best, she hopes and expects that you continue the tradition of keeping the Quiddich House cup in her office--I do believe you have spoiled her Harry. Also, the school governors and myself, after careful consideration and discussion, have decided to appoint you 'Head Boy,' due in no small part to Ms. Granger's well-presented arguments, as well as your own innate talents. While Ms. Granger will not serve as head girl, she has agreed that should you need any assistance, she will be glad to provide it as will myself and the other instructors. To bring you up to speed, you will find a list of duties for the prefects and your own for when you have the prefect meeting on the train. ~ Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"Congrats Harry," Sam says smiling, as Harry holds the head boy badge in his hand. "Don't worry," she adds. "I know you'll use the powers wisely and sparingly." Harry looks at her and returns the smile as his stomach proceeds to do somersaults.

"Still won't keep me from being nervous," he says in response.

Sam chuckles, "You'll do fine Harry," she says hugging him, and kissing him. "Have fun at the hearing, I have to go tell mum and dad the news... I'll see you in August Harry." They hug each other again, and then Harry watches her head out of the room, then the sound of the front door closing. For some reason, he couldn't shake the knot of dread building in the pit of his stomach. Shaking his head, he pulls out Hagrid's flute, and begins to play.

As the notes drift along, his eyes close and he falls into a sleep-like state. As he moves along with the dream, he sees himself drifting through a dense fog:

Harry sees himself with Sam, Ron, and Hermione in Hogsmeade. They seem nervous and apprehensive... the scene shifts to the shrieking shack, the sounds of argument, then screams emminating from that building. It shifts back to Hogsmeade which is burning, Harry and Sam running through the streets, dodging curses cast by the death eaters on their trail. Harry watches as Sam starts limping, and then Lucius Malfoy holding his wand out, shouting "Avada Kedavra!" and Sam jumping between the curse and him, as the green bolt flies. "NO, SAM!!!" Harry screams. "Harry, wake up!" a voice calls to him through the fog... and then he fades out of the dream and opens his eyes.

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

Harry opens his eyes, and sees Hermione looking anxiously at him, as he asks, "Sam, is she ok?"

"Harry," Hermione replies. "Sam is fine... I was just getting back from the meeting with the school governors when she told me about your letters, what's wrong? You're feverish..." she adds, wiping his forehead.

"I..." he hesitates. "I had a premonition..." and he tells her about what he saw.

"Look Harry," she says quietly. "Don't give it any thought. We'll tell Professor Dumbledore about it, but right now you two are fine. And safe."

He nods in acceptance of her comment, holding his knees to his chest and staring at the wall. "Out of curiosity Harry," she asks. "How was your scar feeling while this was going on?"

He glances at her suspiciously, as he answers, "It was hurting as bad as the day I had that dream of Sirius being tortured in the Department of Mysteries. Or that time in divination class in fourth year... Why?"

"Nothing," Hermione avoids the question, staring out the window. "It's just a dream Harry, bad as it seems at the moment."

Harry snorts disbelievingly, but doesn't push the point.

"Right," Hermione says after a while. "Mrs. Dursely has just got dinner ready. Let's go eat, I'm hungry." Harry nods as they stand up, and head down the stairs.



Last edited by Aicerno : March 8th, 2005 at 10:37 pm.
  #9  
Old March 6th, 2005, 5:26 pm
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Chapter III:

Part I; Classes, Concerts, and Inheritance; Installment II:
Author's note: The two spells that Hermione casts to clean up the glass and repair the mirror are variations on the standard "evanesco," and "reparo" charms. "Vitrum" is the latin word for glass, while "speculum" is the latin word for mirror. Always useful having a latin/english dictionary lying around.

The day rises bright, as though the sun were unaware of the troubles and torments that run through the world. Hermione wakes up and looks at her sleeping friend. "Time to get up Harry," she says gently. "Arthur will be here in two hours to take us to London."

Harry struggles out of his sleep, rubbing his eyes before putting his glasses on. Looking at Hermione, he asks, "Did you double the strength of those potions last night? 'Cause I feel like I slept underneath of a thousand down blankets."

"No Harry," Hermione replies. "And you took the normal dosage too. I suspect that it's an aftereffect of that nightmare you had yesterday." Harry looks at her, then nods in agreement. "How are we travelling?" he asks, as he gets out of bed.

"I think Mr. Weasely's arranged for a motor pool to take us," Hermione says. "To London. Not sure how the Order's going to arrange security for that U2 concert though, and still keep it under wraps from the muggles. And then we need to get you clothes for your hearing."

"Hermione," Harry asks. "What is the muggle word for someone who deals with such things?"

"Attorney?" she asks. "Wizards don't usually have such people represent them."

"Well," Harry says. "I have the feeling that it's going to be a rather large sum I'm inheriting, not to mention the fact that I am going to have to deal with the Malfoys and the Lestranges over certain matters of land. And I don't have the energy to pay attention to those issues, as well as the school responsibilities that I have and everything else I have on my plate."

Hermione chuckles as she says, "So you want someone to help assist you in managing the estates, as well as to deal with the potential problems of the Malfoys and Lestranges... I suppose you'll want one who can operate freely in both the wizarding world and the muggle one too?"

"Yes," Harry says simply, before disappearing into the bathroom. While he is in, Hermione writes out a letter to Dumbledore, and hands it to Hedwig, saying, "Take this to Professor Dumbledore Hedwig." She watches as the owl takes off, and stares out the window, her thoughts racing. When Harry comes out, she grabs her clothes, and heads into the bathroom. When done, the two head downstairs, and Harry cooks a quick breakfast for them.

"Hello Harry," Petunia says quietly, walking into the kitchen. "Mind if I join you two?"

"Please do, Mrs. Dursely," Hermione says smiling, as Petunia sits down at the table. Harry serves some of the eggs and sausage he cooked onto a plate, and takes it to his aunt, then serving Hermione and himself.

"Looking forward to a new year, Harry?" Petunia asks.

"It's going to be a very busy year," Harry says. "But yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

"On one of your free weekends," Petunia says. "Before the start of Christmas break, can you make an arrangement to come back here? I'd like to talk a bit about my sister with you."

Both Harry and Hermione look startled at this, as Harry says, "Sure Aunt Petunia, I'll see what I can do."

"And I'll make sure that Vernon and Dudley are well away for the day," she adds, nodding as a way of saying thanks.

They finish their meal in silence, when the sound of a car is heard pulling up in front of the house. "I'll get it," Petunia says. She stands up, and heads to the front door.

"Mrs. Dursely," comes Arthur's voice. "I'm Arthur Weasely..."

"I do recall," she replies, her voice somewhat mixed between annoyance and relaxation. "Harry and Hermione have just finished breakfast, they'll be right out."

Fred and George follow their father into the house, and head up to Harry's room, and locomotoring Harry's and Hermione's trunks out down the stairs.

"Ready then, Harry, Hermione?" Arthur asks. When they nod yes, he smiles and says, "Right then, let's go."

"Bye Aunt Petunia," Harry says. "I'll see you."

"Bye Harry and take care," she replies, watching the group head out the door. When it closes behind them, she returns to the kitchen, sits down at the table, lays her head on her arms and begins to cry.

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

Arriving at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry, Ron and Hermione adjoin to Harry's room, number 11. Harry opens his trunk, and starts digging through it, when he feels a shard of glass puncture his finger.

"Ouch!" he says.

"What is it?" Hermione asks.

"Two-way mirror," Harry replies. "Sirius gave it to me before we left Grimmauld place near the end of Christmas break last term. If I had remembered it, or even known what he had given me at the time, I would have had a more efficient means of contacting him than using Umbridge's fireplace... after he died, I tried to contact him with it, but when it didn't work, I threw it in my trunk and it shattered."

Hermione helps him pick up the pieces, and place them into the frame of the mirror. For the exceedingly small pieces of glass, she points her wand into the trunk and says, "Vitrum evanesco." Then pointing her wand at the remnants of the shattered mirror, she says, "Speculum reparo." Ron and Harry watch as the pieces reform themselves into the complete mirror. "I'm going to have to remember that one," Harry says, much impressed.

"Just because it's repaired," Hermione says. "Doesn't mean that it will work. We'll have to let Professor Dumbledore inspect it first."

Harry nods, as Hermione says, "Now that's done, let's fix your hand shall we?" She places her wand near the cut, and Harry watches as the line of red vanishes. "Not as good a job as Madam Pomfrey could have done," Hermione says critically. "But still a good job all the same."

Ron chuckles amusedly at Hermione's expression, as he says, "So Hermione, any word yet from Professor Dumbledore about Harry's idea?"

"Not yet Ron," Hermione says. "But I suspect we should hear something soon."

"It's a nutter idea if you ask me," Ron says. "A good one, but nutters. An attorney... Hah, Lucius would have a fit if he found out."

"I do believe that's the reason why Mr. Potter wants one," a voice comes from behind them. "And I daresay given his choice of opponents, a competent attorney is going to be the least of his worries."

"And you would be?" Hermione asks suspiciously.

"Peter Robertson III," the man replies. "Of Robertson, Squires, and Page, Attorneys at law and Accountants. Speciallizing in Wizarding inheritance, wizard-muggle relations, and other similar aspects of wizard/muggle law. As for how I got here, Tom let me up after my showing him the note from Albus Dumbledore, a good friend of mine."

He takes a seat so as to best look at Harry, and pulls out a sheath of documents. "Professor Dumbledore told me that you are to inherit the entirety of the Black estate with all the rights and privileges that attend it. There also seems to be some questions regarding the legality of issues regarding the purchases of certain portions of the Black Estates by Lucius Malfoy, as well as the Lestrange brothers following the death of Mr. and Mrs. Black. As the legal inheritor of those properties, Sirius Black was unable to either approve or decline the purchases, and they were indeed purchased far below their market value..."

As the time goes on, he continues talking about the size of the estate, and what Harry could expect at the hearing. Finally, he says, "It is quite a lot, do you want me to attend your hearing with you?"

Harry thinks it over, and then says, "Thank you, but no. If I encounter Lucius, I'd rather him not know that I'm employing an accountant and attorney to assist with my inheritance. And I appreciate your bringing this to my attention, now I can go in forewarned..."

"A useful advantage I must admit," Peter agrees. "Especially with one like Lucius Malfoy. And then there is one other matter, with the Black estates, comes the rank of Knight of the Realm, from when the Blacks first came over with William the Conquerer, and a seat in Parliament, which has been held vacant for the last three generations of Blacks. It is a very ancient line you are becoming a member of Harry James Potter, although I daresay you will probably be far better at the task than some of the members of that family... Here is my card, and I look forward to discussing the outcome of your hearing. Good day you three." With that, he replaces the papers into his briefcase, and departs from the room.

"Bloody hell Harry," Ron says. "Knight of the realm... You'll get to meet the Queen."

"If I want to take it up," Harry says. "Look, I'm just Harry... and I'm only sixteen too, how can I expect to do everything and hold a seat in parliament?"

"Point made," Ron says.

"I'll think about that one," Harry says firmly. "After the hearing. Actually, if I can, I'll try to put off thinking about it until I'm done my time at Hogwarts. Sirius, what have you done?" He asks, as a rhetorical question.



Last edited by Aicerno : March 8th, 2005 at 10:38 pm.
  #10  
Old March 8th, 2005, 11:40 pm
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Chapter III:

Part I; Classes, Concerts, and Inheritance; Installment III:

The trio walk down Diagon Alley, bearing off to the left at Gringott's Bank. They find themselves outside of a rather modest, yet classy building. The sign just off to the right of the door reads: "Robertson, Squires, and Page. Attorneys at Law and Accounting."

"This is it," Harry says, leading them inside. They stop at the front desk as flying memo planes pass through the air, and the woman behind the desk looks up and says pleasantly, "May I help you?"

"I'm Harry James Potter," he replies. "I have a few additional questions about my inheritance of the Black estate... May I speak with Mr. Robertson?"

She quickly scans a sheath of documents, and then says, "Down the left hand hall, fifth door on the right."

As the three walk down the indicated corridor, Ron mutters to Harry, "This reminds me of Dad's office at the Ministry..." They reach the indicated door, and enter.

"Ah Mr. Potter," Peter says coming into the waiting room from his office. "I hear you have some final questions? Follow me." Turning to the secretary at the desk in the waiting room, he says, "I'll be busy for a few moments." The trio follow Peter into the main office, and he offfers them a seat. Taking his own seat, he asks, "Now, what are your questions?"

Harry thinks it over, and then says, "It's about that comment you made earlier about Sirius being disowned and that..."

"Some clarification on that point would be desirable then," Peter says, almost as though asking a question. "As it has no doubt come to your attention; wizarding families, especially pureblood families, do not like dealling and interacting with intermediaries. Particularly attornies and accountants. That taken into consideration, you can imagine my surprise when Priam Black came into my office..." On noticing the confused expressions on the faces of Harry, Ron and Hermione, he says, "Priam Black was the father of Sirius and Regulus Black. Now let me take you back a few years..."

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

'It has come to my attention Robertson,' Black says imperiously. 'That you are a man and wizard who can maintain strict confidentiality when it comes to certain matters.'

'Thank you, Mr. Black,' Peter Robertson replies. 'I feel that such an ability is an important cornerstone in building good client relationships. How may I be of service?'

'We have,' Black says, nodding in acceptance of the point. 'A curious dilema... you no doubt may have heard of our disowning our oldest child Sirius for associating with mudbloods, half-breeds, blood-traitors, and their ilk... Unfortunately, after conversations I've taken in confidence with Regulus, he is reaching a point where he will be lucky to survive the year. And Mrs. Black and myself are getting no younger. When we die, Sirius--even with our having verbally disowned him--will be the last of our line...'

Peter ponders over this and then says carefully, 'I've heard rumours that Sirius was a Death Eater...'

'Absolute Shyte,' Black roars. 'Sirius a Death Eater? Those rumours are only around because of his being our son. Never in a million lifetimes would Sirius be a Death Eater, given his associations! He's very nearly a brother to James Potter, and now he's been adopted into the Potter family.' Black spits out the words, as though trying to get something entirely distasteful out and over with. 'Regulus is the Death Eater. Although for how much longer remains to be seen.'

'Does Mrs. Black know of this?' Peter Robertson asks, hazarding the question.

Priam looks surprised at the question, 'No, of course not,' Black replies bitterly. 'First off, she is a woman and has no place engaging in such actions, Black though she may be. Secondly, as our ages have advanced, she has been slipping into dementia and should I die first, will be in no fit condition to run the family estates.'

Black takes a breath, and then continues, 'It is an irony that I have just only come to appreciate rather recently, that in exchange for keeping the magic concentrated within a limited number of people, for the sake of maintaining the purity of blood through successive generations of repeated incestuous in-breeding, one must then pay the price in one's mental and physical well-being. Our one saving grace is that we, and our children, avoided the hemophilia that plagued our fourth removed cousins, Czar Nicolas and his family.

Another breath, then 'While I will never approve of the people that Sirius has chosen to associate with,' Black continues. 'At the same time, so long as it will be possible to do so, the Black Estates must remain in Black hands. And while the Malfoys and the Lestranges are married into the family, and while we agree on certain issues; they are not Blacks, and will never be Blacks. And I do not want them to get their hands on more of the estates than they are entitled to through marriage to my sisters Narcissa and Bellatrix respectively. You see the dilema then?'


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

"Naturally Harry," Peter says. "Given the events of the last few years, since that first and only meeting with Priam Black, it's been touchy, and required very delicate handling with regards to the Ministry of Magic, given Lucius Malfoy's connections. But with all of his pureblood fanaticism and decided mal-treatment of Sirius, Priam Black was also not an idiot either; and very much at the end deserving of the name given him by his father, after King Priam of Troy."

Harry looks thoughtfully, as he responds, "Did you and Sirius have the same conversation?"

"We did," Peter agrees. "About six months after you assisted in his escape, at a meeting in Remus Lupin's house. Remus Lupin, Daedelus Diggle, Nympadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Albus Dumbledore were all present as witnesses. And yes, a record was taken of the encounter for safe-keeping. After repeated cross-checkings into the necessary documents and laws regarding inheritance for both muggles and wizards, and other related items; I think everything has been done in both worlds to assure you a legally iron-clad inheritance. Which also means that you are now officially the last of the Line of Black, with all of the privileges, duties, properties, and responsibilities encumbent therein."

Harry nods in agreement, as he stands. "My friends and I need to do some shopping to prepare for classes this term. Thank you for your time Mr. Robertson. Can I make an appointment for 3 PM on the first of August to discuss the investments of money and related matters? It is a subject that I know little about..."

"Of course Harry," Peter replies. "I'll see you on the first." He shakes the trio's hands, and then escorts them to the main entrance. He watches as they walk out into Diagon Alley.


  #11  
Old March 9th, 2005, 2:26 am
Aicerno  Male.gif Aicerno is offline
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Chapter III:

Part I; Classes, Concerts, and Inheritance; Installment IV:

After picking their books at Flourish and Blotts, they drop by Madam Malkin's robes for all occassions, and Hermione and Ron watch critically as Harry tries on a variety of new dress robes, picked out on the condition of matching his eyes.

Finally, on the selected piece, Hermione says, "Very nice. Sam's just going to go ecstatic when she sees you."

"Harry, mate," Ron says laughing. "You won't have to worry about asking any of the girls out, they'll all be wanting to ask YOU out."

Harry blushes, looking at the floor, as Madam Malkin walks by, overhearing the conversation, and then eyeing him critically. "Your friend is not too far wrong on that point," she agrees. "You are quite a handsome young man Mr. Potter. And no doubt less the dandy about than your father. You can pay for the robes after your hearing, as one should look their best for such events."

Getting back into his muggle clothes, Harry folds up his purchases, and then he, Ron, and Hermione make their way over to Florean Fortescue's shop where they have lunch. Following lunch, they make their way over to the potions shop to replentish their stock of supplies. While in the store, they run into Ginny, and then proceed together down the alley to Weasely's Wizarding Wheezes.

"Ah," George says, looking up from the accounts book and seeing the four walk into the store. A large smile comes on his face, as he says, "Well, if it isn't the man of the day and his compatriots. How're you doing Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny? Let me take you on a tour of the premises..."

They finish their greetings, and then follow George past a beautiful waterfall cascading into a pond. As they walk, George keeps up a running commentary regarding their products. Moving by the fall and pool, George elaborates, "Remember that swamp we made in Gregory the Smarmy's corridor? Well apparently the idea was more popular than we realized, and there was a demand for a wider range of products similar to it; cross-market appeal is always a good thing for business. The first part of the summer, we offered just the swamp initially, but the idea was popular and with so many requests..." the group share a laugh, as they turn and head up a spiralling stair case that weaves around the falls.

On the second floor, George leads them through section after section of more joke goods; each section labelled to the variety and type of item. "By the end of this year's term, we're hoping to have installed a branch location at Hogsmeade. We're currently negotiating right now." George says.

"Wicked cool," Ron says, visibly impressed.

"So Harry," George says. "What do you think?"

"Congratulations," Harry replies, smiling. "I'm impressed. You two are beyond a doubt the best at this..." he waves his hand around the store. "How's the research and development going?"

"Well," George replies grinning. "Busy. With the boom in sales we got following our departure from Hogwarts, we've actually had to hire some more staff just to keep up with demand. Fred's busy in the lab room right now, we try to schedule it so that at least one of us in the front room at any given time--but even with that we've had to hire people to work in the lab too, just to keep up with demand. And thanks Harry, we couldn't have done this without you. As co-owner and financier, you get ten percent of the profits."

Harry chuckles at the thought of that money, as though he didn't have a lot of it as it was... then a thought came to him. As the group turns and heads down the stairs, Harry says, "Out of curiosity, would you be looking for an accountant? That way instead of managing the finances yourself, you and Fred could have more time to Research and Development, amongst other things."

"That would be a good idea," George admits. "Besides, with Fred and myself in the Order now, having someone who can facilitate the management of the business would be useful. Beyond just ourselves, especially with the proposed branch in Hogsmeade due to open in late May should all go well. Who would you have in mind?"

"Peter Robertson III," Harry replies, handing George Peter's business card. "He's been enlisted to help me manage the estate that I'll be getting from Sirius. And he or his partners may be able to help you."

"Thanks Harry," George says relieved. "That's going to be a load off of Fred and my minds. They arrive at the counter, where they find several arm-full of packages awaiting them.

"How'd those get here?" Ron asks.

"House elves," George replies, and waving a hand before Hermione could interject. "We warned them before we took them on, that while they might not approve of being paid and stuff like that, given some of our friends... it would be appreciated if they would accept it as one of our little eccentricities. They were thoroughly sceptical, knowing about Dobby and Winky, but they accepted it, and set what terms as they will."

"Which isn't much," Fred replies, coming out of the back rooms, and overhearing the last part of the conversation. "But at least they are still bound by their oaths of silence. Makes it somewhat easier to get orders from the Order that way. Thanks again Harry, and have fun at school." George rings them out, and the four make their way out and back to the Leaky Cauldron.

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

On returning to the Inn, they make their way to their rooms and drop off their packages. As they head back downstairs, they encounter Seamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas.

"Ah Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny," Seamus says smiling, waving over to them. "I'll bet you guys had a wicked summer so far... me mam and da' have just checked into our rooms, and are movin' the luggage up." The six of them walk across the floor, making their way to one of the snugs in the room. Taking a seat in the small side-room, they sit and discuss the events of summer.

"So what's the plan with the DA, Harry?" Seamus asks.

"Well," Harry replies. "I thought that we'd do a quick review of the covered material; and then see what we can do about arranging a boggart that will only turn into a dementor, regardless of who's looking at it, for practicing the patronus charms on. As for anything else, I suppose that will be whatever homework the DADA instructor assigns. We'll just have to wait to find out though, but I have the feeling that we're going to have a load of work ahead of us..."

The group laughs, and then they hear a growl coming from the entrance to the snug. "Too right you are, Potter," Alastor Moody says, stepping into the room. He looks the six students over and then smiles, "You guys are going to be in for a very interesting treat this year. Professor Dumbledore will personally instruct the sixth years and up; while, with a loosening up of some of the newer rules and some provisions in place, Remus Lupin has agreed to teach first through fifth years, while I'll be his replacement during full moons. And sometimes, the three of us are going to team up for particular lessons."

The six students look shocked, amazed, and a flicker of worry moves across Seamus' and Dean's faces. Ron though, looks as though he missed something... "How did the Ministry allow that?" Ron asks. "I thought there was a ban on werewolves gaining employment."

"Right now," Moody replies. "The Ministry of Magic's undergoing some changes, thanks to Voldemort and his Death Eaters breaking into the Department of Mysteries; as well as Fudge's denial for the last year and a half about Voldemort's return. And while Lucius Malfoy is under wraps at Azkaban, we are taking full advantage of his abscence."

"So the list of the names of the captured Death Eaters proved useful," Hermione asks. "Between that and Harry's article in the Quibbler, and the report of Voldemort breaking into the Ministry of Magic being reported."

"It helped a lot," Moody replies, a grim smile on his face. "We found twelve empty desks, with hasty notices of resignment of their positions in twelve different departments, fortunately neither of them in either the DOM or the Aurors; Or the misuse of Muggle artifacts office either. It was also through that, that we were able to obtain a post-mortem pardon for Sirius from Fudge before he stepped down, that Percy Weasely agreed to uphold, while he serves prior to the new Minister of Magic taking the seat."

"Just so you know Harry," Moody continues. "It was that pardon that helped with the establishment of the wills; even though there was no doubt as to their authenticity. Makes it harder for the opposition to use it as ammunition against either the wills, or you. Oh, and something to be considered... Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy will be present at your hearing; Lucius representing himself, while Narcissa will be representing her sister Bellatrix and the Lestrange brothers..."

"On that note," Moody adds, looking around the room, while his magic eye looks in the opposite direction. "You kids have fun at the concert." He turns, and heads out of the room. After Moody leaves, Seamus says, "We'll catch up with you guys, gotta go check out our rooms." Seamus and Dean get up, and head out, leaving the four to themselves.

Part I; Classes, Concerts, and Inheritance; Installment V:
Author's note: Information enclosed herein will be updated as soon as I get the necessary information from GOF, and OOTP.

After Seamus and Dean depart from the snug, Ginny looks at the other four and says, "When Professor Moody says, 'Change'..."

"Fudge has resigned his post," Hermione replies. "And Umbridge took a ride on Fudge's coattails, and probably on Malfoy's payroll as well. After what's happened, I think they'll both be looking for new employment."

"Who's going to be the next minister?" Harry asks.

"Well," Hermione says, pulling out the recent editions of the Quibbler and the Daily Prophet. "You'd have to read between the lines on both editions to get an idea, but right now Amelia Bones is being considered for the positions... they tried to give it to Professor Dumbledore, who once again turned it down. A Thomas Pyrite is challenging Ms. Bones.

"Pyrite," Ron mutters. "I think I've heard of that name from my dad. I'll ask him about it; but if he's who I think he is, he's an absolute nutter of the worst sort, and definitely someone we don't want as Minister of Magic."

"What is it Hermione," Ginny asks.

"This is pleasant," Hermione whispers back, then reads out loud from the Daily Prophet:

"Following the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of suspected Death Eater Lucius Malfoy following his breaking and entering into the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic; a raid was conducted by aurors on several properties that Malfoy claims ownership of, including his primary residence in ___________________. At his primary residence, several artifacts belonging to 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' from that Dark Sorceror's school time were found. Other items found, include a subterranean dungeon that held the remains of thirty one bodies, four of which were vampires who were imprisoned there as mechanisms of torture. Upon receiving the testimony of the vampires regarding their incarceration, the aurors promptly dispatched them in accordance to bylaw __________ of the treatment of non-human beings. The other bodies were properly disposed of..." ~ Rita Skeeter.

"Uggg," Ginny says scowling. "Thirty one bodies? In Malfoy's main house alone?"

"But if the vampires were imprisoned there against their will," Hermione says, becoming greatly agitated. "Why were they killed?"

"Because they're vampires, 'Mione," Ron replies. "I also think that werewolves are also technically covered by the same piece of legislation, but unlike vampires, special considerations are given to the individual--like for instance if a wizard or witch is bitten by a werewolf, and they don't attack anyone else, or if they manage to avoid becoming registered as a werewolf, and similar considerations like Professor Lupin until Snape let loose the nature of his condition, then they get a stay of execution. Should a muggle get bit, both the muggle and the initiating werewolf have to die... at least it's a relatively painless and quick death," Ron finishes, avoiding Hermione's glare, as Harry asks, "You mean like 'Avada Kedavra?'"


  #12  
Old March 9th, 2005, 7:28 am
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Chapter III:

Part I; Classes, Concerts, and Inheritance; Installment VI:

Harry looks up, coming out of a deep dreamless sleep, and places his glasses on. He wasn't sure why, but he had a feeling that he would see Sam today. "Too early," he mutters to himself. He looks around the room, and sees Ron sleeping. Getting up quietly, he dresses quickly, and then slips out the door.

Going down the stairs, he goes into the main room of the inn, and sees Ginny seated over at a table in the far corner. Walking over to her, he notices the tears running down her face, as he says "Morning Ginny, you alright?"

She looks up at him and shrugs, "Dunno. Pull up a seat."

Harry sits down, as she asks, "How are you?"

"Been better, been worse," he admits. "Ever have the feeling like your waiting for something to happen, and you know it will, but you're not certain of what the outcome will be?"

"You mean like now?" Ginny asks, giving a nervous laugh and wiping at the tears. Harry nods in agreement, and she says, "I didn't get much sleep last night..."

"Any?" Harry queries, looking at her.

"Not really... I slipped out the room after I was fairly certain that Hermione was asleep," Ginny replies. "Too much to think about..."

"I sympathize with that," Harry agrees. "At the same time, I'm rather surprised at how well I slept given what I have on my plate."

"The most eligible bachelor in the wizarding world," Ginny says, attempting to make a joke of it and failing. "And then there's me; between Hermione and now Sam... even Parvati, I must fall pretty low on your radar... First I go out with Michael Corner, now Dean Thomas... Neville wants to go out with me; but the person I want, have wanted is you. And the best I get is a hello; a broken ankle, and generally come close to dying just so you can notice me. Besides, you're the only person I could ever have a relationship with that my family wouldn't d*mn near come to disowning me for having. You know how Ron is."

Harry places his hand on the table and says, "Hold my hand." When she does, he says, "Look Ginny, don't go blaming yourself because I'm too much of an idiot to notice. I don't know if you understood what was in those letters I wrote to you; but you need to know now, I'm starting to wake up. I hate, I despise the fact that it required placing my friends in danger, and losing my godfather to do it; and it didn't help that Professor Dumbledore waited until after Sirius' death to give me the information I needed most to help make the best decisions. And besides, would you have really let me go to the Department of Mysteries by myself? Even after all of my attempts at dissuading you? Because if I had talked you out of it, I probably would have died there Ginny, and I owe you, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna."

"So what do we have," Ginny asks. "Besides the propensity and talent for saving each other's lives, and generally otherwise ignoring the other?"

"I have a question for you," Harry says. "When I was needing to talk to Sirius, who was there that helped me figure out how to do it? You were. We also share a similar talent for getting into trouble. And yes, bringing chocolate into the library counts." He notices that she smiles at the memory. "And whether you like it or not Ginerva Weasely, after what happened in the Department of the Mysteries, you were brought into my inner circle; if it could be called that. The way I see it is that I have friends who are my family and that I love dearly. You know everything Ron and Hermione and Sam do, and you found out about it sooner than your brother did, who got most of it from Hermione and not me. And I told it to you. What does that count for?"

She nods, reluctant acceptance in her expression.

"Do you know what the future holds?" he asks. At her negative response he asks, "Do you know what you want?" A subtle yes, and then she squeezes his hand.

He sighs, and looks at the archway. Finally he says, "And I don't know what I want... like I told you and Sam, I'm just learning to live and deal with being a sixteen year old wizard; let alone being the one person who alone can defeat Voldemort. Every single thing that gets placed before me can either be a hindrance or an advantage that can place me closer to being able to survive that encounter; which even if I do defeat Voldemort, I don't even know if I will survive it. I don't know if Ron, Hermione, you or anyone else I care about will survive it..."

"But what if you do, and you choose someone other than me?" Ginny asks.

"Ginny," Harry says, squeezing her hand. "Do you see that arch?" At her nod, yes, he continues, "Right now, my life is like that arch. It looks strong architectually, but what would happen if you pull out one of the pieces?"

"It would fall," Ginny replies. "Everyone knows that..." as realization begins to dawn on her face.

"And while I'm learning what and who I want," Harry adds. "I know what I don't want, and while you may not have realized it... you are one of the pieces that hold up the arch of my life. And I'm sorry that it's taken me this long to figure out who the people are that really matter to me. But I'm waking up now."

"So what about you and Sam?" she asks.

"You are not Sam," Harry replies, attempting to make a stern expression on his face. "You are Ginerva Weasely, and you two are two completely different people; some similarities, but important differences too. And please take me seriously when I say that trying to make yourself exactly like her is going to do no one any good, least of all you or I. Or wasn't there a lesson to be learned from Cedric's death? I can't go on alone if the people I depend on most for my sanity are fighting all the time over who gets who or what; so just relax."

"Easy for you to say," Ginny says.

"Do you really think so?" Harry asks, looking her in the eye. After several moments, she blushes, and then looks to the floor. "Sam already knows that our future is uncertain; and that I may end up with someone else, if we survive. All any of us can do is trust each other to know and do what's best and love each other, living in the present and not letting the future worry us any more than absolutely necessary to keep us safe."

"While at the same time remembering that you are the number one target in this shooting gallery," Ginny shoots back, a smile forming. "Without intentionally attempting to sound melodramatic, right?"

Harry smiles back, squeezing her hand, as he nods in agreement.

"Whatever happened to that shy little boy I met," Ginny asks.

Harry thinks it over, and then responds, "He's never left, it's just that situations are arising that require his thoughtful attention to. It's an interesting change that being placed into a life-or-death situation can bring about; and if such changes could be given people without actually putting them into a life-or-death situation, I'm all for it. I didn't have much say in mine, considering that choices were made that determined what would happen, back when I was only a year old. But I'm doing my best to make up for it, and keep myself and everyone else I care about alive. Out of curiosity, what ever happened to that shy little girl who could never speak in front of me?"

Ginny blushes furiously, as she replies slowly, "I think she realized that if she actually wanted to get to know the real you, she was going to have to come out of that shell she was hiding in... and I don't think she was ready for, or even capable of understanding what it meant to be you... Do you think that I need to get out of my brothers' shadow before we can have a relationship?"

"I doubt it would hurt," Harry replies. "Thinking about it, I'd say what's probably helped keep us from actually trying is that git of a brother of yours trying to ever so subtly point out to us that we need to persue one in the first place..."

"Ouch!..." they hear Ron's voice, and look over to see Ron doubled over in pain, holding his ribs, with Hermione looking determinably innocent of any wrong doing...

"What can a person do for some privacy around here?" Ginny asks Harry, who shrugs, an amused smile on his face.

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

"Ron," Hermione calls. "Are you up?"

"Hmmph," Ron mutters into his pillow. Hermione crosses into the room, and shakes him. "Get up, Ginny hasn't slept in her bed..."

"Huh, Ginny, where?" Ron asks, dazedly, looking up. "Hermione, what are you doing here?"

"Looking for Ginny," she replies. "And apparently Harry isn't here either."

"Bloody hell," Ron says, looking at Harry's empty bed. "Where are they? If they're snogging..."

"You'll what?" Hermione asks. "Aren't you always the one who's wanting them to do just that? Come on, and don't wake your mother... Honestly, Ronald!" They slip out the door, and make their way to the stair case. Going down just far enough to stay within hearing, but without being seen, they listen:

"While at the same time remembering that you are the number one target in this shooting gallery," Ginny shoots back, a smile forming. "Without intentionally attempting to sound melodramatic, right?"

Harry smiles back, squeezing her hand, as he nods in agreement.

"Whatever happened to that shy little boy I met," Ginny asks.

Harry thinks it over, and then responds, "He's never left, it's just that situations are arising that require his thoughtful attention to. It's an interesting change that being placed into a life-or-death situation can bring about; and if such changes could be given people without actually putting them into a life-or-death situation, I'm all for it. I didn't have much say in mine, considering that choices were made that determined what would happen, back when I was only a year old. But I'm doing my best to make up for it, and keep myself and everyone else I care about alive. Out of curiosity, what ever happened to that shy little girl who could never speak in front of me?"

Ron looks at Hermione and says, "Y'know, it's about d*mn time they had this conversation."

"I'd agree," Hermione says, looking pleased. "Now shush."

Ginny blushes furiously, as she replies slowly, "I think she realized that if she actually wanted to get to know the real you, she was going to have to come out of that shell she was hiding in... and I don't think she was ready for, or even capable of understanding what it meant to be you... Do you think that I need to get out of my brothers' shadow before we can have a relationship?"

"I doubt it would hurt," Harry replies. "Thinking about it, I'd say what's probably helped keep us from actually trying is that git of a brother of yours trying to ever so subtly point out to us that we need to persue one in the first place..."

On hearing that, realization dawns on Hermione's face and seeing Ron's ribs so temptingly close, and the memory of hitting Malfoy... she draws her fist back and lets it swing.

"Ouch!" Ron cries out, doubling over on the staircase, as Harry and Ginny turn around and see them. "What was that for?" He asks Hermione, who is determinably attempting to look innocent.

"What can a person do to get some privacy around here?" Ginny asks Harry who shrugs, an amused expression. "And Ron, get down here before you fall down here. Hermione help the poor lad, before you do anything else to him."

"Sorry 'bout that," Hermione says. "We couldn't help overhear the last part of the conversation... he was worried you two might be snogging or something, despite how he's been trying to push you together."

Harry laughs, as he says, "So was I right then?"

"Apparently so," Ginny replies. "Dear brother Ronald Weasely, remember your sister can look after her own heart without too much overt or subversive hints from her brother. Even if the person she has decided to give her heart to can't even make up his mind at the moment, at least he's starting to take notice of the people around him. I think I can handle this, although you seem to be less able... Besides if you continue to keep trying to push either Harry or myself faster than we're willing to go; I do know where the bludgers are kept... and may just try out for a beater position on the team. That would keep both of you boys in line."

She looks at Hermione, shrugging her shoulder as she says, "Boys."

"You know," Hermione says. "I think you have your brother worried more than Harry."

Ginny looks at the two and says, "Probably because either Harry doesn't know me as well as Ron does; or it's the other way around, and Harry's just reasonably well-assured, that no matter how idiotic he is, Ron will be guaranteed to do worse. It's so nice having a humble man in the family, Harry reminds me a lot like dad sometimes."

"Can we have breakfast now?" Harry asks. "This is making me hungry, and Ginerva... remind me never to tick you off; you're really great as a friend and all, but you'd make one scary enemy." Ginny blushes, hiding a smile, and yet looking abashed too.

The food is served, and they make their way through it. By the time they're done, Seamus and Dean are downstairs with Mr. and Mrs. Finnegan, and Arthur and Molly Weasely.

"Good morning," Arthur says brightly. "I see you four are up all bright and early."

"Where on earth did you go?" Molly says worriedly. "Beds empty, no note..."

"Honestly mum," Ron asks. "Where did you think we were going to go? Steal the old Ford Anglia and make off for the concert? Seamus and Dean have the tickets, anyways. Besides, we were just getting in a much needed conversation about the transfigurations classes we're taking this term..."

Molly glares at Ron momentarily, and then softens her gaze.

"So what time do we need to be at the stadium," Ginny asks Seamus, who replies, "The concert per se starts at 7:30, there's two opening acts, and to get good parking, we'll need to get there by two at the latest. Mam and Da, Mr. and Mrs. Weasely managed to pick up four extra tickets to the concert to serve as our chaperones. Dumbledore felt it best to have at least two Order members with us, while others were discreetly placed at various vantage points..."

"Like Bill," Molly says. "Who has kindly arranged to serve as the ticket taker when we arrive. He'll no doubt fit into that crowd quite well. Now Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Harry. Go get dressed, and we'll see you back down here. Oh and Ron, did you hurt yourself? Why are you holding your ribs like that?"

"Oh nothing mum," Ron replies, flushing red, as he and the others head up stairs, quickly.

"Probably overheard something he shouldn't have," Arthur says to himself, a smile on his face.

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

The crowd swells, as people yell. "You know Seamus," Harry says. "I never knew muggle concerts were this loud..."

"Wizard concerts are just as bad Harry," Seamus replies. "This is about on-par for a weird sisters concert you know..."

"Won't anyone hear us?" Hermione asks worriedly.

"Hah!" Seamus laughs. "We have to shout just to have a normal conversation and you're worried about people overhearing us?"

The first two bands go through their pieces, and then as the light begins to fade, the stage goes dark... And then music comes on, as the announcer says, "And let us give a warm welcome to tonight's band, where people have come from around the world to see... Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton, The Edge, and the frontman tenor himself, Bono; I Present, U2!"

And then the beats of the drum start sound, as the guitar and bass start going into gear, and then Bono's voice comes in over the loud speakers, with the opening song, "Zoo station." "The Fly," "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "Bullet the Blue Sky," and "Stuck in a moment," close out the first set. When They open with "So Cruel," Harry reflects on the date that he had with Cho Chang, and his expression saddens. Ginny looks at him, and squeezes his hand, "Thinking about Cho," she asks, getting close to his ear. He nods in agreement. And then transitioning into "Mysterious Ways," followed by "a man and a woman," "Elevation," "Acrobat," "All Because of You," "All I Want is You," "Ultra Violet," and then going through to "Walk on," closing out the show.

At some point, as the music was grooving, Harry didn't quite recall dancing with Ginny, but at some point, he noticed that they were.

"Don't move," she says. "Just enjoy."

Finally, when the band closes down, the stage in light, the concert over, the crowd begins dispersing.

"There you are," Bill says, a grin on his face. "You guys looked like you were having too much fun so the adults decided to stay in the back seats where it's quieter. They let me handle the close work. Oh, and Harry, has Ginny met Sam yet?"

"Not yet," Harry replies, looking quizzically at Ginny as though to say, "Do you want to?"

"I would like to meet her," Ginny replies. "Is she here?"

"Yeah," Bill replies. "She's here, wasn't able to get front row seats though. So we'll have to head back to meet them." He leads the way through the crowd, and finally get to where Sam and her friends are.

"Harry!" Sam cries, "I didn't you'd be here. Why didn't you tell me?"

"Probably because I didn't know you'd be here either," Harry replies simply, and grinning. They introduce their circle of friends to each other. And then Harry says, "Looking forward to the first?"

"Yeah," Sam replies. "Do you think I'll be any good at it?"

"You may be 16 Sam," Ginny says smiling. "But our Hermione's a muggle-born too, and there's not much she can't do. Besides, we women seem to come by magic a bit easier than most boys do." As the girls laugh, Hermione says, "She's been a bit irritated by her brother Ron and Harry. She's not usually like this."

Ginny thinks it over, and then says, "Yeah, I guess so; not so much Harry though..." she rolls her eyes.

"I tell you what," Sam says. "When I come over on the first, can we have some all-girl time? I'm fairly certain I'd love to hear your impression of Harry."

Ginny looks decidedly shocked momentarily, then a smile spreads on her face. "Sure, let's do that... Hermione?"

"Of course..." Hermione agrees. "But before then, we need to get Harry to a decent muggle shop for some new clothes; do you think Fleur could help us Bill?"

"Harry, mate," Bill says grinning. "You are in trouble. Ron, should we go to at least help him save face, or let the women have their time with him?"

Ron looks at Bill, Harry, Seamus, Dean, and then to Sam, Ginny, and Hermione. "While we're at it," Sam says grinning wickedly. "And to make it fair, let's get Ron some new clothes too." The women burst out laughing, while Bill looks on shaking his head.

"Sounds like a deal to us," Ginny and Hermione say together.

"We're doomed," Ron mutters so that only Harry can hear him.

Harry thinks it over, and then says, "Honestly Ron, I'm not that fussed. I'd rather be embarrassed out of my boots any day by those three, than have to deal with death eaters..."

"Ah Harry," Bill says. "Ever the eternal pragmatist."

After bidding their adieus to Sam and her friends, Harry and his entourage make their way back to where Mr. and Mrs. Weasely are sitting with the Finnegans. And then they head out together to get to the car.


 



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