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com LEGACIES : The Solidus Charm by The Dark Lord Nedved

View Online Format: Novel Chapters: 23 Word Count: 108,146 Status: COMPLETED Rating: Mature Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme Genres: General, Romance, Action/Adventure Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Lupin, Tonks, Voldemort, Cho, Draco, Ginny Pairings: Harry/Hermione First Published: 04/13/2005 Last Chapter: 09/21/2006 Last Updated: 09/21/2006 Summary:

Set immediately after Order Of The Phoenix. After the battle at the Ministry of Magic, Harry gets no time to mourn his godfather as a new foe emerges with the sole purpose to assasinate him. A gift from Dumbledore which at first alters his magic; is now begining to torment his soul. This is the beginning of the Legacy of a young Magi who was Prophesized to have the Power the Dark Lord Knows Not. Over 170 000 reads.

Chapter 1: The Awakening [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** PROLOGUE

Broken and defeated on the fields of blood and sand, there once lived a man who wielded the power to change the realm forever more. Now re-incarnated from the ashes, the lone figure emerges from the depths of the nether, stronger, even more determined, eyes ablaze with a fervour no mere mortal could dare challenge. The powers that be have cast judgement on the one who was heralded as the Strongest. Little did the Gods know that this being bowed to no Heavenly host, neither cowered before the Devils of Hell. After his restless slumber, the Legendary Dark Lord rises again.

**Chapter 1: The Awakening.**

The drive home from platform nine and three quarters was engulfed in a tense silence. Uncle Vernon was in caught between wanting to throttle the boy, and fearing the consequences. "Petunia, how dare that, that, freak insult me and threaten my family?" "Now, now," she tried to soothe him. "Let s not get upset, the doctor said your pressure-" "Blast the doctor - he's totally incompetent! First he says Dudders is overweight, and now he's harping about my blood pressure! I'm fine!" he grumbled, sweat beading down his face. "Isn't that so Dudders? That so-called doctor doesn't know what he's doing." "Er- yeah...dad," Dudley said. As the car drove on and Harry felt the uncomfortable silence eating at him, his mind once again drifted to the past recent events. Was it only a few days ago he had seen him die? It felt as if a part of him had disappeared along with Sirius through the veil. He sighed and leant back in the seat; his head lolling against the window and cushion. "Potter, who the hell was that, that er- person?" Vernon blurted out. Harry saw his uncle's eyes looking at him in the rear-view mirror, the indignant expression evident on his face. He ignored him, and slowly turned his gaze back on the window. Dudley watched him out of the corner of his eye when he refused to answer. Petunia shot a look at Harry, opened her mouth to say something, and then changed her mind. Vernon did not notice his wife s hesitation, and looked again in the mirror. "Boy! Did you not hear me? I said 'who was that man?" he repeated in a

threatening tone. Harry sighed and slowly turned his gaze onto the mirror, making eye contact with his uncle. "That was Professor Moody." He didn t think that his uncle would understand what Aurors were - neither Death Eaters - so he left that as it was. Once again, that disjointed white line on the highway captured his attention. It was odd, how after all the things he had gone through, going to the place he called home seemed more terrible than everything else. Vernon was astonished that someone so menacing could ever be a teacher, and immediately dismissed the idea. He wasn't a Professor. Couldn't be. Teacher? Don t you go telling lies boy! He surely was one of y-your criminal friends! Harry didn t even contradict him. Just having a conversation with his uncle was an exercise in futility. When he thought about it, he hardly knew Alastor Mad-Eye Moody. The Moody he knew was actually not Moody at all, it was an impersonator: Bartemus Crouch Jr. Once again he felt like kicking himself because of his gullibility and recklessness. If every wizard he encountered could fool him so thoroughly, how was he supposed to defeat the master of the Deceptive arts? Harry couldn t believe he had gotten so close to Voldemort yet still managed to escape death. Barty Crouch turned out to be a very determined, intelligent, and aggressive, lunatic. Luckily his master plan had failed, his composure lost and Harry was glad that the ranting of a madman gave Dumbledore the chance to come to the rescue. One thing he did inadvertently learn from Crouch (yet still needed to implement more efficiently) was Moody s credo: Constant Vigilance. After fighting with the Dark Lord, you would think he would have more common sense than to fall immediately into the hands of another Dark Wizard. Well, he was Harry Potter, and when matters concerned him; nothing ever was as it seemed. Another year had passed since then, and this year, he met face to face once again with Lord Voldemort. He was so ashamed of himself. After all of his bravado to resuce Sirius, the mere sound of his voice froze him to the spot. What in the world was I thinking? If there was anything to gain from that night, was that he was powerless to do anything. To make matters that much more serious: he learned of the prophecy that bound him- the so called Boy Who Lived, and the Dark Lord Voldemort -together. Adversaries since birth, no one has ever held the responsibility that he now had to carry. Right now his thoughts were completely in turmoil; his head was throbbing with the gravity of his newfound predicament. Harry; you are going to die. Plain and simple...

He is destined to duel against the most dangerous Dark wizard in over a century, or be murdered by him. He's seen fairer odds at a rigged slot machine. But looking on the bright side, at least he had another blasted bonus to having this stupid scar: target practice for Voldemort and his Death Eaters. He smiled grimly to himself, the dark side of his humour the only escape from his brooding. The why me? philosophy he has carried around for the past five years all seemed so frivolous now. So far, he really didn't have anything to worry about, seeing as Dumbledore was always there to pick up the slack. Now, he knew that his life was predetermined and that others have pulled his strings and knew more about him, his circumstances and his scar more than he even thought possible. How could he have kept this from me for so long? Why does everyone keep all of these secrets - and why do I have to find out only when it is too late? "Can't this car go any faster?' he said into the silence. Dudley looked at him as if he had gone mad. His aunt turned to scold him, but he didn't care. He wanted to go up to his room. And wanted to do so NOW. Harry's hair rustled as his eyes closed involuntarily, the air getting heavy with a strange tingling. Images of the flash of fires of a thousands hells burned into his eyelids within a hearbeat. The doors of the car felt as if they were contracting on them, and Uncle Vernon began to hyperventilate, his breathing becoming laboured as his face turned a blotchy red- The next moment, the entire vehicle constricted on them, and Harry felt a sever tug from behind his navel. SCCCrreeeeeeeCCCCCCHHHHH!!!!! Uncle Vernon mashed the brakes hard. Harry was jerked forward, bracing against the driver's seat with his arms and then they stopped suddenly, in a strangely familiar place Wait... this couldn t be. This is their... Aunt Petunia let out a hysteric scream, which, Harry thought, sounded frighteningly similar to those old black and white horror flicks she always used to watch. Vernon was desperately gasping for air and Dudley looked around in astonishment, his jaw dropping in stupor. Harry peered out of the window: he couldn't care less. He opened his door and stepped out, slamming it behind him. He could still hear his aunt screaming like an idiot. Taking a deep breath, he didn t know how he got here, but he was. He looked at the perfectly manicured lawn of number four, Privet Drive, Little Winging; and sighed in frustration. Home.

**

Chapter 2: Privet Drive [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**Chapter 2 : Privet Drive** Uncle Vernon was gripping the steering wheel tightly; his breathing coming in short bursts like a winded bull. Dudley plastered his hands and face against the window, completely astonished, his eyes darting from his mother s favourite potted plant, the football left in the corner, the chocolate wrapper he threw there this morning, and the wooden front door of his house. Harry walked around, squeezed his legs between the car and the front door, (they were only a foot away) opened the passenger door, leant inside and told Petunia in her face: "Oh- shut up already." She immediately obeyed, seeming to now realize that she was screaming. She was beside herself in alarm, and took some deep breaths to calm herself. Harry now felt really terrible. Inadvertently he may have nearly scared the living soul out of his only family left alive. His expression changed and he muttered an attempted apology. "Er- I'm sorry. I didn t mean it like that. A tense silence ensued. "...Are you okay?" he asked, now concerned. Aunt Petunia nodded erratically. Composing herself again, she looked across to her husband. I M ALIVE he blurted, inspecting his beefy hands. I M ALIVE!! Harry snorted in derision. It was a perfect one liner to accompany his wife s scream. Dudley was the first to get a hold of himself and bravely came out of the car. He turned around on the spot to make sure he really was where he was. Harry was startled when Dudley grinned at him. Bloody fucking hell. That was absolutely brilliant. Harry raised an eyebrow at him in speculation- Dudley must be off his rocker! He noticed his uncle Vernon was mumbling uselessly in the driver's seat. Without further ado, Dudley pulled him out of the car, sat in the seat and reversed the car a few feet, shut off, then opened the front door and walked in. No less than ten seconds had passed when he came back out. Mum! I'm hungry! Harry chuckled to himself, helped his aunt out of the

car and ushered her inside and onto the couch before turning to get his things. Vernon sat with his elbows on his knees and heels of his hands in his eyes. Petunia sat there rigid, and then slowly turned her head to follow Harry's progress outside the door, staring at him in utter amazement. *********** Uncle Vernon did not speak to Harry for that day and the next, which was fine by him. Dudley had planted himself in front of his television the moment he got in and immediately turned it to Wrestling, getting up only to go to the fridge for his protein drink and some new nutrition bar or the other. Unfortunately for Harry, his cousin was now also part of his school s wrestling team. He was now more muscle-toned, however that podgy bulk would always be there due to the fact that his eating habits rivalled that of a few grown men. Harry grimaced, now Dudley knew how to inflict some serious damage if he got out of line. This is going to be a great summer. Putting that to the back of his mind, he went upstairs. Dudley was the least of his problems. Just as he was going to settle down he heard some heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. They seemed to falter with confidence the higher they came up, but Harry s hopes were dashed when the stopped outside of his door. He groaned in annoyance. What do they want now? he said to himself.

"Hey Harry? uhh- Can I? - I'm coming in! Dudley declared. A second later he was filling most of the doorway. He looked down at Harry sitting on the bed, trying his best to ignore him. "I don't have time for your stupidity now, preamble. Harry said without much

"Oh yeah?" Dudley responded indignantly, but then he paused, and humbled himself. Um, Harry...I didn't come up here to uhhh...hit you or anything. Honest." "Yeah right..." Harry snorted. "Fine. Whatever. This is stupid." He turned to leave. "What is it?" "Forget it." "What is it, Dudley?" Harry asked more seriously. Dudley paused. He seemed to be contemplating something very urgent but did not appear to have the right tools for the proper calculations. "I -I wanted I wanted... Yeah? Harry prodded.

To thank you. Th-thank you for what you did last summer.'

Harry was confused, and then it came flooding back to him. The Dementors, inches away from Dudley- the horrible screams of his parents, a limply floating Cedric, and worst of all- that clammy feeling of a never ending fall into a pit of misery. He looked up sharply, all vestiges of nonchalance gone as he peered into Dudley's face. He wasn't smiling or looking sarcastic. Actually, he was quite serious. Harry did not know what to say. Uuhh- Dudley stood there stupidly for a few seconds. Seeing as there was nothing more to be said, he spun around and closed the door. As he walked back to his room Harry overheard him mutter under his breath, "-I feel like a punk. *********** Harry was upstairs, once again sitting alone the repaired mirror Sirius had given him. He umpteenth time, looking at the small etching was the mirror his father and Sirius used to in his room. In his hand was examined it closely for the of 'J.P.' at a corner. This talk between themselves.

Harry, anytime you need to talk to me, look in the mirror and call my name Dumbledore had already told him about the Veil of Darkness. But Harry couldn t give up so easily- he still did not believe he was gone. The reflection in the mirror was different from the previous year. His face had filled out a little more, a few pathetic strands of hair were coming out of his chin to accompany his faint moustache. The lines of his cheekbones and around his jaw were more pronounced and his neck actually didn t resemble a pencil any more. The scar was more prominent than ever, his latest encounter with Voldemort had it on a constant edge, and now the he knew it was a physical communications link between them, he hated it even more. None of his friends knew, but he knew this scar was the mark of death. Rubbing it for what felt like the hundredth time today he cursed softly under his breath. He didn t want this life and he didn't want this scar. People gawking at him wherever he went, new first years always running up to him on a dare to actually see it, all of it soon became very annoying. Malfoy's taunts of Scarhead no longer affected him; it just reminded him that this was what he was famous for, and no one really saw anything but the boy who lived and not the real Harry. No one, even Dumbledore only considered him as a part of "an old man's brilliant plan." What rubbish. "Sirius!" he hissed into the mirror, ordering his face to magically appear. And once again, nothing happened. He is not dead, he chanted to himself. But his mantra only infuriated him every time he thought of it. I'm losing it. I'm talking to myself in the mirror in a dark room. You re hungry, Harry. Go downstairs, he ordered himself, only to curse once more that he had to scold himself into action. Maybe he really was

going insane. Harry put on some clothes, only to be infuriated once again that his jeans were too short and the shirts, though they fit around the shoulders comfortably they showed his belt line every time he lifted his arms. Swearing once again, he just had to make do. Nothing could be done about that now. Entering the kitchen without any sign that he saw, or even cared, that the Dursleys were all having breakfast, he opened the fridge to get himself some juice, resolutely ignoring the glances Petunia shot at him. Vernon just grunted in acknowledgement. Harry grumbled Good morning in response and his aunt mumbled something about 'lack of civility'. Harry sat at the kitchen table without comment. Vernon had just finished the morning paper and was now drinking his coffee, reading something on drill motors in "Construction Quality Supplies". He glanced down at the paper and saw boldly spread across the front page: LONDON POLICEMEN DROP DEAD AT COURT Pages 2 and 5 Harry snatched up the paper immediately. He read the article, a feeling of dread slowly overcoming him.

Late yesterday outside London House of Justice three Police officers were killed instantly by means unknown. One eyewitness claims that a lone man stopped the vehicle, and the three policemen from the North Division reportedly released the prisoner, then instantly fell to their death. A man who wishes not to be named, gives us his account on the incident: Scared me to death. Thought (the robed man) was going to be run over quick quick. I m telling you- this bloke seemingly appeared out of nowhere. It was amazing. Unbelievable. Now this was a guy dressed in a hood, I m telling you, honest to God. He raised a stick, pointed it, and the armoured van just ..kind of stopped. Not brakes screeching stop, just slowed quick quick. Incredible. It was like magic or something! Something out of Star wars if you asked me.' The eyewitness claims that the police were not forced or threatened, they were acting of their own accord. Those policemen just got out, released the guy from the back, then dropped. Just like that. I didn t wait to see what happened next. I ran quick quick. Even though the street was quite busy, no one else has come forward with information. On further questioning, persons at the scene claimed that they could not remember . The escaped convict and the hooded figure are reported at large and highly dangerous. Investigations are continuing.

** Voldemort, Harry gasped. Oh no...

At this Aunt Petunia spun around, a frightened look on her face. What was that? she hissed.

Er- nothing, Aunt Petunia Harry said, picking up his juice and placing the newspaper face down. Petunia marched up to the table and snatched it from him. Her eyes raced through the article, narrowing like a hawk, opening widely at intervals. Vernon, too busy to notice, handed his wife the coffee mug, expecting Petunia to take it automatically and refill it. After about fifteen seconds he realized he was still holding the cup and looked up in confusion. What is it? He asked, now mildly curious.

Er Nothing, she answered softly, almost in the same tone as Harry. Slowly, with shaking hands, she took the cup and refilled it. Petunia pursed her lips at Harry, then took the newspaper and went upstairs. Harry wished she hadn't, he wanted to read it again. Boy, get that breakfast for me on the counter, his uncle ordered. Harry reluctantly did what he was told. As an afterthought, and without much sincerity in his voice, Vernon added Please. Harry paused for a moment. He looked at his uncle, who was now concentrating on his magazine again. Saying nothing, he grabbed the breakfast Aunt Petunia made for him and put it in front of his uncle. He waited for a moment, maybe expecting a 'thank you', but it never came. *********** It was his fourth day back from Hogwarts and he still hasn't been scolded or looked upon in revulsion. The newfound quiet gave him more time to think. Harry was thankful - it definitely was a change; at least he was not outside lying in the mud and grass. As he sat in front of the television alongside Dudley who was deceptively calmer and more mature than Harry would ever thought possible. All Dudley did was look sideways at him once, but wisely, he said nothing. They sat down for almost a half an hour without speaking until Dudley just blurted out: "How the fuck did you get us here without your wand the other day?" Harry frowned. Dudley took up cursing at every other word as a habit, but the answer to his question Harry did not even know himself. He must have apparated the lot of them here. However, he also knew that Apparation only applied to the wizard doing the spell. It mentioned nothing about a carload of people. Additionally, he did not do his Apparation exam so he had no business being able to do it in the first place. He wondered why he did not receive an owl about it as yet. Well at least a small blessing like that is a good sign. Lord knows he needed a lucky break now and then.

I don't know,

Harry replied honestly.

"Aw- come on! You obviously know how just you don't want to tell me, is that it? Dudley was looking directly at him now, eagerness etched into his broad face. I told you, I don t know ! It's a lucky thing I haven t gotten a reprimand from the Ministr-" As if on cue, his uncle roared from the kitchen, "RUDDY OWLS!" A tawny owl came sweeping into the room and dropped an official -looking letter onto Harry's lap. Dudley looked at it, astonished. Harry 's eyes opened wide and full of anxiety. He looked up at it with a panicked look on his face and saw the exact same expression on Dudley s face. In that fleeting of an instant it seems that there was a connection between them, but it vanished as soon as it came. Harry tentatively opened it and read silently.

* The Ministry of Magic Department of the Wizengamot London, England

Attn Mr. Harry Potter The events of this past month have been brought forth to the Wizengamot's attention. Albus Dumbledore have relayed the specific details unto us; and we have reached a decision concerning the matter of the incident at the Ministry of Magic. We offer our condolensces as regards the death of Sirius Black, a man who we admit was wrongfully imprisoned for twelve years. His will is in our possession, and addressed solely to you. You are required to collect it at the above address. On a legal note, you are officially summoned for two court hearings. You will present evidence against the Dark Lord's followers that are presently in custody. You may be represented by a qualified Wizard lawyer of your choosing; or, one would be chosen if you cannot present one. Your date of hearing is Wednesday 27 of July at 10 am. Please send reply owl stating you have received this summons and inform us if you have representation or would require a Ministry representative. The second hearing will be on that same date at 4pm. In defiance of ministry decrees 234, 65, 25,and 1004 you are charged with 1. 2. 3. 4. Breaking and entering a Ministry Compound Destroying precious valuables from the Department of Mysteries Purposefully Endangering five underage wizards Using an unforgivable curse on another human

As these are serious allegations against you, you are required to stand trial. Use of magic in any shape or form is strictly prohibited, and you are not allowed to leave the country. It is mandatory that you present your wand to the guard at entry for confiscation until you are cleared or deemed safe in possession of a wand. Respectfully, Amanda Bones Secretary to the Wizengamot.

* Harry nearly fainted. The words swam in his head like piranhas attacking a piece of helpless meat. He limply dropped his letter onto his lap, leaned back and closed his eyes. "This isn t happening!" he said aloud. It can't be happening! Is this a joke? Fred George..you've out done yourself this time... Even to his own mind, it sounded way above their level of prank capability. He couldn t believe it. His fringe in front of his hair twitched as if on charge. It moved ever so slightly, and it could not have been noticed at a mere glance. Gradually, his whole head of hair charged up, strands separating from each other by fractions of millimetres. Dudley noticed something odd about Harry- there was no breeze yet his hair was restless, itching to move by an unseen force. "Harry? HARRY!" Dudley shouted. Harry snapped out of it, his eyes opening with a start. Frowning, he realized the television was now returning to normal reception, previously out of tune with static interfering with the screen. Dudley watched him sceptically, got up and hastily went out back. Harry let him leave, still sitting at the couch; wondering why he felt so agitated. He forgot about his cousin, most probably Dudley was going to his training gym in a spare room where he kept a set of weights. Furious, Harry got up and stormed up to his room, not noticing the grandfather clock had stopped, with the pendulum stuck in the furthest position to the right.

**************** A/n: These chapters should be coming in hard and fast. Look out for updates regularly.

Chapter 3: Owl Post [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**Chapter 3: Owl Post**

Harry read and re-read the letter in the privacy of his room. He still couldn't believe the gall of these so-called 'keepers of justice and peace' could try and pull this on him. Who suffered being called a liar and ostracized by his own school mates because he told the truth: that Voldermort was back? Who informed everyone of his return? Who helped catch all these Death eaters when no one would believe him the year before when he named some very controversial names? They can t be serious. I ll wake up any moment now . But the words did not help to alleviate his new predicament. If found guilty, he would be sent unceremoniously to Azkaban. Right now he needed to write Dumbledore (much as he hated to ask him for anything) only he could help him now. He unrolled some parchment from his trunk, only to be frustrated that he had no quills. "What else is new?" he grumbled. His sour mood now turned for the worse. As he paced around his room searching for one, a light tapping came at his window. Turning, he saw another owl with mail for him. "This better be good news," he threatened the owl. The owl seemed to take this threat seriously and ruffled his chest and back feathers, puffing up himself for battle. Looking down at the letter, he absentmindedly waved his hand at the owl and it shrieked, blowing away in a high gust, the window sill and panes crashing out of the wall and out some fifteen feet before falling with a muffled crash on the neighbour's hedge. Harry froze, watching his destroyed window sill out of the corner of his eye. He blinked once, then twice, hoping he was imagining things. "Blimey...", in a perfect Ron imitation. "How the...?" He leaned out the hole in his wall, and looked down at the hedge below. The window frame was broken and the glass had shattered. Did the window just commit suicide? he asked himself. Usually this would be fixed in a second with his wand, but as he was not allowed to do so- this was a big problem. Putting priorities first -he decided to read the letter first then deal with this window problem later. Unsurprisingly, it was from the headmaster himself. "He must have learnt that 'in the nick of time' luck charm over these many years," Harry muttered, not being able to suppress a smile. Dear Harry, I presume that you have received the post from the Ministry. You are not to worry. I should have things patched up in presumably three hours and

six minutes. However, you would still need to present yourself to court on the given day. Unfortunately, they are adamant in their view that you have broken the law. The order is powerless to stop this, I m afraid. Harry fear not, I shall help prepare your defence with your attorney. It seems that I cannot represent you because they believe that we have conspired in the past, and politely requested that you find someone else to defend you, and once again, you have nothing to worry about. I sorted out this matter with one of the top Wizard lawyers in the United Kingdom: Maureen Chang. She said she would be honoured to defend you in this case. Your first appointment with her is one week from now, at her office located in Chelsea. I have directions enclosed in the envelope. I will meet you there. Take care. Best regards Albus Dumbledore Headmaster of Hogwarts. p.s Mr. Ludo Bagman also has something you may want to hear. Look out for his owl soon. Well, that was efficient. He always appreciated the professor s help but for once can these things NOT happen to him so that he could have something resembling a normal life? No- it was way beyond that point. People have died fighting for his sake. If for nothing else, he would not hide and cry any more he won t let Sirius, nor his parents, die for nothing. With a newfound determination, Harry went downstairs to see if he could get this window pane sorted out before his aunt and uncle found out. Things may not be okay, but one thing at a time. He went around back, passing the gym Dudley worked out in. He went to the hedge, stretched up and grabbed the window pane. "OOOWW! Oh shi..!" Immediately, he yanked back his hand, a sharp piece of glass protruding out of his palm. Pulling it out, he watched the cut ooze blood at a slow, steady rate. Damn. Brilliant, Harry- just brilliant. You escape Voldermort a few times yet can't handle a broken window. You're some hero He cringed, laughed out loud to nullify the pain. His outburst had alerted Dudley, so he turned at the crunching sound of feet approaching him. "Whatcha doing?" said Dudley in that I'm gonna tell voice Harry hated.

"My window fell out. Termites," Harry lied. "Termites? We haven't any termites!" "Yeah? Says who?"

"Says ME!" "Who are YOU to tell ME anything?" Harry retorted. "I'm the one who could smash your face in!" "Hah!" Harry laughed in his face. "Whatever Duddykins. Believe what you want. If that's all...?" It was clearly a dismissal. He turned to find something he could stand on to get some more height. Dudley was not one to be told off, especially his puny little cousin. He snuck up behind him, aiming for a spot high in Harry's back. But something peculiar happened to Harry. Images of a boxing gym and a burly instructor came flashing thru in his mind's eye, showing a pair of podgy, pale arms. In his vision, he did a smooth step forward, drawing his fist, and punching straight into a padded glove Duck! WHAM! Harry felt it flush in his right shoulder blade, a cheap shot to the back. It floored him, only managing to break his fall at the last possible second with his hands. It hurt. It hurt a lot. "HAH !! WHO'S LAUGHING NOW POTTER??' cackling, Dudley turned away laughing to himself." What a punk...." Harry lay there still. His forehead pressed against his arms. The blow hurt, but this is not what had him in a state. The flashes of Dudley s training session were more a mystery to him. Now that had NEVER happened before. The only thing that came close was Snape's occlumency class. But he never tried it himself before, and never with a muggle. But he saw it, clear as day, the ropes, the red gloves, the instructor. What was even more spooky was that tardy warning Dammit. Sirius, I need you around for these kinds of things. He pushed himself up, only to have gotten dirt unto his cut, which immediately started to sting. Blinking once or twice, he cleared his head, and now and the pain in his hand was increasing. He carefully took the window frame back to the house, snuck upstairs with it and set out to work. ************* It was pouring outside. The makeshift window pane made of an old shower curtain was doing it's best to keep the dampness and cold out but was not doing such a good job. The frame held for the past few days ( it didn't fit properly) so he prayed it would hold out some more. At the moment, Harry was reading Ron's second letter to him since school let out, the first was a customary 'how are you' letter and informed him that England's

Under Twenty-one Quidditch squad was having a friendly later that summer in preparation for the Euro Championships. Harry found this quite interesting until, in the predictable trend of his bad luck (and even worse sense of timing) he found out that the England team were not taking any more members for tryouts. Just another instance of not being informed costing him. So much for sending in his application. Not that they would let him play: The Order, that is. He was sure Dumbledore would have him cooped up her until it was time to meet this Chang woman. Harry responded and told Ron that everything was fine. He avoided telling Ron that he was about to stand trial, the finality of putting it in writing would sink the nail in the coffin. He did, however, tell Ron that he had to see Oliver Wood play for the England. Puddlemore United had signed him on contract and for the past year he was monopolising the posts at the club with an amazing record for a rookie. His excellent performances earned him his spot between the hoops for England. Ron's second letter did not have the jovial air as the first one. HARRY, HOW CAN YOU HAVE NOT TOLD ME!! I OVERHEARD PERCY THE OTHER DAY IN THE FIREPLACE ABOUT YOUR SUMMONS! WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? You thought that if you didn t tell me you wouldn't have to deal with it being a big deal AM I RIGHT? Man, I am here if you want to talk- that s what mates are for!! You haven't told Hermione yet have you? Of course you did not. We both know she would read every law book possible for your defence. But that might be a good thing. Anyway Harry I'm gonna be there each and every day of your hearing. You hear me? AND YOU BETTER TELL HERMOINE BEFORE SHE COMES CHARGING DOWN YOUR DOOR!! Oh yeah, cross your fingers, we might be able to get tickets to EnglandBulgaria friendly. Fred got some contacts. It s gonna be way cool. Too bad we have to see Vicky again. Damn. I still don t trust him. Do you think Hermione still writes him? Ron Harry sighed. He picked up Hermione s latest letter.

Dear Harry, How are you? I know you have a lot on your mind. I m just writing another letter, well, just in case the first one did not reach you. Are your aunt and uncle treating you okay? I wish you never had to go back there. It sounds so horrible. I ve been doing some research on what we should study for NEWTS. I think Olden magic and Archaeology sounds interesting, don t you think? I totally aced my Ancient runes Owl I hope. Only a few more weeks until results! Aren t you excited? I hope you are revising for the new year.

I loved your Patronus at the end of last year. You really should have seen the look on Umbridge s face. I m so glad she s gone. She was a dotty old bat wasn t she? Harry, you know, if you have anything you want to tell me, I m only an owl away. Anything at all, we can talk about anything. Please mail me back. I want to know how you are feeling since- Anyway, you know what I mean. I miss him as well. It s not the end of the world Harry. There are other people who care for you, don t forget that. Your friend, Hermione. He should respond to her letter. It was the nice thing to do, even if he didn t feel like writing anyone right now. He started the letter with a ballpoint pen on normal paper (it tore the parchment) to Hermione. Halfway through writing the grisly details of the summons when another owl landed on the sill, ripped a hole through the shower curtain large enough to slip through, and jumped down to the floor, dripping wet. It was carrying a letter tied to its leg. Harry took it off, and the owl made his way out of there in a hurry. He noticed letter was charmed with the same water repellent spell Hermione had used on his glasses to prevent the rain from clouding his vision. To his surprise, there was an official stamp of the Three Lions Emblem outlined with a Snitch. Harry's heart raced. This must be Bagman's letter! He ripped open the envelope: Harry! Heard you got yourself in a nice little mix up now after that fracas at the Ministry! But that's my boy! You show those maniacs you mean business! Anyway, I got a favour to ask you. Well actually I'm doing YOU a favour. Our current England team is up and roaring to go, except for one thing: our starting seeker got into a bit of wand mischief and managed to wipe away his Quidditch memories! Now if that isn't sabotage I don t know what is! Our reserve seeker is up to the challenge but he's the only one we've got. So grab your gear, find your sorry arse down here and tryout for the reserve team. I have heard impressive stories from Wood about you! Said you have never failed to catch a snitch before (well excluding that Dementor interlude) and have won the Quidditch cup at Hogwarts in quite the spectacular fashion in the third year- Charged down the Janger Blocking Defence strategy, using the death defying Catapult manoeuvre in combination with the Spearhead Assault to allow your chaser to score- all brilliant, and from what Oliver says, you caught the snitch right after! I had to see it to believe it. That s why I was particularly interested in your Dragon Task at the Tri Wizard Tournament. You have some talent, Potter. Report to the Chelsea Blues pitch for training on the fourteenth and fifteenth July at 7 a.m. L. Bagman

Dumbledore knew! Harry grinned, jumping once or twice excitedly. He couldn t help it. Screw Azkaban- he was going to play Quidditch! Grinning

from ear to ear he finished off his letter to Hermione, apologising for taking so long to write back after receiving her first two letters and quickly signed his name. Waking Hedwig from her sleep, he attached the note to her leg, and as an afterthought, wrote Ron a short letter saying he may not need the tickets and would write him again soon to tell him why. He snickered. Let him stew at the Burrow for a while. He wanted to see him in person to tell him about Bagman's letter. **************** In her house at Chelsea, a young girl sighed as she sat at her favourite reading spot, in the window seat of her study. Somehow, she felt hurt that Harry did not respond as yet. Dumbledore wrote her and told her of Harry's summons, and she wrote him at once. Hermione wrote two letters a few days apart, hoping that Harry would return her mail and confide in her. She made the first move so that Harry would have had an opportunity to tell her what was happening without him feeling that he was running to her for help. Men and their egos! It was almost a week since the last letter and still he hasn't written back, not even to say a simple hello. Hermione was teetering on the brink of madness. Not hearing from Harry but knowing that Ron had heard from him was a deep blow, even if it was not something against her personally. At a time like this he should have at least replied and tell her how he was feeling! If he did not want to tell her about the summons, okay, but at least have some common courtesy towards his friends! Especially me! Well if he can't at least write back I shouldn't have to force myself to help him! But deep inside she knew better- she would have helped him anyway. But sitting here, all alone, looking out for a snow-white owl was just pathetic. But try as she might, worrying over Ron and Harry was a part of her now and lamely she resigned herself to having her daily routines interrupted by some intense sky gazing every now and then.

*************** Author's note: Hopefully, I will get a break and be able to post these chapters two, maybe three at a time. I don't want to keep you guys wating.

Chapter 4: The Interview [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** Chapter 4: The Interview **

The day of the first legal appointment Harry got up bright and early with a slight dilemma. How was he to leave the house? Dumbledore did not clarify on this. The spell that protected him from Voldemort ran through this house so he knew now that he had to return here for at least a month every year. However, a month has not passed yet. He was contemplating this when his uncle voice boomed from downstairs. Get down here NOW!" If he was not mistaken, he could swear he heard his aunt reprimanding him, her soft hiss (in its unsurpassed evilness) even more menacing than Uncle Vernon s shouted threats. "All right, all right. ...*ahem* ..PLEASE? Harry smiled. He loved to see them argue. Trotting down the stairs at a quick pace, he stood up in front of his uncle. Vernon did a double take as he faced him for the first time in over a year. He blinked a few times, but he still couldn t believe it. His bratty nephew was taller than him! Puffing himself up to add to his considerable bulk, he glared at Harry. "For your information, we have received a shopping voucher at a Chavez (giving Petunia a wink, Chavez was very expensive and anyone who was anyone shopped there) and are going to claim or rewards," Vernon smiled smugly. So? "DON'T YOU DARE TAKE THAT TONE WITH ME! AFTER WE HAVE FED AND CLO-" Clothed you and allow you to stay in our home...blah blah blah He paid close attention, (or rather reappeared to) and waited it out. " SO NOW YOU CAN GO BACK UPSTAIRS!" "Thanks," he grinned, spinning around and ran back up just as quickly as he had run down. The Dursleys made their way out, Vernon fuming at the ears. No sooner had five minutes passed when Harry heard a crash downstairs in the kitchen. "Gets easier every time, said a bored voice. "Not again, Tonks!" said an exasperated voice. Sorry!" cried a female voice. Harry came back down the stairs, almost expecting this. With a wide smile on his face and his long hair all in disarray (though it never was neat) he laughed. You re a menace to my aunt s dishes, you know that? Tonks, in the middle of repairing whatever it is she broke looked up at Harry. Her eyes ran up his legs and the ratty jeans he wore . She also

noticed that the white vest he slept in was a bit too small for him. Whoa, he looks exactly like James now," she thought. "All right Harry?" Remus Lupin said with a forced smile. Harry knew how he felt- it was hard to be upbeat, no matter how happy he was to see them. Remus had the same hollow look, except there was now a pain that lingered from his silent morning. "Well you know why we're here Potter," Moody grumbled. business in Chelsea, I hear." You ve got some

Harry interrupted himself from shaking hands with Remus and Shacklebolt to talk directly to Moody, "Yeah. I was just wondering how I was getting there." Broomstick, Moody replied. Come, get we could get out of here. There was an Weasley's hand, his very rough calluses that he winced a little. Tonks, who was forward and took his hand into hers. Cut yourself Harry? the pleasantries out of the way so escort of five. He shook Charlie rubbing his just-healed cut so monitoring him closely, came

She asked softly, tracing her finger in his palm.

"Er- yeah," he replied. How long did you get this? It s quite deep. A few days. Did you use magic to heal it? she asked sternly.

No- I can t, I m not taking any chances... Remus, look at this- Tonks called him. Remus inspected the wound, and frowned slightly. Harry was quite confused, what was the problem? What is it? It s just a stupid glass cut. This cut would have needed stitches, yet it s already nearly healed Remus mused, prodding it slightly with his finger. Looking up, his eyes caught Harry s, who merely shrugged and retrieved his hand from heir scrutiny, feeling a bit uncomfortable. I better get my stuff, he nodded, and Tonks followed him up the stairs.

"Oh, I forgot something. Dumbledore asked me to give you this to wear," she handed him a package. As Harry took it, she magicked his belongings into the trunk while he went to the shower. "I'll be waiting outside." After he had bathed, he opened the package. It was a set of fine duellist robes of a deep blue colour; and- if looked at the right angle, the magical patterns gave the impression of a moving ocean. It was sophisticated and mature and definitely was cool. He put it on and looked at himself in the mirror. Looking sharp, Harry! Ron is gonna turn green when he sees this. It fit reasonably well, considering that he was a bit underweight. The

robe was meant to be used in conjunction with a belt, and the pants to go with it was black, and made of a strong material. To go with the outfit was some snazzy Horntail Dragon boots. When his ensemble was complete, it reminded him of those garments the Japanese Warlords wore, because it definitely wasn t of European design. After , he took up his wand and other personal items Tonks left behind (including his Firebolt), then went downstairs. The broomstick trip to Chelsea was uneventful, unless you call Moody barking defensive strategies at the sight of anything mildly suspicious an event. For even more security Moody placed a Chameleon charm on all of them. Professor, I can still see all of us, grunted. Who re you calling Er Mr. Moody? Professor ? Harry said, still confused. Moody

Just Moody- and yeah- this is a slight modification on the Disillusionment Hex. It s used in the Elite to move silently as a team. We- he indicated everyone, Can see each other, we re the team . But if someone else were to look in our direction, we ll appear to be figures moving a bit out of sync with the background. It s best used at night, or when staying still, remember that boy. You gotta know that it is rendered useless if were identified in any way- or if someone who sees us has the slightest inclination that anything is wrong, we ll be exposed. Constant Vigilance Potter, not only good guys know how to use this spell. Anything fishy, you stare hard at the spot- and the spell is broken. Okay, he replied.

That s a cool spell. Gotta ask him to show me how to do it sometime They stopped at a small, bland house, which if looked at a glance, seemed to be a very ordinary three bedroom flat. Making sure the coast was clear, they touched down on the deserted street. "From here on you should be all right Harry," Lupin said with a smile. "Everything is going to be fine." Alastor Moody pulled him aside. With a grim look on his face he searched his pocket. "You're a tough one, Potter." He handed him what seemed to be a medallion made of silver. This is the Medallion of Courage, and it only responds to a call to arms. You needn't say anything or use your wand; it picks up on the adrenaline only combat brings about when the danger is great. If for some reason you need me just think hard and call." Tonks was flabbergasted. "Moody, don't you think you're going a bit much? That was..." Moody turned to look at her, both eyes boring directly into hers. He said so only she can hear: "Nymphadora, you fail to see the significance of this whole situation. In due time, in due time...." he muttered, sounding immensely wise. She nodded, looking at Harry with a weird expression. It was too early to judge, but somehow, she knew he would be a great wizard.

Tonks smiled embarrassedly when she saw that he was watching them closely. Bye, she said airily and the escort took off, leaving Harry with his gear and broomstick on the pavement. As Harry made to grab his things, the door opened and stuffy- looking wizard came forward. "Mr. Potter?" trying hard not to make it obvious that he was impressed. "Please let me help you with your things. Locomotor trunks! " The trunk, Hedwig's cage, and his broomstick lifted half a foot of the ground and followed them inside the building. As he stepped inside the dimensions were completely different: he was in a very large corporate muggle building, complete with receptionists and people filing in and out of different offices and elevators. Paper notes zoomed through post openings like hummingbirds. He looked up. The ground floor was two storeys high, complete with magic chandeliers that needed no support and glowed brightly with numerous no-heat candles. As they presented themselves to the receptionist she did a double take at Harry, noticed his exquisite attire and his scar, smiled prettily and let them through. Harry returned her smile, but did not notice her flush slightly in response as he was already moving along. "Excuse me, what is your name? Harry asked his escort.

"Oh sorry bout that. I'm Jankins. Nice to meet you Harry," shaking his hand in a firm grip. "I m Har- wait, you know that already. So which floor is the attorneys office?" Oh they are on the fourth floor, the top. There are other businesses here, but I've just started so I don't know all of them. This way," he led him to a free elevator. Going up- Attorney s office.

Yes sir, came a cool voice from out of nowhere. Harry did a double take, looking for a speaker box. You go on up, Harry." Harry entered the elevator and after a few seconds the doors opened to let him out. He stepped out, just as a dark haired girl, her nose deep in a file folder, stepped in. They collided and her parchments dropped to the ground as she lost her balance and toppled backwards. Harry reflexively caught her around the waist and shoulders. "HARRY!" Harry blinked. He felt a familiar sensation building somewhere low in his stomach. It was Cho, and she was as gorgeous as ever. How could he have forgotten that the lawyer he was supposed to meet last name was Chang? Odds are that she and Cho would be related. But he did not expect to find her here. "Cho? Harry said lamely.

"Oh it's so good to see you!" she hugged him tightly.

I can t believe it, I m holding her in my arms at this very moment, and she smells like heaven "I heard a rumour at the last few days of school that you and some other Hogwarts students actually fought some death eaters and saw.. .saw..You-know-who-??! Is that true?" Yeah -priorities, we re here to do business...plus aren t you over her? "Er- yeah, well only me and Dumbledore actually saw Vol-" "SHHHH!!! Harry!" "Oh yeah, sorry about that," he looked about cautiously; trying not to notice that she was still in his arms, very close indeed. Cho seem to have been thinking along those same lines, she was in his arms and that they were making quite the scene, appearing to be love-struck teenagers puting on a show. She stepped out of his arms and asked briskly, What are you doing here?" " I - ummm..," looking around, stalling for time. But he needn't worry, for a familiar deep voice came up behind him. "He is with me, Miss Chang," Albus Dumbledore said regally. Harry let out a breath,once again, just in the nick of time. "Professor Dumbledore! How are you?" She beamed at him. "Fit as a fiddle. I assume you are well? Harry and I have an appointment with your mother for 10 o clock, am I correct?" She looked down at the scattered parchments on the floor, and stooped quickly to pick them up. "Allow me," Dumbledore said, flicking his wand twice and the pages reshuffled themselves into the correct order and jumped back in her file folder. Thank you, she smiled again, looked at the top page and confirmed his appointment. Harry thought she had a beautiful smile; too bad he was the fortunate one to only see the tears. Cho only saw Dumbledore s name on her appointment list, but wisely, did not comment on the noticeable absence of Harry s name. She raised an eyebrow at him. Is there something wrong with my outfit? Harry was caught off guard- a bit taken back by seeing Cho in sleek and stylish work robes. He had only seen her in Hogwarts uniform before. Nonothing! Honest! Okay..well..I was starting to wonder she trailed off. There was a flicker of something in her eyes as they touched his, but then it was gone. Harry looked away. Potter, you re an idiot. Were you blind? Where did Cho hide all that?

"Ahem," Dumbledore cleared his throat. " I believe we should be going, Harry?" Harry mentally kicked himself for letting his hormones take over so easily. "Yes. Right. Well see you around Cho." She nodded, smiling back at him. He did look handsome today, for once. His I don t care look did not really take to her, but now that he was dressed up, he really was a catch. Cho drove the thought from her mind as she remembered what happened in Hogsmeade only a few months ago. The prat. "Bye Harry," said Cho. "Nice seeing you," she said as an afterthought. Harry waved to show that he had heard her, and walked away. They strode past the empty receptionist desk, knocked on the door, then entered. Maureen Chang looked up, smiled at them and invited them to sit down. She was a beautiful woman; it was obvious that in her prime she had many wizards wanting her favour. "Well let's get right down to it. Mr Potter, you have two court sessions on the 27th, which is 2 weeks from now. The first one in the morning is simply put, you confirming that the persons on charge were in the Ministry of magic and that they assaulted you and some schoolmates. That one is in the bag. Basically it is just a formality before they lock them up for good. The real trick is getting them to understand what you were doing in there in the first place. Professor Dumbledore has given me a basic run down, but I still need to hear the details. So when you are ready, please begin." She put the tip of her quill in her mouth and stood it on edge of the parchment. Harry hesitated. He thought about it all the time, how reckless it seemed in hindsight. But at the time, his whole being was convinced that Sirius was in trouble and he needed to be there to help him. He harboured his regret for a while now, only talking to Dumbledore soon after the tragic events. The images that flashed before him as he started to speak were etched into his mind, especially how the Death eaters began picking off his comrades, one by one. Ron, covered in brain tentacles, laughing hysterically. Ginny, breaking her ankle then stunned in her face. How Neville got his nose broken in and soon after put under the Cruciatus Curse. Hermione- rendered unconscious as Antolin Dolohov cursed her, putting her in the hospital for days after. She was reduced to taking numerous medicines, unable to talk for any length of time. Out of all who were involved, she was the one who was rational at the time, yet, like the fool he was, he chastised her lack of action. Even so, she was the most loyal, and saved him when he was in grave danger, yet suffered the most. Worst of all, he lost Sirius forever. It was a disaster. If it was not for the man sitting next to him, all of them may be dead already. After his statement, Maureen was entranced. "Harry, how old are you? "Sixteen come the end of July." "Merlin's beard," her mouth hung for a second."Now listen carefully Harry, you need to emphasise that Bellatrix attacked you first. This is very important. Only a handful of highly ranked Aurors are allowed to use any

of the Unforgivables on a criminal. I will try to find the loopholes to clear you off from that offence but it must seem to be that you genuinely were in a fit of retaliation. Do You Understand?" "Yes. Absolutely." "Right. Well once that settled, we can move along. As it's your first offence...." Harry started. He looked sharply at her, then an inquisitive look at Dumbledore. Mrs Chang straightened, sensing something amiss. She raised her eyebrows slightly. "Ummm...." Harry stalled. "What is it?" "Well you see...." he squirmed a bit in his chair, feeling uncomfortable. Dumbledore cleared his throat again. "What Harry is trying to say, Maureen, is that this is not his first day in court. I believe you have the folder I sent you?" She spotted it on her desk under her current pile of files. "Harry has been accused and pardoned last year for producing a Patronus charm to defend himself and his cousin Dudley from two Dementors, right near his home in Little Winging." " A Patronus charm? Professor Dumbledore, you have not given me all the facts here! It isn't much of a consequence to this particular case but having to defend yourself for use of two extremely powerful spells- at such a ridiculous age- does not speak much in his favour. It may appear that he is a loose cannon! How in blazes does he know to do all of this?" She questioned in rapid fire bursts, her voice rising a little louder after each statement. "Harry has be-...." Albus started. "No, professor. I will tell her." "Very well." "Obviously you know about my past. It s funny actually, in a way. It seems that I have been literally and figuratively marked as a target. Throughout each year at school I have been either attacked, ostracised, hated, made out to be some nutter, a liar, a dark wizard, whatever else comes to mind and then some. I've grown accustomed to it. Voldemort (she stared in amazement ) has been slowly reviving and so far, has tried more than once to kill me. Professor Lupin, my Defence against the dark arts teacher, taught the Patronus charm to me. The dementors have a very strong effect on me and I needed to protect myself." She nodded understandingly. But what about the Cruciatus curse?" "Bartemus Crouch taught me that one." "The former Ministry official?" "No er- not him exactly. His son. He was never dead. He impersonated Auror

Moody and showed it to the whole class " He paused. But, to tell you the truth, I- um, kinda learnt it first hand.. " First hand ? What do you mean?" she was leaning far over her desk now.

He braced himself. "Voldemort captured me and used it on me." She screamed. Harry started. Dumbledore rose immediately to placate her while at the same moment someone burst in through the door. "Mom!! What's wrong?!" Cho had burst in. Maureen composed herself, taking a glass of water from a pitcher nearby. Flustered and drinking it too fast, she nearly choked. Coughing a bit, she fought to get back in control, her eyes watering from choking on the water. "Oh nothing dear, I was just startled. Everything s okay now- no need to worry. I'm all right." She's babbling. Now Cho would be more determined than ever to find out what's wrong Cho looked at the concern on Dumbledore's face and the stony look on Harry's; who did not look at her even once since she entered. She stood there for a second, nodded, then let herself out quickly. Maureen trembled slightly. "My god Harry, I didn't know. I was hearing all these awful stories about you in the Prophet, not that I believed in them because Cho thought you were not what that idiot Rita Skeeter made you out to be. I never knew you went through all of this." "Yeah well, I didn t want everyone to know that' famous Harry Potter' was tortured by Vo- Dumbledore placed a palm on his shoulder as a gentle reminder Er- You-know-who. Imagine if everyone who heard that reacted in the same manner." "I see what you mean. Umm, I think that would be all. I will schedule another appointment with you, Professor Dumbledore. We'll continue with this then, Harry." Harry stood up shook hands with Mrs. Chang and left with Dumbledore, leaving an eerie silence in his wake as the office was dead silent, numerous pairs of eyes following them to the elevator. As they exited the elevators to the lobby Dumbledore leaned over and said quietly, "Harry, things are going to be fine. She is the best there is. We have two weeks to iron out the wrinkles which is more than adequate time." Harry nodded, swallowing. It did not seem fine. It felt as if it was going horribly wrong. Speaking of bad omens, what about the police incident? "Professor, what do you know about the police men killings a week ago? "Bad business Harry. Voldemort seems to have openly killed muggles in front of witnesses. They couldn t see the spell being cast, however, they do see the effects. He used the Imperious curse to force the guards to free the prisoner, then he killed them. The puzzle is, why would he free a

muggle? We have yet to discover what crimes he has committed and why he is so important to Voldemort. There is something more than meets the eye here. At the moment, Tonks and Shacklebolt are investigating." Harry collected his stuff, and both of them left the building. Standing in the broad daylight, Dumbledore seemed totally out of place. purple robes to sparkled as if stars from galaxies far away into it. Pulling out a golden timepiece on a long chain, he time. He smiled, looking up at the sky, and the clouds that on a gentle breeze. "Harry, I believe it is time to visit your friend, Miss Granger." "Hermione? Why?" Harry knew that she might be extremely peeved that his letter was so late. Ron was right; he could picture Hermione storming his Uncle's house, demanding an explanation. He really did not want to talk about himself or the past couple weeks. It was only because Ron was talking about quidditch he wrote back to him, but in truth, he did not feel like corresponding with either of them. Her family has agreed to be your gracious hosts for the rest of the summer, of course!" Dumbledore beamed at him. "What?! he asked in astonishment. His dark were embedded surveyed the drifted across

Oh no now I m really going to get it "But why do..." he cut himself short. It made sense. His lawyer appointments were here in Chelsea, his tryouts were also here in Chelsea, and the Ministry of Magic was closer here than at his uncle's house. This doesn t sounds like such a bad idea. Hopefully Hermione won t nag him whole summer to study "Why didn't you tell me before?" "Ah," explained Dumbledore, "Because I am their secret keeper, and I could not have told you about it prior, or I would prematurely break the charm. Even now I cannot give you the location. That is why I have this." He pulled out an old converse sneaker, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "A shoe"? Where the hell did that come from!? "Portus!" The shoe hummed, shook a little, then was still. inside their house you would be in on the secret. Ready?" When you are

Harry reached forward and touched the vase. Immediately, his belly button was pulled by a super strong magnet, then the next instant, they were inside a large foyer in a beautiful house. Harry stumbled over his trunk, tripped and fell, breaking the bridge of his round glasses once again. "Dammit," he murmured, helping himself up. Dumbledore was standing in the centre of the room, looking utterly relaxed. He raised his gaze to the two people coming down one half of the twin staircase.

"Ah, so good to see you again Mr. and Mrs. Granger. I believe you have met Harry?" "Professor! Er- yes we've seen him many times at the station but have never really talked to him. Hullo Harry! I am Roger Granger, and this is my wife Jane. Welcome welcome!" Harry squinted; his glasses were cracked on the right. "Roger, sorry to hit and run, but there is urgent business for me to attend to. You know how to contact me and I will also be in touch. I apologize for my rudeness but I must be off. Please give my best to young miss Granger. Farewell.." And with that word, he disapparated with a crack. Harry straightened himself out and shook both of the Grangers' hands. "Plea- pleased to meet you. Thanks for having me." "Not a problem! I'm sure you and Hermione have some catching up to do. Honey, is there some tea in the kitchen we can offer Harry? I am going to look for Hermione." They both went in opposite directions. His gaze wandered around the foyer and the living area. It was large, spacious and very modern. He squinted as he tried to look at a picture on the mantle at the distance, his eyes straining to focus. Light, hurried footsteps come down the staircase, signalling Hermione's arrival. Before Harry could fully turn around he started to apologize, " I'm sorr" He did not get a chance to finish. Hermione had wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. "Oh Harry, I was so worried! " Harry was dumbstruck. He awkwardly patted her back and she held on even tighter. He felt the warmth of her hug and it did make him feel much better. He was not accustomed to this sort of affection from anyone. so he put his arms around her awkwardly and said, "Hermione, I'm okay. Everything is fine, see?" She let go of him slowly, looking up into his face. "Harry, your glasses.." she reached into the back pocket of her pants and took out her wand. " Occulus reparo!" The glasses were good as new, but still a bit crooked across his nose. She straightened them, lightly moving away some hair that fell into his eyes. At that moment, images of him at the very beginning of his first and second years came flashing through his mind as if coming from someone directly facing him. His glasses were broken in there as well. Somehow, he was seeing Hermione's thoughts! He drew back his head, trying to clear his mind. Hermione's face fell a little, then softened once more. She stepped back and smiled at him. "Come on! Mum is waiting with some tea in the kitchen." She took his hand into hers as if it was the most natural thing to do and led him into the kitchen. He noticed that Hermione was wearing short pants and a large t-shirt. She had cute little feet and some shapely walking sticks. She had what?

This is Hermione. HERMIONE - you dumbass...what are you thinking? "Harry, dear, how do you take it?" her mom asked. "Take what?" Harry was still a bit off rocker. "Your tea," whispered Hermione, sitting down at the table. "Er, plenty cream plenty sugar, thanks." He also took his seat, locked his fingers, and nervously began twiddling his thumbs. "Harry? What s wrong?" Hermione asked so only he could hear. He shook his head, as if to say that it was something trivial. Hermione opened her mouth to say something again, paused, and then closed it again. Her mom brought the tray with the tea. "So how was the interview with Mrs. Chang?" Harry looked up quickly, obviously startled. How did she know her name? I did not put it into the mail I sent Hermione .unless... "Dumbledore mailed you and told you about it, Mrs Granger? politely. "Why yes! He told us about a little over a week ago." A week -that meant Hermione knew all this while, and was quietly accepting that he and Ron corresponded while he did not write her as yet. This made him feel even worse and he avoided Hermione's eye. "Oh it was fine," Harry lied. He frowned. He has been lying and dodging truths far too frequently recently. He did not like how his secrets were now changing him. "Actually no. Let me take that back. It was a disaster." He slumped back in his chair, letting his teaspoon drop with a cling! and wiped his face with his other hand. The Granger women frowned and peered directly into his eyes, virtually the same expression of "it can't be that bad" on their faces. It was uncanny; Hermione took more from her father in looks but was a spitting image of worriment alongside her mother. He only met her mother a few minutes and it already felt as if Hermione had doubled herself. "What's wrong? What did she say?" Mrs Granger enquired. "Well first of all she did not know I was accused of a crime before. This seemed to be a bad factor. I'm guessing that if it was the first time things may have gone over smoother. Secondly, she seemed to have freaked out when I told her that I knew how to do two very powerful spells. I'm nearly sixteen, so it kinda looked bad to be capable of doing them. Thirdly, she actually screamed when I told her Voldemort tortured me. This Harry asked

whole thing may turn out to be one huge media fiasco if that information leaked somehow." "Tortured? Did you say tortured? My god Harry!" "You see what I mean? That s a watered down reaction of what happened in the office. And you don't know the half of it. Just the mention of Voldemort's name causes wizards to cringe. The unforgivable curses are punishable by life imprisonment in Azkaban, and that is what I'm being charged with using, along with some other ministry decrees. I lost control ..Sirius, Sirius had just been killed." That was the first time he admitted it to himself, it felt as if a lock had just been opened wide and he couldn't bear the scrutiny anymore. "Excuse me," he said hoarsely, and silently exited the kitchen. The two women were at a loss for words. Hermione was stunned, sitting there watching the kitchen door oscillate slightly. Her mother looked at her a worried expression, for both Harry and her daughter's reaction. "Go to him, Hermione. He needs someone," she said softly. Hermione jumped up and raced out the door after him. She saw him marching away from the kitchen down the long corridor, looking like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. She paused, knowing full well that his temper was a force to be reckoned with. However, the Sorting Hat was not mistaken in saying that only the truly brave belonged in Gryffindor. She ran down the hall on her bare feet, calling out to him. Harry! she pleaded.

He did not stop, nor acknowledge that he heard anything. She continued after him, and when she was about ten feet away from him she felt something strange, as if the air was alive. The light hair on her forearms started to tingle, feeling as if it was standing on edge. She rounded on him, blocking his path, an immense amount of energy permeating from him. It ran coursing through her, flushing her face. He did not look at her directly, but stopped when she was blocking his next step. Step out of the way, Hermione." His voice was a bit deeper than before. She looked into his eyes; they were moist, almost on the brink of tears. "No." He stared at her now, his gaze boring deep into her, and she felt quite uneasy. She raised her hand tentatively and smoothed away a lock of hair that fell over his eyes. That slight contact made her feel supercharged with magic. It was strange, how he was so still. Her hand tucked his hair behind his ear tenderly- tut tutting under her breath. It's so long now, she thought to herself. She held unto him, resting her head against his chest, feeling that power ebbing away slowly. His heartbeat was strong and true, and she felt what must be a tear roll down her cheek. "Don t blame yourself. I believe in you Harry," she said softly. He allowed himself to be held for only a second more, then reluctantly released himself from her grip. "Tell that to Sirius," he replied. Turning his back on her, he stalked outside, alone.

* * * * * * * * * * Two hours later Harry still sat on the backyard bench. It was past lunchtime and his belly reminded him, but he couldn't eat. His depression came on in waves now. It seems that just that just knowing me causes people so much pain. I can't allow the people around me to be targeted for just being my friend... Hermione, I'm sorry. I should have listened to you when you warned me about the visions. Look at the mess I'm in now. He gazed up into the sky wishing he wasn't so damn hot-headed. He got up with much effort, clenched his fists a few times, then headed back inside. Hermione came downstairs when she heard the back door close in. She watched Harry approach her silently, a grim look on his face. He came up to her and said automatically, "I'm sorry." It's all right Harry. You don't need to apologize. I'm accustomed to it, she sounded oh so know-it-all again. Harry smiled. He could deal with this Hermione, not the sympathetic girly- girl she was earlier."If you want to change, your room is down the hall after the bathroom, opposite to mine. By the way, this is some exquisite robe you have on. The Japanese Potions masters wore that style and cut. The locals never knew that they were really wizards though. You see how easily muggles are fooled? It looks really good on you, where did you get them?" "Dumbledore sent them with Tonks," he flushed, a bit embarrassed that he had no clothes that he could call his own except his Hogwarts robes. All the rest were hand-me-downs. Uh ..Hermione?" "Yes?" "Can you do me a favour?" "Anything," she replied instantly. Harry was taken back. Usually she was sceptical of Harry and Ron's ideas. This rapid change of attitude was very unusual. "You don't even know what I was going to ask you!" "Well, we're friends right Harry? And I trust you." She smiled sweetly. "Well okay," Harry said. "Er- I need to buy some clothes. Uh- normal clothes, and some robes. You see I have, um, tryouts the day after tomorrow and I can't show up wearing rags." I'm sure we can arrange something with Dad or mum. That's no big deal. Oh, you've never been shopping have you?" He shook his head. It hurt, knowing that he was something less than scum in his aunt's house. "It's gonna be fun!" She practically jumped up and down. Her good spirits seem to placate Harry, and his mood brightened. "You should change though.

We're going out for lunch in about half an hour. I was just about to call you." He nodded, and left to go to his room. As he looked out the window he saw Hedwig sitting in the tree. She spotted him, and zoomed into the window, landing on his shoulder. He petted her, and she cooed in gratitude. "I've got to change now," he told her. "Did Ron write back?" She stared at him coolly. Harry took that as a 'no'. He changed quickly into his best hand me downs, tried to tame his hair, then went downstairs. "Ready, Harry?" Roger called as he came into view. His family was checking to see they had everything, from keys to cellular phones and makeup tucked all away into their handbags. Harry nodded and followed them into the car. The drive to the restaurant was uneventful. Idle chatter passed the time in traffic, Harry answering some friendly questions and asking some in return. They did not touch on the subject of the court case. As they stepped out of the car, Harry saw in the corner of his eye a trio exiting a posh store across the street. They crossed the road in a huff, clearly indicating that they wanted to eat at the same place that the Grangers were going to. It couldn't be: how bad is my luck lately? They were the Dursleys.

********************* Author's note: I'm just pluggin away. I want this to be done over quickly, but I want it to feel cleaner, also hold the same essence of the original, henceforth I'm painstkingly editing and fine tuning. bear with me for a while guys- I'm trying to go back in time yet keep in touch with the present (the grim). I'm so happy for all the great responses. Don't forget to drop me a line. Respect!

Chapter 5: First 'Date' [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** Chapter 5: First 'Date' **

The Grangers took a table near the centre. Harry didn't like this position; it made him easy to spot from anywhere inside. He sat down and tried to make himself as unnoticeable as possible; unfortunately, people

would be blind not to notice him. His jet-black hair now reached the top of his back, which was a bit strange, it had grown rapidly ever since... well, ever since school closed. Most of the other men here were wearing classy shirts and had short, neatly trimmed hair. Harry knew he stuck out like a sore thumb in his ill-fitting clothes and unruly hair. An idea came to him and he grinned mischievously, looking at his friend with a twinkle in his eye. Hermione was already sixteen- that meant that she no longer was an underage witch. By coincidence, the same spell Mad Eye used to conceal them as they travelled into London would be ideal to avoid the Dursleys. Let s test the waters shall we?He scooted over his chair closer to his right, bringing up the menuin front of his face so that her parents couldn t see. Leaning over, he whispered low into her ear. "Hermione," he whispered. "Can you do a Chameleon charm?" For no apparent reason, his breath near that sensitive area on her earlobe made her nerves tingle. She ducked her head lower, raising her menu as well. She turned to talk to him, but their faces were so close she had to move back a bit, lest she did something stupid "I think so. It's not done at school until final year but it's not that hard, really," she hissed softly, her eyes darting around to see what Harry was looking at. Who were those people? "Great. I need you to put the spell on me, but not here. We have to go to one of the bathrooms and do it there." The bathroom? Hermione asked looking at his face. Alone?

Well duh- we can t just whip out our wands and do it in front of everyone Harry said. Come on"But Harry, that spell only works when someone has not seen you as yet. It s not an invisibility cloak," she said in her know-it-all voice. Harry just smiled knowingly. She was so cute when she tried to lecture him and Ron. "Exactly why I need it now. I don' t mind your family and everyone else, but there are people coming who would cause a ruckus if they saw us- er me- ..well you know... He turned and saw Vernon approaching the main entrance. Dursleys! he hissed, twitching his head in their direction. He quickly grabbed Hermione's hand and whisked her from the table. "We'll be right back Dad!" she said, being pulled steadily to the washrooms. Her mother narrowed her eyes. Is there something going on between them? I thought they were acting strange. Doesn t the red haired boy like her? Jane Granger asked her husband. Roger just looked up from his menuI think I ll take this one. What was it you were saying? Where s the kids? he asked, suddenly aware that they were no longer at the table. Don t bother . His wife muttered, shaking her head.

Harry opened the ladies bathroom, peeked inside, found it empty, and

pulled Hermione in. He took a breath, and let it out- slightly fearing the worst. Hermione was exceptional, but mistakes sometimes do happen "Okay, do it now." Hermione nodded, pulled out her wand from her handbag, and swept the wand in a rainbow wave. "Karmena meleon!" Harry felt that his skin had tingled as if dashed with a light spray. He could still see himself in the mirror. Did it work? Are you sure? Can you still see me? Would my aunt and uncle spot me? Of course not, Harry. I won t try a spell I wasn t sure about on you! Excellent! Let s go." He took her by her arm and led her outside the door. As he rounded the corner in the corridor, a familiar bulky figure come marching towards them, his concentration on the pretty waitress who had just walked behind him. Harry froze. Close- Let s hope Hermione knows what she's doing He abruptly let her go and flattened his back to the wall. Now that Harry was still, it appeared as if the paint on the wall had a slight discoloration in it. She looked sideways at him sharply, opened her mouth to say something then changed her mind when he shook his head slightly, nodding his head towards Dudley. Dudley's gaze raked right over Harry and fixated on Hermione, who hesitated before his porky bulk. "Hullo there, beautiful," Dudley put on his most charming smile, or what he considered one. Hermione looked behind her as if he was talking to someone else. "Excuse me?" she asked, bewildered. "I said hello. Not everyday I see an angel as beautiful as you," he smiled again. Harry rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Oh really?" Hermione snorted in indignation. "I m sure that line works really well. Why don t you try it on someone else?" She put on her best McGonagall expression and folded her arms. Her get-away-from-me attitude seemed to have blown completely past him. "No, you are the first angel I have ever seen, so you're special..." Oh , just shut up for crying out loud Harry sucked in his stomach- Dudley was an arms length away from him, he could smell his stale odour. Hermione rolled her eyes, and made to walk past him. He placed a beefy arm on the wall right in front of her, inches away from Harry s face. She froze. "Excuse me, I have to get back to my table." "So soon? We've only just met. Stay a while. My name is Dudley." "I'm really sorry, she fibbed."I have to be getting back." But now she could not skirt underneath his arm. Harry was planted against the wall

trying to remain as still as possible, blocking the way. So she was basically stuck here and at her hesitation Dudley thought he had made some progress. "So what's your name sweet thing? "I am NOT your 'sweet thing'!" "Well we may just have to remedy that won't we?" he grabbed her hand in a firm grip. Harry knew he was a bully - but this was ridiculous! Keep cool, Potter. Wait a while Hermione could take care of herself Hermione tried to release herself from his grip but Dudley did not even seem to notice. She struggled desperately now, and said between her teeth, "If you don't let me go, I will scream!" Ignoring his better judgement, Harry s temper shot through the roof. "Is that so?" Dudley smirked. We won't want that now do we?" and fast as a striking snake he clamped his other hand around her mouth and shoved her inside the ladies bathroom. Harry didn't think- he just stormed in after them. As he entered Harry saw Hermione bite down on Dudley's hand, which immediately he drew back and slapped her soundly across her cheek. Dudley laughed as Hermione fell against the sink counter, clutching her face. She spotted Harry surge through the door and felt the hairs on her forearms tingle violently. "HARRY- NO!" "Harry....? he said, clueless to who she was talking to. He turned around- out of thin air his cousin Harry materialized, striding towards them, his eyes boring into his. The bathroom quickly darkened, and he noticed a very faint glow around Harry's pupils. "GET ...AWAY...FROM .. HER!" Without hesitation, Harry charged Dudley, catching him flush in the gut. Both boys fell over, crashing into the bathroom stall. Taking a firm grip on his expensive shirt, Harry sized up his right fist, and punched him across the face. The back of Dudley s head connected with the tile, making a dull thud. Dudley lay there close to unconsciousness and peered up. What he saw was a blurred version of Harry s face a few inches away from his, and there was something definitely alien about his eyes. If you touch her again, I will not be so lenient, his voice a bit deeper than usual. he said dangerously, he asked.

Dudley's eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fainted. Hermione s face was dumbstruck, her hand covering her mouth that was shaped in a perfect 'O'. She felt her hairs return to their normal state and the power surging from Harry recede. Harry closed his eyes briefly, and the bathroom light flickered back on. He looked at Dudley, knocked out cold in a bathroom stall, then looked amazingly at his right hand. He peered around,

not believing it even with his own eyes. The entrance door was some twenty feet away behind him, Dudley crumpled in a heap at his feet. Hermione slowly came to his side, her face red and swelling from Dudley's slap. Harry turned to her and raised a hand in concern to examine her face. She flinched at first, but took a slow breath to calm herself. "I'm okay Harry," she replied. She drew her wand, muttered an incantation and pointed it at her face. The swelling stopped and it returned to its normal state. Harry did not know what o do, or have any comment. He couldn t believe he just knocked out Dudley with one blow- Dudley, a boxing champion - the same boy who floored him the other day. Hermione washed her face in the sink, and looked into the mirror, watching Harry sceptically. Assessing the situation, she thought a second; placing her hands on her hips. "Now that was strange. Is this really your cousin? He s worse than I ever imagined! Yeah Harry said, still not quite believing it. well I mean our

What a bad coincidence. Today is our first day out first day of holidays together- and he ruins it.

Er- my luck hasn t been the greatest lately things just keep going wrong Harry muttered as a half apology. Hermione knew what he really meant, but she absolutely did not want to bring back up the Department of Mysteries, so she tried to steer the conversation far away from that topic. Don t worry about it- we ll go out another day and we ll laugh about this. Help me drag him out of the stall," she ordered. The both tried to move him. After what she had just witnessed, it was confusing to Hermione why both of them struggled to drag Dudley's massive bulk out to the centre of the bathroom. She drew her wand again and pointed it to the broken door. "Reparo!" Harry watched dumbly as Hermione went to Dudley and cast a spell. "Obliviate minimus!" Harry recognized that as the short-term memory erasing charm. Pulling Harry with her outside the door, she pointed her wand back at Dudley. "Enervate!" Dudley stirred. "Let's go," Hermione literally dragged him back to their table. "Where did you two go- the Ladies'?" Mr Granger had a little laugh at Harry's expense. Harry just smiled shakily, while Hermione shot her father a look. There was something very wrong with that 'episode' just now. She needed an excuse to go back to her study and do some research. Mom, dad, I am not feeling very well, heroine put on a show of holding her forehead, checking for a temperature. Harry thought it was a horrible display of fibbing. Can we go home now, please?" Her parents looked at both of them, exchanged concerned looks at each other, and then got up. "Of course dear. What s wrong?" Jane asked with motherly concern.

"I think I have a severe headache." She explained. Harry played along, still a bit speechless. He wasn't thinking straight. His head hurt and his eyes were irritating him. He took off his glasses and pressed his thumb and forefinger into his eyes, rubbing them in a circular motion. ************** Ron Weasley was pissed. This was the third letter Errol returned to him. Why couldn't he get in touch with Harry? Errol may not be the most punctual owl but he got the job done. That note Harry sent about not needing the tickets was driving him nuts. What did he mean by that? Everyone wanted tickets, but he says he doesn't NEED them. "He has finally lost his last marble," Ron lamented. St. Mungo's must already be on their way to collect him. It nagged him, chewed him on the inside. The worst part is that his mail never got delivered. He could not even invite him to watch England s first public practice session in Chelsea tomorrow. His dad got them passes to get in; it was more like an invitation type thing. Well he'll just have to go with his twin brothers, and maybe take Ginny along as well. Heck she's earned it; she caught the snitch for Gryffindor to win the Cup. He remembered fondly the days after, probably the best he has ever had at Hogwarts. For the first time he wasn't hidden in Harry's shadow. It wasn t his fault, but it still irked Ron a bit that Harry got all of the attention. At that very same moment Harry was pondering why Ron's had not mailed him as yet. He had just got back from shopping with Hermione, or more realistically Hermione shopping for Harry. She did most of the work, Harry only replying 'yes' or 'no' to her choices. It suited both of them, Hermione instinctively knowing what he liked or disliked. Hermione was acting strangely, as if nothing happened out of the ordinary yesterday at the restaurant. He tried to bring it up once but she quickly sidestepped the question and changed the subject to shopping. Harry dropped it. Some of the details of what happened in the bathroom were sketchy to him. He was on edge. The snippets he did remember were elusive, and his tryouts tomorrow were giving him some serious jitters. To pass the time he played some wizard chess with Hermione or was busy reading up on some of England s past quidditch matches. Strange enough, this would be the first time they played Bulgaria, who were runners-up to the World cup winners Ireland, even if it was the Under 21 squad. He got to know Roger Granger a little better as well. He seemed to be much more laid back than his wife and daughter. He had an easy smile and was always commenting on how proud he was of Hermione. If my parents could see me now, what would they think? He sighed, dropped the book on the bedside table and fell asleep. He slept fitfully, and the afternoon whiled away in a troubled blur. Hermione walked passed his door and saw him sleeping, sprawled on the mattress. She slipped in, eased off his shoes and his glasses, his hair all but hiding his scar and right eye. Pulling the sheet over him, she exited his room with thoughts of yesterday s events racing through her head. She made a beeline to the study.

************** The Fourteenth of July crept over the horizon with the new sunrise. Harry was still sleeping fitfully. The sheet was partially on the bed and his left leg and arm was draped off the edge. "Harry! HARRY!! " Hermione burst in. She was standing in the doorway, silhouetted in the morning light, all excitement and bubbliness. Harry forced open the eye closer to her. He peered sleepily through his hair a moment, then both eyes flashed open. In this particular light, Hermione's modest nightgown was practically transparent. He shot up and quickly looked somewhere else. "Shit..." he murmured to himself. "Hey, look what I've just got from Ron! " She skipped across to him, the light playing tricks on Hermione that Harry didn't want to be interested in. Harry concentrated on staring directly into her face. "What is it Hermione?" he tried to sound casual, but all that came out was a weak croak. "He said he was trying to contact you a few days now but his mail returned each time. So he mailed it to me instead. Do you know what this is, Harry?!" she watched him, confident that what she gave him would cheer him up immensely. "These are tickets to a Quidditch match. England vs. Bulgaria. August 28th at Chelsea Blues Stadium." Harry was looking at the ticket. It had a picture of Krum sulking (did he do anything else?) in front of his Bulgarian teammates, who all looked older than 20 years of age. What in hell do they eat in Bulgaria? "And look at this! He also sent us passes for England s first public training session today! I know you have tryouts today for some Quidditch team but that can wait, you ABSOLUTLEY have to come-" she trailed off. Her eyes jumped down to the passes in her hand, then back to Harry, down again, and slowly narrowed in on Harry's face. He dropped his gaze to avoid her glare, which was a mistake. Hermione was wearing tiny white panties and he was now staring directly at them. His eyes shot back up and looked at a point slightly above her shoulder. "HARRY JAMES POTTER!! HOW DARE YOU NOT TELL ME WHAT THESE 'TRYOUTS' WERE ALL ABOUT? And here I am thinking that you were trying out for Puddlemoore or something! " "Er..well..I, um...." She continued as if he hadn't spoken. "No. I should have known. I completely forgot to ask you about who the tryouts were for when you said

you wanted to go shopping. I must be getting (she gasped in shock) ...materialistic!" She looked utterly adorable. At that point her father burst through the door looking like he just jumped out of bed, which was the most probable scenario. "Hermione! What's happening??! I heard shouti- " She spun around and faced her father. He looked directly at her, blinking noticeably. He suddenly rushed around her and closed the blinds directly above Harry's bed, blocking the light streaming through. Harry had a spectacular view of Hermione s morning wedgie before the lights went out. Trying to save face, he made a big display of picking up the sheets from the floor just in case Mr. Granger caught him looking. Hermione gave her father a puzzled look then caught on, her eyes opening twice their size, she glanced down at her nightdress and bolted, her face flaming scarlet. Harry made a big play of not being able to see his glasses lying there on his bedside table, patting his hand on the surface as if he was nearly blind. "Nice try, Harry." Roger gave him an 'it happens grin, and left the room. Harry laughed out loud- he couldn't help it. The whole situation was so comical it was unbelievable. He got up, got some of his gear and went to shower, the nerves no longer biting at him like yesterday. ****************

Chapter 6: England U-21 vs The Chudley Cannons [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**Chapter 6: England U-21 vs The Chudley Cannons**

Hermione was careful to avoid Harry the whole morning during breakfast time. All of them, including Harry, could feel the tension. Jane paused while pouring some tea for herself. "Where's Hermione? Harry flashed her father a look. Fearing the worst, Harry was relieved to see him taking all of this in stride. Harry gulped and was priming himself for an apology when Roger said in a matter-of-fact tone, "She's doing some reading up on ..ahh...transparencies." he concluded, his face betraying a reluctant smile. He winked at Harry knowingly, and Harry almost choked on his toast; so hard he was trying not to laugh. Roger was like a bigger version of Fred and George sometimes. He immediately liked him now more than ever. They finished their breakfast and Mr Granger called Hermione down from upstairs.

"Come on now, get a move on. We should have left ten minutes ago. " Hermione made her entrance, her head held high and deliberately trying not to blush. She was wearing a baggy Adidas tracksuit that effectively hid anything that needed hiding. "Oy! What's that you got on? Planning on going for a jog?" Roger baited her, a twinkle in his eye. She stared at them both with a look that would have done McGonagall proud. Her father immediately sobered up and Harry made a big scene of rubbing the back of his neck, looking anywhere except at her. Roger continued, " Right, well. Everyone ready?" he asked and they left for the door. They said their farewell to Mrs Granger and they jumped in the car; Hermione sat in the passenger seat and Harry directly behind the driver. Roger made cheerful enquiries about Quidditch and Harry was happily filling him in, avoiding Hermione's reflection in the rear view mirror. They did manage to find each other's eyes once, and Hermione immediately looked away. After another few minutes they reached a large abandoned warehouse. Harry and Hermione s eyes touched once more, and Hermione once again avoided his as she hastily stepped out of the car. "Strange place to have a match," Roger said, bewildered. "It's enchanted dad. Don't worry, you'll see," Hermione said stiffly. Harry followed behind the pair of them carrying his gym bag and the Firebolt in what seemed to be an elongated guitar case. They went through the open doors of the abandoned warehouse, walked a few steps when suddenly the dingy area morphed into a stadium entrance, glass swivel doors behind them and a ticket taker and turnstile a little way on. Groups of young wizards and witches were making their way to the multiple ticket booths, some accompanied by a parent. It was a relaxed atmosphere, but Harry s excitement still gave him nerves in his stomach. As they approached the counter Harry realized that this wasn't a small affair, a continuous stream of people were arriving. They reached the ticket counter and the witch there smiled at them. Welcome. Passes please." Hermione passed her two and she and her father passed through on the turnstile, waiting for Harry to join them. He shifted his weight nervously, not exactly sure what to do. "Er- I'm here for the tryouts." "Tryouts?" She smiled sympathetically. " I'm sorry dear, but tryouts were finished a month back." "Ludo Bagman told me to be here this morning," he dug around in his bag for the letter. "Did you say Mr. Bagman?" She looked at him curiously now. Recognition dawned in her eyes and she exclaimed, "You're Harry Potter!" "Yeah, I am," he whispered. Harry looked around, hoping no one heard her.

Mr. Granger had an incredible look on his face, now realizing that Harry was some sort of celebrity. "Oh I'm sorry about that. Right you are, right you are, she apologised, noticing the scar hiding for the first time. "This way please," she offered. As he followed her, he paused and waved at Hermione and her father. "I'll see you afterwards!" "Good luck Harry!" cried Hermione with a tad more enthusiasm than was necessary. Roger smiled inwardly. He wished he could be around later in the year for this. Hermione checked herself, looking around a bit self-consciously. Harry was taken through a door that the stadium used for the home team s dressing rooms. As he entered nervously, he realised he was late- coaching staff, Quidditch players and in the centre drawing most of the attention, Ludo Bagman were all now looking at him. "Ah there ye are!" Ludo beamed, clapping him on the shoulder. Were waiting a bit for you to come. Only a few minutes though. One more person to come, she should be here any second now-Ah speak of the devil..." "Excuse me, excuse me!" an excited voice said behind him, trying to edge her way through. She whizzed past, slightly out of breath. She's obviously in a big rush- Wait, that dark hair looked familiar... Ah yes! Miss Chang! Glad you could come. Your mother said you might be interested for that chaser spot we just lost due to ah uh, personal reasons. Good thing too, she has an eye for quality Quidditch players." He grinned in a mischievous way. Some of the older male staff smiled as well. They knew something that the team obviously did not. Does Ludo fancy Cho s mom? Harry! What-?" "Cho?" it was the same dumb question he asked the last time they met. "What are you doing here?" they asked at the same time. "Bagman told my mother..." "Bagman wrote me a letter..." They paused, smiling at each other. " You first," Harry said. "No you go..." "AhEM," Bagman grunted. "Well you know why we're here. Some of you have featured throughout last year and are now settled in. The rest of you however,' he glanced at Harry and Cho, "need to pay close attention. This is our first public practice match and we need to rally the support of our fans for the match against Krum and Bulgaria." Harry snorted at the name. He smiled, remembering that little crack at the end of Ron's letter when

he called him Vicky . "We'll do a few basic warm ups and formation flying -a little of getting familiar with the stadium and conditions. For those newcomers, I'm sure you'll fit in smoothly." He winked at Harry. "What we're really here for is to win the crowd and their support- and also a bit of advertising and ticket sales won t hurt either As you know, we'll be playing a practice match against the Cannons today-" There was now a buzz going around the room. Harry's eyed widened. Isn't that Ron's favourite team? "There will be two halves basically. We'll put on the starting line-up for the Bulgaria match first, er; and that will be, Wood in goal, Jackson and Briggs beaters, Gareth, Charles and Rooney are the chasers and Cantonma is seeker, in absence of Hortone." He paused and made sure everyone was there. "We have unlimited substitutions and we may introduce the reserves. We'll then play the Cannons reserves with our reserves and see how things work. He paused, staring at the lot of them. Well? What are you blokes still gaping around for ??Get your sorry arses out there!! They grabbed their training kit robes and donned them as they ran through the corridors, making sure they had their gear ready as they congregated at the players exit to the pitch. Harry gasped at the huge span of the stadium. The seats rose stories high into the air and there were a respectable amount of spectators. It was nowhere full, but still made Hogwarts crowd look relatively small. Holy shit. The players walked onto the field, and all waved to the crowd excepting Harry, who was still to dumbstruck to move. There was a polite applause ringing around the stadium, and the flashes of numerous omnoculars. He finally caught himself and did a sort of half-hearted wave. "BLIMEY!! Ron shouted. "HERMIONE !! LOOK- IT'S HARRY!! What in Merlin's beard is he doing down there? HERMIONE!! IT'S HARRY!! HARRY POTTER!" he repeated, now almost standing on his seat. Hermione straightened up, and just as he said- there he was. She still wasn t very happy with him at the moment. "I know Ron, I know. Sit down will you?" "How can you be calm at a time like this? Do you know who is there on the pitch??!" he asked again, not fully believing it himself. "Yes. It's Harry. And I found out this morning." "How did you manage that? I've been mailing him and I can't get through! It's as if he dropped off the planet!" bewilderment all over his face. "Well that's OBVIOUSLY not the case is it? been by me since three days ago." She hesitated, "Ummm...He has

Ron looked at her incredulously. "HE ..WHAT?" **************

Harry did not spot Ron nor Hermione in the crowd, and neither did he have any time. They were going through their paces now, keeping close -knit formation flying, offensive and defensive position drills, diagonal flight dummy plays and some long distance passing. He did notice that Cho seemed to be a very good chaser, maybe even better than being a seeker. It was at a much faster pace than Harry was used to, but once on his broom nothing else mattered and the drills came easy to him. Sooner than he thought, Ludo was beckoning them back down into the dressing room. All right. I liked what I saw out there and it seems that the previous sessions have finally gotten through to those thick skulls of yours! Well in the next ten minutes we'll be starting the practice match. Go get your strip and the first team will suit up and follow the referee onto the pitch when he's ready. The rest of you take your place on the bench and be ready to be called at any time." They filed out, each receiving a brilliant red Quidditch robe with the Three Lions Emblem stitched on the front and some sort of print on the back. "OY! Potter!" Oliver Wood was calling him to wait up. "Hey Harry. It ll be like old times eh? " "Yeah, If I get to play," Harry admitted a bit dejectedly. "Bloody hell, Bagman knows you're better than Cantonma but can't just replace him. You just do what you do best and I bet you ten galleons you're on the squad," Oliver grinned at him and ran down to meet the others. Heartened by that pep talk, Harry walked to the dugout and took his spot next to Morrison on the bench. The drums and horns were now picking up a rhythm in the crowd. The chanting rose to a crescendo at the sound of the referee's whistle. Signalling the start of the match. "And theyyyrrrre off! Cannons in possession!" Bagman s voice carried over the crowd from the commentators' booth. "Hurley, to Hughes, now to Thompson. Tricky piece of skill there by Thompson. Narrowly missed that bludger. Passes to Kingsley, no... Intercepted by Gareth! England in Possession!" And so it went, Cannons eventually getting 120 points to England's 90 at the end of the first 'half' of the match. England substitutes- Morrison and Gramble on for Briggs and Gareth. T The snitch was exceptionally fast and Harry only spotted it once or twice before it darted behind some player, and then out of his line of sight. Their coach approached the team, a marker board in his hands. "Allright lads. The defensive work needs some tuning, but we'll be ready for Bulgaria for sure with some more practice. Okay, it s now Forrester in goal, Morrison , Nickolai :beaters, Chang, Gramble and Jemson chasers and we'll keep Cantonma for now. Now show those Irishmen what England is made of!" Harry joined Wood on the bench, once again feeling disappointed. He hoped his chance would come before the Cannons seeker got the snitch. The way Cantonma was flying it would take forever for him to find it. Don't fret Harry, you ll come on any time now," Oliver said. But ten minutes later it seemed that coach Ryan wasn't having any intentions to

follow that part of the plan. "Chang ! Forrester!" he summoned them imperiously after calling for substitutions. "What are you doing? Letting them win? Forrestor that s 8 unanswered they've gotten behind you! You see that score line? What does it say?" Forrester opened his mouth, but wasn t even allowed to retort. "It says 200- 90! Wood, get in there! Gareth! Replace Chang," he looked at her and sneered. What we do not need right now is another pretty face," he said off-handedly. Cho looked absolutely destroyed, her face already setting up for the torrents. "Seems that Gareth and Wood are back on the pitch. Chang and Forrester out-" Bagman announced. "Cannons once again on attack, great save by Wood! Quick release now on to Jemson, gives Gramble, GRAMBLE SCORES!" Harry was fascinated. The Cannons had already analysed the basic strengths and weaknesses of his inexperienced squad and taking full advantage of it. Wood was under constant pressure and once again the Cannons were dominating the match. "Excellent once again from Wood, that s four in a row consecutive saves! How long can it last?!" screamed Ludo. As he said it the Cannons scored twice in succession: the score now 220100. It s hopeless. My big break and we re getting creamed Harry knew that unless something drastic happened, the cannons are going to win and he wasn't even going to feature. At that second, something flew past his field of vision. It was the Snitch! It zoomed some ten feet off the pitch, Cantonma and Kelly furiously battling each other for an advantage in the sprint to catch it. They were flying very low, jostling each other shoulder-to-shoulder. Cantonma, lacking some of the experience of his opponent, lapsed in concentration and a Bludger aimed for him hit him square on the back, pitching him forward, forcing him into a few spectacular tumbles before coming to a painful halt. The crowd Ooohed in concern. The referee blew his whistle to stop play, the medi-wizards apparating on the pitch to take Cantonma off for treatment. The referee signalled to Coach Ryan for a substitution. "Potter, you're on. Get me that Snitch!" Harry nodded grimly. "Damn right I will," he muttered and was off. "Injury to Cantonma. Substitution: Potter," announced Bagman. The crowd was still preoccupied with news of the injury that the announcement went unnoticed. England and The Cannons took positions again, and the referee restarted the play with another throw of the quaffle. Harry was finally in his element, and the wind blew his hair in waves away from his face. "The cannons once again in possession. It's McKinnon one on one with Wood! Great reflex save! Oh wait, Keane recovers the quaffle, and finishes!

230-100! Harry looked down at his skipper, Oliver s face flushed red with embarrassment. Keep it together, Ollie. It's gonna be a rout if you crumble "Jemson with the quaffle, he's streaking down the middle, wait...Kelly has burst forward. Has he ?! YES! He's seen the snitch!" Harry saw it too, it was streaking between him and Kelly, his opponent with an obvious head start. He accelerated dramatically, weaving through the players, his eyes trained on the golden target. He was closing the distance to the snitch, but Kelly had the better angle and faster trajectory. Harry angled himself to get the fastest line only to realize that if they continued on this direction, they would collide head on. He bent over even lower unto his Firebolt and pushed it as fast as he could go, daring his opponent to back off. Kelly, the more experienced payer did not falter nor sway but continued steadily on. Good- I love a challenge- Come on- are you chicken? Ttwo blurs, one of Red and the other golden orange arrived at the snitch at the same time. They both catapulted forwards off their broomsticks after the seemingly disastrous collision, each players landing hard on the ground, rolling and tumbling a few times before coming to a painful stop, fifty metres apart. The referee blew- the snitch was no longer in play! "DID YOU SEE THAT?! AMAZING! LET'S VIEW THE REPLAY!!" roared Bagman. The advertising board showing the score showed a slow motion breakdown of the collision. " It seemed that Kelly was about ten feet away from the snitch when Potter, what is that..? He hooked his right foot on the underside of the broom, braced his left on the tail and simultaneously angled the nose to a sharp angle downwards, propelling him forward through the air. Ah yes- we can see very clearly the collision shortly afterwards- At the moment of collision, the crowd groaned in pity. Harry couldn't breathe, his head was spinning and it felt as if his leg was broken. He squinted against the midday sun, spitting out some blood from his bleeding lup. The sun was directly overhead now, and it burned his eyes to open them. But he felt it in his grasp. Knowing that he was triumphant fuelled him. Slowly and unsteadily, he got to his feet. Almost topping backwards, he sucked in his breath and punched his right fist into the air, the snitch gleaming in the sun. The crowd went beserk as he roared out in victory, the slow-motion highlight reel on the big screen providing an impressive backdrop of the events happening in real time. The replay zoomed in on his face, a fierce battle cry emanating from this newborn warrior; all boyishness vanished from his bloodied face. "POTTER HAS DONE IT !! IT'S ALL OVER!! IT'S ALL OVEEEERR !!! ENGLAND DO IT AT THE DEATH TO WIN 230-250!! WHAT A PLAY!!"

Harry finally tumbled backwards, flat on his back on the soft grass. He basked in the moment, his limbs extended in a large X. The next thing he knew there was a mass of black hair blocking his vision and Cho was flush on top of him and screaming in his face. "Harry you did it. We Won!" He grinned stupidly. She swooped down on him and snogged him right there in the grass, all encompassing and wet. He was stunned too surprised to even break framing his face. She smiled tenderly chin, then jumped off and allowed him English players. He was being slapped the kiss. She drew back, her hands at him, gave him a mock cuff on his to be carried away by the other hard on the back, his messy his hair

being ruffled by numerous hands. He wished they would stop hittin him on the shoulder, which was hurting badly now from the fall. As they walked off the pitch Harry reflexively looked up to the right of the tunnel. Hermione and Ron were glaring at him, stony expressions on their faces. He did not get a chance to talk to them; he was being dragged along to the dressing rooms. Hermione waited until Harry disappeared to really let loose. Ron! Can you believe him? Kissing Cho in front of all these people!" "Who wouldn't? She s hot!" This seemed to infuriate Hermione even more. "What I don't understand- firstly, why is he staying by you and secondly; playing for England against the Cannons?! The Cannons, Hermione! He ruddy well knows they're my favourite team, look I even brought the Cap he gave me!" "Let's find him," Hermione ordered. "Good idea." Harry was gearing down in the dressing room. There was a stupid grin on each of the players faces, all excepting Harry. What's wrong now? My two best friends looked as if they wanted to slug me He pondered on this, his gaze rooted at a spot on the ground. ".... at that time tomorrow. Right Potter? POTTER!" "Huh? Wazzat?" Harry jumped. "I said we d have a closed practice tomorrow at eight am. We're going to do some reshuffling and organize our strategy. We've got- let s see around a month and a half to get it right. So from tomorrow every Monday, Thursday and Saturday we have training. You want a spot on this team you better be there. And that goes for everyone. " Bagman reached for the door. "Oh, guys and gals, there may be reporters for The Prophet outside. I advise you to avoid them, however, if you do answer them, don't embarrass us." He sent a warning glare to them and left. Oh damn. The press . Wish I had my invisibility cloak He was fed up of hearing of himself in the papers. He pulled out his wand to do a simple healing charm but remembered just in time that the Ministry would fry him if he did any magic. Reluctantly, he put away his wand, and

went to the showers. He let the warm water ease his aching shoulder and knee. His blasted shoulder was starting to really bother him. Doing a self inventory- his cheek stung, there was a raw bruise there as well. Running his tongue on his lips, he spat out some more blood; his bottom lip was bleeding also. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, he felt all the pains from that fall catching up- and is body felt battered. He wrapped a towel around his waist and went into the now empty locker room and opened his gym bag. He put on a pair of Jeans Hermione had bought for him. His hair was still damp and curled into his eyes. Even though his shoulder ached, the only visible damage he could see was on his face and back. There was a soft knock on the door. Thinking it was Oliver and another one of his post match analysis, he said, "Yeah, it s open." "THERE YOU ARE HARRY! You've got some answers to cough up mate. You've got Errol totally burned out looking for you, I find out today you're staying with Hermione for God-alone-knows-why and failed to mention to me a little thing like PLAYING FOR ENGLAND perhaps. I believe you owe me an explanation, right Hermione?" he paused, waiting for his backup. "Hermione?" he enquired looking at her. But she was not listening. She was looking at Harry, (who was looking back at Ron dumbstruck) her cheeks reddening slightly. "Hermione. Earth to Hermione." Ron waved his hand in hello. She looked at Ron. "Oh! Uhh, yeah Harry! You need to talk to Ron. He refused to listen to me. I tried." "Really? Sounds familiar. Nice to see you too, Ron. Harry walked up to him and clasped his hand firmly, flexed his arm; both of their hands now shoulder level. "Glad you came, mate." Ron grinned back at him, all sourness gone in an instant. It was a moving gesture, the two of them inseparable and committed in their loyalty and friendship towards each other. Hermione knew she would never have that with either of them, but was content that they both always seem to need her, and that she has always been there to help them. She looked at them, Ron's red hair pointing in all directions, making him look much cooler than he really thought he was. Harry's hair was still wet and clung to his head and the back of his neck. She glanced at his torso, and was caught between interest and concern. "RON! There you are!" Ginny Weasley came panting into the door. "Fred says to hurry u-" She glanced at Harry, who was bareback and damp, and blushed furiously. Harry, being so clueless about girls, smiled good-naturedly at her. "Hey Ginny." If it was possible for her to go any redder, she did so now. "R-ron, Fred says that they're waiting at the f-Floo powder fires for you.

They have to get back in time for the after-match rush at the store. Mom would kill them if they left you behind uh and they also need you to do some packing. So come on, we've got to go!" "Crap. Ron turned back to Harry. By the way- Great game mate. You'll fill me in on the details later," he grinned, hitting him on the same damaged shoulder as he left. Harry grimaced. "Ow- Yeah man. I'll mail you soon as we get back." Ron waved his hand absentmindedly as he walked off and Harry soon realized that Hermione was staring at his back and arms. What is it?" "Harry, you're banged up all over," she said sympathetically. "Oh this? Nah, normal Quidditch bruises- nothing too serious. Usually, I'm in school when this happens so I just do a little magic and fix myself up but - I can't now. He noticed her worried expression. It'll heal, don't worry..." "Wait here for one second." She dashed into the dressing room and picked up a little container of Madame Nightingale's Soothing Salve. Sit," she ordered him imperiously. He obeyed, straddling the locker room bench. She sat in front of him, twisting so that she faced him. She dipped her forefingers into the salve and gently applied it to Harry's cheek. His eyelids dropped, it was relaxing and felt wonderful. She smiled; she liked taking care of him and Ron. "Harry...." she sighed, and her thoughts stretched out towards him. "Hmm?" She inspected his torso- and saw some nasty scars about his body. "My god, Harry how did you get these injuries?" He opened his eyes and looked at what she was pointing at. "Oh, that." He remembered them too well. All of his injuries were definitely not Quidditch related. He looked at his right arm and the large shiny mark there. That s from the Basilisk bite I got in my second year. Um, this," he pointed to a spot inside of his shoulder, "is where Wormtail cut me to get my blood." She paled. Wanting to know more, she pointed at his other arm where a slash ran along most of his bicep, up the back of his shoulder nearly reaching his back. "That's from the Horntail. She was something wasn't she?" and amazingly, he smiled. Hermione frowned. How could he smile at that? She clucked at him, got up and saddled the bench behind him so she could apply the balm to his back. Hermione took her time and applied it gently to his bruises. Her soft touch immediately calmed Harry, and Harry slowly fel the pain ease away. As she rubbed it in, Harry's mind was being clouded, magic was traversing his conscious- images of his memories fading and melding into the deep emotions of another. He saw himself walking out from a small path in a

group of trees, obviously scared. It was weird, watching himself use a summoning charm. A few seconds later a broomstick zoomed to his side and Harry saw himself mount it smoothly- taking off at top speed towards the Dragon at the other end. The vision played until the Horntail slashed him, at which point her he suddenly broke out of that semi-trance like state and felt an incredible urge to scream, his face burning as if he was brutally digging his fingernails in them. He jumped up from the bench, the adrenaline and desperate immediately gone. He stared at her incredulously. Hermione "What is it?" she asked, her eyebrows creasing in worry. hard? Harry shook his head. Did I press too

"Er. Nothing. Thanks a lot Hermione. Maybe we should meet back with your dad." Something was going on, but Hermione thought wisely not to press on. She nodded and got up. Harry put on a new t-shirt, picked up his England robes and stuffed them into his bag. Hermione looked uneasily at him as she followed him out of the dressing rooms and into the passageway. They walked in a tense silence until Hermione decided to divert Harry s attention from whatever was bothering him. "My dad said he'll meet us at the exit, he wanted to talk to Ron's parents, or dad I should say. I didn't see Mrs. Weasley at the match." Harry nodded, but did not say anything as he pushed open the door to the main lobby. His chin was down, buried in thought. These images he got in his head were perplexing him. How was he seeing all this? "HARRY POTTER!" He looked up and was instantly blinded by a sharp flash of light. Many more flashes followed it from all directions, everybody calling his name. 'A FEW WORDS PLEASE!" "CAN I SCHEDULE AND INTERVIEW?" "MARGARET THATCHER FROM THE PROPHET, HOPING TO ASK-" "JACK LOVEGOOD FROM THE QUIBBLER, YOU KNOW MY DAUGHTER SHE-" "HARRY POTTER OVER HERE PLEA-" "WE'RE FROM QUIDDITCH MONTHLY WE-" "One at a time PLEASE!" Hermione shrieked, standing in front of him; her arms outstretched in a silencing manner. All the voices stopped, obviously stunned at this little girl eyeing down at them with such superiority. Harry's mouth dropped in awe- Hermione was in full control now. She pointed at the two young wizards from Quidditch Monthly. "Thank you. You may ask Harry a few questions, but be brief and

professional. We will not answer any questions that is irrelevant." We? The Quidditch monthly reporter, obviously still stunned, cleared his throat." Ahh, yes,.ahem. Terry Grey from Quidditch Monthly. Excellent performance, Mr. Potter! What is your opinion of England's game?" This stumped Harry. He had only seen one big match before, and that was the Quidditch world cup final. He answered truthfully, "It was a hard match. I believe England was under pressure most of the game. We're glad the team regrouped at the end." "The team regrouped? Mr. Potter, it was fairly obvious that it was one man that pulled England's arse out of the flames," Terry Grey countered. 'Uh yes well " he stammered."It was a piece of luck, really." "Luck? Luck? Ha! That was an extraordinary piece of flying and tenacity you pulled doing that stunt. We've never seen anything as outrageous. What's that manoeuvre called?" Harry must admit that it was a dangerous piece of flying. It seemed that he rushed headfirst into the collision without thinking, something that he knew that was turning out to be a very dangerous habit. He recalled the whole ministry of magic incident, and realized he was regularly doing this sort of thing. He sighed. "I don't know. It seemed sort of to be the only way to get the snitch at the time." "So it was basically a gamble then." "I guess so," Harry agreed, the comparison between this stunt and Sirius rescue becoming more obvious by the second. He was lucky this time- he caught the snitch, but he could just as easily broken his neck. "Well I guess it was 'Potter's Gamble'. Sounds good. We'll use that in print." He scribbled something down on the parchment in his hand. Hearing a new Quidditch move named after him was utterly ridiculous but it did give his ego a huge boost. "Thank you Harry. Great job out there!" he gave him a thumbs-up and allowed someone else to take the floor. Hermione pointed to a young witch who had her black hair pulled tightly in a bun. "Olivia Harswick, 'Wizards Weekly'. Harry, was the pretty girl swooping down on you after the game your girlfriend? What is her name?" she shot the question unflinchingly, eyeing him. Harry frowned. "That question is irrelevant Ms. Harswick," Hermione countered, a little peeved. "Next person plea-" "And who may YOU be?" she challenged. "Me? That is not impo-" "Are you his girlfriend?" She interrupted again, her quill at the ready.

"No!" Hermione answered a bit too quickly. "Well I suppose you should allow Mr. Potter to answer his own questions and stop putting your nose where it doesn't belong. Ms. Harswick said arrogantly. Harry took offence at this. "Don't you dare insult Hermione," he said in a cold tone. "Ah, so Hermione is it? Who is she to you Harry?" she asked sweetly. "She's is one of my best friends," he answered automatically. Hermione beamed at him. "From the smile she's giving you, I would wager she's a bit more than that." Hermione rounded on her, eyes blazing, "Listen, I don't know who you think you are to be saying these things but I definitely would not tolerate any more of this nonsense." "What are you going to do about it little girl? Lock me up in a jar?" She sneered at her. Hermione was taken back. How did she know about Skeeter? The other reporters laughed at her, oblivious to the deeper meaning in those words. Hermione; obviously embarrassed that all these wizards were laughing at her, flushed red. She opened her mouth to retort when she felt that eerie feeling of her hairs being on charge again. Harry took one step forward, eyeing Olivia Harswick. The laughter quickly died away and Hermione was now watching Harry with a sudden urge to pull him back. He stopped directly in front of Olivia, looking down at her through his slightly wet hair He stood there motionless for a full second, the lobby turning deathly quiet as the lights flickered above. "Apologize to her. Now." Olivia cringed, taking a step back. I-I'm sorry," she said, clearly stunned. The lights flickered once or twice again, and were back to normal. Harry nodded curtly, then looked back at Hermione. "Come on, let's go," he said softly. He rest his fingers at the small of her back and led them to the place where Arthur Weasley was talking with Roger Granger, clearly oblivious to the little scene that just occurred around the bend. Arthur Weasley was grinning broadly and laughing at something Mr. Granger had just told him. They saw Harry and Hermione approach and they called out to them. Harry dear boy, absolutely smashing display! Seeing brooms fly scared me to death but I must admit, it s highly entertaining. From what I ve heard you are something of a prodigy. First you make house team in year one and now the youngest Quidditch player to represent the under 20 squad. How old are you? Sixteen? Roger asked.

Fifteen, sir. Sixteen on the 31st July.

Amazing. Well I m sure you ll be a huge success. That was some great flying, said Roger. If I survive my trial- I ll definitely try my best and that s a big IF Now Harry, don t let all this get to you. Keep your head on, Weasley. Yeah- it s a bit overwhelming isn t it? Well Arthur, it was great seeing you again. Guys you ready? They nodded. They said their goodbyes and followed Roger to the car. How about something to eat? asked Mr. Granger. said Mr.

No thanks- Harry wanted to sleep. These bouts of telepathy and dizziness were fatiguing him. Hermione knew him too well- she could hear in his voice that he was exhausted. Harry s tired dad. Maybe we should just go home. He has to come back tomorrow for practice, Hermione explained. He nodded to her in silent thanks, and dozed off in the back of the car. When they reached at the Granger s house, Roger awoke Harry and helped him carry his gym bag. Harry took his firebolt from the back seat and trudged up the stairs, his muscles aching, especially his shoulder and lower back. He dumped his firebolt and his gym bag on the ground and fell into bed. Harry, you can t sleep just yet! You ve got to write to Ron! Harry grumbled something resembling a little later, a little later. Fine! When Ron bites off your head in the next letter I hope you will tell him that I tried to remind you! cried Hermione. Yeah, yeah, he muttered and fell asleep.

Hermione looked at him, all brave and heroic on the pitch but he looked so young now, sprawled on the bed with his shoes and glasses still on. She sighed, took them off again and covered him with the sheet. You sleep well. You deserve some peace. She whispered to him. She left the room, remembering the way he defended her at the match. She smiled to herself, recalling the way he automatically told the woman that she was one of his best friends. He never really showed how much he appreciated her, and to do it in front of so many reporters was more than she could have asked.

**********

Author's note: This is taking longer than i thought. To those who asked for it- I posted the Grim a few days ago. I'll be posting those chapters as fast as I can as well. However, I'll still do this story

chronologically up to "the Man Who triumphed" - but i'll post The Grim early for those who need their Grim "fix". Lol. To those of you who did read this before- there are changes to the story that ties in better to the future ones. Did you spot them? They are subtle, but I toned down Harry a bit so that the Solidus 'charm' manifests itself at a more realistic pace. I hope you like the revision so far. Respect!~

Chapter 7: Face to Face [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**Chapter 7: Face to Face**

Harry woke up much later; he spent the whole afternoon in bed. Someone was kind enough to wash his Quidditch robes and the clothes he wore underneath them. His red robe was hung up on the cupboard handle, a large R with a numerical 7 boldly displayed on the back. Number seven? Beckham, eat your heart out Shortly after he woke up, Hermione and her mom told him to come downstairs and eat- which was fine as Harry was starving. So how was the match, Harry dear? Jane asked him. P O T T E

Great, he managed to say between mouthfuls. We won by a really close margin, I thought we were going to lose for sure. You should have seen him, mom, he was fantastic! Harry reddened. Thanks, Hermione He said sheepishly. Hermione gushed out.

They ate dinner and Harry went upstairs to write the letter to Ron and also one for Professor Dumbledore. He filled Ron in about everything, the meeting with the lawyer, the letter from Bagman, his presence at Hermione s place. It was a while before he finished and his hand was tiring from writing with the ballpoint pen. He read it back to himself and added a final note. Ps. When we play Bulgaria I ll make sure and give Ha! Vicky your very best.

He then started to write the letter to Dumbledore, this one in a much more serious tone. Dear Professor Dumbledore,

I ve just played a Quidditch match against the Cannons. Were you at the stadium? Hope you were. When is the next appointment with Mrs. Chang? Any progress on the case? I hope that the Quidditch practice does not interfere with anything concerning the hearing. How are Remus and the rest of the Order? Alastor Moody gave me a medallion, saying it activates in times of emergency, like it s sort of a panic button. It feels quite powerful- do you know anything more about it? I haven t shown it to Hermione or Ron, I thought it would be best to keep it quiet. I don t want them to worry any more than they already do. Give the others my best. Harry Ps. What s the news on that muggle that Voldemort sprung from the courthouse? Harry sealed both letters, and called Hedwig from her cage. Here girl, one is for the burrow and the other is for Albus Dumbledore. She nipped his ear and took off through the window. There was a knock at his door; Hermione was standing nervously in the doorway. Hey Harry. You got a minute? Sure. What s up? That, thing you do...You know, when you get all charged up, what in the world is that? she asked. Huh? What are you talking about? Harry asked, completely clueless.

Like at the match when the reporters were laughing at me. You sort of, exuded energy. That s when they went all silent and you told that woman to apologize to me. Remember? I remember telling her to apologize- I don t know anything about or anything, Harry denied. energy

I felt it- and not for the first time. When the reporters also felt it, I knew I wasn t going insane. HarryYou mean I m physically radiating magic?? how preposterous that was. Well, kind of, What? You seem to get turned on and my hairs get tingly and my face flushes with some wave of ..of.. power. I don t know. That s what I came to ask you. Well Hermione, I haven t any answers for you, so I suggest you come off it, Harry told her briskly. I did not want to upset you, Hermione said, fearing the worst. he cut her off, laughing at

Hermione ventured softly. That comment stumped Harry.

No, no. I m not upset. Its just that I really don t know what you re talking about, Harry grumbled.

Well ..okay. We ll find out soon enough. Goodnight. She turned the doorway, she apparently changed her mind. Slowly she came up stood on tiptoe and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Thanks, smiled. It was so brief, Harry would have thought he imagined it for the fact that her face was very close to his. For what? Harry asked, stunned.

to go. At to him, she if not

For everything. For being who you are. She smiled, and left him there gaping stupidly at the doorway. He shook his head in bewilderment. "Hmph- girls..." ********** Harry got up early for practice the next morning quite early, the clock on his bedside table said 6:10 a.m. The sun was not fully up yet and it was chilly outside. Rolling out of bed and unto the floor with a loud thud; he forced himself fully awake. He packed his gym bag, put on his training kit, and went down the stairs. As he was about to leave he stopped, nearly forgetting something important. Maybe I should tell Hermione first that I m off He put down his gear and quickly went back up the stairs, down the corridor to her bedroom door. He knocked quietly, then opened the door . Hermione? She was still asleep under thick blankets. He knelt next to her bed and looked at her face. Looks worried even in her sleep. What is she always so paranoid about? He shook her gently, Hermione? Wake up. I have to go to practice. Hermione? Harry? she mumbled softly, her eyes still closed.

Yeah. It s me. Her eyes half opened and looked at his face. A slight frown creased her eyebrows- she halfway acknowledged that he was going somewhere. Don t leave me, she whispered, a sad expression on her face. Harry looked at her strangely for a moment, then smiled softly. Still asleep- doesn t have any clue what she s saying Hermione, I m coming back later. I m just going to practice at the stadium. I ll be back soon. She reached out to caress his cheek. At that moment- he saw an image of someone putting salve to his own face,- but what was strange was that he was looking through their eyes. Your bruise is gone. The image vanished as her hand fell to the Medallion of Courage Moody gave him. What is this? she asked softly, holding it lightly in her hand. Harry closed his hand around hers briefly, then released her grip on his amulet.

Don t worry about that. Go back to sleep,

he whispered.

mm-kay, she replied softly, then promptly fell back asleep. Harry let himself out her room then left the house with his gear. Time to begin my career, he told himself in congratulations, then took out his wand and held it out in a thumbs up. BANG! Good morning, this is the Knight Bus. I will be your conductor for today my name is Stan Shunp- OY!! IT S HARRY!! ALL RIGHT, mate? SUP, Stan? Harry grinned.

Well come on. We haven t got all day. He beckoned Harry inside. How are you mate? I heard that man Sirius Black was a good bloke after all eh? Who would ve thought that? Yeah. He was a good man. His face darkened. No, a great man. Harry did not want to talk about Sirius with Stan. Nor anyone else for that matter. Killed by Death Eaters... that seems to be all in the rage these days? I wonder if He who must not be named is really back- he looked at Harry expectantly. Harry remained silent, looking out the window. Also heard Black was part of some Cult- or team, or something. The Order of the Phoenix - how stupid does that sound? Sounds ridiculous- it s supposed to be the wizard s version of SuperFriends? You believe any of that codswallop? It s bollocks if you ask me. Yeah? Well I didn t ask. Don t get all knotted up now. I ain t swinging on your nuts, Potter-boy. Harry sighed. No problem, Stan.

Where you off for anyways? Chelsea stadium. Right! I wanted to go to that match yesterday. Had to work. Really upset my day, that it did. Heard there was a spectacular finish. Did not get the details though. Know anything about it? What am I? Cooped in St Mungo sI ve got the paper right here- just got it before we picked you up, that we did. He grabbed the Daily prophet. Here, he rapped on the back page. England 250- Cannons 230. Details inside. Harry took out his fare and gave it to Stan, who absentmindedly pocketed it while reading out loud, England was being demolished by the more experienced Cannons. Even though it was a friendly, the atmosphere was charged with emotions. He looked up at the driver, OY! WHERE YOU THINK WE RE GOING, POTTER GETS OFF HERE! Harry said goodbye and stepped out of the bus, leaving Stan to continue his report. As his feet hit the ground, Stan burst out the window, POTTER !! YOU DIDN T TELL ME YOU WERE ON THE TEAM!! WHAT A SNEAKY, CONNIV- his voice trailed off as the Knight Bus sped away. Ignoring him, Harry

breathed in the morning air, feeling revitalized and in control. He finally had the opportunity to make something of himself other than a boy-who-lived-nonsense. He loved Quidditch, and was not going to blow this opportunity. He steeled himself on and as the warehouse transformed itself into a stadium lobby he was shocked to see that there were wizards and witches everywhere. What in bloody hell-? he said aloud.

THERE HE IS! HE S FINALLY HERE! Dozens of people came flocking to him, cameras flashing and blinding him from all directions He froze for a split second, dazzled and disoriented. He then realized that these people were even worse than Dark Wizards. Reporters. It was too late now, he could not escape. Shielding his eyes from the barrage of cameras he braced himself for the onslaught. Mr. Potter, a few wordsWe did not get that interview you promised us yesterdayHarry LISTEN! he shouted. I am not speaking to any of you this morning. I don t have time for this. Talk to the admin and if they arrange it, I will try to be accommodating. If not, bugger off! He pushed his way through the crowd, magical microphones and recorders shoved all in his face. He stormed through the corridors to the dressing room, now quite irritated. He burst into the dressing room and threw his gear down on the ground with a loud thump. Stinking paparazzi- what the fuOH! a girl said, startled.

Harry looked up suddenly, surprised to see that it was Cho. It was Cho, and she was only wearing a pair of tights and a sport bra, her uniform laid out neatly on the bench. His jaw slacked a bit in dumb fascination. Harry what are you doing in here? This is the female locker room! I did? I mean, it is? I m really sorry, he looked at her- and how smooth her skin was. Er..I - I must have taken a wrong turn. Um- Bye.. He turned to leave. Harry, wait. There s something I want to talk about, back. she said to his

Harry froze. Right now his mind was far from talk. Uhhh- what is it? he said, not even turning around. He could feel a bead of sweat forming at his temple, and a strange feeling building in his stomach. He could smell her fresh bath scent, and his thoughts went back to their first kiss It was intoxicating. He closed his eyes. Don t be stupid, just keep cool, you can do this yesterday- he was thinking about that kiss. If it is about

Yesterday? Um, no. Actually it was about the visit you and the professor had the other day. Mom seems to be really shaken up, and has been buried in work everyday. She hardly sleeps; she s really into this. What s going on? she asked earnestly, her desperation and concern for her mother obvious in her voice. Harry s mind quickly shifted focus, and now he felt once again as if he were being interrogated. I don t really want to talk about it, he said sourly.

Really? Well I want to talk about it! My mother is on the verge of collapse yet she won t stop to get some proper sleep! If there s anyone who deserves to know it s me! Cho, I can t, it s...complicated, he sighed. She was right behind him; and Harry could remember how nervous he used to get around her. Heck, he still was nervous. Damn, she smelled good. Harry, I need to know. What s really happening here? she took his hand and turned him around. The contact rattled him; he was definitely under some feminine wiles here. Well I guess you deserve to know, as I did freak out your mom that day. You re concerned. I could understand that. He hesitated. It s a long story. So I guess we better sit down. They sat at the bench, Harry avoiding Cho s eyes. She sat next to him, and casually put on a t-shirt. Harry could resist but look at her as the soft white material glided down over her chest and covered her trim stomach. Trying not to be too obvious, he noticed that her legs were perfect, and was instantly reminded of his first day by Hermione- and how even more perfect Hermione s legs were. Get a hold of yourself, Harry The long and short of it is that your mom is representing me in a hearing I have on the 27. She called me into the office that day for the details and well, my side of the whole Ministry of Magic um- incident .She heard some disturbing facts and sort of freaked out. But everything is fine now, he added quickly, seeing the expression Cho had on her face. Everything is obviously NOT fine. My mom is in a state, what could be so horrible? Er- the ministry has charged with some serious crimes, he reddened, and your mother wanted to know how I could do the Cruciatus curse. I told her that Moody showed us the spell and..and well, that Voldemort used it on me last year wait long. He watched her quickly for her reaction. He didn t have to

Vol-vol..MY GOD HARRY! ARE YOU OKAY?! she grabbed his hand and was squeezing it very hard, her skin pale and eyes doubled in size. You said last year; that means we were in year four .. It had to be after the Triwizard tournament. She put together the facts. That means that was when Cedric Cedric was murdered. Her face was sullen; but she did not burst into tears. It was a change from the over-emotional girl of last year he thought. Harry I m glad you told me the truth. Now I know why you were acting so strangely towards me last year about it. I wouldn t want to relive that experience. Yeah well, I guess you deserve to know now. I have to face some of the

things I try to deny, or forget. Life s so fucked up. His face was stony, his manner rigid. She took his hand lightly, rubbing her thumb on his knuckles. Harry looked at her fingers resting on his. He looked up- her eyes were bright, almost on the verge of tears; and she was looking into his. He couldn t be angry with her, she really was worried about her mom and not knowing the reasons behind it always made things worse. Don t cry, everything will be all right, he consoled her, awkwardly patting her back. Were all girls this emotional? The tears slowly leaked out now, and she leant into him, crying into his shoulder. He felt stupid patting her back, so he closed his arms around her and she sunk into the embrace. Harry, I won t be able to bear anything happening to you. I really like you, and what you said on Valentine s Day hurt. But I don t want us to be like that anymore. I want us to start over from scratch, she confessed, her voice muffled against his neck. She looked up at him, and slowly kissed him on the lips. Harry s mouth tingled as they broke apart, and on the surface; Cho was amazingly pretty. Try as he might- he could not focus on her face. Something kept creeping into the back of his mind and his feelings for Cho were somewhat becoming more fantasy oriented than really love-oriented. She kissed him again, fuller this time, and all of his doubts were pushed into a corner. She was warm and sweet in his arms, and it felt very similar to their first kiss in the Room of Requirement. It felt so good, being held like this, but at the same time...it didn t feel right. At that moment, Amy Charles- the starting chaser, walked in. Harry and Cho jumped apart from each other, embarrassment red on their faces. Don t mind me, Amy smiled. Happens all the time, giving Harry a wink. Good work Chang, I was gonna take a chance on Potter here til I saw that piece of work you put on him after the match yesterday. My, it seems the early brid does get the worm eh? she teased, looking at her watch. Cho blushed furiously and excused herself, ducking into the other room. Harry just watched Amy warily, still unsure whether he was safe around her. She laughed at his naivete. Don t worry Potter. I won t bite. Unless you like that sort of thing? was clearly an invitation to something more. it

Umm, no thanks, Harry stammered, and left. He was grinning uncontrollably as he geared up the men s locker room. A few minutes later Oliver Wood and Jimmy Morrison arrived, and both were looking at him strangely. What re you grinning about? Morrison asked. Oliver Wood pulled thoughtfully on his beard. Didn t he just see Cho and Amy babbling about something as he came in? And why were they giggling so much? He put two and two together catching on to what must have made Harry grin so stupidly. He smiled knowingly. It s nothing, said Harry, still not being able to stop grinning. Oliver congratulated him. Harry said nothing, but

She s a catch, Potter,

began to change into his training gear, feeling happier than he did in these two days that he felt whole of last year. This is going to be a great summer! ************* Practice was great. Coach Ryan knew his strategies; he used to coach the Blues a few years back until England drafted him into their training for the new generation squads, seeding out who were the best to play for the England first team. The drills were repetitive but in the end they really got the team into an understanding they did not have in the match before. Harry still did not automatically earn his starting place: coach Ryan said that great players weren t built around individual spectacular plays, but the consistency and the ability to make the team perform better. Harry took this to heart, and worked harder than ever to support the squad, making himself available for passes of the Quaffle and even dummy plays to create space for his attackers. They played some practice sessions against each other, the reserves against the first team. Harry was exceptional, having caught the snitch in their first three games faster than it took them to score fifty points on either team. We actually may have found a weapon. His reflexes are astounding- even for a wizard, Coach Ryan muttered to his assistant, obviously impressed. No one s this good at what, fifteen, sixteen? Sixteen on the 31st of July, in his hands his assistant said, referring to the roster

Excellent. We ll have him for four years before he leaves. If so muchAye, he s young still, much to learn. If Jackson found out what we have here, he may steal him from us before then. He ll break records or something, wait and see. Promising lad, Ryan said. Hours later Harry was tired but feeling great. He was integrating himself amongst his team and his teammates did not consider him some sort of tragic hero or self-absorbed spoilt brat. To them he was just Harry. They touched down on the sand and thy were good naturedly remarking that it was only because he had a Firebolt that he was able to catch the snitch so fast. Yeah well, I can still take you Cantonma if I had only a Cleansweepretorted, laughing with them. he

Cocky aren t we? came the reply. They made their ways to the locker rooms to shower and change. The healing balm Hermione put on really did the trick, Harry thought, his cuts and bruises not even stinging once. The guys dressed, talking about who was the hottest between the three girls on the team, Cho, Amy Charles or Resha Jemson. Harry kept quiet through this debate, not wanting to spill the beans on himself and Cho. Harry! What do you think? Cantonma asked him. He and Harry got along

quite well, even though they were competing for the same position. Ha! That s easy! Wood declared. He s already smitten with Cho Chang!

I am not smitten! Harry laughed it off. He was really enjoying thisbeing able to joke about girls, playing Quidditch, everything. Sometimes, he couldn t believe how lucky he was. Whatever mate. I just hope that she makes it through the seeding process after the Bulgaria match. She s really just a replacement because Kira got herself pregnant. Harry thought about not seeing Cho for practice, and decided not to dwell on the possibility of her not being around on a regular basis over the summer. He was walking towards the door to the main lobby when he heard her voice call out to him. Harry, wait up! Cho was wearing muggle clothes and put on some makeup, she really was gorgeous. Hey Cho, he replied, smiling. she came up to him.

That was a good session wasn t it?

Yeah, I m glad were finally playing on the same team, instead of trying to knock each other off. I secretly knew you wouldn't really to knock me off, I heard Oliver reprimand you for not doing so in a match we played in Hogwarts. She smiled at him sweetly, Harry remembered the match too. She paused, looking a bit flustered and uncertain. You, you want to do something? Like get an ice cream perhaps? she ventured. Sure, he answered automatically. Where? She took his hand and pulled him to out the door. I know a place, it s only at the corner of this block, they have a delici-click- FLASH! What s going on here? pictures at them. she asked looking at all the reporters flashing

Arrgh! Come on Cho, ignore them. He led her on by the hand, making his way through the small throng of people. They made their way out of the building, one or two reporters still following them at a distance. Cho pulled him along faster now, wishing to avoid the attention as well. They are really persistent! Yeah you should have seen them yesterdaywhispered in his head- a warning... Danger! And at that moment, his scar burned ferociously- just like it had after he faced Bellatrix Lestrange. There was a loud pop, and a tall robed figure apparated directly front of them. Harry s scar exploded with pain as he stood face to face with his nemesus. He broke off suddenly, a voice

You! VOLDEMORT! Harry shouted, fear freezing him to the spot. Adrenaline pumped through him, the medallion high on his chest began to burn as his whole world began to spin with the blood rushing to his head. Ah yes. It is I. He smirked through his hood, his eyes more menacing than ever. Good afternoon, Harry. We have no need for you, girl. He lazily pointed his wand at her. Something clicked insid eof harry, and fear no longer was a factor. His hair instantly became charged with magic, and his pupils began to glow. NO! Harry cried, and without thinking he charged Voldemort with a rugby tackle. Caught off guard, Voldemort crumpled in a heap of robes as Harry caught him flush in his stomach, wanting to wrap his hands around his neck, only to realise he was trying to strangle a snake in an empty black robe. He flung away the vicious reptile- and then panicked. Voldemort had disappeared! He sprung back up to his feet- his senses reaching out for anything, any inclination that he was nearby. His scar still burned like hell... CHO! PULL OUT YOUR WAND- SHIELD CHARM!! NOW!! he ordered.

She trembled but did as told. PROTEGO!! she screamed. Those little school tricks are no match for me, Potter. Voldemort said casually, reappearing behind both of them. He waved his wand almost negligently, and the shield charm vanished. Cho whimpered. Harry paled as he saw how easily Voldemort countered her spell, but did not give up. He drew his wand, and ran in front of Cho, shielding her with his body. Voldemort lowered his wand, laughing at him from a few feet away. His eyes narrowed on Harry's. Ah, this brings back fond memories. Haven t we seen a Potter die trying to defend a woman he before? I LL KILL YOU! Harry bellowed, raising his wand directly at his face. Voldemort raised an eyebrow. Yes, yes, we ve heard that one before. Well enough chit chat. I wish I felt a bit of remorse doing this, But I don t, he hissed, pointing his wand at Cho. Harry- duck!" Moody bellowed behind Voldemort, his wand drawn and ready. IMMOBILUS! The hasty freezing spell caught Voldemort flush in the back, paralysing him. POTTER, CHANG! It won t hold him for long. Get over here! he rapped the half empty whiskey bottle in his left hand. Portus! Before they had even recovered fully from the shock of seeing a unexpected rescuer; Voldemort was moving again, the spell only stopping him in his tracks for two, maybe three seconds. It was enough. Harry hauled Cho towards Moody and they grabbed hold of the portkey. The world sunk in around them, breathing became difficult, and with a final yank behind the navel they were gone. Voldemort stepped over to the slightly smoking footprints of where the trio had left . It was the only sign that he was this close to catching

that slippery fish off guard and dealing with him once and for all. Blasted pest, that man is. Voldemort said aloud, crouching at the point of teleportation- inspecting the label that was burnt off the Whiskey bottle. Fletcher will be first- you will be next, Auror Moody. I ll save that fool Dumbledore for last- I will show him that the apprentice can indeed stronger than the teacher." He smiled inwardly, and vanished. ***********

Chapter 8: The Legacy of Solidus Gryffindor [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**Chapter 8: The Legacy of Solidus Gryffindor**

DAMMIT!! Moody was in a rage; his eye spinning furiously inside his head. I am going to kick Mundungus Fletcher out of this Order if it is the last thing I Do! They were back in the sitting room of the Grangers house. Moody was at the moment pacing up and down the foyer, cursing fluently as he calmed down his anxiety and battle nerves. Hermione came rushing down the stairs. Mr. Moody! What happened? Why are- she cut herself off, looking at Harry nestled on top some girl on the floor. Harry sprung to his feet, adrenaline pumping through him. There was a heavy sensation in the air, goose bumps ran all over Hermione as she felt her entire being gradually infused with magic. Moody felt it too, and immediately was on battle alertness again. What in the bloody hell is that? Potter draw your wand! Granger, Chang! Up the stairs! My dark detectors are not picking up anything but I Don t worry- it s Harry doing that, Hermione explained. Moody and Cho looked at her incredulously, then looked at Harry suspiciously. There was something strange about the air around him; it was like looking into the heat waves radiating off an extremely hot freeway. Hermione narrowed her eyes. Cho? What re you doing here? Moody ignored them, his magical eye picking up on the glow inside of Harry s pupils. Potter- snap out of it! he ordered. He made an attempt to grab him, but as he drew close, he was inexplicably repulsed forcefully back unto the ground, knocking him out cold. Both girls looked down at the fallen Auror, shocked. Cho drew back a few paces. Harry? she asked tentatively.

Keep away from me, I don t know what s going on. He was bewildered. Cho took this to heart, and allowed him even more personal space. She eased away from him, obviously frightened. However, Hermione was made of stronger stuff. With a determined expression on her face, she walked up to him slowly, spoke a soft incantation and lay her palm against his face. As she touched him, the foreboding magic eased, and she pulled him close in a hug. The tingling in her body dissipated, and once again Harry was back to normal. As the increased magical ability receded, Harry began have difficulty breathing, his brow glistened with sweat. Harry? Hermione asked, concerned. Harry could barely focus on her face as the pain in his scar eased and his muscles relaxed. He felt faint, and if it wasn t for Hermione hugging him close he would have fell flat on his face. All energy spent, his eyes rolled back into his head and slumped unto her. Hermione nearly capsized trying to support him. CHO! I need you to help me, I can t -umph Damn it- Harry- Cho! He s too heavy! She strained under his weight. Cho rushed to her aid, and they both put a shoulder under his arms and carried him to lie on the couch. They looked down at him, he appeared to be sleeping, a serene expression on his face. Great, we have an auror and Harry Potter knocked out cold in my house, and I don t know what in the world is going on here! Hermione grumbled, her hands on her hips. This was not good. She rounded on Cho. What are you doing here? Cho was finding it hard to calm herself down. were going to get an ice cream whenWell Well, me and Harry

You and Harry were going to do what? Hermione asked indignantly. Cho nodded erratically, trying to explain but finding it extremely difficult to talk. Get an ice cream, she continued, ignoring Hermione s tone, then- she paled, shaking her hands as if trying to dry them (Hermione was getting cross as Cho fumbled along) He-who-he-who-who- Voldemort attacked us! she gasped, realizing she said his name out loud for the first time. At this, Hermione s eyes rounded. She took a firm grip on Cho s shoulders, shaking her. VOLDEMORT??? HOW, WHEN, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!? WHERE WAS HARRY S GUARD? HOW DID HE GET SO CLOSE?! she demanded. I- er- I Talk! Um- a few minutes ago! He was there! I saw him! Harry fought him! I was there! Really close! Guard- Harry has a guard? Cho babbled, her adrenaline running high on the Richter scale. Hermione let her go, and began to pace just as Moody did, damning words and highly intelligent criticism aimed at the lack of proper security on the Order s behalf. Weren t they supposed to be looking out for him? Where s Professor Dumbledore when you need him? Hermione demanded, quite

infuriated at this point. CRACK! Right behind you, miss Granger, a solemn voice said. A group of about eleven wizards had suddenly apparated, crowding her foyer. Cho jumped, alarmed to see all these people appear right behind her. Albus Dumbledore pointed his wand at Moody. Enervate! Moody slowly opened his eyes, quite disoriented. Finally both eyes focused in the same direction, and the many-figured blur he was seeing now took shape of the Order of the Phoenix. Alastor, what happened? About bloody time you showed up. How long was I out- thought it would be next week when someone decided to use that spell. Strange happenings Albus- Voldemort out in the open- in front of witnesses He took his time and finally got to his feet, rubbing the kinks out the back of his neck. What the hell was that? he said, eyeing Harry. We ll find out shortly, said Remus Lupin. Resuscitarus! Harry shot up, all sense of tiredness gone. In a flash he was alert, and eyed everyone. Realiseing he was stretched out on the couch, he sat up- running his hands over his face. What the- I must have fainted, stating the obvious. you catch him? he asked automatically. Where is he? Did

Harry! What happened? said Arthur Weasley. Harry told them the events of the morning; quietly aware of how quickly his life had taken another drastic turn. From feeling very enthusiastic and eager to begin a budding career as a Quidditch player; then all the way to opposite end of the scale: facing Voldemort in battle. Now he felt the true fear coursing through him, the adrenaline now gone, and fatigue swamped him. He began to shake, his body reacting to physical exertion and the fact that he was this close- so close to losing his life. Hermione and Cho noticed at once, and both sat on the couch at either side, each wanting to comfort him. They looked at each other, venom in their eyes, and were about to bicker when Dumbledore stepped in. Excuse me ladies, he drawled, eyes twinkling, but I have to administer to Harry a calming draught. They gave him space, and Harry drank the potion greedily. He calmed visibly, and was now talking easier. He finished his story, the Order muttering darkly amongst themselves. Dumbledore listened attentively, and when he was through, he stood up to his full height, already deciding on what must be done. Tonks, I need you to go on a special mission, said Dumbledore. You are to find the whereabouts of, then follow, Mundungus Fletcher. Assume whatever shape you deem appropriate. I fear that him being off guard both times when Harry has been attacked is far too coincidental. No one is to talk of this with anyone outside of this room. We will have to relocate Harry to Grimmauld place. Someone has leaked Harry s movements to Voldemort. Harry shook his head in defiance. No! I don t want to go back there!

We know it must be difficult, but you must realize that it is no longer safe here, don t you? said Lupin. Harry already knew that; it was of

course the safer route, but instinctively he refused to go anywhere that reminded him of Sirius, especially that place. Reluctantly he nodded, depression once again washing over him. Great- yet another brilliant day in the life of the boy who lived . Suck it up Potter- you have no choice. Deal with it and stop whining. Arthur, please take Ron and Ginny to the headquarters, Harry might like some company. Hermione, you are to get your things as well remember what we have discussed, don't worry: I will contact your parents. Miss Chang, he sighed in apology, I m terribly sorry you have to be dragged into this, but I will also have to contact your mother. I am not taking any chances, you will have to join us there as well. Cho nodded, not wanting to leave Harry alone. She was really shaken up, and she took some deep breaths to calm herself. Alastor, I must give you my appreciation and gratitude for your bravery, and also the foresight to give him his father s amulet. It was a stroke of brilliance, Dumbledore said. Harry s eyes widened, this was his father s amulet!? He took it out at once, and looked at the intricate etching and design on it. Scrutinizing it closely for the first time, he noticed a Phoenix on one side, bursting from flames. On the other side- an etching read: Potter, James A Class Animagus. The metal was warm, and Harry felt the subtle power residing in it. He looked up sharply at Moody, a solemn expression on his face. Thank you. If only I was faster before... Moody trailed off. I m sorry Harry. He was a great man, and an exceptional wizard. Harry nodded, his eyes moistening at the thought of his father dying to protect his family. Now it was he who nearly died, almost in the same situation. His father wasn t so lucky. He got up, took up his gear from the foyer, and went upstairs. I ll pack my things, he said, and left. After Harry exited the room there was a tense silence. No one could really blame Harry for his reluctance to go to his godfather s house, it was something that needed to be done for his safety, and there was no getting around it. Hermione was watching the Order members in turn, gauging their reactions to the latest attack on Harry. It seemed that once again, they realized they let him down, allowing him to be unguarded against the Dark Lord. If it weren t for Alastor, the cause may have been all lost. Dumbledore rubbed the corners of his eyes, finally showing the signs of his age: he looked tired and weary. Tonks had a panicked look on her face and was wringing her hands. Remus sat down with a determined expression on his face. He eyed the lot of them. This is horrible. How many times has Harry had to fend for himself alone for these past few years? After what we promised to Lily and James at their funeral, for Voldemort to get to him three times in a year . Remus trailed off, obviously disgusted. He said resolutely. I will be his personal bodyguard, in addition to whatever other guards he has on duty. Alastor, I cannot thank you enough. I should have thought about the medallion earlier.

He s a tough one: Potter. Tackled Voldemort as if he were nothing but a muggle in a street fight. Now that s improvisation, worked pretty well too. Stalled him long enough for me to apparate there. He stretched his muscles painfully. What I really want to know is what he hit me with just there. Hurt like a bitch, that it did. Who, Harry hit you? Dumbledore peered through his half moon glasses.

Not physically, more like a magical strike or something. Interesting, Dumbledore mused, pulling his beard. What else has been happening strangely recently, Hermione? Dumbledore said it with the air that he perceived Hermione knew more than she was letting on. W-well, I don t know exactly what s going on with him, I can only guess, but it can be sometimes well, frightening. Explain, Arthur Weasley encouraged.

When Harry gets agitated or emotional he radiates tremendous amounts of energy. I believe it incorporates a field of magic around his person. It feels strange, my hair stands on end and it s warm, like in a sauna. Dumbledore looked at her, his face dawning an incredulous expression. Amazing. This has to be a revelation of utmost importance, knowledgeable I may be, this is buried too deep in the archives for me to remember fully. He drew a box in the air of certain dimensions with his wand, and an old dusty book materialized in the space. He caught it out of the air, and with a gentle puff of breath, blew off the dust. Ah yes. The Rise and Fall of Godric Gryffindor, original version. This is not a book found in the libraries, for it contains information that is not to be seen by any and everyone. He winked at Hermione, and then flipped the pages at tremendous speed, using his finger to stop it directly on a particular page. Ah- Here it is. Godric Gryffindor was a master of the defensive and Patronal charms. He was a fighter for the oppressed, and did everything in his power to help and defend the muggles of the era, much to the disapproval of his wizarding community. His sword which allowed no one but the brave to wield it and was capable of cutting through any solid when there was a need to defend the defenceless. A remarkable weapon; the sword would accommodate the wielder for size, shape and weight. The day it was passed on to his son, Solidus, was a day of mourning. Even though Gryffindor was one of the most powerful and prominent wizards of his time, his son was a squib, and could not use magic. Taunted and abused by other wizards, Solidus Gryffindor was never ashamed for who he was, he stood proud, and lead a good life. One fateful day when Solidus travelling with his father, an extremely powerful dark wizard attacked them, ensuing in a battle worthy of legend. Godric died in the battle, leaving his son, Solidus, with no visible means of defence. The Dark Wizard cursed him to Death, but miraculously, the spell failed. With a single blow Solidus took up his father s sword and struck him down, immediately avenging his father s death. Throughout the rest of his life, Solidus was attacked by many Evil wizards and was eventually severely injured; never the less he managed to vanquish many dark wizards, continuing his father s work, even though he had no magical ability.

On his deathbed Solidus handed his son the sword and told him: Through the years, I have faced many trials. Never I forgot that my father died protecting me, nor would I forget the pride and honor he left me to uphold. His spirit shields me, and now I hand this over to you. Many asked how a mere squib could defeat any dark wizard, but I have never answered them. It was my father who protects me, and I hope my spirit will protect you. Dumbledore continued, His son took the sword and integrated it on the family coat of arms. He never used it, for his path was that of peace, the way of a healer. But he never forgot what his grandfather did, and revealed to those who would hear him, that his father and grandfather protected and served the oppressed, and that would be his reason for helping the injured instead of carrying on the role of a Dark Wizard hunter. Some thought he took the wrong path, but many realized that his course of saving people instead of killing was a noble way to carry on the Legacy. Dumbledore looked at his attentive audience. This is the legend of Solidus Charm . Researchers believed that Solidus was protected during times of need, and that his father s spirit lived on inside of him, acting as a source of strength and guidance. I believe that after a few millennia, there is one amongst us who has once again inherited this ability. As he surveyed his comrades, Arthur Weasley realised he was not alone. They were all astounded. Hermione s jaw dropped a few centimetres, her eyes darting up to the bedrooms. Cho flopped back down on the couch, her head in her hands. The Order did not know that Harry was just out of sight, listening to the amazing story Dumbledore told them. He leaned back against the wall, his eyes staring at the ceiling. He bumped his head against the wall two times, trying to soak it all in. Not another myth, or prophecy, or goddamned legend! Isn t it enough I have this scar? Why can t I be just like everyone else! Harry, no need to hide. Come down the stairs, Harry froze and his eyes flashed open. Dumbledore called him.

How did he know- No matter, it s Dumbledore he must know everything about everything, so I guess he ll know I was here. He blew out a deep breadth and came down the stairs. Everyone s eyes were on him. He stared back stonily at them, What are you looking at? What am I- Some kind of freak? he spat, scoffing at them. We don t think of you like that! said Hermione.

Yeah? Well your faces say different. Everyone looked away from him, not wanting to meet his gaze, everyone except Dumbledore and Hermione. Dumbledore came up to him and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. We know you are nothing of the sort. You

know it inside your heart, we are here because we care deeply for you. You have not changed in any of our eyes. Harry looked at him. You can say that, you don t know what it feels to be stared at everywhere you go. I know this stare far better than you lot realize. His brilliant green eyes looked at everyone in turn, daring anyone to contradict him. I need someone to help me with my trunk, he announced, and went back up the stairs. Hermione followed him up the stairs, almost close to tears. HARRY! Hermione cried as she followed him into the guest room. Don t be like this, it s only going to make things worse. Don t shut us out. Hermione, I really do not want to hear about it right now, he said irritably over his shoulder. He rummaged through his things; throwing everything he needed into his gym bag. Hermione came into the room to see him angrily throwing everything in the general direction of his open gym bag. I m not allowed to use magic. Charm this trunk so I can move it, he said. After a second of indecision on Hermione s behalf, he frowned. Please, he added stonily, not at all meaning it as a request. I know you don t want to talk, but you need to talk to someone right now. I m TIRED of someone else always knowing more about me than I do! Always telling me what to do! He glared at her. Hermione cringed, she knew it was a general remark but it hit her directly. Everyone always called her an insufferable know-it-all. She approached him, holding back tears. Harry, please calm down. You have no idea how terrified I was when Cho told me that Voldemort attacked you. It has been only a few days you came to spend the summer by me, and I thought we were getting to finally really know each other, only to have it taken away. Do you know how that feels to me? HARRY YOU WERE NEARLY KILLED! AND ALL YOU COULD THINK OF IS HOW YOU FEEL! WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO CARE ABOUT YOU?! she lamented. Harry took in all this, and the powerful emotions he felt from Hermione. She was crying openly, and Harry really felt bad now. It hurt him, looking at her as she stood there crying in the doorway, wiping tears from her face. He couldn t bear to make her cry again. He walked up to her, tipped her chin up at him and looked into her face. Hermione, I m okay, I m okay. You don t have to cry. I ll be here no matter what. I m not going to get myself killed.. or anything. You hear me? It s a promise. She flung herself at him at these words, her feelings for him plainly exposed. She gripped the front of his Quidditch robes with both hands, resting her forehead on his collar. I told you not to leave me this morning and I meant it- She let go of him and went into the bathroom. Harry heard her turn on the faucet; and deduced that she must be washing her face. Harry couldn t believe that Hermione thought of him as more than a friend, just after he and Cho made up this morning. Everything was piling up on him now, he felt so stupid he

didn t pick up all the signs. He sighed loudly, grabbed his gear in one hand, and hefted his trunk with the other. He dragged it out in the corridor until he reached the landing. He looked down at the crowd, feeling ridiculous- like a belle of the ball, since everyone was looking up at him. Expecting another outburst perhaps? Maybe I should accommodate them, just to be difficult Well? I can t use any magic yet so I guess one of you can help me with my things? He asked politely. He had enough drama for one day, even though he would have liked to let loose on them, and really show them how agreeable he could be. Remus offered to magic the trunk down. Accio! he said, and the trunk neatly flew across to him and landed at his feet. Harry came down the steps, his bag slung over his shoulder and his broomstick case in his hand. Thanks a lot. That would have been a real challenge to get it down all those stairs He attempted to smile at Remus, and the tension seamed to evaporate. There was a collective sigh of relief as everyone let their pent up breath escape. Realizing that they really were expecting him to blow up again, he laughed. You don t need to worry, she calmed me down. I m fine now, you can relax... Cho came up to him and hugged him tightly. Her encounter with Voldemort happened so fast that she hardly had time to realize that she was facing death incarnate before Harry charged him. She held on to him, her face buried into his neck. Thank you for saving my life, Harry, she whispered, then kissed him tenderly on his cheek. He looked at her quizzically, but said nothing. What do you say to that? He merely nodded, and put down his gear. Dumbledore came up to talk to him. I will have to contact Mrs. Chang and the Grangers before Cho and Hermione can go to the headquarters. I will personally escort them. The rest of you are to take Harry there: Arthur, collect Ron and his sister and meet us there. Keep your guard up, and have a safe journey, said Dumbledore. He gave Harry a look, one that said: Protect yourself, Behave yourself, and good luck- all in one. Harry, I m proud of you. James and Lilly would have been proud of you, don t let circumstances ever let you forget that. What about this Solidus charm I m supposed to have? It seems dangerous, and I can t turn it on or off - and I have no clue when its active or not. My friends could be hurt...couldn t they? I daresay Miss Granger knows how to more powerful ally than you may ever in his paternal way, and went up the Hermione, she needs to talk with her journey and Godspeed to you all. keep you under control. She can be a realize, said Dumbledore. He smiled stairs. I must now talk to parents before she leaves. Safe

C mon Harry, get a move on. Moody grumbled. Harry looked up the stairs one last time, mentally picturing Hermione as she grabbed unto his robes, letting all her emotions out in that moment. Wishing he had handled that better, he then left with the others, his feelings and thoughts all in disorder.

***********

Chapter 9: The 3 Witches [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** CHAPTER 9: The 3 Witches**

They travelled by stealth, each under their individual chameleon charms. Moody insisted that Harry use his invisibility cloak as well, just in case Voldemort possessed any of them and could see him through their eyes. Harry was dead tired, the practice, the encounter with the Dark Lord, everything seemed to be happening all at once. Even still, Hermione and Cho took up most of his thoughts, the accumulative attention from both girls was mentally exhausting. He knew Ron had a thing for Hermione and that Cho had a thing for Cedric, though she said she really liked him. What was he to do? These questions tumbled in his mind over and over and before he knew it they were descending in an abandoned alleyway a few streets from the House of Black. Weasley, Shackelbolt, you take point and secure the area. Remus, McGonagall, you head for the rooftop of the adjacent buildings. Snape, you get inside and give the all clear. I will stay here with Potter until we have everything secure, Moody ordered, now in his element. The order members apparated to their positions, except Snape, who walked up the street, his senses heightened, missing nothing. The immediate area around Sirius home was impervious to spells, and heavily armed with defensive and concealment charms. Unless told of the location by the secret keeper, the information could never be spread. Harry and Moody stood in the alley, wands drawn and at full alert. Moody s Sneakascope was spinning slowly, a sign that only general interference was affecting it. He signalled the go ahead: at the order members in turn, then turned to Harry. Anything at all happens, you incant Portus and take this watch to safety you hear me? I ve set up the portkey already; it just needs to be activated- good for fifteen minutes, that s the delay I put on the spell. Keep your eyes peeled- we ve got about thirty feet to cover. Let s go. They walked steadily towards the space between 11 and 13 Grimmauld Place. Moody pulled out a set of keys and slid one into the open air. Harry watched in fascination as a tiny keyhole appeared in the crack of the adjoining walls, and both apartments were pushed apart to allow a hidden doorway to materialize. They opened the door and allowed Remus, Snape and the others inside. In a brief but depressing moment, the images came rushing to him: snippets of the memories belonging to his Godfather for the short while he lived

there. He shut his eyes tightly and eventually they faded away, but the raw feeling of desolation and self-imprisonment still tormented him, as if Sirius himself was haunting this manor. Harry automatically went to the room he and Ron had shared and sat down on the edge of his bead. All the happenings of the past three weeks were flooding back to him in torrents, the O level exams, his vision of Sirius in the department of Mysteries, their fight with Voldemort, Sirius death, Quidditch trials, Cho, Ron, Hermione, the hearing, everything; and it was finally taking its full toll on him. He sat down there alone, and began to cry. He felt sick of himself, so he yelled in frustration, jamming the heels of his hands into his eyes to prevent the tears. The doorway slammed shut of it s own accord, and the bedside lamp fell over from his outburst of magic. You re almost sixteen. Don t let these things destroy you.- you little cry baby. He wiped the tears from his eyes, and began to unpack his things. He will not give himself time to brood; that will only make things worse. He got busy, and only went downstairs for the afternoon to grab something to drink. ***************** A few hours later Ron, Fred, George and Ginny all stood outside of Sirius s manor. They had heard what had happened to Harry earlier that morning- and were also cautioned that his temper can be dangerous; after all, Moody was knocked out cold without so much as a blink from their friend. Being in the same Gryffindor with Harry for five years, they knew that his temper was explosive. But for it to literally blow up in their face was something entirely different. They looked at each other uneasily. All right, we spoke of this at home. No one is to get Harry angry. Ever, Fred announced. Simple as that right? they looked at each other with an expression of impossibility, but dutifully nodded in unison. Wait- is that bet still on as to who he blows up with first? asked hopefully, right eyebrow raised. George

I m betting it s Snape, Ron put in. I ve got four galleons on it. The Weasley brothers huddled in close comparing the pocket change they had on them. Ginny had to force her head in the tight knit circle. Ha! That s too obvious. I m going with Cho, said George, his voice low. I m putting it on Hermione, she seems to know exactly how to push buttons, Fred put in. We would have voted you, Ron, but this new, er situation seems quite interesting. The twins smiled at each other, making Ron feel as if he was at a disadvantage, and that his brothers had some inside info that he was not aware about. You know, I really don t think we should even be having this conversation, this is Harry were talking about. And he needs us, said Ginny. Imagine how you would feel if your best friends were betting on you to do something stupid right outside your door. Yeah well, Harry s our mate, and he won t take it personallyreasoned. Fred

- And even if he does we ll get to see this cool new Charlie mentioned, George grinned. Well it s your funeral. Don t say I didn t warn you, huffing off.

Solidus

thing

Ginny reprimanded,

C mon, they re waiting on us, said Ron. He walked up to the space and knocked on the air in front of him. A small peephole slid open, Moody s magical eye swivelling in all directions, looking at each of them in turn.

Password!

came his muffled voice. style? Let us in you old nutter, Fred

What is this? Taking Hogwarts grinned up at him.

Ah, that s my lads! Come, come, did you bring those Combusting Canaries I asked for? Moody grinned at them, he took a real liking to the twins, even though they seem to come off completely different planets than himself. Hello Professor moody, Ginny smiled at him. How are you?

Could be better lass, could be better, Potter s defence system is remarkable, even though it wasn t directed. I still feel like a blown fuse. He grinned. That was a rush- you all should try it sometime. They looked up at him with an expression that said maybe next time, and went in search of their troubled friend. He s still up in his room, hasn t been up and about much. Careful now, you wouldn t want to startle a sleeping dragon, take the same attitude with Potter, he said in dire warning. After a taut silence, he cackled loudly. MmmhahahaHAHAH! He s definitely off his rocker-, Ron muttered, spinning his finger at his temple. They left Moody in his fit of laughter and went up the stairs. With an unsaid agreement, they all paused at his door- standing about six feet away. Ginny, I think you should go in first, he would less likely hurt you by mistake than any of us. Cowards, she told them. They all smiled at her, knowing fully well how to get her to do the things they rather not do. It s not that we re afraid of Harry, it s just good tactics to send in a mediator beforehand, Ron told her, grinning. She knocked softly on the door, Harry? A few seconds passed, but she heard no response. She opened the door quietly. Harry? she said again, a little more worry in her voice. I m here, Ginny. She peered through the darkness, the contrast between the bright afternoon light of outside and the dark gloom inside gave her eyes a hard time to spot him. Harry was sitting at the bed-head, his elbows resting nonchalantly on his knees, his back against the wall. He was bareback, his

glasses put neatly down on the dresser. Hey, she said cautiously. He reached to the bedside table and turned on an old oil lamp. The flickering light threw shadows across his face, his long hair making him look even more menacing than ever. C min, and sit down. What s wrong? he asked. Umm..nothing, said Ginny. She sat down at the foot of the bed, not directly facing him. Are you okay? Sure, he said, almost too casually. Ginny frowned, that sounded rehearsed. Where are Ron and the twins? They are right outside the door, nodding in the direction.

Get inside here, you lot! Harry said, springing up from his bed and opening the door wide. What are you doing skulking outside? Ginny peered at him through the dim flickering light, she could make out some faint scars all over his arms and back and one long one running from his bicep to his shoulder. She remembered that the last time she saw him bareback, he had just finished his match against the Cannons and was glistening from having just showered. Without knowing, she began to blush. HARRY! ABSOLUTELY SPIFFING TO SEE YOU MATE! Heard you having a jolly good summer -eh? Well not today, but I mean the Quidditch match was ruddy well brilliant and everything! George clapped him on the shoulder. Saw you wearing number seven out there, starting seeker s number. I hope you don t let it go to your head like Becks, Fred grinned, and shook his hand. Hah! Me- a pretty boy? Never! Could have fooled me, gallivanting all over the place bareback in front of our little sister, George teased him. Ginny shot daggers at George, her eyes cold with an unsaid threat. I am not gallivanting all over the place, it was hot in here and I took off my training robes and didn t bother putting on a shirt, I ll do so if it bothers you Ginny, he looked at her. Good excuse, planned that didn t y- Fred began. Fred! No it doesn t bother me at all, furiously. Ginny cut him off, blushing Ron stage whispered,

I think you should put one on before she explodes, clearly audible to everyone. RON!!

The Weasley brothers laughed, and Harry just smiled alongside them. He opened his cupboard and took a clean t-shirt from a hangar. Ron glimpsed the blue robes Dumbledore gave him earlier that summer. Blimey, Harry. That looks really wicked, himself. and expensive, he thought to

Oh yeah, Dumbledore gave me this. It s cool isn t it? handing him the robes. Ron felt the exquisite material and the way it stormed in this dim candlelight. He frowned slightly, and gave it back to Harry. What s the matter? Nothing, Ron s faced soured. Harry caught on, Ron was very touchy about not being able to afford nice things. He said nothing more and put back his robes. OY !! THAT S ENGLAND S NEW KIT? Let me see those! Fred took Harry s red international kit from the cupboard and held it aloft so that he could see the back. Ah boy! It s POTTER for England! Harry congrats mate, you know you re definitely going to Euro cup if you keep that form from two days back. As he said it, Harry realized it was only two days since he played his first international for England. All that happened this last week felt as if it was spread over months. Everything seemed to be happening to him all at once and he quietly wondered how he was keeping his head together. He now dreaded when Ron found out that Hermione fancied him. Instinctively; Harry knew Ron did not have the guts to tell Hermione how he felt before. He watched Ron uneasily and finally put on the shirt he was holding in his hand. They stood there for half a second in uncomfortable silence, everyone trying to read Harry s thoughts. Ginny was the first to break the silence. Come on downstairs Harry, we re hungry and were not leaving you up here alone, Ginny said, taking his hand and pulling him away into the hall. Harry, don t you think your hair is a bit too long? she asked him, smiling in a way that said she would kill him if he ever cut it. I don t know, I never gave it much thought, he said absentmindedly. They were going down the stairs facing the front door when Ginny reached up to teasingly play with a lock of his hair. He was about to tell her something when Moody opened the door and let Dumbledore, Cho and Hermione inside. They all looked up at him at the same time, the two girls catching Ginny smiling up at him, playing with his jet black hair in one hand and holding his hand shooting playing, slightly in the other. Harry looked downstairs, the two girls were narrow gazes back up at them. He stepped out of reach of Ginny s but she still held on to his hand. He had to wiggle his hand for her to let go, but the damage was already done.

Play it cool, you haven t done anything wrong Hermione, Professor Dumbledore! Ginny greeted them, coming down the stairs. She eyed the beautiful dark haired girl, Cho, what a surprise. What are you doing here? her voice dripping with sweetness. The three witches eyeballed each other. Both Alastor Moody and Professor Dumbledore, feeling the tension, hastily excused themselves after closing and locking the door. When Moody made good on his escape he paused on the level of Harry s step. Lovely situation you ve got yourself here, hope you survive, he whispered to him, then chuckled softly to himself as he followed Dumbledore to the study.

What to do now? Harry panicked. He made his way down the stairs, sidestepped Ginny and stood dumbly in font of Cho and Hermione. He put his hands in his pockets. Hermione noticed that he was wearing one of the shirts she bought for him, and how it fitted him snugly around his shoulders. It irritated her to know that both Ginny and Chang was probably noticing the same thing. Her expression darkened a notch. Harry felt the tension building. From her expression, he could tell that Hermione was irritated by travelling with Cho, Cho was irritated at Hermione for being Harry s close friend, Ginny was irritated by seeing Cho here, and both girls were angry at Harry for holding Ginny s hand and letting her play with his hair. Like locked in a Chinese torture device- no escape. Hey, Hello, Hi, he greeted them with a smile, lacking anything else better to say. Hermione said rigidly.

Cho said coldly. he asked, trying to ease the tension.

Good trip?

Yes, they answered in unison, making it quite obvious that they didn t have a good trip . They did not fly nor used a portkey, they took a taxi here, Dumbledore having a merry conversation with the cab driver up front, leaving Cho and Hermione to brood quietly in the backseat. They were talking cordially at first, but soon realized that there was something more between them and Harry, not quite figuring out where each other stood in Harry s eyes or how serious they were. They pretended not to notice that anything has changed, but the conversation became strained and they eventually kept quiet for the rest of the two and a half hour long journey, neither feeling much love for the other. Hey, what s up with the council meeting going on here? Can we join in? George said jovially, hastening down the stairs and put his arms around Cho and Hermione, standing in between them like some sort of ladies man. Hermione and Cho smiled, Fred and George grew on them in those DA meetings Harry was teaching in the last year. Whew, I could have cut the tension here with a knife. I owe you one, George. Fred and Ron joined them at the foot of the stairs, Ron greeting Hermione and warily eyeing Cho. What re you doing here? Ron said bluntly. If I had a sickle for every time you lot asked me that recently, I would be rich. For you information, Ron, I did not ask to be here. The Professor thought it would be safer for me to stay here after what happened this morning, so if you have a problem- talk to him, Cho countered. She and Ron never got along, and it seems it would stay in that vein. She turned to Fred, George and Harry. Could you guys please help me with my stuff? she asked kindly.

Sure, Harry replied and grabbed her two cases, Fred and George taking her trunk. Ron made to take her gym bag, but Cho smoothly picked it up and said, I can manage, thank you, and followed the boys upstairs. "Here Ron, you can help me take mine." Hermione handed him her one case she held in her hand and charmed her trunk so that it rose a foot off the ground. Hermione glared at the back of Cho s head. "She could have easily charmed her trunk but she just thrives on attention doesn't she?" she muttered under her breath. "Hey! Not everyone is at her beck and call! I'm helping you aren't I?" protested Ron. "Only because she refused your attempt to help her with her bag," Hermione responded coolly. "That's not the point!" Ron argued, mentally kicking himself for putting his foot in his mouth, again. He just couldn't say something witty and brilliant anytime he spoke to Hermione, and always felt stupid afterwards. He chided himself silently and followed her upstairs, Ginny taking up the rear with an amused shake of her head. At the landing, Fred suddenly dropped his end of the trunk. CLUNK! "George, what are we doing? We could simply charm this trunk instead of lugging it around," he said matter-of-factly. "Oh yeah. Allow me," he pointed his wand. "Locomotor trunks!" It rose and hovered slowly of the carpet, idling like a car. Want to see a cool spell? Check this out, Harry " he said, eyes twinkling. He turned his wand as if it was a key in an ignition, "Nitrous maximus!" The rear end of the trunk fishtailed on the spot then took off down the hall at amazing speed. Harry stared at it in amazement as it tore down the hallway, power sliding at the corner and eventually broke through a door, making a tremendous crashing sound. "Oops," Fred said, "I forgot about the braking spell to stop it," he said in a fraud apology, smiling in a way that Harry knew that Fred had done no such thing. "Let's go and see where it broke before your mom finds out and strangles us," said Harry. Cho was now at the top of the stairs, she had a suspicion that the crash had something to do with her things. She glared at Fred and George, who merely shrugged. "Don't worry Cho, we'll fix you up in no time." They grinned and followed Harry, who was now stepping over the ruins of his bedroom door, clothes and pieces of trunk all over the place. Harry saw some really enticing underwear sprawled on his bed, and fantasized about it being there after a

completely different set of circumstances. He looked over at George in accusation. "Great, now I have no door," he grumbled, stepping over the carnage that was once his clean bedroom floor. Cho walked in at that moment. "Oh no!" she cried, clearly embarrassed that her things were all over the room. "My stuff! You two are going to pay-" "Oh ye of little faith; George if you may...?" said Fred in his best gentleman's accent. "But of course, monsieur Fred," in the same tone and gallantly waved his wand, "Reparo!" The door pieces jumped back into place, fitting a bit oddly here and there, but all in all, was not a shabby job. "Excellent! aaaand now...." Fred swept his wand about the room, "Scourgify y packimup!" Cho's clothes picked themselves up from the floor and flew into the empty drawers that Ron would have used if his things were here. Cho was impressed. "I have to learn that one for the future," she smiled at the twins. Her smile faded and she narrowed her eyes at them. "Wait one minute," she hissed. "Whose room is this?" "Ah yes, about that...." Fred trailed off, trying to look perplexed. "I can't remember precisely...it slipped my mind," scratching his head. Harry saw where they were going with this. "It's my room, Cho," Harry explained. "I'll help you unpack..." he made to open the drawers. Cho watched him a moment, thought for a second, opened her mouth, hesitated, then changed her mind again, and went for it. " Wait-" Harry froze. "I-er don't mind staying here, if you're okay with it," she said quietly. Fred and George were watching the exchange attentively, their heads swinging from one to the other. Harry didn t really see anything particularly wrong with it- and said the first thing that came to mind. "I guess so. As he said it- he realised what he had just done. Once again Harry, acting without thinking argh! Cho- me- alone- in a room- for the summer- only us- What will it be? Go brave and agree to that proposition? Yes! Play it safe and take it back? That should be the right call- So punk out like a chicken then?- No! Stand up like a man? YES! What about Hermione? How would he react? Well..er- damn. Hermione. It should be a no...Right? He was confused. He didn t want to make it sound like he was backing out, so he hastily gave her an escape route if she was also feeling weird about it. You okay with it?" he offered. Ah. That sounded stupid, Harry thought. Would she back down? When he saw her sizing up the living conditions as if planning for a bit of a feminine touch, he knew he had put himself in a

bind. "Sure- It beats having to unpack and pack over," she smiled at him. "Well, I guess that s that. I'm really hungry though- haven t eaten for the day and it s nearly five o clock. Lets go down to the kitchen," she went back out into the hall towards the staircase. Fred and George looked at Harry with an expression on their faces showing that they were mightily pleased with themselves. "All righ' Harry?" George asked, patting him on the back. "You owe us one, mate," Fred reminded him. The twins gave each other a bounce of fists. "Mission complete!" they announced, then left Harry there standing dumbstruck in the new sleeping quarters he now shared with Cho. He pounded his head with the sides of his fists in frustration. Brilliant move, Harry. He needed to clear his head, so he went to the bathroom to take a shower. Afterwards, feeling refreshed and invigorated, Harry put on some of the nicer clothes Hermione picked out for him, actually enjoying the fact that he had something of his own now. He looked in the mirror, the shirt he wore fit him well and the jeans he bought were comfortable and new. He put on his Horntail boots, and left his hair wet- out of a bad habit. He did notice one thing that changed; he was looking at himself in the mirror without his glasses. Seeing them on the bedside table where he left it, he put them on. Now, when he tried to look through them, they were making his eyes water. He took them off, making sure that he wasn t going insane. Wow. That s different. Smiling at this good turn of events, Harry made his way down to the dining hall to join the others. As he passed the kitchen, he heard voices quarrelling. Stopping to listen in, he heard Molly and Remus arguing. As usual, it was about him. How can you even think of letting him go again after what happened? Are you insane? We are not imprisoning him Molly, he can t cower all the time. This is what he loves Molly, Quidditch is a game! You are talking about someone s life in peril here, Remus! You underestimate the lad, he s not a kid anymore and he could take care of himself, his deep voice getting angrier. First Sirius, now you!! How many times do I have to tell you that Harry IS NOT JAMES! No he isn t. And you are not Lily. You are not his mother. You may love him as if he was your son, but you cannot coddle him any longer. He has his path, as do we all.

GET IT IN YOUR HEAD THAT HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED IS AFTER HIM! ANYTIME HE STEPS OUT OF THIS MANOR HE IS IN DANGER! As are we all. I have learned the hard way what happens when you imprison a spirit such as his in one place. He and Sirius are too much alike for me to repeat the mistakes of the past. I will not see him chained to this house! Remus roared, his voice now a venomous growl. Harry reflected on Remus words as he walked down the corridor towards the large double doors at the end. It was good that Remus was on his side; he thought that he and Sirius were alike in many ways. His heart filled with pride that he thought so highly of him. When he opened the door he froze. That couldn t be- Harry could have sworn he saw a reflection of himself in the mirror- except that he was wearing a dark uniform, and there was a huge scar covering his eye. He blinked, and peered hard at it; but only saw himself a normal reflection. Must be my imagination.. What s wrong Harry? Hermione asked him, catching the faraway look in his face. He came out of his idle gaze, and looked at her. She had done something with her hair, it seemed like she managed to keep it under control and let it gently fall around her face. He gave her a puzzled look, and replied, Nothing. Just imagining things.

C mon Harry, sit down, we haven t got all day. Mum says she ll only serve when everyone s here. And it s only you and Professor Lupin not around, said Ron. The table seated twelve, two at the ends and five on each side. Professor Dumbledore sat at the head, Moody on his right. They were in deep conversation with Arthur Weasley, who sat on Dumbledore s left. There was a space next to Mr. Weasley, which must be for Mrs. Weasley, he thought, and George sat opposite that space; by Moody s side. Next to George sat Ron, then Hermione and Fred. The other end of the table was most likely reserved for Remus, which meant Harry had to sit in between Cho and Ginny, directly opposite Hermione. He quickly analysed the situation; the girls would surround him. Gritting his teeth he took his place and settled down. I like your shirt, Thanks, said Cho, fixing his twisted collar.

Harry replied.

You do? I picked it out for him, Hermione said matter-of-factly. Cho watched her out of the corner of her eye, ignored her, then turned her attention back to Harry. What happened to your glasses? she enquired. he said,

Nothing, its just that I don t seem to need them anymore, smiling at her.

Why doesn t he smile at me like that? Hermione asked inwardly. Now Hermione won t have to keep fixing them, said Ron. I m surprised they lasted this long after all the mess we ve been through. I think without them it shows off the colour of your eyes more, Ginny

told him, staring directly into those vivid green eyes. Harry also noticed that Ginny also had done something to her hair and added a little make-up, making her look older and enchanting. She smiled secretly at him and pushed a lock of hair that was threatening to fall into his face again. Hermione let out a soft humph and began talking with Ron. Er- thanks I guess? Cho opened her mouth respond but was interrupted by Remus and Molly who had just entered, levitating dishes of food in front of them. After they placed it on the table, and took their seats everyonel began to eat ravenously, the food was delicious. The chatter was pleasant enough, if you did not notice the fact that the girls did not talk directly to each other. Harry was telling the Weasley brothers about the match a couple days before and all seemed to be going swell until Ron upped and changed the subject. Well at least Kreacher won t be sneaking into our room all hours of the night, eh Harry? Heard he kicked the bucket soon after after well er - you know what, he finished lamely. Harry s face darkened, he did not care much for the grouchy house elf, but it was just another reminder of Sirius fate. What do you mean our room? Cho asked him. Fred and George were shooting Ron shut up looks but he got so accustomed to it that he never heeded them anymore, which is what he should have done in this particular instance. Well the house elf that used to keep this place run-down used to sneak into the room Harry and I shared last year and take stuff to hoard away, explained Ron. But, but I thought I was bunking up in that room, confused. Hermione and Ginny ears perked at this. What?! Ginny snapped. said Cho, utterly

Excuse me? Hermione asked dangerously. Harry was looking very uncomfortable. Uh- pardon me, I need to use the bathroom, a hasty retreat. Harry said and tried to make

Sit! Hermione ordered. He sat down abruptly. What is this I m hearingabout you and Cho sharing a room? Molly overheard that last and now took her attention off the adults. ErHarry stalled. Molly

Harry? What s this I m hearing? Ron is not staying in your room? asked, not sure if she heard correctly. Well you see, Fred and George were carrying Cho s things when-

FRED, GEORGE!! I SHOULD VE KNOWN YOU TWO WERE BEHIND THIS! Molly, calm down, Arthur said evenly.

Remus smiled. Molly, remember this manor is technically Harry s. He can decide to sleep in whatever room he likes, and thereby have anyone in his room that he likes. Sirius house is mine? asked Harry.

Dumbledore nodded, It s in his will that you inherit his estate and possessions. I was one of the signatories to his last wishes. He would have wanted you to honour him by not allowing his family home to go asunder. Does this mean that I can leave the Dursleys? asked Harry eagerly.

Yes, but I rather you did not leave them as yet, however, I will understand if you do wish to move in. I trust you, and I would like you to start making your own decisions. What do you want to do, Potter? Moody enquired. I want to stay. Harry said it without hesitation.

I knew you would say that, Dumbledore sighed. Very well, we would go to the Ministry on the morrow and finalize the details. Great, Harry smiled. He was finally leaving that horrible place, and starting out on his own. He began making plans, he would most definitely need a house elf to keep here tidy, maybe Dobby or Winky would come? He also thought about the dcor, it still was too dreary and ominous for his tastes. I m sure Hermione would help me redecorate this place. .. ...about the room? Harry? HARRY? must have been drifting. Huh? I said; What about the room? Hermione was fuming. The room? Oh, the new sleeping arrangements. The adults were all watching, maybe this was his first test in being responsible. He kind of wanted Cho to stay with him, but he was sure that Professor Dumbledore and the other adults were expecting him to do the proper thing. He could not let them down in such an obvious call. Well Cho could stay unpacking to do so I everyone. Out of the would make the right there as all her stuff is packed, I have less guess I can relocate to another room, he told corner of his eye he saw Remus smiling, he knew he decision. Fred and George looked utterly exasperated, Hermione was talking to him; his mind

as if Harry had just given away his best possession to a complete stranger. Hermione practically glowed at him and Ginny smiled up at him. Cho looked a bit relieved, she did not want to be put under the spotlight in these not-so-friendly circumstances. ********** Later that night Harry was unpacking his stuff and throwing them in a suitcase. Cho was inside the room, sitting on the bed. He kept glancing at

her, not being able to keep his mind straight. It was after nine and Cho was ready for bed. Her hair was splayed all about her shoulders and her face clean of all makeup. She looked much younger and more innocent than when she was all dolled up, and it endeared him to her. To make matters worse, she was wearing a short white pants and a baby-t top. Completely oblivious to the effect she was having on him, she continued chatting along merrily, Harry answering her at random intervals. Mom was like up at all hours of the night, doing research. She s taking your circumstances to heart, and now that she heard that we were attacked she s more determined than ever to clear you off all charges. She smiled, making Harry s stomach twist and feelings swell up inside him. I know everything s going to be okay, I believe in you. Flashbacks of when he arrived by Hermione came to him, and he had to admit, Hermione s response felt more authentic. He sighed, how could he have not seen the signs? He straightened up from his packing, his back aching and his knees felt stiff. Today was a long day- surviving a visit from Lord Voldemort an all, and he was dead tired. He heard her get up from the bed, and approach her approaching footsteps making his stomach knot. He turned around, and Cho was there, her pink top and white shorts designed to drive him nuts. He looked at her slightly parted lips, and she smiled naughtily. Slowly draping her arms on his shoulders, she pulled him close. They kissed softly, Cho running her fingers through the hair at his nape. She pressed against him, and said against his lips, I never told you, but you re a great kisser, and kissed him again. Harry was really getting into it when she broke off the kiss and said, Maybe we ought to stop before someone walks in, she let go of his hair and stepped back, her face flushed. You re right, he agreed, once again feeling torn. Was he doing the right thing? Sure he was- Ron liked Hermione- didn t he? We ve had a hectic day as it was. He grabbed the suitcase, said goodnight and left the room. ***********

Chapter 10: No Rest for the Wicked [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 10: No Rest for the Wicked**

Draco Malfoy was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. His hands were clasped behind his head and deep inside, he felt a grim satisfaction. Today s session was the best he d had, considering his tutor was beginning to lose confidence in him and declared that if he did not make any headway

by today, he would stop instructing him in the Powerful Arts of Elemency. Few wizards or witches had this special ability, and it was only recently that his father told him that there might be a slim chance that Draco inherited it from his great grandfather, after whom he was named. He saw a picture of Nikolai Draco Malfoy when he was about sixteen, it was remarkable how much he resembled Nikolai. Today was a glorious day. He finally managed to ignite a living plant, one of the first steps in the long road of revenge. Draco smiled in remembrance; setting ablaze the bush with only a glare and an incantation was invigorating. The power his grandfather specialized in was the Infernus: the ability to summon, control and manipulate fire. His tutor said nothing, which was as good as praise in the old bastard s eyes. Angelo Dorius Ash was unflinching in his ways and standards, and did not hesitate to use the Cruciatus curse to get results. Right now, Draco felt as if he had just been bestowed the greatest gift. At the more advanced levels, Nikolai Draco Malfoy was rumoured to be able to summon demons of fire and make them do his bidding. And that was not all- the true masters who have completed all Ten Tiers of Elemency had the ability to summon the deadly Reign of Fire, the most feared Dark Spell known to wizardkind. It was far more potent than a pathetic killing spell. The Ultimate Cataclysmic Summon, the Reign of Fire was capable destroying everything in a five mile radius- or even bigger. Draco grinned. He was ambitious, and realizing now that he had the ability, his dreams of glory could materialize in ways far more then he had hoped. Since his father had been taken captive and detained at the dungeons at the Ministry of Magic, Draco vowed that Potter would pay. The last time he saw his father, it was a few days after he and the Dark Lord s faithful servants were arrested. All he was allowed was one visit, and he and his mother went to see him. When his father was brought before them, Draco averted his eyes. It was a humiliating to see this once proud man so humbled. Clad in a dingy prisoner s robe, his arms and legs manacled, he appearance was so disgraceful that just the sight of his father s defeat made Draco hate Potter even more, if that was possible. Father and son stood there for a whole minute looking at each other, face to face, man to man. For even though his son was only recently sixteen, Lucius Malfoy knew. This boy was indeed special, and would one day be hailed as a great wizard. He was a Malfoy, and he came from the seed of his loins. The Malfoy family would not be forgotten when he inevitably rotted away in Azkaban. The fire and drive in Lucius Malfoy s eyes told Draco all he needed to know. Draco nodded solemnly, and after a few seconds of deliberation, Lucius Malfoy slowly tipped his head, looking down the length of his aristocratic nose at his only son. Instinctively, Draco knew

that this was a sign of recognition, and the figurative passing down of the torch. Without another word, the prisoner turned on his heel and left them, going back through the door whence he came. When the Guard slammed the door behind him and bolted it shut, his mother broke down in tears. For the entire meeting, no one spoke, but there was no need for words. The unspoken request was loud and clear. Yes father, I will definitely have revenge. He trained everyday- the first step was learning the properties of fire, and the behaviour it takes at different circumstances. The theory was the easy part; the actual incantations and force of will were the taxing part, especially when failure was rewarded with a dose of excruciating pain. He worked hard at the back of the manor, avoiding his mother and her pitiful sobbing. She cried ceaselessly it seemed. He couldn t fathom how his mother could be so weak. Tomorrow he would visit his father s attorneys at the Ministry of Magic. Right now, all he wanted to do is get some rest, yet sleep eluded him. Hours later, he managed to fall into a fitful sleep, images of his father in chains haunting him. **************** Many miles away, another young man was getting trouble sleeping. Harry had taken his Godfather s old bedroom and was sprawled out in the huge king-sized bed. He somehow felt comfortable in this room, yet his head was flooded with strange dreams. Nothing in them were actually strange, it was the third person perspective that had him confused. He was seeing events of his own past in his dreams, yet it was from someone else s viewpoint. Someone close . The images got darker and more disturbing, the times when Harry was in the most peril over the years flashing back at him, image after image of his scariest memories. The basilisk- it s huge jaws gaping, and the pain of when it s fang pierced his arm while receiving the fatal blow. His duel with Voldemort, and the pain of torture at his hands- the nightmare creatures rolled on and on until a particular incident came into focus, clear as if it were happening right before his eyes. He was looking up at himself from the edge of the lake, the night unusually dark. Shapes- dark, hooded phantoms were swarming in, the night getting blacker until it was almost impossible to see. The person tried to scream, but all that came out of their mouth was a faint exhale of breath, a terrifying blast of cold deathly air suffocating any voice- or willthat they possessed. Harry thrashed in his sleep, sweating profusely in the sheets. Death s henchmen crowded around the person, all feelings of love, happiness and hope were slowly being snuffed out under a blanket of despair. When all was apparently lost- and the boy in the distance could

not conjure the Patronus, it happened. Harry could feel magic swirling from deep inside the person he was currently residing in, a strange feeling of being ethereal and bound to the physical at the same time, and a calling upon the hosts to aid the one who would fight - the one who she considered her hero. And at that moment- Harry somehow was in three people at the same timehis real self, asleep at Grimmauld Place, his past self in the dream, and the one gasping desperately against the cold- completely immersed in an incredible rush of magical power... There was one who believed in him when he could not believe in himself. One person who somehow lent him the strength needed to save those that he loved. With newfound determination- he closed his eyes briefly, and when they reopened, the strength of the one prophesised to have the Power the Dark Lord Knew Not unveiled itself. He could not die, not here, and not now. EXPECTO PATRONUM! A light shone down from the overhead sky, piercing the unfathomable darkness of the Dementors. It touched down on the far side of the lakeslowly materializing into an animal shape. It was his first Corporal Patronus- and at that moment, when he knew that his friends, Ron, Sirius, Hermione were to be given the kiss- he glanced at the girl laying unconscious there. Something she had done to triggered it. The power of love- when there was nothing more to draw upon, when there was no hope left- she had instilled it in him. The magic used in that spell was something he could never have acquired by his lonesome, but there it was taking shape before his eyes: the great horns were the first, then the head and neck materialized; all the way down to the hooves on sturdy limbs. The majestic stag charged the Dementors down at an incredible speed, and reared on its hind legs in front of them, defending the people who were on the ground. When Harry instinctively reached out the beautiful light, not wanting it to go- the Stag emitted a steadily increasing lightand then disappeared in a blinding flash. His eyes snapped open in the real world. He was safe, here in his godfather s room; but still he felt the effects of the dementors pulling at him, wanting to take him into the darkness Then it clickedHermione! he gasped, eyes flashing open. His head was aching, someone was screaming for help over and over again, yet no sound escaped their lips. It was a panic feeling, and the utter despair of no one being able to hear. Harry raced out of his bedroom, the door swinging open for him inexplicably before he was even six feet close, but he didn t even give it a second thought- there was no time to waste! He ran down the corridor at full speed and burst into the bedroom Ginny and Hermione shared. He saw Hermione s head twitching side to side, her brow damp from perspiration. He went to her bedside and shook her gently.

Hermione! Wake up, you re having a nightmare! He shook her again, a bit harder this time. She stirred, but did not wake. He put the back of his palm against her forehead; she was burning up with fever. He was getting really worried now. Hermione! he said again, desperation evident in his voice. Harry? Is that you..? Ginny mumbled something from where she slept, her voice sounding quite groggy. Ginny, call the Professor, something is wrong her! Huh? What did you say? her eyes. he ordered.

Ginny asked sleepily, now sitting up and rubbing

Get the professor, we need him in here! Go quickly! he repeated. She s burning up! Ginny crawled out of bed, and half stumbled- half ran out the room. What s wrong? Get up, Hermione! said Harry. At that moment her eyes flew open and she bolted upright; gasping for a breath. You all right? Harry said softly. Oh my god Harry, I thought I was trapped in those nightmares! I felt as if it were...if it were.. happening again, only this time I couldn t wake up. Tonight was the worst, she shivered. It s all right now, I saw. I came as soon as I realized what was happening, Harry comforted her. He put his arms around her and she rest her head on his shoulder. Everything s okay now... he murmured, holding her close. Hermione felt safe in his arms, and somehow knew that he would always protect her. It dawned on him that he just told her something that he should never have been able to. He saw her dreams? And from her perspective? What was going on? She looked up at him quickly. Their cheeks brushed at the sudden movement, and Harry had to loosen his grip as Hermione tilted her head up to his. For a microsecond their faces were close so close- all he had to do was inch forward What do you mean by you saw ? You saw what I was dreaming?

Harry did not answer her immediately. He looked into her eyes. Don t worry. The point is you re safe now. She frowned at him, and Harry had the sudden urge to smoothen out the slight wrinkle between her eyebrows with his lips. Something about her tonight- something strange was happening, why was he feeling so emotional? Why was it hat all he wanted to do was to kiss her worries away? Why did this- holding her- feel so right? She was about to scold him when Professor Dumbledore came inside the room, a worried expression on his face. Hermione? Ginny told me you were ill?

I was, but everything seems to be okay now, Harry woke me up, answered.

she

Interesting. Harry, how did you know that she was not feeling well and needed assistance? Dumbledore enquired. Harry hesitated, but answered the question. I saw the nightmares in my sleep. With a puzzled frown at Hermione, Dumbledore gave her a piece of chocolate and a potion. Here you are, drink up, Miss Granger. He turned to Harry. May I have a word with you? Harry got off the bed followed him into the study. As they sat down Harry began to speak first. It was getting a bit familiar now- the way Dumbledore said those words. From past experience, this always revolved around something quite important that he somehow knew nothing about. It was getting old. He was a bit irritated that he was always the last to know. You have something you want to let me in on, Professor? politely, the sarcasm evident to the trained ear. he asked

I m sorry once again for keeping it from you, but this time the less you knew was actually beneficial to everyone, and not a case of questioning your ability to handle the truth, he nodded grimly. Harry said nothing, just eyed Dumbledore stonily. Harry you realize that since the attack in the Ministry of magic that Voldemort is no longer afraid of being detected. His power is slowly rejuvenating, which means that his connection with you will increase as time goes on. The flashes of pain in your scar and the visions would be more frequent and increasingly more intense. Harry thought about this, he almost forgot the past year he was bombarded by images in Voldemort s perspective and the mood swings that he had. He couldn t remember the last time his scar hurt during the night after that fateful day in the Ministry. He gave Dumbledore a puzzled look. Yeah, how come I m not picking up anything recently? Especially just before he attacked Cho and me? That should have felt like a bullet to the head, giving me some sort of warning . Something. Well I deduced that your Occlumency lessons were not going as well as planned so I decided to get a little help from one of you friends. Who? I have been training Miss Granger for a while nowYou re kidding, right?! Dumbledore shook his head. Harry leaned back in his char, blowing out a breath. He glanced at the door, thinking about what he had just witnessed in his own sleep. I felt as if it were...if it were.. happening again, only this time I couldn t wake up Which meant that this wasn t the first time. Harry cursed inwardly.

Miss Granger has taken it upon herself to act as a personal shield for you against his mind probing. She has started Occlumency lessons ever since the attack on Arthur, and has been acting as a firewall against him since you joined her for the summer. I feared that if Voldemort somehow managed to penetrate deep enough, he would be able to obtain the address of your home from your mind, which is why I took you somewhere where you did not know the address- the Granger s. Now that Voldemort has made contact with you; we will have to re-charm her place, and make sure that he doesn t find it. She has kept a mental link with you for a while now and at certain times you are susceptible to her thoughts, just as you were to Voldemort s. That s why she may seem over concerned and emotional these days, some of your raw emotions flood her as well. I believe that without her help you may have gone insane- your loss is very real, Harry, and at this point in time you are even more vulnerable to attacks he added grimly. Harry could not have known, he would have no clue if the Professor did not tell him. How could Hermione been handling all of this stress without telling him? That s why I was seeing some her memories before, and now this deduced. Harry

Well, that is not supposed to happen. She is not trying to enter your mind like Voldemort does, she s more like a sentry at the gate to your thoughts. Technically, you aren t supposed to get any feedback from her, however, it seems that nothing is ever cut and dry when it concerns your magical abilities. You know what? I won t allow Hermione to suffer just not happening. I will work very hard at occlumency lessons with Professor Snape from now on; she has enough on her mind, let alone having to deal with mine as well. She does not deserve these nightmares. I fear that s impossible at the moment Harry. The antagonism between the two of you caused the training to fail, resulting in the increase in visions instead of putting a stop to them. And open mind contact between you and I would prove far more detrimental than positive, I fear if Voldemort re-entered your mind when it is vulnerable after sessions he may be able to posses you again. And that is a risk we can never take, Dumbledore shook his head slowly. Voldemort as an immense problem by himself, but still there was a chance. With Harry under his influence, there would be nothing to stop him . Harry nodded reluctantly, got up, and left the study. He needed to talk to someone, and anymore: Ron Dumbledore s her help you there was only one person who he felt free to talk to As he walked through the halls of Grimmauld Place, words were echoing over and over through his head. Without may have gone insane

What was that about? I m not some sort of fruitcake. Well- I could be sort of stupid at times, but that s normal, isn t it? He opened the door of the room where the Weasley brothers slept. Harry smiled, here he was; after Hermione nearly gets trapped in his, well her,

er- well their nightmare and there they were; all of them were snoring like drunken giants. He decided against waking Ron, he would have to let it wait till tomorrow. He really wanted to talk to someone though, and Sirius was the first one to come to mind. Tough luck, Potter. You blew that one big time. Should have just listened to her when you had the chance but nooo you had to go and do something stupid- yet again.. Running his hands through his hair as a sign of frustration- he closed the door behind him and went back into his godfather s room. He got into bed, but knew he could not go back to sleep. He stared up at the ceiling until sunrise, thinking of everything and nothing in particular.

************ The next morning he got up early out of bed and dressed. He wandered around the mansion, haunting the rooms like a ghost, looking for refuge and peace from everything. He reached the dining hall and opened its massive doors. Once again he froze, this time he would have sworn he saw that same scarred reflection of his in the mirror on the opposite end of the room- except this time, flames were raging behind him- his eyes glowing ominously. His scar prickled in trepidation- as if Voldemort sensed something that was never present before. He shut his eyes to block out the foreboding image - but when he opened them again- the mirror was directly in front of him, somehow moving itself within arms reach. At that moment, his reflection was grinning evilly back at him- hands rising, ready to pounceNO! He ran back out of the room and did not stop till he had slammed shut his bedroom door behind him. He leant on the ancient wooden door, breathing hard. I am imagining things, I am imagining things, my imagination, that s allhe repeated to himself. He slid downwards against the door, his head in his hands. No more than two minutes later there was a sudden knocking behind him, nearly scaring hi to death. He sprung up and faced it, nerves ready for battle. Who the hell is that? Harry? It s me, Cho, she said tentatively. What do you want? snake. Harry demanded, watching the door handle like a coiled

Can you let me in? please? she replied, trying to open the door. It turned a notch in both directions, Cho realising that it was indeed locked. Harry stood there for a minute, was it his imagination- or was the snake unfurling slowly from it s coil- the tongue flicking in an outsensing prey? Alohomora ! There was a little click and Cho came inside, wearing the same outfit she went to bed with. Harry retreated, looking at the face of Bellatrix Lestrange- her eyes cold and unblinking- a mild gleam in her

eyes. Cho looked up at him quizzically, the strange glaze in his eyes and peculiar manner. What s wrong with you? Cho asked. You re acting like we didn t share a great kiss last night, like I must have a reason to come and see you! Harry tried to block out the hallucinations, but he found it difficult. He was hearing Cho s voice, but Bellatrix was indeed asking him to kiss herand she was getting mad. He closed his eyes against the half truths he was seeing, and in response to his brain not believing what he was seeing, his eyes began to water as energy pooled behind them- burning him Drop it- Cho, I am really not in the mood... didn t actually say them- did he? came the words, but he

Oh ho, so now its I-don t-want-to-talk to-Cho-about-anything-Harry is it? she put her fists on her hips and watched him squarely in the face, she meant business. He opened his eyes once again, staring directly at her. What do you want from me, Cho? Harry was getting irritated now.

Not this attitude for one. You seem to be so volatile sometimes. All I came to do was tell you that the Professor will be ready in a short while to take you to the Ministry of magic. I just wanted to tell you that I m coming along, and so are Ginny, Ron, and Granger I think. Mrs Weasley sad she has breakfast ready in the kitchen so come on down to eat. Thanks, but I m not hungry he said flatly. Cho looked at him in a different light now- why were his eyes no longer that brilliant greenthey seemed to be...changing colour? Harry, something s wrong and you re not telling me, she approached him. As she got into three feet from him she felt her hairs tingling. She stopped suddenly. Harry calm down, you re acting up again. Oh so that s what it is now? I m just acting up? Throwing a tantrum? More teen rage and all that? The charge was starting to affect his hair and Cho began to feel warm. No I did not mean to patronize you, just calm down Harry, you need to relax, she implored, anxiety building up inside...this wasn t good. She glanced at the doorway behind her. Relax? Relax?! Dumbledore and Hermione go behind my back and interfere inside my head without telling me, Voldemort springs out of the blue to kill me yesterday, I m seeing strange reflections in the mirror, I have a trial in ten days and Hermione s nightmares are getting in my head! I can t sleep, I can t think, I CAN T DO ANYTHING! he hissed. Free at last There was an ear splitting crash heard all over the house, every single window and mirror had just been reduced to fragments. Cho screamed, the bedroom window had just imploded and she dived to the ground, covering her head with her arms. Harry stood up there, glass flying inside at them, but

the shards stopped just inches away from his person, hitting an invisible force and falling in a ring about his feet. He took a deep breath and unclenched his fist. The sound of startled cries and girlish screams could be heard from different rooms. Almost immediately- the front door slammed open and the sound of many thundering footsteps came rushing up the stairs, the incantations of complex shield charms and wards muttered as they approached. Remus and Moody were the first to burst through the large bedroom door, wands ready air in front of them. their overlapping Shield charms refracting the

What is it Harry?! Did Voldemort infiltrate? What happened, was it any of his followers? Did they disapparate? Moody barked. The questions came rushing one after the other. Five more of the order piled in, and Harry could vaguely sense about seven wizards circling the manor on broomsticks. Only when they realized that Cho was whimpering silently on the bedroom floor that they took their eyes off of Harry. Arthur Weasley and Tonks knelt at her side. Cho, honey, are you all-right? Tonks asked.

Watching Potter closely with his magical eye- Moody figured out that it was no attack after all. It was a false alarm, the magical security system had tripped off when all the windows blew out. Get Granger up in here, Moody grumbled. He looked at Dumbledore, who still had a toothbrush in his teeth, toothpaste leaking out a corner of his mouth, wand at the ready. Molly nodded and went to get her as she was closest to the door. Harry stood there, glaring at them all, his hair moving fractionally in the wake of that magical outburst. Arthur took in the room. There were little pieces of glass all over the place, except in a three-foot wide radius around Harry. He frowned. There was a slight glow around Harry s pupils, which were now an ice blue. Arthur got up warily, never taking his eyes off of him. I m here, I m here, Hermione was squeezing past the wizards in the corridor outside Sirius room to get inside the bedroom. Harry, you okay? Harry stood there stock still, but looked at Hermione, her presence drawing his first respone. His eyes followed hers until she was inside that three-foot radius, looking down at her quizzically. ..stay..back.. he forced out, but she shushed him.

Shh... Hermione whispered, and laid a palm flat against his left cheek. Taking his hand in the next, she looked deeply into his eyes and pressed his hand unto her heart. Locking his eyes with hers, she began her spell. Leglimens! Hermione closed her eyes slowly- making Harry magic. After a tense few seconds of deafening once more, the unnatural stillness of the air magic flowing through all present dissipated. do the same through her quiet- his hair was dormant was gone, and the strange There was a collective

release of pent up breath as everyone sighed in relief. Harry slowly returned to full control, blinking rapidly and taking in the audience he had inside his room. He looked at Hermione- feeling a soothing presence inside his conscious. Her eyes were still closed, but he felt the re-establishment of their mental contact Her eyes were moving rapidly beneath closed eyelids, her mouth slightly parted, pink and flushed from the initial energy burst she received when she came inside. She looked damn kissable. Her eyes flew open as this thought crossed his mind, but she was not finished. Her eyes drooped to slits again and she muttered something beneath her breath and it was done. Harry s scar stopped prickling, and he felt woozy and drained. She released him, and stepped back, both drained from the mental toll of that Occlumens session. Amazing, Tonks whispered. McGonagall flushed with pride, and Snape was speechless. He was stuck with the task of training Potter, and even with nearly a whole school year he had failed to even prevent him from seeing visions- far less infiltrate another s deepest psyche. The headmaster had her for only a few months -but she was already this skilled? Unbelieveable. Remarkable progress you have made, Miss Granger, complimented Professor Dumbledore, I feared something like this may happen when the protection was severed last night, but once again you exceed my expectations in recovering the link at the time when his defences are strongest- he mused, this bedroom looked like a bomb went through it. She nodded, but did not smile. She felt Harry s pain and frustration while re-establishing the link, the attack yesterday was weighing heavily on him, and the Prophecy always in the back of his mind. Hermione watched Harry, how could he take all of this pressure? Well nothing more to see here, lets ship out, wanting to take everyone s eyes off Potter. *********** Moody ordered, obviously

Chapter 11: Malfoy vs Potter: Clash at the Ministry of Magic [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 11: Malfoy vs Potter: Clash at the Ministry of Magic**

After a subdued (and tense) breakfast, Professor Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cho, and Ginny were all dressed and ready to use the fireplace to get to the Ministry of Magic. I had it arranged so that only I can allow traffic in and out of this particular fireplace. However, we must be careful not to say the location of this place too loudly when we come back, understood? They all nodded, and one by one they stepped into the green flames and were gone. Harry and

his friends emerged at the main hall at The Ministry of magic, the statue of the wizard, elf, and witch nowhere to be seen. Now, there was only a simple fountain inside of the well. Harry and I will be on the third floor, seeing about the formalities. I daresay there are some fantastic paintings on this floor a little way down, if anyone is interested in the finer arts of magic- the artwork on display here hold secrets to the mysteries of life, and the infinitely complex workings of the human mind. Unsurprisingly, only Hermione indicated she wanted to see them. Ginny and Ron raised their eyebrows in bafflement, and said they would simply go and visit a few of their father s workmates then meet them back here. Cho, not wanting Harry out of sight for too long, volunteered to come up and wait for him in the sitting area. Dumbledore sighed in amusement as Hermione, Ginny and Ron left- and allowed Harry and Cho to go first into the elevator. Ron and his sister walked with Hermione to the gallery of paintings that were near to the staircase, and after briefly scanning them, decided to leave Hermione in her own little universe and went down the stairs to the lower levels. She was there for around fifteen minutes until she heard a cold voice she knew all to well. Careful now, you wouldn t want to get your mudblood slime all over wizard art, Draco sneered. No cleaner on earth would be able to get rid of the stench. Hermione steeled herself, and then turned around, a forced smile (which strongly resembled a grimace) plastered on her face. Malfoy. How nice to see you. You know, I could have said something similar, but I don t give compliments to you or your kind, Draco was openly her blossoming body, making it crystal clear that he was undressing her in his scrutiny. Looking fit, Granger. Keeping some man warm in bed these days? HOW DARE YOU! she spat, eyes furious. She instinctively reached for her wand- but hesitated. Tut tut, no hexing here I m afraid, it s a crime for mudbloods to perform magic inside Ministry buildings, it s sort of a prestigious thing. He grinned at her, folding his arms arrogantly. Don t be foolish, it has nothing to do with that. I know perfectly well I can t hex you right now, Malfoy, there are non-magic security measures here, said Hermione, her anger slowly rising. Well, if you need any galleons on the side, you know where to find me. I could use a wench like you- apparently there is a high demand for mudblood whores recently - said Draco. As soon as it left his mouth Hermione let fly with a stinging slap. Expecting it -Draco caught it easily. AhGranger, you won t catch me with that twice, he leered, squeezing her wrist painfully under his grip. Without much effort- he forced her hand down. When Hermione retaliated with her other hand- Malfoy easily avoided it, and twisted her arm so that it was locked painfully behind her back. With a deliberate, and painstakingly slow measure, he trickled the back of his knuckles down the side of her neck and took a deep breath, taking in her scent. You know, I never got you back for that slap a few years ago,

he hissed venomously into her ear, igniting the tip of his finger and holding it precariously close to her face. She flinched away from the flames, and Draco blew a breath across her face- extinguishing his fingertip fire like a candle. Let s see what Weasel thinks of you after I scar that pretty face of yoursYou ll be expelled Draco. Your father won t be able to save you this time- Hermione said haughtily, putting on a brave face. Her words were big- but inside, she knew she was in trouble. Draco seemed different, and this fire he produced in a hex-free area was an anamoly. His finger was still glowing underneath the skin, a waft of smoke curling away from the tip. Oh really? Do you think I care about that? I am... Suddenly, the lights in the gallery area disappeared, casting them in total darkness. The hairs on Hermione s arms began to react violently, her bushy hair crackling. Malfoy's grip eased a bit, and he spun his head to the side to see what was happening. What? Inciendo Enflamare! Draco whispered, igniting the tip of his finger once again- bathing them in it s warm orange glow. Both of their eyes widened as they saw the lone figure at the end of the hall, standing dangerously still. A cloak hung limply to his ankles, the silhouette of a young man casting a shadow against the wall. After a second of taught silence, the figure approached slowly- two glowing eyes piercing the darkness. Draco frowned, feeling this strange, heavy magic encompass the art gallery. What the fuck is this now? he asked, getting irritated. The figure approached, and he couldn t believe who it really was. Potter? Malfoy. I guess this is the time you warn me to let her go? Draco laughed. And then I d say And what if I don't he taunted, but did not get a chance to finish. HARRY!! NO!! Hermione screamed. It was so fast, in what felt like a heartbeat; Harry was upon the both of them. Draco released her as a reflex, but as he did so- there was a sickening crack as a swirl of black robes rushed passed her, the sound of bone breaking reverberating through the hall. Draco was sent sliding face first for almost twenty feet on the smooth polished floor. Hermione stumbled shakily, falling unto her hands and knees. As she looked up at his frozen stance- she understood what had just taken place. Harry had quickly grabbed Draco s forearm- and snapped it with a sharp blow to his wrist. How did he know how to do that? Draco got up slowly to his feet, nursing the broken arm. The pain shot up to him in waves- but he still couldn t believe it. He looked incredulously at his numbing fingers- fingers that were half a second ago holding a tight grip on Hermione. His eyes flared red as he muttered the most powerful spell he knewIncendio ar Mustira! The Combustion spell ignited the front of Harry s robes, the fire catching slowly on the magical garment Hermione had bought for him. The medallion burned red against his chest, and Harry froze for a millisecond,

contemplating how to deal with this situation. Without any other alternative- he grabbed the end of his cloak and used it to protect his hand as he ripped the front of his tunic off. Smart move- Potter- INCIENDIO AR MUSTIRA! he incanted again, this time targeting his burning cloak. It engulfed his hand in a flash- and Hermione screamed. HARRY, your hand! Harry did not acknowledge her cry, but instead of a searing pain, he felt the flames tickle his hand, and slowly being absorbed. It felt as is someone had covered his arm Murtlap essence, a cool- refreshing feeling made his way down the lenght of his arm- quite the contrast to what he was seeing. He couldn't understand it.... He will be a strong opponent when the time comes Curious now, he cupped the flames in his hand. His face took on a reddish hue as the embers of flame danced merrily in his eyes. Clenching his fist, Harry launched the ball of burning material back at Draco, instinctively muttering another summon. As the fireball arced towards Draco- it combusted again, quadrupling in size. What the-! Draco threw up his good arm in reflex as the impending Infernus Wall of Fire summon engulfed him. The fire cascaded like the flow of molten lava, his own magical power reversed and countered back against him. Drawing his wand, he drew his arm as far back as he could, and then swung it forward, spinning a full revolution as he brought the tip down to the point at his feet. The blaze in that circumference extinguished, leaving him surrounded by a wall of fire an arm s length away from him in all directions. The entire hall glowed eerily; as Draco stood there- almost too stunned to speak. He squinted through the flames- there was a nasty burn on the center of Harry s chest- but other than his destroyed sleeve, his hand was completely unscathed. Harry s eyes burned blue once again- and he outstretched his open fingers towards Draco- closing them slowly into a fist. Once again- the ring of fire began to constrict around Draco, crossing the line of his imperturbable shield. This time- those fires were lethal- he could feel the flames licking at him already. He panicked- what in the world was happening? What the hell!! Malfoy took a running jump and dove out of that trap, ignoring the stabs of pain shooting up his broken arm. The flames turned direction- and once again were coming after him, running along the ground like huge rolling blades slicing through a pizza. Once again- he drew his wand and swung it in an arc from above his right shoulder and swooped it down on bended knee, bringing the wand high up behind him. Infernus Protego ar Mustira! he screamed, desperately trying the counter spell of his own curse. The walls of flame was cut off, the fire shield charm creating another fire-less perimeter on the ground. He straightened up, again, back in the same situation he was before. He looked for an escapebut he knew that he could not win this time.

Potter can also control the Infernus? Impossible! DRACO! Run!! Hermione screamed.

It seems not only I have learnt a few new tricks, Draco hissed. Until we meet again, Granger- he threatened, and with another glare of hatred towards his enemy- he disapparated. After the brief but intense encounter the light gradually brightened and Harry took a deep calming breath. Looking directly at Hermione, his eyes were still burning- and he strained to focus them back at her worried face. Hermione stayed still, still too frightened to move. Harry shakily knelt down by her side and examined her pale wrist. Draco s fingers left it black and blue, discolouring her fair skin. Are you okay? he asked shakily. He took her hand gently. I m sorry that he did this, and I m more sorry that I..I- he wavered a bit- beads of sweat dripping off his face. Harry? Harry! Are you okay-? My chest-... it burns.. he breathed. Hermione .. finish he passed out, falling limply to the floor. before he got to

Harry! Oh no- not this again! Hermione turned him over unto his back immediately, quickly examining him. She looked at where Malfoy had disappeared. The flames were gone, the only thing that would leave any clue to what happened here in those few moments was Harry s appearance. His new tunic was ruined; and it irritated her that it was one of the nicer ones she got for him. There was an ugly burn on his chest and the whole right arm of his garments was burnt completely off. Strangely enough, she noticed his arm was unscathed. Hermione began to panicshaking Harry urgently. Come on- get up- get up! I can t use my wand, no one can see you here like this, come on Harry, please! Please? Get up- you ve got to get upHermione knelt at his side, watching his head twitch fractionally with off-cue reflexes. She wanted to take care for him- but at this moment, she was so scared for his safety that her usual composure and intellect was not helping right now. Trying to smooth away his sodden hair from his forehead, she felt a sudden drain on her magic on contact, then amazingly; felt quite dizzy. So dizzy in fact, she needed to lie down Her eyes drooped down slowly, and everything turned into a blur as she fell alongside him, knocked out cold. Ohhh ***************** Hermione? Hermione! Her eyes opened groggily. Ron and Ginny were leaning over the both of them- Ron trying to revive Hermione and Ginny trying to talk to Harry- who was moaning something incoherently to her.

What happened? Ron asked her Were you attacked? What in the questions came tumbling out of here? Ron demanded again, his What- how long was I ?

immediately. What happened to him- CRIKEY! blazes happened to his clothes?! The his mouth rapid fire. What s going on face quivering in anxiety.

Hermione asked, trying to remember where she was.

Well, we were coming down here- and as we came around the corner, we saw a light yeah, a light of some sort- coming through the hall, so we were like What s that? When we came up here you were touching his face- then you keeled over, Ron babbled at high speed. I just woke you up- you were out for maybe a few seconds And Harry? Ginny asked, concerned about that injury to his chest. Hermione answered, the events playing

Harry got in a fight with Malfoy back to her now. ...Ron Ginny

Harry mumbled, his eyes opening slowly. Ginny cried, cradling his head on her lap. Are you

Oh my god- Harry! okay?

I ve got to get out of here- Harry gasped, his whole body tensing. Ginny s eyes narrowed with worry, surveying his pale face and cloudy eyes. He moaned again, his forehead once again beading with sweat- I feel..feeling..it s fire, burning throughout my body Harry, can you get up? Hermione asked anxiously, once again examining his face. He was in obvious pain- and that profuse sweating wasn t looking healthy at all. The floo fires- are over there he pointed. There are be people everywhere, he groaned softly. His eyes roamed about a bit aimlessly, scanning the three of them. Where s Cho- and Dumbledore? Hermione bristled at the mention of her name and Ginny also scowled. Cho is still upstairs with the Professor; I think- talking to Amos Diggory- Ron assumed. Told us to go ahead without them, they ll be a while Harry could feel a fire consuming him from the inside- a strange feelingas if being burnt and regenerated at the same time. He had to get out of here, and quickly- before he caused a scene. If only he could control his limbs properly. But first, he had to get past the security back to the fireplaces. Harry took a feeble hold of Ginny s hand-me-down plaid shirt that she got from her older brother. Another wave of fire coursed through his veins and he instinctively closed his eyes in pain, clenching his fist again. What is it? shirt. Ginny asked again, watching him tug relentlessly on her

Clothes hide the burn Take mineRon offered, unbuttoning his shirt.

Ron, you can t walk through the Ministry of magic bareback- you ll embarrass your father! I know- Hermione had an idea. Ginny, I have a

vest on underneath- give him that shirt, and I ll give you my top to wear, okay? Ginny nodded at that idea. One by one, Ginny quickly unbuttoned her baggy shirt and then ripped off any remnants of Harry s destroyed tunic. As Ron and Ginny helped Harry to put on her shirt- Ron could not help but notice that his kid sister had bought herself some vivacious and provocative red underwear- and in his view, currently putting on a display. Ginny! Harry can see you! Ron scolded, temporarily forgetting their purpose. Harry- don t look- Ron ordered, but Harry was smiling a bit stupidly at her, his head lolling all over the place. He felt as if his entire being was no longer under his control. Nice pair Gin he laughed softly- trying desperately to stay awake. Ginny blushed profusely, but kept working on getting his limp arms into the shirt and buttoning him up. Afterwards, she hastily took Hermione s top and draped it over her almost bare chest. Come on Hermione, it may take the three of us to help him up- Ginny ordered. After some uncoordinated attempts, they managed a count and the three of them helped him to his feet. Harry s head lolled forward with each dragging footstep he took, his muscles lacking any sort of energy to work. Ginny was leading the way- giving them a heads up before they bent any blind corners. Ron was on Harry s right, while Hermione was under his arm on the left, both of them toting him like a drunkard on his feet. Harry noticed that Ron was shooting frequent glances at Hermione, and her 'nice pair'. Not that he could blame him; he was trying not to look at her as well- but he couldn t ignore how beautiful she really was, and that thought is what troubled him. He closed his eyes in frustration. Harry- your best mate likes her. Do you need a sign? She's Off Limits! Guys- there are a lot of people there- if the three of you move like drunks, you ll attract too much attention. I think Hermione could 'attract attention' all by herself Ron commented, mumbling underneath his breath. Hermione sighed in exasperation, and tightened her grip on Harry. C mon Harry- it s only me and you from here out- Hermione whispered. Don t throw me down, please? Hermione laughed, giving him a brief one handed hug around his waist. Harry vaguely nodded, and tried extra hard to put one foot in front of the other as normally as possible, but his limbs felt wooden and clumsy. After about three minutes, the group finally managed to cross the busy Floo Fire hall with only one or two strange glances in Harry s direction, but quite a few of men where checking Hermione out. With every step, Hermione could feel Harry s strength fading as more and more of his body weight pressed against her. Just a few more metres, come on. .I m here, you can lean on me ~ When you re not strong~ I ll be your friend~ background. Shut up, Ron... hell! Ron crooned in the

Harry mumbled, trying not to laugh- his chest hurt like

Number 12, Grimmauld Place! Ginny whispered into the fires. With a saucy wink at Harry, she stepped into the flames and was gone.

You two go ahead- I ll come in last, Ron offered. Hermione nodded, and then whispered the address of Headquarters. Both of them wobbled inside, and then began to spin together at high speed. Her eyes had closed for a second, and the next thing she felt was someone awkwardly patting her side. Moine Harry grumbled. She felt strange, but it also felt good. Hermione opened her eyes, staring into his brilliant green ones. Yes? she breathed, her nose centimetres away from his. His warm breath played across her lips, and she knew any moment know he would.. any moment nowYou re stifling me.. Harry groaned softly, his eyes fully focused now.

Hermione shot up, looking around at their surroundings. She was sprawled on top of him in the middle of the drawing room at Sirius manor, her body flush against his after falling out the floo fireplace. Oh- right, sorry about that She apologised, quickly getting off him. I must admit- I ve never felt this way beforeWhat way? Harry asked, slowly getting to his knees. she corrected herself.

I meant- fell this way before,

I know- it took me about a minute to wake up, then another half a minute to wake you up. Floo fires are meant for one person at a time y know Are you okay? Hermione asked again.

Ginny s gone to get me some water-" he said. "I don't know how to explain it, it feels as if I m burning up, from my chest inwards Harry grumbled as he crawled unto an armchair. He was slowly regaining control of his body, but the strange double feeling he had previously was not going away. His chest burned fiercely, but something else was building up inside of him . At that moment, Cho , then Ron waltzed through the fires. Cho spotted Harry in the armchair like a human jello man- almost sliding out of it, and Hermione in a simple white vest that left nothing to the imagination. Cho raised an eyebrow in silent question. Their eyes locked until Ginny came back in, giving Harry his water. He drank it gratefully, then seized up again, clutching his chest in pain. AAA!! Cho ran over to him. chair. Honey? What s wrong honey? Cho asked, kneeling next to his

Hermione thought.

He got a bad burn on his chest Ginny told her, hovering over the both of them. Cho immediately took out her wand- and ran it down the button line of his shirt- each one popping out magically one after the other. Oh my god, Cho gasped, looking at the damage. Who did this?

Malfoy,

Hermione responded.

Quickly now, which one of you are good at potions? Cho demanded, looking at Hermione, Ginny and Ron. The two Weasleys automatically pointed at Hermione. What is it? Is it really bad? Hermione knew about regular burns, but this one was different. This was magic not associated with regular studythis was something unique, and dangerous. No ordinary burn would paralyse Harry this way We need to concoct an antidote right away, she said softly. She pointed at the faint pattern that the burn imprinted on Harry s chest. That is the mark of the Infernus. *********************

Chapter 12: Potions, Lotions and Torn Emotions [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** CHAPTER 12: Potions, Lotions and Torn Emotions.** The Infernus? What do we need to do? Hermione asked.

Well the thing about it is that it spreads if not treated. So we ve got to get him fixed up. Hermione, do you have any essence of Murtlap, and tawny weed with aloe? Also I may need one of you to assist me in the brew, there are some pre-requisite potions that need to be created while the main potion is being attended to. Cho was obviously in charge now. I ll get the ingredients, I m assuming this will be a Paralysis/Degeneration antidote mixed with a Fire reflux serum? stated. Hermione

Correct, Cho agreed. Some of us in Ravenclaw still don t understand how come you ended up in Gryffindor. Well I guess the sorting hat knew better than anyone else that these two would be in a total mess if I weren t around to help them with their essays and put me in there to look after them, she teased. Well go ahead and rub it in, we just love to get put down, Ron grumbled.

If you only followed the study plan I gave you, maybe you won t have all the pileup you had at the end of the year, she reprimanded him. Humph, that timetable was impossible. Not everyone gets their own personal time machine. Six hours of study with only a ten-minute break and

six hours of sleep? You must be touched in the head if you thought we could really follow that torture tutorial, Ron countered. It s was NOT a tortHermione started.

Come off it you two, we ve got some more important matters to deal with now, Cho cut them off, looking at Harry s chest. Ron and Hermione froze, and she reddened, embarrassed. Come on, let s get cracking. ************ Draco Malfoy stormed around the living room at Malfoy manor. He was much angrier than he could even remember. How easily Potter countered my Infernus Summon! Slaving whole month to ignite a friggin bush and he ups and grabs my fire as if it were nothing! He paced up and down, his broken arm momentarily forgotten; so intense was his hatred towards Harry. At least I m still alive That was too close for comfort, what on earth has Scarhead been doing to get all those new powers? As he walked past the full-length mirror- he realised his hair was sticking straight up. He tried to raise his arm to flatten his hair down, and then was reminded painfully that his arm was broken. . Shit. I never took on any of those healing chapters in charms. That s for servants and workers to know, those matters don t concern me. I need someone who could fix this. Who do I know couldAhh shit. Not her. Draco grimaced. He did not want to talk to this girl after what they did on her sixteenth birthday. It was a big mistake. But who else could he to find now to heal his arm? She was pretty good at the healing arts. He took some floo powder and threw it into the fireplace. It roared green; he stuck his head in it and said loudly, Parkinson Manor!

He saw Mrs. Parkinson in the living area; she was looking over-sexed and slutty, as usual. Her breasts almost spilled out of her witch s lingerie, a bottle of fire whisky an almost permanent accessory in her hand. Her feet were bare and her hair bounced in curls around her face. She walked unsteadily to the fireplace and came closer than really needed to peer into the flames. Lucius, izzat you lover? Fraser is- I mean isn t in, me, no, you could zip over for a bit if you l-like, she slurred. Where s Pansy? Draco demanded. Oh you want her too? I m sure we could arrange something, she smiled.

Listen, this is not Lucius; bring Pansy to the fire, you stupid woman. He was already angry, and now he was getting even more ticked off. Fine! PANSY! Jenna Parkinson screamed upstairs. Floo for you! Pansy came running down the stairs and entered Draco s view. She, at least, changed out of her sleeping wear, but unfortunately had the same sort of fashion sense (or lack thereof) as her mother. She absolutely glowed at Draco s face in the fire. Draco! I was waiting for when you would call, Pansy said. How come you

took so long?

Draco s face darkened, the things he had to do sometimes.

I m apparating over there, I need you to fix me up, he growled. Well you know that is my specialty, licking her lips. Draco looked disgusted. Did she have any modesty at all? Or class? He said nothing and took his head out of the fire. A few seconds later he was standing in front of her in the flesh, his demeanor menacing. Honey, you re home! Pansy said in her most clich voice. Cut the shit, I will never live here. You re good at healing charms. It was a statement, not a question. She eyed him, and nodded. Why? You do know how to fix a broken arm don t you? need you to fix mine. What happened? he asked arrogantly. I

Pansy asked, examining his forearm.

Don t worry about that, just do it. What s in it for me? she asked, obviously thinking like a Slytherin. Draco cracked a half smile, he wanted nothing to do with her romantically, but she did have her strong points. We ll say I owe you one, and I m good on my word, said Draco.

I ll keep you to that, she smiled wickedly and led him into the guest room. ************* Ginny! Ron hissed, Come here for a sec, please! Ron peeked in on the girls concocting the potions, Ginny helping read out recipes while Hermione and Cho were busy adding ingredients. She looked at him and mouthed, What? in an I m-busy-right-now-leave-me-alone manner. Ron frantically beckoned her from the doorway. It ll only be a second, promise! She sighed and told the others she ll be back. They went into Ron s room he shared with his brothers and Ron closed the door behind them. Ginny, I need to borrow two galleons, please, it s a matter of life and death. His eyes were shifty and he kept wringing his hands. Ron, stop being melodramatic. How on earth could two galleons be a matter of life and death? she countered. Well when George apparates from work at the shop he s going to be wanting the four galleons we bet on, and I only have two .. and if I don t pay up I m dead. Now you see? She giggled. Well I see your predicament, but to tell you the truth I spent most of the money I had saved on some new, -she flushed, ..stuff.

What stuff?

Ron demanded.

That s none of your business! Ron eyed her, You didn t spend your money on that sexy underwear did you? Ron looked disgusted. But it was written all over her face, she flushed even redder. He was suddenly inspired, Mom is going to freak. What, why would mom freak out?! she looked thunderstruck.

Imagine if your youngest child and only daughter was out and about buying skimpy drawers maybe she ll let you live for a little while before she really kills you, Ron shook his head as if that fate was inevitable. You wouldn t!! she shrieked.

Well for a small price of about, oh I d say two galleons, I may conveniently forget all about that little peep show at the ministry this morning. You low, slimy, underhanded, shameless Yeah yeah whatever, he stuck out his hand, palm up.

She dug into her pockets and drew two golden coins. She slapped it hard into his hand and stormed off. Ron grinned, at least no one is going to die anytime soon. It works out best for everyone. ********** Harry was now sitting in the potion room Hermione and Cho had set up in. The brew was finished, and also a special salve had to be applied to his torso, to the afflicted area and the immediate surrounding area. He looked apprehensively at the tubes and measuring instruments crowding the work desk, the boiling cauldron emitting a yellowish fine mist. There was another small cauldron that smelled heavenly, the strong scent gave him a slight high. Cho walked over to him, holding a flask of a lightly bubbling yellow liquid. Okay Harry, it s basically a two step treatment, you got to drink this. It will put you to sleep for exactly three hundred seconds. During that time we have to apply the balm on your skin before you wake. The burn should disappear in one to two hours. Oh, there may be slight side effects for a little while as your body reproduces hormones and antibodies to fight off any of the infection- nothing to worry about. Ready? He nodded, and took off his shirt. The burn was spreading; it already reached the bottom of his neck and just above his navel. Lie down on the table, she waved her wand and said, Scourgify y packimup! The apparatus they used jumped off the table into Cho s potions box, a bit too haphazardly. Oops, maybe I have to practice that one a bit more. Come on now, up you go, she told him. He lay down on the table, Hermione and Cho looking like the novice surgeons they were, wearing potion making coveralls and protective gloves. He could have pictured Cho asking Hermione, for scalpel, scissors, tweezers, all the clich lines used in those soap operas his aunt loved to watch. Harry drank the

tasteless liquid, and felt a warm sensation going down his throat. His eyes immediately begin to droop, and before he knew it, was fast asleep. After exactly five minutes had passed his eyes flashed open and his skin was tingling. The two girls peered down at him curiously; both of them with balm on their hands. Harry felt as if he were high in the clouds. The scent of the balm was intoxicating and it permeated through his pores, making him feel quite high. He smiled stupidly at them. Heh- I feel funny, he giggled. Am I supposed to see four of you? But all of you do look hot! he grinned. Hermione and Cho gave each other a blank look. They went immediately to their spell books and checked the side effects lists. They say here: Slight delusion and heightened hormonal activity may occur. Cho read aloud. Hmm Well I guess we could live with that, they say its short term. Harry got up from the table unsteadily, wavering on his feet. He put on his t-shirt inside out and back-to-front; and only with some intense struggles the girls got Harry to put it on the right way. Cho and Hermione were flushed form the effort to control Harry, he was surprisingly strong for his slim frame. He put his arms around both of their shoulders, leaning heavily on them. Aren t I the luckiest guy around, I ve got two sexy ladies trying to take my clothes off, maybe we should go get some butterbeer and celebrate! Harry, you ve got to control yourself, you re too heavy! You might throw us all down! Hermione said as Harry guided them out of the room. I m good I m good, swaying heavily to Hermione s side. She stumbled but balanced herself at the last second to prevent all of them tumbling down the stairs. Hah! Mione you can t walk in a straight line, you nearly threw us all down the stairs! He looked at the open foyer below the flight of stairs and thought that the steps looked way too wavy for Hermione to make it down there all by herself without falling. Hear what, I ll help you down the staircase, looks like you might fall on the first step. Quick as lightening; he released Cho and scooped up Hermione in his arms. Without hesitation he jumped, clearing the staircase as if she were weightless. Landing solidly on the ground floor, he stood proud and straight while Hermione was holding on to him for dear life, her eyes shut closed in fear. He eased her back to her feet. See? Easier my way! he grinned and planted a big smooch on her lips. As his lips smothered hers, she froze, completely caught by surprise. I m hungry, where s the food? He said, turning his back on her, Hermione already forgotten as he strode off into the kitchen. Both girls stared at him, too shocked to even move. They looked at each other in amazement, shrugged their shoulders and followed him into the other room. *********** The morning light filtered through the newly fixed windows. Harry was fast

asleep, still in the original position he fell into bed in. The clock on the wall read 7:45 am, and everyone else was up and about except for Ron, who usually slept late. There was a soft tap on the door, and Cho s voice filtered in. Harry? You up? Come on, it s getting late. Harry rolled unto his side, covering his head with a pillow. Twenty minutes passed before the knocking returned, this time more persistent. Harry, you ve got to get up! You ll be late! I m coming in. Hermione opened the door and strode inside. She looked down at him, his hair peeking out under the snow-white pillow. She grabbed the pillow from his grasp and he grumbled, pulling up the sheets over his head. Harry, you re going to miss Quidditch practice, she told him. He rolled over and opened his eyes groggily. Practice? Quidditch? What time is it? he murmured.

It s late, and Cho is waiting for only five more minutes before she leaves you behind, said Hermione. Wait, what day is it? Thursday. Practice. England Quidditch team. Remember? Harry sprung out of bed. The sheets tangled around his feet, tripping him. He fell hard on the floor with a loud thud, swearing explicitly. Hermione laughed at him. You alright? Yeah , yeah... He grumbled, throwing the sheet unto the bed. He got up, and stretched out some kinks from sleeping in one position for so long. Harry look, the burn is completely gone! The potion worked! Not that we expected it to fail but it was a really complex piece of potion makWhat happened? I remember getting up feeling strange and vaguely remember eating something, but that s it. Um, nothing really, you just said you were .uh really tired and went to bed, she said, not at looking him directly in the eyes. He finished grabbing his things, gave her a funny look and stormed downstairs, putting a t-shirt over his head. Cho was in the foyer, waiting for him. Mr. Lupin, Mad Eye, and a few others are at the stadium already, making sure it is secure. We re using the fireplace to get there. Here, Mrs. Weasley made you some breakfast- She shoved the container at his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He looked at her quizzically, but she already was heading to the living room and disappeared into the roaring flames. Harry looked back at Hermione in sient question, but she was still avoiding his eyes. What s wrong with her? he asked her. She shrugged her shoulders. He shook his head in bewilderment, stepped into the fireplace, and was off.

*********** Where s Potter? grumbled Moody. A group of wizards hovered by the floo powder fireplaces at the stadiums, all of them under invisibility cloaks. Remus, Charlie Weasley, Shacklebolt and Snape were all also waiting for him to appear. He was running fifteen minutes late and Moody was getting concerned. Maybe one of us should check up on him, he added. Potter has never shown any concern when it comes to rules and a time schedule, far less have consideration for those who seek to protect him. Shut it, Snivellus, Remus Lupin said from somewhere to the right. He ll be here anytime now. At that moment Cho appeared in the fireplace, storming out in a huff. You see? he ll be coming shortly. Cho, how are you? Where s Harry? he asked her as she came close. She jumped at the voice coming out of nowhere, but Remus took off the hood and his head floated in the air. I don t know, maybe you should ask Hermione, she seems to know everything, she said irritably, walking past them. I m going to change, I tried to wake him up but he felt like sleeping in some more- the bastard. Like James, he seems to have his..ahem.. way with the ladies, sneered, chuckling to himself. Snape

Why don t you keep James name out of your mouth, snarled Remus, stepping up in Snape s space. I don t see you trying to help the situation, so I suggest you keep out of it. Of course, Snape drawled. So wrong of me to, ah, intrude, he smiled secretly under his hood, and backed off. Far be it from me to be the one who that boy gets killed this time around. DAMN YOU!! Remus roared, his voice taking on the form of some beast, his teeth bared. He charged Snape, blindly using his ultra sharp sense of smell and hearing to attack his position. Snape smiled, and drew his wand. You wish to challenge me? Impedimentia! The spell flashed form his wand and hit Remus solidly in his chest. Remus flew back some ten feet, crashing unto the ground. Just at that moment, Harry emerged from the fireplace, and witnessed the attack on Remus. His eyes flew to the space where the spell originated from, and recognized the tunic and wand that was now visible a few feet from him. Snape s invisibility cloak was partially opened. Moody was right behind him, and in his effort to stop him from drawing his wand he tugged on the cloak, revealing a smiling Professor Snape, gloating down at Remus sprawled on the floor. Harry saw red. He did not have time to think, he got low and charged his potions master with all his strength. His shoulder buried into his stomach, knocking the breadth out of Snape. He tackled him to the ground, and let loose with one right fist. It caught him flush in the face, but before he could let loose with the left Charlie Weasley grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and physically heaved him off, holding him back. That s enough, Harry! Charlie bellowed right behind his ear. Harry still struggled against him, but eventually he boiled down to a simmer. He

shrugged off Charlie and got his gear and stormed off to the locker rooms, not wanting to hear anything. No one spoke for a while. I ve got to get Potter to demonstrate that tackle again, that s the second time it worked on a fully grown wizard armed and ready, Moody remarked, smiling. Come on, we ve got to talk to him. ************** A few hours later after practice Harry was in a really terrible mood. He was walking under the invisibility cloak back to the floo network fires, avoiding all the paparazzi that hounded him this morning in his rush to avoid the others. It was only when Moody came up to the group of reporters harassing him and gave them his trademark Mad-Eye look did they allow Harry to pass. Cho wasn t talking to him and Amy and Rebecca were also giving him the cold shoulder. His team-mates barely talked to him, his foul temper permeated all around him. He only caught the snitch once in their three practice games and unintentionally blew up the two bludgers that were struck towards him, awarding him some curious looks and even getting himself in a little row with the coach for knocking Cantonma a bit too roughly off his broom. He was glad for the invisibility cloak that Remus took out of his trunk for him, once he had it on he did not need to talk to anyone. Not that he was ever alone, he had an escort of three surrounding him, all under invisibility cloaks as well. It would have been five, but Remus was told to take a few days off and Severus Snape immediately left after the incident, and hasn t returned since. Harry did not bother to shower and change, he just grabbed his gear and broomstick, then headed out right after the team talk. Without wasting any more time, he made his way to the fireplaces, stepped into the fire and spun away in the green flames. The moment he stepped out at Grimmauld place he immediately took off his cloak. Ron was sitting at the table playing a game of wizarding chess with his brother George. Ron jumped when Harry materialised out of nowhwere, but George was accustomed to seeing strange things happening at his shop and nodded at him. Oi, how was practice? Fine, he told them. He ran his hands thru his hair, pulling it back in a sign of frustration. What are you two doing? he asked, noticing the few gold coins stacked next to the board. George says he could beat me at Chess any day of the week so I m letting him put his money where his mouth is, Ron explained, his eyes locked on the board. Don t mind him Harry, he s just sour that he lost our little bet we had going, I ve got to collect from Fred too when he comes back, he grinned. What bet is that? at each other. he asked. The brothers grins vanished. They glanced

Oh it s nothing important, just a little family thing we had going, George fibbed, putting on one of his best customer smiles. We re playing this chess game for two galleons, and it looks like he is going to have to give me back my money, Ron laughed. It s not over until the last man falls! George declared in his heroic war voice. Harry let them continue with their game and went into the kitchen to grab something to drink. He opened the magical cooler box that kept everything at the exact temperature that you wanted; hot or cold, and searched for a butterbeer. No butterbeer. All right then, some pumpkin juice. No pumpkin juice. Anything else at all? He peered deeper inside, and the only thing he saw was water. Without any other choice, he took out some and poured out in a cup. Hey guys, is there anything good to drink in this house? You drank most of it yesterday, remember? bishop with his pawn. Check. I what? Harry asked. he called out.

Ron called back, seizing a

Yeah, remember your little drink up you had yesterday? Dancing on the table, flirting with the girls, spinning a chair on your hand? asked George. WHAT?! he spat back a large gulp of water. He strode back into the living room. It was really hilarious, we had a blast! undefended pawn. said George, claiming the

Didn t figure you to be the real party animal, Ron said, sort of disheartened. He absentmindedly played one of his pieces. I m not, I DON T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS! Well it happened, and it was a lot of fun, that Ron left unguarded. Check. What else went on yesterday afternoon? You were real chummy with Hermione, said George, taking a rook

Harry asked, curious now.

said Ron under his breath. Harry murmured to

Blimey I have no memory at all of all of this, himself.

Well, Cho remembered when you and Hermione disappeared for a little while, Ron accused him. He captured George s queen with his other rook. Checkmate! he declared, grabbing the two galleons on the table, got up

and left the room. Fred shot Harry a now-you-did-it look and went after his brother. Harry stood there, dumbstruck. What happened yesterday? He needed to talk to Hermione. He went upstairs, hoping to take a bath and change. There was a lone letter on his bed. It looked ominous there, like a piece of cheese in the middle of a mousetrap, begging him to take a taste. He approached it warily, his instincts telling him no to touch it. Going brave, he picked it up, and opened it. It was from the Ministry of Magical Education, O.W.L. division. His heart began to race, blood pumping thru him as if he just sprinted a hundred yards. He sat down and took some deep breaths. Carefully, he unsealed the envelope and opened the parchment.

~~~~ Mr Harry Potter 4 Privet Drive, Surrey England The results for your Ordinary Wizarding Levels Examinations are as follows: ASTRONOMY A CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES O CHARMS O DEFENCE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS O+ DIVINATION P HERBOLOGY E HISTORY OF MAGIC A POTIONS O TRANSFIGURATION E We are pleased to inform you that you have achieved the highest score for Defence Against the Dark Arts for this examination year. Your invigilator has requested we relay on to you that he was extremely impressed by the Corporal Patronus you performed for extra credit. Your Certificate would be posted to your school in the new school term. Ministry of Education ~~~~ Wow, Wait until Hermione sees this; she s gonna go ballistic! Well, cheers Harry, you passed all and even managed to get into Snape s potions class. Not that he wanted anything to do with that git, but he needed the Advanced Potions to train to become an auror. He took off his quidditch gear and took a much-needed shower. Feeling somewhat refreshed and in a better mood, he could now talk to Ron and Hermione. He went out in search for them, looking in all of their rooms. However, the place was empty. No one else was Grimmauld Place except Moody, who was smoking on a fascinating pipe that emitted some smoke that seemed to have a life of its

own. Hey, where is everyone? O.W.L. results came out today, the Weasleys just left, Granger also went home to get her results while you were at practice. It s just us for the while, Remus had to take a couple days off, his fool moon transformation is drawing near and we saw a little piece of it today. Can t have that happening, now can we? Snape was out of order saying what he did, serves him right to get a shiner of a black eye, he smiled. Professor Snape has a black eye? Harry grinned. Wait till Ron finds out he won t believe I gave Snape- he broke off suddenly. SHIT! What if I get in serious hogwarts trouble with this? Snape may not take me into his potions class or I could get suspended or expe- he rambled on, pacing up and down. Don t worry, the last thing he wants is for everyone to know that he threw a tantrum and expelled you because you gave him a black eye over the holidays. He would be the laughing stock of all the students, Moody said.

Harry stopped pacing and smiled, Yeah you re right, Cheers, Mr. Moody. It s just Moody, or Alastor, I don t like being called Mr and I definitely was never a professor. Okay, Alastor then, Harry agreed. When will everybody be back?

I m not sure, Dumbledore should be back today, he went to Hogwarts to answer all the mail that s flooding him about now. How s Hagrid? He s on another mission, something similar to what he did last year, y know, scouting for possible allies, Moody puffed on the pipe. Hope he doesn t bring back another Grawp, What s a Grawp ? smirked Harry.

Never mind. By the way, let s see what results you got in your hand there, he nodded to the envelope in his hand. Harry handed it to him, and Moody s magical eye scanned the page independently form his real eye. This is extraordinary, Harry. You ve placed first in Defence against the dark arts, only one other person I have heard of really managed to get above total marks, Moody explained. Who was that? Sirius Black. That stumped Harry. He said nothing, but was glad that Sirius and him had another thing in common. He dug in his pocket and held the remnants of the half melted lock-pick knife his godfather gave him. He kept it with him,

it physical talisman to remember him by. He looked at Moody, who was intensely eyeing him for his reaction. I never knew, but again, there s a lot I don t know of Sirius, he sighed. I m going upstairs, I think I ll grab some sleep while its quiet. He took back the envelope and went back upstairs and into his room. He flopped down on his back in the sheets and stared at the ceiling. Sirius, I m Sorry

******************

Chapter 13: Assault at Grimmauld Place [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 13: Assault at Grimmauld Place**

The others did not come back for the rest of that day, neither the next few days. Cho was at practice on Saturday, but she avoided talking to him, and to make things worse he still could not remember what went down on that fateful afternoon. He made his way to and from the stadium fires with an invisibility cloak, avoiding all the publicity. It was lonely at the manor without everyone. Moody showed him the Chameleon charm, the Disillusionment Hex and some other neat defensive spells that Harry didn t learn in Hogwarts, and probably wouldn t until he got into Auror school. However, Harry could not really practice them because the Ministry strictly forbid him using any magic. He spent the whole weekend alone, killing time by doing monotonous tasks around the house, boring things like servicing his broomstick and chores: washing clothes and sweeping up the floor. He dreaded each passing day leading up to his trial, which was now only a week away. Tomorrow he had another appointment with Mrs. Chang. Now he knew how Sirius had felt, how this place could drive someone close to a maddening boredom, making him itch to leave it as soon as possible. Harry paced up and down the house, haunting the grand halls, straightening this and replacing that. Suddenly, he felt drained form all the chores he was doing, and went upstairs to bathe to wash away the grime he accumulated. While bathing he felt a strange sensation, drowsy and fatigued, yet his hear beat strongly with anticipation. The time was near. Leaving the shower, he put on pants and dropped into bed in a deep sleep.

*******************

Excellent. You have finished the analysis of the enemy and are ready to proceed Warlock? his high voice muttered softly into the dark room. A figure in front of him, dressed in a long black coat and camouflage pants was smoking a cigarette, drew a deep pull and nodded slightly. He was tall, over six feet with long hair that was a shiny gray, almost white. It covered most of the right side of his face, on the left half there was a symbolic tattoo around his eye and dominated most of the cheekbone. His eyes were a steely grey, but eerily turned colourless and white when he spoke. His voice was a grated rumble, and it had a very unusual trait; it echoed after itself no matter where he spoke. The repeating growl of his voice was ominous, giving the impression that his words were a decree, and that what he said is final. That weakling Fletcher is now writhing in one of your torture chambers isn t he? I delivered the boy unguarded and totally vulnerable to you. You need not doubt my ability, you should take a closer look at your so called efficiency. The strange man once again puffed out smoke casually, and Harry wondered if he were merely talking about the weather, far less addressing him, the Dark Lord Voldemort. His eyes blazed alive, and he tensed, ready to strike. Tyrone Statham opened a lazy eye at him, the steel grey pupils were back, and he smiled a half smile. You dare talk to me in such a manner? Statham laughed. Do something about it if you don t like it, freak. Harry studied him.

That is one trait that I admire: an utter lack of respect and complete indifference. But be wary, there are ways other than magic at my disposal. Do not forget this, hunter. Yeah, whatever, he pulled out another cigarette, tossing the still alight butt of the previous one. Voldemort whipped out his wand. Asi salinta Serpentus! The butt transfigured itself into an African King cobra which reversed direction and flung itself at Statham. Quick as a flash he drew a Kodachi (Japanese short sword) from his coat, and with an upward jerk of his forearm, threw it at the snake. It dissected the monstrous reptile, and lodged itself in the armchair Voldemort sat in, and inch to the right of his head. Calmly, he cupped the lighter in his right hand, and flicked the flame on. Feeling the glorious nicotine siphon into his system, he closed his eyes in bliss. Such amazing inventions were a reason why he hated living in those past times. He snapped shut his lighter, and walked out of the room as Voldemort s hood fell back, a neat slice cutting the black robes at his temple. These high and mighty types, in an amused manner. he threw out behind him, shaking his head

Harry was beyond furious. He apparated into a dark cell. Adjusting to the darkness, he eyed the man hanging limply from chains that cuffed his wrists. The man looked up, and began to scream uncontrollably. That man my be impervious to magic, so I daresay you may just have to

suffice Fletcher,

Harry whispered to him, chuckling softly.

NO, PLEASE GOD NO!! Crucio! **************** Harry awoke with a start, his scar searing with pain. He felt sick, but managed to keep it in halfway until he reached the bathroom adjacent, throwing up all over the tiles just before the sink. He doubled over the toilet, and emptied out his breakfast. The pain in his head began to recede, and his breath came in hard, racking coughs. He was drenched in sweat, his skin clammy and feverish. Harry quickly undressed and stepped into the shower and let the warm water rejuvenate and calm him down. He had to talk to Dumbledore. He still hadn t come back, but Hedwig would just have to take the message to him at Hogwarts. After he showered, dressed and quickly cleaned the bathroom, he got quill and parchment and began writing a letter describing the vision he just had. Even though the vision appeared to be only a minute at most, he was asleep the whole dayit was dusk outside. He was still unnerved by this man who goaded and challenged Voldemort so nonchalantly. Was he really impervious to magic? Grim thoughts and many possibilities jumbled in his head as he tried to write down what he could remember of the rapidly fading memory Come here! Get this to the Professor as soon as possible! Quickly attaching it to her leg, Hedwig flew off with the letter into the fading light. Putting on shoes and grabbing the Medallion of the Order fo the Phoenix, he sprinted down the stairs. Mad Eye!! I ve got to talk to you! he yelled, running thru the rooms looking for him. He finally found him, sleeping soundly in a big armchair that must have been in the manor for generations. Hey WAKE UP! We ve got trouble! Moody s magical eye focused on him, Moody still fast asleep. He waved his hand in front of it, the eye sized him up, and with a nod of recognition it spun back inside of his head. Is it actually going to wake him up? Harry watched the eye do its thing, utterly fascinated. Huhhmm-wha? Moody suddenly jumped out of sleep, his normal eye looking around the room in a daze. He focused on Harry with both eyes and saw his expression. Instinctively knowing something was wrong, he became fully alert and straightened in the chair. What is it? drawing his wand. Voldemort s got Fletcher! I saw a vision of them just now! He s torturing him right now, Mundungus Fletcher is chained in a dungeon room! Merlin s beard! I ve got to warn the others! he clumped on his wooden leg quickly to the fireplace, pulling out the amulet he himself wore around his neck. He grabbed some floo powder and threw it into the fire. Nothing happened. They both looked quizzically at the Floo powder in the box and the fireplace. He took out some more and threw it into the fire, again. Still nothing happened.

So you are the one that stopped Voldemort before. Your reputation precedes you, Auror Moody, a gravelly voice echoed right behind them. Both of them jumped a foot high at the new voice and spun around to face the man leaning casually in the doorway, one hand on the hilt of a Japanese katana. His pupils were colourless, and he spoke as if greeting a worthy enemy, one he was not about to take lightly. HIM!! From my Dream! Harry yelled.

Moody drew his wand in a flash, Immobilus!! The spell flew straight at him, then amazingly veered away and blew apart a vase that stood in the corner of the room. What in hell? Moody watched the stranger calmly step forward. Harry panicked, tugging on Moody s sleeve, pulling him backwards. He s impervious to magic, those spells won t work on him! The boy is observant, I must say, Statham chuckled. He eyed the walls and paintings with an eye of disgust. Whatever magic spell guarding this place is obsolete to me. Maybe you should have simply put a sturdy padlock on the front door. He half smiled and continued towards them, his fingers resting lightly on the handle of his sword. Shit! Potter, run!, Moody commanded, shoving him out of the door at the other end of the room, running hard behind him. I don t know what that man s abilities are- but until we do we better get away if we can, he pointed his wand at the furniture as he passed, Inanimate Animatus!! The furniture began to spin around and fly around the room, creating a difficult obstacle course in their wake. Is this your best? Statham laughed. As he drew his blade, in one blinding flash, half of the furniture was split apart, and he took pursuit, dodging and dancing past as Moody magically launch objects at him, one after the other. He ran after them, his movements inhumanly efficient as he tore his way thru the rooms after them, not even missing a stride. Harry and Moody ran as hard as they could, charming doors and anything that could be used as barricades to slow him down. Finally they found the rear exit, and Moody wasted no time and blew it apart with a single curse. Reducto! He practically shoved Harry down the steps as they entered the garage. Before Harry s eyes could adjust to the dim gloom, Moody had spun around and used a complex spell to fix the door. Prior Incante Reversium, alveris omino Reparo! The tiny fragments of the door left from his Reductor blast jumped back together, and Moody slammed the door back into place, creating a sturdy padlock on the outside. Not half a second later, came two loud bangs from the other side, their assailant pounding on the magically re-enforced wood to break out. Moody s glass eye focused, and by his expression, Harry knew that he was looking at him through the door. That should hold- His eye narrowed, and he took an involuntary step back. What in the Devil s name? Potter What? What!? Harry asked, also backing away.

He s coming- quick- find a way out of here I ll have to stall him Alastor threw off his cloak, and gripped his medallion fiercely, briefly closing his eyes. Fortemus Enervate- he incanted, pointing his wand at his chest. What are you doing? Harry asked shakily, still not knowing how to proceed. He wouldn t leave Moody here to die! Strengthening technique- I used to be good, but these old bones are no match for him. If I get you a few minutes, that ll be enough You can t be serious- magic won t work on him! Engorgio- he incanted resolutely, holding both ends of his want between his fingers. It slowly began to grow, and then almost quintupled in size, creating a long, sturdy staff. He focused on the door, and the man standing still behind it, his sword sheathed, his eyes closed in mediation. Moody also closed his eyes briefly, calming his nerves. He is the real thing Rebecca, this may be my time. I m sorry His eyes re-opened, and Harry now knew why this man was known as the best in the Ministry. His whole appearance had somehow changed, and Harry could feel Alastor s strength. Harry, you ve got to escape and tell Dumbledore. This man is Warlock, and a skilled one at that. . They hunted and killed wizards centuries ago up until the Goblin War, where it was believed that the last of them were persecuted and wiped out. They re assassins, Harry-and do it from the shadows. Moody pointed at the crack below the door. Before harry s very eyes, a shadow slid underneath, and climbed back up on the outer side of the door, manifesting itself into the dark shape of a man. Shit Harry whispered, inching back again. The shadow s eyes opened, and Tyron Statham stepped away form the door, a deadly glare in his eyes. Moody, I lied. Nothing can stop me. Give up the boy. That s what she wants, he said darkly, lovingly drawing his sword once again. He is an intriguing target- I must say. She will drink his blood gratefully, Statham boasted, running the tip of his finger along his precious blade. Go! Sirius him. motorbike should be here, take it and go!! Moody commanded

No sooner than he finished say it when there was a flash of steel, and Moody parried, using his improvised staff to deflect the sword. Suddenly the hunter jumped back, holding his sword at a different stance. Bo- kendo? Statham nodded appreciatively. Shotokan ninjutsu, with a strong influence of English bare-knuckled brawling. You indeed are a man of many talents- I accept this battle. Moody grimaced. "Harry, you must survive. Don't just stand there! Movedammit!" Harry was astounded. From that one attack, this man figured Moody out. There was another flash of steel, and the fight began in earnest. Harry watched in awe as Moody, a relatively old wizard, holding his own on a man

who could be half his age, a man much faster and stronger. Moody spun the staff in circles, whipping the staff around his person and behind his back, effectively holding off the rapid fire attacks, but not managing to counter attack. The technique between them were impressive, Moody s footwork was impeccable. Who would have thought that a wizard would be proficient at muggle martial arts? What are you waiting for boy? Get the fuck out of here! he shouted, obviously not being able to hold off this expert swordsman for much longer. Get to Dumbledore! He needs to warn Tonks- AAAH! Statham s attack had finally penetrated. Moody s right hand fell apart form him, and he fell to the ground, clutching the stub in agonizing pain. Bypassing that obstacle, the Warlock began to run at Harry, but Moody grabbed his foot and effectively tripped him. Statham fell face down on the hard concrete. He flashed a glare at the bleeding Auror, and plunged the sword deep into his stomach. Moody s grip released and he crumpled there on the ground, his head curling into his chest. The Warlock got up and pulled out his blade, wiping it on Moody s robes. You re next. MAD EYE!! Harry screamed, and Statham was blasted back into a pile of junk in the corner of the garage. I'm not letting this happen again, this time, I won't allow any of you to die for me... He ran over to Moody, who was barely alive. Harry s eyes blazed with a grunt he hefted him up over his shoulders in a fireman s Tyrone watch this in amazement, a skinny boy of sixteen running garage with a two hundred pound man around his shoulders. Harry wand and pointed it at Moody. blue and carry. down the drew his

Liquidous Immobilous! The bleeding stopped, but it was nowhere near enough to stop Moody from dying if he didn t get help. Sirius motorbike was near the garage entrance. He ran over to it and seated Moody at the back and himself in the front, Moody s weight resting heavily against his back. The Warlock had recovered from the unexpected magical blast and was tearing down the garage after them. Harry mashed down the gas, revved into gear and tore off down the back alleyways behind Grimmauld Place. They were driving around inner city London, completely lost. He just wanted to get away from that place as fast as he could. Tears streamed down his face, and rain began pouring like buckets on them. Moody gurgled and moaned incoherently off and on, and for that, Harry was grateful. At least he was still alive. They needed to get to St. Mungo s, fast. Harry was desperately trying to remember how he went there the time before, but he couldn t think straight. He thought hard about what he had that could help him, but his only possessions he had were the clothes on is back, his wand, and wait, the medallion! He grabbed it with one hand and called for help desperately in his mind. Someone, anyone, Professor, Sirius, anyone please He focused thru the rain, waitHe pulled on the brakes hard, fishtailing the bike and skidding to a halt,

nearly throwing them off in the process. Harry stared hard at the trench-coated man, and as soon as he recognised him, he silently thanked Alastor again for giving him his father s medal. It was Remus Lupin. He ran to them, holding something wrapped in a cloak. HARRY!! WHAT HAPPENED?! MOODY SUMMONED ME BACK AT GRIMMAULD PLACE BUT THE TIME I ARRIVED, THE HOUSE WAS EMPTY AND FURNITURE WAS SMASHED ALL OVER!! IS MOODY ALL RIGHT? He peered into his face, it was ghastly white and both eyes were rolled back into his head. My God Harry, I brought his arm from the back of the house, we need to get him to the hospital! I WAS TRYING TO- WE WERE LOST FOR AROUND TEN MINUTES BEFORE YOU SHOWED UP! he retorted. His hair was plastered to his face, his scar burning consistently now.. Harry listen to me, tonight is the full moon, right now I am usually isolated and in a secure place before I transform. I have only a few minutes before it begins. He conjured a map out of thin air. Use this map to get to St Mungo s hospital, and take this. No- don t look at it, just give it to the Healer, he handed him something which was wrapped in a thick cloth. As soon as he took it- he felt sick. This was somebody severed hand, and it was damp with blood. Afterwards, use the invisibility cloaking device and the flight gear to get to Hogwarts as fast as you can, Dumbledore is there. You ve got to tell him what happened. Now, you can do this Harry; I know you can. Godspeed. He coughed loudly, racking barking noised that sounded inhuman. I ve got to leave now, be safe. He disappeared, leaving them alone once more. Harry looked at the map Remus gave him, and found the best route to St. Mungo s. He made it under five minutes, gunning the engine as fast as it could go. The controls came easily to him, it felt that he new this bike very well. He saw the glass display with the mannequin at the end of the street he was on. He gunned the engine and drove right up unto the pavement, screeching to a halt just in front of the glass. He put his arm around Moody, trying to take him from the bike, but he was too heavy. Harry frowned. Didn t he just run with him around his shoulders a short while ago? Wingardium lleviosa! Moody rose off the bike and was beginning to float away. Harry grabbed him, and stepped thru the glass to enter the hospital. As he pulled Moody inside with him he heard all the talking in the hospital cease. Looking around, everyone was staring at the blood-soaked boy pulling an profusely bleeding man through the air. A prep- healer ran up to them and froze when she saw it was Alastor Moody. Him Again!! What has he done now? she looked at the young man with blood and hair almost covering his whole face. Who are you? Forget about me- Moody is dying and if you don t help him he will be! She peered into his face, Wait- You ve been all over Quidditch Weekly and the Daily Prophet! You re Harry Potter!! she practically beamed at him. For Christ s sake! Get him some help, NOW!! he bellowed. A senior healer heard the commotion and came around. He took one look at Moody, and

grabbed him from Harry, barking orders left and right as he rushed him to the emergency ward. A couple hours later Harry was sitting in the waiting area, waiting for a word with the healer. He got a chance to wash off and change into a clean shirt. Moody s condition was important, yes, but he couldn t stay much longer; it was far too dangerous. A ministry owl had already found him here, bringing messages of severe consequences for using magic at the manor and all sort of crap, but he didn t give it a second of thought. He crumpled the parchment and threw it in the bin. Now was not the time for that, he had to warn Dumbledore in person. He stormed out of the emergency level and headed back down to the ground floor. The same prep-healer was there, obviously waiting for him to come down. She smiled brilliantly at him. Ooh, I can t believe you re actually here and I could meet you! I was at the Cannons match and you were absolutely brilliant! I have pictures of you in my scrapbook; I ve been collecting them. Can I have your autograph? Please? Wait till Jamie hears about this! I m sorry, I don t have a quill and I really can t spare the time Harry said irritably, trying to skirt around her, but she was only blocking his path. I have one! Can you make it out to Mary? That s my name, she added unnecessarily. Harry reluctantly scribbled down his name and left it at that. But you didn t put my name! she lamented. He grabbed the parchment, obliged her, then jumped in the motorbike and sped away. He is soo bad! she sighed, holding the parchment close to her chest.

Harry sped along on the huge bike, hoping no policemen would stop him. He would make his way to the train station, then use the flight gear to reach Hogwarts. He desperately wished Moody would survive, but he had his reservations, that wound had skewered him, it was a miracle he wasn t killed instantly. Finally reaching the station, and decided that here will be a good place to start following the train tracks. He took a moment to get off the motorbike, and really think of what had happened a few hours ago. This close, Harry, this close- it could have been me inside that hospital- or worse, the morgue. How many lives do I have left? With a look up to the sky and a silent thanks to the one looking out for him from above, he resolutely got back on the motorbike. Poking around at the dials and switches, he found the flight gear. He turned off all his lights, and soared silently into the night. Trying to keep his true objective in mind, he flew on through the entire night without sleep, concentrating only on reaching Hogwarts. **************** Minerva, look at this letter. Harry says he had another vision, and that Mundungus Fletcher was captured and is being tortured by Voldemort. That means that Tonks is in great danger. Last we corresponded, she was close to figuring out where he disappeared. It s peculiar that Harry could see

the vision, isn t it? Hermione has done exceptionally well. Professor Dumbledore was talking to Minerva McGonagall in the corridor leading to the headmaster s office. Yes it is strange, maybe the occlumency used is also based on proximity; I heard she has gone back home along with the others to receive their grades. I wonder how Harry fared? Professor McGonagall asked. PROFESSOR! came a voice from behind them. She jumped, spinning around. her eyes narrowed.

Harry! What are you doing here? How did you get here?

Sirius motorbike. Listen! I have to talk to you both, it s very important! We received your owl post, it was not necessary to come to Hogwarts by yourself. That was a very large risk you took, Professor Dumbledore told him sternly. There was someone at the house. Moody was nearly killed, he gasped, breathing heavily from running up all the steps, I still don t know if he d make it. WHAT?! Minerva said.

In my office, Harry. Dumbledore said, opening the spiral staircase into his chambers. They filed in and Harry bent over, putting his hands on his knees to catch his breath. Sit down, and take some deep breaths, he conjured some water from the kitchens. Drink this, it ll help. He obeyed, and eventually settled himself enough to tell them the whole story, the dream, the Warlock, everything. Well our information was definitely wrong, that prisoner was no ordinary muggle. I cannot believe that there is still a Warlock alive after all these years. Why would he work for Voldemort I wonder? I think we should contact Madame Pompfrey to see if she could be of assistance at the hospital, Minerva. She nodded, and left the office. Harry, that was a brave thing you did to bring Alastor back to the hospital. You have my gratitude and I daresay Moody s as well. Dumbledore peered at the young boy in front of him. Never before had he seen such potential. The spell you used may have saved his life, I must say it was an excellent improvisation of the Anti-Leakage charm. His face was grim, and he rubbed his eyes. I think we should try and get some sleep, planning strategy when nerves are strung out is not the best of ideas. If you have problems calming down, take this potion. It s nearly one a.m., we will talk again in the morning, have a good night s rest. Harry got up wearily, bid goodnight and left the office. Sleep did sound like a good idea right now; the journey was extremely exhausting. He ambled along the familiar corridors to the Gryffindor dorm rooms. As he left and Dumbledore got up, wearily rubbing his eyes. That s why they couldn t find Fletcher- The Hunter had captured him and forced information on Harry s movements from him. No wonder Voldemort was able to ambush Harry with such ease at the stadium. Headmaster, Old and battered I may be, but I sense what others cannot see, the Sorting Hat said.

Dumbledore looked up at the hat,

What is it?

The power of old rests inside that one, he feels it surging as did Gryffindor s son. Yes, you speak of the residual magic that protected Solidus Gryffindor. I thought as much. It shall serve him well, many a danger he will face, and more will fall as the seventh moon calls. Dumbledore nodded and leant back in his chair pulling his beard in thought. It speaks of the prophecy. And he senses that the time is near for it to come to pass. He got up, and with a departing look at the wise leather hat he went to his sleeping quarters. **************

Chapter 14: The Morning After [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 14: The Morning After **

The overcast sky allowed no sunshine through the windows. It rained all during the night, and his dreams were bleak and disturbing. Harry? Harry! A low, powerful voice woke him from his slumber. C mon Harry, we ve got to get up. He opened his eyes, then automatically reached for his glasses. It took him a few seconds to realize he didn t need them anymore as he squinted at the huge figure blocking the doorway. Hagrid he sat up in bed, smiling weakly at his friend. see you, he said groggily. All righ Harry? It s good to see you too, smile. Heard what happened yesterday. How is he? Moody ain t doing too good, still touch and go, he said darkly. But don t worry about that, he s a tough un. Gotta get dressed, I m here to take ye to the meeting with Cho s mom, it s important you see, otherwise we woulda put it off. What time is it? Harry asked, throwing his legs unto the ground. It is good to

Hagrid muttered, trying to

It s around nine, and we got to get a move on. Okay, I ll be there in ten minutes, he replied, and Hagrid nodded.

I ll be downstairs at the breakfas hall. Fifteen minutes later he was down at the great hall, having taken a quick shower and dressed He attacked the food ravenously because he didn t get a chance to eat yesterday. After taking the first few bites, he realised that everything tasted like sand to him. He coughed up the food, making a disgusting mess all over his plate. Holding his head in his hands, he sat there, thinking about what had happened. Sometimes, he wished he would just awake and be rid of this nightmare. Only a few hours ago- there was yet another attempt on his life, and a damn good one at that. Facing a wizard in a duel was one thing- but defeating someone who was immune to magic? What was he to do? He looked across at Hagrid, who could see the panic written all over his face. Hagrid shuffled uneasily on his feet at the main entrance, straightening the crooked suit of armour nearest to him. Hagrid? Harry asked tentatively. Hagrid smiled underneath his huge beard, accidentally throwing down the Knight's lance with a loud Clang! What is it ? he asked jovially. Almost too jovially.

I m, I feel really really," he sighed. "I don't know. It's surreal you know? This feeling, it isn t fear any longer, Harry blurted. That Warlock took out Moody without breaking a sweat. And he's coming for me. he added. Hagrid sighed loudly, and fitted himself awkwardly unto the opposite Gryffindor bench, folding his arms on the table. He leant in a little closer, and spoke in a low tone. I know Harry, I know. It s okay to be scared; it s natural. Don t worry, I ll stick around, nothings gonna happen to you. Hagrid, just saying that means a lot, thanks. It s been hard, but you re a strong lad, and we here for you, Hagrid reassured him. Well lookit that- he indicated the clock on the wall. You ready? I guess, he replied. They walked through the great hall to the front doors and outside. Sirius motorbike was still there, parked where he left it last night. I remember using this almost sixteen years ago whenglancing at Harry. When what, Hagrid? Never mind that. Come on, no time for chit chat. Hold tight now, don t want you falling off. Hagrid! a voice called from inside the hall. Dumbledore was walking quickly towards them. Professor? Forgot something? Albus Dumbledore had a worried expression on his face, and Harry thought it was unnatural to see his Headmaster so troubled. In his hand he was carrying something that was wrapped in a soft black cloth, and neatly tied He got on the bike. Hagrid stopped,

Hagrid wait! Professor

around its length was a gold braid. The object was cylindrical in shape, and three and a half feet long. With a last moment of indecision, he gave it to Harry. I think you should take this, face. Dumbledore said, a hopeful smile on his

Harry took it, curious to see what it was. He untied the braid, and unwrapped the cloth to reveal what was inside. It was a sword. The black hilt gleamed even in the overcast weather and the silver trim was flawless in its beauty. What is this? he enquired, almost stunned. Dumbledore replied. he

That is the sword you used to kill the basilisk, Harry ran his palm over the smooth scabbard.

It is? But that sword was smaller- and completely different, remarked, confused.

Ah, Dumbledore mused. But that is the beauty of Gryffindor s weapon, it adapts to each person who wields it. Not any and everyone could, I might add. Back then you were only twelve, so it assumed a shape that was light enough for you to handle and manoeuvre. In the hands of the original owner it was a massive Nordic Broadsword, Dumbledore explained. it out of its sheath. Go ahead, draw

Harry took it out of the cloth and held it with both hands. It was a magnificent weapon indeed, with a Hippogriff beautifully etched into the sheath near the hilt. Its piercing opal eyes glowed when he grasped the handle. Drawn into the empty void of the animal s eyes, he held the sword up at eye level. It was a straight double-bladed design, the hilt wrapped in an ancient Sphinx hide that was rich in its supple texture. Holding the hilt in his right and the sheath in his left, he separated them, examining every inch of the blade as he slowly unveield it. The workmanship was extraordinary; the reflection in the steel was more precise than any mirror. A magical force emanated from it the further it was drawn, and Harry s hair tingled and rustled as the energy surged through him. His eyes once again burned, and slowly emitted a faint light, glowing blue at his pupils. He felt the Charm flow through him, giving him that extraordinary influx of energy that manifested itself in uncontrolled acts of magic over the past few weeks. Holding the sword in his and one of these same outbursts threatened Closing his eyes briefly, he fought off that Opneing them again, his eyes returned to his and locked directly on the inscribed writing hands, he felt overcharged, to boil over once again. uncomfortable feeling. normal emerald green colour running along the length- the

name of it s creator and first user; Godric Gryffindor. In a final, smooth motion, he drew it completely out, then held it at arms length.

It s... beautiful, blade.

he remarked quietly, his eyes mesmerized by the

Yes it is, Dumbledore nodded, also entranced by its appearance. Harry viewed it at different angles, rotating his wrist as he tested its weight and feel. They all stared at it for a while, until Harry fully understood that this was not a toy. I- I think- I think I should put it away now, Harry stammered, trying to tear his eyes away. He carefully eased it back inside the sheath, and the strange heaviness in the air faded. The thing is, what good is it if I don t know how to use it? Dumbledore contemplated him for a moment. He was not sure about this either. I have faith in you- use your instincts. Remember, you did slay the basilisk when you were younger. Dumbledore replied. The tea leaves this morning gave me a sign. I doubted the accuracy of the interpretation, however- it seems to be true, the sword did respond to your presence. Look- it even changed its form to accommodate you. Since the last time you used it, this sword had never been touched. Now, it has transformed again in your hands. Truly remarkable. So you want me actually to use this? Harry asked, completely lost. He didn t know how to use a sword- that time he fought the basilisk was complete luck, as far as he was concerned. When it is time, you won t need to know how to use it. Just trust your instincts... Dumbledore said quietly. You two should get going, Mrs. Chang is expecting you, he changed subject, nodding at them. Harry took his seat behind Hagrid on the motorbike. Goodbye Harry, safe trip, He waved, and waited until they were mere specks in the sky before he walked off. ************** Harry held on tightly to Hagrid s coat with one hand, and firmly held the velvet wrapping in the other. One thing which was peculiar, the weight of the sword at his side was strangely familiar, feeling as though another piece of him that was long missing was returned. They zoomed over the fields and rolling hills leading away from Hogwarts, and soon were flying over the massive structures of London, straight into the Chelsea area. They landed in the alleyway behind Chang and Rutchkins, Attorneys At Law. Hagrid looked around nervously as they disembarked; even he was a bit disturbed by the relative ease in which Moody was beaten. He was determined not to let his guard down. The Order was counting on him, and so was Harry. C mon Harry, let s go, Hagrid said, escorting him around the corner to the front of the building. He opened the door for him, then ducked inside. Pavel Jankins greeted them again, immediately recognizing Hagrid and merely glancing at the young man who came in with him. Hagrid! How are you? Haven t seen you since I left Hogwarts all those years ago!

All right, Jankins? And I guess you ve met Harry before,

nodding to him.

Harry? Oh yes Mr. Potter! Good to see you again. I presume you re here to see Mrs. Chang? he asked. He paused significantly, eyeing the velvet wrapped object Harry held at his side. He looked at it with some interest and said, Pardon me, sorry to do this, but I must check all visitors; even though I know you two are okay, its just building policy, the kind of things that tried to pass through you won t believe . Harry and Hagrid looked at each other, and shrugged their shoulders. Well better just tell him than try anything stupid. Ummm.. Mr. Jankins, I- uh, have a sword with me. Harry explained, lifting it up slightly. It s very important. He added lamely. Pavel frowned at this. A sword? Isn t that a muggle weapon? What are you doing with one here? UhhhHogwarts business, Hagrid added, cutting him off.

Mr Jankins raised an eyebrow at him. Hogwarts business eh? Very well, but I will need to check it anyway. May I see it? Harry unwrapped the velvet from it and handed it over. The security wizard took it, examining the fine craftwork and excellent finish. He gripped the hilt, trying to draw the blade. It refused to open, and after a full minute of struggling, finally gave up. Well it seems harmless enough, it won t open. I sense no magic protecting it, I ve been trained in all sorts of illusion and concealment charms- it seems okay, so I guess you could go on up. He handed it back to Harry, who blew out a sigh of relief. He carefully wrapped it, and went into the elevator. Hagrid had to duck to get in and was bent slightly at the waist to accommodate the lift s relatively short height. Harry pressed the button to take them to the office. The elevator stopped on the next floor and someone got in. Hagrid! How are you? Cho asked brightly, not even noticing Harry behind him. What are you doing here? Oh hi Cho. Me n Harry here are here for a meeting with your mum, he replied. I m sure you two have catching up to do, he smiled, giving Harry a wink. Cho watched Harry coldly. What do you mean catching up ? We were living in the same house for almost two weeks-and Harry, why are you looking like an escapee from St. Mungo s? she eyed his patient s garment with the hospital s logo on the heart. Harry grimaced. Why is everyone on his case? You were? Well look at that, I ve been gone for a few weeks and the first thing I hear when I come back is that Harry saved Moody s life and now that you two were living together? Harry WHAT? Cho asked, giving Harry one of her incredulous looks. Well you see- Hagrid started but was cut off by the ding of the elevator doors opening. Ah- here we are- he announced. Harry s eyes narrowed as he saw a very tense Mrs. Chang pacing up and down the waiting area.

FINALLY! she said, pulling Harry out of the elevator. What was going through your head yesterday when you did those two spells? The Levitation and anti-leakage charms? I ve got two officials here breathing down my neck wanting to talk to you. It was just three weeks without doing a spell! How could that be so hard? When you ve got a hunter and Voldemort trying to kill you you d understand, Harry hissed under his breath. Everyone was definitely out for him today. His jaw began twitching and his face was set. Mrs Chang looked absolutely clueless. Harry strode passed her and went into the office, where two stern-looking wizards were waiting. He sized them up, and they sized him up, eyeing the object he held in his hand. Mr. Potter, the taller one addressed him. Harry turned his brilliant green eyes on him. Yes, and who are you? Quite forward is he? For a fifteen year old, the other wizard commented.

Obviously you are aware that the Underage usage of magic division has informed you implicitly NOT to use any spells until your case hearing? Yes- but... Yet you still performed- let s see, he looked down at a piece of parchment. A levitation Charm and Anti leakage spell? Yeah- but listen . It must have been an extremely important cause for you to blatantly defy the law, obviously the great Harry Potter needs not heed the decrees he is under, one mocked him. Most likely he will bring some story about being attacked by He-who-must not-be-named. Am I right? the other sneered. Harry was losing patience quickly. Voldemort had gotten close to him already for the summer, but that was not the point. He stared coldly at them. Do any of you, um, gentlemen, he stressed on the word, know of an Auror named Alastor Moody? he asked. Of course we do, he taught most of the Aurors up in the Ministry and was one of my instructors at the academy, he puffed himself up, he thought that made him special. We were trained under him in the S.T.A.R. EliteHagrid raised an eyebrow. the other bluffed.

Now- don t go telling lies, sonny, Hagrid warned. They gulped, having being caught out. They did not press the point. Huh? Harry ignored that last. Well then I will also assume that you know that right now he s fighting for his life at St Mungo s with a whole in his chest from the blade of a Warlock, and the only reason he s still alive is because I got him to the hospital yesterday? he countered. What are you talking about? Warlocks were wiped out centuries ago, the taller one said. Don t go making up stories, you ll only land yourself in

even more trouble. They watched him as if he were no more than a mere pickpocket telling a tale to get away from stealing a wallet. Harry went outside over to the fireplace, grabbed some floo powder from on top the mantel and threw it in the flames. St. Mungo s Hospital! Everyone was watching him now, from Cho all the way to the last staff member on the floor. The receptionist from yesterday answered the call, St. Mungo s, what is your emergency? Uhh -Hi Mary, this is Harry. From yesterday, remember? Of course I do!! How can I forget? I ve told all my friendsOkay, okay. Forget about that for now, this is extremely important. I need to know how the patient in ward 29 is going: Alastor Moody, he cut her off. Oh the Auror you brought in yesterday? Hold on, I ll put you unto his healer, she transferred him to the healer who took him in yesterday. Harry! Terry Richardson really looked worse for wear, it seemed he was working whole night. It s a miracle he s still alive! If you were ten minutes later he would have been dead. How s he doing now? Harry asked.

Not so good. That wound is remarkable, none of the conventional wizard methods work. It s quite possible that he would have died on the spot if you did not stop the blood flow. Right now, he s still very much in danger, I m just keeping my fingers crossed. If by tomorrow morning anything improves that would be a great sign. We re trying to keep him breathing until we could find a treatment for that stab wound he has. He s going to make it, Harry vowed.

I hope so. I ll keep in touch, have to run, another patient needs me urgently. Thanks, Healer Richardson, Take care, Richardson said. conversation was over. Harry said. Good work, son. The fires died down, the

Harry gave the two wizards a look. Now do you believe me? The two unnamed men looked at each other quizzically. We will have to verify, um, Auror Moody s condition, um, but for now I guess we will put off the investigations, until ah- further notice. If your story is confirmed that is. We will be in touch, Mrs. Chang. They gave him one of those looks he always got when he did something no one expected a 15 year old could do, quite similar to Mrs. Chang initial reaction to the whole drama. They left through the elevator, each giving Hagrid a large area of personal space as he looked mighty furious. Harry dear, we need to talk. Mrs. Chang indicated to her office. It s out in the public Harry, the case and all the details, she sighed heavily. Her usually immaculately groomed hair was in disarray from running her hands through it, as she was doing now. Your mates from

school got the summons to court to give their account of that day, and Jack Lovegood thought it would make a great story. It s in this morning s Quibbler, she took one out and showed him. On the cover was Harry himself, dressed in England s Quidditch uniform, standing in a cell, gripping the bars. The headlines read:

HARRY POTTER, PRISONER OF AZKABAN?

Harry cursed.

What do we do now?

Well what we CAN do is prepare you for the crowds and all questions the media is going to bombard you with. Strangely enough, the article seems to be quite accurate, something very rare from that piece of junk magazine. She closed the door behind her. Um, she began, a bit uneasy. If you don t mind me asking, is anything going on between you and Luna Lovegood? she asked, a bit curious. Luna? that stumped him. Where would she get an idea like that? No, there isn t anything going on. Why do you think that? She indicated to the magazine. He picked it up and read the article. Everything was pretty much accurate, just as Mrs Chang said. She must have added what she concluded from the summons and other people who were there; maybe Ginny, they were friends. Not the main article, the article from Luna herself, she told him. He turned to that page and read her first-hand account of the incident. Luna did seem to flower up her relationship with Harry, and made him out to be some hero. There were some instances that, if you did not know better, you would have thought that something was indeed going on between them. To make matters even more complicated, she ended it with a romantic touch: He was brilliant, he would always be my hero. -Luna Lovegood It was flattering, but he did not know what to say. He looked up at Mrs. Chang, who was eyeing him curiously. What? he asked. Harry dear, I need to know. What is going on between you and my daughter? She aced her exams, as I knew she would, but she does not seem to be all too happy. In fact, she seems really wrung out. Harry felt really uncomfortable now, that direct gaze these lawyers had really did dig deep into you. She really likes you, you know that? Aahh- I think so, he answered vaguely.

You think so so? She s being crying on and off since she got home for the weekend, and even told me that she did not want to go practice Saturday, and I believe it s because of you. She thinks you don t like her anymore. Please talk to her, you two really need to iron out what s going on. She smiled at him. I think you two would suit each other nicely. He returned her smile hesitantly; inwardly cursing himself for inadvertently creating yet another situation to deal with. Mrs Chang saw his indecision and wisely changed subject.

Well anyway, I ve wrote down some common questions that the media would ask, so lets run through them to get yourself familiar. Okay? He nodded, and they began. **************************** Draco Malfoy was reading that morning s issue of the Quibbler. His face darkened at the words he was reading, it did not look good for his father. Fuck it all- this was all Potter s fault. He flexed his right hand automatically, his fingers felt stiff and cramped often with the after effects from the healing charm Pansy did. It had hurt like a bitch when she did it, but it was fixed, and a few pins and needles now and then couldn t kill him. His mother was still distraught, and now he had to go and feed her when she refused to eat. Narcissa Malfoy had lost a lot of weight and was in a semi trance state most of the time, walking around in a daze and sometimes calling him Lucius repeatedly, even when he corrected her. It was really a strange feeling, telling your mother to remember that your name is Draco, only for her to say in the next breath, I know, Lucius. He strode around bareback, he finally achieved Level One Fire Summoner, and henceforth was tattooed a symbol on his right shoulder blade. It was a mark of achievement; and if he ever made it to Level Seven Master Summoner he would be nearly covered with tattoos. The tattoo was magically scribed, it glowed when he was training and gave him a fire resistance as well to minor flames. He was proud with himself, it usually took nearly two years to complete the first stage, he managed it in less than three months. Logan Ash was merciless, but he got results; that is why he was the best. He would be in the same room as Potter in a few days, but he had to control himself. Summoners were frowned upon, as they could do dangerous magic that was untraceable by the ministry. It was a perfect way to create mayhem without being caught. The Terra magi Earth Elemental have field days in the far east, the earthquakes they could produce for a bit of merriment were never fingered unto them. For now, he would be cool, and bide his time until the time was right. His father was going on trial, and he needed to be the mature one in this household since his mother was a complete mess. Lucius! a voice cried from upstairs. Draco sighed, put down the magazine and went to check on her. He looked down at her sallow face, and frowned at the amount of weight she had lost. He resolutely began feeding her some of the food he put there for her on her bedside table, coaxing her like a little child. Thoughts of Potter ran through his head. Soon. Very soon he would have his chance.

**************************** At that same time, another young man was looking after his parents. Neville Longbottom was at his parents ward at St. Mungo s. He no longer was the clumsy, awkward youth he was a year ago. He was taller, and he no longer walked in a timid manner. The battle at the ministry had changed him, both physically and emotionally. His broken nose had added character to his boyish face, and the beating he took still left slightly discoloured areas on his face. Neville refused to sue a healing charm, he left the bruises there as a reminder that he now had focus, and intended to do what he never thought he could do. He sat with them between their adjacent beds, and was having a one-way conversation. I saw her mom, dad. I know who did this to you. I know how it feels. I wish you could have fought it off, I wish you could talk to me right now. I need to hear you say what I should do, mom. Bellatrix Lestrange is in my head night and day, and she s somewhere out there. I brought your wand back to you dad. He handed him the wand that was broken in half. Sorry it broke. It meant a lot to me that you left it for me to use. Anyway, I took mom s own to Ollivander s, just to see what Mr. Ollivander thought about me using it. He said it suited me even better than yours, dad. He looked at their bland faces, trying hard to keep their attention. It was always like this, this cat and mouse game of trying to make them acknowledge his presence. He touched the toy hanging over his mother s bed, an overweight elephant with tiny wings on its ankles. It began to dance in midair, and his mother smiled an open-mouthed smile, gazing at the object. His eyes watered, and he roughly wiped them away. I have a really good friend, a friend in school, who showed me that being brave is not about heroics or being strong, it s about believing- and fighting for what you believe in. Anyone could fight, he taught us that. I ve learnt more magic from him in one year than in all my classes. He s really good. He took on Bellatrix, and gave her a dose of her own medicine! He fought off Death Eaters mom! And he s in my class! his voice rose in enthusiastic admiration. Neville took another wrapper from his mother s fingers, and quieted immediately. I felt what it s like to fight for a cause, and he fought dad, he fought for all of us. I believe in him, and I will back him up in this trial he has. Could you believe that they are trying to jail him? After all this crap about them not believing when he told them Voldemort was back? He s going to take out Voldemort, I can feel it. There s something different about Harry now; it s like he has this look in his eyes during the last days of school this year. That fire burns in me too, and and I promise, Lestrange will pay He sniffed, held both of their hands and bowed his head to hide his silent tears. I ve got to go, he mumbled, and got up, once again wiping the angry tears from his face. He turned to leave, but a pale hand stopped him. His mother had taken hold of his fingers, and pulled him toward her. She mumbled something, and handed him a candy wrapper. He took it gently; more tears rolled down his face. I promise mom, I promise.

**************************** Ginny and Ron were at Weasley s Wizarding Wheezes, helping their two brothers take inventory. Since Ron got his grades, he tried very hard to avoid his mother. He did not do that bad, but he failed Divination, History of magic and Astrology with flying colours, and she definitely was not pleased. So he and Ginny were checking some of the new stuff their brothers bought when suddenly they yelled out to him in unison, RON! The twins came storming in from behind the counter to the storage room. You knew, and you DID NOT TELL US?! Knew what? THAT HARRY COULD GET SENT TO AZKABAN! they roared. They were bearing down on Ron, who cowered in the corner. Wait, I promised Harry not to tell anyone, he didn t even want to tell me! He did not want everyone to know that he was in serious trouble, tried to play it down, I swear! said Ron. The three siblings looked at each other, and accepted what Ron said. Sounds like something Harry would do. But the secrets out now, Loony Lovegood s dad put it in print, showing them today s Quibbler. Holy shit, now everyone knows. It s gonna be a fiasco at the Ministry of magic that day! This is bad. Ron lamented. Keep your pants on, I m sure things will work out, Ginny said, not really believing herself. Ron gave her an incredulous look. Ginny, dear sister, this is Harry we re talking about. Not our Harry, the Harry Potter that everyone knows. When has ANYTHING ever worked out once his name gets put into things? Look at the Triwizard tournament; it s going to be an even bigger mess with the media. And to top things off he had a game winning performance against the Cannons the other day and everyone still buzzing about him being so young and that good, like he s some sort of god or something. There are gonna be tons of people there. He plopped down on his stool and ran his hand through his spiky red hair. Still wished we were around that day, we woulda have done some real damage to those Death Eaters, Fred said giving George a pat on the back. Ginny looked up at them, eyes furious. Don t make light of that day, we almost nearly died there, and one of us did! she screamed. The storage room went deathly quiet. The grins vanished from the twins faces, and Ron looked up in shock at Ginny. She stormed out, and left, fuming down Diagon Alley. We ve gotta go and check up on Harry. Lets go find Ginny, Ron said. The brothers nodded, closed up the shop, and went in search for their sister. ****************************

Halfway across England, Ernie Macmillan was reading the quibbler article. He jumped up immediately and ran over to the fireplace. Boots residence! he shouted into the green flames, calling for his mate Terry Boot. Padma and Parvati Padmil were already making the rounds to their girlfriends, Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell top priority. Katie who was friends with Hannah Abbott from Hufflepuff informed her; who in turn called Anthony Goldstein and Michael Corner who already was talking with Terry Boot so got the information twice from two different sources. Terry Boot who was also a West Ham fan called Dean Thomas who then obviously contacted his best mate Seamus Finnigan. Soon enough all of Dumbledore s army knew about the summons, who now contacted their housemates from school and told them that if they did not have the Quibbler as yet, to go and get it NOW. In the space of half a day, everyone from Hogwarts were talking about it thru the flu network, and everyone was trying to get in contact with Ginny, Ron, Neville, Luna and Hermione. No one knew how to contact the main protagonist, Harry, so they all tried to get thru to anyone mentioned in the article. The whole of Dumbledore s Army knew, and they took exception to anyone who dared slander his name. We ve got to come up with something to show our support for him on Friday, we can t let him hang high and dry, Alicia said to Padma and Parvati. He s done so much for everyone, not to mention he s a great seeker. I guess I could forget about the Yule ball, I still haven t forgiven him for treating me like that, but this is serious and I think he was the best defense against the dark arts teacher we ever had. I m in, you in Padma? Of course! Great, Alicia said. Let s get cracking.

*************************** Luna Lovegood was lying down in her bedroom, gazing at the ceiling. She had a poster of Harry in full quidditch gear on her wall, and the Quibbler magazine face down on the bed, opened on the page where she begged Daddy to let her write a piece. She had a huge crush on him ever since she saw him sit next to her on the fateful day at the start of the fifth year, and she finally got the nerve to put any of what she felt for him after the fight at the ministry to paper. Whole summer she thought nothing else, and the article Daddy decided to put out when the owl post arrived with the summons for her to appear in court was too good an opportunity to miss. She knew he was hot for Cho, but she did not care. Friday she ll see him again, and that s what kept her happy ever since the letter came in the mail. ************* Author's Note: I wrote this fic initially as a stand alone story, but as you can see- three fics later and I'm still at it. The little future references are vague enough that they shouldn't really distract anyone from the main focus of this story, well at least I hope so. Review!

Chapter 15: Two Sides to a Coin [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 15: Two Sides to a Coin**

After Mrs Chang had finished her questionnaire with Harry he went downstairs to find Hagrid. It didn t take him long to find him in the visitor s lounge, reading up on a magazine called Fiercest Creatures. All right Harry? Whatcha think? Hagrid asked excitedly, pointing out a page. Harry took the magazine and looked at it. He frowned. What is it supposed to be? wings. He asked, looking at multi-tailed Liger with

It s a Chimaera, Harry, don t you know tha ? She s a beauty, ain t she? Lookit those wings! Er Natural predator of the Hippogryph- but even more intelligent and well behaved than a threstral! Hagrid beamed. She s in heat, or so they say, so soon there gonna be some young uns on the market, and I m sure I could slip a couple of em in on Hogwarts N.E.W.T. budget- they re goin to be a great addition to my- er... Hagrid cut himself off, seeing Harry s expression- For study, o course. Wait a moment- it says here she stands at nine feet tall crown to pawand fourteen feet long nose to flank, with an additional six feet in tail! She s huge! Aww- that s nothing! The male the ministry Beastmasters are currently tracking in Nigeria is twelve feet tall and nearly twenty feet he s the prize bull they ve been tryin to line her with! Imagine the cubs! Beautiful! But, aren t they- he pointed, the fiercest it s safe? Harry queried a bit fearfully. mammals alive? You sure

Come on lad, have I ever showed you anything that we can t handle? Well er.. Harry shook his head a bit uncertainly.

That s what N.E.W.T. levels are for! Time to have some fun! Don t want to see the same old boring specimens, do we? Time for a challenge! Hagrid patted Harry on the back, who almost fell over with the blow. Hagrid laughed in anticipation. Harry grimaced as he straightened up. Definitely not taking that class this year

Oh Harry, I m going to drop you off by Hermione for a lil bit while I go pick up your stuff . Ye migh have to stay there for a while until we find a way to secure Sirius house again. "Okay..I guess." Harry wasn't too keen on going back there now anyway. Hagrid got up and both of them made their way out. Her place is already charmed, and because her parents are muggles they won t even know a thing about them. I don like shuffling you round like this one bit, but we ain t got no choice. Harry nodded as they took their seats on the bike. Soon they were off, the motorbike flying at incredible speeds, concealed by the invisibility charm. In a matter of minutes, they were at Hermione s street and Hagrid landed the bike at corner. I ll be back in a couple o days. Remus will be guarding the house in shifts with the Charlie, Bill and Sturgis, Hagrid smiled reassuringly. "Oh- I ve dug up on my old medallion from the original members of the Order so I will be in touch. Charlie should be here any moment now- maybe he is, I dunno- but as you can- er, can t see, they gonna wear invisibility cloaks so you won t even know he s here. Remember to tell Hermione hello for me, he nodded and left. Harry watched him walk to the opposite corner, stick out his umbrella, and immediately the Knight Bus came screaming down at him. It screeched to a halt. Hagrid got on, and just like that, he was gone. Hermione s house was lower down on the street. From where he stood, he could see her front lawn. He hopped back on the bike, started it up, and rumbled his way down to the front gate. *********************** Roger Granger was sitting in his living room, drinking tea and reading the dailies. He had a day off today, his wife and daughter was home with him, there was a great match between Chelsea and Arsenal on the box, plus it was a great day outside. What more can a man ask for? Everything was perfect. He was taking another sip when he heard the familiar, masculine sound of one of those big American Harley Davidson engines he had as a young man . It brought back fond memories; he was a wild one in his youth. The vehicle drew near, and appeared to have stopped right in front of his house. He got up and looked out his front window, and to confirm his suspicions, there was someone on a huge motorbike on the curb. Who is that young man? His face was turned away from him. Apparently, he was checking something near the pedal. All Mr Granger could see was a mass of black hair and a black thing strapped unto his back. Hermione came down the stairs in a hurry. She had felt his presence nearby, but that couldn t be- he was supposed to be at Grimmauld Place. Could it be a coincidence that she was writing a letter to him and now he was outside her front door? She definitely felt the connection between them become stronger suddenly.

Hermione, Roger called her. Come and see a motorbike that your father once had when he was younger. Ah, I remember those great days What are you talking about? What bike? Hermione queried.

Oh some fellow seems to have come across a problem on his bike and he stopped for a bit outside- Look, he pointed out the window. That s a Harley, brilliant piece of machinery it is. It s not just a Harley, that s Harry! outside. she opened the door and went Harry could drive a

Harry? her father repeated, following her outside. motorbike? he asked himself.

Harry was kicking at the stand, getting mildly irritated that it wasn t coming down as it should. His head snapped around when he heard his name being called out. Hermione was half running- half walking towards him, her face full of concern. What s wrong? Why are you wearing a St Mungo s shirt? Oh. Hi, Hermione, he smiled, and her heart melted. Hermione couldn t explain it, his smile affected her much stronger now even though they ve been apart for only a few days. She itched to move away the lock of hair that always seemed to be falling into his eyes. She walked up to the gate and opened it for him. Thanks, he said. He took the bike into the garage, and saw Roger Granger staring at him from the doorway, dumbstruck. He waved at him, Hullo Mr. Granger! Roger waved back, smiling back at him. Hey Harry, nice to see you again! Harry (feeling embarrassed he couldn t operate the kickstand) tried to lean the motorbike on the garage wall, but as soon as he let it go, the kickstand automatically came down for itself. Curious, he held it upright once again, and the kickstand went back up. Smiling, he released it suddenly, letting it fall. Instead of tipping over precariously, the bike casually leaned to one side, and the stand came down once again. I love this bike already, Whatcha think? he grinned, and turned to face Hermione. Hermione asked.

Harry, aren t you a bit young to be driving?

Yeah, but who cares? I don t. Wheels are wheels, and this used to belong to Sirius Harry explained. Really wicked, it has an invisibility charm, replenishing fuel tank,a homing device, voice activation ignition and remote, kick ass chrome exhaust- genuine leather finish, original gauges, smooth suspension, plus a geo- balancer for whenHermione cut him off by abruptly taking his hand into hers and leading him to the front door. Harry meekly followed. He looked at her small hand holding his. That strange feeling that rose up in his stomach was happening again

Come on, let s go inside, so you could tell me about what happened, said Hermione. Harry walked up to Mr. Granger nervously, Hermione at his side. Good afternoon, sir. A slight pause, and a bit of shuffling of feet later, Harry didn t know what to say. They just dumped him here, with no explanation whatsoever. He looked at Hermione for support, who in turn was looking back at him, waiting for him to continue. He sighed. No help there. Er, did the professor contact you recently? he asked, not sure how to explain the situation. Uh- no. Why? said Mr. Granger. Just then a beautiful owl came swooping low, and dropped a letter into his hands. Mr Granger caught it reflexively, he was getting quite used to it by now. Hey, this is from Professor Dumbledore! What extraordinary timing! Harry just smiled; he half expected this to happen. Come in, come in! Let s see what the Professor has to say, he turned back inside, opening the envelope as he went. They sat in the living area, Harry and Hermione on the couch, Roger in his favourite recliner. Harry noticed (a bit uncomfortably) that Hermione did not let him go as yet. She sat next to him, quite oblivious to their interlocked fingers, one leg tucked under her, her bare knee brushing his jeans. Her father read through the letter, and looked up at Harry a couple of times. Harry waited with baited breath; he ahd no clue what thye might have told him. Hmmm Mr Granger mused, looking down through his reading glasses. Interesting . he said, reading the letter again. Hermione couldn t stand it, what was in that letter and why was Harry here? What does it say? she blurted out.

Well, it says that basically, for Harry s safety, you two should be close together, he eyed their proximity on the couch- Well, be in the same house. Harry turned towards her, and she was looking at him strangely. Why is she doing that? It says something about Occlumency; what in blazes is that? And also, it seems Harry s house needs to be fixed so Dumbledore is kindly asking me to let him stay for a little while until a trial? Right- the trial. Oh, it says here that not to worry about Harry s swordit s a gift, A sword? You have a trial, you fly on brooms for England, a Harley, now you have a sword? I must say, you re full of surprises. ErBut I would be glad for you to stay, mi casa es su casa and all of that. Where s your stuff? Harry thought quickly. Oh, Hagrid s bringing it, soon, I think. By the way Hermione, Hagrid says Hi , he said, smiling at her. Hagrid? Hermione s told me about him, he s your teacher for Care of Magical creatures right? he ventured. I can t seem to remember all these names sometimes, he said jokingly. Yes, he is, and he s a good friend of ours, she answered happily. Hermione s touch and her knee brushing his was distracting, and Harry was trying not to look at her bare legs; she was wearing one of those short

pants again. Harry shifted his attention off of her and unto her father. So I can stay then? Sure! You know where the guest room is, and I m sure you and Hermione could talk about the OWL results, Hermione got hers a few days ago, he smiled at her, and she pinked slightly under her father s praise. Hermione was already getting up, tugging Harry along with her. C mon, let s go upstairs. She knew that the letter was not letting on all that transpired, she didn t need Occlumency to sense that Harry s uneasiness pouring out of him. Also, not for one moment, she noticed that did he let go of the sword hidden under that black cloth. Hermione trotted up the stairs and led him into her room, which was very girly, excepting the piles of books on her desk and on the shelves. You re hiding something, come on now, out with it, she commanded. Harry watched her as if she was a mind reader, which in a way, he reminded himself, she was. It s a long story, he said flatly. Hermione gave him that look she had when she was determined to get information, and Harry sighed. It was inevitable. She plopped down on the bed, and patted the space next to her. He sat down, kicking off his shoes wearily. Propping his arms behind his back, he closed his eyes briefly, feeling that magic burn behind his eyes once more. It was happening more often recently He reopened them, and for a moment, he just stared at a picture of Crookshanks on the wall, lost in his thoughts. This room, Hermione s scent, her whole presence- was invading his senses, and deep down, he felt that she was maybe the only person who he could talk to on a level where he was able to say everything on his mind, without freaking her out. Moody s in the hospital, he began, talking in a low monotone. We were fighting- well, no... running from this convict- actually a warlock, yesterday- who waltzed into the mansion with this huge sword, and guess what? He s impervious to magic. A warlock? You sure? They were supposed to be wiped out! You re the third person to tell me that. How do you know about them? History of Magic essay- the death of Kurkle the Gnoll and Mandarin the Magnificient- two heroes for either side killed by a Warlock, which led to the end of the Goblin War and the persecution of those with the Hunter s insigniaSee? Can t always trust a book. They obviously weren t all killed, now were they? I m special- there s one who dropped by for a spot of tea yesterday Harry said in a pathetic attempt to lighten the mood. HarryHermione began.

Now the Quibbler has the trial all over the papers. I don t know Hermione, everything seems to be happening all at once, everyone seems to want a piece of me. Look- I ve got a sword that only responds to me, supposedly Gryffindor s weapon. He laughed with the incongruity of such a notion. Hermione, don t you think this is way over my head? Until a month

all the name Gryffindor meant to me is the house I m in at Hogwarts- oh and play Quidditch for. Now I m holding his sword and there s this Solidus legend and I can control fire and some psycho who s impervious to magic is after me he fell back unto the mattress, splaying his arms high above him. He closed his eyes, and dreamt that he was flying away from it all. I don t know anymore. Wish it will all go away. He felt his muscles relax as he stretched his legs. Ahh... that feels much better, that motorbike really does a number on you. He spread his arms wide like a snow angel, rubbing his palms on the soft sheets until his left arm accidentally touched something soft. It was her backside. He didn t mean to, but it happened. Woops... he said in a quick apology, his eyes still closed. Hermione playfully smacked him on his arm. The bed smelt strongly of Hermione s perfume, and Harry took in a deep breath, soaking it in. Harry, you re lucky to be alive! So what happened to Mad Eye? Is he going to be okay? she sat on the bed, leaning over him. Even though his eyes were closed and he appeared relaxed, she could sense his anxiety and fear lurking in the corner of his mind. Searching deep into his face, she felt her Occlumens training taking over once again. Flashes of a sword and an old man with a staff, another image of grey eyes and white hair- numerous doors shutting closed, running desperately through the manor- the futility of being helpless -and thenHermione flinched as Harry shouted Moody s name- and a tingling sensation coursed through her mind as the unnamed assailant was blasted away from him. Her eyes opened immediately. What was that? He got seriously hurt, the doc is trying to fix him up. He opened his eyes and looked into hers. This is something that has been bothering him some time now. It wasn t a game anymore, in the real world, the bad guys played for keeps. It was really close this time, it s being getting closer and closer ever since Voldemort s return two years ago. Y know, now I don t think even Dumbledore could help me. I can t explain it, you won t know how it feels Hermione, but I m glad I m here, just being around you seems to keep me going, and just for being my friend, thanks. You do mean a lot to me. Without thinking, his fingers came up and he caressed her hair. As his eyes searched hers, he really took the time to look at her. Only once before did he actually scrutinize her features, and that was when she was cursed at the Department of Mysteries. Now, as he lay there in her bed, looking up at her, he realised how his life had changed that day. How easily he could have lost her forever. Her cute little nose, that little quirk she had when she smiled, those light freckles that was so adorable- she really was quite pretty; and now in hindsight, how could he have not noticed? His hand stopped teasing the hair at her temple, and his palm lowered so that he could softly caress the side of her face. Hermione closed her eyes as his touch reminded her of something that was building up inside of her ever since the day they treated Harry for his burn, and now, she couldn t keep it in any longer. She had to ask him, but she didn t want him to stop touching her. She gently covered his hand with hers, pressing it to her cheek. Umm- Harry? Yes? That day, y know, when we fixed your burn, do you remember? she whispered.

I remember

he answered noncommittally.

Do you remember what happened when we went into the kitchen? she ventured. And you took my hand and we snuck off when the twins were shooting rounds with Cho, trying to get her drunk? she continued. He looked at her now, where was she going with this? I... I ve been thinking about that kiss ever since, I ve never felt anything like that, and it sort of, I don t know... made me, I don t know, really think twice...y know She ducked her eyes for a moment then looked back at him. Harry, you made me feel more alive than I ve ever felt, maybe it s the connection we have or the magical side effects you had, but...but... Her eyes focused on his lips for a moment, then back up to his, telling him what she was going to do, and giving him the chance to stop her, but also begging him not to do so. If he did, she would almost die of embarrassment She dipped her head slowly, and kissed him gently; their lips barely making contact. A sudden rush of sensation rushed Harry, both physical and emotional. Images scrambled to get inside his head, not only his thoughts, but also snippets of Hermione s memories and innermost fears, and in all the rush of emotions and thoughts he felt, there was one dominating theme, that she was absolutely terrified that something would happen to him, and would have no idea what to do if it did. She pulled back from him slightly and opened her eyes. Her hand came up, and gently shifted away the lock of hair that threatened to go into his eye. Hermione blinked once, and her eyes moistened. If anything...if anything ever happened to you her eyelashes, and she tried to blink it away. A sole tear formed on

Shhh...It s okay, nothing is going to happen, he said wiping the tear from her cheek. Everything is going to be fine. He pulled her close in a hug, and she rest her head on his shoulder. He held her in a soft embrace and stroked her hair, holding her safe. She was flush at his side, and her hand came up and touched his cheek, and once again moved away the hair that fell into his eyes. Harry? Yea? Promise me, she paused, trying to get out the words, Promise me that you re going to be okay, and that you ll keep your wits about you, no matter what happens He did not really believe that he d come out of this unscathed, but he couldn t tell her that. It was inevitable. He and Voldemort will settle things, once and for all. she whispered.

I promise, he said softly. She looked deeply into his green eyes, and the gentle contact their minds had intensified. It was the most incredible feeling. Once again her lips met his, and she gently rubbed her lips against his bottom one, before deepening the kiss so that her pulse began to race and a warm, gentle feeling was spreading downwards Hermione, no, don t, don t do what I know you re doing, he said gruffly. I can feel it, sense that there s something youHarry, I m not doing anything, she said quietly.

Don t do this, anyone who gets too close- Voldemort knows- he knows always have and I can t bear anything ever happening to you, he turned his face away from hers, and stopped touching her hair. He did not expect her to use her finger to turn his face back to hers. Hermione looked deeply into his eyes, and Harry felt that she was the only one who could really see what he was going through. Many older wizards and witches have given him advice, and told him things that have had an impact on his young life. Hagrid- when he told him he was a wizard, Mr Ollivander- who told him of his magical connection to the Dark Lord. Remus- who was the first one to relate to him about his parents and their connection to Sirius; Dumbledore, who explained the circumstances of his life, his scar and now the prophecy. But nothing could prepare him for what his best friend was going to tell him. It s too late for that, Harry. But I don t care, I am not scared, I don t care, he d have to kill me to stop me from loving you, she said softly into his ear. Harry froze, those words burning deep into him. He closed his eyes tightly for a few seconds, then opened them; staring at the ceiling. He looked at her face, her cute little nose, the shape of her eyes and lips. Would he risk it? He couldn t. She was more than just a friend, she was...she was The one he wanted. After all these years, he now knew that what he was looking for was in front of him all the time. Someone to love him unconditionally, and without hesitation. But- those who did: his parents, and for a short while; Sirius- ended up dead. He could not risk it. Don t say those things, even though I think, I think that probably the best thing anyone s ever said to me. And I mean that. Hermione smiled sweetly at him, and kissed him tenderly on his cheek. She braced both hands on either side of his head, and looked directly into his face, her hair forming a curtain around them. Whatever you re going through, you re not alone. I m here, and I will always be here. Never forget that. She caressed his brow again, and ran her index finger lightly over the lightning shaped scar on his forehead. Reluctantly, she got off the bed.

You must be dead tired, you can nap here if you want. Dad and I have to go out for a short while. I ll talk to you again when we get back. See you soon, she said softly. And with that, she left the bedroom, closing the door quietly behind her. **************************** The Weasley brothers had found Ginny and persuaded her to join them to go and check on Harry. They floo networked back home, only to see their parents having a very intense conversation with Shacklebolt and Tonks. They entered the room, and the talking suddenly stopped. What s the matter? Ron asked, not taking the hint. His parents looked meaningfully at each other, and Molly Weasley nodded in defeat. Kids, there s been bad news. He-who-must-not-be-named sent an assassin to Grimmauld yesterday. And it wasn t a wizard- someone, no something far worse. A warlock, he said grimly, rubbing his shaven cheek. Moody s in St Mungo s fighting for his life. What?! Ginny screamed. What s a Warlock?!

The twin brothers asked in unison:

They are wizard hunters, known only as fables and legends from a time past. It s a miracle Harry pulled thru and saved Moody, without him around we would lose his experience and battle tactics, but it seems that he s not out of the fire yet. Is Harry okay? George asked.

Yeah, he took off to Hogwarts last night to contact the Professor, but he s gone again this morning and we don t know where he is. His house is in a mess, and we need to re-charm the security and put some more practical locks and so on, apparently Warlocks also aren t fooled by illusions, it s part of their invulnerability to magic. So you re saying that Harry and Moody fought off someone who cannot be touched by magic? Ron asked. Yes, Arthur sighed. Take this as a lesson. It s sometimes useful not to depend on magic all the time. Damn, I wonder how Harry is taking all of this, he must be really freaked out, Fred said. The others murmured in agreement. Well, right now we don t know where he is, we re trying to contact the professor but he has not been by the fireplace for the day- I guess Pigwidgeon would just have to send it by post. I think I know where he is, Where? everyone asked him. Ron said.

He s by Hermione. ********************************* The Grangers came back later that afternoon. Hermione immediately went

upstairs to check on their guest, only to find him sleeping, half on, half off her bed. She giggled at his comical position, and went to take the sword off the bed. Harry did not stir when she walked past, and only mumbled when she hefted his leg onto the mattress. She picked up the velvet-wrapped sword from his side. Even though it was not any of her business, she was intrigued, she couldn t help it, the gleam and workmanship on it was amazing. Taking off the cloth, she examined it in all its glory. It really was beautiful; her fingers running along the intricate design of the Hyppogriff on the sheath. Gripping the hilt and the sheath in her hands, she tried to open the blade. It did not budge. Told you it won t open, eyes were closed. Harry s voice said behind her. She jumped. His she breathed.

I thought you were asleep,

I was, but when you moved the sword I felt something, and I woke up. She looked down at the weapon, then back at him. Can you show it to me? Sure, he said, getting up. He took it from her, and drew the blade slowly from its sheath. The steel blade slide its way out, revealing the letters G O D R I C G R Y F F I N D O R. Harry s pupils had suddenly changed colour, they now glowed blue, and she felt a ringing in her ears. The energy coursed through her strongly, however, it felt more controlled this time. Harry, you ve gone all charged up again, she remarked. Harry shut his eyes, and clenched his jaw, forcing it back down. I know, and that s what scares me. He closed back the blade. What if I lose control again? Like with Malfoy or Dudley? With this in my hands I could really hurt someone, maybe even Kill someone? Harry froze for a second, that strange impulse he got there what was that? He wrapped back the blade in its cloth, and propped it against the dresser. That s it! What if you could control the energy when you have the sword, huh? Maybe Solidus only had the power when he drew the sword! I never thought of it like that, you might be on to something, Harry. said

Come on, let s go outside and see, she grabbed his hand, and pulled him along down the corridor and out the back door. He remembered here, he sat thinking about things for a few hours when he first came for the summer. It was a nice private spot; the shrubs creating a little enclosed patch of grass, with a large tree spotting the ground with the sunshine that poked through the leafy canopy. Okay Harry, relax, and try to think of happy thoughts, we shouldn t try anything too drastic yet. Draw the sword and see what happens. He gave

her a I-don t-think-this-is-a-good-idea look but stepped into the center of the lawn. Taking a deep breath, he extended his two arms parallel to his eyes and drew the blade in a fluid motion. A loud note of singing steel rang through the air. Taking it in a two-handed grip, Harry stood there in the circular clearing for a full ten seconds, waiting for something to happen. Nothing happened. What is it? Nothing. Do you feel any different? No. Not yet. But just a while agoYeah, I know. Is it because you are now ...well, wielding it, instead of just, er...holding it? What do you mean? Well, you drew it out to use it, right? Before you were just looking at it. Huh? Harry turned to talk to her, letting go of his double handed grip. He held it loosely with his right, letting it hang by his side. At that moment, Hermione noticed that the reflection in the blade came alive. That doesn t make any senssssseHarry s voice suddenly changed. Harry? Hermione asked, a tinge of fear in her voice. Hermione asked.

I don t know w-, he grabbed the weapon again, holding it steadily in his grasp. -What happened-" Slowly, he felt his eyes beginnign to burn once again. "Oh- now I feel it he held the sword at the ready, feeling it s magic seeping into him. Hermione backed away as Harry s hair began to rustle in an unfelt breeze, and his eyes began to glow. The fallen leaves around him began to dance in a circle around his feet, and gradually the light faded under the shade of the trees. Hermione s hair tingled and her face felt the now familiar sense of power emanating from Harry. Light seemed to bend slightly around him and the few streams of light that poked through the leaf cover refracted and danced, making Harry seem as if he were radiating visible energy waves. Harry smiled, closing his eyes as his surroundings became almost pitch black. Hermione, I can feel it! And I think- I think I have some control now! He swung the blade in a diagonal arc. It whistled as it cut through the air. No, that s not how to do it he murmured to himself, More like this- his eyes half closed, he let the sword guide him. He changed his stance slightly, placing his feet in a new position as to maintain the best balance. He gripped the blade slightly differently as well; and with a smooth step forward he raised it above his head and brought it down

smoothly and swiftly, cutting thru the air in a blur of steel. Now, he said, light glowing eerily from his eyes. Lets try somethingHe sheathed the weapon and stepped back. The power hidden in the sword channelled itself thru him. For a few moments he stood completely still, his left hand holding the sheath, his right gripping the blade. Hermione was getting frightened, and she took a few paces back. Harry? she squeaked. Do what? he said,

It s all right, he said, not turning to face her. apparently talking to himself. What are you babbling about?

Hermione said, very much at unease.

He drew the sword and charged forward with two slashes at an invisible foe, crisscrossing the two strikes. In the next movement he gracefully sheathed his sword and returned to a neutral stance. It was so fast Hermione barely saw him move. The bushes in front of him crumpled, and leaves fell to the ground, shredded into fine pieces. Now that he sheathed the sword and was no longer holding it, the energy receded, and light flooded back into the enclosure. A few seconds later, a young tree to his far left toppled over, a clean cut visible a few feet up from the ground. Hermione marvelled at that. Harry didn t move anywhere close to that tree He turned to her, Well you did seem to be on the right track, did you see that?! he asked excitedly. Like it was telling me what to do! I don t know, that was ...scary, she stammered. I was in control! There s nothing to worry about! he chided her.

Usually when things go all dark and you start speaking in tongues that generally is not a good sign, she added, sort of wishing she hadn t proposed this idea. Yeah well, I will need all the help I could get when that prophecy does come to pass. This may just give me a fighting chance, He said reluctantly. Don t talk like that! It s so Negative? Come on so... negative! he said roughly. she countered.

mione, I tell it as it is,

Yeah, but a bit of optimism never hurt anybody,

Yeah? he asked, glowering at her. Well you could sit there and say the glass is half full anytime you want, I see it as let s try and survive for the next couple of years! he said darkly, his temper rising. She opened her mouth, then stopped. It sounded so much more serious when heard aloud, especially from him. No one has really mentioned that Harry may have to fight for his life in a duel with Voldemort, but in his eyes that must be the only thing that he could think of. They both stood there, staring at each other for a heated moment. He shook his head in disappointment and stormed pass her into the house.

Great Hermione, she thought to herself. Now you ve gone and pissed him off, you of all people should know better. Let him blow off some steam. She knew he was under a lot of pressure, and that his fuse will get shorter up and until the day of his court hearing. But still, chills ran up her spine just now, that sword had something to do with it. Maybe Dumbledore would lend her the book he had about all of this. She decided to write him a letter, not knowing that she would have thought more seriously about if she had spent a little time to notice that all the slashed leaves, and the stump of the tree- were already turning grey with death. Meanwhile, Harry was upstairs in the guest room. He closed the door, and sat down on the bed, angry at himself. How could he have blown up with Hermione like that? Was he always this aggressive? First Cho, now Hermione, and both of them were only looking out for him. He slapped his forehead a few times, trying to knock some sense into himself. Harry, he said aloud to himself, you re a real stupid git , you know that? he sighed loudly and plopped down on he bed. He felt awful, treating her like that. He wished he had his trunk, these clothes were no longer clean from travelling all over England. Why was he acting so strange? Maybe he should go apologise. He didn t want her to think he was really angry with her. He got up, and went to find her, the sword of Gryffindor lying there harmlessly on the ground.

************************* Author's note: Thanks for all the patience guys. Editing this and doing over the chapters is time consuming, knowing that I can't change too much, but I also want certain future things to tie in better. I appreciate all your comments, and hope you to hear your opinion of Harry and Hermione's first kiss. Did you feel the l-l-l-love? I hope you did! And to those who read further on, did you see the start of a trend?*hint* LOL! Later!

Chapter 16: Meant For Each Other [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** CHAPTER 16: Meant For Each Other**

This is it. I m positive.

Ron said, standing outside Hermione s gate. George

Yeah, like how you said that the other two places you took us to, said. How can you be so sure this time ickle Ronnikins? Fred teased.

Because I also agree with Ron, a familiar voice said behind them. Ginny spun around in surprise, but saw nothing. Charlie? she said aloud. Her brother dropped his hood, and smiled. Yes, the one and only. Ron s right, Harry is here, check out the cool motorbike Sirius left for him. He pointed to it in the open garage. Go on, ring the bell, they re home. Don t tell them you saw me though. He put back on his hood and vanished. Well that s that, we re at the right place, Ron said, very much relieved. He pressed the button on the wall. Harry was looking for Hermione when he heard the doorbell ring. He was near the staircase looking over the family room and he saw her father get up from his chair and head to the door. The next instant Hermione came out of the kitchen and went to investigate. She looked out the window and grinned. It s Ron and the others! she beat her father to the door and opened it, going outside. A short while later all of them were back inside the house, and Harry was waiting downstairs for them. They were all introduced again to Hermione s dad. When he went inside the kitchen they all looked at Harry, who was standing a bit apart from them. Ron and Harry glared at each other for a second; a very tense silence ensued. Harry broke it first, Hey, he said in greeting. Hey, Ron replied. He seemed to run through a number of thoughts in his head. His cold demeanour broke. Glad you re okay man, he smiled, relief evident in his voice. Harry broke out in a big smile too. The tension dissipated, as everyone seemed to be waiting with baited breath as to what would happen next. You lucky bugger, come here, you must be the best escape artist I know! he gave Harry a brotherly hug, and put his arm around his neck, taking him in a mock headlock. So when were you going to tell me you got Sirius motorbike? Huh? Come on, you ve got to show it to me, dragging him outside. The others followed, laughing. At the same time Cho Chang was at home talking with her friends from Hogwarts. They were babbling about how dreamy Harry is and how lucky she was to be playing on the same team as him, far less to be actually hooking up with him. She kept quiet, realising that these were the same people who were giving her grief about Harry when he was just another boy in Hogwarts, and never as much gave him a second glance. Now that he was playing Quidditch for England they were actually fawning over him? Apparently they only liked him now because everyone was talking about him, not because they knew who he was as a person. She felt quite disgusted at hearing them talk about him as if he were some piece of meat, like those celebrities on television. But one thing they said was true, he was definitely a catch, and that he was worth fighting for. Guys, you ve got to help me. I want to throw him a birthday party. His birthday is Sunday, and it s got to be wicked. So no holds barred, we re going all out. All right? she begged. They all agreed, giggling how they re going to invite all the boys they were trying to hook up with. Cho

smiled inwardly. Granger, you ve got a fight on your hands. Its on now, I m not losing him again. Cho got down to the planning and organizing she would need to do. This is what she excelled at, analysing a situation and dealing with it in a rational and sequential order. Only thing to really worry about was that trial on Friday. *********************** Harry lay in bed late that evening, the afternoon was a blast. They all took turns trying to ride the motorbike up and down the quiet street as cars rarely passed there. Fred and George were the last to get the hang of it, while Ginny seemed to be a natural, much to the twins embarrassment. He had never laughed so hard in his life as he saw the twins struggle; falling off the bike like drunkards. Even Hermione fared a bit better, but not by much. After her first fall she decided she would watch until she figured out what to do. They were all having fun, there were no underlying secrets and crushes and prejudices to damper their spirits. The trio all compared their owl results (Harry didn t have his results slip but memorized them already) and talked about nothing in particular, just enjoying the company and the easy atmosphere. No one talked about Alastor Moody or the Warlock, it was still a touchy subject and Harry was in such a good mood they decided not to mention it. But it never left Harry s thoughts- how could it? Through all the smiles and jokes he could feel it creeping in the back of his mind. There was someone out to assassinate him. Also, there was the court case. And now Hermione and he had kissed. After the Weasleys left he couldn t muster up the courage to talk to her about what happened earlier, or anything else for that matter. They left pretty late and Hermione excused herself to get ready for bed. Just the fact that she was sleeping in the room across the hall was adding to his already jumbled thoughts. Did she still think that he was upset with her? I hope not, we joked normally and talked as cool as ever so I guess she s okay, he thought. He closed his eyes, and drifted off into a deep sleep. Hermione was also in bed, wide awake. The events of today ran through her head. She couldn t sleep, the little session Harry had outside with the sword was troubling her. That sword was a danger to Harry- she could feel it. As soon as she came up to her room she sent a letter to Dumbledore about her fears. Since she could not sleep, she might as well try and find some information on wizards who used weapons other than their wands. Getting up from her bed, she went to the desk and got to work. After nearly two hours passed she glanced at her clock, it was closing in on half one. It was tough, she was narrowing down on her research, but nothing conclusive really came up. What she really needed was The Rise and fall of Godric Gryffindor , the book Dumbledore used to tell them about Harry s newfound magic. As she wearily got back into bed ready to call it a night, suddenly she felt the faint hairs on her arms tingle. Her hair rustled next, then there

was an intense pain in her forehead where Harry s scar would have been. She squeezed her eyes shut, and began to fight off the presence that seemed to be trying to get past her into Harry s thoughts. Voldemort s dark aura was pounding inside her head but she fought, and after what seemed like an eternity, yet did not even last fifteen seconds, did it subside. That was a direct attempt to get into Harry s mind! Voldemort must be looking for him, she deduced. The pain in her head was gone, but she could still feel the power emanating from the next room. The Charm had come alive when it felt the malice threatening him. She sprung up from the bed and dashed across the hall into the guest room. Sure enough, Harry was radiating tremendous amount of energy. Harry lay there, unnaturally still. Harry? she called. He did not answer her. She nudged him, but he did not wake. Shaking him hard now, she began to get worried. Opening one of his eyelids, she saw the blue halo of light glowing in his eye. Dumbledore told her that until Harry learned to harness his magic, he should never be under the influence of Solidus power for too long, just as a precaution. So therefore, she needed to re-connect the link in between them as Harry had absolutely no control now. He was asleep, and that trance-like state was preventing him awaking. But to use her blossoming Occlumency spell she needed eye contact. Hermione climbed on the bed, and straddled him. Hope this works, she said aloud. She leaned down onto him so that their faces were inches apart. She opened his eyelids with her hands. Leglimens! It was hard, her mind was already drained from fighting off that dark presence. The charm was fighting her off, and Harry s mind was presently closed to her. She pressed on further, her breathing becoming more shallow with the amount of mental effort it took. She stared directly into those glowing eyes and pushed with all her strength. Yes!! She got past his Occlumency training, and now all she had to do was to bring him out of that trance! Closing her eyes and interlocking her fingers with his, Hermione found out that this spell worked better when there was physical contact either with the hands or over the heart. Her energy seemed to be draining at an alarming speed and she was struggling to maintain mental contact. She scrunched up her eyes in concentration; and as every second passed she knew he was losing him. She felt him slipping, and the defensive nature of the charm inevitably closing off any entry into his mind. Her hands and torso were going numb, Harry thought of her as a threat and Hermione felt an increasing pressure on her body as it was going to physically repel her from him as it once did to Moody. Even against that strange and uncomfortable sensation, Hermione held unto him even tighter, pressing her body flush against him, trying to get as much contact as possible. If she failed, Harry may be caught in this trance forever. Using the remainder of her strength she concentrated, her brow now becoming damp with perspiration. It was not going to work! Harry! she whispered desperately. Help me!

At her words she felt the touch of his mind, and energy surged through her body, erasing any sort of fatigue. There was a feeling of magic pooling inside of her, and her eyes began to glow softly. You can do it, Harry s voice whispered in the back of her mind. Those words empowered her, and with a final surge of mental energy pushed the charm back and re-established contact, bringing Harry out of the death-like trance. She moaned loudly, the effort drained all her strength, her eyes rolled into her head. Her magic spent, Hermione passed out on top of him, utterly exhausted. They both laid there, utterly still, Harry still fast asleep. ******************** A few hours later into the night, Harry tried to roll over. Strange enough, his limbs were not responding as they should, and something heavy was on top of him. Also, someone s hair was tickling his nose and the right side of his face. Putting two and two together, he opened his eyes in a flash. Hermione was asleep ON TOP OF HIM! He couldn t believe it- but there she was: Hermione nestled on his chest, sleeping soundly. He could feel her heartbeat and the slow rhythm of her breathing. Everything about her flooded his senses, how she felt, her smell, the sound of her breathing, her softness warm and cosy on his body. Harry poked himself hard in his side, and the pain was real, so he knew he was not dreaming. When did she come inside here? And no matter how deep asleep he was he was sure he would have felt if someone crawled on top of him and decided to nap there. Utterly perplexed, he nudged her. Hermione? he whispered. She groaned softly and buried herself closer unto him. Harry closed his eyes; this was sweet torture if nothing else. He eased himself out from under her and gently laid her on the bed. She was fast asleep, her hair sprawled all over his pillow. He lay on his side, watching her sleep. Harry decided against waking her, she was an angel, his personal guardian angel. He smiled, and soon fell asleep, utterly oblivious to what happened during the night. Hermione woke up around nine o clock in the morning. She was back in her bedroom, and neatly tucked in. As she sat up in bed, her whole body felt like a blown out fuse, if she could imagine what a blown out fuse felt like. Her head hurt, she had pins and needles all over. Her long brown hair fell about her as she squinted at the clock. Frowning, she never got up so late. Feeling too beat to even get out of bed she plopped right back down unto her pillow. There was a new post message on her desk from Professor Dumbledore, but couldn t muster the strength to even reach for it. Closing her eyes, she tried to get some more rest. ******************** Harry and Mr. Granger were outside in the garage. Mr. Granger was very interested in Harry s new bike. He was telling Harry about which part did what and all about the mechanics of the engine. They talked about the different types of engines and all sort of other bike-related jargon,

Harry learning about his new set of wheels. Roger looked down at his watch and frowned at the time. Hmmm- it s nine o clock. How come Hermione isn t up yet? he eyed Harry. Harry looked up at him and shrugged. Roger gave him a speculative look. Anyway, I have to be at the office for ten, so I better get going. Later, then. He took out his keys, got into his car, and drove out the gate. As Harry was closing the gate for him he turned down the window. I m watching you, he said jokingly, and drove off. Harry watched him go, waving a bit hesitantly. Good thing he wasn t watching last night, he said, grinning.

He had probably the best night s sleep in years after he awoke and found her sleeping on top of him. For some reason, none of the disturbing dreams about the department of mysteries or the dementors or any of his regular nightmare creatures haunted him. He slept like a baby until the morning when he got up, picked up Hermione and took her to her bedroom. It was no easy feat, he was still a skinny boy and Solidus charm was not at his beck and call. Hermione didn t even realize she was being carried, but she did curl up into him when he was straining to carry her down the hall. She was driving him nuts, and that episode last night did not help matters. God, she felt wonderful on top of him. His feelings for Hermione were in a tangled mess, he was torn between wanting to be with her, and telling Ron what was going on. She was dominating his thoughts. Why was she in his bed? What was she really up to? ********************* Aaargh, I can t stand it! a very disgruntled Ginny Weasley was complaining to her mother. How come he gets to stay by Hermione? Damn. Ron silently agreed. He was pissed, but trivial things like this were nowhere compared to what Harry was going through. Fuck it, the man was fighting for his life every other day, jealousy amongst the three of them is not going to help matters. He really was glad he came out of that mess at Sirius house okay but the proximity he had with Hermione was really getting to him. He knew Harry won t do anything to deliberately hurt their friendship but Hermione was so damn fine now he had to be made of ice not to notice. So he stayed quiet while Ginny grumbled about Harry not paying her any attention, but also sympathized with her. I mean, he could always come here and stay - we could play quidditch, she added hastily when her mother sent her a stern look. Fred snuck up between Ginny and Ron and whispered, Or maybe some bedroom contact sports, eh Ginny? smirking. Ginny flushed red and began raining lashes on him. Fred pranced away, chuckling. I thought you and Dean were an item, Ron said.

It was, but next to him it s like no comparison, its like BMX versus Aston Martin. Face it Ron, your mate Harry is damn ho-!

OKAY!! OKAY!! I GET THE IDEA! Stop drooling all over the place, its disgusting... Ron said, putting his chin on his knuckles. If Ginny thought he was hot, then the chances of Hermione liking him... He sighed and pounded his fist on the table. He should make a move, but after all this time he s being trying to up and say something he never did. What made him think he could do it now? ******************** Cho was at her desk, writing a letter. She was busy last night making a potion whose scent will drive guys nuts. It was one of those things your mother said she d never used while they were at school but we all knew better. When you wanted a man, he was yours, and hell hath no fury as a woman scorned- or so they say. The elixir was a powerful potion, but she knew by tricking Harry she would be worse off in the long run, the sorting hat did not put her in Ravenclaw by chance. So she wrote her letter to Harry, telling him that she will be throwing a party for him on Sunday. After she was finished, she read it over and thought it was okay. Spraying a slight touch of the perfume onto the owl. Biting her bottom lip she crossed wish. Hoping that things will turn out downstairs for lunch. There were still ******************** Harry was outside, practicing with the sword. He was there since this morning, trying to sweat out all that has been going through his head. He was getting used to the charm now, and made a lot of progress in keeping himself in control. Realizing that he still did not have any change of clothes as yet, he took of his shirt and was doing a kata in the midday sun, the exercise giving him something to do except brood about things. It was a brilliant day, and the sword subconsciously guided him into making the right moves and steps in simple attack and defence techniques. Just wielding the sword and doing the moves so fluently was invigorating. He kept on training, the sun beating heavily on him. Looking up, he saw an owl approaching him. It glided low, and dropped an envelope into his waiting hands. Who was this from? He opened it and read: paper, she sent her fingers and peachy, she got preparations to it off with her quickly made a up and went do for Sunday.

Hey, How are you doing? I may have been a little abrupt last week but the truth and fact of the matter is, I miss you. I don t want us to fight again. Those first few days at the manor were great, and now I may have ruined it all by getting all riled up before practice that morning. Hear what, I want to make it up to you. I m throwing you a birthday party Sunday, turning sixteen is, y know a major event. I ve planned out everything; I just need you to say yes. That s all. Say yes. I can t wait

to see you again, and I ll invite all of our friends, including Ron. He s actually okay; now that I ve gotten to know him a bit better, and I would love for everyone to come. Send a reply with this owl, it s going to be a night we ll never forget! Love, Cho.

The scent that permeated from the parchment enraptured his senses and he was already heading inside into the study to answer her reply before he even knew what he was doing. He sat down and began writing his response. So caught up into writing the letter that he did not hear someone enter the study behind him. Morning, Hermione said sleepily. hid Cho s note behind his back. What are you doing? He shot up and

Don t make it look like you re guilty Harry, be cool, be cool. Er- just writing a letter he replied.

Hermione just stared for a second, Harry was standing there bareback, his muscles all toned as if he just had a good workout. She felt a warmth creep down into her stomach and heat rise up her face. She cleared her throat slightly and asked politely, May I ask to whom? Harry was gaping openly, she was wearing that same modest nightgown from before, and it just so happened that the light was streaming in the doorway just right for him to see through the soft material. Her hair fell around her face and she had on a sort of secretive expression. She wasn t wearing a bra: that was for certain. Be cool Harry, be cool He glanced downwards. It did not do any good, he was sure she would notice if he stood here any longer. He had to say something. What did she ask him? He searched his memory, Ah! It was about- his eyes dipped of their own accord to her body and he forgot again. Damn! Wait, he was holding a letter in his hand, he was going to a party on Sunday. HIS birthday party in fact. Wannagotoapartyon Sunday? he asked, tying his tongue.

Isn t Sunday your birthday? Sure! Who s throwing it? She came up close to him and tried to look around him to see the letter on the table. Harry stepped left when she stepped right, then stepped right when she went the other way, effectively blocking her. She was closing in now, inching him back to the edge of the desk. He could smell the shampoo in her hair, the nightgown fluttering against his knees. Hermione tried to reach around him, but he picked up the letter and kept it behind his back, out of her reach. He was playing games with her, she thought, smiling. She grabbed his right arm out from behind him, but he switched hands and now

held it away from her in his left. She immediately stretched for it, brushing her nipples against his bare chest. That rubbing sensation excited her, and they both froze; Hermione looking up into his face. Harry was breathing a bit faster than before, and his natural heat penetrated through her comfortable nightwear. The hand that held his arm took on a different touch now and she let her fingertips play against him, resting softly on his sun-warmed skin. She inched in closer to him, her eyes level with his lips, her breath exhaling softly on his neck. The barely-there contact was driving Harry nuts and he breathed in deeply, getting very aroused. Resting her hand on his stomach she pressed slightly against him. There was a slight catch in her breath and she glanced down. Harry stood there, quite still, he didn t know what she was thinking. She looked back into his eyes, and leant in closer, her soft breasts flush against him. Half closing her eyelids she parted her lipsHermione! You ve got a package from Professor Dumbledore! her mother called out, obviously looking for her. Hermione jumped back a few inches, turning a pretty colour of scarlet. They kind of dodged each other s gaze, and she spun around and hastened out of the room. Harry watched her leave, her hips swaying under the loose garment. How could white panties be so damn sexy? Looking down at the letter in his hand again he groaned. Sunday was going to be a night to remember all right. Hours later, Hermione was keeping herself busy in her bedroom, reading up on the book Dumbledore just sent her. She was lying on her side, her head propped on her hand, turning the pages halfheartedly. After the first ten minutes she could barely concentrate, Harry was only interrupting her train of thought. She knew that the information she needed was in these pages, but she flicked them absentmindedly, reciting in her head (he likes me, he likes me not) as each page fell. She wasn t so certain now that if it was a right idea to bear out her heart to him the other day, he did tell her how much she meant to him; but didn t actually say if he loved her or even liked her in that sort of way. She could have figured out what was going on between him and Cho in their fifth year, but that was from an outsider s point of view. Now that she was mixed up with him it was all a blur. She sighed and fell back on the bed, dreamily looking up at the ceiling. What she wouldn t give for an open admission of his true feelings for her! She wanted him to say something conclusive, make it known what his intentions were. Obviously he is attracted to me, but so was disgusting Dudley and even Malfoy was sleazy towards her. She wasn t so nave that she didn t know guys found her pretty, but guys found a lot of girls pretty. Maybe she did not have the sexy exotic look that Chang did, but she had her strong points too, she mused. Why doesn t he say something! Anything! Now she was too embarrassed to go and talk to him like before, that line between being just friends has now been rubbed out in the dirt. I wonder what he s doing now? Hermione, just get up and go talk to him! But her body refused to listen to her. All it was doing was instinctively recalling how he felt against her, and how that warm feeling traversed through her. Her sensitivity rose up a notch, and she smiled by how just the thought of him touching her could create that response. She sighed again, closed her eyes, and soon fell asleep.

*********************** The next two days were absolute torture for Harry. His court case was on Friday and he was dead scared to go to Azkaban if (and he prayed to god that it won t happen), found guilty. Hermione was acting strangely around him and not really meeting his eye. It was like they couldn t be in the same room together without things getting awkward. Well he wasn t helping really either; Ron told him that he liked Hermione, obviously he needed to check him to let him on what was going on, but he couldn t do it, he knew if he told him the truth that things would get ugly. From the way they stared each other down the other day this wasn t one of those what s mine is yours kind of situations. His head was in a mess, his heart was torn between doing what he wanted and consideration for Ron, his brain was focusing on Friday, the man downstairs was focusing on Hermione, and his mouth just couldn t say what he wanted it to say. The hours flew past like seconds, the days flew past like minutes, and way too soon Thursday night was upon them, and Harry was freaking out. He needed to talk to his friends, but the few-syllable conversations, or to be more precise, the exchange of one-word chit chat with Hermione was not cutting it. He could remember easily the first conversation after the almost-kiss, it was the next day: Hey. Hey. Silence. Dumbledore sent you a package? Umm- yeah. Crickets chirping in the background. What is it? A book. Another pause. Both of them opened their mouths at the same time, then shut it. More silence. Okay. Is it good? Haven t started yet. Oh. Want breakfast? Yeah. She nodded. It was infuriating, and the fact is, they both had so much to say to each other and neither could really let it out, it would have been so easier if they just met, but there were no hidden agendas between them, no unknown history, no get-to-know-you-more conversations. It was as if it was the hardest thing to bring up the topic of there actually being a them . Now I know how Ron feels. Jeez buddy, how could you have taken months of this?

The attraction between them was so strong Hermione s parents were getting almost fed up of their skirting each other, they just wish they did something about these tense moments. Harry spent as much time as possible outdoors, tooling around with his motorbike, or practicing using the sword. Every time he stopped doing something, he was taken back to all those instances they had between them and his pants got painfully tight. His hormones was raging like wildfire and he just did not know how to approach one of his best friends of five years. What he needed was some advice. But who did he know he could talk to but still have a impartial view on things? Tonight it was too late, he couldn t really concentrate on that, tomorrow was D-day. At least Hagrid dropped off his stuff and he no longer had to worry about clothes. He paced his room over and over, until he finally just decided to take a warm bath and get some sleep. He came out the guest room shower, feeling a bit more relaxed. Hermione was at that moment on the other side of the bedroom door, pacing silently up and down the hall. Go on! Tell him how you feel! He little angel conscience said. Another voice said, Forget about it, you d only embarrass yourself. She bit her bottom lip, sometimes reaching as far as inside her bedroom doorway before coming back in the hall to resume her pacing. Hermione! Stop being so pathetic! Just do it!! She burst inside his bedroom. Harry paused, his towel around his waist, his hands in another towel drying his hair. Hermione froze, he smelt great and his tan was gorgeous, not to mention the way his still-damp hair fell into his eyes. They stood there, two feet apart, for what seemed like eternity. Harry- she began, completely forgetting the speech she memorized. The doorbell rang. It distracted them and she looked back out the door. Leave it, your dad will get it, he said getting closer to her. He needed to take her in his arms, and do away with words. His hands were on her waist, his thumbs gently rubbing her bare midriff. He closed the distance between themHarry! Professor Dumbledore is here to see you! Mr. Granger said from the top of the staircase, dangerously close. They shot back from each other, and once again, Hermione bolted out the door. This is definitely NOT one of those in-the-nick-of-time times, Professor, he grumbled, frustrated beyond belief. He quickly dressed, and went downstairs. Ah Harry, how are you doing? Dumbledore smiled.

Fine, he said, not wanting to create a scene in front of everybody. He definitely was NOT fine : he was scared shitless about tomorrow and Hermione was driving him insane. He smiled back at him for good measure and they sat down. I know you are nervous, anyone would be. But things are looking up, the article in the Quibbler did more good than we imagined. Even if people were still unsure about you, that article did away with any doubt. Because of you there are nine Death Eaters in custody and everyone now fully believes that Voldemort is back. You have nothing to worry about, Harry. Harry smiled at this, this indeed was good news. Even so, all the recent events still plagued him. How s Alastor dong? he asked. Dumbledore frowned, They are still trying I m afraid. The magical healing

techniques are not keeping his wounds closed. Even the Warlock s blade and the damage it inflicts is impervious to magic, we need to find another way. Harry pursed his lips. The mention of his new enemy s blade brought his thoughts back to his own mysterious weapon. Professor -about that sword you gave me, Harry said, not quite sure the question he wanted to ask him, Uh- do you know anything more about it? Dumbledore hesitated. Hermione mailed him telling him she had fears about that sword, but he himself could not muster an explanation about it. All of this was new to him as well, as it was only a legend, and not all legends were true. But, it seems, this one was. I m sorry Harry, I really do not know anything more specific about it. I do know that no one after Solidus Gryffindor has possessed it until you defeated the Basilisk, when it materialized in the hat. It has sat up in the Headmaster s office since I can remember. Harry was a bit surprised. Dumbledore did not know about something? He always seemed so infallible. Well, I guess no one can know everything. He nodded in reply. I also came here to give you something. He gave him a package. It is a birthday present from the Order, but it also serves a practical purpose. Open it. Harry got up and opened the neatly wrapped package. It was a cloak of some sort. He held it aloft, it was a heavy, dark black cloak, made of what he must believe was dragon hide. It felt very magical, and there was an aura of prestige about it. What is this? he asked. That, my boy, was your father s. It is the uniform of the original Order of the Phoenix, our battle armour and symbol of who we were. We believe, considering all that you have been through and all that you have done for everyone, you deserve it. Not many have even seen the Dark Lord, not to mention duelled with him -and survived. Including you, only Alastor and myself have done this. Do not ever doubt your abilities, Harry Potter. He smiled grimly and nodded. Harry s heart swelled with pride, the Order was handing down his father s cloak to him. He held it close to him he still missed them dearly, and this gesture was too much. He could see the little magical inscription on the collar, it read: Potter, James. It is made of the hide of the Ice dragon from Antarctica, woven with the tail hair from a male unicorn and lined with feathers of a Phoenix. This is one of the best defensive garments made. It will deflect minor spells with ease, and halve the effects of direct curses and hexes. There is no defence against the unforgivables, remember that. The remaining active members of the original Order will be here in the morning to escort you to the Ministry of magic. We will all wear this, and will be honoured if you don this cloak as a symbol of our defiance against Voldemort and his Supporters. He got up and nodded once again, putting a hand on Harry s shoulder. I must be off. Sleep well. He went out the door, and Harry could hear the popping noise as he dissaparated. Harry stood there, still too awed to move. This really was his father s

cloak, and they thought highly enough of him to give this to him for his sixteenth birthday. He looked down at the cloak in his hands; there was the faint outline of a phoenix bursting from the flames on the back if you stared hard enough. His spirits were at an all time high, he could not have asked for a better gift. Turning, he went to show Hermione the cloak.

*************** Hermione was upstairs, feeling a bit guilty about eavesdropping on their conversation. She heard him coming up the steps, and ran inside of her bedroom, pretending to be reading a book. After a few seconds there was a soft knock on her door. Come in, it s open. Hey, Harry said, still feeling a bit awkward in her room. The memories of their only kiss he could remember came flooding back to him. Hey, she replied. She glanced at the cloak in his hands.

Look what the Professor gave me, it was my father s. He handed it to her. Hermione took it carefully; she knew it meant the world to him. He was staring at her, and amazingly, she blushed. She could not believe that after five years he now had this ability to make her feel like a little schoolgirl with a huge crush. Harry noticed it too, and smiled. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her. Strange, he had no fear of charging into the Department of Mysteries, fully knowing that Voldemort would be there, waiting for him, but he was locked between making a move- or chickening out. Chiding himself, he mustered his courage. He sat down very close to her on the edge of the bed. Her eyes widened a bit, and they looked deep into each other s eyes. It was a moment stuck in time, and neither breathed, fearing it would break the spell between them. He took the cloak out of her hands, and rest it aside. He raised his hand, and lightly tucked away a lock of hair behind her ear that escaped and was falling at the side of her face. The gesture was so sweet; she smiled tenderly at him. He took her hands in his, and gently urged her to stand up. She complied, and stood before him. He put her hands on her softly curved hips and sat her down on his lap, holding her close. Their gazes locked again; her light brown eyes boring deep into his brilliantly green ones. He closed the distance, and they kissed, deeply this time. She put her hands against him, clutching his shirt, pulling him close. His left hand rest on her bare thigh, his other wrapped around her narrow waist. She giggled softly and he smiled into her lips. She played with a lock of his hair, twirling it around her finger, eyes twinkling. They both smiled at each other, then kissed again, hungrier this time. Her tongue gently probed inside his mouth, and he sucked on it gently. She moaned softly, and pressed against him, trying to get inside his skin. His hand ran up her leg and up unto her bare stomach,

caressing as it made its journey. He eased it under her baby-tee and caressed the full softness he found there. Her breath caught, but she did not stop him. He found the sensitive nub and gently squeezed. She moaned again seductively, and gave him easier access to her. She pulled up her bra and Harry gently kneaded her, kissing her breast tenderly. He found her lips again and was at the same time massaging her into a sort of bliss when a warning bell went off in his head. Someone is coming. He broke off the kiss and said, Quick, someone s coming! Damn! she said, her breasts halfway bare for anyone to see. She jumped off of him and was in the motion of pulling down her top when her mother pushed open the door, catching her hastily trying to cover herself up. Herm- she began, caught in mid-word. She quickly analysed the compromising situation she caught them in, and both flushed scarlet, Harry s hair all messed up, Hermione pulling her top down. She looked from one to the other, and gave Harry a killer look. Harry got the drift and hastily left the room, skirting around her mother. How could he be so careless by not closing the door fully behind him? He reasoned that he did not go in there planning all this, but still, it was careless of him. He grinned all the way into bed though, he was not going to forget this anytime soon. Hoping her mother would not go ballistic with Hermione, he listened hard for any signs of an argument. After not hearing anything from the room for about half an hour, he peeked outside his door, and he could see the shadow of her mother spilling out into the corridor from her bedroom doorway. Easing the door back closed, he looked at the clock on the wall. Almost midnight. He better get some sleep, tomorrow would be a long day. With sweet thoughts of his darling, he drifted off to sleep.

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Chapter 17: Freedom for One- Death For Another [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 17: FREEDOM FOR ONE, DEATH FOR ANOTHER**

Deep in the bowels of the ministry of magic Lucius Malfoy lay alone in his dreary cell. He appeared to be asleep, but the faint sheen of perspiration on his face gave him away. He was far from asleep. In fact, he was more terrified than he had ever been in his life. His apparent physical detachment was the extreme opposite of what he was feeling inside. It was five o clock in the morning the day of his trial but that did not bother him in the slightest. What had him in such a state or terror was the tattoo on his arm. The Dark Mark was bleeding, and that meant only one thing: his family was going to be executed. The Dark Lord was merciless; and wanted to punish him for his failure in leading his Death Eaters into the ministry to retrieve the prophecy How typical of the Dark Lord to wait until the day he was set to trial to induce the bleeding of the mark. It was the Dark Lord s nature to make his victims feel even more worthless, knowing fully well that he was helpless to do anything in the chains that manacled him. But he couldn t just sit here and do nothing. His wife and son were in danger. That s all that mattered. He pondered desperately on a way to escape.

********************* Harry woke up at eight o clock, a bit reluctant to get out of bed. He had a glorious dream about Hermione, and what he wished he could do with her. This morning was all smiles, even though his trial was today. It was the most euphoric feeling, these emotions he had for his once best friend were reciprocated back to him, and that the strange and unwelcome awkwardness between them was gone. He felt that he had the strength to even talk to Ron, which was what was holding him back in the first place. Feeling immensely better about his life, he sang (horribly off key) cheesy love songs in the shower. Hermione happened to be walking past the bathroom wall along the corridor and laughed out loud when he heard Harry crooning in a high-pitched voice. She walked past laughing hysterically. Even so, it was the first time she ever heard Harry sing anything and she could actually feel that he was un high spirits. Her mother had a long lecture with her last night, but she wasn t as angry as she thought she would be. She just did not want things to get as out of hand as it did last night, and Hermione knew she had a point. That wasn t like her at all, but she smiled secretly as she relived it over and over in her mind last night. He was so sweet, and she was crazy about him. He could have done anything he wanted, and she doubted if she would have really told him to stop. Harry was so much more than just a mysterious quidditch player who was enamoured with her, he was a real person to her, with problems and worries and the whole package of

emotional baggage. She went back into her bedroom, and got ready to accompany him to the Ministry of magic. At nine o clock there was a ring on the doorbell. Harry was taking a last look at the folder Mrs. Chang had prepared for him, and jumped up at the sound. He was wearing the robes Dumbledore gave him and his horntail boots. As he looked at himself in the mirror, he realised that he did look a bit older, and his hair was really getting out of control. He didn t care as his hair was never manageable anyway. Grabbing the cloak of the Order of the Phoenix, his wand and his sword, he headed downstairs. Hermione s parents were already there, greeting the wizards that stood in the living room. He stood on top of the stairs looking down on them. Now, these were some of the best wizards in the U.K. and they were here to escort him. Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Dedalus Diggle, Sturgis Proudmore, all dressed in high quality gear, wearing identical cloaks to the one he received last night. Dumbledore was no longer wearing his flamboyant Headmaster Robes, he now wore similar close fitting robes, and his hair was tied back into a long bunched ponytail. They looked like they meant business. Harry stood there, a bit dumbstruck. Hermione came up beside him, and gave him an affectionate squeeze on his hand. Come on, let s go downstairs. wizards. Ready Harry? nodded back. Pulling him along, they greeted the other

Remus asked. Harry gave him a single nod, and they all

Wait, Hermione said, calling Harry back. Come here. hesitantly, a strange feeling building in his stomach Was she going to kiss him in front of everybody?

He approached her

Instead of rising on tiptoe to do that, she took the cloak from his arms, and draped it around him. Smoothing out on his shoulders, she reached inside his collar and drew the medallion out on his chain and let it lay against his chest, as the others did. She buckled the cloak in the front, and smiled at him. Now you re ready. Her parents smiled at them, and so did the Advance Guard of the original members of the Order of The Phoenix. Come on Harry, we better get going. We re using some Ministry Vehicles, Professor Dumbledore said. He nodded at her parents. They left the house and the Professor pulled Harry aside to have a brief word with him. You ll travel on Sirius motorbike, it has an excellent invisibility device. We would still be able to see you so don t worry, the original order all knew how to counter invisibility charms. He winked, and Harry could remember when Dumbledore did the same

thing when he and Ron were hiding in Hagrid s hut under the invisibility cloak. He smiled back at the professor, and jumped on his motorbike. Dumbledore and the others piled into two large black SUV type vehicles and then they were off.

***************

There were throngs of people outside the Ministry of magic, all of them wizards, young, old and everyone else in the middle. They were all crowded on the pavements and in the street, many waving banners that said HARRY IS INNOCENT FREE HARRY POTTER - HARRY FOR PRESIDENT and some other over-the-top banners. Someone was waving a huge Gryffindor flag as the crowd anxiety escalated when they saw the two Ministry vehicles come down the road. He s coming! a teenage girl shrieked form the crowd, much to the delight of her friends. Harry remained invisible between the two vehicles as they inched through the throngs of people. Harry was very much at unease at the fervour of the crowd. They think I m sort of celebrity It was mob of teenaged girls mostly, but that was the worst kind, sort of like at a boy-band concert. They tried to get close to the vehicles but ministry officials were trying their best to keep them at bay. When they arrived around the other side of the building at the main entrance to the Ministry of magic ( it was an abandoned display similar to that of St. Mungo s) the vehicles stopped and every one craned their neck to see who came out. Remus, Hermione and Shacklebolt climbed out of the first black SUV and Dumbledore and the others came out of the rear vehicle. It s time, Harry said softly, mentally preparing himself for his trial. He parked the bike on the pavement, and got off. A few seconds later, he seemingly materialized out of thin air as he stepped away from it. Everyone was still looking at the two black vehicles, waiting for him to appear. Soon enough, someone spotted him. THERE HE IS!! pointing at him. There was a cheer from the crowd, but Harry did not stay outside long enough to be a target. Dumbledore and the others quickly hustled him through the large glass display. He emerged through the glass first and was now inside the main hall where he and Malfoy fought. There were people waiting in large numbers here as well, and a lot of magical cameras began to flash at him. Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin came through next, flanked by Shacklebolt and Diddle. Soon all the members of the Advance Guard and Hermione were inside the building. Dumbledore eyed the crowd majestically, and the cameras stopped flashing and everyone went quiet.

Harry, who was nearly as tall as Dumbledore and the others, nodded at them, and the whole group marched down through the crowd. Dumbledore and Shacklebolt flanked Harry, Remus bringing up the rear. The crowd parted without any more instructions, these were the most powerful wizards around, and everybody present knew that. They all stared unbelievably at Harry, who also bore the Medallion of Courage around his neck and the black cloak that identified him as one with the Order. He spotted some of his mates at school, and nodded to them, making his way down the long hall. How fucking cool is that? Fred asked Lee Jordan, as Harry walked past them, smiling at the Weasley family. Yeah. Looks like Harry is the Man now, he replied, mouth slightly open in awe. There were similar remarks from other Hogwarts students, even from the Slytherins who came out to see the spectacle. Harry spotted Cantonma, Hortone, and some of the other quidditch players from the U-20 squad. Rebecca and Amy also waved at him, and he smiled back in return. The walk felt like it took ages, as everyone was staring at him. The only real sound other than murmurs from the crowd was the marching of their footsteps on the polished floor. Harry presented his wand and the velvet-wrapped sword to the guard at the security entrance to the main elevator, signed for his items, took a deep breath to calm himself, then stepped inside. They all made their way down the route to the old dungeon that was now used as Courtroom Ten. On the steps down to the further levels he paused briefly, hearing some familiar voices coming up the corridor. He could almost hear them but it was too faint to distinguish words. Shhh I think I hear them coming! Neville Longbottom said.

Neville, calm down, we re here only to testify against those crazy fuckers, we re innocent, remember? Ron said testily. Oh, yeah, sorry Neville s only nervous, you don t have to be so bitchy about it! Ginny Weasley said. She still had a soft spot for Neville, and Ron was behaving like a jackass. He had been that way since they came back from visiting Harry by Hermione s house. Ron gave her a stony look, but said nothing. Harry was getting the jitters of old, this staircase reminded him so much of the last time he came down here, looking for his Godfather. They trudged down the stairs, the adults coming behind them. Hermione sensed the unease in him, and gave him a quick kiss on the lips in a reassuring gesture. He looked across to her, and gave her a half-hearted smile They did not know that they were in full view of Ron and the others.

That sneaky, self righteous, backstabbing strode to confront Harry and Hermione.

Ron was incensed, and angrily

Ginny caught on and held him back whispering fiercely,

Ron , NO!

He shrugged her off with ease and marched right up to them. Hermione realized what had him so pissed and let go of Harry s hand, wanting to placate Ron s temper. Harry, who was not really in a focused state of mind, did not realize what was happening until Ron was up in his face. Harry straightened and stepped back. I trusted you! he snarled. I knew this would ve happened! Just couldn t leave it be huh? Have to have everything for yourself? What is this you re wearing, you think you re so cool and shit now? Harry stood there, too shocked to speak. Well here is what I think of you, and your fucking trial- Ron hit Harry as hard as he could in the face, and Ginny and Hermione yelled in protest. Harry s face snapped to the right and he staggered, putting a hand up on the wall to stop from falling down. No one moved for a second, it was deathly quiet. Ron! You don t understand! We wanted to tell- Her hair suddenly crackled intensely and Ron s neatly combed hair stood on end. Everyone else was also feeling the tremendous magical energy charging through the air. The Advance Guard felt it as well, and quickened their steps down the long stairwell. They froze at the base of the stairs, amazed at what was happening right before their eyes. Harry straightened up slowly, his eyes glowing dangerously. His hair was alive, and the torches in the hall suddenly died out, putting everyone in complete darkness except for the eerie blue glow from Harry s eyes. The air around him was rippling as waves of uncontrolled magic emanated from him. ..Fuck.. Ron said, inching back.

Harry, Hermione said very cautiously, listen to me, you have to control yourself, calm down Ron is your friend.. she said fearfully, also inching backwards. She could see that there was some inner struggle going on with Harry. Just when she thought he would seriously lose it and murder them all, he closed his eyes for a second, the power receded, and everyone s hair fell back into its neutral state. After an almost unbearable lull, he opened them, and thankfully his eyes were back to normal. He gingerly touched his bruised cheek, but otherwise did not react. Ron was still backing away, clearly regretting what he had just done to his best mate. Everyone was dead quiet, even the Advance Guard felt that immense surge of energy and were perplexed with what to do next. Harry s face seemed to be set in stone. He strode down the corridor but Ron stood where we was, making Harry skirt around him.

Harry brushed past him, then stopped in Ron s blind spot, just behind and to the right of him. Don t do that again, he said quietly.

He continued, opened the door, and went into the atrium. Dumbledore and the other wizards gave each other looks, and made their way down the hall as well. Come on, let s get this over with. Remus said to the youngsters, all of them still momentarily rooted to the spot. Luna seemed to be the only one taking it in stride and simply turned and followed Harry through the door.

******************

Lucius Malfoy had just finished unlacing his right boot when keys to his cell door rattle. Quickly hiding the cord in his allowed himself to be taken out of the cell, shuffling along manacles. His prison garments were dark grey coveralls, with buttons the only fasteners down the front. His guard did not middle one was missing.

he heard the sleeves, he in his three metal notice the

Harry emerged from the hallway door, trying to keep himself in check. If he didn t spend the last few days training to control his new power he feared that he would have done something terrible, something that he could not have possibly forgiven himself for. He closed his eyes for a second, trying to get his nerves and emotions back in order. Ron s actions were not unfounded, he guessed he sort of deserved that, but what if he could not have channelled the energy down before he lashed out? He was a danger to his friends, and he couldn t bear the thought of hurting them, especially Ginny and Hermione. So caught up in his own thoughts he did not even notice the person walking alongside him stride for stride, eyes boring into his face. He stopped and turned to face him. Malfoy. Potter. They stood there for what seemed like ages, Malfoy wearing all dark blue robes, Harry in a dark green and black cloak. They stared at each other, Harry s tanned face and dark hair a distinct contrast to Malfoy s blonde hair and pale skin. Draco s eyes glowed red, and Harry s began to also glow dangerously, each daring the other to make the first move.

Harry, Draco, control yourselves! This is not another of your quidditch matches! Dumbledore said in a serious tone, snapping them out of their stare-down. Malfoy gave Harry his classic sneer, and Harry smiled dangerously back. They turned away from each other and Malfoy made his way to his visitor s seat in the upper tiers while Harry went the other direction to where Mrs. Chang and Cho sat in the lower tier, at the witness section. They rose from behind the desk and greeted him. Hello Harry! What was that just now? Is he a friend from school? Chang asked him, smiling. That s Lucius Malfoy s son, he answered curtly. Oh, she said, realizing the situation. Mrs.

He turned to her daughter. Cho, he nodded in greeting, smiling a little to soften his stony expression. She greeted him with a light hug, whispering in his ear, I missed you, and released him. His eyebrows rose in mild surprise, but he didn t say anything. Hermione saw their little interchange from a distance and bristled slightly. Harry took his seat between them, and began talking softly with Mrs Chang. Hermione and the others sat in the row behind them. She went in first, so was the furthest from Ron, who filed in last. Luna and Ginny sat directly behind Harry, who was looking over some document intently. Neville was the first person to open up about that scene between Ron and him. He leant forward across Luna and whispered to Harry, What the hell was that back there? Not now, Neville, Harry whispered back to him. Cho overheard the exchange and gave Harry an inquisitive look. Harry looked at her and shook his head, clear indicative that he wasn t feeling to talk about it at the moment. The day that had started off so great had taken a turn for the worst. This place is so creepy, why did they have to take us down here? said. Who knows? Ginny said. Neville

Harry does, Luna said matter-of-factly. Everyone nearby, including Harry himself, turned to look at her, baffled. They then fixed their stare on Harry. He may have been caught off guard, but the weird fact is that he did in fact know the reason. But how on earth did Luna jump to that conclusion? Their eyes touched, but Luna just smiled her strange smile. Well? Do you know? Cho asked him.

This is where they tried the last caught death eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange, Crouch junior: Moody impersonator and some other psychos, he said. At that moment, a door high up in the atrium opened and a goup of people emerged. It was beginning, the Wizengamot was ready. He looked around, hoping to catch Dumbledore s eye in the tiers behind him. Dumbledore gave him a reassuring nod, and Harry gulped, the nerves flooding back in full force. Court session of the 27 July is now in order: The Public against the followers of Voldemort. Everyone went quiet, the mention of his name in such a manner underlined the seriousness of the situation. Bailiff, bring forth the accused, the speaker boomed. The bailiff disappeared into a door, and returned leading a line of wizards chained to each other. Their eyes were blindfolded, their demeanour defiant. The accused here have the option to revoke their original plea of guilty to allegiance to Voldemort and present some form of defence. Will any here do so now? No one said anything. Very well. The court will favour lenience to those who offer truthful information as to the whereabouts of the Dark Lord or any useful information about any of his cohorts and spies. Silence. Then so be it. I will ask you individually if you change your plea of guilty to the Charges of Murder, Attempted Murder, Wounding with Malicious intent, Sabotage, Assault, Kidnapping, and betrayal to the Wizarding community by aiding and abetting a known menace to society. Do you plead guilty to all charges Prisoner 1? YES! Our master would honour us and free- he was cut off by the bailiff who incanted Silencio! His mouth kept moving before he realized no sound was coming from his mouth. Ahem. Prisoner 2? Aye.

Prisoner 3? I am proud to serve the Dark Lord. And so it went, up until the last prisoner, the leader of the attack squad in the Department of Mysteries, Lucius Malfoy. He paused, gathering his nerve. Draco! You have to warn your mother! YOU BOTH ARE IN MORTAL DASilencio! He frantically tried to shout out again, wheezing against the muting spell. The court has heard the pleas of the accused, and there will be no retrial nor leniency from this institution. GUILTY AS CHARGED! The prisoners would be taken to Azkaban, and will be sentenced to death on a date yet to be set by the Veil of The Unknown. There was a loud intake of air as everyone else in the courtroom gasped. Case is dismissed! There was a loud bang of the mallet hitting the block. It was over in less than twenty minutes. Everyone was shocked; they did not expect them to be sentenced to death, and with such swift judgement. No one knew what happened when someone passed through that evil archway, but they knew that there was absolutely no return. Harry alone smiled, and watched with a sick joy as the prisoners were led back into the doorway at the side of the atrium. Jeez, that was fast. What did they need us here for anyway? aloud. Ron asked

If any of them had denied the charges against them, we would have needed a full witness account from you lot, and the Order of The Phoenix. Mrs. Chang answered him. Oh, Ron replied.

Court would next be in session in one hour: The Ministry of Magic vs Harry Potter. The Judge got up from his place on high and went into another room, followed by a few other wizards. Ron yawned deliberately, stretching his arms high. I m getting out of here, this place is depressing, Ron said. Ron! You ll be back right? Hermione asked him in a worried voice. He glared at her but said nothing. Turning his back on them he stormed out of the courthouse.

Harry turned and called out to him, Ron! He paused midstride, but ignored him and kept on walking. Harry watched him leave, then pounded his fist on the table in frustration, making everyone jump. He caught Hermione s eye, but she lowered them in guilt. He knew now that it would never be the same between the three of them, and that the fleeting moments of happiness he had through last night and this morning were now a thing of the past. Ginny was absorbing the whole situation, and was genuinely concerned that her brother may never be the same again. Harry ran his hands through his dark hair and dug the heels of his hands into his eyes, trying to rub out the mess he made for himself. Fuck it all.

********************

During the hour period the atrium slowly filled to capacity, unknown to Harry who had other things on his mind. He was half-listening to his lawyer discuss some final aspects of the case, his mind completely somewhere else. How could he have done that to Ron? He felt like a piece of shit, especially because Ron told him he had a huge crush on Hermione. In his eyes, I must be a real thief, sliding a blade deep in his back. That s how I would have felt in his position. He felt like kicking himself, a weird feeling of guilt creeping into him. Now that was a scary thought. Feeling guilt at his court trial could never be a good sign. After the hour passed and Ron failed to return to his seat he definitely knew that he had severely betrayed his trust, and that Ron didn t give a shit any more about him. He watched with mild interest as Mrs. Chang got to work on the jury, presenting an ironclad defence. She wrapped up smoothly, and it was now the Ministry s representative to begin the questioning. Feeling as depressed as the days right after this whole fucked-up incident in the ministry, he barely responded when the Judge called him up to the stand. Mr. Harry James Potter, you are a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Correct? the opposing lawyer asked him. Yes. For the record, what year are you in and how old are you now? couldn t even remember the man s name. Harry

I m in year 5 and I m fifteen years of age. from the full courthouse seats.

There was a slight reaction

I see. Even despite your relative inexperience in matters of combating the dark arts you maintain that you decided that you could take five of your fellow students, charge into the Department of mysteries to face He-Who-must-not-be-named to rescue Sirius Black, a known criminal on the lam? Sirius was innocent! Harry hissed.

Whatever. The fact of the matter is that you illegally broke into the Department of Mysteries, destroyed invaluable prophecies, took underage wizards into great danger, and inflicted the Cruciatus curse onto an assailant. Am I correct? Harry remembered the notes Mrs. Chang gave him. No. I did not break into the department of mysteries. No lock neither door was broken, and we came through the visitors entrance, clearly stating our intentions. There was no crime in that. The crowd cheered, and Harry knew that he won that particular round. Mr. Koclan gave him a furious look and pressed on, trying to gain the upper hand. Very well, but can you explain the damage you caused to the valuables in the Department of Mysteries? When there are Death Eaters threatening to kill you at point blank range you will do anything to protect your friends, including creating diversions. Ahh, but if you did not bring them there then you would not have found yourself in that situation, Mr. Koclan countered. Harry smiled, he was also prepared for this question. They came out of their own free will, I even tried to persuade them not to come. I did not force or mislead them to follow me, they are here, and will also verify my statements. Maybe you would prefer if none of us were there. The death eaters may be out killing some more innocent people right this very instant, instead of being sent to Azkaban today. Let it be known that five Hogwarts students can face Voldemort s elite inner circle, emerge victorious, and stand proud of their achievements. The crowd let loose a great cheer and the Atrium was full of shouts of Harry! Harry! Padma, her twin sister, Alicia and Katie led the chorus of chanting much to the embarrassment of Mr. Koclan. Three quarters of Hogwart s students had filed in during the hour break, all in support of Harry. A huge Gryffindor flag bobbed up and down as it travelled the whole

semi-circumference of the Atrium as Dennis Creevy was running around the tiers as a mascot. Mr. Koclan turned purple in the face and could not be heard over the tremendous uproar. ORDER IN THE COURT, ORDER IN THE COURT! The judge shouted, banging with his mallet, but the noise ascended even higher. Harry rose from the chair in the witness box and raised his arms, motioning for silence. The noise dissipated and it was once again quiet. YOU TELL EM HARRY! Fred Weasley shouted, heard very clearly in the silence. A good few of the crowd had a laugh again at Mr. Koclan s expense. Harry spotted the twins in the crowd and patted his fist on his chest in a gesture of camaraderie. Mr. Koclan suddenly came up and leant over the box, all up in Harry s face. What about the Cruciatus curse? Where s your excuse for that? Do you think you could worm your way out of this? Do you think that the wizengamot would simply smooth things over and you would walk Scot free? This court haOBJECTION YOUR HONOUR! This man is ranting at my client! interrupted. Oh SHUT UKoclan started but was cut off by the judge. Mrs. Chang

Thank you, Mr. Koclan, you may step down. But-b-buhe stammered. the judge roared. Koclan hastily made his

I said, that is ENOUGH! retreat.

This case is a farce if you asked me. This young man should be commended, but it is not my decision that counts. We would allow the jury to contemplate the facts and make a verdict. Mr Potter, you may re-join your representative at your table. Harry smiled, and returned to his seat. He shook hands with Mrs Chang, who was sure they had it in the bag. You have a tremendous amount of respect from your friends at school, said. It really made an impression on the jury, I m sure. she

Harry smiled up at the crowd, it did seem that he had a lot of friends at school, but right now he would have given anything to see one particular face. He and the Changs chatted quietly as they waited upon the jury to return with a verdict. They did not have to wait long, after only fifteen minutes they filed back into the Atrium and their spokesman, Mr. Amos Diggory, stood up. He handed the bailiff the piece of parchment who in turn handed it over to the judge. The whole atrium waited with baited

breath, including Harry himself. Cho looked across at him, and took his hand into hers, squeezing reassuringly. He looked across at her, but did not remove his hand. On the Charge of Endangering five underage wizards the jury s verdict is Not Guilty. There was a round of applause throughout the atrium. On the Charge of Destroying invaluable items from the Department of mysteries we find the accused Guilty as Charged. The applause faded and there were murmurs around the crowd. On the Charge of the use of an Unforgivable curse on another human being, the jury has taken in all the circumstances and declared that Lestrange cannot be considered in the same context due to her barbaric actions against the Longbottoms... There was an audible draw of air as the crowd sucked in their breath .NOT Guilty. There was a deafening round of applause, and the cheers from all the Hogwarts students drowning out any other sound through the courtroom. Order Order!! the judge shouted, finally getting a response after a couple minutes of rambunctious cheering. It got relatively quiet once again and the judge spoke again. The penalty imposed by this Court of law is that Mr. Potter will be fined Two thousand galleons to be paid in full no later than the 31st of December. Case Dismissed! He declared, rapping his mallet once again, smiling at Harry. There was once again a whoop of applause and cheering from the crowd returned in full force. Harry beamed. He took a deep breath, and exhaled through his lips. It was all over. He rose and hugged Maureen Chang warmly, telling her he owed her his life. He turned and hugged Cho as well. She pressed against him, and he was sort of flustered that Cho was so obvious in front of Hermione. Sunday is going to be great, just wait and see, she told him, grinning.

Harry grinned back at her and went to row behind him, shaking hands with Neville and clapping him on the shoulder, and giving each of the girls a hug. Luna hugged him last, and she pressed her lips at the pulse in Harry s neck, and grabbed his ass; unseen under the cloak. No one saw her kiss him, but Harry reddened visibly. She let go of him, and gave him a saucy wink. Harry s eyes widened, but he said nothing. He had to smile at her, there was no other way to put it- Luna was simply outrageous. The trial was over, and he was more or less pretty unscathed. Two thousand galleons was a paltry sum compared to the combined fortune of the Blacks and his personal wealth he inherited from his parents. He turned around in a slow circle, amazed at the amount of familiar faces he recognised inside

the courtroom. His heart filled with a huge surge of euphoria that so many from his school finally, after five years, believed in him. Some of them came filing down the aisles began to find their friends across the room and mingle. It felt like one huge social gathering now as everyone s spirits were high. The Judge stepped down from the high tier where he was seated, and came down to talk to Harry. He was a large black man with a shaved baldhead and a greying beard. He shook his hand and introduced himself as Judge Samson Della Rosa. I knew somehow you could pull through. I was James and Sirius instructor at Hogwarts in Advanced Defence against the Dark arts and they were both exceptional. You were? Harry asked, already wanting to ask many questions.

Yep. Your father, James; was excellent at improvisation and tactics while Sirius was the best duellist I have ever seen. I heard you excelled this year in Defence Against the dark arts, did anyone ever tell you that the only other Englishman to have done that was Black? It seems you re right on track in following their footsteps. Your mother and father would be proud. Good work, son. Thank you, sir, Harry replied, thankful that another snippet of his parents mysterious past was piecing itself back together. He looked about at the crowds, not sure what to do next. He guessed it was time to leave. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a guy dressed in a heavy fur coat talking to Hermione. It was hard to tell who it was, as the white fur that puffed around the collar blocking his profile. The thick dark brown material and the trimmings were reminiscent of those snow cloaks of old Viking days. Curious, he went over to them. He happened to overhear a last piece of the conversation. So vhat have you beed doing for the schummer? a voice he found familiar. he had a heavy accent and

Well me and Harry have been hanging out mostly, Hermione answered him. She looked over his shoulder and saw him approach. Oh there he is, hey Harry, come here! The mysterious stranger turned around and recognition dawned on Harry s face. It was Viktor Krum. Surprised to find him here he smiled and shook his hand, Viktor smiling in return. There was a blinding flash of a camera and Colin Creevy seemingly materialized out of nowhere, taking the money shot of him and Krum shaking hands. The both of them were a bit stunned,

blinking rapidly to quell the stars and spots swimming in front of them. Harry, Viktor here said that when he heard about the case he decided to come to England for a holiday before the game, and also to come and wish you good luck. He only got in today from all the paperwork he had to go through, so he came straight here. Hermione explained. Hello, Arry. Vit has been a while since last ve spoke, no?

Yeah, he replied, remembering the last time he saw him he had stunned him senseless in the triwizard maze. How are things? Things var good. Ve sport reporters var only wanting me to compare us, but I am not to judge and crit- is it criticize the word? My English vis getting better, but not purvect. Hey, once you get the message across, it s OK by me. Vell, yes, but I am going to start Auror school here, I got a full scholarship at some Lion- somevhing. So my English needs vork.. But the match with Cannons vere very good. I saw it on vomnicular recording. I will be honoured to play against you and your England team, it will be a good game. Harry smiled, that was praise indeed. Allright. You re on! They began walking down to the exit, Harry s close friends crowding around him, Hermione, Luna, Neville as they all made their way out to the exit. There was a bit of pileup at the door, this courtroom never held so much people and the stairway in the passage beyond was narrow. So they all congregated and chatted amongst themselves and their schoolmates who made it down as the crowd trickled out a few at a time. A lot of them came and congratulated Harry, and even one of the younger students actually brought a piece of parchment for Viktor and Harry to sign. Harry was reluctant. You better get accustomed to vit, smiling good-naturedly. He really wasn t so bad, Harry thought, maybe Ron did not like him just because Hermione did. His face soured as he signed the piece of parchment, imagining how Ron felt towards him now. He had to find him, and resolve this conflict. How he was going to do that, he did not know.

**********************

Lucius Malfoy was in the back of a prisoner transport vehicle, being carried away with Dolohov, Crabbe, and Macnair. They were all chained to each other, and then chained to the vehicle itself. The other three were trying to keep a brave face, but Malfoy knew that they were scared shitless inside. The ministry had devised some sort of Magic draining device, and had them imprisoned under its influence in their cells. The guards knew this, and felt perfectly secure. Little did they know that when he was a young boy, he used to sneak away form his strict parents and spend time with an old recluse, who was once what those Muggles would call a magician . Curious as a little boy, he used to spy on him until the old man invited him in. He learned some muggle tricks, and found them highly amusing as a youth. He hasn t thought about those days since, and would have a very slim chance of this working. After a few hours of driving, the guard stationed in the back with them was losing vigilance. Lucius Malfoy waited patiently, needing the exact moment. Clasping his hands between his knees, he unloosed his tied bootlaces from inside his sleeve, and slipped it through the metal button he had torn off his shirt. Not making any sudden movements, he lowered the makeshift pendulum until it fell between his ankles. Catching the mild curiosity of the guard, he began to swing it slowly between his legs. The guard s eyes followed it left to right, then shot up to his face, realizing what was happening. Malfoy eyes penetrated his, he was a specialist at mind control and the Imperius curse, and his stare had a potency behind it, even though his magic was temporarily drained. The guard stared fixedly at him, his gaze somehow a bit unfocused. Malfoy lifted his makeshift hypnotist pendulum, swinging it slowly in front of his eyes, murmuring softly. The guard was fighting the hypnotism, his eye twitching. Malfoy was sweating, his low mumbling voice drawing the guard in to a stupor. Suddenly the guard snapped out of it and dug in his robes for his wand. Malfoy s eyes hardened, and he flicked out his tool, and it whipped around the guard s beefy neck. He instinctively groped the cord strangling him, but Malfoy was fast. With a mighty yank, Malfoy whipped his arms back and the large button he spent all night sharpening sliced the jugular vein and adam s apple like a scalpel whipping around his neck. With a disgusting gurgle, the guard fell, trying to keep the blood spurting from his neck under his hands. Blood sprayed in a long line against the back door of the vehicle as Malfoy whipped back his weapon and swung it again, pendant arcing straight and true into the already bloody neck man. It stuck into his neck with a sickening shlick and the up, blood gushing from the new wound. His eyes rolled up into the deadly of the poor guard seized his head and

he convulsed and quivered on the ground. Seconds later, his struggles faded, and he was dead. Never failed to amaze me with your efficiency Lucius, him. Doholov smiled at

Thank you. Lucius said in his smug voice. Now was not the time to glorify each other, he had to get to the manor. His tattoo was searing

into his skin, Voldemort was going to strike soon. The chains that kept them restrained to their seats needed to be unlocked, but unfortunately none of them were in reach of the guard. Coiling up his deadly weapon, he began trying to fish in the keys that was hooked onto the guard s belt.

*********************

Draco Malfoy was at home, drowning himself with his father s best collection of liquor. He felt numb inside after the trial. It was only a dream he tried to convince himself. He sat in the dark bareback, sweating alcohol and the cold sweat of knowing that just hours ago- his father was sentenced to a doom worse than death. There would be no funeral, no physical remainder of his presence. He would just be another mystery in the depths of Azkaban. His mother still did not know and he refused to tell her as he could not bear to admit it himself. The room was utterly destroyed; his wrath at that fucking orphan was beyond measure. If only there weren t so many people as witnesses he was sure he could have taken him. That fire spell he used at the Ministry was only a third level Infernus curse and he was postive it was just a fluke. He let out a grunt of rage and frustration and flung the two-hundred-galleon bottle of wine at the wall. Before it crashed against the wall his eyes flared red and he idly muttered something under his breath. The bottle burst into flames, exploding in a bright fireball, showering him in fragments of burning glass. It bounced off his skin, not leaving a scratch. It was a sick pleasure to feel the sting of the glass as it stuck into his skin and repelled out, his level one fire- resistance spitting back out the burning shards of glass. He spent many hours experimenting with different intensities of fire to see where the threshold ended. His mother was beginning to think him possessed, burning himself over and over. He laughed out loud; she was fucking useless now, too incoherent to eat her own food. If she only knew the number of women his father had rutted with behind her back maybe she wont be so pathetic, pining away for his return. Accio! he said pointing his wand. Another bottle of wine came flying towards him, but a shape emerged from the shadows and the bottle was split by a flash of steel. A pair of colourless eyes glowed menacingly from the corner; the gleam of a blade could be fairly seen in the darkness. Who s there? Draco demanded, tensing.

Good Evening Master Malfoy. A high cold voice said from behind him. That voice sent shivers down his spine, the dark aura oozing from that being swamping him. He turned around in the chair, and a cloaked figure stood there, the shadows of his hood hiding his face except the pale skin of his chin.

Allow to me to introduce myself. I am Lord Voldemort. Draco froze, he didn t need an introduction, he definitely knew who this was, and now he knew why his father tried to warn him. He had heard the desperation in his father s voice, but at the time he just ignored it as a dying man s last words to his son. It was humiliating, he should have at least gone to death with a shred of dignity. But now, knowing that before he was executed his father tried his best to warn them, he felt a tremendous surge of respect for the man. He backed up slowly, putting a few feet between Voldemort and himself. Your father was a failure. I will show you firsthand the consequences of disappointing me. He approached Draco, lifting his wand almost lazily. He paused, and turned his head slightly, sensing something. Remarkable. Draco, get up to your mother. Get the fuck out of here. Don t look back. Lucius Malfoy said, emerging behind Voldemort. Impressive. I failed to give you the credit you deserve, El Sar del Imperius. I sense a new found strength in you. No matter, you are nothing but a worm. Cut the speeches! Avada Kedavre! Malfoy screamed, his voice deep, growling like a demon. The whole room flashed green, blinding Draco at the base of the steps. He felt as if life itself was leaving him, so powerful was the strength of his father s incantation. Mmmmhmm. That was an excellent effort. Shame that your imprisonment has halved your potency, which at full potential, still could not kill a mosquito that sucked my blood. Pathetic. Disbowelarium intrisiar al finite! Lucius screamed as his stomach exploded, and his intestines burst out of his stomach. Just as it felt as if his life had disappeared and the pain would be over, the spell reversed on itself and everything went back into him, his stomach sealed once again. The pain was so livid, the Cruciatus curse was nothing in comparison. Blood leaked out of his eyes and ears, and he coughed up blood uncontrollably. The tremendous shock to his system caused his heat to beat erratically and Lucius keeled over, clutching his chest. Draco was rooted to the spot, too horrified to move. Run..protect her Lucius breathed, clutching the wand he took from the prison guard. He tried to get up, Voldemort laughing softly. Yes, run boy. I will maybe let myself and the Hunter have a little fun with her after we deal with this... filth. Lucius vomited blood in every other breath, but still managed to get to his feet. He swayed, the pain coursing through him, and he fell down again

with a loud thud. Putting his free hand inside his robes, he clutched the pendulum. Voldemort laughed softly at him. I have been working on some new spells, and you should be honoured that you are the first one to be the recipient of the first Demenhencia curse, my very own creation! Voldemort brought his hands together in a half clap, congratulating himself. You will be the one in the history books to be credited with being its first victim. The room suddenly became deathly cold, and the shadows became all-encompassing. SYAR ALKI US DEMENHENCIOUS! A pale light shone out from Voldemort s hooded face shone. Slowly, a Dementor materialised in front of his father.

Draco run!!

he feebly pointed his wand.

Expect- exp- eee

.uhhhhh

He could not do it. With his last fleeting thought, he swung the deadly pendulum into Voldemort s face. It lodged himself into his cheek and Voldemort laughed at the intense pain. Excellent, excellent. Your determination is far beyond the others. You managed to wound me. I knew there was a reason I favoured you. You will die knowing that your family will die swiftly, as a token of my appreciation. The dementor swooped down on Lucius Malfoy, and Draco screamed as the life force was sucked out of his father. He ran up the stairs, tears running down his face. His mother was slowly donning on a dark black cloak, her hands trembling. Draco looked at her in bewilderment. She was wearing a form fitting black outfit and gloves made of giant skin. She opened a hidden panel in her cupboard, and took out what looked to be a silver medallion. Draping it over her head, she then took out a gold halo with a large crystal in the front and put it on her head. He couldn t believe it. The same woman who he was so callously calling worthless- his own mother- was the epitome of a witch warrior, something he would have never guessed she had in her. Fully geared to duel, his mother looked at him directly, her eyes more alive than he has ever seen before. Draco, no matter what, you are to escape. I will duel against the Dark Lord. Her voice quavered, but there was a steely determination in her voice. Draco was shocked at her sudden bravery, but he angrily shook his head. I am not a coward. We will avenge him together, He vowed.

Footsteps echoed up the stairs,one by one, a final countdown. To what, Draco was not sure, but if it was to be the last time he set foot on this

earth, he will go down fighting. A drop of sweat ran down his nose. He was definitely taking his time. Everything around Draco seemed to be magnified a thousand fold, the smell of his sweat, the breathing of his mother rasping in his ears. He stood at the ready, as the door opened casually, the hooded figure silhouetted the doorway. Narcissa Malfoy wasted no time and attacked immediately. Lumos Jansius! she screamed and a bright light flooded the room. Bringing her palms together, she locked her fingers and fell to her knees. Her wand hovered in front of her, spinning slowly like the second hand of a clock. Draco shielded his eyes as bright, ethereal wings began to form around her shoulders, their luminance casting everything into a pale glow. Siliencio ! Expelliarmus! Voldemort, slightly stunned by the intense Holy Light, was immediately muted and disarmed. RESUSCITARIUS AVADA KEDAVRE! An immense ball of magic exploded; the Divine killing spell landing directly in his face. The room pulsed blue and ethereal white for a full minute as tears ran down her face. Voldemort vanished, his cloak crumpling into a heap. Draco dropped his arms from shielding his eyes from the intense light, staring at the pile of robes on the floor. . Draco.. his mother wheezed, calling him. She was still on her knees, but her head hung limply forward. He ran over to her, and put his arm around her shoulders, holding her up. MOTHER!! She opened her eyes weakly and dropped her wand, the Halo falling off her head. You, you, must, find the boy who lived. Give these artefacts to himDraco waited for more, but none came. Those were her last words. She died right there in his arms, her eyes still open. Draco s eyes watered, and he solemnly closed her eyes. He bowed his head in silent tears; crying over his mother. Suddenly, he felt a rush of cold air blast into him, and he turned around to see a naked man materializing out of the essence of the robes on the floor. Very, very impressive. That was an extremely advanced form of Sacrificial Holy Magic; too bad your mother wasted her life in a futile effort. He scoffed at the touching sight. Didn't you know?" His robes swirled up once again , and Lord Voldermort pulled the hood back over his brow. "I am immortal," he laughed easily. "The weak will die, Malfoy. There is neither

good nor evil- there is only power. Draco s eyes flared a Demonic read and he spun around, facing him. His magic spiked with his rage, and he prepared a powerful fifth level summon. You fucking bastard! I ll KILL YOU! INCENDIO AR METEORAMUS! From the stratosphere a huge ball of fire surged through the sky, whistling ferociously as it sliced through the air like a missile. It crashed into the roof, demolishing the entire house except for the corner of the master bedroom where he and his mother were- crushing everything, including Voldemort, pummelling him down to the floor below. From the outside, it appeared as if only a wall and a piece of the first floor remained, a lone standing defiance against the Dark Lord Voldemort. Draco breathed hard, looking at the carnage not even fifteen feet from him, flames burning everything that his father had built, the huge boulder smouldering thirty feet below ground level. Crawling on the unsteady lip of flooring, he looked down at the huge gaping hole in the floor. No...it can t be is he really immortal?! Voldemort was there, standing tall amidst the flames on top of the meteorite, unscathed. He clapped in congratulation, laughing like a maniac. EXCELLENT!! I HAVE FOUND A NEW APPRENTICE !! HUNTER, CAPTURE THE BOY!! HE TRULY IS A DECENDENT OF MY OLD FRIEND NIKOLAI !! THIS IS FANTASTIC!! he stood there with his glowing red snake eyes, his wand and cloak disintegrating in flames as he spoke. Draco could hear the fire sirens in the distance and the sounds of screams from the neighbours. It wasn t possible. Feeling almost dead inside, he ignored them as he went back to his mother s life less form and pocketed the Halo. He picked her up in his arms, and bowed his head as streams of tears ran down his face. He disapparated with her body, leaving the house to be swallowed by the flames.

*****************

Chapter 18: A Day to Remember [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 18: A Day To Remember**

That same evening, Albus Dumbledore was having a secret meeting with the Order at Sirius s place. Harry was fast asleep, and Dumbledore agreed with Molly Weasley to let him rest. It s better if he didn t know she explained, and everyone else nodded, including Hermione. Tonks and Severus have pieced together vital information. It is conclusive that Fletcher is still alive, and that he is being held in an abandoned island fort near Azkaban. We need a small strike force to infiltrate and rescue him. I will be squad captain, Lupin, Tonks and Charlie Weasley have already volunteered. Anyone else? The lot of ye ain t goin nowhere without me, Hagrid said. Not with tha Wizard Hunter on the loose, he grumbled, fingering his huge crossbow. Very well. The five of us should be sufficient, as we need to move by stealth. We leave at dusk tomorrow, and make our way by rowboat. Azkaban magic detectors will detect us from miles away if we try any other magical means. Siren s Rock is two miles off of Azkaban; and there is a high possibility that it may very well be Voldemort's hideout. Remember, this is a rescue mission, but any advantage we gain will help to the final goal. Get some rest, tomorrow will be a hard day. He looked at the youngest one present. Hermione, take care. Look after him, he needs some peace, he has been through a lot recently. I will professor. Good, I hear you two would be going to a party tomorrow? Be careful. You can never take anything too lightly. Enjoy yourself, and make sure Harry does too. He needs to start acting his age and have a little fun, he winked, and the Order members got up to leave. Hagrid stayed where he was, he was to be the main guard at Grimmauld Place now that Moody was hospitalised. They all bid him goodnight, and left. Nuthin to worry about Hermione, you re safe ere wi me, and winked at her. Go on to sleep, it s late. Hagrid smiled

She smiled and went upstairs, but couldn t sleep. Something happened. Something terrible. Her Occlumens protection over Harry had a slight drawback; it also allowed her to be vulnerable to the Dark Lord s emotions, so therefore she could feel faintly Voldemort s happiness. Hermione grew more worried by the second. It did not affect her as much as it would affect Harry, but never the less it was quite disturbing. What had made him so happy? ****************** Draco Malfoy reapparated in a large abandoned plain of softly rolling hills, a serene landscape filled with white poppy flowers, smack dab in the middle of nowhere. He didn t care where he was. He was numb inside. The atrocious events of tonight was flooding into him, both of his parents

were dead, killed by a monster who he thought was once human. Not knowing what to do, his emotions snapped, a hatred growing so quickly and fiercely intense at the sight of the only person who ever loved him, laying dead at his feat. He screamed, a blood curling yell filled with grief. His eyes flared and the overwhelming sense of loss manifested itself in fire, engulfing his whole body in a huge blaze. He broke down in tears, the flames dancing harmlessly on his skin. Draco knelt down on all fours and cried as if he had never cried before. When he began to cough hoarsely with a lack of air, he crumpled , rocking back on his heels. For a while he felt nothing; said nothing, did nothing. He just simply staring forward into the empty night. When the numbness began to fade, he felt the biting cold trying to keep into his skin as it had already done to his heart. Pointing his wand at a nearby shrub he summoned it to him, ignited it, creating a bonfire. He sat there with his legs crossed, staring at his dead mother with unblinking eyes into the wee hours into the morning, the depths of the fire reflecting in his pupils. As the morning light finally broke, he transfigured a rock into a shovel, and began to dig, the sound the shovel hitting dirt grating into his psyche, tearing him apart from the inside out. ****************** Harry awoke the next morning, feeling refreshed, both physically and mentally revitalized. Today was Saturday! Thank god!! Finally I get to use my Firebolt again. His trial was over, time to concentrate on good things like Hermione, and Quidditch- and Hermione. Wait, he said that already. To put things in perspective, he did not even give a damn about Voldemort or the Warlock right now, he was in such a good mood. Krum said he would check him at practice today and maybe have a late lunch together with his friends, a little post-trial celebration. He and Cho were on talking terms again, which was cool, even though he would have to break it down to her that they weren t together anymore. He felt pretty bad to be telling her that when she would be throwing his birthday party, but it was better he told her before she got too many ideas. Whatever, that could wait until tomorrow. Now, all he wanted to do was get ready and get down to the stadium. He missed the last two practices, and was itching to get back into the air. He burst in Hermione s room, waking her up from a very short, and disturbing sleep. Her eyes were puffed, and her bushy hair was in a state. Her eyes felt scratchy and she generally was not in a good mood. Hey get up sleepy head!! You re coming with me down to the stadium! I arranged with Neville, Krum, Seamus and everyone to get together afterwards and y know, just hang out. Plus, I couldn't wait to kiss you again, his eyes sparkled and he bent low and kissed her. She mumbled something against his lips, and Harry allowed her to speak.

I'm a total mess, clearly self-conscious, and somewhat embarrassed that Harry was seeing her so dishevelled. He realized she was still a bit shy, and smiled warmly. "You're so beautiful, Hermione," he said softly. "You're my best friend and know me better than anyone, what more could a guy want?" She smiled behind the sheet cover she held up to block her mouth, afraid that she had morning breath. Harry looked at her wickedly and grabbed the sheet from her and tickled her about her body. She giggled and playfully slapped his hands, his smile infecting her with his good mood. He smacked her teasingly on her rump. "Come on! You got to get ready! Amy and the others told me we have a little friendly with Oliver's club team today, we're gonna have a practice match against Puddlemore!" He left the room, practically running with all the enthusiasm of an energetic eight year old. He was so cute at times, Hermione thought. Even as she thought this, more serious matters popped to the forefront. Her face darkened because of why she couldn't sleep last night. Voldemort was happy, and that could never be a good sign. If this little disturbance could affect her so much she could imagine how Harry felt in all those nights Ron heard him mumbling and thrashing in his sleep. A new wave of worry washed over her, but she couldn't bring herself to dampen his spirits with her suspicions. After last year, he must already be accustomed to the mood swings the Dark Lord imposed on him, and learned how to distinguish reality from just vague impressions. Now, it was her turn. She got out of bed and went to take a shower. ****************** Later that day Hermione sat with Padma and her sister, alongside the Creevy Brothers and some other students from their year at Hogwarts in the stands. Most of those who trained in the DA excluding Ron. That really brought her mood being very overdramatic about it. She tried eyes, and guessed he did have a right to be in the fifth year were here, down; she thought Ron was to think of it through his pissed. But this was something

trivial compared to Harry getting sent to Azkaban, and Ron's leaving the courtroom had almost done Harry in. Even Ginny was a bit reserved in talking to her, and they usually got along so well. Some of Cho's friends sat in the row in front of her, and Marietta kept shooting her irritated looks. She merely lifted an eyebrow when Marietta decided to show her some attitude and 'The Sneak' (as everyone called her now) backed down without much quarrel. It was already the third practice match because Harry was dominating today's practice session. The first match was a shocker; it ended 170-10

to England, Harry catching the snitch thirteen minutes into the game. The second match, if you blinked- you missed it. Harry caught it in a record breaking 2 minutes, the fastest for an international player at any level. Seeing the immense advantage England had with their new star seeker, Puddlemoore's coach begged his counterpart Coach Ryan to start the reserve seeker to play so that his team could get a fair chance. So now Harry was chatting with Morrison in the dugouts, both of them quite animated about some joke or the other. She watched Harry in Quidditch pitch. She the moment, yet dark morose and depressed his natural element, he absolutely lived for the smiled sadly; he was happy- he was living life for times still lay in front of him. He had been so lately this new Harry was like the difference between

night and day. It hurt her to have to tell him about the sleepless night she had, but what would happen if she didn't? Voldemort was ecstatic about something, and Harry deserved to know what was going on. The Order was planning a rescue mission, and decided not to let Harry in on it. They did it secretly to spare him the worry, but she doubted he would see it that way. He stood up and waved at her from the pitch, and her heart did a little flip flop. She waved back at him tentatively; all the other girls were watching her now, eyes narrowed in jealousy. Hermione squirmed, trying to make herself invisible but it was a futile attempt. She kept her eyes on the pitch, stubbornly avoiding all the eyes on her. *************** After the last match, which Puddlemore won by a fifty point margin, Harry and the others went to the lockers and changed gear. Coach was happy with the training session, and told them soon they would be ready for the match with Bulgaria in their lead up to the Under 21 European Cup. Harry was avidly talking with Oliver Wood about a Quidditch move he was trying to explain to him while they made their way to the main lobby. There was a bar here, and Harry told his friends that they would hangout there afterwards. "As I was saying Harry, the Tornados have this new pincer movement that's absolutely brilliant and it-" Oliver suddenly lost all track of what he was saying. " 'Ello Harry, a beautiful blonde haired girl said. Harry came up short. How did she sneak up on them? It is quite good to see vous again! I can't believe I actually thought of you has a little boy, you've grown a lot since zee Triwizard tournament, non?" Oliver Wood and the other guys froze, instantly enchanted and speechless in the presence of this sensuous creature derived from every man s fantasy. "Hey Fleur, how's it going? Coming for a drink with the boys?" Harry alone seemed to have his wits about him. Wood, Morrison and Cantonma all stared at Harry, he was on talking terms with this girl?

"Oui, I 'ave a few minutes," she smiled and jaws dropped, the remaining males on the team totally smitten. "I saw Krum somewhere around, 'ave you seen 'im?" "Um- no not yet, saw him yesterday though. Supposed to be here in a bit " There was a shuffle of footsteps behind him and Cho stormed up at Harry's side. "Aren't you ze girl Diggory was wit?" Fleur said, not flinching from Cho's glare. "What are you doing here, Delacour? she asked icily. "Ooo I just came 'ere to say Hi to harry, is zat a crime in England zese days?" "Come off it Cho, we're just talking," Harry said softly, giving Cho an irritated look. He walked off in the direction of the bar. On seeing Hermione enter the doorway, he beckoned her over to the bar and she and the other Gryffindor sixth years joined the crew. Hermione narrowed her eyes at the two girls flanking him, but said nothing. They all sat at one of the tables in the corner. "Where's Ron? Harry asked Ginny and her brothers, seeing them file in with Luna, Katie and Alicia. "He didn't come," Ginny said, giving Hermione a look. Hermione returned the stare. Oh she could be angry at me but all smiles to Harry?" Kind of bummed out, actually." Harry grimaced. This skirting around the issue had to stop.

"You tell him to be at Cho's place tomorrow, tell him it won't be my birthday without him around. I need him to be there, at least we could talk about things- you'll tell him for me right?" He implored to Ginny. She nodded and Harry shifted his attention to her brothers."Fred, George, if he doesn't listen to reason -I'm counting on you to bring him." He smiled at them and they returned his smile two fold. "Aye Cap'n," George saluted him. "Have no fear, he'll be there," Fred promised smiled, gulping down his bottle of butterbeer. They whiled away the afternoon in good spirits, Harry, Fred and George keeping the beers flowing. The fun got another jumpstart when Viktor Krum showed up, an entourage of giggling teenagers trailing him inside. He paid them no mind and pulled up to Harry's table with a bottle of Iced Cristal, straight from the vineyards in Bulgaria. Fink of it as birthday present, vit is quite good- go on, go on!" Krum said, grinning ear to ear. Harry slapped his hand in a firm handshake and invited him to sit; squeezing up against the wall to allow Oliver Wood to scoot over some more and give Krum the edge of the bench to sit. Harry sat at the v of the

L shaped bench while Hermione, Neville then Ginny while Wood, and Krum were on his right. The usually scarce bar was now crowded with people, some coming to catch a glimpse of the two top under twenty one seekers in the world and England's future keeper. Viktor, Oliver and Harry were laughing and shouting, sampling the sparkling beverage Viktor shared around. Even the girls, Cho, Hermione and Ginny were on talking terms again; the drinks loosening the undercurrent animosity between them. Even the paparazzi that snuck in to take photos periodically couldn't damper Harry's spirits, they laughed and joked until it was dark outside and it was time to leave. They got up and went to pay the bartender, an old wizard with a heavily wrinkled face. Harry thought he looked very strict until he saw him smile and waved Harry over. "My daughters would kill me if I didn't get you two to sign this, they never even looked at Quidditch until the world cup a few years back, and then came to your practice with the Cannons, and couldn't stop arguing about who was better looking between you two lads. Been driving me and the Mrs nutter to be honest." He showed them a picture of today's Daily Prophet, on the cover it had the exact same picture of he and Krum shaking hands in the Courtroom yesterday and the headlines read "Krum vs Potter August 28th- Friend or Foe?" The two young stars grinned, and good heartedly signed below their respective faces on the cover. They looked at each other again in a slightly drunken stupor and laughed in each other's faces, really finding the whole situation funnier that was warranted. They stumbled out the bar and unsteadily made their way to the fires. Harry was enjoying the day. Krum was okay, really, he wasn't as brooding and moody without the pressure of the Tri-wizard tournament on his shoulders. "Hey Cho!" he barked. She looked questioningly at him in a manner that said that she did not appreciate him calling her in that tone of voice. " Izzit cool if Viktor could come to the party? Oh and Fleur too, I think I know someone who would absolutely love to see her," he smiled, thinking of Ron. "Sure, she shrugged. I'll give them directions," she said, smiling a bit too much to be completely sober. "Bring who ever you want, it's your party after all!" she waved and walked off arm in arm with some her girlfriends, who were giggling about some boy or the other. Hermione was laughing at some joke Fred said about Neville playing too much with his 'Mimbletemus Mistletonia' over the summer, that s why he wasn't mustering the courage to ask Ginny out again. Hermione, completely missing the double-entendre of the joke, laughed heartily, she was a bit light headed anyway and nearly anything sounded funny to her. Harry came up to her, curious to see what she was laughing at. 'Hey 'Arry, Neville- Neville has a Mistletoe, and it's playing with Ginny so that he can't ask her out because Mimbletemus would get jealous." "What?!" Harry asked, completely confused. He steadied her, and she gently

moved the hair that always seemed to be falling into his eyes. "You have the most beautiful eyes, has anyone ever told you that?" she slurred sexily into his ear, running her lips on his earlobe. At that Harry knew it was time to say his goodbyes to the few that were still mingling at the floo fires. She had inadvertently made him extremely heated with that little stunt and he wanted to kiss her senseless. " See you guys tomorrow then," he announced without further ado, taking Hermione around the waist and helping her walk steadily to the fires. It was a good thing no one really saw that last between them, as he Cho was still within earshot. He went to the furthest fireplace. Making sure no one was in hearing distance of them, he muttered "Number twelve, Grimmauld Place". He ushered her into the fireplace and after she spun away in the green flames he followed suit and was gone. As soon as they both emerged at Sirius' house they looked at each other mischievously, both of them a bit too intoxicated. Harry took her hand into his and slowly pulled her close. They stood there in a light embrace, smiling into each other's eyes. His hands interlocked at the small of her back and she wrapped her hands loosely around his neck. They stood there for a full 20 seconds, just enjoying being close. He caressed her face, and she closed her eyes in sensation, she was sure he was the one for her. She never felt as beautiful when Harry told her so this morning, even though she knew she looked in a mess. She saw Fred's radio where he left it that fateful day of their first kiss, and now she wanted to remember this moment, this moment when there was nothing else to distract them, he was holding her and she was holding him. She pointed her wand at the radio and magically switched it on. It was playing a beautiful song that her mother loved: Roberta Flack's 'Set the Night to music'. She looked up into his eyes and stepped closer into his embrace. " I want to dance," she said softly, swaying gently with him, resting her head against he shoulder. Doing what was natural he took on of her hands into his, holding her close. They stepped slowly, nothing more than a step here and there, gently rocking to the music. It was so romantic Hermione closed her eyes in bliss, trying to imprint this night in her memories forever. Harry breathed in the sweet smell of her hair and her essence, hear heartbeat strong against his. He smiled, this felt so right, and he was content to just hold her close. The song ended and they kissed sweetly. Hermione ran her fingers through his hair, feeling its texture slide through them. Harry ran his hands slowly down her back and hungrily squeezed her backside. She moaned into the kiss, but reluctantly pulled back. "Harry wait, maybe we should slow down." She put a hand lightly on his chest, putting an inch or so between them. He looked at her, he definitely did not want to slow down. But he guessed after being caught by her mother she maybe had more incentive not to do anything too reckless, so he could respect that. He wasn't even sure what he wanted either; he just did not want this to end. Harry nodded, and she smiled, giving him a quick kiss on

the lips. "Goodnight," she said, walking up the stairs. "Good night," he replied, somewhat saddened to see her go. He opened his mouth to say something very important, but his breath caught in his throat and the moment was lost. He plopped down on the sofa, sprawling his arms along the back. He sighed loudly, and closed his eyes. Today was one of the best days of his life. ***************** Things could not be more the opposite for another young man many miles away. After spending hours burying his mother and chiselling out the tombstone, he apparated back to his destroyed home, looking for anything, anything that would give him some peace. Walking up the once meticulously maintained grounds, he felt the pain of remembering the days when he and his father used to spend time here, showing him how to fly. He scoured through the water-soaked rubble, stepping in puddles of ash and water. Something did catch his eye, and he bent to pick it up. It was a sort of round, burnt-metal button, and it was tied onto a long lacing. The image of his father's last desperate attempt to inflict pain on Voldemort flashed in his mind, and he remembered the little weapon his father swung at him. Pocketing it, he left the ruins of his once glorious house. There was nothing for him here. Grabbing some muggle clothes from the neighbour's laundry area out back, he wrapped his mother's cloak around him, and walked aimlessly into the city streets. Draco Malfoy did not sleep for that whole night, and into the next day. He was walking in Manchester, his bright blond hair sticking out like a sore thumb. The muggle clothes he wore were too big of him, and the expensive looking cloak he wore drew the attention of many of the people of the night. He walked aimlessly, his heart burning with hate. He had nothing, no one he could go to. The Blacks were dead, he was the last Malfoy, and his friends Crabbe and Goyle were idiots. Most likely their fathers would be now disintegrating into nothing right about now, but he could not feel anything for them. With the cloak wrapped tightly around him he stared down to the ground as he walked, paying no heed to his surroundings. Mate, you got a light? Draco looked up. It was a tall, tough-looking teenager, who was holding a marijuana cigarette in his hand. Draco stared at him expressionlessly. Blondie, I said, You got a light? English is not your facking language is it? Draco glanced around him, he was surrounded by four other guys, one of them holding something in his jacket, most probably a gun. The first thug came up close to him, You see my mate there? That s fucking heat he s packing, so right about now, you should fucking give us all you ve got, and this cloak too, before we fuck you up proper, grabbing the cloak. Draco s eyes glowed red, and the punk s eyes widened in shock. Say you re packing heat? You chose the wrong person to fuck with tonight.

******************** Potter has found a way to block me entering his mind. Either some way or most probably someone; my Occlumens has never failed before. Mysteries do not please me, woman. Go and find the boy! a high voice hissed. My Lord, would it not be easierCrucio! Bellatrix Lestrange screamed out in pain, a psychotic smile on her face. She gasped out in pleasure; the veins in her neck were clearly visible as she writhed on the ground. Oh YESS!! Statham stood in the shadow, examining his blade for what seemed to be the millionth time. Now that is one sick being, turning up his face at the woman who was moaning as if in the throes of exotic ecstasy. Riddle, allow me, this blade needs wizard blood to slake it s thirst, approaching Lestrange. No Hunter. This is my pet, she amuses me. He kicked her nonchalantly and she yelped in delight. I must find another way to punish her for not obeying my orders immediately, but for now this phenomenon of love for pain is fascinating. Lestrange was still twitching on the ground, her breaths coming hard and rapid. He definitely is the most powerful wizard, she has felt many a Cruciatus curse, but this was the first time the Dark Lord has favoured her with its use, and the orgasm was beyond compare. Probably the only who has come close was that Potter boy, quite an impression he made on his first try in the dark arts. She licked her lips, maybe Master would allow her to have some fun with him before...? She shouldn t get her hopes up. Master never likes to share his kills. The hunter s steel grey eyes settled on Lestrange and he smiled, his expression all but saying, your time will come . She puckered her lips at him to taunt him and before she could even finish the gesture there was a flash of steel and the blade was at her neck, a trickle of blood to dripping down her throat. She froze, and paled visibly. Enough. Voldemort chuckled. Statham raised an eyebrow at him, but did not object. He turned the blade so that it was broadside against her neck, and wiped the blood that dripped down on the gleaming steel, smearing it along its length. Very well. You will live to die another day, Lestrange, looking at the blood on his sword. He lit a cigarette, and idly watched her get to her feet. I will find the boy and offer him to you as a sign of my unwavering loyalty, she gasped, her body still feeling the aftershocks of excruciating pain. She bowed low, a slight smile on her lips. She spun on her heel and left the room, her dark robes flowing around her.

Hunter, follow her. Do not let her kill the boy, and dispatch of her if she fails. When she has completed her task, find the Son of the Syth al sar Imperious, he inherits the Infernus Elemency. He will be a great asset if he could be turned. And what of Dumbledore s mission to save Fletcher? I would rather slay wizards than keep them alive. His voice echoed through the room. Fletcher is long dead. They are nothing more than sheep to the slaughter. Soon they will find all of their powers drained as they arrive, and I will have them, Dumbledore included. Voldemort steepled his fingers under his chin, and the red eyes shone through that impenetrable darkness of his hood. The war will be over before it has begun. Then will you allow me to rest in peace? This human shell is cumbersome and weak. I deserve to sleep with my brethren, noble warriors who died in battle. Bring the boy. I decide when you should be relieved of your re-incarnation. Do not question me in the future. Voldemort vanished, and the Warlock stood alone, seething. Brought back to this wretched reality to be an errand boy. You will die, wizard, one way or the other. He turned and left, following the magic scent of Bellastrix Lestrange. ****************** It was 2 am on Sunday morning, Harry was sixteen, and sound asleep in his bed. A slight noise awoke him, and he felt , rather than saw, Hermione sitting in the chair, looking over him. Mione? What s wrong? I m scared Harry. Something s about to happen; I can feel it. What are you talking about? Voldemort is happy about something, or was, I should say. I felt it yesterday morning. If there s anything I learnt about this whole situation, is not to overreact to anything that happens. During the year I felt all sorts of mood swings, half of them not even mine. I wish you hadn t volunteered Hermione, this is my burden, mixing up in this maybe wasn t the best decision. Don t be silly, what are friends for? If you did not hear me before, I love you, and I m not scared of him, she said emphatically. Harry paused. He did not know what to say. There was silence for nearly a full minute. Harry? Yeah ? she said softly.

Could, you...you - hold me for a minute? Just for a little while she trailed, not quite sure how to phrase she needed a hug right now, more than ever. Come here, he said softly, lifting the sheet to let her climb in. She crawled into bed, and he wrapped his arm around her. She backed up into him and covered herself, a wave of pent up worry easing out of her. He held her close, spooning her, and whispered into her ear, You re safe, I would never let anything happen to you. Ask Malfoy or Dudley if you don t believe me. She smiled, and giggled softly. You shouldn t have blown up with them though, but I m glad you were there to help me out. I don t know what would have happened in that bathroom if you hadn t shown up. I guess I could call you my hero . Flashbacks of the second triwizard challenge came to him, and Ron telling him off for playing the hero instead of finishing the mission. He thought about the dangerous stunts he did throughout the years, his reckless venture into the chamber of secrets to rescue Ginny, and the Sirius, then Cho, Hermione and young Delacour, and Sirius again, all of them times he leaped before he looked. But he knew deep down, if he were to think too much instead of act, he would have been dead many times already. Shhh go to sleep, things are going to be okay. He kissed her gently on the sensitive pulse on her neck and rest his head on the pillow. She sighed contentedly, snuggled up closer to him, and soon fell asleep. Harry stayed awake until he felt and heard the even breathing of her sleep, then closed his eyes and went snoring into dreamland.

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Chapter 19: Sweet Sixteen: A Declaration of War [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 19: Sweet Sixteen: A Declaration of War **

The midday sun shone down on Draco, his face flushed with sweat. He had walked non-stop for over a day now, his hatred fuelling him on. He still did not know where he apparated to after the police arrived at the scene last night, but it didn t matter. The cloak was slung over his shoulder casually, and he looked like any other young teenager. This was the first time he was wearing muggle clothes, and he found them to be far more comfortable in this blistering heat. He walked along the streets, passed shops and display windows, no one paying him any mind. A screen in one of the displays caught his attention and he stepped closer to listen to the young woman talk on the news.

. In other disturbing events, the presumed arsonist who destroyed a manor in Manchester has supposedly struck again, severely injuring five young men late last night. They were burnt almost to death in the early hours of the morning . Police reports are inconclusive as the victims were being treated at Faith Hospital, but have neither information nor leads to the assailant, who is presumed armed and extremely dangerous. Now, on to the sports with Mike Shoreway Thank you Shirley, newly acquired Manchester City signing Nicholas Anelka has been fined yet again-.. Draco continued walking, seamlessly blending in with the human traffic of the shopping district . After a few more hours of aimless wandering he detoured into a park, and decided to take a rest stop under the shade of a tree on a park bench. After minutes of resting his head against the backrest, he eventually dozed off. Some hours later, his haunted slumber was interrupted by a rude kick on his leg. Draco opened his eyes wearily, and looked up at the mass of flesh that was now blocking the sun , throwing his pink, fat, face in shadow. Hey you! You can t sleep here! Does this look like a homeless shelter to you! Dudley Dursley said, surrounded by three other stupid-looking boys. Leave me alone, you fat muggle, Draco said offhandedly. Dudley froze and backed off, frightened out of his wits. You re- you re another like him! Li-Like Harry! Dudley stuttered. Draco s eyes shot up at the mention of Potter s name. You know Potter? Draco asked, standing up. Where is he? he demanded.

Look I don t want any trouble, you ve got it all wrong Dudley stammered in fright, much to the confusion of his friends. Draco s arm shot out and he grabbed Dudley by the neck of his jacket, and pulled him close, looking him almost eye to eye. Dudley s goons advanced in a threatening manner, wanting to really sock it into him. Draco s eyes flared and he shot them a look from behind blazing red eyes. After the dust cloud left in their wake had settled, Draco turned his attention back to the big (and apparently cowardly) gang leader. Listen- you fat fuck. I want to know where Harry Potter is. You will tell me, now. There were no ultimatums, no death threats, but the finality of his words scared the scrotum sacs out of Dudley. Aaaah- there was a letter!! Harry wasn t home but I read it A letter form Cho somebody, saying something about a party at her house Sunday Draco released him, and Dudley fell in the dirt, scrambled to get to his feet and ran as fast as he could through the back streets of Little Winging. "Oh, so he is going by Chang. Looks like I ve got a party to crash tonight." **************************

Harry was waiting downstairs for Hermione to finish get dressed that night. She and Tonks were gone most of the day to go shopping and only returned a few hours ago. Harry had Hermione to himself only for a few hours. They both woke in the early afternoon. They had lunch together in a comfortable silence. As soon as she was finished Tonks arrived and Hermione gave him a quick birthday kiss and I ll be back later before she and Tonks left for town. He and Hagrid talked most of the afternoon, but even that was weird, Hagrid was acting strangely as if trying to keep a secret but doing a terrible job of hiding it. Harry did not question him, he respected Hagrid s privacy. When Tonks and Hermione finally returned late that afternoon loaded with shopping bags she gave him a brief hi! and kiss on the cheek and went directly up to her room. Tonks gave him a warm hug; grabbed the sides of his face and smooched him playfully with an exaggerated smack of lips. She wished him Happy birthday and gave him her gift. It was a leather jacket, and it looked cool on him. He thanked Tonks, she winked at him and followed Hermione up the stairs. He had went upstairs half an hour after they disappeared into Hermione s room, showered and got dressed, had some juice, stowed away his sword and cloak on the bike, checked all the windows and locks, paced around the manor just to double check everything, then sat down. They were up there for nearly two hours and Harry was getting impatient. He was about to get up from the sofa and call her down when he heard the door open and Hermione came down into the room. Harry s jaw dropped, she was absolutely stunning. Her hair was all done up and curled softly around her face, she was wearing a delicate black top that showed off her soft curves and drooped low in the back. It was held up by thin straps that Harry itched to slide down her porcelain shoulders, while skin-tight pants exaggerated the length of her legs. On her feet were cute little heels that had two delicate straps around her ankles. She smiled at him, and he had to admit, after years of seeing her at school, he could finally say that he was actually speechless by the beauty before him. How do I look? she asked, seeing the expression on his face.

Er- like the most beautiful girl in the world, Harry said, finally able to speak. I am the luckiest guy ever, he continued, still a bit dumbstruck. She came up to him and kissed him softly on the lips, and took his arm in hers. C mon, lets go. You re already late for your own party. Harry smiled; it was worth the wait. *********************** Cho was up and about, making sure that her friends had drinks and enjoying themselves. Everyone was here, and it her house was filled beyond

capacity, some hanging out on the lawn talking and joking. The music was blaring, the people were dancing, and everyone was having a good time. But where was Harry? Fred, George, Ron and Ginny had just arrived, Fred coming with his girlfriend Katie and George moving solo. Ginny still hadn t given up on Harry, and was looking like a vixen in her hot red dress. A lot of the guys turned heads at her appearance, only to back off from Ron s killer glare. Ron looked tough with his hair windswept and black shirt and jeans. His face was unshaven, he usually kept it clean but ever since he suspected Harry having a thing for Hermione he completely forgot about shaving. Now his face was a bit scruffy, and he looked older than his sixteen years of age. Some of Ginny s classmates even came up to her to talk about the availability of her older brother, much to her embarrassment. Ron definitely looked like he did not want to be here, but his brothers talked him into it and so here he was. George, weren t you with that waitress of the ice cream shop on Diagon alley? Why didn t you come with her? Ah...that is where you have a lot to learn dear sister: Only hunters get game, he smiled, and prowled off into the crowd. Ron smirked. I m gonna get a drink, he told Fred and Katie. He stalked off, arrogantly pushing some Hufflepuff boy out of the way. Luna found Ginny in the crowd and came over to talk to her. Ginny was momentarily surprised; she did not recognize Luna with her new look. Luna was very pretty with her hair done and all dressed up. Her strangely coloured eyes added to the vagueness and mystery that perpetually surrounded her. Hi. Strange party isn t it? Luna asked dreamily. Ginny looked around, it was a normal-looking party to her, actually it was looking like a great party. Perplexed, she asked, What do you mean?

Well it s a birthday party, but Harry s is not here. Oh. Ginny replied, not sure what to say. Maybe he s a little late, maybe he- She was cut off by a deep engine roar coming down the street. That s him coming now. Luna s eyes widened at the sound she was hearing. What is that noise? You ll see, she replied, following all the others who were crowding outside to see what the sound was. *********************** HARRY ! THIS IS WILD!!! Hermione screamed over the engine into Harry s ear. His hair was whipping back into her face and he turned slightly and nodded, screaming yeah! but the sound was carried away by the wind. He saw the lights of Cho s house and the people spilling out of it unto the front lawn, looking down the street to see the origin of that roar. Well so much for making a quiet entry, this thing makes a lot of noise when on the ground!

Wait, THIS MOTORBIKE COULD FLY?!! she screamed, trying to be heard. He nodded again, and began to slow down. Faces started to become distinct; he could see Dean and Terry Boot pointing at them. He pulled up to the lawn, Hermione still clutching him tightly. It s okay, you could let go now, he said, after Hermione refused to let loose her grip when they stopped. Oh. Sorry. She dismounted a bit shakily and smoothed out the wrinkles on her pants, rubbing her buttocks. She might have thought of this as an innocent gesture, but Harry was thinking about something completely different. We re here, I guess. C mon. He took off his jacket and put it on the bike. He was wearing a black shirt that Hermione bought him and black jeans along with his horntail boots. Dean came up to him and shook his hand, wishing him happy birthday. Wow! Harry you have a Harley? Since when? How come no police saw you? Just lucky I guess, he replied, grinning. A lot of the guys there shook his hand and complimented him on his bike, and a few even complimented his date, soft enough not to be overheard. . Damn Harry, she is hot, you one lucky bloke, y know that dontcha? Cantonma said. Definitely a keeper, Oliver wood said. can t go wrong with that. She s brilliant and beautiful,

Thanks guys, needed a club to the head to realize that myself, he said, bouncing their fists. He took Hermione, who was just saying hi to some of their other friends outside, inside to get her something to drink. I need to say hi to my gracious host, I ll be right back. She nodded, and began talking with Neville and Ginny. Cho was watching his and Hermione s arrival from her bedroom window with a heavy heart. It was too late now. She definitely had blew it. She looked down at her dresser and the various bottles she had there .unless-? Against her own rationale, she sprayed on some of the perfume lightly on her neck, and went down to greet him.

************************ Ron had heard the commotion of Harry s arrival, but paid it no heed. He had poured himself a drink and was idly sipping it at the bar. There was a sound of footsteps behind him and a voice he knew all to well. Hey Ron, glad you came. Happy Birthday, Harry, he said, void of any emotion. He still hadn t turned around, leaving Harry no choice but to come around so he could talk face to face.

Listen man, I m really sorry. I am. I never wanted this to happen between us. Yeah? Fine job you re doing, could have sworn you were here with a certain Hermione Granger draped all over your arm. I can see you re really stressed out in trying . The words stung, but Ron had a right to be angry. Ron, c mon man, don t be like this. You re my best friend, and no girl could ever replace that. You are the closest thing I ever had to a brother, now with Sirius gone you re my only family. Ron looked up at Harry. It was shocking that a guy he thought had everything he ever wanted, had nothing at all. All Harry ever wanted was a family to call his own, and considered him to be the only family he had left. Hey, it wasn t like there were sparks between Hermione and me, it may have crashed and burned as fast as it took off, if it ever did. If Hermione could be happy, and Harry could be happy, well maybe a little self sacrifice couldn t kill him, after all the times Harry had literally risked his neck to saved his. He had pondered on this train of thought for a while, but the fact that Harry needed him as a brother sealed it. They were best friends, and nothing could stop that. Hermione was watching the encounter with frayed nerves, she couldn t bear the two of them fighting over her. She put her fingers to her mouth, biting a nail in anxiety. Ron stood up, looking down slightly at Harry. In the exact same gesture as when they met after the Cannon s match Harry and Ron clasped hands and raised it in a firm grip at shoulder level, their muscles tightening in the arms. Ron smiled grimly, and Harry grinned. Brothers, Ron said, returning the grin.

For ever! Harry replied, gripping his hand harder, and Ron did the same, a bond built in strength, unbreakable by any means. They let go and grinned at each other, Ron slapping him on his back. Cheers on being 16 mate. Let me pour you a corker, birthday boy! Ron mixed a strong drink of firewhiskey and some muggle alcohol for Harry and one for himself. On three! 1- 3!! they both picked up their cups and shot it down in a one. They slammed the cups back on the bar and their eyes watered. They laughed at the ludicrous expressions on each other faces and Ron poured them another. They were laughing again, the indomitable Duo of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were once again ready for action. Hermione laughed out, she was beside herself. Ron motioned her over, and she went to them smiling up at Ron. Hey, she said brightly, still not sure if to matters into his own hands and pulled her into laughed again, she was so relieved that things once again. Cho watched all that happened from hug him or not. Ron took a friendly hug. Hermione were peachy between them the foot of the stairs, and

smiled sadly. At least Harry was happy once again, even if she was not part of that. She cared for him deeply, and wanted him to be happy, he deserved that at least.

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He is here, Lestrange. The hunter s voice echoed unnaturally, rumbling softly through the still night air. The girl with the white pants is the one shielding him, I can sense it. Oh- that Granger mudblood. She will make excellent bait, Warlock. Master will be pleased. She smiled darkly from her position on the rooftop opposite. Statham fingered the hilt of his sword. Lucky for you if he is, he mused silently. He jumped off the five-story apartment building and waited for Lestrange to fly down on her broom. Let s see if she will live to see day, shall we? He smiled, and disappeared into the shadows. Ginny Weasley was having a great time. She secretly knew she never had a chance against Hermione, and her crush on Harry was just that, a crush. The guys at the party were only trying to give her their best lines, and she was having fun just seeing their attempts at being players. She even laughed at a year four student who had the audacity to proclaim his undying love for her and couldn t even remember her name. Getting another drink at the bar, she glanced over at the trio in a semi quiet corner of the living room. She was glad that her older brother, Hermione and Harry were all getting along again, the two of them dangerous in black and all the girls wanted a piece of them. Even her good friend Luna was watching the pair with more than idle interest. Luna? her. hmm? she called to her. Luna snapped out of her trance and looked at she said, obviously spaced out.

What do you think of Harry? I d be his sex slave in a second, changing expression. she said matter-of-factly, not

Ginny s jaw dropped, did she just hear what she thought she heard? She decided she needed some air; maybe she had too much butterbeers. She walked outside and took a deep breath of the cool night air. Suddenly she felt as if there was not a care in the world, a sensation of complete happiness washed over her, her mind numb. ..go..get the mudblood granger bring her to me . She walked back into the house, bumping into some people as she went. Neville Longbottom was watching her whole night, trying to think up of something witty to say. He noticed her leave, and noticed her come back in as well. She was moving a bit oddly, not really trying to avoid people she walked by, and ended up spilling Padma s drink. He followed her progress to the trio in the corner, saw her tap on Hermione s shoulder, and say something to her. Hermione, come outside for a second, I would like to talk with you, Ginny said, staring directly into her eyes. Hermione was a bit taken back by the direct gaze Ginny was giving her, but

excused herself from Ron and Harry and followed her outside. Curious, Neville followed them through the crowd of people, something was not right. Keeping a safe distance behind them he followed them to the front lawn where they bent the corner to the side of the house and disappeared from view. He hurried around the corner, hearing voices. GINNY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Hermione screamed.

Stupefy! there was a flash, then a thud on the ground. Neville looked at Hermione lying on the ground, and Ginny pointing her wand at her, slightly glowing. He looked further behind her, and saw the unmistakeable face of Bellatrix Lestrange, smiling under a black hood. YOU!! He screamed. Lestrange eyes shot up at him in surprise, and Ginny did the same, moving identically to Lestrange. She raised her wand, and Ginny did the same, and both pointed their wands. Stupefy! Neville was quick to respond, his wand out in the blink of an eye. PROTEGO! The two stunners reflected off his shield charm, hitting the picket fence and shattering some planks of wood. Incantum Finite! he screamed, pointing at Ginny. It struck her in the chest, and she regained her senses for a microsecond, then collapsed as the sudden release of Lestrange s mind control knocked her out. Well looky here, isn t it our favourite 'nearly' orphan. Never did finish that lesson we started in the department of mysteries now did we? her face twisted in a sinister smile. Neville ignored her and did not hesitate to attack. Petrificulus totalus! Bellatrix laughed out, and allowed the spell to hit her. Neville was a bit confused for a second as she froze in position, petrified. He inched closer, not quite understanding how it was so easy. As soon as he was with in a few feet of her, she moved without warning, easily disengaging Neville s spell. CRUCIO!! Lestrange screamed, cackling loudly. Neville didn't even get a chance to scream as his body buckled in pain. My my . She mused, her eyes gleaming as she watched him writhe in agony on the ground. After torturing pathetic Longbottom until he passed out, she began to wave her wand intricately, prancing around the three bodies on the ground, putting the girls hair into pigtails and adding a tremendous amount of blusher on their faces. After transifugring their clothes into catholic schoolgirl outfits, she stood back and surveyed her handicraft. Lestrange giggled like a little girl, licking her lips at the prospect of having two oh-so-beautiful dolls to play with until 'Daddy' Potter came back from work to play House with her. She wanted them absolutely perfect for when he came home. Levitating the two humanoid dolls behind her, she skipped unto the pavement, the girls floating eerily behind her.

Looking back to at the two young girls as she made her way down the road, she sighed dramatically. Even though they were pretty, Bellatrix never did like other women in the house for too long. Her dear little sister-iin-law knew that very well; very well indeed. Poor Becky. SHe laughed again, finding her situation quite hilarious. Who knows? Maybe it was just her bad luck that fatal 'accidents' happen a bit too frequently around her .

***********************

Chapter 20: Heroes United [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**CHAPTER 20: Heroes United** Some miles off of England s west coast in the Atlantic a select few wizards had reached their destination. They silently made their way through the craggy rocks at the north side of an old medieval fortress, the cold winds showering them with icy sea spray. The massive building rose high above the see level, an ominous structure made of huge stone blocks apparently left behind from times long forgotten. There is a hidden exit between the tiny peninsula and the cliff face due south from here. From there we could access the lower level dungeons, and hopefully, the main halls Tonks informed the team, whispering as they ran along the perimeter wall. They found it soon enough, and after some tricky footwork on the slippery rocks, successfully infiltrated the fortress. They traversed through the secret passage until they emerged in a crossroads, the corridors leading off in six different directions, almost labyrinth like in its complexity. The central hub was lit by torchlight, illuminating the grimy walls that were mouldy and damp. Isn t this a bit too easy? Remus whispered, sensing that there was something not right with this place. There was a dark magic lingering in the air. He pulled out his sneakascope, and it was spinning like crazy, almost on the point of vibrating itself into broken fragments. He looked at Professor Dumbledore, who nodded grimly. Tom Riddle is here. No doubt about it. Fawkes! he called, summoning his phoenix to his side. Dumbledore was already opening his mouth to relay his message to the bird, so confident was he that his loya pet will be there anytime he needed him. However, there was no burst of flame to signal his appearance, no mystical apparition of the brightly coloured bird, no cry of him sweeping down from high. Fawkes! he said again, more urgently this time. Silence. Interesting

Dumbledore said grimly. Your Phoenix cannot come to your aid, Albus Dumbledore, a cold voice boomed. Everyone excepting Albus Dumbledore whipped out their wands, facing outwards with their backs to each other in a close-knit circle. Charlie Weasley began to sweat profusely. There was a sudden panic feeling in his chest, as if he had just walked into a trap. Tom, we know you are here. We ve come for our comrade. Come out so we can settle this, once and for all! Dumbledore commanded. Ah, but that would be too easy. I fear you are already in my grasp, and I would like to slowly kill each and every one of you. Maybe I will leave the werewolf alive, so that my true target will have a reason to come here, Voldemort said casually. Your gloating does not impress us. SHOW YOURSELF! Dumbledore commanded. Using the Un-concealment Charm, he waved his wand in a wide arc, covering the expanse of the antechamber. Illuminos! Nothing happened. No glow of his wand, no revealing the Dark Lord, nothing. Dumbledore inspected his wand, and tried another spell. Still nothing. Remus and Charlie Weasley tried as well, and similarly did not get any response. Terrified, Hagrid stepped upfront, his crossbow at the ready. SHOW YEHSELF, YOU BLOODY COWARD!! he roared. There was a high chuckle which seemed to be coming from all directions at once. Ah, the inhuman wishes my presence, he said smugly. I was always fascinated by you, half giant. From one fellow student to another, I will grant your request. Voldemort apparated in front of the rescue party, and he bowed low in a mock salute. Every wizard pointed their weapons at him. STUPEFY!! a chorus of voices shouted, and a loud twang sound of an arrow broke the momentary silence. However, only one attack materialised. Voldemort waved his hand in a nonchalant manner and deflected the huge arrow. It hit the wall and fell harmlessly to the ground. Dumbledore and his team could not believe it. Not one of their spells had worked. Realising the deadly situation they were now in, all of them froze still, rooted to the spot. Voldemort did not show any emotion, not even a smirk reached his almost non-existent lips. As if it was the only appropriate to do at the time, he pointed his wand at Hagrid, not even lifting it past his waist level. Imperio. Hagrid s eyes froze forward, his arms and legs trembling as he tried to fight off the spell. He fell to one knee, slowly being manipulated by the presence taking over his mind. Voldemort shuffled closer, and if trying to explain a simple sum to an infant, he looked pitifuly down at Hagrid, whose eyeballs were twitching restlessly. You cannot resist, he chuckled softly as finally Hagrid's eyes rolled into the back of his head. He got back to his feet, struggling to move towards Voldemort, still straining against the Imperius curse. His

breathing was laboured, but he progressed step by agonizing step. He raised his fist, intending to smash in that snake-like head. At the final moment Voldemort showed is first hint of triumph, smirking as he put an umph of extra magic behind the curse. With a slumping of his broad shoulders, Hagrid was lost. He turned on the Order, and the others began to retreat in fear. With one quick stride towards them he swung his huge arm at the doomed rescue party, knocking them all over like rag dolls. Bodies flew in all directions, and a sickening crack could be heard as Charlie Weasley landed awkwardly on his leg. Tonks was immediately knocked out; while Remus and Dumbledore lay on the ground in a daze. Hagrid stood there, twitching uncontrollably, glaring down at all of them. Expelliarmus, Voldemort said, and four wands and a crossbow flew up into the air. Accio. The wands zoomed into his outstretch hand, and he destroyed the crossbow with a flick of his wand. Hagrid!! You ve got to fight it ! You can do it!! screamed. Charlie Weasley

Silence. Voldemort wordlessly stunned him directly in his face. Hmph. Is this what Dumbledore s best has to offer? I expected more. Bring them, half giant. He ordered, and Hagrid scooped up everyone, draping two over his shoulders and carrying Tonks and Dumbeldore under each arm. Dumbledore was fighting unconsciousness, and with his last thought, tried a desperate Occlumency spell, briefly contacting one of the most powerful witches alive. ******************** At that same moment, in Cho s party, Ron s bad feeling about Ginny s strange attitude reached a tipping point. He had to voice his concerns to Harry, who might have a better clue to that whole little scene just now. Wonder what Ginny found so important and secretive that she absolutely HAD to go outside to talk with Hermione Ron said, quite baffled at his sister s behaviour. Yeah, it was a bit strange, wasn t it? I wou- Harry stopped mid-sentence. There was an ominous presence hovering near his mind suddenly, a presence he knew of quite well , ever since his fifth year. Voldemort was ecstatic about a major victory he had won. However, he was not supposed to feel any sort of feedback from him, Hermione had seen to that. For him to be feeling his presence so intensely made his heart race in fear. What had happened? Just as he was about to voice his fears he sensed the agony of someone being tortured by the Cruciatus curse. Someone nearby. Closing his eyes, he reached out with his magic. In his mind s eye, he saw Neville writing on the ground, muscle tendons visibly pronounced in his neck, a mad cackle somehow echoing in the night air. That laugh, he knew it well...he had heard it not even a month before. Did you hear that? he snapped, looking at Ron urgently.

Heard what mate? he asked, looking at him if he had gone mad. Harry knew he wasn t going insane. Using his mediocre Occlumens ability, he sensed outwards, scanning the mindsets of all present. He felt happiness,

heartbreak, lust, loneliness.. and then- it hit him like a ton of bricks and he disengaged the Occlumency spell. An overwhelming feeling of psychopathic giddiness. Lunacy to a point when the only thing left to do is to kill someone to get a more feverish high. Lestrange Who? Harry whispered, goosebumps rising on his flesh.

Ron said getting a bit worried now.

You ve got to mean them Potter Get your brothers, get Cho, and get everyone else the fuck out of here! Now! he shouted, bolting through the crowd of people, not caring who he threw down or spilled drinks over. Ron! HURRY! He screamed over his shoulder as he ran towards the front door. Everyone was looking at him like some sort of madman as he jumped over a couch of people and practically ran over Katie and Cantonma at the doorway. Harry dug inside his shirt, and groped for the silver medallion of the Phoenix that nestled against his chest. He clamped his fingers around it, but for the first time ever it was dead cold. No one could help him. What happened to the Order of the Phoenix? Harry- what the fuck man Cantonma grumbled getting up from the floor. a voice screamed.

OOOOH BABY POTTER! COME OUT AND PLAY! I MISSED YOU!

Harry had nightmares about that voice. Haunting nightmares that ended in Sirius falling through that veil over and over again. Without thinking he sprinted outside, feeling that pent up hate slowly building up inside his chest. He wouldn t be afraid. How could he? He thought he couldn t hate anyone more than Wormtail, more than Voldemort. He had thought wrong. He had sworn to himself that he would make Lestrange suffer for killing his godfather. And if for nothing else than just holding true to his word, he would not be afraid. As he raced into the deserted street he saw the hooded figure prancing down the road. Ginny and Hermione were hanging upside down, spinning slowly almost thirty feet in the air. He skidded to a halt, craning his neck to look at their unconscious bodies. Bellatrix Lestrange was conducting her personal orchestra, her wand flicking here and there as Ginny and Hermione danced and twirled in a mock waltz, their movements eerily graceful and demonic all at the same time. Those were his friends. Two of his best friends, to be precise. He would not fail. He couldn t afford to now. Their lives hung in the balance. Ah... there you are- Harry darling! Do you like my puppets? Quite beautiful aren t they? Lestrange cackled underneath them, her dark cloak billowing out around her in the wind, revealing a black outfit that consisted of numerous straps that barely covered her body. At first, Harry was shocked to see such a bold move on her part. But instinctively he knew that she was nothing- that if he just trusted his instincts, as he had

done in the past, he would save them. He stood with his feet apart, his arm hanging loosely at his sides. Wiggling his fingers as if trying to release all of his nerves, he decided that then and there he will do what had to be done. Taking a breath, he forced his voice to remain steady. He drew his wand slowly, making his intentions obvious. Put them down safely. I will ask only once, he commanded in a clear voice. The others were now filing out unto the lawn, and shouted for Harry to run. It was now Bellatrix turn to be shocked. Glancing across at their audience she broke into an incredulous smile. You- you re threatening me? Me! Isn t this rich! Stupefy! she screamed, bearing her wand down on him. Harry DUCK!! Ron shouted. Harry ignored him. He will not show fear.

As if he could foretell the time of impact, Harry calmly took one step to the side and the curse shot past; the blazing red bolt illuminating the dark street as it dispersed into the night. Adrenaline raced into his veins, and the back of his neck began to tingle with anticipation. There was a loud popping noise, and the students noticebaly flinched, only to realise that all of the streetlamps had blown out. The hair at Harry s nape began to rustle restlessly as the only light source the two combatants had was the soft glow of the moon. We gotta get outta here . Lee Jordan gasped as Harry calmly walked towards Lestrange, who was noticeably beginning to look uncomfortable. The other students were also awestruck, what the hell was he doing taking on a Death Eater all by himself?! Once again, that burning feeling behind his eyes pulsed, and he closed them momentarily, letting that strange magic seep into his pores. Slowly, deliberately, he lifted his right hand in front of him. Come to me, Harry whispered. On command, the sword dislodged itself from where he fastened it on Sirius motorcycle. It threw itself in a high arc and fell neatly in his outstretched hand. As it made contact, Harry instinctively knew that the time to avenge Sirius was not some unforeseen day years into the distant future, it would be right here, right now. He re-opened his eyes as he drew the sword out of its sheath, slowly and purposefully, his pupils beginning to glow faintly in the darkness. Ooh- new tricks..? Bellatrix said scathingly, but even to her own ears, it sounded forced. Without even consciously knowing it, his father s Cloak of the Order of the Phoenix materialized around his shoulders. The two combatants squared off again, and Bellatrix surveyed her opponent through wary eyes. The boy knew Manifestation spells already? As she pushed that thought to the side, she felt something brush past her feat. Glancing downwards, her eyes widened as dead leaves from the trees tumbled towards Harry, inexplicably being drawn in by his aura, swirling once around his ankles and then dispersing randomly about him. As more debris accumulated they began an eerie dance, swishing around in gusts and crackling as raw magic surged through the night. What- what in the Devil's name is this? Stupefy! she screamed, aiming once again. His natural inclination to Defense against the dark arts came

to the forefront, with all of his senses stretching out, Harry could actually feel the curse coming before she even said it. It was becoming clear to him now...forward another two steps... thenA twist to the left. Pivoting, he dodged this one fluently, gaining ground with each stride he took. Reducto! she screamed even louder, a desperation creeping in her voice. pulse of energy rippled closer and right. Dried leaves vaporized in the effects did not even come close to few times. How was he dodging so easily?

Another step forward, the burning closer- then a quick feint to the curse s wake, but the destructive scathing him. Bellatrix blinked a

CRUCIO! Bellatrix shrieked, feeling her anxiety amplify the venom behind her incantation. She wouldn t miss again- that was her most favoured curse! To her amazement, Harry more than just avoided it, he had picked up speed, and was now trotting towards her, the blinding white bolt of magic already fading in the distance. She blanched. Not even close is he reading my thoughts? But to her horror, while she was thinking about what curse to try next, her opponent had somehow halved the distance and was almost on top of her with an unnatural glow in his eyes Stupe- stup.. she stammered. Panicking, Bellatrix began throwing spells one after the other at him, her aim askewed even wider and wider with each futile attempt. Harry began to run faster, then sprint- the spells blazing towards him uncannily whizzing harmlessly past his head. In the next step Harry bared his teeth in a grin and he practically vanished, a blur of movement in the darkness somehow disappearing and returning in every three, or maybe four-stride intervals as the light played tricks on her eyes. Before she could decipher what illusionary technique he was using there was a pair of glowing eyes almost an arm s length away from her. Hunter! Help me!! she screamed, and before her request was completed the innocent shadow by the nearby fire hydrant dislodged itself and a dark shape jumped out of seemingly nowhere, a flash of steel crashing down in a deadly arc right over Harry s trajectory. Harry braked just in time and instinctively raised his own blade, parrying the killer attack. Not expecting it, Harry s forward momentum worked against him and he crashed sideways into the curb; halfway rolling - halfway tumbling over on his back and scampering to his feet. The warlock pressed his advantage on Harry, who was still caught in mid-stride and was now on one knee, their blades clashing between them. Harry gripped the sword with both hands and twisted his blade, deflecting the Hunter s weapon to the right, and then scampered quickly to the left. With one fluid movement he was up again, his sword at the ready. They clashed again, the Hunter using rapid fire attacks but Harry defended them all, instinctively parrying and blocking. Impressive. Your reflexes are exemplary, even by our standards, Statham smiled. It has been foretold that there would be one that would once

again wield the renowned Sword of Godric Gryffindor. I will defeat you in battle as a true test or my skills; and against a worthy adversary. He bowed slightly at Harry, who did not return the gesture. Lestrange laughed in a frantic wail, her sexual fervour somehow audible in her voice. YES! She moaned. KILL HIM HUNTER! Lestrange was totally filled with frenzied blood lust, her eyes twinkling in pre- climax anticipation . The two girls spun faste , dangling by the thread of her sanity. Harry s eyes did not leave the Warlock s empty colourless ones. You fool. You will be next, Lestrange Statham replied, neither taking his eyes off of Harry. Harry stood in position, turning as his opponent slowly stepped to his left, circling him. Harry knew that he was still a novice, while his opponent was a master swordsman- so he couldn t be careless In that fraction of a second the Hunter attacked, his footsteps quick as lightning, Harry losing him in the blur of shadow. Oh no! Behind you Without hesitation, he flung himself forward in a roll, the hunter s blade missing him by mere inches. He sprung back up to his feet and lunged forward, counter attacking with a vicious thrust to the heart. Statham agilely twisted his body so that the blade flashed against his chest, slicing through the fabric, spinning with the move. Completing the turn, his rear leg whipped out, connecting at the side of Harry s temple with a pinpoint roundhouse kick. The left side of his cheek gashed open, blood and muck mixing across the bridge of his nose as the boot raked against his face. Harry saw stars as his head snapped back and he was sent sprawling through the air. Statham laughed as Harry fell, but stopped suddenly when Harry twisted in midair, throwing his leg over with his backwards momentum. Throwing all of his weight into the fall, he did a back flip without using his hands. He landed unsteadly on his feet , staggering backwards a few steps to maintain balance. His face was damaged almost to the point of being unrecognisable, but at least he was standing.

Harry wavered on his feet, but he was still ready to fight. The hunter, expecting his opponent to be dead, or at the least, knocked unconscious, frowned. Seeing the drive in Harry s eyes, he smiled in anticipation. I expect nothing less. Your technique is impulsive and untrained, but for some reason, you are not easily killed. I wonder why is that? No matterthe hunter charged again, arcing down diagonally to his right. Harry took one step back and feinted sharply sideways, dodging the attack pre-emptively. Not expecting to be read so easily, the Hunter missed his strike, leaving his entire left torso totally undefended. Harry s eyes caught his opponents steely grey ones, the Hunter s eyes flashed with fear as both adversaries moved seamlessly past each other. But before the Hunter could utter a No from the o of his lips- he knew it was too late. the left foot forward, elbow pointing outwards, extend your arm and strike There was a flash of steel and blood splattered all over their clothes,

and the hunter felt all support from his abdominal muscles self destruct with a exhalation of bloody air. Not able to evenrespond- the hunter collapsed into a heap, precious life-giving blood escaping alongside loose flesh and tissue. Harry was now behind him, his sword dripping with blood. Struck- d-down Statham moaned, clutching his side. Same w-w-weapon-same attack His whole left abdomen was slashed, and he crumpled, holding the gaping wound. Y-you.. he gurgled, his eyes closing. Turning his attention now unto Lestrange, Harry glared at her, his eyes now blazing a brilliant blue. The sword was held limply at his side- and he could feel his magic working furiously to keep him awake. His head was spinning from that blow, but he could not fall. Without even realising it, the gaping bruise covering the majority of the left side of his face had stopped bleeding. Bellatrix had noticed this, and her bravado was coming to an end. Your tricks are no match for me Potter! I killed the best of your stupid Order in my dear cousin Sirius and I can more than finish you! Her wand began to glow brightly, and her eyes bored into his from behind a brilliant white-green light emanating from her wand. AVADA KEDAVRA! The spell hit Harry dead centre in the chest; his body was run through with deadly magic, disintegrating the shirt off his back and tearing apart his jeans, splashing out to the sides in an intense flash of green lightning. The whole street was illuminated by a green blur, and most of the students losing footing and falling to the ground, while others put their hands in front of their faces to block the blinding light. Bellatrix Lestrange cackled like a maniac; her head turned towards the sky, her voice screeching through the silence of the night. After a few moments of orgasmic self-congratulations she opened her eyes and froze when she saw a pair of dull green eyes boring into hers. Pathetic, Harry whispered. His scar was glowing red, he stood there wavering, smiling dangerously at her. She stood there, dumbfounded for a full second. Her eyes were suddenly distracted by a peculiar shadow behind Potter, lurking at the end of the street. What was that- was it a dog? She backed off in amazement. No.. it-is is not possible. It is-isn t- can t- that curse has killed legions! By me! She shrieked, almost trying to convince herself. I- Iyou re you re not real! I killed you! I- I- did not miss- she whimpered. Did he share the same trait as her husband? Was this wizard able to cheator even hoodwink- death? Twice lucky, Lestrange... he said, thrusting the sword at her midsection. Just before he could follow through with the killing blow, there suddenly was the feeling of an intense numbness running through him. The Hunter had desperately grabbed his leg, and his magic was draining out of him. The sword fell from his fingers as Harry fell to his knees. He

tried to fight him off, but his strength was fading at an extremely fast rate. Bellatrix Lestrange was watching them both in awe, the Hunter literally holding on to his last threads of life as blood spilled uninhibited unto the street while Potter was fighting for breath, all colour draining out of his face. Does it hurt? Tell me boy, before you die!! she chuckled, feeling her climax building once again. Oh how she lived for these situations- these near death experiences! How it made her blood run hot... she needed Rodulphus inside her as soon as he recuperated back home, it couldn t wait! Maybe the Lust potion would work? Or proabably just for the piece of anatomy she needed . With his last remaining ounce of strength Harry grabbed the medallion on his chain in a last ditch attempt of help coming to his rescue. He felt all hope draining out of him as his eyes closed with a coldness that felt somehow comforting, but then they snapped open as the medallion surged alive with heat against his palm. There was a popping noise of someone apparating and he felt fire swelling from deep inside of , burning it s way up to the centre of his chest. It felt just like that day at the Ministry Sirius? he breathed, delirious as his vision came back into focus.

Not quite, Potter. INCENDIO AL MUSTIRA! Draco Malfoy screamed, and the hunter screamed as a large crucifix shape burned on the ground, combusintg the anti-magical being in a cross shaped inferno. The grip on his leg eased, and Harry felt yet another different, strange magic flood back into him. His eyes began to burn once again, and groggily he hauled himself back unto his feet. Draco s eyes blazed red in his pupils , while Harry 's eyes pulsed with a blue glow; growing brighter and brighter as his strength slowly surged back into him. Both young men glared at Bellatrix, who stood petrified, rooted to the spot. Even though he was dead on his feet, for some strange reason, the energy of Draco being nearby was hastening the rebuilding of magic surging through his veins. Draco s eyes narrowed as the two young men faced Lestrange, looking murderous. I ll give you something to look forward to. Voldemort will be meeting you in hell shortly, Draco sneered. Potter, do you feel it?After me... Without even thinking, Harry knew what he was talking about. Lifting his right hand palm up, a small flame ignited in the centre. Inciendo!" Inciendio! Draco whispered, his eyes bursting openly in flames. Both of them began to mumble incoherent curses beneath their breath, Harry s siphoned Infernus ability mocking Draco s , while both of them recited practiced verses almost syllable for syllable. The flames in their palms doubled in size- then began to emit sparksWhat what are you doing? She begged, seeing the fire grow rapidly in Harry s hand and Draco smiling in anticipation. She raised her wand to create a shield, but it was already too late. The next moment her whole front burst into flames, engulfing her from the inside out, her skin moulting as pockets of fire began to burst from random parts of her body.

She screamed in agony at the intense heat, until a tongue of flame burst from her mouth. Lestrange toppled backwards, and her body began to jump and pop uncontrollably as self-replenishing fires burst through her veins at random. Any uncovered area of skin that her dominatrix type outfit displayed began to rip apart as even more fires multiplied throughout her body. Harry just stood there, staring emotionlessly as she died, the skin on her face brunt so badly that the bones of her skull were clearly visible underneath. The flames incinerated her in a matter of seconds, and the two girls abruptly fell from the sky. Harry quickly waved his wand. Mobilucorpus! Trying not to look down at the smouldering mass at his feet, he controlled the two girls down. Draco turned on his heel as soon as the fires ebbed away, and watched on as Harry trudged back to the house, the girls floating in his wake. He carried them back inside, and laid them on the couch. Dizzy to the point of being unconscious, he forced himself to remain awake until he knew they were okay. He felt for their pulses, it was very weak on both girls. The Rejuvenation charm was needed in a situation like this. They needed some of his own strength to be able to recuperate on their own without their conditions deteriorating. The Enervate spell was too weak in this situation. Resuscitarus! Harry breathed, and felt his already drained strength fading. He could feel, more than see, Hermione stirring. Scrunching his eyes, he pointed his wand at Ginny next. Come on Gin! Resuscitarus! he repeated, and she groaned awake as well. He crumpled unto the floor, feeling his own life-force fading. It was the strangest feeling- not as bad as he thought it would be. Maybe he would wake up, maybe he won t, but still.. he had one last thing to settle before he lost consiouness. Using his last remaining thought, he cursed Draco Malfoy to the ends of the earth. Malfoy, you asshole next time...don t wait until I m nearly dead to pull a hero stunt like this ************** Meanwhile, Draco was outside cleaning up his handiwork, using the Vanishing spell to eradicate any trace of the Death eater and the hunter s remains. After sheathing the Hunter s blade, he relished his new acquistion by tucking it into his belt and calmly strode into the crowded room. Nobody dared stop him and parted to let him pass to where Weasel was frantically panicking over the golden boy. There was a pull on the centre of his chest, and he pulled at the medallion his mother had on when she died. It had burnt like a hot iron against his chest a few minutes ago, and he felt a strong inclination to apparate to this exact spot. Getting thrown into the middle of a duel wasn t what he had in mind, but getting the opportunity to injure Voldemort, even by ridding him of a loyal subject- was just too good an opportunity to miss. Looking closely at Harry s cloak, Draco took off his own. Something just clicked in his mind. His mother was Narcissa- the last member of the Black family. Didn t he feel this pendant surge with power as he searched for Potter? He examined the cloak, and realized that it matched Potter s in every detail. Except

his own was different. Inscribed on the collar was a name. It read: Black, Sirius Class S Animagus.

Chapter 21: Showdown at Siren's Rock [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** CHAPTER 21: Showdown at Siren's Rock **

Granger? Granger! A voice was calling her, a familiar voice, but she was finding it hard to focus. She opened her eyes wearily, and saw the blue eyes of Draco Malfoy looking into her face. C mon, get up, get up, you little mudblMalfoy? she whispered, her eyes were blurry and they were straining to focus. Behind Malfoy there was a crowd of people looking down over her. Granger, you ve got to get up. For some reason we cannot enervate Potter. He seems to be seriously hurt. Come on, Weasley here says you know how to snap him out of it. Draco shot a glance at Harry, who was laying flat on his back, his shirt completely disintegrated and his jeans in tatters. His breathing was shallow, and no ordinary spell was working on him. For some strange reason, he was totally immune to their magic. Wake up dammit, he hissed. What happened? The last thing I remember was being stunned, by Ginny of all people! she sat up, a bit disoriented. What are you doing here? She glared at him, then rest her eyes on Harry, who looked to the world as if he was dead. OH MY GOD! Harry! She sprung up from the couch and went to his side. What happened? Well, it seems that Bellatrix Lestrange had you two captive, and Potter got in a bit of a squabble with that Hunter, of whatever it was, to get to her. Good riddance to that bitch. Draco looked at Harry s still form. Never thought that I would be on his side in anything, far less duelling alongside him. That s two off the list, for good. He smiled in a grim satisfaction. Just Voldemort to finish off now.

Hermione was beyond confused. She thought that Draco would be the first in line to follow in his father s footsteps, but he was talking about killing Voldemort as if it were stopping at a bar for drinks. Since when did you want to kill him? and his eyes glowed red. He murdered my parents two days ago. Everyone went dead silent, their faces stricken with horror. Potter and I have something in common now, and Voldemort is a dead man. Get him up and running, we have some unfinished business to settle with Riddle. Hermione did not know what to say. She watched Draco differently now, he was no longer a nuisance and a spoilt brat, and these new developments had somehow eradicated his pettiness. She laid her hand on Harry s chest and concentrated. The Solidus charm was fighting to keep him alive, but right now what he needed was a Healing spell to keep him from slipping into a coma. What happened to Harry? she asked Ron with a serious expression on her face. Ron was pacing up and down, he couldn t believe what had just happened a few minutes ago. He should be dead, but he isn t, he should be dead, I don t know, it s just too much, he nearly died out there...how in hell did he survive? Hermione frowned. Ron was in hysterics, and not much help to her. Can anyone tell me what happened? She finally got through Harry s automatic magical defence, and took out her wand. Resuscitarus! she incanted. Harry stirred, but did not wake. She frowned down at him; what was wrong with him? CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM?! she screamed into the dead silence. He took the brunt of the Death Eater s Killing curse, and survived, Luna Lovegood knelt down next to Hermione, peering at Harry s face. She put her ear to his chest, checking for his heartbeat. WHAT!? Hermione screamed at Luna and visibly began to panic. she accused him. His face hardened

Oh and it seems that the Hunter temporarily drained him of his magic and life energy, before Malfoy here showed up and saved his life, She was calmly opening his eyelids one at a time, and checking his pulse. Excuse me, she said matter-of-factly, crawling around to Harry s side. She leant down over him and put her mouth over his. What are you do- Hermione stopped herself, she couldn t believe it. Luna was giving Harry CPR. Luna breathed life back into him, and pumped his chest a few times, then repeated the process. UURAH! Harry s eyes flashed open, and he gasped, desperate for air. He turned over to his side, coughing up some blood lodged in the back of his throat. Hermione was so relieved she burst out in tears and grabbed him tightly, hugging his head close. Now don t go suffocating him, Granger, he had to fight for his already for the night, he smirked. C mon scarhead, we need to offered him his hand, and Harry looked up at him incredulously. it, and Draco helped him get up. The medallion that hung around life twice talk. He He took Draco s

neck caught his attention. How did you get that? he asked, his voice grating through his damaged lungs. Draco s face darkened, and he tucked it inside his jersey. We ll get to that. In private? Draco turned to Cho. Got a room where we could talk? Harry retorted, his hands Draco said calmly.

We could speak outside here, I trust everyone, on his knees.

This has something to do with your murdered parents,

Harry was momentarily dumbstruck. He stared at Draco hard, but Draco wasn t laughing or trying to irritate him. He nodded, and they both left the room. When they were alone in Mrs. Chang s office, Draco turned to him and said flat out: Voldemort murdered my parents Friday, just as he murdered yours. I m going after him. You in? Harry s jaw dropped. He couldn t be serious. What!? Potter, did I stutter? B-but... Harry couldn t believe his ears.

Look at this, Draco took off his coat, then the medallion and then the Halo he pocketed from his mother. My mother was wearing these when she died, the medallion and the cloak belong to no other than my uncle and your godfather, Sirius Black. I m not sure if this Halo is hers, but I m going to bet the same charm your mother used on you before she died is the same charm my mother used on me, and this is what she needed to do it. He handed Potter the Golden headpiece with the crystal embedded in the front. I ve had days to contemplate what happened Friday, and every minute I spent trying to find a way to get even. And everything leads back to you. Harry was holding the halo in his hand. This was a powerful magical object indeed; it practically energized him with magic. It felt as if it held Life itself. Malfoy was now like him, he knew what it meant to lose both parents to Voldemort. Malfoy, about your mom, I m sorry. Harry really was sorry. She was just another victim; another bystander in a vicious web that surrounded himself and his nemesis. Why did the people around him suffer loss and death just because he was alive? Draco just stared at the dark haired boy, he was fighting back any sort of emotional response. Yeah. Well. I m sorry too. He turned away from him, and picked up a quill from the desk, running his fingers through the feather. He hesitated before he said the next few words. How do you feel now that we ve actually killed Lestrange and the Hunter? He felt different somehow, he felt as if something had changed inside of him. Harry remembered the power of the sword, and the satisfaction of

seeing Sirius killer burn into nothingness just before his eyes, her screams piercing the quiet night. Draco eyed him, trying to read the emotions that crossed his battered face. The right side was bruised and swelling, his eye almost shut with the puffiness. Harry looked at Draco, and his eyes alighted with a blue glow. I feel nothing. Lestrange needed to be wiped from the face of this earth. He replied, hatred in his voice. As does Voldemort. Draco watched him, and for the first time in a long while, he smiled. Excellent. ******************************** Alastor Moody lay in a semi conscious state in a muggle hospital. The doctors had done surgery on his wounds, but he had already lost his right hand. He could barely move, and had tubes running from his nose and arm, his only source of life. St. Mungo s doctors had replaced his magical eye for a regular fake one when they admitted him in to the private hospital, and so far the surgery had been a success. He looked around through his only good eye, the place was stark white and mint green, it had a cold, sterile feeling to it. He felt the medallion summon him earlier this night, that s why he woke up. It was Potter s medallion that called, but he was too weak to give him any sort of feedback, much less go to his aid. Harry, you re on your own. At Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall was donning her old battle robes. Her cloak and medallion were lain out on the bed, and she watched them with an air of impending doom. There was a fleeting moment of mind contact with Professor Dumbledore, sort of a plea for help, then it was suddenly cut off. She contacted the Weasleys, Arthur and Bill Weasley were coming to meet her at the school. Snape was already waiting downstairs, and a few other of the Order were also congregating. The mission to save Fletcher had gone horribly wrong, and Dumbledore needed another team to get them out. Her face was set in stone, she was getting too old for this. The rest of the order was now called into action, and all were meeting at Hogwarts to form a plan, a plan that needed to be implemented without hesitation. When she arrived downstairs, she nodded grimly at all those present. Surveying them all in her most severe stare she announced in a grave voice: The enemy now has the advantage. Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, Nymphadora Tonks, Charlie Weasley and Remus Lupin have been captured in an effort to rescue Fletcher. There was an intake of breath, and a few visibly paled. Eight wizards were congregated there, and all of them were dressed for combat. She was the only remaining member of the Original Order of the Phoenix, hereby automatically becoming the leader of this rescue effort. Our actions tonight will shape the future as we know it, and for the

better when we succeed, because failure is not an option. Our primary objective is to retrieve our comrades, be they dead or alive. Our secondary objective is to eliminate Tom Riddle- self proclaimed Lord Voldemort. Our rescue effort is priority, and we will retreat immediately on success. If our comrades are dead, we will make sure that our enemy burns in hell. Any questions? No one uttered a word, there was only a look of steely determination on their faces. McGonagall nodded regally. We leave immediately. ********************** Maureen Chang was now leaving her friends at the trendy wizard restaurant. It was a bit after midnight, and she was sure everything was under control at Cho s party. That victory in the court case was a release for her, she had drowned herself in work ever since Harry s case was brought to her. She would just wish him happy birthday when she got home and let the kids enjoy themselves. Her daughter was so looking forward to this party, so she hoped everything had gone smoothly. Saying goodbye, she disapparated and reapparated at her front gate. The first thing she noticed was that there was no music playing, and everyone seemed to be dead quit inside, all of them standing in some state of shock. She ran inside, and nearly everyone screamed or jumped at her sudden appearance in the doorway. Cho! WHAT HAPPENED? Her daughter was crying, tears slowly running down her face. Everyone seemed to be scared out of their wits at something, and a pretty girl with a white pants was avidly talking to a tall red haired boy. She recognized them as Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, Harry s best friends. But where was Harry? MOM!! WE WERE ATTACKED! BELLATRIX LESTRANGE WAS HERE!! she ran up to her, and hugged her tightly. Harry..- Harry.. she sniffed, Harry, nearly died...but-bu he saved us.. Where is he now? In your office Mrs. Chang asked, holding her daughter close. talking to Malfoy

Lucius Malfoy s son?! She released her daughter and whipped out her wand, storming inside her study area. There was a blonde boy standing next to Harry, and both of them turned at Maureen s presence. Harry was in a mess, his bare back was streaked with blood, and his whole right side of his face was swollen and discoloured. His jeans were now just tatters, and there were visible bruises and scrapes on his arms. Oh my God.. Harry you okay?! Harry looked directly into her eyes. No. This has gone too far, for too long. The next time I allow Hermione

or anyone else for that matter to be used to get to me is the day that I no longer exist. It ends. It ends tonight. Draco, Let s go. That s what I m talking about, Malfoy replied, brushing past Maureen Chang. Where do the two of you think you re going? Mrs.Chang ordered in her most stern voice. Harry and Draco paused, and turned to face her. The blue eyes of Draco glowed red and Harry s green eyes shone blue. She took an involuntary step back. What in the world? We ll tell you when we get back. Draco replied, and swept out of the room, his cloak billowing out behind him. Thanks for everything, Harry responded. Tell Cho I m sorry. He left as well, closing the door behind them. He caught up with Malfoy who was storming down the corridor. Can I hold the Halo again? he asked. Malfoy handed it to him abruptly.

Take it. That part of my life is no more- and I have no time for pretty trinkets. Harry looked at his face, Draco had really changed, the determination on his face could only be recognised as one possessed. Harry knew what that felt like, and decided not to comment. But there was one thing he must do before he left. I have to speak to someone first. Be quick Potter. I will be outside. The crowd in the main area were talking amongst themselves in frantic voices, the whole fight outside and Draco s parents being murdered the main topics of conversation. Hermione alone was silent, leaning against the wall by herself. She refused to talk to anyone right now; she was still in a state of shock. She heard the events of tonight from everyone s hysterics, and saw Harry s condition when she woke up. Her initial reaction was that she thought- and honestly believed- he was dead. His face was in a mess, blood was splattered all over him and his clothes were basically non-existent. She had managed to keep a cool head at the time but now as it really sunk in she was more scared than ever. Harry nearly died tonight, and it was because of her. Ginny told her how Lestrange used the Imperious curse to get both of them outside, therefore goading her true target out to fight; using her hostages as trump pieces. She could have picked anyone here, but directly targeted her as bait. And because of that, everything had changed. Harry had killed two people to rescue her. That thought ran over and over in her head ever since he and Malfoy went to talk some ten minutes ago. Her tears ran freely down her face and ruined her carefully applied make-up ,but she didn t care. Her first boyfriend of only a few days had to kill someone at his sixteenth birthday party. What kind of life is that? He was strong, but no one is invincible.

Her fears coursed through her like wildfire; sooner or later he would not be the victor in these deadly battles. She couldn t fathom that, she couldn t lose him so soon. Not now, not ever. As if he was reading her thoughts, Harry came up to her. He pulled her into a hug, and held her close for a few seconds. She openly cried unto his shoulder and put her arms around his bare back, feeling the warm skin beneath her fingers. Hermione. I need you to do something. She sniffed, and looked into his battered face. Anything, she whispered. She owed him her life, but more than that, she loved him dearly. Release the protection you have over me. Severe all remnants of your presence in my mind. Her eyes widened, he could not mean that. Wh-what?..Why? she stammered.

Just do it. He said, his voice toneless. His words cut like steel, but she would not do so without reason. She glared angrily up at him. Not unless you give me an answer. She was steadfast.

If I do not come back tonight, HE will, and he would come for you first. I cannot allow and will not allow that to happen. If you don t do as I ask, I will fight you out. I can tell you from my experiences with Snape that it won t be pleasant. So please, just ...just do as I ask. For me. He whispered that last softly. A scary feeling bubbled inside her, it sounded as a could sense the agony inside his mind, but she also that stood there like a giant impenetrable wall. It to war, he knew what need to be done, and knew that She realized now who the HE was, and now her eyes You are NOT going to fight him, you can t! last request. She felt the resolution was if he was heading he may not come back. narrowed to slits.

she begged.

I can t? His eyes glowed faintly. Hermione he looked deep into her eyes. I- I love you. Remember that, no matter what happens. Her heart soared, he said what she waited so long to hear. She smiled sadly, and held him close again. She held her wand in her right hand behind him, and whispered an incantation, pressing her lips to his bruised face. Harry felt the swelling ease and the pain gradually recede. His right eye had full vision again, and Hermione looked at him deep in his eyes. I won t let you go. She said firmly, tears welling up again. He felt her commitment, but he could not allow this to continue. For everyone s sake. I m sorry, Hermione. He held her face between his palms, and gazed directly into her eyes. Leglimens! She was momentarily stunned, an immensely powerful presence entered her mind, and shut down the Occlumens charm, breaking through her defences as if it were merely twigs underfoot. There was a sharp pain, and she nearly fell down, but Harry held her close and she slumped into him.

I m sorry, this will be the last time I ever hurt you. He put the Halo of Life into her bag. Keep this for us: it belonged to our mothers. Hermione was so dizzy from that mental assault she could barely stand. He scooped her up in his arms, and carried her to a cushy recliner. Harry kissed her lightly on the lips, tenderly caressing her face. She feebly tried to reach for his hand to hold him back, but he stepped out of her reach. He strode out of the room and his cloak and sword jumped immediately to his command. Wrapping the cloak around his shoulders, and slipping the sword into his belt, he stormed out, not giving anyone else another glance. Everyone refrained from bombarding him with questions, backing off to let him pass. At the last moment, Harry paused at the door, and turned his head slightly to address someone. Ron! he called. Look after her. I m counting on you. There was an eerie silence, and he left without another word. He strode out towards Malfoy, who was examining the katana he held in his hand. Think this might come in handy, he grinned, absolutely relishing his new acquisition. What took you so long, Scarhead? Shut up Malfoy. He made his way to his bike, and put on the jacket Tonks gave him as a present. You know where he is? Malfoy asked him.

If he could get in my head, I could get into his. I ll find him. Knew you had it in you, Shut up and get on. Malfoy smirked.

Harry ordered again. Malfoy smiled

I like the new you. Takes after my own dear heart,

Harry sneered. Whatever. He mashed down on the gas, and the engine roared to life. People were already swarming out of the house to find out where they were going, but both of them were already soaring into the night sky. ***************************** Stealth was no longer the main objective and McGonagall s team was streaking low over the cold Atlantic, their broomsticks going as fast as possible. They were making good speed, the icy spray drenching them within minutes. Siren s rock, the home of Azkaban prison, was within sight, the cold and ominous towers of the wizard gaol looming high in the night sky. It seemed the night was darker around the nightmare place, the fog clouding the base of the craggy shoreline. Behind and to the northwest of the impregnable fortress lay a deserted muggle castle, the last place of contact with Dumbledore and the others. The team felt the cold magic drain of being so close to the dementors that inhabited Siren s rock, and made a large arc to keep out of its range of affect but still keep decent time. Circling around, they saw the tiny island with the fort looking like a toy

house in the distance. We re nearly there, Bill Weasley said, fearing for the safety of his brother. His mother had cried and cried when they left, she had to stay and tell the others when they came back form Harry s party. But her two oldest sons and husband was bound for battle, no woman should have to endure that type of fear. The memories of the boggart in Sirius house were now coming to the forefront, her fears now becoming a reality. She wanted her family home, and safe in her arms. The team landed and disembarked inside of the walls of the giant fortress, in the courtyard in front of a large wooden double door that rose metres high. We know who we are dealing with. We shall show no quarter, neither shall we expect it. McGonagall rallied her troops. We get in, we find Dumbledore and the others, and we get out. If it comes to battle, we attack with full force. Snape, Charlie, Arthur, Proudmore, you would be the main attack team. The others and myself will be the search and rescue effort. Let s go. They approached the door, and Severus Snape pushed it, and amazingly it swung open. Their wands were out, and everyone spread himself or herself out as to not be in each other s way. They made their way through the main dining hall, then through some sub rooms and hallways, emerging in what seemed to be an enormous mess hall or assembly area. It was open to the elements, and dark clouds covered most of the night sky. The wall parapets and turrets rose high and surrounded them on both sides, the way they came behind them, and another pair of wooden doors leading to the next section of the fortress at the far end. But what was the main attraction of the eerie battleground was what was in the centre. There was a raised stone dais in the centre , on which the stood a very ancient archway. Hung from it was a veil that fluttered rapidly, as if a strong wind was blowing ceaselessly into it. In front of the veil stood a lone hooded figure, his face cast in shadow, his hands folded in front of him, the forearms resting in the opposite sleeves. High above the veil, Dumbledore and his team were caught in a stasis field, revolving high off ground around the archway, resembling dial hands in a demonic clock. Their bodies were unmoving and still, their cloaks hanging limp beneath them. My god, Snape muttered, examining the horrific scene. The Drk lord couldn t have achieved it so soon- it was impossible. He couldn t have found theWELCOME!! Voldemort s voice hissed. I see you are all here, and now it is done. The second war has finished before it has even started, you are now mine. He drew his wand slowly from his robes, stepping forward to the group. STUPEFY! Arthur Weasley attacked, pointing his wand. When nothing happened, he was momentarily shocked. What in Merlin s name? he gasped, looking incredulously at his wand. He has found the way. It is too late . tone, Snape muttered in a defeated

Ah my once loyal servant realizes the futility of your entire pathetic order. He laughed to himself, and pointed at the door behind them,. Collorportus. It sealed itself shut, and now there was no escape. The rescue effort each tried a spell, all to no avail. With no means to defend themselves, and no cover to hide, they all stood there, defiant in their cause. If death summons us, I will go bravely, and not without a fight!! McGonagall cried, standing proud. Die you will, but not before you witness my triumph over Harry potter. You are no doubt clueless to why your magic does not work. That expedition into the department of mysteries was not a complete failure, for the news of the Animagus Black s death inside of this ghastly abomination was of great interest to me. He walked around the great archway, his face still shadowed by the dark hood he wore. This, this was worth the embarrassment of having my servants defeated by mere school children. This, my esteemed guests, is worth the failure to learn of the prophecy. It is worth more than life eternal. What you see before you is the essence of death itself, the Demhencia. Within the immediate area of this, I can nullify all of your spells, and reincarnate death itself into beings to obey my will. What you fools think are dementors are wizards who no longer have a soul, neither substance, and feed on life to survive, bringing death and despair to all. He raised his hands up to his captives, giving glory to his demonic instrument and the sacrifices that orbited it. They are the angels of hell. Now that I have you all, the supposed Elite of wizard-kind, your deaths will empower me even further, to heights I cannot even dare comprehend. For it is I, Lord Voldemort, who have found a way to control death itself: re-incarnation, soul stealing, anti-magical sorcery; all very, very useful indeed. I have been to the depths of Hell, and spoken with the Dark Angel Lucifer himself. He has recognized my ambition, adopted me, and now I am his chosen prophet and faithful servant. The very words chilled McGonagall down to her spine. Everyone was visibly horrified, backing up to the wall. This, is the portal to a special Purgatory, but there is only one exit, and that leads to my master. Through here there is no entrance to heaven, and souls remain forever more, in nothingness. Proudmore and Bill Weasley cracked first, the horror of it all driving them into madness. They ran to the door and began to bang on it with their fists, neither feeling nor caring as blood began to flow from their bleeding hands. Snape s eyes darted left to right, his rationale and cool exterior crumbling before Voldemort s eyes. He screamed, and charged the door with his shoulder, banging on it ceaselessly. Arthur and McGonagall paled even more, and Arthur rolled up his sleeves for muggle battle, knowing he was about to die.

I do not fear you.

McGonagall declared, her voice full of fight.

Do not fear me. Fear for your soul. Avada Kedavra! In a flash of green light one of the most respected witches in the world was gone, and would never return. The others screamed, and began to pound on the door even more intesely, screaming at the top of their lungs. Arthur alone stood fast, but knew that he was a dead man. Ah. I sense some spirit in you. Your power is strong, but your skills are pathetic. However, you would do nicely. He pointed his wand at Mr. Weasley and he froze, gripped by an invisible force. Voldemort swung his wand to the sky above in a sharp manner, and Mr. Weasley now revolved around with the others, totally immobile. His last thought was of his family and his loving wife, then succumbed to the paralysing spell. ****************************** Hermione stood outside, staring at the night sky. Her wand was in one hand, the Halo of Life in another. The wind blew her long curls about her, and she closed her eyes solemnly...tears running down her face. She knew destiny was calling, and her actions decided whether her loved one lived or died. She incanted an ancient magic, and the spell was set. Ron came up behind her, and called her tentatively. Hermione? Harry is going into battle tonight, she said softly. Our future will be decided here, this very night- and Harry is the only person who could stop him. He went after Voldemort, happening. Ron said, now fully realizing what was

I can still sense him, but faintly. This Halo is extremely powerful, and it is what I need. It was not by coincidence Malfoy brought this. She spoke in a low tone, knowing that tonight she was going to do something she never thought she would have to. The Ultimate Sacrifice. I m going to help him. Are you coming? Hermione said bravely. Yes, Ron replied without hesitation. How he began.

This will take us, she said, taking his hand. The ground around them glowed slightly, and a light yellow circular symbol materialized underneath them. Harry, we re coming.

******************************

Chapter 22: One Must Fall [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

** CHAPTER 22: One Must Fall **

Harry was skimming low over the waves in his motorbike, the powerful Atlantic winds making travel any higher very dangerous, even for a magical vehicle. He had felt the sudden surge and drop of magical power in his amulet, and instinctively knew that one of their own had fallen. Did you feel that? against his chest. Yeah begun. Harry said, touching the Order s medallion hanging We re too late, it has

he replied, Draco s tone very sombre.

Well it ends tonight, one way or another. He gazed into the mist that surrounded Azkaban like a cloak. Voldemort s moods were pouring into him now, and he could pinpoint exactly where he was. They had to make it in time. For everyone s sake. Are you ready? he said aloud to himself, and his nemesis. Gunning the engine even more he zoomed through the thick mist, the island rock of the final showdown in his sights. Bill Weasley was doubled over, vomiting from the pain, the horror of it all. Voldemort had tortured Snape, and the screams that came from his mouth were beyond human. Voldemort fancied new ways of implementing pain, as he was so gleefully toying with them, giving explicit detail on the effects. He was actually having fun, and his light hearted tone was such a sadistic contrast to his deeds that Bill actually did believe that the Devil himself has sent forth his son. Without any visible means of escape, he resigned himself to his death and began to pray. Our Father This, my red haired lad, is the Puncturus curse. Allow me to demonstrate, Voldemort playfully pointed at Sturgis Proudmore, who tried to run. He was ensnared by Voldemort s paralysis spell and lifted high above the ground. Conjunctive Puncturus! Who art in heaven Proudmore s eyes burst from its sockets, and after a few seconds of screaming, reattached themselves to the nerves left exposed. The sound and

the dripping blood was beyond horrifying, and the soft chuckling from Voldemort would drive any being mad. The order watched in terror as the eyes popped out then reattached themselves over and over, the screaming man begging for mercy. ...Hallowed be thy name... You wish death already? Why? We have only started ! Voldemort released him, and he fell to the ground, clawing his face to dig out the eyes that now were no longer a true part of him, the pain was unbearable. The sight of the man writhing on the ground and screaming at the top of his lungs was too much for Bill, and he shut his eyes and covered his ears like a little child frightened of the monster under his bed. ...Thy Kingdom come Snape how you disappointed me. Snape backed against the door, inching away from Voldemort. You- who could have delivered the boy to me at any time, decided to side with this muggle loving fool. Come now, young Weasley, let s try another one shall we? Severus, your turn ...Thy Will be done No! Master.. NO!! Voldemort responded with that sickening laugh again.

On Earth as it is in HeavBill blocked his ears and clamped his eyes shut as Voldemort pointed his wand again, the prayer already forgotten. Exertimus femur tibulus! There was a sickening crunching noise and Snape screamed, falling to the ground. He twitched; all the non vital bones were being broken in sequential order in his body. After the fourteenth pop, he stopped screaming, screaming was too painful. He lay there motionless, not able to vent the terrible pain in his body. Kill me he whispered.

Not yet, Voldemort replied, walking away. Your pain is insignificant to what I have endured. All the others who were still conscious cringed into the corners, trying their best to be unnoticed, like rats in a cage. Bill Weasley could not fathom what was happening around him, the screams of Proudmore still ringing through the night. Fred, George, Ron, Ginny- would he ever see them again? Expecting to be next victim of the Dark Lords experimental curses, he shut his eyes tightly wishing it to be quick. When nothing came, he opened his eyes, and saw Voldemort standing in a peculiar manner, his head tilted as if something just came to his attention. "It seems that my guest of Honour has arrived." Bill looked up hesitantly, Voldemort was unsure of something, and that meant there was a faint thread of hope.

**************** Harry and Draco landed in the open courtyard where McGonagall s squad had entered. They both took out their wands and entered the massive doorway, cautiously examining their surroundings. Harry looked meaningfully at Malfoy, and he indicated further on, towards the centre of the building. They quickened their pace, their nerves gone without a trace. Adrenaline pumped through their bodies, and Harry's scar hurt more with each step he took. They heard a distant banging, then it stopped suddenly. "You hear that?" Harry said. To confirm his fears, a chorus of screams erupted faintly through the long rooms. The sound echoed through the abandoned fortress, the ghost like wails coming from the huge wooden doors at the end of the building. Draco's pursed his lips tightly, and he gripped his wand until his knuckles were white. They ran through the rooms, past ancient statues of armour and disintegrating furniture. They came to a halt in front of the locked doors and looked at each other, the unsaid question on their expressions. Harry nodded, and Draco did the same. This was it. "Alohomora!" Nothing happened. Draco tried it as well, but still nothing. "Fuck it. Inciendo ar Jansitar!" his eyes blazed alive, a large fiery 'x' burned through the doorway. Both Harry and Draco kicked it, and it blew apart, pieces of flaming wood flying out into the courtyard. They looked up, and froze. The entire Order of the Phoenix, the Old and new, was revolving high the sky. Harry's scar burned into his forehead, and he put his hand to it, fighting the pain. A slow, deliberate clap came from in the centre of the courtyard. A lone figure stood there, his cloak hiding all features of his face. "I applaud you. If you are here, that means the Hunter and my pet has been defeated. Once again, congratualions on that remarkable feat. However, that was not unexpected. The end result is still the same, both of you are here, and now there is no one left to stand against me." "Shut the fuck up. You wanted me for sixteen years. Let's get this over with." Harry drew his wand, and pointed it directly at him. "PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!" Voldemort laughed, and Harry stood there, dumbstruck. What happened to his magic? "Imperio!" Voldemort said lazily. Harry's mind went blank, and he felt all contented and happy. You dumb fuck! fight it! ..Why? It feels so..nice

Remember training! Don't give in! ..What training ?. Snap out of it! "NO!!" He screamed, and his eyes blazed alive. "Time to cut this bullshit." He glared at Voldemort, who lowered his wand slowly, looking at the strange glow in his eyes. "I have underestimated you. Very well, I will not toy with you any longer." With Voldemort s attention more focused on Harry, Draco covertly incanted his Elemency spell. He needed something more advanced, Voldemort stood in the flames of his house without even being touched. Maybe, if I destroyed his wand... Voldemort looked upon Draco, who eyes glowed fire."Dear boy, don't you know that your pathetic Infernus ability is nowhere strong enough to contest me? Crucio! " the spell sizzled at Draco, who dove out of the way. The sheer magnitude of it was too much though, and he felt his body seize up and cramp with pain. "Malfoy!" Harry said. " Incantum finite !" he screamed; pointing his wand at him. When again nothing happened, he began to panic. He couldn t use magic! Trying to buy time, he began to run away from Draco, drawing Voldemort s attention to himself. Now that this wave of panic came over him, he felt an incredible surge of power fuel his strides. Sprinting in a big arc away from Malfoy, he gripped the hilt of his sword, and his hair came alive, his eyes emanating an electric blue pulse. Voldemort turned, tracking him down with the wand. Harry s eyes focused on his nemesis, and just as Voldemort was about to curse him, he accelerated, taking three long leaping strides. Harry concentrated hard, got his legs underneath him, and bounded unto the curved wall, running up the length of as he picked up speed. Dragging the edge of the Sword of Gryffindor against the rough surface, sparks began to fly and a trail of shadows followed him as magic began to explode inside of him. Closing his eyes, he shoved away from the stone bricks, catapulting himself high into the air. "What magic is this?" Voldemort hissed. He spun around, looking for his vanished opponent. Voldemort s senses reached out, his heightened hearing detecting the distinctive sound of the rustling of a cloak from above. Harry was practically airborne, the sword raised high above his head. Voldemort momentarily saw through Harry s perspective, saw his own hooded from rushing up to him, and spun around. Caught in the headlights, Voldemort only had chance to point his wand. There was a flash of steel; and Voldemort dissaparated, but not fast enough. Harry landed in a crouch, a severed hand and wand landing at his feet. Voldemort wailed in agony, clutching the stub of his right hand. That was for Alastor, he declared, a murderous tone in his voice.

The Anti-magical jinx that kept Draco s and Harry s magic dormant was released, and Harry felt his wand spring back to life. Incantum finite ! he screamed, pointing at Malfoy, who was struggling to get back to his feet after being under the Cruciatus curse for so long. At the same time the Order of the Phoenix fell from the sky, but at that height it meant they will be killed from the impact. Malfoy, the others!! Mobilucorpus ! He screamed, and a few of the order stopped, hovering in midair. Malfoy feebly waved his wand and did likewise, catching a few others as well. Harry s eeys bulged when not all were caught, and they remainder were going to fall to an abrupt death. Letting go all of his inhibitions, he allowed the sword to command him. Harry's eyes blazed white with power, and he began to hover a few feet into the air. Draco s pain and weakness ebbed away from him, as he felt raw energy amplify his Infernus ability. There was a sudden release of effort needed to do the spell from his wand. Whipping his head around, he frowned as he say Harry levitating in the air, his wand pointing to the sky. He had to admit, he was impressed. The golden boy had taken the entire burden and the entire Order was held securely under his control. Good. Now it was his turn. Draco stood up, and his eyes blazed alive. Clasping his hands together, he forced them into each other, his arms and shoulders tensing as he attempted a fifth tier summon of the Infernus. He could do it, he knew it. Magic burned through him like never before. He will do it! Inciendo Eruptus !! The ground shook, and visible cracks zig-zagged throughout the in the courtyard. His blond hair came alive as rubble began to slowly fall upwards, the magic density around him amplified to an incredibly advanced state, flames igniting in his eyes. The cracks deepened, all of them racing towards Voldemort. The Dark lord was gripping his bleeding stub, his face was contorted in agony. Suddenly, the ground below him erupted in huge fifty foot pillar of fire, the flames engulfing him whole; his body propelled upwards in the blast. Draco screamed as he felt the magma below the earth s surface beckoning him to use its vast reservoir of energy, willing himself to give his all to kill his parents killer. When he heard that soft chuckling noise escalate into a mad cackle, he opened his eyes, not believing it. Voldemort was blown high up into the sky, unscathed by the flames. He stood unfazed on a large piece of rubble, levitating it without using a wand as he looked down at the two novices. Impressive, young Malfoy, but still not enough. Draco drew the Hunter s blade and charged, sprinting towards Voldemort who surveyed him from on high. What, you plan to miraculously fly and stick me with your little toy? he mocked, summoning his severed hand towards him. Not quite- Draco grinned, and is eyes blazed alive again. Throwing the sword in a high forward arc, he slammed both palms together, again

summoning forth the Element of Fire. One more time Inciendo Eruptus!! he screamed, watching the balde as it tumbled over and over in the night sky. This time, the cracks raced to a few footsteps in front of Draco and he laughed the ground exploded in another huge pillar of fire. Propelled violently upwards a second time, he once again incanted the same spell, his eyes focusing on the glinting steel flipping end over end. Another Volcanic eruption exploded, and Draco rode this one higher, bouncing from one fountains of fire to the other. The explosive force sent him sailing in a long trajectory forward, his cloak and body entirely engulfed in flames. Not taking his eyes off the sword for a moment, he snatched it out of the air and took it in a two handed grip, screaming as he brought it arcing down over his head. Voldemort couldn t believe it. The boy had actually gotten on top of him! PROTEGO! Voldemort hissed, milliseconds before impact.

Draco swung with all his might, and there was a loud clang of steel on an invisible force shield. Voldemort was sent plummeting like a missile to the ground, the shield taking the brunt of the attack. Draco bounced off of the shield charm like a rubber ball, flailing his arms wildly as he fell. He landed with a loud on the unforgiving floor, feeling his magic shut down. The sword fell from his hand, and the volcanic fires immediately disappeared. He lifted his hand feebly, defiantly trying to stay awake, but the darkness pulled his eyelids shut. He was out cold. Draco! Harry screamed, still concentrating on bringing down the others. He thought about letting them fall and catch them before they landed, but even that that was too risky. He knew he was now a sitting duck, but he couldn t worry about that now. His wand hand was quavering, the effort of controlling so many objects draining his fortified strength like a syringe. Voldemort was getting up from the Draco s attack, the ground beneath him chipped and cracked from the force of impact of his powerful shield. Tremendous power, I will enjoy taking his soul. Reaching out with his left hand, he summoned his severed hand and held the bloody wrist in his grasp. He laughed as he saw his enemy struggling to save his precious Order . Fool. Never turn your back on an opponent. Avada Kedavra. Harry s scar surged with tremendous pain as pure animosity ran through him. There was a flash of green, then his vision momentarily turned black and white. The killing spell blasted him twelve feet away. He hit the ground face first and tumbled over a few times. Harry s magic fizzled away, and all senses immediately stopped. His perception of reality was now only in his mind, his conscious trying in vain to hold on to something that was no longer his. His body relaxed, the muscles no longer responding. His sword and wand dropped from his hands, and the medallion felt icy cold against his chest. His heart stopped, and there was a desperate need of oxygen to his brain. One by one, his organs shut down, his chest no longer rose and fell in rhythm.

So this is what it means to die...

His last thoughts were about Hermione, and how he never got the chance to show her how much he loved her. The curtains closed, both eyelids falling for the last time.

I couldn t do it

Harry Potter had fallen before time, his legacy dying with his final breath.

******************* After enjoying the euphoria of victory for nearly a full minute, Voldemort approached his defeated enemy, looming eyes and pale face twisted with glee. been a worthy adversary, he declared, grimace. It is done. Before he could token of his victory, a light began to triumphantly over him, his snake Farewell, young Potter, you have reattaching his severed hand with a retrieve Harry s fallen weapon as a shine from behind him.

Lumos Jansius ! a female voice screamed. The light expanded until it reached a blinding luminance. Hermione s gripped tightly unto the halo of Life, her hands poised over her head. Tears began to run down her face as she lowered it reverently on her brow. Asar Millemiulus Resucitarius Infinite! From the depths of darkness, a single pin point of energy twinkled. The Essence of Life itself had been reborn. Harry's heartbeat kicked itself back into action, and the natural instinct the body has of self-presence and material weight began sending nerve impulses up his spinal cord. Blood circulation re-activated, and electrical pulses began racing to re-animate what was once gone. His mind jumpstarted, everything flooding back at once. All of his injuries jostled each other in reflexive spurts, giving him a total body status. The smoky air rushed back into his lungs, yet it never tasted so sweet. He groaned softly. He just couldn t believe it. He was in tremendous pain, but he was alive. That was all that mattered. Determination surged back into him, and his fingers gripped the wand at his side. Not knowing that his enemy had returned from the dead, Voldemort spun around to face this new threat. He couldn t believe his eyes as yet

another teenager stood with his wand raised, a grim determination on his face. A girl lay face down at his feet, her hands splayed awkwardly at her sides. Fucking children! he swore, his eyes flickering dangerously. He raised his arms above his head, and incanted, SYAR ALKI US DEHMENCIOUS! Enervate! Ron shouted, pointing it at Hermione, but she barely stirred. He scooped down, and propped her up in his arms. Come on, Hermione, get up! Rescitarus! Nothing. She still lay limply in his arms. Dementors were slowly materializing out of the Veil of the Unknown, two, and three at a time. Ron felt their accumulative presence gnawing at him, but he had to concentrate, he was the only one who could do anything at the moment. He heard a sound from to his right, and spotted Draco Malfoy moaning on the ground, his head lolling to the side. Grabbing Hermione around her body, he hauled her across to him. Malfoy! uuunnhh Ron pointed his wand at him. looked up groggily at Ron. Enervate! Draco s eyes shot open and he

Weasley King..? What are you doing here? without waiting for an answer, he sprung to his feet. Where s Potter? he asked, looking around. Do you know how to do a Patronus? save him!! Ron asked desperately. We have to

A Patro- who?! Draco asked, completely baffled. His head hurt, and his back was killing him, but he was alive. That s a good sign. Holy shit, he murmured, looking at all the Dementors materializing around them, it seemed to be closing on twenty. If you have a plan Weasley, now would be an excellent time, he ordered, tightening the grip on the Hunter s sword. Harry still lay on the ground, his already weakened strength now being affected by the Dementors. He was too weak to get up and move, and sooner or later the magic feeding demons would take him, sucking out his precious soul. He turned his head to the side, and saw Malfoy and Ron backing into each other, wands held at the ready, the swarm of dementors closing down on them. They had targeted them first, they had the most magic in their bodies. Right about now, he felt like a beat up punching bag. Wait, who was that on the ground? It was Hermione! Desperation surged back into him, and he gripped the sword with the other hand. His eyes burned with power, and his hair came alive, dancing across his vision. Go, he commanded silently. Malfoy!! he screamed, and his sword sped towards the trio being enclosed by the undead spirits. The sword tore through the dementors in its arrow flight path, leaving a wide line of disintegrated cloaks. Malfoy turned at his name and saw the sword bearing down at him. Harry made another silent command, and the blade kicked

itself up, flipping over many times in the air, arcing down at Malfoy. He timed the blade, and snatched it out of the air. Suddenly, he felt energized, and charged, swinging both swords in vicious arcs, cutting down the dementors in waves. In the center around the Veil, some of the Order were rousing, Hagrid and Tonks were the first to awaken. Arthur Weasley keeled over on his side, vomiting up blood. The severely injured were still out cold, and Dumbledore also did not move. Remus was the first to fully recover, and he got wearily to his feet. In his present condition, the utter lack of defences left him very vulnerable. The fear the dementors instilled swamped him immediately. Seeing the full moon right before his eyes, he yelled, and his transformation began. Ron, oblivious to anything other than the horde of Dementors swarming him, tried to concentrate. His mustered his nerve, shouted his spell. Expecto Patronum! His patronus surged out of his wand, a bright light chasing down the nearby dementors. Harry watched on in worry, still trying to get his body to respond. Draco was visibly slowing, and swinging in a desperate manner. The paralyzing effects were taxing him, and it would be sooner or later that the continuous army of Dementors Voldemort was summoning would get in to him. Ron s corporal patronus was fading; he was on his knees desperately shielding Hermione with his body and his failing patronus. After a few half hearted attempts to swing the swords, Draco was on all fours vomiting, the dementors closing the gap. Suddenly, there was a howl of a beast, and a huge silver grey wolf ran along the courtyard. It had eyes that shone through the night, its shiny fur reflecting the clear moonlight. It charged through the dementors, passing through them like a mystical spirit of the night. Voldemort stopped his summoning charm, and faced the huge beast. Remus! Harry croaked, hope instilling him with determination as he lay there, slowly recuperating. Voldemort s many curses didn t even come close, the bolts of magic to slow against such an agile creature. As Remus pounced again, his jaws snapping, Voldemort disappeared and reapparated out of range, firing another killing spell that once again narrowly missed his shiny mane. Remus was fighting the Dark Lord, but the dementors were still closing in on his friends. Harry s body filled with desperation, and he felt the Solidus Charm return, flowing fresh through his veins. His eyes blazed alive and the cloak regenerated around his shoulders. Solidus' energy was now stronger than ever, and he was back, ready to finish this. He rose slowly to his feet. Outstretching his right Hand, the sword flew from Draco s limp fingers and back into his palm. Holding the sword vertically with both hands, he brought the blade at eye level, the letters G O D R I C G R Y F F I N D O R pulsing with a hot orange glow. Closing his eyes, Harry began to levitate slowly, then spiralled upwards,

soaring into the sky. The night came alive and clouds darkened, the whole atmosphere crackling with energy. The clash between the moisture-filled rain clouds created a lightning storm high above, the clouds flashing as electricity surged from one to the other. Father, I need your help. He pointed his wand, and thought about the day that he and Hermione danced quietly at his house, his true feelings for her brought out in the open. Expecto Patronum!! A huge corporal patronus, bigger than any before, parted the huge clouds above, and the great Stag charged down through the sky. Its hooves pounded on the courtyard stone, leaving small craters in its wake. It circled Ron, Hermione and Draco protectively, the dementors disintegrating into the smoke of lost souls. Voldemort looked up to the sky, an utter look of horror on his face. Harry s eyes burned high in the sky, his cloak buffeted by pure magical energy. There was a peculiar sensation of one returning from a long journey coursing through him. He felt a familiar soul reaching out to him, a soul that belongs to the wizard who vowed to protect his best friend s only child. ... Harry, call whenever you need me, okay? I will be always there for you... It is time Voldemort, you shall be judged by the Grim. Sirius, lend me your strength. We re in this together from now on MORBIDUS PATRONUM!! The veil shone white, and a large canine head emerged, a huge black dog with glowing eyes. It fully emerged, and Sirius Black in his animal form stepped slowly onto the courtyard, its eyes flashing at Voldemort. Ron, Draco, and the others who were conscious were beyond shock. Even though it looked just like him, Ron instinctively knew that something was not right about this. This definitely was not the friendly dog nicknamed Padfoot. The massive dog growled, and bared his fangs. It crouched low, and Voldemort paled visibly, horror struck. He stepped back in fear, and fell, tripping over some rubble. No . it does not exist, what illusion is this!! he screamed. The Stag, the Werewolf and the Grim all walked around him, as if circling prey. The rest of the Order were now coming to their senses, and were dumbstruck by the extraordinary sight. The Marauders rode once again. The Grim has passed judgment, Harry held the hilt in a two handed grip,

once again holding it close to his face. Angling it so that the blade ran parallel to his shoulder span, he squinted his eye in line with the blade s target. It was aimed directly at Voldemort s chest. Gryffindor, give me your steel. The blade shone blinding white, and everyone had to block their eyes from the intensity. Harry streaked downwards through the night sky, a lightning bolt of blue and white. There was a loud sonic scream, the air tunnel behind him penetrated the clouds and they parted to once again let the moon s rays to illuminate the battlefield. In that single intense heartbeat, Voldemort was forced to look through Harry s point of view. And the only thing he could see was the petrified expression of his own face. The instant before Harry plunged the legendary weapon into his heart, his perspective reverted, and all he saw has a lightning shape scar glowing over two green eyes. There was ear shattering crash, and dust and rocks flew everywhere. Ron and Malfoy created shield charms over the wounded, and crouched low as rubble fell like rain. After the dust had settled, Ron sprung up and ran to the huge crater, climbing over the boulders that surrounded it. Harry! he shouted, jumping in. Harry lay in the crater, his face pale, and barely breathing. The charm was gone, and he was covered with rocks and dirt. The sword no longer glowed; it was embedded up to the hilt in the center of Voldemort s chest. The Dark Lord s mouth was opened in a silent scream, his red snake-eyes now a dull brown. Ron picked up Harry, and heaved him onto his shoulders. Grunting under his own strength, he managed to push Harry over the edge of the crater, exerting himself to the fullest. He took one last look at the dead body buried beneath the crater rubble, and brought up a mucus filled wad of saliva. He hocked it out, its thick yellow substance splattering against Voldemort s dead face. He climbed out and shook Harry, trying to wake him. His face was pale as death, covered in dirt. The scar was gone. Harry!! Harry!! You did it!! HE S DEAD!! He opened his eyes, and smiled weakly. Yeah... he groaned. His head fell back, and he blacked out, his body exerted far beyond human capability. Harry?? HARRYY!?

*****************

Chapter 23: Farewell, My Love [View Online] [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

**EPILOGUE: Farewell, My Love**

A week had passed since Harry s sixteenth birthday. He had awoken four days later in St Mungo s, under heavy medical surveillance. Too battered to move, he could only spoke in whispers, and only for a few minutes at a time. The first couple of days after he had woke up only close friends and Order members who fought alongside him were allowed to visit. Harry barely remembered what he said at those visits, his injuries so severe that he had completely blacked out in the middle of one or two of those conversations, the medical wards stationed around his bed alerting the healers to come rushing. His medical report had set a precedent, and even though specialists were flown in from Spain, Iceland and Norway, none of the advanced healers could explain the bizarre anomaly. The reports did not lie. The magical scan had clearly shown that all vital organs and brain activity had shut down completely, heart failure and time of death was precisely 2:22 A.m. on the first day of August. The autopsy report was there for anyone to see, the cause of death was due to the Avada Kedavra curse. Harry Potter was clinically dead for almost three minutes. Yet here he was, speaking in hoarse whispers and trying to smile. They didn t need to ask him. He could see it on their faces. They all wanted to know the answers to the same question: How did he do it? At only age sixteen he managed to defeat a Hunter, Bellatrix Lestrange, a renowned witch who was once hailed as a Cruciatus specialist, and the Dark Lord himself, Voldemort. Harry kept his face neutrally pleasant most of the time, not wanting to let the doctors know the incredible amount of pain he was in. It was the scariest thing. In the few dizzy spells he endured over the last week when everything went black, he could actually feel Voldemort reaching out to suck him down into hell alongside him, the Avada Kedavra curse leaving an echoing imprint on his body. Harry s head lolled to the side as yet another sudden pain gripped his heart. He closed his eyes as he fought off the impulse to just close his eyes and let it consume him. The Dark Lord once told him that he had spent many years to find a way to cheat death. He boasted about devising ways to become immortal. He smiled ruefully. So much for all that old talk. Harry had delivered him a one way ticket to the nether, right through his chest. Now that felt good. It really did. After Ron had pulled him out from the crater, he remembered hearing Ron

screaming his name as he blacked out, but he knew his task was done, and his friends would live. His last memory before he went into coma was Voldemort was dead. He could have died peacefully knowing that. Thinking back; he remembered not seeing some faces at his few visits. He did not see Professor McGonagall, Sturgis Proudmore, nor Professor Snape. But what worried him the most was that Hermione did not come to see him as yet. No one seemed to give him a straight answer when he asked for her, but managed to skirt around it by asking him questions. Today he was feeling up to having conversations and asked each and every one of his visitors about her, and was now beginning to get angry because everyone was dodging him. So here he was up and about at seven a.m the following Sunday, and was looking out the window overlooking London. His healer was the best in Europe, they flew him in from Spain to tend to the severe magical injuries he sustained to his vital organs. He came in through the door expecting Harry to be still bed ridden, but smiled brilliantly when he saw that he was walking without assistance. The healer opened his mouth to congratulate Harry about his swift recovery but his patient rudely cut him off. Where s Hermione? he asked, his face set. The elderly man s happy expression wilted, and he clasped his hands behind his back. I think you should sit down. I rather stand, thank you, Healer Gonzalez said, his voice serious. Harry replied.

The spell she used to save your life was the Infinite Revival spell, a very ancient form of sacrificial magic. He paused, letting Harry fully understand what he was about to say. ....Sacrificial magic, he said flatly. Recognition dawned in Harry s eyes, and they widened in horror. She couldn t be No he breathed, a hollow feeling sinking into his stomach.

We re trying the best we can, but it doesn t look good. Believe it or not, she s in a much worse condition than you were. Where is she? Harry asked softly Gonzales said in his heavy accent. you need

Calm down son, calm down, to restWhere is she?

I don t think Gonzalez eyes flickered in apprehension, and tried to avoid the question once again. WHERE IS SHE!!? Harry repeated, and his eyes blazed alive, the window and the glass pitcher imploding on itself in tiny fragments of glass. Gryffindor s sword began to rattle on the floor in the corner of the room, inching closer and closer towards Harry. A-Aaaahh, he stammered, obviously unnerved by the energy pulsating form

Harry. Ward fifteen, second floor, two doors to the le- Harry stormed past him, running at full tilt down the corridor. - left after the stairs . He continued lamely.

Harry raced down the steps and along the hall in the wrong direction, before doubling back and finding the second door from the stairs which had Ward 15 written on it. He peeked through the little square window and saw two adults standing near the patient bed. He knocked quietly, and opened the door. Hermione s parents were inside at their daughter s bedside, her mother s face red with tears. Her father was pacing, his face set in a contortion of worry and anger. They both turned at the person who dared intrude on their visit to their ailing and only daughter. Mr. GraHarry began, but was aggressively cut off.

YOU! Roger growled, his hands balling at his sides. I TAKE YOU IN, AND SHELTER YOU, AND LOOK HOW YOU REPAY ME!! Mr. Granger shouted, his face set with fury. Sir.. NO! Just stay quiet! Look at her! This is what you have done! All thisrisking her life- for what?! Because of you! You son of a bitch- you go on some..some some.. suicide mission a-and expect people to die for you!! Look at her! LOOK AT HER!! he cried. Harry stood where he was, too stunned to move. His eyes darted down to Hermione. She was deathly pale and her cheekbones were sunken, her bushy hair lay flat and withered about her. She had lost a lot of weight, almost to the point of being only skin and bone, her skin was splotched and discoloured. Many cauldrons of different liquids and concoctions were placed in a line on the opposite side of the bed, and a magical syringe was stuck in her arm, the colour in its tube sequentially changing to the colour of cauldrons contents, systematically keeping the distinct potions pumping into her. The doc said she is still critical, and her chances are extremely slim. Her condition has deteriorated, if anything else Roger looked down at her with paternal anguish. Diana burst into tears again, burying her face in her hands. Roger Granger stepped up into Harry s face, and stared into his green eyes. Don t you ever come near my daughter again. If this doesn t kill her, you will. Get out, before I do what I really want to do, he said in a flat voice, turning his back on him. Those words cut through Harry like a guillotine, hurting him more than any curse ever could. He looked solemnly at her mother s face, and nodded once. I understand. He looked at his sweetheart for probably the last time, and went out the door. He walked like a zombie through the halls, his head blank except for the picture of Hermione being pumped with potions to keep her alive. Her dad was right, it was his fault. He went back up to his room, sat on the edge of the bed, running his hands through his hair. What had he done?

Hermione was on the brink of death, and it was all because of him. He swore never to cause her pain again that Sunday night, and failed miserably. Throwing on a change of clothes, he picked up Gryffindor s Sword, and secretly left the hospital. *****************************

The next day, Harry sat in front of a new piece of parchment. The flickering oil lamps of Sirius house cast shadows in the depressing study, but it suited his mood perfectly. He wrote Ron first, and couldn t bring himself to tell him the truth about what he planned to do. So he made up one instead. Ron, I m going on a little trip with the Dursleys. I might be late for the start of the year, so I ll see you when I see you all right? It s something important for Aunt Petunia, so don t write me, I ll write you. Cheers, Harry. There. That sounded innocent enough. Ron won t suspect a thing. He opened another fresh piece of parchment. He thought for about a minute, then started his letter to Hermione. His heart felt heavy at doing this, but his life really was too dangerous. He couldn t keep putting her in danger. Dearest Hermione, Remember what I said at Cho s place. I love you. Never forget that. -Harry. Even though Voldemort was dead, he knew that did not mean that there would no more attempts on his life. He really took what Mr. Granger said to heart, and knew what he said was true in each and every sense. Minerva McGonagall, Mundungus Fletcher, Sturgis Proudmore and Severus Snape were all dead from the fighting that night. Harry counted the victims caught in the crossfire. The Dark Lord and The Boy Who Lived were opposite sides on the same coin, but the end results were the same, no matter what side faced up. Death surrounded his name, just as it did Voldemort s. He didn t need to be told that there were many aspiring Dark Wizards who would want nothing more than to take a potshot at the one who defeated Voldemort, and his sixteenth birthday opened his eyes to the real world. Kidnapping was definitely a weapon to be used against him. He couldn t take that risk. Hardening his resolve, he signed the letter, and put it in an envelope. He went down the stairs of his godfather s house, looking at the exact

spot when he felt the happiest in all his life, right at the base of the steps where he and Hermione had danced. The radio was still there, along with the chessboard and pieces that Ron and his brother were using the day of his owl results. He studied the board- it really was a beautiful checkmate. Roaming about Sirius manor for the last time, he knew deep in his heart he couldn t live here any more. This place had too many good and bad memories. Picking up the small radio and the White Knight that masterfully checkmated George s king, he went out to find his pet, Hedwig. Hey girl, he said softly, petting her soft feathers. Two tears began to roll down his cheek, he was even deserting his only friend when he was at the Dursleys. He would miss all of his friends more than life itself, but it was the only way he could try and keep them safe. Not even two weeks had passed since Voldemort s death, but his cursed charm was giving him premonitions of a new danger. In addition to what Hermione s dad told him, it was the final drop of evidence that tipped the scale fully in the direction he was considering, cementing it as the only option he had. Life at Hogwarts was something of the past. School, friends, Hermione; forget about all of that. He needed to leave this country, and begin again. Listen, I need you to do something for me. Send these to Hermione and Ron. He took out his wand. Sorry to do this Hedwig. Obliviate minimus, The snow owl blinked once or twice, then flew off to deliver the mail. Harry watched her fly away, confident that she would not remember how to find Harry for any return mail once she was finished. He would disappear, and hope that his friends would live a long and peaceful life, away from the curse that is Harry Potter. Picking up his sword, medallion, and cloak, he went outside and jumped on his Godfather s motorbike. Taking a last look at the only place he considered his home, he gunned the engine to life, and rode off into the night.

**************************** Nearly a month later, Ron and Hermione were at Diagon alley, looking at their non-eaten ice creams. This was the first time since his last visit to the hospital that Ron saw Hermione, and she seemed to be recovering nicely. Little did he know that physically she was recuperating at a remarkable rate, but internally she was dying with each passing day. That letter that she got from Harry when she woke up almost killed her. He was gone, and no one knew where. Ron had mailed her as soon as she left St Mungo s and arrived home, telling her about the letter Harry sent him. He ll come back, Ron said, trying to cheer her up, but failing miserably. Look he said so himself, he loves you! I KNOW he ll be back! Hermione looked away, absently staring down the street, it was crowded with young wizards and witches all getting next year s school supplies. She had cried enough these past few weeks, and she felt that she had no more tears to shed. He told me to not fall in love with him. He said that the people closest to him were the ones who eventually get hurt. Mom told me that dad blew up

at him the day he left the hospital, saying that he was a dangerous man, and that he ll be the end of me -I was so mad at him! Ron, you don t know the huge arguments we had when I found out what he said. Now he s gone and to tell you the honest truth, I don t think he s coming back. But you hear this Ron, and I swear to God, I will find him, no matter how long it takes. Ron looked at Hermione, seeing the fire in her eyes. She looked away again, and took out some money from her pocket. Leaving the uneaten ice-cream on the outside table, she got up and walked down the road. Ron sat there, watching her as she disappeared in the crowd. Hermione, I ll help you every step of the way, Ron vowed silently. Rubbing his fuzzy cheek, he got up, and dissaparated, his heart heavy with the pain his two best friends were feeling. Harry, where are you?

**** To Be Continued

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