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Asleep, Awake

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Harry saw it, happening as if in slow motion; That manic smile plastered across Sirius’s face as Bellatrix’s curse struck, his slow pitched fall backwards toward the Veil.  Driven by instinct and a sudden desperation, Harry screamed the first spell he could think of. Accio. Sirius’s momentum was halted mid fall  and he flung sideways, skidding on the ground  at Harry’s feet.

Bella giggled madly “Well done, little baby Potter. You just saved my filthy Blood traitor cousin. Let’s see if you can keep him!” and she slashed her wand in his direction. The flash of green lightning burned through the air, tracing a path towards the crumpled form in front of him. The spell's path was interrupted by a large block of marble that sprung from the ground, and chips of shrapnel rained down on them. Harry bent over his Godfather, intent on protecting him from the sharp stone. A grey blur slid in front of them both, and Harry heard a familiar voice, but the steel that laced the words was utterly alien.

“You. Will. NOT. Take. Them. Away. From. Me. You. BITCH!” Each snarled word punctuated with a curse.  Startled, he looked on at the tattered cardigan of his former professor. He'd never actually heard the werewolf curse before. Warmth flooded Harry’s chest. Remus was fighting for them.  

 

He he knew he couldn't waste the reprieve that Lupin bought them. He hauled one of his Godfather's arms over his shoulder, and dragged him behind  one of the stone benches, out of the way.


“Ennervate.” Nothing. He tried again. “ENNERVATE GODDAMNIT!” Harry’s cold hands sought Sirius’s chest. Thump. Thump. Oh thank Merlin. he was alive. That's all that mattered right now.  

Harry looked back up just in time to see Bellatrix catch Lupin off guard. A sickly yellow spell caught him in the solar plexus, and the aging man crumpled. The loony bitch hadn't escaped scoot free, however. She was bleeding from the old wolf's onslaught of cutting curses, and her chest looked... wrong, as if it wasn’t quite put together correctly.

 

She looked over her shoulder, and Harry followed her gaze. The tall silver shape of Albus Dumbledore was striding down the halls of the Department of Mysteries. The dark witch gave a shrill laugh, turned, and bolted past Harry.  When she reached the base of the staircase that led back to the atrium she paused, grabbing Tonks' unconscious form from where she'd fallen after their duel. Apparently, escaping wasn't enough for her, she wanted a prisoner. Maybe she thought she could use the Metamorphmagus as a hostage?

 

Without a single thought about the fact that he had just witnessed the bitch defeat three members of the order (all much more experienced due lets than he was) Harry lept to his feet and followed. She wasn't getting away this time.


 

 

Tonks’ eyes opened, fuzzy and tinged red. The first thing she felt was the splitting pain that thundered through her brain, and a ringing in her ears. Both were quite familiar. She’d had enough head injuries (from Quidditch, and her own general clumsiness), that she knew what a concussion felt like. The second thing she noticed was the cold steel against her throat.  A high pitched voice whispered into her ear, and she recognized it instantly.

 

"Don’t move or I’ll cut your pink head clean off, Nymphie dear.” She vaguely wondered why Bellatrix wasn’t just using her wand. The fog in front of her eyes lifted, and she got her answer.

 

A familiar figure stood across the pitted and damaged entrance hall holding a pair of wands, both leveled at her bitch of an aunt. Windswept raven hair framed his burning emerald eyes, no longer hidden behind his glasses. They must have been lost at some point in the fight, she thought. Harry Potter cut one hell of a figure for a fifth year.

 

Through the haze in her brain, she wondered vaguely how he got ahold of the maniac’s wand. His voice rang out, clear and ice cold.

“Drop Tonks and I’ll toss you your wand”

“Idiot boy, you think I care about wands now?” She cackled “Give me the Prophecy. Roll it over to me, and I’ll spare the pretty little Metamorph’s life. Come on Potty, We all know how much you love to be a hero. Save the girlie, give me the ball.” Harry stared back, hard and unyielding.

“You’re gonna have to settle for the wand, because the prophecy is gone.” Bellatrix’s eye’s bulged from her face, and spittle flew from her lips as she howled at him.

“YOU LIE! GIVE IT TO ME! ACCIO PROPHECY!” She flourished with the knife like a wand, and as it came away from Tonks neck, she saw both wands flash in Harry’s hand, heard him cry “Depulso” And Bellatrix’s grip was torn away from her midsection. Bellatrix was flung the length of the room by the powerful banishing charm. Harry rushed forward, tucking Bellatrix’s curved talon-like wand into his back pocket, and with his unerring skill, caught Tonks as she collapsed.


“NOTHING THERE” He shouted. “NOTHING TO SUMMON EXCEPT BITS OF GLASS. I DIDN’T EVEN GET TO HEAR WHAT IT SAID. IT'S GONE, YOU DAFT BITCH.” Pain flashed through his forehead, and the arm wrapped around Tonks' hip tightened. A mad cackle burst from his lips, eerily reminiscent of Bellatrix’s own. “He knows.” The volume of his voice dropped, stopping just above a whisper  “He knows that it’s gone, and he’s not very happy with you!”

“NO!” She screamed hoarsely “It can’t be true— MASTER, I TRIED! PLEASE, DON’T PUNISH ME—”

“He can’t hear you from here.” Harry muttered through the pain.  His wand hand pressed against his forehead, trying to subdue the burning, splitting pain.

“Oh? That’s news to me, Potter.” came a cold, syllabant voice. Shit.

 


 

Tonks had no clue what was going on. She kept fading in and out of consciousness. All she caught was glimpses of action, mad half-formed scenes. A black cloaked figure with slitted red eyes, like a snake in human form. A green light, suddenly interrupted on its way towards the boy at her side by a gold statue. Dumbledore, furiously duelling the figure. Dumbledore? when did he get here? All of a sudden, Harry's grip around her waist was gone and she dropped into a pool of gushing water from the fountain. Her senses came back to her as the freezing water shocked her system.

Harry lie on the ground five feet away. Around him wrapped like a nightmarish flesh cloak she saw the figure from earlier. Harry was moaning about death in a voice not quite his own, telling Dumbledore to do it. Kill him. If death was nothing, then send them both off. Then it screamed, and disappeared, along with her darling aunt. Darkness rushed up to embrace Tonks again, and she welcomed it.

 

 

Pain. Pain defined his world. He could feel Voldemort’s mind coursing through his own as if they had fused, had become one being, and he could feel everything that made the man. All of the knowledge and power twisted up with his own, and felt him trying to steal away Harry’s life. Almost subconsciously, he felt the draw on his own soul, The black cords twisting around it that seemed to sing at the feeling of being reunited with the venomous thing. So he pulled them away. The bindings that held them to his soul fought viciously, clinging to him, but he pulled all the same. He thought of all of his friends, thought of Sirius and Remus lying downstairs next to each other, injured, maybe dying thanks to him, him and this poor excuse for a man, and he pulled with all his might. And the connections snapped, and the wraith of Voldemort wailed, and fled, like a hand pulling back from a hot stove. And the core of Harry’s being breathed with relief, and flared bright like the sun. And he opened his eyes.

 


 

 

Voices rang out through the cavernous hall. Harry blinked twice and the room swam into focus— And he saw Dumbledore’s face, mere inches from his own.
“Harry, my boy. Are you okay?” His eyes closed again, briefly, and he took stock. Tired, wounded, beat up… and brilliant. He felt better than he had ever felt, in fact. He opened his eyes again.

“I’m great, professor. I need to tell you something.” At that, Dumbledore chuckled lightly.

“I’m sure there are a great many things you and I need to discuss, and you have my word that we will discuss them all in great length the very second we arrive back at Hogwarts. But first, know this. Everyone is alive. No one came through the battle unscathed, but thanks to your excellent leadership, none were permanently injured.”

“S-Sirius and Professor Lupin? She didn’t—”

“I have no doubt, Harry, that Bellatrix meant to rob you of both of the last Marauders tonight. But no. Kingsley portkeyed both of them back to the infirmary the second the battle ended downstairs.” Harry’s entire being breathed a sigh of relief, and he slumped back against the fountain. “Come now, my boy. We must be off soon.” The silver-maned wizard took his hand, and hoisted him onto his feet with surprising strength. Just as he stood, Cornelius Fudge bustled over, looking personally affronted by their presence.

“Albus, what is the bloody meaning of this? What in the hell was- was HE doing here? What are YOU doing here? I ought to have you-”

“Cornelius, I would be more than happy to confront your men and defeat them again.. if I must.” Dumbledore thundered, looking every bit as dangerous as he had only minutes before in the heat of battle. “But I rather think our time could be more constructively spent with me talking and you listening.” Fudge cowed before the look in the old headmaster’s eyes. “You will clear the arrest orders on my groundskeeper, and you will call an emergency Wizemengot session for this Sunday so that several men can be sentenced to Azkaban, and an innocent man’s name can be cleared. Also, you will withdraw your Undersecretary from my school IMMEDIATELY! Tonight, you will get exactly an hour of my time, and that will be more than enough for me to explain everything that needs explaining.” Fudge spluttered and nodded. “Now, however, I am sending Harry back to the hospital Wing at Hogwarts. Harry..” He turned back to Harry, holding the golden head that had been severed from the statue, and whispered Portus “ Take this with you. I’ll be along presently.” and everything spun into darkness.

Chapter Text

Harry landed rather unceremoniously on an empty bed in the hospital wing, multiple sets of eyes (and wands) turning towards him. Next to him Sirius on the right side and Hermione on the left. Not a second after he’d finally stopped spinning from the damned portkey, Madam Pomfrey came bustling over to him, face rather drawn.

“Mr. Potter, must you get yourself hurt for the end of the term every year?”

“If I didn’t you’d never get to see me.” He offered with a sheepish smile, turning to gaze at the room full of people. Half the Order and most of the DA were either in a bed or standing around quietly, talking in low voices. He made a move to get up, and Pomfrey cut him off

“Maybe, but I’m sure you’d find a way, Mr. Potter. Now sit still, you could be seriously injured.”

“I’m not—”

“I’ll let you over to see them all if the diagnostic comes back clear.” She waved her wand over him, making complicated squiggles in the air, and making an odd pensive face. “Hmmm”

“What?”

“Mr. Potter, go- Go ahead and see everyone. I’ll have to come speak with you about something when the headmaster gets back.” She stood there for a moment, puzzling over the results, as Harry stood and immediately ran over to Sirius’s bedside. As he ran, his eyes traveled over the beds in the room. Ron, sitting on his bed, arm in a sling. Hermione, sleeping, face drawn in pain and covered in bandages. Ginny, lying with her leg up, surrounded by her parents. His chest tightened with guilt at the sight of his friends, but that was all forgotten when he saw the sight of his Godfather laying in bed.

Sirius Black lay there in front of him him, fast asleep. His eyes flickered back and forth under their lids violently, as if he was having a nightmare, but no sounds escaped him.

“Padfoot.” he stage whispered, shaking his arm gently. “Padfoot, wake up.”

“He’s not going to, cub.” came a croaking voice from the bed next to him. Harry spun, hand reflexively shooting to his back pocket. Lupin looked at him, exhausted and smiling broadly. “Harry, it’s alright, let Padfoot sleep. He needs it. Whatever that— Woman— hit him with really did a number.”

Harry looked at the happiness on the old werewolf’s face flicker at the mention of Bellatrix Lestrange, but it came back full force a moment later. “Prof- Moony. Thank you so much. You saved both of us . I had no idea how to stop that Curse.” He rushed to Moony’s bedside and pulled the wolf into a tight hug. Moony paused, surprised at the affection from the normally withdrawn boy, then hugged back hard.

“No, Harry, Thank you. You’re the one who saved Sirius tonight. If he had hit that Veil..” Remus felt the tears soaking his shoulder, and pulled the boy tighter. “Thanks to you..”

“Thanks to me he almost DIED. I got l-lucky. I fell into the trap, and you two came to pull me out, and both of you almost-” A small sob shook the boy, and Remus pushed him back and held him at arm’s length.

“No.” A puzzled look broke through the guilt on Harry’s face. “Harry, that was not your fault in the slightest. To the best of your knowledge, you were cut off, Sirius was about to die, and you had no idea how to get in touch with the Order. So you acted. And you did so valiantly and competently. As your former teacher, and as Sirius’s—” He faltered for a moment, conflicted “As Sirius’s last friend, I cannot thank you enough. I couldn’t be more proud of you.” He wiped the tears off of the boy’s face.

“T-thank you Moony. Are you gonna be okay?” Remus grinned.

“Indeed, once my liver grows back all the way I'll be right as rain. That curse had the cumulative effect of about forty years of alcoholism.” He chuckled darkly.
“At least you got her back, right? The shoulder was you, wasn't it?”

“Yeah. Bone shattering curse to the sternum, Just as she hit me with the Cirrhosis Curse.”

“I got her too.” Harry seemed to beam a little bit as he said that. Remus’s inner wolf approved. Good, the cub deserved to be proud, that was one hell of a witch he had just dueled.

“So I heard cub. You seem to have inherited your father’s Dueling skills.”

“How did you hear?” Harry’s head cocked to the side. Who could possibly have told? a

“Tonks informed me during one of her moments of clarity... just before the potions kicked in and she was whisked off to St. Mungos. Said you put up, and I quote ‘A better damn fight than she did, and put paid to the dark bitch’” Harry gazed at him, wide eyed

“Moony, since when do you curse? That’s the second time today”

“Looks like i’m busted” Remus had the good grace to look sheepish. “It’s a lot harder to act polite and proper when you aren’t a teacher any more. Our secret, okay? Molly would probably kill me” Harry laughed, an honest to Merlin laugh, and soon Remus was laughing along with him. Harry crossed his heart and whispered. “Marauder’s honor, right?” And Remus’s eyes sparkled.

 


 

“Blimey, mate. Those tentacles did a number, ey?” Ron complained to Harry as Madam Pomfrey was changing his bandage on the other side of the bed.

“Well, next time don’t bloody summon one, dolt” Fred exclaimed over Harry’s shoulder. Harry privately agreed.

“Wasn’t his fault, guys. He got hit by a pretty strong Confundus. He wasn’t exactly using his brain at the time.” George snickered.

“Fair point Harry, Old chap-
“-Old bean. Dear brother here did—
“The Family name proud. True Weasley style, fighting—
“ —Breaking rules, and all that.” They both slapped a hand on each of Ron’s bruised shoulders, making him wince in pain. “Good job, Ronniekins.” Harry could see the happiness in Ron’s eyes, in spite of himself. The twins both walked back over towards Ginny’s bed, and Harry turned to leave himself, when Ron caught his arm.


“We’re gonna keep going, right Harry? Because, we— We need to be tougher. So we can win next time.

“Of course we are, mate. We won’t stop until we win.” Harry gripped Ron’s forearm tight and nodded.

“Good.” Harry released his grip, and turned to go check on the rest of his friends, just as Dumbledore walked into the infirmary. The tall silver-haired figure made a beeline for Harry, waving off the few Order Members that tried to catch his attention.

“Everyone, I will come speak with all of you tomorrow for debriefing, but if you’ll excuse me, I must speak with our young Mr. Potter before the night grows too old.” His expression left no room for argument. Harry walked over to the old Headmaster at a brisk pace, ignoring the curious looks of the many Order members. “Ah, Harry, very good. If you will accompany me, we’ll take this conversation to somewhere more comfortable.”

“Madam Pomfrey said she needed to talk to the two of us as well, sir.” Dumbledore nodded, and the twinkle in his eyes increased.

“Of course, Harry. I’ll send for her once we finish.” and with that, the two of them departed towards the Headmaster’s office

Chapter Text

“Sir, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let them-”

“Harry, my boy, you have nothing to apologize for. You did magnificently tonight. You displayed true strength many times, as well as remarkable leadership abilities. And I do believe that your teaching prowess also displayed itself, considering how few injuries I saw amongst your group.”

“But, sir. I fell for it. I fell into his trap, and endangered five other students.”

“Ah, well,” The headmaster sighed, looking absolutely exhausted and every bit of his age. “I fear that it is I who must apologize to you on that score. You see, if I had been more honest with you over the last year, taken the time to teach you occlumency myself, this all may have been avoided entirely. My only excuse is that i feared for your well being, my boy.” Dumbledore paused. Anger simmered in Harry’s chest at the acknowledgement that Dumbledore had been ignoring him, that he had forced Professor Snape to teach him when the old man could have done it himself, but Harry forced it down. He needed to hear what Dumbledore was going to say next.

“Go on” Harry spoke coldly “You were saying?”

“I could see him, Harry. I could see him behind your eyes, every time you looked at me since his return. Ready and willing to take over your mind like he did tonight if I gave him any impression that the two of us were anything more than just Headmaster and student.” Dumbledore closed his eyes, and shuddered slightly. “I did not wish that upon you, and I know how painful it must have been.” Harry froze at that.

“...Actually Professor, I uh, wanted to tell you something about that. When Tom possessed me I felt something.. inside me.” Dumbledore stilled. “It felt like him. It felt- It felt like part of him was inside of me already. And it, well, it wanted him there. I couldn’t stand it.”

“Can you still feel it, Harry?” Dumbledore asked, quickly.

“Actually sir, uh, it’s not.” The Headmaster looked like someone had confunded him.

“W-what was that, Harry?”

“Well, uh, when I found it, I, well.. I pulled. And it uh… Kinda came out?” There was a beat, silent and still, as Dumbledore looked at him appraisingly. And all of a sudden the gleam in his eye came back full force and a wide smile broke across his face.

“That is magnificent! Well done, Harry.”

 

Internally, Albus’s thoughts were whirring. If what Harry had just told him was true, if the boy had somehow managed to pull the piece of Voldemort’s soul that was wrapped around his own out, and allowed it to return to the Dark Lord’s own twisted vessel, then maybe, just maybe, the boy could survive the war intact! There was no longer any reason for him to die by Voldemort’s hand. In an instant, the weight of his plan, the long drawn out march to Harry’s demise, was lifted. But he needed to verify it. Couldn’t go leaving such things to chance, he chided himself.

“Harry, if you wouldn’t mind coming around to my side of the desk, I’d just like to check something. I believe that perhaps, maybe you’ve managed to close the connection between yourself and Tom..”

Harry walked around the desk and stood next to the old Professor. Dumbledore smiled benevolently, then began muttering and gesturing with his wand around Harry’s scar, and with each spell his smile widened.

“Sir, why.. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s closed, but..”

“I can’t explain the whole thing now, my boy, but trust me. You’ll understand soon.” Harry just nodded at that. Getting information out of Albus Dumbledore was like getting blood from a stone.

“So. What was it you wanted to talk to me about, sir.”

“Harry, the time has come to tell you what I promised to tell you. What i should have told you years ago. The Prophecy.”

 


 

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...."

The phantom image of Trelawney that hovered over the pensieve flickered and disappeared. Dumbledore searched his favorite student’s features, looking for the anger that he knew must be there. He braced himself for the rage, the ranting, the anger that he had noticed so close to the surface of Harry’s mind over the last year… and found none. Only exhaustion, and a sort of resignation. All the old wizard saw was the face of a boy— no, a man, who had been waiting to hear these words for years, and it broke his heart.

Harry had been waiting for years for the other shoe to drop, and it had just landed. For the love of Merlin, how am I supposed to do this?! He thought resignedly. Kill or be killed, against Voldemort himself? Fate has a fucked up sense of humor. Harry sighed and met Dumbledore’s eyes.

“You can, I hope, understand why I waited so long to tell you this, Harry. I couldn’t bring myself to drop this information into your lap at such a young age. No child should have to carry such a burden.” The old man’s eyes glistened with unshed tears.

“I don’t think I ever quite qualified as a child, sir, but... I do understand. ..If it’s any consolation, I always kind of knew. How could I ever live with that man dogging every step?” Harry asked rhetorically. “But, I don’t see how I have any power he doesn’t know? I’m no great duelist, I’m not an Auror, I’m pants at most classes without help…”

 

“Harry, dear boy, you underestimate yourself. Think of what you’ve already done. Think of how fast you were able to learn the Patronus Charm once you thought your life depended upon it. You must find that drive again now.” Harry removed his glasses and polished them with his sleeve, and as he mulled it over in his mind, a thought occurred.

“Can you teach me, sir? I saw how you fought at the Atrium. I don’t think anyone else could teach me to fight like that.” Dumbledore sighed again, a deep sound tinged in regret.

“Unfortunately, Harry, I don’t believe it would do you any good. Few wizards can maintain the spells Voldemort and I use for more that a few minutes. That is not to say you are weak. You are a formidable young man, but that type of raw power cannot be taught except through the darkest of magic. No, I believe you would be much better off learning from Remus or Alastor. Both are experts in countering the Dark Arts, and can teach you to best utilize your own power.”

“I see, sir.” Harry’s hopes fell slightly. He didn’t truly expect to be able to match Riddle, but hearing it in those terms was slightly dismaying

“I would just like to say, Harry, that magic is not the only power that matters, and in fact, the prophecy never once specifies what type of power ‘the dark lord knows not’. Tom could be as magical as Merlin himself, and he would still lack many things that you yourself possess in spades. Voldemort has no friends, no family. He feels no love, and so does not believe in love. Trust, honor, integrity, Tom Riddle has none of these things, and it is these qualities that have allowed you to trump him time and time again.” Harry didn’t doubt the Headmaster’s words, per se, but he didn’t quite understand how he would kill the most powerful Dark Lord in this century with Love. “I am sure, Harry, that you will understand when the time comes.”

“That’s as may be, sir. But I will need to learn how to fight, won’t I?” This statement gave Albus pause.

“Soon, Harry. Much needs to happen before that can occur”

"Of course, sir." Harry said, resignedly.

Chapter Text

Fuzzy. The trait that defined the world when Nymphadora Tonks opened her eyes was just that; Fuzzy. Everything seemed blurred, as if she was looking through a window that just had the condensation wiped off of it. Her entire body felt stiff, as if she’d been hit with a paralysis spell. Tonks screwed up her face, and willed her muscles to relax. One of the best parts of being a Metamorphmagus was it eliminated the need for stretching, thanks to her superb muscle control. Once she was free to move, she stretched her arms and arched her back just far enough to feel all of her joints crack, and pulled herself forward into a sitting position.

Immediately upon sitting, the haze cleared, and she noticed where she was. The sterile white ceiling and walls, along with the blue hospital gown she was dressed in gave it away instantly. St. Mungo’s. Why the hell am I.. And the memories hit her. The battle in the DOM. Bellatrix Lestrange defeating her. Watching the furious duel between Lestrange and the Boy-Who-Lived as she held Tonks by the throat. Harry finally managing to disarm Bellatrix, and subsequently banishing her across the Atrium. Then some flashes of Harry’s face somehow twisted up into a crude imitation of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named that she didn’t really understand. Understood or not, they gave her an intense feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach.

Tonks made to get on her feet, but strong hands gripped her arms and held her there, and Mad-Eye Moody’s face appeared next to her.

“Take it easy now, lass. That’s one hell of a knock you took during the fight. Best not to be standing at the moment.” Mad-Eye looked her over once, and when she sat back against the head of the hospital bed, relaxed his grip. “Now, how d’ya feel?”

“Mad-Eye, I’m fine. Nothing left but a bit of a headache, and quite a bit of shame at that fact that Lestrange managed to kick my ass.”

“Ah, yes, of course. You, a first year Auror, definitely should have been able to defeat Voldemort’s best Lieutenant in a one on one fight.” Tonks flinched at the name, then kicked herself mentally for the habit. But Moody didn’t seem to notice, and continued. “Black lost in his duel with her as well, and he was probably the most formidable Hit-Wizard I ever trained before Azkaban dulled his edge. So enough with this. You did as well as anyone could expect.” He paused for a moment “Make sure you thank Black when he finally wakes up. He’s the one who kept Lestrange off you before she could strike the finishing blow.”

The lithe pink haired Auror assimilated all of this information in silence. She had no idea that Sirius had been a Hit Wizard in the last war. Then again, he didn’t really talk about the war often, and the Ministry obviously wouldn’t broadcast that a supposed mass-murderer was trained by them as an Auror. She obviously owed Sirius a bottle of Ogden’s either way.

“Fair ‘nough I suppose, Mads. So when can I bust out of here?” The grizzled veteran Auror chuckled under his breath
“According to the healers, some time in the next two or three days. If you were to leave now, the damage could complicate, and could affect your balance, or your.. special talent.” Moody stood up, and walked towards the door. “Now, if you don’t object, I brought ya a visitor.

“Hold up, Mads, I wanna mix it up a bit before they come in.” Moody nodded his approval. They had agreed in training that she wouldn’t show her base form to anyone unnecessary, because it was damn useful as proof of identity. Only her parents, Moody, and Sirius knew it. Tonks immediately switched her hair back to it’s customary pink, perked her tits up a touch, and added a bit of curves. Then she made her nose a bit shorter and “button”-y. “Alright, I’m good.”

Moody knocked twice, paused, then knocked three times in succession, and Tonks had to bite her tongue not to laugh at the paranoia required to have a preplanned code to come into a bloody hospital room. The return code was knocked lightly, and Moody swept the door open for the slim figure that slipped inside.

 


 

 

They must have been quite the sight, sitting there in the middle of the Spell Damage Ward. Hagrid was seated to Harry’s right, taking up three chairs and thumbing through a copy of the Monster Book of Monsters and getting nervous looks from the Mediwitches that bustled through every few minutes.

Harry understood the sentiment. He was rather nervous himself. Why the hell was he nervous? It was just Tonks, right? But then the image of Bellatrix Lestrange flashed through his mind, holding her at wand- and then knife-point, and he realized that he knew full well why. He was worried that Tonks would blame him for the sheer stupidity of his improvised rescue mission. Merlin knows Harry blamed himself.

After the meeting with Dumbledore, Mad-Eye had taken him aside to congratulate him on training and leading a team of school children against Death Eaters. He had then smacked him rather hard up against the head and told him that going into the situation blind based on unreliable information, was unbelievably stupid, and that he needed to do better when he signed up as an Auror. The pride Harry had felt at the implication that Mad-Eye thought he had the makings of an Auror was tempered by the shame of realizing that the ex-professor was right. Harry needed to step up.


Moody then walked to the Floo to head off to Saint Mungo’s to check on his protege, and Harry caught him just before he left, so he could ask to accompany the old Auror, since it was his fault she was laid up. Mad-Eye smacked him upside the head again and told him to quit being guilty, and just be better next time. The old Auror grabbed Hagrid, and told him that they needed an extra escort to the hospital. Harry had chafed at the idea of a body guard, but since it was Moody’s suggestion he didn’t complain. He didn’t want to seem like a bratty kid in front of the formidable wizard.

The chair beneath Hagrid creaked dangerously, bringing Harry out of his reverie. His eyes scanned the waiting area of the Spell Damage ward, and noticed that it was fairly empty aside from the mediwitches making their rounds, and the charge Healer who was eying Hagrid’s book nervously. Harry chuckled at the thought that the woman had probably had to help pry one or two of them off the limbs of unsuspecting students. The book had come damn near to claiming his own fingers when he first got it. Honestly, it would have been a brilliant prank if Hagrid had meant it like that. The loveable oaf honestly hadn’t seen the harm in it though. Probably due to the fact that the book couldn’t fit it’s jaws around a single finger on his hand, and it could chew on him all day without breaking the skin . Due to his formidable size and peculiar ancestry, Hagrid had a skewed perspective of what was dangerous and what wasn’t.

But then again, Harry wasn’t exactly one to talk about not being sensible about danger, clearly. He had a tendency to charge into the most insane situations, and do things without contemplating whether or not they’d get him killed. Maybe that was why he felt such a kinship with Hagrid. Aside from their similar family situations, neither of them had an ounce of common sense.

Just then, Harry heard the unmistakable sound of Moody’s rings clicking against the wooden door, signaling that he was ready for visitors. Harry leapt up, and Hagrid waved him over to the door. He walked over and returned the knock, using Mad-Eye’s prearranged code. The door opened just far enough for him to slip into the room, then shut behind him.

“Wotcher, Harry.”

“Hi Tonks. How’re ya?” As soon as the words passed his lips, he kicked himself mentally. Of course she was terrible, she was laid up in the hospital with a cracked skull and spell damage from Bellatrix. Tonks noticed his flinch, and chuckled.

“Doin fab, thanks Harry. I’d already be out and about if someone” she looked pointedly at Moody, who didn’t react in the slightest “didn’t insist I stay for a few days.” She cracked her knuckles, and shifted in the bed to make herself more comfortable. “How are you, Harry? That was one hell of a duel you fought, if I remember correctly” and one hell of a possession she added mentally. Harry stiffened uncomfortably as Mad-Eye’s gaze shifted to his face.

“What duel was this, Potter? No one mentioned any duel to me.” The Auror remarked gruffly

“Harry here managed to disarm Bellatrix Lestrange after she took me hostage in the Atrium, then waited for her to take her knife off my throat and banished her halfway across the room.” Tonks remarked in an impressed tone of voice. “And this was after she defeated myself, Sirius AND Remus individually in duels. Kid’s got wicked fast wandwork.”

“Damn, well done Potter. That’s high praise from this one” Moody said, new respect evident in his tone. “Just don’t get cocky.”

“She makes it sound way more impressive than it was.” Harry responded awkwardly. “She already had a fractured collarbone, and half a dozen cuts from Sirius and Remus. I just got lucky since she couldn’t use anything lethal”

“Listen here, lad. There’s no such thing as beating Bellatrix Lestrange on luck alone. That evil bitch is easily the most powerful servant Voldemort has. And if Tonks says you’ve got skills, you’ve got skills. She knows what she’s talking about.”

Harry just nodded, unable to refute the old wizard’s points, but equally unable to take the compliment. It just felt wrong to tell himself that he was … He didn’t know what. Skilled? Good at something? He was far more comfortable blaming it on luck, and on help from the Marauders.

“So, not that I don’t appreciate hospital visits from cute green-eyed boys, but why’re you here, Harry? Besides my charming company, of course?” Harry blushed slightly as Tonks winked at him.

“I actually.. uh, had a favor I wanted to ask the two of you.” He stumbled through the sentence, suddenly unsure whether or not his plan was a good idea. Both of the aurors eyed him, intrigued.

“Well, spit it out lad.”

“I need to be better than I am now.” Tonks’ eyebrows shot up, confused by the statement, but Moody nodded expectantly, and waved for him to continue. “I may or may not have ‘Fast wand-work’ but that isn’t going to be enough when the Death Eaters start shooting to kill, and I’m still just an average fifth year, spell-wise. I need to be faster, and tougher. And I can’t keep relying on expelliarmus and stupefy. I know both of you have a reputation for fighting skills, and I trust both of you. So, I was wondering if..” Harry’s volume trailed off at the end.

“Wondering if what, lad.” Moody growled. “ You had the balls to come here, and ask this without permission from Dumbledore. Have the balls to actually ask!”

“I KNOW both of you are on guard duty at Privet Drive over the summer. So I was wondering if there was any way you could help me train somehow, so next time I get into a duel I can actually win it. Since the Riddle seems to have a hard-on for me.” Harry finished his exclamation, then grew slightly red.

“That’s more like it, boy! There’s the guts I like to see” Moody nodded in approval. “I’ll have to think it over, and I can’t speak for Auror Tonks here, but I agree one hundred percent. With or without Albus’ approval, you need the extra training. I’ll bring it up to him, but whether he agrees or not, I’m in.”

“Mad-Eye, you injure me. You know full well I’ve never met a rule I didn’t want to break. And I’d just love to get some one-on-one time with my knight in school boy robes over here.” She just loves to make me blush doesn’t she? Harry mused.

“Brilliant. Thank you both.” Harry was grinning now, hardly believing that it worked. He was gonna be trained by Mad-Eye effing Moody, one on one. And hanging out with Tonks would be cool too, he guessed, fighting back the blush at the thought.

“Awright, now that you’ve had your say, I’ll be outside with Hagrid. We need to be back at Hogwarts in twenty, Potter.” Moody ducked out.

 


 

The two of them stood there for a minute in silence. Harry pulled over one of the chairs, and sat down

“So, you really like to make me blush, huh?” Tonks laughed at that, and in the moment Harry noticed the striking resemblance to Sirius. Not in features, since Tonks’ face was constantly in flux, but in her mannerisms. The way she threw her head back, and seemed to laugh with her whole body. The arm of her hospital gown slid down her shoulder, and Harry glanced away, unwilling to blush again.

“I mean, it’s so easy. And, you look so good in red.” Damnit. There was the godforsaken blush again. “I’d think that you of all people would be harder to embarrass, Harry. You gotta get hit on at school all the time, right?” Now, it was Harry’s turn to laugh, a disbelieving sound.

“Why’s that, Tonks? Second year, I was the Heir of Slytherin, Third Year I had a Mass Murderer after me, Fourth Year i was clearly cheating to get into the Triwiz, and this year I was a nutter, yeah? None of these things are conducive to a bloke’s social life.”

“Ah, so you’ve got the dark and brooding thing going on. That makes sense, the girls must be pretty intimidated.” Harry cocked an eyebrow. “Well, I mean, messy dark hair, good looks, aura of intense emotional issues… The ladies clearly think you’re out of their league.” Harry decided it was about time to start returning the quaffle before Tonks got him all flustered again.

“Is that your way of confessing that you think I’m out of your league, Tonks?” He cringed the second he said it. God I sound like an idiot. I’m fucking bollocks at flirting, what was I thinking? But Tonks just barked out another one of those laughs that reminded him so much of Padfoot.


“Harry, dear, that’s the thing about being a Metamorph. I can be in anyone’s league.” A look of concentration came across her face. Suddenly, her hair turned platinum blonde, her face became eerily reminiscent of Fleur Delacour, and her tits grew about three sizes, making the tight already tight gown look like it was going to burst... which it did. The snaps on the shoulders of the hospital gown came undone, and the gown slipped down around her stomach. Harry’s hands flew to cover his eyes, but not before he caught an eyeful. Tonks’ hands snapped up to catch the gown, and re-fasten it.

A beat of silence

“We never mention this to anyone. Ever.” Harry nodded vigorously, and uncovered his eyes.

Another beat of silence.

Both of them burst out laughing uncontrollably.

Chapter Text

The trip back to Hogwarts was awkward for a couple reasons. One, Hagrid had to basically kneel in the Floo just to get through since apparently Hogwarts was the only place with a Hagrid sized Floo, and this held the line up for about fifteen minutes. Two, Harry’s mind kept making him relive the image of Tonks’ gown coming unsnapped and the look of absolute shock on her face every ten goddamn minutes. Which was very uncomfortable, because Harry never really thought of Tonks that particular way before. She was just the clumsy badass Auror chick with the cool hair. She was his godfather’s cousin for Merlin’s sake. But with the flirting, and the Incident, now she was the Hot clumsy Auror chick. Goddamnit, that wouldn’t do at all.

Harry floo’d back to the Hogwarts infirmary automatically, until the uncomfortable experience of spinning, tripping, and getting covered in ash distracted him. He walked into the now significantly emptier Infirmary, and immediately fell on his face. Well, he would have, but he got lucky. Two identical pairs of arms caught his shoulders and set him right.

“Harry..
“Our favorite young man”
“Our chief investor”
“We were wondering where you were”
“We were hoping for an…
“.. Investor’s Meeting”
“Of sorts. Clandestine-like.” Harry chuckled. He’d always enjoyed the twins company, and unlike most people, the back-and-forth twinspeak thing didn’t really annoy him at all.

“Sure, meet me behind the Old Posh Baron in the portrait room in an hour” The twins grinned, and walked out of the room. Harry walked back towards the ward where all of his friends were laid up, anxious to see if Hermione and Sirius were up and about yet

“OY! Harry!” Came the booming call across the ward.

“Honestly, Ronald. We’re in an infirmary, keep your voice down.”

“Jeez, flippin sorr-y. I thought he’d want to know you were awake!”

Harry chuckled under his breath. Of course those two were going at it as soon as Hermione was awake. Classic them. He walked over with a bit of a spring in his step, happy that things were looking up a bit. Dumbledore actually talked to him for once (first time all year in fact), Mad-Eye agreed to train him, Hermione was awake. This day was getting better and better.


Harry strolled up to the two, and cut clean through their bickering with his greeting. He cast a brief notice-me-not spell on them, and explained quickly and quietly what had happened at St. Mungos, excluding the part at the end with Tonks. Both of them looked thoroughly shocked at his scheme. Hermione looked scandalized by his disregarding of Dumbledore, while Ron just looked at him with a kind of awe. Then Harry dropped the bomb. In a low tone, practically a whisper, he told them both about the prophecy, and everything he had discussed last night with the headmaster.

“H-Harry, are you okay?” Hermione stammered, once she regained the ability to speak.

“Yeah, I actually feel pretty great, thanks” he grinned cheekily, as the pair grew ever more bewildered

“Mate, no offence, but how are you so bloody calm? I’m not even the one named, and I’m freaking out.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’ll hit me at some point, but right now? It’s a beautiful day, everyone survived the battle at the ministry, Mad-Eye the-living-legend-auror Moody thinks I’ve ‘Got Skills’ and agreed to train me, Dumbles is talking to me again, Tonks is ok, AND the connection to Voldemort is bloody closed!” Harry laughed. “Everything is good right now. I should be happy. Fuck Voldemort today.”

“Harry, language!” Hermione scolded

“Sorry, ‘Mione. Fuck You-Know-Who.” Hermione looked scandalized, and Ron sniggered uncontrollably.

“Mate, I don’t know what you did with the real Harry Potter, but ‘Not Brooding’ is a good look on you.” Ron remarked. Hermione looked at Ron, and then slowly pointed her wand at Harry.

“Oh, for the love of— Your middle name is Jean, we became friends when I crammed my wand up a troll’s nose, My patronus is a stag, and yours is an otter. And Grawp calls you Hermy” Harry blurted out exasperatedly.

“Okay, sorry, I had to check, didn’t I? Someone could have replaced you at St. Mungo’s, and it would’ve explained why you’re so.. out-of-character right now” Hermione smoothed back her hair with her free hand. Harry blinked, and contemplated the idea for a moment.

“Maybe… it’s because the connection is closed now? I just feel so much lighter today for some reason.” Harry responded. The idea disturbed him slightly. If that was true, then how much of his personality was influenced by the bleed through from the scar?

“Good enough for me, mate. Although if it makes you start studying and paying attention and whatnot I might need to disown you.” Ron chuckled.

“I think that would be brilliant.” Hermione responded smartly, shooting Ron a half-hearted glare.

“I’m sure you do, ‘Mione. But you shouldn’t.” Harry said with a grin. She cocked an eyebrow as she looked over at him. “I’ve been holding back all these years to spare your pride, I’m actually a genius.” At that, they all laughed.

 


 

Harry looked in at Sirius and Remus before he left with Hermione and Ron to head to Lunch, but he decided not to bother them. Remus had moved to a chair next to Padfoot’s bed, and fell asleep with one arm on the bed, holding Harry’s godfather’s hand in his own, and they both looked so peaceful for once that Harry couldn’t bear to wake either man up. They certainly deserved this break away from the war and Grimmauld Place. He closed the curtain and walked back out to the door where both his friends waited.

As they passed through the Great Hall, Harry waved both of them on, insisting that he had forgotten something in his Dorm, and quickly ducked into the Hall of Portraits. A quick poke of the wand at the portrait in question caused it to go immaterial, and Harry slipped through it into the room behind, which resembled nothing so much as a little den, with its own settee and fireplace. Both twins sat there, waiting for him with a bottle of Firewhiskey in hand.

“Ah, Mr. Potter, welcome to the first board meeting for Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes!” Fred exclaimed, acting the part of the consummate businessman.

“Yes, Indeed, welcome. Firstly, we’d like to thank you for your continued interest in our company!” George concurred. Harry suppressed a chuckle at their antics, and decided to play along.

“Well, gentlemen, you know me. I never miss a chance for a good investment. Now, may I inquire as to the purpose of this meeting?” The twins glanced at eachother, and George withdrew a keyring from his coat pocket, and thrust it in Harry’s direction. On it were two keys. One was a large metal skeleton key, and the other was tiny and gold, of the same style as Harry’s own Gringotts key. Harry simply cocked an eyebrow and waited for an explanation.

“This is your copy to the store key, since you are officially one third owner on all of the paperwork, and the other is the key to your vault for your percentage of the profits. We tried to have the goblins deposit them directly into your vault, but they told us they couldn’t since it was just a trust vault.” Both brothers seemed to flinch in preparation for some kind of explosion, and with a flush of shame Harry realized they were scared of his temper.

“Uh, let’s take these topics in order, yeah? What do you mean, One third owner?”

“Well,” Fred interjected. “You gave us a thousand galleons, mate. We were utterly broke, and you gave us the money to make our dreams come true, and we’ll never forget it. So, we decided the best way for us to pay you back would be to make you a partner. You can take the profits and chuck those ratty old muggle digs.”

“Guys, really, I’m flattered, but the money was a gift and-” Both brothers interrupted him as he tried to demur.

“Harry-”
“-Mate”
“This is just our small attempt to pay you back
“For everything that you’ve done”
“For our idiot brother”
“Ginny,”
“Da”
“Really the whole bleedin’ family, eh?”

“Honestly, if you say no, we’d be insulted. We put a lot of thought into this, and there isn’t a single person we’d rather have as part of our business.”

“So don’t you dare say no. We’d have to make your clothes transform into purple lacy underwear in the middle of lunch, and we’d rather not do you like that.” Fred and George finished their two pronged verbal assault, and Harry breathed out, blinking back the burning in his eyes at the sudden outpouring of affection he felt for both Weasley twins.

“Alright,” He replied with a smile “Since you’re twisting my arm, then I suppose I’ll have to graciously accept. But for the love of God, don’t tell Ron, his head would explode.” Fred and George really didn’t expect it to be that easy, nor did they expect to see the unshed tears shining in Harry’s eyes. Neither twin had ever seen Harry cry, and both had been there when he literally shattered every bone in his arm.

“So, why the key?” Harry inquired

“Well, we figure you could always use a place to crash, or a convenient hiding spot. Or really anything. and the secret room behind the storage basement has pretty much every ward imaginable, so we figured it’d come in handy at some point.”

“Fair enough, and Thanks, guys. Really” Both twins grinned again “So what was that last part about trust vaults?”

“Wait, you didn’t know?” George asked, surprised

“Yeah I totally knew. I make a habit of asking things I already know about.” Harry responded sarcastically.

“Mate, your vault isn’t the only Potter vault. That’s just what you get until you finish school.”

“Yeah, you actually thought the Ancient and Noble House of Potter only had the one little vault?” Harry was thoroughly perplexed at this point.

“The ancient and noble house of what the fuck now?” The twins glanced at each other worriedly.

“Mate, next time you’re at Gringotts, ask to speak to Ragnok the goblin, and tell him you need to know about the Ancient and Noble House of Potter. We can’t really do ya justice on the topic, we all just kind of assumed you already knew.”

“Uh… okay then. Harry responded, perplexed. “Um, Anything else then, mates?” Fred gestured to his brother, and George pulled out a muggle style rucksack, and tossed it to Harry.

“Well, as our partner we figured..”
“You ought to get a chance..”
“to test out all the new products, yeah?”

“In that bag is one of everything that just went up at the store. And a little instruction book on how to use it all.”


“Use it to raise hell for us mate. Also, take this back to the dorm with you tonight and get Ronnie knackered, you guys deserve it.” Fred handed him the bottle of firewhiskey, the twins hugged him, and they departed. Harry shoved the bottle into the rucksack, slung it around his shoulder, and walked off to lunch, trying to decrypt the twins’ words all the way there.

By the time Harry sat down at the Gryffindor table, lunch was already in full swing. Ron was already hip deep in bangers and mash, and Hermione was having her usual salad. Harry pulled a plate of steak and kidney pie over and dug right in.

 


 

By the time they got back to the Common room, everyone was buzzing about “The Ministry Six” and the events of the DOM. Harry told Hermione to have a good night as she settled into their usual couch, and told her that if anyone came around asking for him or Ron, to tell the that he’d be around all bloody day (she smacked his arm for language again) tomorrow, since it was Sunday, and that he’d be in his dorm. Then he grabbed Ron, and pulled him towards the stairs, nodding to all their roommates to follow them up.

Once they all made it to the Red and Gold room and sat in their typical circle in the middle, All four boys looked suitably curious. Neville was the first to speak what they were all thinking.

“Harry, what’s up? Something going on?”

“Well, I have a little gift from Fred and George Weasley for Ron and Myself, and I thought it was only right for all of us to share in the bounty.” Harry exclaimed

“Whatcha on about, mate? I figured it was something important like girl troubles or summat.” Seamus complained.

“Yeah, what did they give you that justifies coming to bed at seven bloody thirty?” Ron said with a confused expression.

“Well, boys. This surprisingly large satchel contains not only top of the line new Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, But also,” He reached in, and pulled out the bottle “Ogden’s finest Firewhiskey. You did say you always wanted to try it mate.” Ron clapped him on the back gleefully, and Neville quietly said blimey, as if he had never heard of sneaking alcohol into the dorm room.

“‘Bout time we broke the rules to have some fun, and not almost get killed, eh mate?” Ron said joyfully, as he conjured up five shot glasses.

Half an hour and half the bottle later, Harry was feeling rather funny. Every couple minutes one of them would belch and a thin stream of smoke and a jet of fire would burst forth, and they all found this absolutely hilarious. Ron and Seamus were going over the instruction book for the Wheezes, and giggling madly at all the things they could do with them.

Harry found himself arm-in-arm with Dean and Neville singing along with some song from the Wizarding Wireless that he vaguely remembered the Weird Sisters singing at the Yule Ball. Then the song changed, and Neville collapsed laughing.

“Oy, Dean.”

“Uh, Yeah Harry?”

“Can I ask ya summat?” Harry slurred

“Sure, mate, fire away.”

“Alright, so there’s this girl I know, yeah? Older lady.”

“Mhm” Dean responded as he poked Neville a few times to make sure he was still alive. He was.

“And she really likes to make me blush, sayin all kindsa suggestive stuff.. N’ I dunn want ta let her win yeah? I gotta flirt back.” Dean gestured for Harry to give him a hand, and together they flipped Neville onto his side.

“Yeah, ‘course mate. You gotta.”

“How?” Harry dragged Neville’s blanket and pillow off his bed, and tucked Neville in where he lay.

“How what?”

“Well, you’re the resident ladies man, yeah? How do I flirt back?” They both walked to the other side of the room to check on the room to check on the other two.

“Shit, Har, I don’t even know where to start…. You’re a pretty snarky guy, yeah? I’ve seen you give Snape the whatfer, for like four years, mate.”

“‘Spose I’m pretty clever on occasion yeah?”

“Well just do that, mate. And try to match her tone.” They found Ron and Seamus passed out next to each other, cuddling, and started sniggering. Harry whispered for Dean to go get his camera, quietly, and posed next to the happy couple. Dean took the shot, then passed Harry the camera and did the same.


*Flash*

Chapter Text

Harry’s head pounded as he opened his eyes. So this was what a hangover feels like, huh? He forced himself off of the bed, trying to remember if there were any charms for curing hangovers, and came up blank. Healing was one area of magic where he had literally no knowledge, and that was a rather large gap. He’d have to ask Hermione about it. Just then, Seamus walked over and pressed a vial into his hands.

“Hangover potion, mate. It’ll have you right as rain in no time.” harry nodded appreciatively, and downed the vial. It felt gritty, and tasted like one of his cousin’s protein mixes, But Harry was well versed in swallowing disgusting potions, and suffered past it. Almost immediately, the pain receded, and the light seemed to dim. Harry rolled out of his bunk and pulled on his jeans, and the Weasley jumper Molly made him last year. He wasn’t a huge fan of the look, but it was really the only pair of clothes that fit him. Whatever. He only really needed muggle clothes on the weekends, and he could clean them with a flick of his wrist, so it didn’t matter. He reached into his back pocket, and pulled out his—

Harry paused. That wasn’t his wand. All of a sudden everything felt wrong, as if he was wearing someone else’s underwear. He looked around frantically, trying to find his wand. Desperately, he flicked the strange wand and tried to summon it. The wand flew up from his bedclothes, where it apparently got tangled.

“OY! Anyone missing a wand?” A chorus of No's came from the bathroom, muffled by showers and toothpaste. Harry racked his brain, trying to figure out where the hell he came with an extra wand. Yesterday? Didi he accidentally steal Tonk’s? No, that wasn’t… Oh shit. Harry fumbled the wand as if it was a snake in his hands, about to strike. Bellatrix bloody Lestrange. He never gave her wand to anyone after the battle, he just unconsciously jammed it in his back pocket. So.. What now? Do I keep it? Do I give it to Dumbledore?

Harry mused over it until all of his roommates left for breakfast, and came to a decision. Screw it. It’ll be my backup. No one expects a backup wand, right? He tucked it into his new rucksack, and replaced his original wand in his back pocket where it belonged. Harry stretched once, and walked down to the Common Room to join his friends, who were most likely already waiting.

“Harry, how could you?” Hermione hissed under her breath at the table as Harry worked his way through a generous breakfast. He didn’t usually eat this much, but wanted to get in as many large meals as he could before he had to go back to Privet drive at the end of the next week.

“How could I what, ‘Mione?”

“I know about the little party you had in your dorm last night, I heard about it when Neville and Dean were telling Ginny.” Harry shrugged, swallowed his mouthful of eggs, and responded in the same low tone.

“After what we did on Friday, Fred and George figured the lot of us could use a good drink, and they were right. Neville and Ron certainly needed to relax a bit, and I didn’t see the harm in it. It’s not the first time I’ve drank, you know?”

“Ron is a prefect, what if you all had been caught? He could lose his badge.” Hermione took a breath, and gave Harry a strange look. “What do you mean, not the first time you’ve drank? I’ve never seen you have anything harder than Butterbeer.”

“Not here at school, ‘Mione. I keep a bottle of the good stuff under the floorboard at Privet drive. It’s bloody boring being locked up there all summer.” And booze makes the beatings hurt a bit less. Harry added silently. He didn’t speak the thought though. No one at Hogwarts knew how terrible life was at the Dursleys’, and Harry was determined to keep it that way. Hermione seemed to sense that wasn’t the whole story, but she didn’t press him on the subject.

 


 


After the trio had all finished up eating, Harry told the other two to meet him at the Room of Requirement at eight o’clock, for the last DA meeting of the year, as Hermione headed off to the library and Ron walked off with Dean and Seamus to go play exploding snap and wizard’s chess. Harry then pulled out his DA Galleon, and tapped it three times to reflect the updated information. He worked his way out of the Mess Hall, waving and greeting various people on his way, then immediately ducked into a passageway, and skipped off towards the grounds for a visit with Hagrid, and maybe a bit of flying.

 


 


Harry sat in what he now thought of as the DA room, which was now devoid of all of its usual Dark detectors and target dummies. He had arrived a few hours early and immediately set about getting everything ready for what he had planned.

“Dobby” a resounding crack echoed throughout the room, and the small, oddly dressed house elf appeared.

“Yes, Master Harry, sir?” Harry chuckled under his breath at the ‘Master’ prefix. He had never been able to persuade the elf that it was just Harry, and he assumed that it was because Dobby properly considered himself Harry’s Elf. Not in a binding sort of way, but honorarily.

“I was wondering if you could possibly grab me a bunch of mince pies, snacks and drinks from the kitchen tonight. I was planning to have a bit of a get together in here in an hour.”

“Of course, Harry Potter sir. I’ll be gettings that right away.”

 


 

The knocks at the door became more and more frequent as the day drew to a close and the meeting time drew closer. By eight, all of the members had shown up save Cho and Marietta, who apparently both decided to no longer attend. Appropriate, Harry supposed, considering the latter’s betrayal.

“Right, everyone is here. Welcome to the last Dumbledore’s Army meeting of the Year!” Harry boomed, to the enthusiastic clapping, whistling and cheers of his covert group. “Now, first things first. I know only a few of you accompanied Ron, Hermione, and Myself to the ministry, and you are all probably clamoring to hear the story, which you will, but I wanted to take this moment to thank and congratulate all of you for your loyalty this year and on all of your fantastic progress. Each and every one of you has mastered magic beyond your years, and that is something to be very proud of.” Another small round of applause broke out at that

“Secondly, I decided shortly after the Battle at the DOM, that i will absolutely be continuing the DA next year. I intend to go straight to Dumbledore after this meeting and request permission to continue the group for my remaining years at Hogwarts.” More clapping at that. “The fight at the ministry showed me that what we are doing here is absolutely necessary. Things are likely to continue getting serious over the next few years, and we all need to get better if we want to defend ourselves, or even join the fight.” No cheers at that, huh? Harry thought glibly. Plenty of nods though.

“But enough of the big speeching. Since this is our last meeting, and we’re missing Dinner for it, I set up a little something. Let’s have some fun, and more importantly, let’s eat!” He waved his hand, and the curtain at the back of the room disappeared revealing the rather impressive spread Dobby had managed to come up with.


 

 

Twenty minutes later, Harry found himself sitting in a chair with both of the Patil sisters sitting on the arms on either side, as he and Neville told the story of the fight with Umbridge’s squad and the subsequent battle at the Ministry (artfully leaving out the parts about the prophecy and his scar of course) to Dean, Ernie Macmillan, and several other members. They all gasped at Umbridge’s almost usage of the Cruciatus curse, cheered as she was carried off into the forest by that centaurs, and Parvati gripped his shoulder as he described his duel with Bellatrix and several others sat enraptured and impressed. Harry took a bite of his mince pie and drained his butterbeer as Ron got a few laughs miming the ridiculous brain-summoning incident.

About an hour into the party, Harry stood and excused himself, stating that he had a couple of things to do before his Ten o’clock curfew, and bid everyone a great holiday. He told all of them to feel free to owl himself or Ron and Hermione with questions over the summer, and he would set the date for the first meeting next year via the coins.

Harry slipped out of the door in a very convenient place, coming up not ten feet from the stone Gargoyles that guarded the Headmaster’s office.

“Exploding Bonbon” He exclaimed confidently, and the statues slid aside. He ascended the stairs quietly, and just as he went to knock Mad-Eye’s voice rang out.

“Come on in Potter.” He blinked twice at the unexpected sound of the old Auror’s voice, and swung the old oak door open.

“Ah, Harry, welcome. What can I do for you this evening?” Dumbledore spoke cheerfully, his eyes twinkling.

“Well, uh, Sir, i just came from—”

“From one of your wonderful DA meetings, I expect?” Harry started slightly at that.

“As omniscient as always, sir.”

“Not at all, Harry. Simply well informed.”

“Well, uh, yeah. We just had a bit of an End Of Year Party of sorts.” Dumbledore smiled indulgently at his favorite student, and nodded. “And I was wondering if I could get your permission to continue running the DA next year. I thought it could serve as a way for me to teach the others how to defend themselves beyond what they learn in class, and get important info out to the others that you couldn’t announce properly since none of us is old enough to join the Order. Also, they’re rather handy as additional eyes and ears in the student body.”

“Excellent thinking, my boy. Of course, by all means continue. You make several excellent points.” Moody nodded.

“Aye, since Molly and the others seem to think letting you lot in for official training ill-advised, best you do it yourselves. And It’s always good to surround yourselves with trustworthy people.” Harry beamed at the two older men, glad to have their approval.

“Also sir, I was wondering if there was any way I could make arrangements to visit Diagon Alley before being sent back to the Dursley’s? There are quite a few things I need to pick up, and once I’m there I probably won’t be let out for the rest of the summer.” Dumbledore nodded, looking pensive at the last part of his statement.

“Indeed, I will write your aunt, and inform her that there is no need to pick you up from the station. I can arrange for an escort to meet you and portkey directly to the Leaky Cauldron to pick up what you need, then take you directly to their house. Now, If you would be so kind as to escort Harry back to his common room, since it is past his curfew, Alastor, I believe it is time for all of us to be off to our respective beds.” Moody nodded, and started stumping towards the door. Harry followed behind, rather curious to see how the hell Mad-Eye managed the stairs with his pegleg.

As it turned out, years of practice with it allowed Moody to make it down easily, if not with any particular grace. As they walked past an empty classroom, Mad-Eye pulled Harry inside and closed the door.

“I’ve been thinking about what you asked me at the hospital, Potter, and I believe I’ve come up with a solution.” The scarred Auror reached into one of the deep pockets on his leather duster, and pulled out a rounded conical shape covered in runes. “This, lad, is an experimental anti-tracking runestone made by the Department of Mysteries. As long as it’s within ten feet of ya, nobody’ll be able to detect your underage magic, and if you tap it with your wand It’ll remove any tracking or monitoring spells placed on them, by the ministry or anyone else. Keep it on your person AT ALL TIMES!” He roughly pressed the little rock into Harry’s open hands.

“Had to pull a hell of a lot of strings to get my hands on that, eh. Tonks and I will each drop by as often as we can get away, to show you how to duel for real. It’s gonna be rough stuff, I won’t lie. You’ll hate me by the time Dumbledore gets around to moving you out of that place.” Harry nodded his understanding “Now, It’ll mainly be Tonks the first week or so, since Dumbledore has suddenly decided to clue me in on whatever it is he’s been working on these days, and I’ll be busy with him. Just remember. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”

Chapter Text

This was it, Harry mused. Last day of the term. All of the Students were filing into their Thestral Drawn carriages and departing. Harry grabbed one with his group, and they were off. The conversation was light, ranging from quidditch to summer plans. Hermione was going to France with her parents for a week, Luna was joining her father on a creature hunting expedition, and Ron and Neville didn’t really have much planned.

Harry didn’t let any of them in on his training plans because he didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Ron and Hermione already knew, of course, but Neville, Ginny, and Luna didn't need to just yet. It would be so much more gratifying to walk into Number twelve in a few months and just show them. Plus, it wouldn’t do very well for the information to make it back to Dumbledore too early. He did tell them he was planning to stop by the Alley on his way home to pick up some advanced Defense books, and perhaps a few other things to keep him busy over the hols.

Harry had asked if he could stay at Hogwarts a few more days until Sirius was up and about, but the Headmaster said that he had to get back to Privet Drive as soon as possible once the school year ended, and that they would keep him updated by owl. By the time they had boarded the train and Hermione and Ron had set off on their rounds, Harry, Luna, Neville and Ginny were all happily digging into a mound of snacks and chatting about DA plans for the next year.

The trip passed by fairly uneventfully, but for a brief skirmish between Draco and his henchmen and about ten very pissed DA members. There was also an extremely awkward moment when Cho walked past Harry’s compartment, but honestly not even that could touch Harry’s good mood. He disembarked from the train, and was immediately drawn into a warm (and crushing) hug from Mrs. Weasley, and was whisked off to the platform proper. Arthur Weasley stood off to one side with Mad-Eye and—

“Tonks!” Ginny and Hermione both tackle-hugged the Punk looking Auror. Harry chuckled at that, until he found himself pulled in for a hug next. Harry fought the flush that came to his cheeks as Tonks pressed him to her chest and dirty images sprang to mind unbidden.

“Wotcher, you lot! Alright, now, Harry, Mad-Eye and I are going to be your escort for this shopping trip of yours. We’re gonna go direct from here, we’ll make the rounds, and then you and I are gonna make a quick detour into Muggle London while Mad-Eye stops by your house and sets some things up. Sound good?” She asked cheerfully. Harry nodded. He’d never really been to Muggle London, so it all sounded rather exciting to him. He hugged all of his friends goodbye, bid them all to write often, then he set off with his eclectic group of guards.

As they walked to the Floo at the back of the station, Moody walked up next to him

“So, Potter. What stops do we need to make?”

“Well, I have to stop by Gringotts and talk to someone named Ragnok, apparently, and pick up some spending money. I need to stop at a bookstore and grab a few new Defense books, and I was hoping to find a repair shop of some kind to fix this” He pulled out the knife that Sirius had given him, and flicked the melted blade attachment out to show the Auror.

“Aye, I know a guy who can do that, I can go handle that while you talk to Director Ragnok. I’ll give you the address so your owl can fly over and pick it up when it’s done. That’s a relatively complicated piece of magic, and it’s not strictly legal, so I’ll have to stop by Knockturn Alley to get it done. The shop’ll bill Gringotts directly.” Harry was shocked at the old Auror’s casual attitude towards the knife, considering that it was illegal. He hadn’t actually known that himself.

“And before we leave, I have something we’ll need to pick up that I had commissioned specifically for yeh, shouldn’t take long. That all sound good to you lot?” Moody asked the other two. Harry and Tonks both nodded. 


 

 

Half an hour later, Harry was seated in an impressive office in front of perhaps the tallest and most imposing looking Goblin he had ever seen. Ragnok had beckoned Harry into his office as soon as he arrived, wearing an expression of practiced apathy. It wasn't much, but it was better than the disdain and malice most goblins held towards wizards.

“So, uh, Mister Ragnok. The Weasley Twins told me that i should come talk to you regarding.. The House of Potter? and something about a bunch of vaults?”

“Ahhhh, this explains a great deal.” The goblin interlaced his long bony fingers, and placed them on the desk in front of him. “You see, I expected to see you here almost five years ago. It seems that someone neglected to inform you of your position.” Harry leaned back in his seat and sighed internally. This sounded like one of those heavy conversations he hated so much, and it didn’t look like it would get any lighter as they continued.

“You, my young wizard, are in a very... unusual position. You are technically the Heir to the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, a title passed down by every generation of Potter since the birth of Magical Britain. You are also Heir to your family’s rather extensive holdings, and your Grandfather's title. None of this means very much until the reaching of your majority at seventeen, or until you are otherwise emancipated, of course, but as the last Potter by name, you ought to have been told.” Oh fabulous, more titles. Can’t wait until Snape gets a whiff of this Lord business. I’ll never hear the end of it.

“W-what exactly do you mean by holdings?” Harry asked, rather nervous to hear the answer.

“It involves a rather large estate, a seat on the Wizengamot, and several large vaults.” The old goblin continued. He seemed indifferent to the uneasiness the boy displayed at this news “I believe either your godfather or the Weasley Patriarch would be best suited to explain to you the intricacies of what it entails…” Harry glanced suspiciously at the goblin, but said nothing, and Ragnok just smiled back. “Oh yes, Heir Potter, I know your Godfather, Sirius Black, quite well. He met me here two years ago to the day, to claim his birthright, and amend his will. Now, we have one last piece of house business before you leave.” Ragnok tapped the small mahogany box on his desk, and it opened to reveal a small gold ring with a white crest on the front.

“This signifies that you have accepted your title as Heir, and guarantees that you will be able to inherit your family’s ancestral estate and whatnot at seventeen.” Harry picked up the gold ring, and slipped it onto a finger on his left hand. The ring instantly sized itself correctly, and glowed warmly. Wearing the ring just felt … right somehow. Like it was the missing part of his finger.

"Um, Mister Ragnok.. could you do me a favor?"

"What can I do for you, Heir Potter?"

"Please, don't inform the Headmaster about this? And please, Just call me Harry." And, for once, he saw the old Goblin smile.

 


 

Harry was lost in thought as a pair of goblins in gold armor hustled him back down the hall to where his minders waited. He was absolutely lost.

“My repair guy said yer knife’ll be good as new in two weeks or so, so just send that owl o’ yours to Trackleshanks Locksmiths two fridays from now.” Moody whispered in his ear. Harry nodded, and committed the name to memory. Trackleshank’s, Knockturn alley. Got it. He repeated it to

“Alright, so, what was that thing you wanted me to get, Mad-Eye? All I have left to do is pick up some books and a wand holster.”

“Well, We’re right by Obscurus, why don’t we get the books first, eh Alastor?” Tonks chimed in

“Obscurus? I was just planning to visit flourish—”

“No offence to messrs Flourish and Blott, but that place is pretty much useless outside of Hogwarts textbooks. If you want to learn some real magic Obscurus is the place to go.” Harry shrugged. After all, what’d he know, he only went shopping once a year if that. Best to just roll with it, he supposed. Moody nodded his approval, and they headed down the alley towards a corner he’d never visited before.

“Broomstix, Refter’s Rare Relics, Wiseacre’s…” Harry read off as he walked past.

“Aye, Refter’s is where we’ll be stopping last. And Wiseacre’s should have yer holsters.” Moody said over his shoulder as he swept his eyes back and forth at the thin crowd in the alley. Everything seemed like a muggle supermarket the night before a big storm to Harry. Wizards and Witches running into the Apothecary and Eeylops to stock up on supplies, frantic, then rushing off to the Cauldron or the apparition spots. All of a sudden it clicked. This was because of the ministry incident. Now that the ministry acknowledges Voldemort’s return, everyone was panicking. Preparing for the worst. Tonks leaned over his shoulder.

“And if you're on the M25 you'd better run for your life, because the Ant Hill'l be emptying soon”

“Wassat, Tonks?” She shrugged

“Lyrics from some prog rock song I heard once. Terrible song, but it seemed appropriate.” He chuckled

“Yeah, I suppose it is…” He eyed the Auror critically. “So Prog rock? It’s funny, but I always took you more as the punk sort, Ramones and all that.”

“What, because of this?” She flickered her hair through an entire spectrum of colors and tugged at the collars of her dragon skin leather jacket.

“Heh, yeah, I guess. You always dress so cool, I just kinda figured- “

“Aww, you think I’m cool? Thanks Harry, that means a lot from you” She winked and punched his arm. “Nah, I’ve been known to listen to Black Flag on occasion, but honestly I’m more of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Modest Mouse kind of girl.”

“Tonks, I’ll be honest with you, I have no clue who any of those bands are.”

“And they told me you were raised by muggles.” Tonks shook her head. “Not big music fans, then, these muggles of yours?” Harry shook his head vehemently.

“Tonks, even if they were, I get the feeling your music isn’t what they consider normal. And I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to listen to it. The Dursleys are obsessed with appearing as normal as humanly possible.” Harry puffed up his chest and did his best Uncle Vernon Impression “Can’t have the boy upstairs blasting that damn Rock music, annoying the neighbors. Darn freak, ruinin’ my good reputation with his damn owl and his shitey broom”

Tonks blinked at him.

“Harry, do they actually call you a freak?”

“Oh yeah, I’m fairly sure it’s my Uncle’s favorite word. Why?” Tonks stopped for a second, disconcerted, but Mad-Eye waved her onward. They finally arrived outside an old store called Obscurus Books, and Tonks dragged Harry inside with Mr. Weasley while Mad-Eye covered the door.

“Harry, you know that’s not normal, right? Like, families aren’t supposed to— “

“Tonks, Families aren’t supposed to do a lot of things my ‘Family’ does. It doesn’t really matter.” Harry browsed a shelf full of Defence against the Dark Arts books, pausing over titles such as So You Fancy Yourself a Dark Wizard Slayer? and Defensive Hexes For Thick Gits.

“What d’you mean it doesn’t matter? Harry, I haven’t actually seen your house or anything yeah, but if you’re being mistreated you should tell Dumbledore.” Harry laughed at that, a hollow, bitter sound.

“Tonks, I live where I live because of Dumbledore. I was supposed to go live with Sirius, but that got screwed all to hell for obvious reasons. So Dumbledore sent me to my relatives, and had a spy in the neighborhood watching me since I was little. He knows all about my terrible relatives…. Well, maybe not the really bad parts, but if he really cared wouldn’t he have checked up on me at some point?” Harry grabbed Confronting The Faceless, Fighting Fire With Fire; Defensive Curses and Jinxes, and several other interesting looking Defense books, along with The Art of Apparition and Occlumency for the Obtuse, and made for the check out. Tonks followed after, apparently stumped.

“Anyway, whether he knew or not, I apparently have to stay there because it has ‘Special Wards’. So, I make due.” 


 

Harry paid the twenty-something galleon tab, and they left. Tonks trailed behind as they weaved through the crowd towards Wiseacres. All three of them came inside on this one because it was in a much busier part of the alley, but once again Moody stuck by the door. Harry ended up picking up two pairs of wand holsters, one for the leg and one for the arm, and discreetly checked to see if both wands fit (which they did). Bellatrix’s curved wand fit a little funny, but it stayed. He also threw in a pair of dragon hide boots because they looked rather slick, and he was tired of his own worn out secondhand trainers.

The second the boots were paid for he took off his ratty sneakers and had Tonks Vanish them. He excitedly pulled on the boots. The feeling of brand new boots with actual support and proper soles felt like magic. The shape that Harry’s old shoes were in didn’t escape Tonks now that she was paying attention. The ratty cross-trainers had multiple holes, and little to no tread left of the bottoms.

Her brow furrowed. The more time she spent around Harry Potter, the less she felt comfortable with. Not with him, of course, Harry was great fun if a bit brooding. But the house she had picked Harry up from the previous summer, and his own accounts of the muggles left a seriously bad taste in her mouth, and if Albus Dumbledore knew about it then the old man was slipping. She was going to be stationed there all summer on watch, so she’d get to see exactly how bad the ‘Dursleys’ actually treated Harry.

But if what Harry said was true, and Dumbledore already knew, what good would it do? Who could she report it to? Dumbledore was at the top of a short list of people who had any legal say over what happened to Harry, and most of the others were either dead or fugitives from the law. Tonks sighed, and forced herself to stop brooding about it. She came back to attention just in time to see Harry pull on his new boots. Harry was grinning to himself, and his eyes closed, savoring the heavenly feeling the cushioning charms on the inside of the boots. Tonks couldn’t help but wonder if that was the first time he’d ever had new clothes. All of a sudden, Tonks knew exactly what she was taking Harry to do in London.

Her instructions for the afternoon were simple; take Harry somewhere in Muggle London while Alastor settled some business at Harry’s relatives house. No specific place or objective was set, just muggle London in general, seeing as purebloods, and by extension Death Eaters, had no idea how to navigate the muggle world. And now, she knew exactly how to spend the time.

 


 

As the three of them entered the last shop, Harry’s eyes went wide. The small shop resembled nothing quite so closely as Dumbledore’s office. It was full of some of the most unusual magical items Harry had ever laid eyes on. A collection of blown glass planets free floating in the middle of the room around a glowing miniature sun caught his eye, as did some sort of living bronze owl automaton. Then he saw, in the corner of the room, a glowing stone basin linen with runes and stones.

“Moody, what the hell kind of store carries Pensieves?” Harry inquired. “And what the hell are we here for?”

“C’mere lad.” Harry came to the counter. “Addy, meet Harry Potter. He’s the one I commissioned that trunk for. Harry, this is Addy Refter. He collects and sells strange and rare items. I asked ‘im to find us a trunk like mine with a few rooms in it, so we have a place to practice at yer house.”

“...A trunk like yours?” Harry strained his memory, trying to figure out if he had ever seen Moody’s trunk, but just as a niggle of memory began to surface, the man behind the counter interrupted his train of thought.

“A trunk like this, Mr. Potter.” Mr. Refter pulled a large trunk out from behind the counter with three keyholes on the front. He inserted the key into the first hole and threw back the lid to reveal an impressively large space, big enough for an entire training space.

“Blimey, Mads, that’s one hell of a trunk!” Tonks exclaimed from behind Harry somewhere.

“Indeed, Miss. One hell of a trunk, and extremely expensive to procure, So shall we get down to business?” The man reminded Harry of Snape. Had that long dour face, the same sallow skin. It didn’t exactly make Harry to eager to speak up.

“What business is that, Addy? We already agreed on a price. Hundred and fifty Galleons.” Mad-Eye growled.

“Ah, but artifacts like this are in high demand right now, Mr. Moody. Since the beginning of the panic, everyone is looking for things to keep them hidden, keep them safe. So the price has— “ Harry stepped forward, and pulled out a pouch. He tossed it at the old merchant.

“There’s four hundred galleons in there. Throw in the pensieve at the back and the whole thing’s yours, yeah?” The merchant blinked twice.

“Y-yes of course Mr. Potter.” The merchant looked inside the bag and a huge grin stretched across his face, revealing long crooked yet polished teeth. “Feel free to come back anytime for any of my rare and unique items, sir. I can find you just about anything.”

“If anyone ever finds out I was here or what I bought from you, that’ll be that last of my money you ever see, yeah?” The man nodded, and Harry turned away, satisfied. Refter levitated the pensieve into the trunk, then shrunk it and handed the whole package to Moody. Harry made to leave, but found a single jaundiced hand waiting in his path. He shook it reluctantly.


 

Once they were finally outside, Tonks turned toward Harry, a shocked look on her face.

“Mate, you overpaid by like, at least a hundred and fifty galleons.” Harry shrugged.

“I got the money to spend, might as well take advantage of it. Tonks, you know muggle culture pretty well, yeah?

“Well, yeah my dad was muggleborn, and I used to watch all kinds of muggle shows and movies and whatnot.”

“Well, the muggles have a saying for what I did back there. It’s ‘Money talks, Shit walks’”

Mad-Eye chuckled at that.

“Well done in there, kid. Didn’t think you’d have that kind of street smarts, considering.” That statement kind of puzzled Harry, but he let it pass. “He’ll keep that loose gob of his shut if he thinks you’ll be back in waving that kind of money. Right, you’re off in muggle London for the rest of the day, while I go get you set up.” They both nodded. “Nymphadora, c’mere.” Tonks gave him a grimace at the use of her first name, but acquiesced.

“Keep an eye on the kid. Let ‘im have a bit of fun, sure, but remember. CONSTANT VIGILANCE. They wouldn’t hold back if they found him, not even in full view of muggles.” Tonks nodded, her hair settling down to a much more subtle nutmeg color. Then Moody was gone, and she was dragging Harry by the arm out the Leaky Cauldron and into London proper. They both stopped into the bathroom briefly and switched to muggle threads, Tonks in a flashy (short) skirt V neck shirt, and a leather jacket. She left her usual boots.

Harry on the other hand, was clad in a polo shirt three sizes too large, a pair of worn out jeans (actually worn out, not faded), and the new boots he’d just bought. Harry cringed at being seen in those clothes in front of Tonks. He knew full well that he looked like an idiot.

“Alright, Harry?” The mousy-haired Auror cocked her head to the side.

“Yeah, Just a bit uh…” Harry paused, contemplating how to finish the sentence

“Nervous for our first date, huh?” she asked with a wink.

“Oh def, Tonksie. Not exactly going out clothes.” She punched his arm.

“Tonksie? Really? That’s effin' terrible.” Harry flashed a guilty smile. “Anyway, we’ll get you out of those rags in a bit”

“Blimey, and on the first date? Moving a bit fast there, Tonks.” That earned him another punch

“Oi, Potter, what kind of girl do you think I am. I’m a third date screw at best, and only if the lad is really fit.” Harry blushed red at her blunt tone, and Tonks mentally awarded herself another point. It wasn’t really fair to Harry to be keeping score, considering how sheltered he was. But no one ever accused Nymphadora Tonks of playing fair. Anyway, it’d be fun corrupting the boy. “What I MEANT was, I’m taking you shopping. We’ll get you some new digs in just a bit, then you can burn that stuff.” Harry broke out into a huge grin at that.

“Now that sounds brilliant. Lead the way!”

 


 

The first two stops had been in department stores, to pick out some nice shiny new clothes. Tonks offered to pay for him, but Harry found a little bundle of muggle money at the bottom of his coin purse courtesy of Ragnok, so he could cover his own wardrobe. They got him all new sweaters, because Tonks insisted that he “looked damn good in ‘em” and Harry wasn’t about to argue. She seemed to think he should make sure everything was as tight as possible for some reason, too, which was new for him. Previously, all of his clothes felt like circus tents, so he just went with it.

This one was different though. Harry now found himself in situation he had no idea how to deal with. Tonks dragged him to a thrift store full of rock t-shirts and leather pants, and was forcing him to model different outfits for her and the tattoo-and-piercing covered shop attendant, who Tonks introduced as Raquel. Apparently she was a regular customer here. The pair seemed to get their jollies making him try on increasingly tighter and flashier clothes that Harry’s muggle relatives probably would have referred to as “troubled youth” clothing. The outfits looked like they belonged at a Weird Sisters concert, and definitely didn’t look right on him.

“Tonks, what’s with all the leather? Do I really look like the leather pants type?” Tonks giggled— actually bloody Giggled— at him.

“Nah, you definitely don’t seem like you like leather all that much.” She dropped to a low seductive tone. “But damn does leather like you.” He ducked back into the changing room to hide the scarlet flush that appeared on his face, leaving Tonks and her friend laughing riotously.

“You weren’t kidding, he does blush easy.”

“I’m telling you Raquel, I’m gonna have fun corrupting this one.”

“Oh, you’re gonna ‘corrupt him’ huh?” Raquel retorted playfully.

“Jeez, no, do I look like a dirty old woman to you? He’s bloody sixteen!” Raquel laughed at that again, and started singing

“Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know!” until Tonks punched her

“Damnit Raquel.”

“Fine, fine. If you aren’t gonna ‘corrupt him’ then give him my number. He is fiiiine, and I don’t mind em a bit young.” Tonks was so glad she was a metamorph. It was probably the only thing that kept her from blushing when Harry finally came out of the dressing rooms, back in his normal clothes. Tonks piled their chosen items at the register, then paid, and Raquel dismissed the pair with a cheeky grin and a wink.

 


 

“Right, what now then, Harry? We got a good couple hours left.” Harry pondered for a moment.

“Let’s go get dinner somewhere, yeah? I’ll probably be on a toast and leftovers diet most of the summer, so it’ll be good to sneak in one last big meal.” Tonks shivered at the matter-of-fact manner Harry used to describe his treatment. Every time he did that it gave her a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She was going to be having a long fucking talk with Albus Dumbledore at the next Order meeting, that was for sure.

“Sounds good, mate. Where do you wanna go?” Harry shrugged. He knew next to nothing about eating out.

“Dunno, what’s good?”

“Hmmm. You ever have Thai food? I know a pretty good little hole in the wall place a couple blocks from here.” Harry shook his head.

“Sounds interesting, let’s do it.”


 

Mad-Eye Moody was pissed off. Well, that was an understatement. Mad-Eye was beyond pissed off. He’d slipped into 4 Privet Drive when Potter’s great lump of an uncle had arrived home, and done a bit of recon. He’d heard from the Weasley twins a bit of what the boy had to deal with over the summer months, and some rumor about a cupboard, but he didn’t honestly believe that Albus would have allowed the boy to live in a house like that. It seemed like his faith in the old wizard was unfounded.

Moody had treated the house like a crime scene. He investigated top to bottom, and what he found left him infuriated. The cupboard under the stairs was filled with crap now, but in the corner there was a small stained mattress and an old stack of school books. Harry’s room was scratched into the post above the door on the inside. Additionally, the tiny bedroom upstairs that was apparently Harry’s had locks and deadbolts all over the outside, and his window looked like it had bars in it at some point.

Now, Mad-Eye was sitting on the sterile, plastic covered couch in the living room, waiting. He’d finished setting up the trunk, and cleaning up the bedroom a little bit so it would at least be habitable for the boy. He’d also dismantled the locks on the door. So, now he was waiting. Moody cancelled the disillusionment charm, and kept his wand pointed at the entranceway to the kitchen. Soon enough, the fat shit called Vernon lumbered in, talking in a loud voice to his horse-faced wife.

“Petunia, I’m going to watch a bit of Rugby.” The mustached man turned, and caught sight of Alastor’s gnarled face and electric blue eye, and his cheeks puffed out and turned a bright cherry red.

“WHO IN THE BLOODY HELL-” Mad-eye wordlessly silenced the man, and shot him with a stunner. Moments later, his wife and son came rushing into the room and got the same treatment. Then, he floated the lot of them onto the couch and bound all three in ropes.

“Ennervate.” Vernon instantly started growing a disturbing puce color and opening his mouth, trying to scream at Moody. After a few moments, he seemed to realize that no sound was being produced, and he grew pale. Petunia and the baby whale just sat there and eyed Mad-Eye in fear. He chuckled, well aware of how disturbing his appearance could be. In fact, he left his face in the state it was, without glamours or scar-healing poultices for just that reason. one look at his mug had most people pissing themselves.

“Now, Vernon. Petunia. Boy. I am here to speak to you on behalf of the boy that Albus Dumbledore saw fit to entrust you with. I’ve heard… Let’s say... disturbing rumors about how you’ve treated the lad, and when I looked around I was less than impressed with his accommodations. What do you have to say for yourselves?” Moody flicked his wand, cancelling the spell on the three of them.

“WHAT THE FUCK—” Moody hit the fat one with a bludgeoning spell to the stomach, equivilant with a solid punch.

“Indoor voices, muggle.”

“What. The. fuck. business. is. it” Vernon paused to catch his breath. “of yours what we do in our own home, you disfigured freak.” Moody massaged his temples. This sack of shit apparently had no clue how deep he already was. The man kept digging his hole deeper.

“Vernon Dursley, right?” Moody forged ahead without an answer. “Ya are, ’m sure, aware that both you and yer wife’d be up for very long prison terms in both the muggle and magical worlds if anyone found out how badly you’d abused your nephew, correct?” Dursley paled at that. Good. He’s figuring it out. “Ya see, I am what ya call an Auror. Scotland Yard, essentially. I could have the lot of you locked up in a prison guarded by the worst monsters on earth in about a week if i was so inclined. I’d prolly just kill you both though. I’m not a patient man. Now, I’m gonna give you a bit of truth serum, find out how badly ye’v fucked the boy up.

Mad-Eye stumped over to the couch, forced Vernon’s head back, and dripped veritaserum down his gullet.

“Now, tell me, muggle. What the fuck did you do to Harry Potter?”

 


 

Alastor Moody prided himself on his self-control. He was loud, and a bit uncouth, but nothing threw him off his even keel. He’d seen whole families killed with gleeful abandon, tortured for just being muggles, fed to werewolves. Moody’d seen all manner of sick shit. But hearing Vernon Dursley describe, with no hint of remorse or emotion at all, beating, starving, and imprisoning Harry in a tiny cupboard, he felt blood pound in his ears. The great git had convinced himself somehow that the boy deserved it. If it weren’t for his orders, and Albus’s damned blood wards, he would’ve happily blasted the muggle to pieces along with the house.

As it was, he was going to go tear Albus a new one. It was a wonder the boy survived this place long enough to actually get to Hogwarts. Well, Moody had all year to fix the damage that those despicable muggles had done, and they knew well not to lay another damn finger on the boy, or he would be paying them another visit once the boy left in July. And next time, Orders and Blood Wards be damned, he'd be teaching Vernon Dursley a thing or two about pain.

Chapter Text

The flames in Arabella Figg’s fireplace flared green at 10:45 on the dot, and Harry and Tonks stumbled through, laughing their heads off. Figg glanced up from her knitting, and did a doubletake. She almost didn’t recognize the boy. Harry was dressed in the most outrageous Muggle clothing she’d ever seen. He had a pair of tight black jeans on, with a chain trailing from his belt loop to the back pocket, and a faded t-shirt that said Anarchy in the UK and had some sort of horned woman on it, but the clothes themselves weren’t what threw her.

It was his expression. In all the time Arabella had watched the house, she’d never seen a look that happy on his face.

“O-oh my god, Tonks, that was absolutely amazing.” He gasped for breath. “I can’t believe you actually just slapped Tom the bartender’s ass. I think I might be scarred for life from that memory.”

“That was nothing. The best part was that joke you made to that feckin chav at the Thai place.” Tonks was wiping a tear from her eye. “I did NOT think you had it in you.” The Auror slapped him on the back, and pulled him towards the door. She saluted Arabella on the way past, and Harry gave a casual nod, and they were gone again. The second the door closed behind the pair, Mr. Tibbles jumped up onto her lap and started crying.

“I have no idea what that was, Mr. Tibbles. Who knows what she did to the boy?” The part-Kneazle started pushing on her hand. “Yes, yes, I know. It’s dinner time.”

 


 

Harry walked up to the front door of 4 Privet Drive, his good humor slowly dying with every step closer. He stopped, feeling a familiar sinking in the pit of his stomach that was made all the worse by the fantastic day he had just experienced. Tonks placed a reassuring hand on the raven-haired boy’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort and solidarity. With that, Harry found the strength to turn the handle. The sight that greeted them beyond that boring familiar portal was jarring, to say the least. Mad-Eye moody sat on the couch, alone in the living room. By the look of it, everyone else had already fled to their respective bedrooms.

“Well quick, get in before someone gets a shot off atcha. Can’t be dawdling out in the open boy.” Harry and Tonks swept inside, and shut the door firmly behind themselves. Harry did as he knew Moody expected.

“ What was did Mad-Eye warn me about the first time he was in this house?” The grimace— or perhaps it was meant to be a smile— that crossed Moody’s features made him look as though he was in great pain.

“I warned yeh not to keep yer wand in your back pocket. Better wizards than you have lost a buttock, I believe I said.”

“Brilliant. Now, Why’re you just sitting there like that? I figured you’d be invisible, just in and out once you were set up?”

“That was the initial idea, yeah, but after I had a look around I decided that Dursley and I needed to have words. Suffice it to say, he won’t be doing what he used to do anymore.” Moody answered gruffly as he shot Harry a significant look. Harry looked back, paling at the realization that Mad-Eye probably knew more about his home situation then he was quite comfortable with anyone knowing. The look in the one real brown eye was telling. He could see genuine concern, which unnerved Harry. He wasn’t quite accustomed to the legendary hardass betraying any emotion. Harry waved off the look.

“I appreciate the thought, but that— My Uncle is rather difficult to dissuade, and I’m used to it.”

“Lad, you ain’t listening. I already did. I’ve been dealing with men like your uncle my whole life, I know how to speak their language. Vernon Dursley knows to expect one of us coming over to visit you every couple days, and if I see anything…” Moody let the statement hang, heavy with implications. “Now I gotta make a move. The trunk and the pensieve are all set up in your room, with a set of instructions on the night stand.

 


 

Alastor Moody apparated into Hogsmeade just as the storm was starting. Thunder crackled across the sky as he limped down the street, pulling his trench coat tight around him and fingering the ring that hung around his neck. The brewing tempest reflected his mood well. Albus had been his leader, one of his few close friends, for over fifty years now. But this time the manipulative old codger had gone too far, and Moody refused to let it continue.

“Greater Good my ass” he growled against the wind. The gates swung open at his touch, and Filch opened the small door to grant him entrance. Moody hated the stairs in the castle on a good day, since they always seemed to try and catch his peg. Today, however, the castle seemed to sense his fury, and let him pass unmolested. Even Peeves flitted away the second the infamous electric blue orb focused on him.

“Exploding Bon Bon” Moody barked as he strode unevenly up to the stone gargoyle. It sprung aside, and he advanced to the inner door. He raised his calloused hand, and slammed it against the heavy oak three times.

“Enter” Moody stumped into Albus’s inner sanctum as Poppy Pomfrey bustled past him down the stairs. The second the door closed behind her, Alastor released the lid he’d been keeping on his fury. The look on his face was terrifying, amplified by the mutilated features.

“Alastor, welcome. What can I—

“Albus, you are going to do two things for me tonight. First, you are going to shut yer gob and let me say my piece. Then you are going to tell me absolutely everything, and I MEAN everything!” He slammed his fist into the desk in front of the headmaster, rattling and knocking over several priceless artifacts. Albus blinked, but betrayed no emotion.

“Well, Alastor, I can’t fix your issue if I don’t know what it is. Please, continue.” Moody laughed humorlessly.

“What’s my Issue? Albus, do you know where I went this afternoon? I paid a nice long visit to 4 Privet Drive, while Harry took a nice long trip in Muggle London.” Albus’ gaze sharpened on the old Auror and brought the full force of his considerable magical aura to bear.

“You left Harry in London unguarded?”

“Don’t be thick, Albus, it doesn’t suit you at all. Tonks was with him, and they never stayed in one location for more than an hour. No, he was perfectly safe while I went to his house, which is more than I can bloody say now that he’s there. I had fucking words with Vernon Dursley.” Albus shifted back in his tall chair, and his hands came together. “I saw the fucking cupboard, I saw the locks and the bars, I saw the goddamn catflap THEY FUCKING FED HIM THROUGH!” The ancient wizard sitting in front of him didn’t move a muscle as Moody unleashed all of the pent up fury that had been building. He just sat through it. “All these years, the order sat on our asses and you fed us that line of bullshit about Potter being safe, Being with a good family, AND I LISTENED! I FUCKING LISTENED BECAUSE I TRUSTED YOU!”

“Alastor—”

“No I’m not bloody done Albus! Lupin, the Tonks’, the Longbottoms, the Weasleys, hell Minerva would’ve taken him herself. I know for a FACT she offered. And, I know you knew what kind of man Vernon Dursley is. You are the second most accomplished Legilmens in the last three hundred years. What have you been doing? Have you finally snapped, or gone senile? You know what Potter represents, and yet you left him in Hell!” Moody saw Albus’s hand shoot into his sleeve, and scarred man drew his wand, and ripped the necklace off his neck.

“Albus, you might be powerful, but I’m faster than you and you know it. Draw the goddamn Deathstick on me and I destroy this office, and use this portkey to disappear. Then I burn down your plans, your precious Order, and your bloody reputation. Dark Lord or no Dark Lord, I will destroy you before I let you wipe this information from my mind.” Dumbledore’s gaze darkened.

“Alastor, where did this come from? I thought we were agreed that the Blood protection was vital. Harry must stay there to remain protected.” Moody waved his wand, and a silver vial flew out of his pocket and onto the desk.

“Watch that, and tell me the boy looks bloody safe.” Albus picked the vial up, and slowly walked towards the pensive. Moody paralleled him, never once turning away from the old man.


 

 

Dumbledore knew some of what Moody meant to be showing him, but not the extent or the severity to which Petunia Dursley’s husband had abused the boy. He watched as Harry was savagely beaten with a belt at the age of 8 after a harmless bout of accidental magic. He saw the broken arm from his cousin that didn’t heal right because Harry wasn’t taken to a doctor, and the years of malnourishment and borderline starvation that Hogwarts’ House Elves had only just begun to fix with nutrient and Growth potions in the boy’s food. He didn’t let any of it penetrate his occlumency shields, but the memories left him badly shaken.

Long ago, Albus had known that living in the house would be terrible for the boy, and he had hardened himself against the emotions because he had known it was the only way. But being faced with this? Being responsible for such barbarity and violence, and actually seeing it? It nearly broke him.

As he pulled his face back from the pensieve, he saw Moody with a look of vindication on his face. Mad-Eye sensed that Albus knew, or suspected, the consequences of his actions.

“So, there. There’s my fucking piece, Albus. I told that bloody muggle that if I had my way, Harry would be leaving his house this summer and never coming back, and if I heard tell of a single finger touching the boy, any more of this locking in and starving, then I would make his face match mine. Tell me, what in Merlin’s name justifies this Greater Good?” Albus looked every single second of his advanced age then.

“Horcruxes.” Albus croaked. Moody blinked.

“What the hell does some old piece of obscure magic have to do with this?” Moody was caught off guard. He didn’t honestly expected Albus to have an answer.

“You know exactly what a Horcrux is? How they affect those around them, yes?” Moody nodded. He’d been in the business of hunting Dark Wizards since the 1940’s, and he’d seen or studied just about every known iteration of Dark Magic. “Harry’s scar was a Horcrux. There was nothing I could do to get rid of it short of killing the boy, he needed the protection of the Blood Wards, and until the boy’s own magic grew strong enough to block the poisonous influence of the scar no family would have been entirely safe for him.” Albus drew in a shuddering, calming breath.

“I positioned Arabella Figg there to warn me if the family ever crossed the line, but obviously she failed. She will answer for her negligence, Alastor. I understand your fury. The boys mistreatment is as much my fault as anyone’s, but I saw no other way.”

“We’ve known Arabella for years. She was quite sharp in her youth, and completely loyal. How could she let this go?”

“I fear the influence from the scar has affected her as well.” They sat in silence for almost ten minutes. Alastor saw it. Everything that Albus had been dealing with, the impossible situation that he had found himself backed into, and couldn’t muster the anger that he had been boiling over with before. Albus might have been a party to the lad’s situation, but he had honestly believed he'd had no choice, and had done all he could. Moody would be looking after the boy on his own from here on out either way.

“You said Was a Horcrux. What changed?”

“I spoke with Poppy just before you arrived. Harry’s scar no longer bears any traces of Voldemort's soul. As it currently stands, it is just an ordinary Curse Scar.” Moody’s eyes urged Albus to continue, and he did. “Somehow, when Voldemort possessed Harry at the Ministry, it made the boy aware of the contamination and he was able to force the soul fragment back into it’s original vessel. Apparently when the two pieces were in such close proximity they attached to each other and that weakened Tom’s grip enough for Harry to throw him out.”

“Potter need not die in order to destroy the Dark Lord any longer?” Albus offered a weak smile and nodded. “And Riddle is mortal once more?” On that, the white haired mage made a small sound in the back of his throat. “What? Albus, you can’t keep holding back these secrets, It’ll destroy you. Tell me.”

 


 

“Merlin, how many times has that monster fractured his soul??” Moody stared at the diary on the desk, in disbelief. “And the boy destroyed that, AND a Basilisk at twelve? How powerful is the boy, Albus?”

“I believe that if he had been free of the Horcrux, and the monstrous treatment of his relatives, Harry might have been every bit as gifted as Tom once was when he arrived here. He inherited both of his parents formidable talents. Also, his magic is powerful enough to have shielded him from the horcruxes influence even as it leeched away at his core. With that stunting, who knows. Perhaps he will fully rebound, or perhaps it won’t change.” Albus paused thoughtfully. “Either way, he is already formidable. And, although his uncle is most likely already permanently tainted by the horcrux, Harry will find life much easier without all those around him being poisoned. I have long thought that the Weasley boy’s jealousy, and the hatred of the younger Malfoy were magnified by its effects.”

“Albus, this is all well and good, but what about the other Horcruxes?” Albus nodded, refocusing on the task at hand.

“Horace Slughorn is the key. He was the only one at Hogwarts who knew of Horcuxes who could have told Riddle. We must find out what he knows, and that is why I was intending to bring him back here as a teacher.”

“No, Albus. Don’t bother. I’ll go and extract the information from him. He’s a coward, and bringing him back to this school would be a waste.”

“I’ve made significant attempts at that, but he is a powerful Occlumens in his own right.” Moody chuckled darkly at that.

“Who said anything about Legilmency? I’ll get the information, Albus. Have I ever failed you?

“Of course not, old friend.”

“and Albus? Don’t go after the Horcruxes without me. You’ll need my help” Dumbledore simply nodded. Moody spoke the activation phrase for the portkey, and disappeared.

The second Mad-Eye was gone, tears began to drip down Albus’s face.

“Harry, my boy. I’m so sorry.”

Chapter Text

The new day dawned at Privet Drive very differently for Harry than any others before it. No shouting, no banging on his door, nothing. Just peace.  Harry glanced down at his watch—  Fuck, he’d forgotten  The watch in question had been absolutely useless since the Second Task last year. A second later it struck him that he was being an idiot. He grabbed his wand out from under the pillow and flicked it.

“Tempus”  The time displayed itself neatly in ribbon like print in the air next to him.  11:45. Harry waited with baited breath for the next fifteen minutes, sure the ministry’s owl would arrive in spite of himself. When nothing came, he made a mental check to thank Moody profusely. He owed the Auror two now, one for the runestone and one for agreeing to train him.

 

After a couple minutes, Harry realized that his day promised to be as bizarre as yesterday had been. For one thing, he was still in bed. Did Mad-Eye kill the Dursleys or what? Normally his aunt would have been hollering up a storm at 9:00 sharp, and he’d already have made breakfast and been out gardening. Harry got up and stretched, then walked over to the mirror on the back of his door.   

 

He decided after he’d gotten home to stop wearing any of Dudley’s old crap completely. After buying and trying on so many comfortable new clothes, he honestly couldn’t stand to. They made him feel terrible about the way he looked, always had. He’d filled out a bit, sure, but they still made him look malnourished and half starved. Also, they were mostly old and torn. Dressing like the criminal they all thought he was didn’t do any favors for Harry’s mental health, and he refused to do it ever again.  If that meant he slept in the buff so be it. He certainly wasn’t wearing his new stuff to bed.  

 

Harry looked at himself in the mirror before getting dressed, and for once didn’t think the word scrawny. He was gaining weight, clearly. Also, somehow in the last week he’d managed to gain about an inch.  Maybe there was hope to break 5’7” yet.  Harry pulled on the new jeans that Tonks had picked out, and the same Sex Pistols t-shirt. They’d specifically picked out the outfit to test his relatives, and see how they intended to treat him this year. He had his wand for backup if Vernon tried to hurt him, and he was starting to strain against the bounds of his terrible family.  

 

Being out with Tonks made him feel unspeakably boring. Harry had no hobbies besides Quidditch, no taste in movies, music, art, or literature. He knew nothing about food beyond the fact that he liked Steak-and-Kidney Pie and Treacle Tart. Thai food was mind-blowing for Harry. She’d promised to bring over some kind of music for him today, so she could “Make a proper rebellious teenager out of him”, and he couldn’t wait. The young man had no illusion of ever actually feeling like a rebellious teenager, but Tonks was cool and Harry quite resoundingly wasn’t so if she said to dress the part he’d do it.

 

He tried the door and found it locked. Of course. Old habits die hard, even after getting chewed out by a horrifically scarred man with magical powers. Harry unlocked the door with a flick of his wand and a murmur of alohomora, then levitated the deadbolt to unlock it.  It worked.  Harry just kind of blinked for a moment. He didn’t think wingardium leviosa would work blind through a thick wooden door, but he wasn’t going to complain.

 

Harry decided it would be best to play it subtle. He just walked down the stairs quietly, and entered the kitchen.  Petunia was at her usual position by the island in the kitchen, and she did a double take when he walked by, opened the fridge, and grabbed an apple out of Dudley’s Diet Drawer.  Petunia opened her mouth in shock, as if to yell or reprimand him, then closed it again and hurried from the room. He chuckled. Maybe Moody was right, it might have actually worked. He strolled back up to his room and closed the door behind him. He then silenced the door, and both the windows. He was gonna have some fun this summer.

 



Tonks stood in the middle of the aisle of records, trying to figure out what to get a boy who’d never listened to music before. She’d dipped into his savings a bit to buy him a record player and a set of speakers. He’d probably be upset she spent so much on him, she figured, but she didn’t care in the slightest. This was important.

 

In her hands was The Lonesome Crowded West, probably her favorite recent album. She already owned a copy, but she thought Harry might like to have his own, since he already owned so few things. She’d already grabbed a small collection of her own albums, including the Clash, The Who, the Kinks, and an assortment of other “classics” to give him when she swung by later. If she ever got a chance she’d let him come to her apartment and check out the rest of her collection, but with the kind of security Dumbledore kept him under that wasn’t likely to happen any time soon. She paid for the album, and slipped into the bathroom to disapparate.

 



Once the apple was gone and the core vanished, Harry had nothing to do. He sat aimlessly on the bed for a bit, staring up at the ceiling, but that got boring quickly. He paced back and forth for a bit, did sets of exercises that he remembered Oliver Wood teaching him in second year (“To help refine your seeker’s physique and reflexes!” He had exclaimed passionately) until he was sweating profusely and absolutely exhausted. Then, he sat on his bed again. Merlin’s saggy left nut, he was bored. Usually his summers were spent worrying, depressed, or hiding from his last two male relatives. Without the lingering fears that had haunted his mind he felt infinitely more relaxed, but also bored out of his skull. At least Tonks would be over at some point for training.  

 

That was it!  For the first time, ever, he actually had access to his belongings! Not only that, he could actually do magic!  Harry really had to stop having and forgetting that epiphany, it was getting seriously old. He snatched his wand off the bedside table and summoned his new books.  He grabbed the first off of the stack, Advanced Dueling Tactics, and dug in.


Introductions and Foreword

In this book, you may have expected to find a collection of powerful hexes and jinxes, or obscure Curses and Countercurses. If that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere. In a true duel, none of these things matter. Even a common spell such as stunning or disarming can mean victory if the opponent doesn’t see it coming, or is unable to identify or counter it.

 

With that in mind, this book will contain ways to teach the intelligent wizard how to fight without being obvious, how to eliminate tells, and how to train their reflexes so that they may draw and cast faster than their opponents. Many of the topics covered herein are explained at greater lengths and in more academic terms elsewhere, and we encourage the reader to seek out these resources. However, it is possible to gain a practical working knowledge of them from this work alone.

 

The four main subjects that will be covered are Wordless or Silent spellwork, Eliminating the need for elaborate wandwork, Reflex training, and Occlumency. All four elements combined allow a wizard to cast unpredictably and gain a definite edge on opponents. If a wizard can master these things, he or she can become formidable regardless of spell knowledge or power. ~


“Interesting book?” Came a voice by the door, just as Harry finished reading through the foreword a second time.

 

“Tonks! Hey, I was wondering when you were gonna show up.” Harry jumped off the bed, folding down the corner of a page to mark his place. He made a quick mental note to find something to use as a bookmark before Hermione saw him folding pages, or she’d surely chew him out.

 

“What, you doubted I’d show? Tsk, tsk.”

 

“Oh of course not, I was just so anxious for your company.” Harry responded with only a hint of sarcasm.

 

“Harry, I understand completely. Having me around brightens up your life, it does that for everyone. Especially since you get to learn how to be awesome like me. Not many people get personal coolness lessons like this! But there is one rule to Training with Tonks, you know.” He cocked an eyebrow, and gestured for her to continue “No matter what happens, you're not allowed to fall in love with me.” Harry smirked at the Auror, who stood in the doorway with a faux-serious look on her face.

 

“Won’t be a problem.”

Chapter Text

Harry lay in bed, thinking back on his all too brief dueling practice with Tonks. She’d just gone over the spells he already knew and corrected the surprisingly few mistakes in his technique, and told him about alternate uses for a few of them. She said she wanted to wait for Moody to come over for the big stuff, since he was a seasoned instructor, and had a Mastery in Defence against the Dark Arts, which she was still working on. Tonks explained that the Reductor Jinx could actually be used to break shields and wards since it exploded on contact with them, and that Freezing Charms could actually be used to stop bleeding as stabilize injuries since it arrested movement of the broken or injured body part. All in all, he had a lot to consider.

 

At the moment, however, he was lying in bed listening to his new record player. HIS record player, he thought with no small bit of excitement. He owned a record player. He owned maybe two muggle things before, and neither one was anywhere near this cool! Harry had tried to make Tonks accept some kind of repayment for it, but she insisted it was a present. She also told Harry to get cracking with listening to the records she brought over, because this was the second part of Training with Tonks™.  By the end of the summer, he’d have a pop culture education if she had to stick him to the wall and force feed him good music, she said.

 

Of course, she wouldn’t have to do that. Harry was in love the second he turned it on. He spent all night trying out all the different albums she brought, replaying any song he thought worthy of hearing again. His favorite so far was called Psycho Killer, which he found thoroughly ironic. It was by a band called the Talking Heads.

 

At the moment, though, he was playing a song called Bankrobber.  It was kinda weird, sure, but he liked it. It felt chill . He sat down on his bed, and reopened his book, figuring that it might be a bit easier to read if he had something to listen to while he did it. He could never seem to focus on just reading. If the book was interesting, or it was a story he was fine, but he tended to get a little antsy and easily distracted. Whenever he tried to focus on dry facts and homework he just zoned out completely. It made him want to get up and run, or go play quidditch, or anything. Even potions was better than studying. The only reason he was able to do well in class was because practical magic was so damn interesting.

 

Either way, maybe music would help? Because Harry knew the only way to get better was by reading, and while Defence Against the Dark Arts was his favorite subject he didn’t know how well he’d do with reading when it didn’t involve spells or any actual magic. Well, time to test the theory. He tested his finesse with a wand by levitating the needle off the record and switching the disk. Both records survived the process without being scratched, so he counted it as a win. He shifted his focus back to the book as Tonks’ favorite song came on



Chapter One: Wordless and Silent Magic

 

 

When you are in a duel, the easiest way to give away your strategy and subsequently lose, is by shouting out each spell. Especially for certain spells that require a specific type of counter, being able to cast without speaking is a major plus. However, this ability isn’t one that most wizards find easy to perfect.

 

Well Cowboy Dan’s a major player in the cowboy scene

He goes to the reservation, and drinks and gets mean

He’s gonna start a war

He’s gonna start a war

 

 

The key to learning wordless magic is focus. First, holding your wand, cast a spell. Any spell. Cast it a couple times. Try to isolate the feeling, the mental state that you are in when the spell is cast. Some wizards can get the same results by thinking the incantation for the spell, but this wastes time for longer spells, such as wingardium leviosa, ossis fragmens, and rumpere lemniscus.  If one is able to instead reduce and isolate the spell down to a sort of mental image or impression, one can increase casting time dramatically.

 

He drove the desert, fired his rifle in the sky

And says, "God if I have to die you will have to die

 

 

After a while of practicing with this technique, one will begin to find that they are able to do it intuitively, producing wordless spells without learning them that way. Once the wizard starts attempting wordless magic, it’s beneficial to attempt to learn all but the most powerful spells that way. Some spells, however, will still require the trappings of normal magic as a focus, because they require channeling vast amounts of magic. Only the most accomplished or gifted witches and wizards manage to use these silently.

 

You know we need oxygen to breath

Everytime you think you're walking you're just moving the ground

Everytime you think you're talking you're just moving your mouth

 

Harry found the music definitely helped, since he could split his focus to multiple things, but every so often, he’d get caught on the lyrics and just kind of get dragged off point. He pushed himself off his bed, and drew his wand. Pointing it at a pillow at the far wall, he cast a stunning spell.The pillow jumped slightly, but it couldn’t pass out (since it was a pillow), so he did it again. Then again. Then again. As he cast repeatedly, he closed his eyes and tried to feel  the spell like the book said.

 

He definitely felt Something, but he wasn’t sure if he was just feeling his magic (something he found he could do fairly easily lately) or specifically the stunning spell, so he switched to expelliarmus. The feeling was different that time, and he grinned. The book made it sound so difficult to do, so deep and complicated. But, like most things that weren’t potions, once he dropped the theory and just did it, it wasn’t that hard.

 

He breathed out slowly, and focused on replicating that feeling. A red burst of magic shot from his wand and struck the pillow. Harry pumped his fist once, intensely gratified at his accomplishment.  Seems the book was a good purchase. He repeated the feat several more times, picking up speed as he practiced. Grinning like a fool, he eagerly turned back towards the book



The light that filtered through the blinds was sepia toned when Harry awoke, which indicated that the sun hadn’t quite risen. He raised his head and felt the skin unstick from whatever he’d fallen asleep on. The book, of course. He’d drifted off somewhere in the middle of chapter two, which was about learning to cast spells with simplified movements. He heard the record player in the background, still spinning but no longer playing any music, just emitting static. He flicked his wand at it and needle raised.

 

Harry stretched out his cramped limbs, and stumbled half awake over to the mirror. The book had pressed new lines into his face, red and painful, but he knew they’d fade. So would the blood shot eyes and the bags under them. One thing was for sure, he thought as he got a whiff of his body odor. Harry desperately needed a shower.  He repeated the same process to unlock the door as he had the previous day, and walked down the hall past his relatives rooms to the bathroom.

 

He knew they’d probably be pounding on the door the second they woke up and couldn’t get in. Who cares? Let them. He mused. I’m going to live my life as normal as possible this summer, Dursleys be damned

 



When the Dursleys came down for breakfast, Harry was sitting at the table. Waiting for them, or so it seemed. Vernon and Petunia ignored him entirely. Dudley stopped in the hallway, frozen by the sight of his thin, black haired cousin. He opened his mouth to speak to the other boy, but his mother tutted, and he shut his mouth and the three of them all left together, skipping breakfast and getting directly into the car.  

 

Probably going to a Diner for breakfast, Harry surmised. Apparently since their strategy of locking Harry in until he ceased to be a problem failed, they were simply going to go about their lives as if he didn’t exist. That was fine by him, for now. He could cook better than any of them. He’d been doing it for years. Hell, he’d been cooking for all four of them. The number of times he’d been tempted to slip a dash of the rat poison under the sink into his Uncle’s meals, just enough to make him incapable of moving those great fat arms of his to keep hitting Harry, enough so that he would have to leave for a few weeks… But no. Harry had refused to give in to those thoughts.

 

First, he was not a murderer. Second, if Vernon had survived such a thing, he’d surely kill Harry the second he returned. The man demonstrated, years before, that he didn’t care if the boy survived, that he only kept him fed, clothed, because if Harry suddenly disappeared the neighbors would ask questions. The police would become involved, and Vernon’s reputation would be ruined either way.

 

Harry walked over to the fridge, and pulled. it didn’t budge. Harry looked in confusion at the door, and saw it.  A shiny new lock had been drilled into the chrome finish on the appliance. It was clearly Vernon’s handiwork, and had probably been done last night as Harry was listening to his music, unable to hear the tools. Harry knew he could open the damn thing with a wave of his wand, but he couldn’t think straight for a moment. Previously, even when he’d been locked in his room, when he’d been beaten, had his arms broken, he’d been firm in his convictions that he was going to be able to survive this house.

 

He hadn’t been good or happy, healthy or well fed, certainly. He’d been unbearably thin. It hurt to take off his shirt and see the bruises and scars. He could feel his ribs through his stomach every year until he started Hogwarts. But the Dursleys couldn’t kill him. They couldn’t, though Vernon looked as though he’d considered it. Harry always felt like Vernon’s attitude towards him resembled that which he’d read in a book he found once in primary school. Harry had been hiding from Dudley and his gang in a year six classroom when he found a stack of class books, and had stolen one to read when he got home.

 

He’d ended up reading the book cover to cover, something he’d never done with his text books because they couldn’t hold his attention. The book had been called “The Metamorphosis” by some Muggle called Franz Kafka. Harry was interested by the book at first because of the fantastical beginning, where a man had transformed into a giant bug. The Dursleys had banned Harry from any book that involved anything of the sort. Later, he had continued to read the book because he identified with the main character in a twisted way. He too was treated like vermin.  After becoming a wizard, and learning about Animagi, Harry had had several reoccuring nightmares about trying to become an animagus and becoming stuck as a giant bug, like the book.

 

Luckily, the Dursleys couldn’t treat him like that because he was visible. He had paperwork and neighbors, and (unbeknownst to him) Albus Dumbledore to miss him if he died or disappeared. But it seemed that Moody’s visit had changed something after all. The Dursleys were warned not to hit him or mistreat him anymore, so it seemed like they were just going to pretend he didn’t exist. And they couldn’t have known he’d be able to use magic on the locks before they put them there, so apparently they were content to let him starve.

 

Harry lashed out with his wand, the words ‘Incendio’ on the tip of his tongue. Everything in the field of his vision was tinged red with rage, and he was ready to be done with it all. Done with the abusive relatives, the tiny room, the locks and bars, the goddamned blood wards. Just burn it down! His mind screamed at him. But Harry held back. He’d be just what the neighbors had all thought of him if he did. A criminal, an arsonist, fit for St. Brutus’s. And his nice new record player, all of Tonks’ records, his trunk, would burn too. Hedwig would burn. So he held back, just barely.


With a whirl, a jab of his wand and a wordless reductor, the lock blasted off the door of the fridge and richocheted across the kitchen. He'd be damned if he was going to fade away like Gregor Samsa. He wouldn't disappear. He’d feed his goddamn self.

Chapter Text

Mad-Eye found himself in the huge elegant office for the second time this week, dressed for action. Albus had summoned him directly after finishing his assignment hunting down Slughorn, for a new mission, and he had a pretty strong feeling that he knew what it was. Albus waited for him, dressed in an entirely inappropriate manner for a mission of this importance, but he never dressed like he took anything seriously.

 

The pair stood on either side of the pensieve and leaned back their heads, both reeling at the revelations the memory had bourne. Seven pieces. Eight if you counted the piece in baby Harry. And only two were gone!  Then Albus broke the silence.

 

“If you still wish to accompany me—”

 

“Let’s get this over with, Albus. It’s long past time for this hunt to begin, don’t you think?”

 

“It should never have had to start, old friend. Let us go.”

 



Into the valley they apparated, both of them completely silent. Moody’s eye spun towards an old ruined hut that seemed to pulse with Dark Magic. Albus might be able to feel the magic, might be able to discern the subtle currents and its meaning, but Alastor could actually see , actually discern the dark aura of it. They were clearly in the right place.

 

The Headmaster drew his knobbly wand and swished it through the air, dismantling the simple outer wards surrounding the hut which had once belonged to Marvolo Gaunt, and the  pair advanced. Moody began casting several detection spells to identify what traps if any had been set to deter or destroy intruders— and froze.  Somehow, a world away from it’s home on the Isle of Drear, a Quintaped leered out at him from the crawlspace of the shack. Its gruesome face smiled at him, daring him to take a step closer. Dumbledore could not see what he could, and the Quintaped had no discernable magical aura, and so the ancient wizard continued moving towards the hut. Alastor grabbed his arm, and yanked him back.

 

“Quintaped, under the crawlspace.” Mad-Eye hissed in a low voice that wouldn’t carry very far. Albus’ eyebrows raised. Tom had outdone himself, managing to acquire and trap something of that magnitude. The beasts were considered among the top five most dangerous monsters in the Wizarding World, on par with such creatures as Nundus and Basilisks.

 

The terrifying thing about the hairy five legged beasts was the fact that they were nearly immune to magic, and were always ravenous. They would move towards whatever smelled like food (usually human) and tear it to shreds with their jaws or their legs. Even their bloody hair was deadly, spreading a virulent form of infectious rash that the creature itself was immune to. They were kept confined to a small island somewhere in the Atlantic that was completely unplottable, and only confined there by the raging currents that surrounded it.  How in Merlin’s name Tom acquired and contained one was beyond either of them.

Albus reached deep into his robe and withdrew the Sword of Gryffindor.  Moody reached into his coat and withdrew an old hunting knife covered in Kurdish Runes. Not quite a goblin forged sword, but a powerful enough killing piece.  They were both prepared for battle. Albus raised the sword, and Moody dropped into a fighting stance. A lifetime of fighting together gave the two wizards a level of unspoken communication that bordered on telepathy, and as a consequence they both threw their curses simultaneously.  

 

Albus’s attack was wordless, giving off a jet of energy that made the air sizzle with magic as it passed. Mad-Eye quietly spoke the two most taboo words in the wizarding world and flung a ball of sickly green light at it. The Five-legged creature streaked towards Albus and took his spell head-on, barely managing to dodge the Killing curse in the process. It took no visible damage from his spell, shaking it off as it if it was a simple stunner. The scarlet sword swung at it next, and it leapt over the blade’s arc towards Dumbledore’s face. Moody had timed his second spell perfectly, and banished a small boulder at the creature, slamming it away.

 

The Quintaped tumbled across the dying brown lawn, shook itself, and screeched at Moody. The unholy sound was deafening, and it shook the grizzled man down to the bone.  He flung another jet of green light towards it, and a third. Somehow, instinctually, the thing seemed to know that it couldn’t survive the touch of the green light, and weaved past both spells. Moody knew it was coming towards him next, and he whipped his wand through the air as a pink ribbon unfurled from the tip. Curling the ribbon like a muggle color guard, he slashed at the deformed creature, opening up several shallow cuts that quickly knitted themselves.  Just as the skittering terror reached the ground he stood on, he apparated and it fell directly into the deep pit Albus had conjured behind them. Albus quickly flicked his wand, and a chimera of  flame erupted forth and dove into the pit. Fiendfyre might kill the beast—  if they were lucky.

 

Moody breathed a sigh of relief.. which immediately caught in his throat as a flaming five legged form hauled itself from the pitfall. The creature’s hair was burning, forming little dragon, demon, and chimeric forms, but the fiendfyre seemed unable to burn any deeper than the skin. Once more, it launched itself at them. Mad-Eye flung his knife and it separated one of the legs from the horrific body midair, but that made little difference. Albus shoved the old Auror aside, and the creature hit him, both of them flying backwards.

 

Moody pushed himself back up from where he’d fallen, and rushed over to Albus. The charred body’s fiendfyre had flickered out on contact, and it wasn’t moving. He flicked his wand and it rolled off Albus. The headmaster didn’t appear fazed by the Quintaped landing on him in the slightest. The Quintaped didn’t look too good, on the other hand.  Protruding from the gruesome face like a new nose was the hilt of the Sword of Gryffindor


“In here, Alastor.” Dumbledore spoke quietly. Both wizards were on high alert. No telling what other traps could be waiting down here. Albus had opined that most likely, Tom would have thought the Macboon Monster to be ample protection, since they were nigh unkillable. Tom was young when he had set the traps here, not yet so fractured and paranoid. Moody disagreed. Riddle had always been cunning, even as a young man. He’d have set a second tripwire if the first didn’t work. He’d set as many as he could.

 

With that in mind, Moody’s wand swept back and forth over each floorboard before they continued, and he always led with the false leg. Albus was clearly getting impatient, but he allowed Moody’s paranoia, because it had saved them both several times. Alastor was the very definition of the saying; “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”. After all “they” were after everyone these days.

 

The old men managed to cross the shack without being attacked or setting off any new traps, and both knelt beside the spot that sat at the focal point of the emanating darkness. Mad-eye waved his wand impatiently, ready to take the damn thing and go. His spells detected no traps.

 

“Albus, the box isn’t boobytrapped. Let’s collect it and get the hell out.” Moody levitated the small black metal box, and they both portkeyed out on the spot.

 


 

 

The black box sat in the middle of the desk, and they both stared at it in anticipation. Dumbledore cast the most powerful unlocking spell Moody’d ever seen, and the top popped open.  Dumbledore leaned forward and caught a glint of gold, and all of a sudden his pupils dilated. In the back of his mind, a subtle whisper spoke.

 

It’s here, Albus. How long you’ve looked for it. Take up the ring. Feel the power!  Dumbledore’s hand trembled slightly. You need to see her again, don’t you? Three little twists, and she’ll be back. You can show Aberforth, you can talk to her at long last, everything will be okay again! You can be a family… And with that thought, all resistance fled. He lunged for the ring, desperate to hold it, to see Ariana one last time... was unceremoniously tossed back against the wall.

 

Mad-Eye had cast the banishing charm the second he’d seen the glint of red in Albus’ eyes. His mind boggled that one of the world’s greatest Occlumens had just broke in seconds when confronted with the Horcrux, but he didn’t hesitate. Moody called the box across the desk to him, and  peered inside—  Oh.  OH.  His magical eye scanned the ring, and saw the Leper’s Curse inlaid to the band. He knew he couldn’t let Albus touch it. The ancient Headmaster was on his feet once more, Elder Wand forgotten in his desperation, and looked as though he was about to dive for the box. Alastor summoned the Sword of Gryffindor, drew it back, and swung, just as Dumbledore dove for the ring.  A resounding clang, a billowing black cloud, then silence.  

 

Albus seemed to shrink in upon himself, looking like a scared boy instead of a powerful wizard.


“T-thank you, Alastor. I do believe you just saved my life

Chapter Text

Bellatrix Lestrange wasn’t quite bored. Idle, perhaps, and approaching on boredom, but not quite there. Her Lord was sequestered in his inner chambers, refusing to see any of them. She knew full well that had something to do with what she had seen at the Ministry, the possession and the flash of light that had thrown him from the Potter boy’s body. He hadn’t even bothered to punish her for the mission’s failure upon their return to the Lair. Thus, she was idle. She was often idle since her release from Azkaban.

 

Bellatrix understood the depths of her own depravity quite well. She had made peace long ago, when she was a child still too young to attend Hogwarts, with the fact that she wasn’t like most people. Bella didn’t know why, but she didn’t feel happiness the way her sisters did when they were given presents (Something that rarely happened at the Black Family home anyway.) or when they played together. She didn’t feel anything all all much.  Irritation, certainly, and quite often anger at her sisters’ annoying silliness. But no joy.

 

That all changed when she was eight. Bella had been out on the grounds, wandering about aimlessly, since her sisters had insisted on going out to “enjoy the weather” and had dragged her out with them.  Then she noticed something odd. One of her father’s Mail Owls was  laying under a tall spruce tree, flapping about helplessly. She approached it, cautiously, filled with curiosity, and what she saw filled her with a sense of rapture. The owl had broken a wing somehow, that was obvious. She should’ve taken it to her parents to fix or dispose of. But, for some reason the youngest Black girl couldn’t bring herself to.  

 

The helpless bird had screeched in pain and desperation, and tried to get onto its talons, but she pushed it over with a stick once it had almost managed to do so.  Then she poked the wing, and the owl had let out the most beautiful sound of agony. Bellatrix had almost teared up when she heard it. THIS was what her sisters felt when they got their candy and presents. This was Joy.  

 

Once Bellatrix had felt that, she couldn’t stop herself. It was addicting, the sense of glee she felt when she caused pain. She had gone into her Father’s forbidden study, knowing that if she was caught there she would be punished. The dark-haired witch didn’t care, though. She spent days in there, reading the Family’s dark grimoires, committing the spells to memory. All of the Black spells, created by her ancestors, were terrifying and dark and Beautiful.

 

She didn’t have a wand at the moment, and she knew that was part of what made her idle, rapidly progressing towards frustration. No wand meant no magic, no magic meant no missions for her Lord. No torture, no fun, nothing. That would need correction soon. At the moment, however, She had found something to occupy her mind. She laughed to herself, contemplating the reactions when Potter and her cousin’s pet wolf found out about the spell she had used on dear Siri.  They might have stopped her from knocking him through the veil, and she couldn’t outright kill him since she was still technically a member of House Black and he was her patriarch. She shuddered at the thought of having to call anyone besides her beloved Lord. But, that wasn’t a concern. She’d removed that possibility.

 

She couldn’t wait to see what happened when they realized that even though Sirius Black was alive, she’d still taken him away from them.

 


 

“Poppy, something has to be wrong. He should be awake by now!” Remus ran his hands through his greying hair. “I know you were keeping him under to heal from the battle, but it’s surely worn off by now.” The grey-haired mediwitch  reached across the table and caught his hands.

 

“Remus, I know you’re worried. It is… concerning.. that Sirius hasn’t woken up yet. But I’ve run three scans, and every single one came back saying the same thing. Aside from the damage from the battle, which is healing as it should be, he’s perfectly fine. No brain damage, no bodily injury, nothing to explain this coma.” She gripped his hand tighter.  “I know how much you care about him, Remus. But all we can do is wait, right now.  If I knew what spell she hit him with, I might be able to do more but…” She trailed off

 

Remus stood, and walked over to the bed where the dark-haired animagus lay, unmoving, and sat next to him

 

“Please, If you can hear me, Sirius, you need to wake up. Dumbledore managed to get the pardon from Madam Bones. You’re a free man, all you need to do is wake up. Harry and I are waiting for you.”




Harry sat on his bed,  reading his book and listening to music. He’d read quite a bit of the section on reducing wand movements, and managed, with a bit of practice, to get his disarming spells down to a simple flick, instead of the swirling motion that was usually used. Hopefully, that might make it more useful in a duel. He was reading about eliminating the over exaggerated movements that new wizards tended to use for spells, when a quiet knock came at the door.

 

With a flick of his wand, the record player stopped playing Abbey Road, and his spellbooks flew into a pile at the foot of his bed. He grinned slightly when it worked. He’d been practicing his finesse with magic, trying to get things to stack correctly, getting clothes to fold themselves and whatnot. It was getting better, too. Harry walked to the door, and swung it open casually.

 

“Hey To— Oh. Dudley. What d’you want?” His cousin stood in the doorway, looking a bit lost. He held a couple of foam and foil takeaway containers in his hands. Dudley’s heavy arms thrust in Harry’s direction. Harry flinched a bit until he realized that the beefy teenager was offering him the containers.

 

“What’s this, they decide it’s gonna take too long to wait for me to starve, and decide to poison me instead?” Dudley seemed to wilt a bit at Harry’s reaction, although it wasn’t exactly new.

 

“N-no. I’m not even supposed to look at you…  Can I come in? We need to talk”

 



Harry’s head was spinning a bit. That was a conversation he’d honestly never expected to take place. Dudley had come inside, and gazed in shock at the modest collection of records, magic books and the trunk. He had stood around awkwardly as Harry leaned on the dresser and greedily dug into the burger and greasy diner fries that Dudley brought him.

 

Harry had been cooking for himself but the fridge was running low, and Vernon hadn’t seen fit to refill it since they had been out to eat every night. Harry was planning to ask Tonks if she could take some of his cash and use it to bring over food when she came over tonight, but she wouldn’t be stopping by again until Friday. So this food would stop him from going hungry the next couple nights. He tucked the cold wrap in the other container under the loose floorboard for tomorrow.

 

“So.” Dudley didn’t respond immediately. Harry snapped at him, and the other boy seemed to focus “What. What is this about?”

 

“I-I dunno where to start.” Dudley wrung his hands slightly. “First off i guess is.. I’m sorry, Harry.”  Harry’s eyes widened, but he didn’t interrupt. “I realized.. A-after you saved me last year, and the things…”

 

“Dementors.” Harry interjected tersely.

 

“The demensers..  well they showed me my memories of what I’d been doing to you, what my father’d done to you.. I realized that he.. Well, he isn’t a good person! And I was becoming the same way! I tried to think if you’d ever actually done anything to me, or him, to deserve how we treated you, but there wasn’t anything. You never did a thing to us.” Dudley took a breath. “So, I’m sorry. I wish I could undo it.”

 

Harry studied his cousin for a minute, and realized that he looked thin. Far thinner than he’d ever looked before, more like a football player or a boxer than the baby whale he’d been in years previous. Dudley kept talking, oblivious to his cousin’s gaze.

 

“I can’t do anything to change their minds or take the locks off of everything, but I’m not just gonna let them starve you either. That why I brought you that. I know it doesn’t make up for anything, for what a cunt I used to be, but—”

 

“I get it, mate.” Harry said softly “They taught you to do it. Raised you to think it was okay.” Dudley nodded vigorously.

 

“But we aren’t kids anymore. I’m not a kid anymore, and I’m not just gonna blindly follow them just because you aren’t ‘normal enough’. I don’t give a toss what they think. And if there’s anything I can do, anything at all, to make things easier around here, please”

 

“I’ll let you know.  I.. I appreciate it, Big D. It’s good to know that I have one relative left who doesn’t hate me.” The unlikely pair smiled at eachother, something that’d never actually happened before, and Harry thrust his hand out. Dudley shook it somewhat nervously and  walked out, closing the door behind him.

 



“So, my cousin actually apologized to me today..” Harry remarked to the young metamorph, as they sat on his bed relaxing after an interesting training session. Tonks had been trying to teach Harry a few new spells that would be useful if he ever found himself faced with death eaters again (Which was idiotic way to put it, she had admitted seconds after saying it. Of course he would, as long as the great noseless tosser still had a hard on for him. Harry found it hard to stop laughing at that. Tonks certainly knew how to turn a phrase.)

 

She’d taught him how to use the Incarcerous spell, which got a bit awkward for him. He’d successfully wrapped Tonks in thick black ropes and she made an off colour joke about what he was planning to do with her now that he had her tied up. Harry had stammered a reply, saying something along the lines of “Whatever I want, I suppose” and she chuckled at his blush and winked.

 

“He did? The great lump actually said sorry? For which bit?” Tonks seemed genuinely surprised. Harry understood. He’d been absolutely shocked, himself.

 

“All of it. He said after the dementor attack, he’d realized that his worst memories were of seeing his father… Well, not treating me very nice, you could say? And that he.. well, That he was becoming the same sort of person as his father. He brought me some food back from a diner for dinner, since the great fat shit put the lock back on the fridge after I broke it, and the fridge is empty anyway.”

 

“Wait, nevermind the cousin bit, they aren’t feeding you anymore?”

 

“Tonks, don’t worry about them feeding me, they never really fed me so much as let me have the leftovers from the meals I cooked.” Harry scratched his head sheepishly. He didn’t want Tonks, possibly the coolest chick he knew, thinking about poor abused Harry, pitying him. He wasn’t a kid who needed to be taken care of. That was the point of all of this.

 

“Harry, that’s Fucked up! They can’t just starve you. I swear, I’m gonna— “ Tonks went to get up. Harry grabbed her arm before she could get up all the way and pulled her back to the bed, which of course made Tonks lose her balance. She tripped on the books at the end of the bed, and Harry went with her. The pair ended up in a pile on the floor, the blue-haired auror pinned underneath Harry, who had attempted to get his hands underneath himself to break his fall and ended up pressed against her chest.

 

Harry froze like a deer in the headlights when he realized where his hands had ended up. His mind was shouting at him ‘move them you idiot, before you get slapped’ while another part of his brain remarked that it might just be worth it..

 

“Hey casanova, mind letting me up? If we’re gonna continue this, I’d rather be on the bed” Tonks didn’t exactly sound upset. Her voice never lost that tone she always used when she was trying to make him blush, somewhere between seductive and teasing. Harry blushed like a madman and leapt to his feet, offering Tonks a hand up. She accepted gratefully.


“I- uh-  Sorry.” He bit his lip. Tonks was shaking with silent laughter.

 

“Harry, it’s fine. I don’t mind you coppin’ a bit of a feel, s’long as you keep it above the shirt. You need ta’ least buy me dinner for that.” Harry sighed at that “In all seriousness, totally my fault, mate.”

 

“Anyway, Tonks, don’t bother with them. I’m eating fine. I was actually gonna ask you if you could just take this, and pick me up some food next time you came. I don’t want to give the muggles the satisfaction of knowing that their tactics are working.” Harry tossed her what was left of his money, and she reluctantly nodded. It was his life, he should be the one who got to decide these things, no matter how badly she wanted to go hex them inside out for what they did to him. She left him with plenty of assurances that she’d bring him plenty of food for his stockpile.

 


 

Harry flicked his wand in the direction of the record player, and the music started again. The Beatles music came drifting low through his speakers as he lay back against the bed, which was infinitely more comfortable once he’d repaired the springs magically. His mind wandered as he drifted off to sleep. He marveled briefly at the new Dudley, But his mind seemed to want to focus on Tonks for some reason. The feeling of her pressed underneath him on the floor, The way she laughed with her entire body, the little winks she kept shooting him. The hospital incident..  

He finally fell into darkness, just as Paul McCartney began to sing;


I want you.. You know I want you so bad, it's driving me mad, It's driving me mad”

Chapter Text

Finally, Friday was here. They three day wait had been killing Harry, figuratively and literally. The wrap and the fries and lasted him through Wednesday, but Thursday had been hell. The little gnawing sensation in the pit of his stomach was so much worse at the beginning of the summer, coming right off Hogwarts dinners and feasts back to practically nothing. But, if he was lucky, Tonks could fix his problem. He asked her to bring him non perishable stuff so he could keep it under the floorboards safely. He’d learned his lesson a couple summers ago, when he’d kept some of Mrs. Weasley’s food there too long and ended up with food poisoning. Throwing up on an empty stomach was absolute misery. Harry’s system had purged whatever remained of his meals, then he had continued to retch and dry heave for hours.

Aside from the food, Harry found himself looking forward to ‘Training with Tonks’ just because. He was unable to see his godfather over the summers, and he still missed Sirius fiercely, but spending time with Tonks kind of made the waiting to see him more bearable. Tonks’ sense of humor and her style both reminded him sharply of her older cousin, not to mention her willingness to break the rules.

Apart from her similarity to Padfoot, she was still probably the coolest person he knew (A spot that had once been occupied by Bill and Charlie Weasley respectively). She did the one job in the Wizarding World he could actually see himself doing, she looked and dressed however she wanted whenever she wanted, and she actually took the time to show Harry the cool little things in life. Ron and the Twins were the only once before Tonks who’d done that.

 Ron had shown Harry Quidditch, Wizard’s Chess, Wizarding Candy, and so many new ways to enjoy life. The reason he’d always be friends with Ronald Weasley is because he’d taught Harry how to have fun. Fred and George had helped him discover all the secrets of the new world he’d found himself in at the age of eleven. They’d unlocked the secrets of Hogwarts and lain them at Harry’s feet, never once asking anything in return.

But Tonks showed him all the things he’d missed about life because of his family. Fashion, music, good food, There were so many things he’d been locked away from in his little prison, and every time he saw her, she brought him a new one.He wondered what she’d bring today.

 


 

Slipping past Dung under an invisibility cloak, carrying a pizza, a bottle of cola, groceries, (and her little surprise) was a feat that tested Tonks’ dubious balance and grace to the limits. The pizza kept trying to tip over in her hand, and the soda was likely to explode from the six times she’d dropped it. She couldn’t use magic until she got to Harry’s room in range of the runestone or Dumbledore would notice, or she would’ve just levitated the lot of it. It was worth it though. She couldn’t wait to see that expression on his face when he tried the pizza. It was from literally the best pizza place in London. Tonks wondered sadly if he’d even HAD pizza before.

She thought back to her own childhood, every time Harry shrugged off the fact that he’d never done something. Ted and Andromeda Tonks had shown her as a girl, all of the amazing things about the world, muggle and magical. They took her to foreign restaurants, let her go to concerts and movie theatres, let her read entire libraries worth of books. Harry just.. Hadn’t.

When they were eating Thai food before coming back here, Tonks asked him when the last time he took a trip just for fun was, and he’d told her about the Zoo Trip when he’d first learned he could talk to snakes, and he’d magicked his cousin into a zoo exhibit. They’d laughed about it for minutes at the time, but later she’d realized that he’d been there when he was ten. That was the first and last trip he’d ever taken in fifteen YEARS. She knew that Sirius desperately wanted to see his godson and show him the world, but since he didn’t have the chance right now, she’d do it for him. She was going to make the boy who lived have some goddamn fun for once.

In the door and past the stodgy muggles Tonks bounded, and straight up the stairs. She didn’t even bother knocking on the door, she never did, she just unlocked it after a moment fumbling with her wand and the groceries, and burst inside. Harry looked up at her, green eyes alight with excitement, and Tonks’ stomach did a funny little wiggle.

“‘Ello, ‘ello ‘ello, Tonks’ here live, coming atcha live from Harry Potter’s bedroom. How we doing tonight?!” She called into the imaginary mic in her hand. Harry clapped exaggeratedly imitated the sounds of a crowd cheering. “Thank you, thank you! I’ll be here all night ladies and gents!” She bowed with a flourish, and the bag went flying off her hand. She froze up, envisioning the contents exploding all over Harry's new clothes or the records, but as usual Harry saved the day. His seeker’s reflexes kicked in, and with a quick levitating charm the bag froze and lowered slowly to the floor.

“Niiiice.” The young wizard grinned.

“Oh shut up. Don’t give me that look, kid, I brought you pizza” She reached into the bag and pulled out a glass bottle of dark brown liquid. “and Muggle booze!”

 


 

“So, Kid?” Harry asked skeptically through a mouthful of pizza. She’d been right, this was another first for Harry, and he was thoroughly enjoying it. He wasn’t about to tell her about the bottles that he kept in his hidey hole for bad nights, so he pretended the liquor was new too.

“Yeah, you are sixteen Harry.” He didn't correct her.

“Psh, says the woman who’s trying to get me drunk!” They both giggled a little at that statement.

“You’re a fifth year Gryffindor. If you haven’t already snuck a bottle into your dorm, or drank spiked punch at a Quidditch party, you’re doing something way wrong. I just figured it’d make a good pick-me-up.” Harry grinned at that comment. She wasn’t wrong, firewhiskey was a common beverage of choice in Gryffindor common rooms. Hermione always tried to steer Ron and him away from the hard stuff, but what happened in the fifth year boys’ dorm after lights out stayed there. Unless he and Dean posted an Enlarged picture of it on the bulletin board for laughs, of course...

“Fair enough,” He acquiesced. “But we’re getting of point. How many kids do you know that’ve killed a giant Basilisk?” He gulped down half his glass of coke and smiled crookedly, inwardly kind of freaking out. What the hell did he just say?

“...Uh, none?” Tonks said confusedly.

“Exactly!” Harry pointed at her triumphantly, sloshing the drink on his hand. “Ergo, I am not a kid.”

“What you on about, Harry?” Welp, fuck it. In for a knut, in for a Galleon... Harry cleared his throat dramatically, and swept his arms wide like a storyteller.

“It’s the end of my second year, and the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Ron Weasley and I find it with a little help from Hermione Granger— Okay, a lot of help— and we drag our useless idiot of a DADA teacher down there with us to save Ron’s sister Ginny. He tries to obliviate us both with Ron’s broken wand, and it backfires, wiping his mind and burying them both in a landslide. So I soldier on, cuz i can’t just abandon an eleven year old girl, right? All’s i got is a ratty talking hat and Fawkes the Phoenix to back me up, against Tom Riddle’s wonderful talking, life stealing Diary and a sixty foot long basilisk as thick as Merlin’s— .” Tonks interrupted.

“Harry, you’re fuckin with me right?”

“Not in the slightest, my dear Nymphadora. It was pretty terrifying.” Tonks glared at him for the use of her first name, but held her tongue. Harry was actually talking for once, and she was worried if she cut him off it’d break the spell.

“How the bloody hell’d you…”

“Well, turns out the Sword of Gryffindor was hidden in the Sorting Hat. I know a bunny is more traditional, but a Sword’s pretty good too, right? I pulled it out and stuck the great filthy beast through the roof of the mouth, just as it managed to get me with its tooth. I pulled the thing out of my arm and stabbed the diary, which kinda… screamed and started bleeding?” Harry flinched at the disturbingly clear memory. “Fawkes managed to heal the venom before I copped it.” Tonks was speechless. It took her several tries to get her mouth moving again to ask the next question

“Harry, you know that’s like, insane, right? No one’s seen a Basilisk like that in hundreds of years, or the sword, or the chamber… Why the bloody hell were you left to do that yourself? Where was Dumbledore?”

“He was already sacked. I only figured it out because I’m a Parselmouth. Lovely skill that, getting to hear fucked up voices in the walls.” Harry had finished his drink and sat back on the bed. “You think that’s insane, you should hear the rest of my years at Hogwarts.”

“You’ve got to tell me.”

 


 

Tonks had reached her threshold for shock after the story about Quirrell and the stone. She already knew the bit about Sirius, and Harry skated right past the fourth year, uncomfortable with telling the story of Cedric’s death. She was currently hearing in great detail how he and his two best friends created a secret society to learn how to fight in fifth year under Dolores Umbridge’s nose. Tonks knew how hard doing anything under Umbridge’s nose was, since Fudge had her leaning on Madam Bones and the DMLE for years.

“Wait, go back a bit, what was that about detentions?” What she’d just heard was… troubling. Deeply. A different sort of troubling than the other stories. It was the sort of troubling that she felt when Harry described how his relatives treated him.

“The bit about the blood quill and the Veritaserum?” Tonks simply nodded. “Well, like I said. Umbridge brought me to her office after speaking out in class ‘bout Voldemort and gave me a quill with no ink. She told me to write lines. Every time I wrote ‘I must not tell Lies’ It scratched itself into the back of my hand.” He held up the white scars on the back of his hand. “She tried to interrogate me with veritaserum a bunch of times. And she threatened me with the Cruciatus Curse once, and admitted that the dementors from last summer were from her. No idea if she was serious about the cursing bit, mighta been a scare tactic.” Merlin! How normalized was abuse in Harry’s mind that he’d never even reported the woman?

 


 

Harry was beginning to think telling Tonks about his school years was a mistake. She was getting kind of white faced, and the stories looked like they kind of scared her. Honestly, Harry had no idea what possessed him to tell her in the first place. He’d never told anyone who wasn’t there the whole story, besides Dumbledore.

“Harry, would you be willing to tell my boss what you just told me?” He blinked.

“Why? Wouldn’t do much good, she’s already out of Hogwarts.” Tonks laughed bitterly

“Harry, that bitch is in the Ministry! She’s not at Hogwarts because she’s busy running society!” Harry … hadn’t actually thought about that “We could have her thrown in Azkaban with that evidence. That blood quill is Dark Magic. Not to mention Fudge’s standing at the ministry is weakened enough that he couldn’t save her if he tried. The vote of no confidence for him is weeks away at best. Madam Bones would take this very, very seriously, I promise.” the look on Harry’s face was inscrutable. She didn’t want to push too hard, but if what he’d said was true, and she had zero doubt that it was, then Dolores Umbridge needed to be stopped. The foul bitch was a heartbeat away from being Acting Minister.

“Harry, do you know what the position of Senior Undersecretary is?” Harry shook his head. “Basically, It’s the Minister’s right hand person. There is no vice Minister. If he dies, Umbridge is in charge until the Wizengamot can convene to elect a new Minister.” She could see the significance of that working its way through Harry’s mind, as he contemplated Umbridge as Minister.

“Now, Everyone in the Ministry knows so long as she’s got a Minister wrapped around her fat little finger she’s untouchable. Once people know that Fudge condoned the abuse of Hogwarts students, it wouldn’t matter. They’d both be out of office by the end of the week.” Tonks almost had him. “On the other hand… If she managed to get rid of Fudge somehow, before he’s voted out, She’d have at least three weeks of free reign, possibly more if she convinced the Wizengamot not to meet. It would be a disaster.”

“...okay. If you really think it’ll help, I’ll talk to Madam Bones.”

“Thank you, Harry.”

 


 

The seriousness of the conversation brought both of them down a bit, so Tonks hopped off the bed and walked over to the record player. She pulled an album out of her jacket pocket, and unshrank it. Harry looked up from the glass in his hands, curious.

“Now, a friend of mine sent me this from America last month, and it’s not even out for muggles until next year, but I can’t stop listening to it and I thought you’d enjoy.” Tonks popped the record on, and came back over to the bed. “This is called Ska.” Harry had no idea what to think about the new music. It was interesting, certainly. Nothing like the stuff that he’d heard before. The odd combination of instruments created a sort of frantic upbeat tune, and the longer he listened to it the more he liked it. Harry probably wouldn’t have chosen to listen to it on his own, but sitting there watching Tonks drumming along to it happily, he couldn’t help but like it. He just lay back on his bed and listened in peace, watching the beautiful pink haired girl jamming out next to him and smiling.

 


 

At some point Harry must’ve fallen asleep, and she’d missed it. She got up and moved about the room quietly, collecting her things. She tried to make as little noise as possible, but some creak or rustle must have given her away. Harry sat up, rubbing his eyes.

“Party’s over already?” He asked groggily.

“Well, after you fell asleep on me, I figured maybe I should put away the booze. Damn irresponsible for an Auror, you know, to just leave illicit substances laying around where a some schoolboy could get into 'em, you know.” He chuckled.

“Sure, the liquor cabinet’s under that floorboard.” He pointed at the far side of the room.

“Psh, nah this baby’s coming home with Tonksie”

“So that stuck, huh?”

“Suuuure, Harry. Pretend you’re the first one to ever come up with that” She winked.

“Damn. So no more booze for me then?” He made his best puppydog eyes, but Tonks wasn’t having any of it.

“What would you do with it? Drinking with me is fun, drinking alone is just sad, Har.” The banter continued lightly until Tonks left. Harry walked over to the floorboard he’d pointed at earlier, and pulled it up. Inside were a small collection of bottles; Vodka Vernon hadn’t remembered leaving on the floor of the bedroom in a stupor , a little posh bottle of schnapps he’d stolen from his aunt, and the rest of Fred and George’s firewhiskey.

“Drinking alone is just sad. Right.”

Chapter Text

“Have a seat, Auror Tonks.” Tonks pulled up one of the formal-looking leather chairs in front of Director Bones’ desk and complied

 

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

 

“So. What is it that was so urgent this meeting couldn’t wait until your administrative leave ended?” Tonks shuffled a bit. She’d been placed on leave immediately after the battle at the DOM for not disclosing her membership within the Order of the Phoenix as Kingsley had done. She was also under investigation for aiding and abetting Sirius Black, but since Madam Bones was planning on signing a Pardon for the man, that was immaterial.

 

“Ma’am, you know that I’ve been serving on guard duty for Harry Potter over the summer, correct?” Director Bones nodded, leaning forward over the desk. Dumbledore treated information about the boy  as top priority, and Kingsley hadn’t been able to provide her with any due to his secrecy oath, so whatever Tonks was about to say was bound to be invaluable. “Well, I was talking with the boy yesterday, and he told me certain things about his fifth year at school that I believe you would be extraordinarily interested in hearing. It concerns a certain pink toad, and if I’m correct, a great deal of abuse of power with underage students.” Amelia Bones’ expression never changed. She was a master Occlumens, and she never showed emotions outwardly. But Tonks saw that predatory gleam that lit behind her eyes, and knew she’d chosen the right person to bring this to.

 

“Auror Tonks, your administrative leave is over as of the end of this conversation. When is the next time you’re due to have contact with the boy?”

 

“Well, Mad-Eye.. Well, that is Auror Moody is meeting with him twice this week, and I’m going to see him this Monday.” Amelia raised an eyebrow at that.

 

“I was under the impression that Albus ordered the boy’s minders not to have any contact with him?”

 

“This isn’t an official Order matter, ma’am. Harry asked Mad-Eye and I to help him learn to defend himself, since he is going to be a primary target once the war begins in earnest, and we both agreed.”

 

“Mmm and I’m sure whatever you’ve been teaching him involves no underage magic…” Amelia said pointedly.

 

“Ma’am..”

 

“Save it, Auror Tonks. I never heard anything. Make sure none of this ever makes it across my desk.” Tonks nodded vigorously. “Now, back to the matter at hand. Take this.” Madam Bones handed the young Auror a tarnished silver key on a ring. “On Monday, I want you to portkey directly to my home with Harry. This matter is too sensitive to be handled in office, for numerous reasons, and my home has every ward short of a fidelius charm that can be placed on it. Upon his arrival, we will discuss the matter further.”

 

“.... Should I brief the headmaster about this?”

 

“No need. He’s not actually on record as the boy’s guardian. The Order’s duty guarding the house is self appointed, and barely legal by Ministry terms.” Madam Bones cleared her throat. “You are a fully trained Auror, Miss Tonks. I’m confident in your ability to get Mister Potter out without alerting the Headmaster.”

 

“Yes, ma’am. of course”

 



“Right Potter. First things first, you’re gonna duel me.” Harry gave the old veteran a skeptical look, which he waved away. “You can duel with full fledged Death Eaters, you managed to disarm Bellatrix Lestrange, clearly you’ve already got some decent skills. So I need to test you out, see what areas you need the most improvement in. So don’t gimme that look.”

 

A second later Harry was rolling away from a barrage of jinxes. He threw up a shield which deflected the first stunner harmlessly but it broke on the second one, and he’s had to throw himself out of the way. Harry rolled and came up in a crouch, flinging a conjured incarcerous rope at Moody’s legs which was sliced in half harmlessly halfway to the target. Harry followed up with a stunning hex, Full body bind curse, anything he could think of as he ducked and weaved around the room, trying to stay out of the way of Moody’s constant stream of offensive magic. Moody didn’t even bother conjuring full shields to block most of them, just parried them with his own spells.  

 

As Moody sidestepped a particularly powerful stunner, an idea occurred to Harry. He wordlessly summoned Moody’s pegleg, and the rest of his leg followed, pulling Moody off balance before he had a chance to cancel the charm. Harry immediately took advantage of that, and banished the older wizard against the wall. The Banishing charm wasn’t powerful enough to cause lasting damage, but he thought it might give him enough breathing room to— Harry’s train of thought was interrupted as a flash of red light knocked his wand out of his hand.

 

“Not terrible, Potter—” Moody began, but he was cut short as the raven-haired boy flicked a second wand out of his sleeve and caught Mad-Eye clean in the face with a stunner, putting him down for the count.

 

Harry summoned Mad-Eye’s wand, and tucked it away into his back pocket. He walked over to Moody’s unconscious form and revived him with a smile. I can’t believe I actually managed to stun Mad-Eye Moody! The mental celebration was cut short by Mad-Eye’s peg leg hooking around the back of his legs and kicking them out from underneath him.  Harry’s head met the floor of the dojo-like space and he saw stars.

 

“Lesson One. When you drop an opponent, before they regain consciousness, they need to be wrapped, paralysed, AND disarmed. And if they aren’t alone, they need to be silenced and disillusioned as well. The biggest mistake you kids made in the Department of Mysteries was leaving stunned enemies to be revived and rearmed.” Moody allowed himself a rare smile. “Slick move with the second wand there kid. Where’d ya get it?”  Harry offered the older man the wand, smiling inwardly at the praise.

 

“Holy shit, this belongs to the Lestrange bitch. Guess Tonks wasn’t kidding.” Moody muttered to himself.  “Good job hanging onto it. Keep it hidden like that in public, it’ll make a handy backup. Don’t tell anyone you haven’t already told.”

 

“How’d you miss it, sir? I figured you’d’ve already seen it with your eye.” Moody shook his head.

 

“The eye isn’t infallible, lad. I saw the glamour charms on the holster, but you’re covered in glamour charms so it blended in with the rest and I didn’t question it.” The old Auror chided himself for not being vigilant enough. “Right, so now I know where we stand. You’ve got an okay handle on wordless casting, could use work. The shields and general spell knowledge needs serious work. Not many Inner Circle members are gonna be brought down by basic stunning and disarming, you’ll just get the dregs with that.  Speed is good, but it could be much faster.” Moody ticked each thing off on his hands. “Where’d you learn silent casting, by the way, lad?”

 

“Read it in a book I bought in Obscurus.”

 

“Heh, you move fast. That’ll be handy, since I’ve got a little more than two months to make a real fighter out of you. Now, step two. Off with the shirts”  Harry just cocked his head at the older man. “Come on, come on, I haven’t got all night. Off with the shirt.” Harry complied somewhat nervously.  “Now dispell the glamours.”

 

“N-no.” Moody shook his head at the boy

 

“I don’t give a rat’s ass what they’re covering, lad. You could have a goddamn Hungarian Horntail fighting a tiger tattooed on your stomach for all I care, I just need to see what I’m actually working with.” Harry waved his wand over his torso, and with a ripple Madam Pomfrey’s glamours faded. One by one, scars started appearing all over his body.  Most of them were from his various adventures. A curse mark here from Quirrell, cuts on his thighs from Devil’s snare, a mark from the Hungarian Horntail on his shoulder. One long curving scar on his arm, the exact size and spot as a Dark Mark.

But the older ones weren’t.  Marks on his back made by a belt buckle,  a scar on his lip from Dudley and his friends, a few burns on his hands from learning to work a stove at seven. A straight line across his left wrist.

 

Harry seemed to wilt a bit as they came back. The scars had been gone since his health check up first year, covered up in seconds by an appalled Madam Pomfrey.  He’d asked her never to tell anyone, and she complied, though he suspected the headmaster could tell the glamours were there. When he asked her to cover the ones on his hands, she replied that whatever had made them was disrupting her glamours. The same had been said about The Scar.

 

“Lad.” Harry didn’t respond, and Mad-Eye grabbed his arm, ignoring the boy’s flinch at being touched. “Harry, look at me.” Green eyes raised to meet his mismatched ones. “You got nothing to be ashamed of, Potter. Look at me, I been cut up more than hamburger. Not all of these are Curse Scars. Not all of em were made by criminals, either. But I’ve never covered a single one.  Them scars en’t things to be ashamed of, they represent what you’ve been strong enough to survive, every single one.” Moody put both his hands on Harry’s shouders. “You should leave off with the glamours this year. You’ll feel better if you accept them”  Harry nodded shakily.  

 

“Good. Now, overall your physique isn’t bad but you need feedin’ up, and you should start workin’ out a bit. Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit of muggle fightin’,  I usually carry this around in case I get disarmed.” He pulled out what looked like a battered old hunting knife, covered in runes “Even with two wands, it wouldn’t hurt to have some kind of back up …”

 


Moody spent the next two hours trying to teach Harry a new offensive curse called the severing ribbon. By the end of the lesson, Harry had actually managed to conjure the long pink ribbon at the end of his wand but it wasn’t yet strong enough to cut through anything thicker than Moody’s walking stick. The eager green eyed boy promised to go down in his practice room and practice spells for next time, and Moody was able to leave satisfied with their progress.


 


A few hours after Moody left, Harry was stood in his room, unmoving. The music wasn’t playing, and all the books were away. He just stood in front of the mirror with his shirt off, staring at the scars that marked his arms, his shoulders, his face. He forced himself to look. Then slowly, he lifted up the fringe of hair covering his forehead.

Chapter Text

Dudley Dursley started the day the way he started every day for the last six months. He rolled out of bed at five thirty in the morning, pulled on his gym shorts and a t-shirt that was starting to look just a little baggy on him. (He’d dropped two sizes in that time, down to a double XL). Then he went outside, and ran. Sometimes he’d run down to the park, but most mornings he’d just run through the neighborhood until he hit Greater Whinging, then he’d turn around. If Dudley ever actually  measured the run, he’d know he averaged about five kilometers now. But he never did. For the first couple of weeks he was back his old friend Piers would wave at him as he passed by, but he stopped when Dudley never waved back. He was really glad about that. The two boys had never had much in common, they just hung out together because they were both bullies. Dudley didn’t want to be who he’d been before, he wanted to change. He knew for a fact that Piers Polkiss wanted no such thing.

 

After his run, Dudley would come home and shower, put on his coveralls and grab his work gloves, and go to work. Working at a mechanic shop wasn’t exactly up to his parents’ expectations (they expected him to take a job at Grunnings like his father) but to hell with them. He was going to pay for his own things while he was in school, and working with his hands was enjoyable. Plus, the guy that ran the shop didn’t mind hiring a guy who’d just turned sixteen a couple months ago.  Dudley couldn’t do much more than realignments and oil and tire changing at the moment, but he’d learn more and work his way up every summer. He’d go to a small cafe for half an hour during lunch and smile at the cute girl behind the counter before he had to go back and finish off. Shop closed at 4:30, then he’d head back to Privet Drive and change and shower if he needed it. (He usually did, it was greasy work.)

 

The evenings were spent avoiding his parents, which usually meant staying in his room, which was what he was doing tonight. He was never much of a reader, preferring to play games or watch movies, so he’d sit on his bed and watch whatever was on TV. Tonight’s movie was an American one called Reservoir Dogs. It had just the right balance of gore and action to keep him engaged and good writing to avoid being another generic shoot em up. He didn’t mind those either, ‘course, but sometimes a bloke just needed something a bit more intellectual.

 

Once the credits rolled and his room was quiet, Dudley heard the sound of music coming from underneath his door. This was new. His parents occasionally put on the radio, but it was almost exclusively Tory talk shows and crap. Dudley got up and stuck his head out into the hallway, and found.. the music was coming from Harry’s room?

 

He moved down the hallway as quietly as he could and knocked on his cousin’s door.

 


 

Harry was laying back on his bed finishing the third chapter of his book. He had the window wide open to try and get some air, and to let Hedwig back in whenever she got back from hunting. He hadn’t bothered with a shirt, because it was hot as all hell in the tiny room. The record player was on, but he wasn’t paying much attention. It was some band called MOGWAI, and he found it was really good for reading to because there weren’t many lyrics, so it was hard to get distracted and it still helped him focus.

 

A knock at the door brought Harry back to reality. He leapt off the bed out of instinct, then stopped himself. Moody’d left hours ago, Tonks didn’t knock, and His uncle would’ve done so with a great deal more… vigor.  He walked over and opened it a crack

 

“Dudley?” He swung the door open to see what the larger boy wanted.

 

“hey, uh Harry… Are you playing music?”

 

“Yeah, why?”

 

“I can hear it in my room, mate. Might want to turn it down before they hear it” Harry cursed in his head. He’d forgotten to recast the silencing spell today.

 

“Yeah, uh sorry, I’ll turn it down.” Harry closed the door almost all the way, then reconsidered. He opened it again. “Hey, Big D, you wanna hang out or something? I’m bored as hell”  Dudley had turned back to walk away, but when he heard Harry actually ask that, he turned around with hope in his eyes. He’d been beating himself up all year every time he’d looked back over his life and realised what a bastard he’d been, and honestly never expected Harry to forgive him. He wouldn’t have blamed the other boy, either. Dudley wouldn’t have forgiven himself, and certainly couldn’t forgive either of his parents. Dudley realized he’d been standing there thinking for several seconds without answering, and quickly answered in the affirmative. Harry swept the door open and let him inside.

 

Harry shot a silencing charm at the door behind his back, and conjured a pair of chairs reminiscent of the ones by the fireplace in the gryffindor common room.

 

“So, what d’you wanna listen to?” Dudley turned to him, as he knelt next to the stack of records by the sound system. “I have… The Clash, the Beatles, Modest Mouse, Some american band called Catch-22, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, haven’t actually listened to that yet…  Uh.. The Kinks, The Who… That’s it actually.”  

 

“Uh… I’m not much of a music guy, I have no idea what most of those are. I mean, yeah, I’ve heard of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin of course, but the rest? No clue.”  Harry laughed.

 

“Yeah, I hadn’t either until like, a week ago. That colorful bird that keeps popping by let me borrow a lot of her music. She says that my cultural education was abysmal”

 

“No great wonder, considering…” Dudley responded with a nervous grin.

 

“Yeah, Vernon and Petunia wouldn’t know what culture was if it bit them in the arse.” Harry returned the grin. He seemed to make a decision, and popped London Calling on the platter.  He put the needle on the groove, and rummaged through the floorboard space, pulling out the cups, Tonks’ cola (which had a chilling charm on it since Harry had no means of refrigeration) and the old bottle of vodka. “Care for a bit of a nightcap?” Dudley started laughing.

 

“Holy crap”

 

“What?” Harry demanded, unable to see the humor in his question.

 

“Never thought I’d see the day where I was casually having a drink with you.” Harry conceded the point with a nod “Yeah, I’ll take a sip, chuck us a glass” He poured them both a glass with a liberal amount of vodka, and sat down next to his cousin.

 

“So… uh, how’s Smeltings?”

 

“Bloody boring as all hell. Only fun bit is boxing.” Dudley sipped the glass and grimaced “Damn Harry, bloody alky much? I like a bit of coke with my vodka.” Harry smirked and passed him the bottle of coke. As he leaned over, Dudley caught a view of the scars covering Harry’s arms and chest and spluttered. “Blimey, mate, who ran you over with a grain thresher?”

 

Harry froze. He’d completely forgotten to put on a shirt. The bottle of coke was forgotten as he flicked his wand. A band tee flew across the room into his hand, and he hurriedly pulled it on.

 

“Don’t worry about it Dud. Not important.”

 

“...Ok.” They sat in silence for a minute or two, both taking sips of their respective drinks awkwardly.  “So, who did you say this was?”

 

“Oh, this is the Clash. Not a fan?”

 

“I mean, the first one was good, but i guess it’s not really my thing” Harry did a discrete switching spell, and suddenly the Led Zeppelin album was on.

 

“Did… did you just do magic?” Harry chuckled and nodded “But.. Isnt that going to get you chucked from.. uh, Piglumps?”

 

“Hogwarts, and nah. Thanks to this little baby,” He pulled out the runestone and waved it at Dudley “I’m Untraceable. Government gits can’t touch me.” Dudley’s eyes widened

 

“So that’s how you keep getting out! and into the fridge too, Those two were going spare trying to figure it out. Da’s convinced you have a blowtorch and a set of lockpicks hidden up yer arse somewhere”

 

“Well, it isn’t up my ass, but essentially yeah. This thing can pick locks, break metal, just about any use you can think of. Hell, I do my damn laundry with it.”  

 

“That’s handy.” Harry nodded, and they lapsed into silence again. “So, that bird that keeps visiting, You and her.. uh” Dudley bumped his hands together. “You know.. a thing?’

 

“Psh, Tonks? Duds, she’s like twenty-one, and waaaaay out of my league. I mean have you seen her?” Harry made a sound of disbelief.

 

“I dunno, Harry, she seemed pretty excited to come see you last time she came tearing through the house.” Harry waved him off

 

“We’re just friends”  Now it was Dudley’s turn to make a disbelieving sound



After a bit more awkward small talk, Dudley excused himself to go to bed. Harry put away the glasses and whatnot, then sat down with his book, planning to finish the chapter before bed. As his  eyes started to droop, he closed the book and laid back, content to just fall asleep in his chair. Not two seconds after he closed his eyes, however,  something small and fast moving bounced off the side of his head. Harry’s eyes snapped open and his wand was out before he’d even processed what was going on. The word reducto was on the tip of his tongue, and his wand was poised to blast whatever hit him to smithereens when he realized that it was—  

 

“Pig? Seriously, little guy, you need to quit doing that. I was about to blast you.” He cast impedimenta on the tiny bird, and grabbed it before it could hurt itself. Two tiny letters were affixed to its leg, and the second he’d untied them, they popped back to normal size. and like that the jumped up little owl was back out into the night. No waiting for an owl treat, not even so much as a by your leave.

 

Harry tore into the letters excitedly. After a week of Privet Drive, he was already missing Ron, and it’d be good to hear from Ginny as well.

 

Harry,

 

Just writing to see how it’s going the first week back. Mum’s got us back at the burrow, at least for the first few months. Ginny, Mum, Dad and I are planning to  move back in at Snuffle’s if they’re planning to have you go there again like last time, but there’s been no word on that yet. I promise, as soon as I know, you will. You know how it goes with Dumbles. If you send your replies back with Hedwig, Mum has another care package for you, since she still thinks you need more feeding up.

 

You’ll never guess who Bill’s dating, mate.  Remember that French bird from the Triwiz? Fleur? She got a job at Gringott’s apparently, and they got on like wildfire. Ginny and Mum're hacked off about it, no idea why. Women, you know..  Anyway, Hope the Muggles aren’t being shitey this year. Write back soon!

 

Ron

 

Harry grinned. Of course Ron didn’t get it. He gets all jealous over Krum last year, then literally can’t comprehend why his sister doesn’t like the gorgeous French Veela. The cognitive dissonance would astonish him if he didn’t already know Ron so well.  His mouth watered at the thought of having Mrs. Weasley’s cooking next week. He could cook well enough, but heated up canned beans had nothing on her food.

 

He set the letter aside, and picked up Ginny’s. He was a bit more nervous at this one. He never expected Ron to be pissed at him for the DOM incident. Ron wasn’t the type to doubt Harry because of some danger. They’d already fought together three times, it was just kind of what they did. Ginny, on the other hand, hadn’t really been a part of their adventures, except for the Chamber thing, and both times she’d ended up in the Hospital wing. He didn’t think she’d be angry at him, really, but he worried anyway.

 

Well, no use worrying when the answer was sitting right in front of him. He tore the second envelope open.

 

Harry,

 

How are you? I hope you’re doing alright, Mum’s been trying to convince Dumbledore to let you move in as soon as possible this summer, so you don’t have to spend the whole time cooped up with your abysmal relatives, but he keeps spouting nonsense about how safe you are there. Anyway, Ron says he’d mention the care package thing, and Phlegm— I mean, Fleur. I’ve been hanging out with Luna a lot this week, since Bill’s new “Girlfriend” is staying at the house, and we’re both really excited about the DA for this year. Can’t wait to keep learning. I’m just hoping you’ll be able to get me an O on my Defense OWL this year. Anyway, write back soon, and we all can’t wait to see you.

 

Ginny


A coil in his chest loosened a bit when he realized that both Ginny and Luna wanted to keep being his friends, even after the disastrous mission at the DOM. Not only that, they trusted him to keep leading the DA. Why, he couldn’t tell, but he was happy all the same.

 

He realized that he’d completely forgotten to write to any of his friends so far like he’d told them he would, with all the activity he’d had so far this summer.  He turned to Hedwig, and fed her a treat.


“You’re gonna have a busy couple days this week, so sleep well tonight girl.” He ran his hands through the feathers on her head, and she cood softly at him. Harry got up, got undressed for bed, and threw a sheet over himself. He drifted off almost immediately.

Chapter Text

Monday morning started the same way every other one before it had. Harry dragged himself out of bed late, ran through the limited workout he could do within the confines of the small room, and took a nice long shower, sure that no one would even acknowledge him using up all the hot water. Then he sat at his desk, and contemplated what to write in his letter to Neville. Hedwig was due to return from the Burrow with Mrs. Weasley’s care package at some point today, and he planned on having her make a delivery to both Neville and Hermione today. He’d sent a letter to Luna along with the Weasley’s. He trusted Ginny to deliver it. All of the letters contained an update about his shopping trip, and the studying (leaving out the magic and the dueling practice bits). They also thanked all of his friends for their support and bid them to take care of themselves, and that he hoped he’d see them soon.  

 

He started Neville’s letter with hoping that he was well, and that Harry hadn’t gotten him in trouble with his Gran.  He also explained that so far, his summer was better than usual, and hoped that Neville would be ready for the DA meetings next year. He really didn’t know what else to say to the other boy.

 

They had been Roommates for years, and had spent a fair bit of time together, but weren’t really particularly close. Not for any particular reason, just.. Harry had always just stuck with his tight knit group of friends, and not socialized widely before starting the DA. That would have to change this year, since he had plans to be more intense with the DA now that he’d have permission and some real things to teach them all. He fully intended to pass on as much of Mad-Eye’s instructions to them as he could.

 

Once the letter seemed reasonably finished, he wrote out one for Hermione as well.  This letter was much easier. He told her about the books he’d picked up (and promised to lend her whichever she wanted whenever he’d finished them all). Harry also told her about the Shopping trip, and the record player and music that Tonks had lent him. She was probably the only one who’d even understand half of it. Once he’d signed it, and sealed both into envelopes, he set them aside, and leaned back on his bed. The conjured chairs always vanished after he fell asleep, and he hadn’t bothered with them again. When Tonks finally showed up, they’d be spending most of their time in the practice room, so it didn’t really matter


 

The hours until her arrival passed slowly for the most part, uneventful except for Hedwig’s return with the basket, and subsequent departure for the Longbottom’s. It mostly consisted of Harry sitting about twirling his wand, wishing he had literally anything to do besides read.

 

“Wotcher, mate.” Harry literally leapt of the bed in his excitement.

 

“Tonks, thank Merlin you finally got here.”

 

“Eager much?” She teased. She didn’t exactly look disappointed by his reaction, however.

 

“Of course, a man can only play spot the disillusioned Order Member so many times before he cracks. Besides, Dung literally never moves, so it’s really easy.” Tonks chuckled at that.

 

“Yeah, he’s pretty terrible at being covert. Useless in a duel, too. Only reason he’s actually in the Order is his criminal contacts.” She dropped her rucksack in the corner. “Right, shall we?” We’ve got something to talk about when we’re done training, so we should get to it.”

 





“Tonks, quit babying me.” Harry proclaimed in exasperation. Tonks shot him a questioning look.

 

“What you on about, mate?”

 

“I get that technique is important, I do. But, honestly, how many big adjustments have you had to make to my dueling style? We only have a couple months until I have to leave for school. I need to learn how to fight, and you watching me blast a dummy for a few hours isn’t going to make me any better.”

 

“Alright, Potter. You don’t like how I’m teaching? Fair enough, we’ll do it your way.” Harry had a feeling it was coming, but he barely managed to throw up a shield before the purple jinxs slammed into it. The spell didn’t break the shield, but he could see little shining crack appear in it. He held the spell for a moment longer to deflect the second curse, which he also couldn’t identify, then dove aside, summoning the practice dummy to act as a barrier to get behind for cover. The dummy shook as he felt the next spell hit it.  Under his breath, he whispered “fumo”, and the small room filled with smoke.

 

“Nice try, mate” was Tonks’ response, as a gust of wind dissipated the smoke. Harry had already abandoned the cover, and cast several stunning spells back at the irate witch, all of which were either parried or returned. He saw a rope shoot out from Tonks’ wand, which he sliced in half, and several small gold birds that flew at him like bullets. Harry conjured a second shield spell, just long enough that all of the bird constructs had slammed into it and burst, then dropped it and banished the dummy into the center of the room and cast confringo toward it.

 

The explosion from the dummy should have been enough to knock Tonks off her feet, which had been his intention, but she managed to freeze the explosion. Harry didn’t even know freezing charms worked on explosions, but it was one hell of a trick. Tonks banished the dummy and it’s debris back at him, and he vanished it before it managed to hit him, but as he did that, she caught him with an incarcerous spell, and Harry hit the dirt. He quickly managed to cut through the ropes with his wand, but as he went to  cast back, Tonks whistled loudly like a muggle calling a taxi in london.

 

“‘Right, time.” She walked over and offered him a hand up, which he accepted. No sense in being a sore loser. “D’you see why I drill you on your form? Your shields shouldn’t crack so easily. Also, if you learn to vanish quicker, or chose a better spell to get rid of the dummy, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hit you with the ropes.” Harry nodded, but responded with his own counterpoint.

 

“Yeah, I know, but you wouldn’t have found that out without dueling me.” Tonks blinked.

 

“Well, bugger me… That’s a good point. Sorry mate, I’m not really a teacher by trade.” Harry smiled “You probably know a hell of a lot more ‘bout teaching, what with your secret defense societies an’ all”

 

“Yeah, i learned pretty fast that the easiest way to teach a kid to shield himself was by repeatedly trying to jinx him.”

 

“So, which shield spell was that, anyway?”

 

“Protego? That’s the only one I’ve learned.” Tonks smacked herself in the face.

 

“Blimey, Harry. You were on point calling me out like that, I’m apparently a terrible teacher.” Harry cocked his head to the side.  “That must’ve been one hell of a basic shield charm to block that first spell. I was thinkin’ you were using something a lot stronger. C’mere, watch my wand a sec.” She brought her wand down in a similar motion to the protego, except her wand was held parallel to her body, and said “Fortis Aegis”

 

“Go ahead, Harry. Cast something strong at me.” Harry whipped his wand to the side like Moody showed him the previous training session, and a long, glowing pink ribbon of magic unfurled from the tip of his Holly wand. Tonks’ eyes widened slightly, but she didn’t stop him.

 

He lashed out at the shield she’d just conjured, and a sizzling sound the ribbon snapped and dissipated.  At the same time, the shield spell turned opaque, and flared a bit on contact. Where his spell had made contact, a long cut appeared and the edges glowed like paper in a fire. A second later the scratch was gone, and Tonks dropped the spell.  “Where the hell did you learn to conjure severing ribbons?”

 

“Moody showed me, last time I saw him.”

 

“No wonder you thought I was babying you. Moody didn’t show me that spell in training for months..” Tonks’ brow wrinkled. “What does he know that I don’t? I know you’re a popular target for He-Who Must—”

 

“Voldemort, yeah” She breathed in sharply at the mention of his name, but Harry ignored it.

 

“What don’t I know, that Moody does? I’ve been treating this like remedial Dueling lessons, and he’s teaching you Mastery level offensive magic” Harry shrugged

 

“He probably put two and two together about the Prophecy. That’s the whole reason I asked you two here, anyway.”

 

“Wait, you know the Prophecy? I thought it broke..”

 

“Dumbledore was there when it was made, and he told me the whole thing. It’s… not good, to say the least. I’m guessing either the headmaster told Mad-Eye— ”

 

“Unlikely” Tonks muttered frustratedly. Harry could relate, Dumbledore never told him shit either.

 

“ —or, more likely, he learned whose names were on it, combined that with the fact that old snake face keeps coming after me, and figured it out.”  Tonks thought about the limited list of possibilities based on his description, and realized what he meant.

 

“Fuck me, then.” Her back straightened  “Fair enough, Harry. Let’s take this up a notch then.” she pulled out a small figurine from her pocket, placed it on the ground, and enlarged it. “If Mads thinks you should know that stuff, then I’ll show you what I know.”

 




An hour later, Harry was still struggling to cast the newest spell she showed him.  He’d made it work the last couple times, making the legs on the dummy shatter, but he couldn’t get it consistent enough. Tonks had done what she had been doing earlier, circling around him critiquing his form. After his tenth time managing to produce the silver blast of light but not breaking the target’s limbs, Tonks pulled him to the side, and asked him if he’d ever broken a limb bad enough to require skele gro.

 

Harry told her the story about the rogue bludger and the mysterious vanishing arm bones, which made her chuckle. Then she told him to envision the excruciating pain he felt when the bones regrew, and think of that when he cast.  A minute later, the dummy was lying on the ground, both of its legs obliterated.

 

“Huh. You seem like a perfectly good teacher to me, Tonks.” That earned him a wide smile.

 




“Right, so like I said, once we were finished, I had to talk to you about something.” Harry nodded, mentally going over the list of things that she could want to talk to him about. He had no bloody clue what it was about. “So, I talked to Madam Bones Friday about the Umbridge thing, and she requested that I escort you to her residence tonight. She wants to talk to you, outside of the Ministry and away from prying eyes and ears, so she gave me a Portkey. Dumbledore and the Order won’t know you went there unless you tell them, and her Manor is warded almost as well as this neighborhood.”

 

“Uh… okay I suppose..” Tonks sighed. She thought that getting him to agree to it was going to be much more of a fight.

 

“Really, just like that?” She looked a bit skeptical.

 

“I mean, I already agreed to it, yeah?”

 

“...Fair enough. Hold on tight, I suppose”




They reappeared in a room that looked formal yet cozy at the same time. The large roaring fireplace had a Family Tree portrait above it not dissimilar to the one at the House of Black, except in this case there wasn’t a single Burned name on the entire thing. The Bones family lineage was traced back several hundred years to Seraphina Bones, a name he recognized from somewhere. Madam Bones sat in one of the chairs by it, waiting for the two of them with a tray of tea and biscuits sitting in front of her on a small table.  She also had a stack of paper, a self writing quill and a wand placed on the table.

 

“Ah, Mr. Potter, I’m glad you saw fit to accompany Auror Tonks to my home. Welcome to the House of Bones.” She spotted the ring glinting on the his finger, and raised her eyebrows. “Or, is it Heir Potter?”  

 

“Yes, but please, just call me Harry.” The boy replied tiredly. She was the second person to use the title and he was already sick of it.

 

“Of course, Harry. Now, I’m sure Tonks has already informed you as to why I needed to have this meeting?” Harry nodded.

 

“Umbridge, yeah?” the regal older witch nodded.

 

“Yes, Dolores has been a blight on my office, and the entire Ministry, since Fudge was appointed Minister. She and the Minister both need to be removed, and Auror Tonks said that your testimony could possibly accomplish. So, if you please, begin wherever you began with her, and tell me as much detail as you can.

 

So, Harry talked. He began with the tale of the Dementor attack at Little Whinging, explained Her first class as DADA teacher, the detentions, and how they were served. He showed Madam Bones the scars on both hands. (I must not tell lies on the left and I must not break rules on the right). He explained the night leading up to the trip to the Ministry, the admission about the Dementors and the threats of Cruciatus.  Once his tale was done, Harry sat back, feeling drained. He drained his tea as Director Bones checked to see that the paper has recorded the entire testimony, and asked him for copies of the memories. He provided them without hesitation.  

 

She then took a piece of paper and wrote out an order of arrest, stamped it with her official seal, and handed it to Tonks.

 

“Auror Tonks. I will stay here with Harry and Susan for an hour or two. Take this to Kingsley and Rufus. Then, tell him I’ve ordered you to accompany them to arrest Umbridge. Take her into custody while we handle the collecting of the other testimonies and the physical evidence. Then return here.” Tonks looked nervous at the idea of leaving Harry alone, but it was a direct order, and Madam Bones made for a far better guard than she did when it came to sheer magical ability. She walked to the fireplace and floo’d directly to the Ministry.

 

“So, Harry. My Susan tells me I have you to thank for her O in Defense Against the Dark Arts this year, and by the sound of it I’m inclined to agree. Tell me, how are you so beyond your years when it comes to DADA?” Harry chuckled and sipped his tea

 

“I don’t know if I’m beyond…”

 

“I saw the security recording of your duel in the Atrium, Harry. I… witnessed your disarming of Bellatrix Lestrange, which is impressive to say the least. Not to mention your various feats at school and you're quite competent teaching.”  She smiled “ You may not know it, but everyone else seems to think so.”

 

“Well, I seem to have a talent for it..  Plus, I trained a lot in fourth year to prepare for the Triwizard Tournament.”

 

“Yes, Susan also relayed that” Harry blushed slightly.

 

“I had no idea Susan paid such..uh, close attention to my activities at school..” Amelia smiled indulgently.

 

“Yes.. My niece seems quite.. taken with you Harry, and it isn’t difficult to see why. You’re an extraordinary young man."

 

“AUNTIE!” came the embarrassed cry from the doorway.

 

“Oh, Susan, I didn’t see you there.” Her tone of voice sounded sincere, but Harry caught a small mischievous glint in her eye that suggested otherwise.

 

“Uh, Hey Susan. How are you?” He offered weakly, not very sure how to handle the situation. Susan gave him a bashful smile, her cheeks blushing to match his own, and she came over to sit next to her aunt.

 

“I’m doing alright, Harry. Having a pretty good holiday so far. How’s yours?” Harry briefly considered how to answer that, and decided to just lie.

 

“Oh, it’s been brill— “ A sharp pain shot through his forehead, and his hand flew to the scar. It hadn’t done anything of the sort since the Atrium, and he paled.

 

“Harry, are you okay?” Susan asked, concern evident in her voice.

 

“Madam Bones, w-what makes Curse Scars hurt normally?” He asked, anticipating the answer before she even spoke it.

 

“To be in the presence of the one who caused it.” The older witch paled, and Harry nodded grimly.

 

“Fuck.” Both witches stared at him when he cursed, but neither reprimanded him. “Thats what I thought. He’s here”

 

“Who? Aunty Amelia, who’s here?”

 

Harry and Madam Bones answered simultaneously: “Voldemort”

Chapter Text

Harry could feel the burning in his scar as the Dark Lord approached the House of Bones. He didn’t think Riddle was inside, not yet. He could still feel the ever so slight hum of the wards on his skin. They would have had to fall for him to gain access.  Madam Bones was standing there stiffly, and he wondered if she was thinking the same thing. She pointed her wand at the necklace that Susan wore around her neck, and said Portus. Nothing happened. No blue glow. No disappearing. Nothing at all. This time it was her who said fuck, quietly to herself.

 

“Harry, I need you to do me a favor, please. I need you to find a way to get Susan and yourself out of here.” She swallowed, slowly, clearly terrified, and unused to the feeling. “Please. Protect her. I beg of you”

 

“Madam Bones… Where are you…”

 

“I’m going to go buy you enough time to escape. He’s here for me, and he shall have me. Not as easily as he believes, however.” Harry’s eyes went wide at the steel in her voice, and the death grip she had on her wand. Susan screamed no, and ran forward to grab her aunt. Harry caught her.

 

“Susan. We’re all going to die if we stay here right now.” Susan twisted in his grasp, and he let go of her waist but kept his grip on her arm. His mind raced for a way to escape such powerful wards… and it hit him. He smacked himself for not thinking of it before Madam Bones left the room.

 

“Dobby!” A loud crack sounded behind him, just as he felt the wards on the house waver under Voldemort’s assault.

 

“Yes, Harry Potter sir?” Dobby’s voice wavered in fear at the situation he found himself in.

 

“Susan. Go back to Hogwarts with Dobby. I’m going to go get your aunt, before the wards fall, and then I’ll call Dobby back to get us as well.” Susan opened her mouth to protest, but Harry held up a finger. “ I’ve faced him before. I promise you, we’ll be there in just a minute. Go.” He turned to the Elf. “Dobby. Take Susan to the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. Then, when I call you back, come grab myself and Madam Bones and take us out too, okay?” Dobby nodded bravely. And the two disappeared with a crack.

 

Harry took off towards the entrance hall of the manor, guided  by pure instinct and the burning feeling on his forehead.

 



Albus and Mad-Eye sat at his desk, pouring through a memory from an old dying house-elf named Hokey, when a loud crack sounded. Susan Bones appeared, standing in the middle of the Headmaster’s quarters.

 

“Professor! Voldemort.. My house… Harry.. My aunt..” She seemed to faint. Both men rushed over to the young girl, neither of which had any clue how she’d appeared there. Dobby, of course, hadn’t stayed long enough to explain to them, and simply apparated back through the wards to the room his boy had just left so he could be there the second Harry Potter called.


 

Harry sprinted into what looked like a ballroom. He knew he had to be getting close, since the pain in his forehead was intensifying. He sprinted the length of the room, and saw the main hall through the doorway. Just then, two rather terrifying things happened in concert. The wards on the house flickered again, and blinked out of existence, And Voldemort strolled in the front door.

 



Amelia Bones was terrified. She knew full well that she was about to die. After 17 years, she was about to die facing the man who had personally murdered her brother, her niece’s father. She saw no way out. The wards that were put up blocked portkeys, apparition, floo travel, all of it. She’d never wished for a vanishing cabinet quite so hard in her life. But the time for that had passed. She needed to fight, as hard and as long as she could so that Harry and Susan could get out. Somehow.

 

Amelia stood on the foot of the stairs, facing the entrance hall of her home, and she felt the wards flicker and give way. Voldemort, the most terrifying, powerful Dark Wizard Britain had seen in several centuries, simply strolled in her front door alone.

 

“Hello, Amelia. I daresay it’s time for your family line to finally end.”


The duel he was watching, quietly from the shadows of the doorway behind Voldemort’s back was breathtaking.  He saw Madam Bones slash her wand at his archnemesis, and all of the statues lining the hall jumped up, and threw themselves at the bald figure. A second later, all of them had been blasted into rubble. He directed a jet of green light at her, but it was intercepted by the remains of a large lion statue that she levitated in it's path. She returned his fire with several bright yellow curses, slashing her wand like a sword. Tom parried each one lazily.

 

It was very nearly equal to the one he’d seen in the Atrium. Nearly. Madam Bones was perhaps the greatest Witch of the age, but she wasn’t Albus Dumbledore, and she was losing ground fast. Harry saw the last curse blow her conjured shield to pieces, saw her fall back onto her ass. She was still alive and conscious, but the fall stunned her just enough that she couldn’t cast fast enough to block Tom's next spell. He could see the green glow on the tip of Tom’s wand, could see the words Avada Kedavra on the tip of his tongue, and did the one thing he could think of.

 

Harry jumped out of the doorway, already casting the Ribbon-Severing curse, and screamed “HEY TOM!” at the top of his lungs. He swung the ribbon as hard as he could, pouring as much magic into it as he had, and the whips path burned into his retinas. Tom had swiveled on the spot at the familiar sound of Harry’s voice and Amelia took the opening, even as she screamed internally at the sight of a fifteen year old boy insulting and attacking Lord Voldemort. The yellow Bone Shattering curse flew from her wand, and flew true.

 

Tom’s wand spit green lightning at the spot where the voice emanated from, even as Harry was diving across the hall away from it. The yellow curse struck Tom’s hand, shattering the hand, and sending the wand flying away. Voldemort screamed, the most ear splittingly terrifying sound either of them had ever heard and thrust his other hand out for the wand— Just as Harry’s ribbon sliced it in half.

 


 

 

Tom Riddle was fuming. His blood was boiling. No one had hit him with a curse since the end of the first war, and before the rebounded killing curse, only Dumbledore had managed to ever cause him true injury. Now, because that puny, irritating, lucky black haired little shit, he had been distracted at the critical moment of the duel, and his hand— HIS WAND HAND— had been shattered. He thrust his other hand out for the wand, summoning it, absolutely ready to obliterate the entire house and both its current inhabitants, when he saw the severing ribbon from the boy’s wand SLICE HIS WAND IN HALF. He was literally white with fury.

 

Then, another bone-shattering curse flew by his head, and self preservation kicked in. Dying hurt. He wanted to keep this body, and fighting the Bones matriarch and the insufferable Potter boy without a wand may well lead to its destruction. He’d survive, but the plans would be set back again. He waved his unbroken hand and disappeared.

 


 

 

Harry raced over to Madam Bones the second Voldemort disappeared, fully aware that he could retrieve a new wand in moments and return to murder them both. The older witch looked about to puke, or scream, or laugh. He couldn’t tell which. Harry grabbed her by the hand, and called Dobby, who flashed behind them, grabbed hold, and promptly vanished again.

 

Dumbledore and Moody had given up attempting to revive the girl enough to get her to speak, and had just sent her away to the Infirmary with Madam Pomfrey, when Harry Potter, Susan’s aunt, and a rather exhausted-looking House Elf appeared two feet away.

 

The second they appeared, Amelie’s legs gave out. She was bleeding, grievously injured, but it was the sudden absence of adrenaline that made her collapse. That, coupled with the realization of how bloody close to death she had just come. Harry caught her, of course, a hand snaking around her back and just barely holding her up.

 

“Madam Bones, are you okay?” he asked shakily


“After that, Harry, I believe it’s just Amelia.”

Chapter Text

 

Alastor and the Headmaster rushed over to Harry the second he appeared. Dumbledore summoned a chair for Amelia that she gratefully sank into, and Moody grabbed Harry and pressed his wand against the younger wizard’s throat.

 

“How did you win our first duel?” He growled low enough that it went unheard by anyone else’s ears. Harry leaned into Moody’s ear.

 

“The glamour on my arm.” Moody nodded.

 

“Clear. Now what the bloody hell is going on here  Potter?” Harry gulped, unsure how to explain in a way that wouldn’t throw Tonks under the Knight Bus. He opened his mouth, searching for an explanation that would satisfy the two suspicious old wizards when Madam Bones came to his rescue

 

“I do believe explaining should be my responsibility, Alastor, seeing as it’s entirely my fault Mr. Potter is here.”  She took a deep breath. “I sent my House Elf to Mr. Potter’s home with a portkey, so that I could interview him about Hogwarts’ former High Inquisitor, Dolores Umbridge. He gave me enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant, which is currently being acted upon by Aurors Tonks and Shacklebolt, and most likely Rufus and the rest of their team.”

 

Surprised, Moody gave Harry a questioning look, and he nodded and mouthed the words ‘I’ll tell you the rest later’. Dumbledore simply nodded, as if he’d been expecting that answer.

 

“Unfortunately, his visit happened to coincide with a direct assault on my home by Tom Riddle. I told Mr. Potter to take my niece and find a way out while I confronted the intruder.  As you can see, he found one, and sent Susan on ahead, but elected to try and extract myself as well.  Riddle breached the wards, and we began dueling, but before he could do me any lasting harm Harry distracted him, leading to the destruction of his wand and his retreat.” Albus’ eyes were twinkling overtime by the end of the story, and Mad-Eye gave Harry an impressed glance and a pat on the shoulder.

 

“Well, Potter, you sure do like pokin’ the dragon, huh?” Moody said in a stunned tone laced with amusement.

 

“Well, I mean, at a certain point he can’t actually hate me anymore than he already does, yeah?” The grizzled auror barked out a laugh

 

“Everytime I talk to you I like you a little bit more, lad. Let’s get you to the infirmary to see that Susan lass while Dumbledore   has his chat ” He said pointedly at the headmaster “with Director Bones”  He led Harry out by the shoulder, as Dumbledore directed Amelia over to his desk.


 

“So, what was that look about, Potter?”

 

“Tonks brought me to the house of Bones, I didn’t just trust some random House Elf.” Moody nodded appreciatively. “Can you get word to her somehow and tell her what happened? She was supposed to meet us back at Madam Bones’ Manor after arresting Umbridge…”

 

“Not necessary, lad. When the Wards at the House of Bones pinged, all available Aurors would have gone directly there, or to the nearest apparition point. She’s probably on scene already with her squad.” Moody summoned a Patronus, a Ram, and spoke briefly to it. “It’s going to Tonks and Kingsley. It will quietly inform them both that Madam Bones and her guests are all safe at Hogwarts.” Harry nodded, grateful. He didn’t want Tonks worried that she’d somehow gotten him injured or captured.

 

“So, what is Dumbledore talking about with Madam Bones?”

 

“Something I’ve been trying to convince him to do for a bloody long time. Share a bit of the weight”

 



“So, Amelia.” The ancient wizard began

 

“Albus.” She responded.

 

“I have several serious matters to discuss with you tonight, only one of which actually concerns your earlier encounter..” He leaned back in his chair, lacing his long fingers together.  “It’s obvious that Bones Manor is no longer safe. You’ll most likely need to move to a new, safe location.” She nodded, unsure as to where Albus was going with this. “There is a heavily warded home the Order holds ownership of that has recently become vacated, in Surrey. The neighborhood is heavily warded, and my sources tell me it is currently unknown to Voldemort and his lackeys. The house could easily be placed under the Fidelius Charm and made completely safe.”

 

“What’s the catch, Albus? You don't sound too happy about the idea. Also,why would you give me use of the Order's property? I’m not a member of the Order of the Phoenix, as I’ve made clear to you before.”

 

“As to your second point, Amelia, Alastor has convinced me that I have been making you the wrong offer. It has recently become clear to me that I have taken far too much responsibility on alone, and that things are beginning to slip through the cracks. So, if you’re agreeable, I would like to offer you a spot in the Order of the Phoenix… in a leadership capacity.”  That floored her. Albus Dumbledore had never once in his life been willing to share secrets or control with anyone. She didn’t want to know what had occurred to convince him to change that trend, either. It obviously wasn’t pretty.

 

“What— Exactly— are you offering me? If it’s to be some sort of lieutenant I’m not interested, Albus. If you want me in, I need full disclosure.”

 

“That is exactly what I am offering, Amelia. Alastor has convinced me that a linear chain of command is ill-advised this time around. So, you would share leadership with the two of us.”

 

“The TWO of you? Mad-Eye is a leader in the Order?” She gave Albus a questioning look. “My information suggests that the Order is entirely led by yourself, and that most of the information flows one way. Is that incorrect?”

 

“As of perhaps three days ago, that is incorrect indeed.However, you mustn’t blame Mr. Shacklebolt, as I have yet to inform the rest of the Order.” She was disconcerted by the Headmaster’s nonchalant admission that he was aware Kingsley was her informant. That made all of the information she had received from him suspect, since any of it could have been intentional plants.“We have decided, considering the outcome of the last war, a new approach is needed. Alastor has reluctantly agreed to handle Training and Combat coordination for new and old members of the Order, and he implored me to invite you to help us handle recruitment, logistics and such. I will continue handling the espionage and information gathering, but I can no longer ‘go it alone’ as they say..”

 

“So, If I agree to this, full disclosure? And equal status among your ‘Order’?” Dumbledore nodded.

 

“Indeed, full disclosure, immediately following the conclusion of anoath not to betray the Order or its secrets to any who might do us or the wizarding world harm.”

 

“...Very well, Albus. I’m in.”




 

“Shit, shit shit!” Tonks exclaimed, kicking the door of her locker in the team room she shared with Shacklebolt, Proudfoot, Dawlish and Savage. Worry gnawed at her insides, and she couldn’t stop moving.

 

“Relax, Tonksie. No Dark Mark, no body. Mark my words, Director Bones got out fine.” Savage said lightly. Of course, she couldn’t contradict him, seeing as how she was the only one who knew that Harry bleedin’ Potter had been at the Bones Manor tonight. She was also rather pissed off, since the attack at Bones Manor had caused their arrest of Umbridge to be interrupted and the pink hag disappeared. One of the security officers had  been found obliviated,  and her wand’s signature wasn’t found anywhere in the vicinity, which suggested that she stole the man’s wand.

 

Shacklebolt was in the other room, coordinating the details of cleanup at the Bones’ Manor, Proudfoot and Dawlish were already sent out to start the search for Dolores, and her and Savage were on call.  Head Auror Scrimgeour was attempting to put together a case for the Wizengamot currently, as Madam Bones sought a vote of no confidence for Fudge’s administration, and was likely to get it.  The entire Auror Office was hoping that Amelia would get the vote, although Kingsley had confided in Tonks that Scrimgeour held ambitions towards the office himself.

 

Just then, Kingsley poked his head into the Team Room.

 

“Tonks, c’mere.” Her heart sank in her chest, sure that this was it. It was going to be the news that she’d been the one to get Harry killed. He was probably found on the Ministry lawn, moments ago. She’d fucked the entire war effort, because she just had to follow Madam Bones’ orders. Oh God. She walked into the other room and found a silver Ram Patronus waiting. Shack silenced the door behind her.

 

Moody’s voice came out of the patronus in a harsh whisper.  “Tonks, Shacklebolt, Madam Bones and all of the inhabitants of her Manor were evacuated. They are all safe at Hogwarts, receiving medical treatment. Tell no one.” Tonks’s entire being relaxed. Harry was safe. She said a brief prayer of thanks to any god that would listen,and as a consequence almost missed Kingsley’s next words.

 

“Tonks, get to Hogwarts immediately. We need details about the attack, and we need verification of her survival before Scrimgeour tries to have the Department Heads declare him temporary Head of the DMLE. Not that I don’t trust him, but…” The Order didn’t trust him . She nodded, and worked her way to his Floo, which had an unauthorized connection to Dumbledore’s office, courtesy of Arthur Weasley’s contact in the Floo dept. The activation phrase for the Order members was one of it’s closest held secrets.


“ Red Phoenix Perch.” she spoke quietly, and was whisked away.

Chapter Text

“So, you not only have the severing ribbon down, you snapped his WAND with it?” Mad-Eye asked.

 

“..Yeah, I was aiming for his hand, but I kinda overestimated my reach. Luckily, Madam Bones had perfect timing with the Bone Shattering Curse, and it just kind of worked out..” Mad-Eye nodded. He was already thinking about what to teach the boy next. If he could master the ribbon that fast, who knows what he could do with the rest of Moody’s knowledge.. After all, that was only one spell out of a rather expansive arsenal.

 

He only had two and a half months or so to teach the boy, unless Albus consented to Moody coming to the castle to continue the lessons.  So, he’d have to narrow the list down. He’d probably have time for fifteen spells, hardly enough even with the boy’s natural aptitude and unorthodox style.

 

However, a fair number of Moody’s spells were redundant. He didn’t need to learn every one. For example, why teach the boy a bone grinding or breaking spell if he already knew how to shatter them? And why teach him annhilare if he already knew Bombarda and Reducto?   If he could figure out a  short list of multipurpose offensive spells, and spend the rest of his time teaching Potter how to use them effectively, the end result would be better.

 

It was Mad-Eye’s fault that the lad didn’t know the range on his severing ribbon, but he didn’t waste time berating himself. Potter’d been safe at Privet drive all summer, He’d thought. No one could have predicted him running into Voldemort the next damned week.

 

“For future reference, lad, the Severing Ribbon has a max length of 25 feet, if you go all out. I’ll teach you a few spells over the next couple weeks with longer range, so you can hit the bastard square next time. Alright?” Of course, the lad nodded. He could already see Harry analysing the new information and figuring out how to use the spell more effectively. Potter’s mind worked a lot like his own had when he was younger. Moody had been a dab hand at charms and transfiguration and the like, but he’d truly excelled at Defense. His mind just seemed geared towards combat.

 

For him, it’d been a product of being raised in a family with a long line of Aurors, and being taught to follow in their footsteps from a young age.  As for Harry, well, when you’re raised in a house where you’re more likely to be attacked than hugged or spoken to, you learn such things fast. It certainly didn’t come from his parents. James had been hell in a duel because of his speed, and Lily had a fiery temper, but neither had the seemingly inborn gift for fighting.

 

“So what’s Tonks shown you so far, lad?” Harry just had time to outline Tonks’ lessons, (Mostly adjusting his form so far, but she’d also shown him Fortis Aegis, and the Bone Shattering curse) before they’d arrived at the Hospital wing. He said that Tonks had gone easy on him at first, but after they talked about it she started taking training seriously.Moody nodded.

 

“I’ll have a talk with her next time I see her, figure out some sorta actual coordinated plan. Now, I believe Miss Bones is waiting inside for news. I’ll head back up to Albus and Amelia, get this all ironed out.” Harry nodded again in appreciation. Like Mad-Eye’d said earlier, every time they talked, Harry liked the older wizard more.

 



Mad-Eye made it back to the office just in time to see the fireplace turn green and Nymphadora Tonks tumble out. . She immediately jumped to her feet, brushing off ash, and looked around.  She noticed Albus at his desk, and rushed over, asking where Madam Bones and her guests were.

 

“Auror Tonks, your boss was just escorted down to the hospital wing. She requires some medical treatment from the attack, but you’ll be happy to know, she’ll make a full recovery.”

 

“May I-” She began, pointing towards the door.

 

“Actually, Nymphadora” She opened her mouth, but Dumbledore cut her off with a serious look on his face. “I need to talk to both yourself and Alastor, if you’ll both have a seat. We need to discuss the multiple visits you’ve made to young Harry’s house this summer, and the things you’ve been teaching him.”



 

 

“Harry!” Susan exclaimed exasperatedly, practically leaping out of bed. He waved for her to stay there, and hurried over. He honestly didn’t expect her to pull him into the hug, nor did he expect the tears. “Omigod, I was so scared, I thought you and Auntie were dead. Thank you so much!” He awkwardly hugged back

 

“Hey, I promised, didn’t I? He grinned bashfully. What was he supposed to..  Did he pat her head? Harry had literally no idea what to do with his hands.

 

“So.. What happened?” Harry panicked just a little bit. Did he tell her that he just saw her aunt duel Voldemort, or did he downplay it? That’d freak her out right?

 

“Uh… don’t get freaked out too much, okay?”

 

“Harry, I think my imagination is probably worse than whatever you’re gonna tell me.” He doubted that.

 

“Uh, just as i made it to the Entrance Hall, the wards fell. Voldemort walked in, and started dueling your aunt, but I distracted him and his wand broke, and then he left.” Harry tried to downplay the danger, but it just ended up sounding more dangerous. “Your aunt was scary. She actually managed to duel pretty well against him—

 

“Oh thank you, Harry. I appreciate it. You were pretty impressive yourself.” Came a voice from the doorway. Amelia Bones walked in, assisted by Madam Pomfrey.  She sat heavily down on the bed next to Susan’s, and her niece ran over to hug her just like she’d done to Harry. He followed slowly, not wanting to get in the way. He looked around, trying to see if Sirius or Remus was here. Neither man was, and he was a little disappointed. They must have gone back to  Grimmauld Place, but Harry had expected at least a letter from Remus to let him know Sirius was awake, or a call on his mirror, something.  

 

“Hey, Harry!” He came back into focus as Susan called his name, waving him over to the bed.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Ah, Harry, I was just wondering if we could discuss tonight’s events before Albus has you whisked off to… wherever it is you live.” He shrugged

 

“Sure, what is it you wanted to talk about?”

 

“Firstly, I thought you’d like to know that as of twenty minutes ago, I am officially helping Dumbledore lead the Order of the Phoenix.” Harry gaped at that news.  “Also, I was wondering if you could explain how it was you learned that spell you used at my house. I’m not going to report you or get you in trouble,” She reassured Harry, seeing his face pale at the question. “I was just wondering how you managed to learn such advanced magic. This is the second time you’ve startled me, and i was wondering who kept teaching you so well.”

 

“Uh, well, the Patronus was Professor, or ex-professor, Lupin, and the second one was Mad-Eye.” She nodded, a ponderous expression crossing her face.

 

“Ah, so the common factor is you, then.” Harry raised an eyebrow “You’re the one who’s exceptional. Not that I doubt Alastor or Remus’s teaching abilities, but no normal student would be doing so well so fast.”

 

“But Madam—

 

“I told you Harry, call me Amelia.

 

“Sorry, I just feel so awkward using your first name..” He coughed uncomfortably. “But Amelia, I’m not that great of a student.. I only really seem to do well in Charms and Defense against the Dark Arts. And I’m absolutely terrible at theory.” Amelia gave him a knowing look.

 

“And in your classes, do you try your hardest? Practice as if your life depends on it?” He shook his head, suddenly uncertain of his previous assertion. Maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough? “As far as theory goes, Harry, no offense but you don’t strike me as much of a book learner.” Susan was nodding. He fought down the slight blush that threatened to tint his cheeks as he again realized how close she must have been paying attention to him.

 

“Fair enough, I suppose.”

 

“A few other things, then I’ll allow you to return to Dumbledore’s office. FIrstly, I’ve decided that I am going to officially assign Auror Tonks as your guard for the summer. After you leave your home, She’ll accompany you whenever you need protection, and she’ll probably move into Headquarters.” Harry wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. Tonks was a laugh and a half and he’d be psyched to see her more often, but he never really accepted the order’s need to have a constant guard on him at home, and now the Ministry was assigning him one away from home?  It wasn’t like anyone could get to Headquarters to attack him besides Snape.  

 

Susan kind of chafed at hearing that Harry would have a permanent female guard too, especially one as pretty as Tonks. She’d met Tonks several times at her mother’s work, and she was so cool..  SHe didn’t want to admit it, and she’d been so angry at her aunt for blurting it out to Harry, but she did have a crush on the raven-haired boy. She’d been so impressed with him at the DA meetings last year, and his saving her and her Aunt tonight wasn’t helping things. She assured herself that nothing could possibly happen between him and a 21 year old Auror from the Ministry, that was silly. Why was she even getting jealous? They weren’t dating, He probably didn’t even notice her before tonight. Damn, Susan, get it together. He’s still just Harry. She was so occupied by this news, she almost missed the last bit of news.


“ —Albus wanted to give us a safe new home, without giving away our location by setting up a new guarding location. So, he has offered us a safe house that is apparently in the same neighborhood as your relatives in Surrey.  I’m told it was the home of a woman named Figg previously? As of next week, Susan and I will be your new neighbors”

Chapter Text

 

“Alastor, when exactly were you planning to inform me that you and Miss Tonks were visiting Privet Drive without my knowledge, and teaching an underage student dangerously powerful spells?” Albus almost never showed any emotion, but the strong authoritative tone he took with the pair of them made Tonks nervous. She might love rule breaking, but she really did hate to get caught.

 

“When were you planning to have Potter trained properly? You know what he’s gotta do, you know how much potential he has.. Were you ever planning to do it your damn self?” Moody looked furious. “After everything the boy’s been through, blind and unprepared, it’s about damn time someone took the time to actually show him a thing or two. Anyway, he came to us! He knows what he’s up against and he wants to WIN.” Albus looked somewhat surprised at that, though Tonks couldn’t guess why. It’s not like the boy hadn’t done the same thing with Lupin in his third year.

 

“Look, professor. We’re just trying to teach Harry a few tricks to keep himself alive next time his rotten luck lands him in a fight he shouldn’t be able to win. Because we all know, he shouldn’t have survived to reach fifteen by any right.” She swallowed the lump that rose in her throat at that thought. “And if we want him to reach adulthood, he needs to be better than he is”  Tonks mirrored the phrasing Harry had used when he’d entreated the two of them, and the irony of it didn’t escape her. And, if she wasn’t mistaken,  Dumbledore actually seemed to be swayed. At the very least, he was considering it.

 

Finally, their points broke through Albus’ own desire to keep the boy apart from the war as long as possible, and his consternation at members of the Order acting without his knowledge or consent. Albus liked to think he would have agreed anyway, but honestly? Before the fight at the ministry, he’d known Harry would have to die to remove the Horcrux, and (although he hated himself deeply for it) Albus had set the boy on a course that would give him just enough skill to do what was needed. That plan was thoroughly scuppered (for the better) and Albus needed to adjust to the fact that if Harry was going to survive the war, he would indeed need a higher level of skill. He sighed resignedly.

 

“Well then, I suppose it would best if you told me how it’s been going…”







Harry was wandering around the castle, flustered, worried, and altogether uncertain. One one hand, there would be a wizarding family living literally three houses down from him! After five years of nothing but boring suspicious muggles, he’d actually be living near his favorite kind of people. Harry still didn’t quite think of them as his people… but, still!  People he could actually be himself around! The thought made him so excited, but it was immediately squashed by the other voice in his head

 

They’re going to see the Dursleys. Vernon’s going to break their stalemate, and Susan and her aunt were going to see. They’d know. How weak he was, how much of a freak he was treated like. How much of a freak he WAS.  He waved the thought away with a vicious swipe of his wand, and stalked off to the Room of Requirement.  He hated himself whenever that voice popped into his head. He’d stopped listening to it when he was ten. It made him weaker, to think like that, and he couldn’t stand it. Harry fucking refused to ever be that weak again.

 

The door to the Room swung open on his third pass, filled with statues and carvings of Vernon and Petunia Dursley. And, if one were to watch as the door swung closed behind him, they would have seen the pink glowing ribbon unfurl from the tip of his wand and begin to slash And, if they’d truly been paying attention, they would have seen that the wand in his hand was curved like a fang. And the look on his face was terrifying

 


 

The wood and stone particles that littered the room and speckled Harry’s furious tear streaked face had finally settled, and he vanished them with a flick of his wand and a muttered phrase. Harry wiped his face with his sleeve, frustrated. He couldn’t stand crying. He couldn’t stand a lot of things about himself, honestly. He forced himself to stand, tugging down the sleeves of his shirt as he made for the exit. It was probably good to get back to Dumbledore’s office now. He exited into the corridor, walked exhaustedly around the corridor, and smacked directly into the one person he wanted least to see.  

 





Snape hissed out an aggravated “Watch where you’re walking you fool.” before it even registered who he’d just yelled at. The spitting image of James Potter looked up at him, hair messy and littered with bits of stone and wood, face reddened as if he’d been crying. That couldn’t be right Snape thought to himself. He hated the boy, loathed him deeply, but he didn’t cry. Severus had seen him angry, brooding, distracted, even distraught. But the boy never cried, and he begrudgingly respected that.   No matter . He sneered, and stalked away. He didn’t want to interact with him a second longer than necessary.

 

The second he was secluded in his dungeon, brewing something he’d recently begun researching ( a potential cure for unbreakable sleep potions) Severus’s mind wandered back to what he’d seen. He’d admittedly never been kind to the boy. Snape knew full well his hatred for Potter was reciprocated for good reason, not that he cared. But he idly wondered what had managed to finally crack that unshakeable shell the boy wore.

 




Harry couldn’t give a single flying fuck about what Snape thought about his.. state of dress. He really couldn’t give any about the man at all. When the greaseball stalked away, he sighed with profound relief.





 

Susan wondered why Harry had left so quickly after that announcement. She had been taken a bit aback, herself, by the announcement that they’d be living in a Muggle neighborhood, next to the boy she’d been crushing on all of last year. But, really, it wasn’t exactly Bad News.

 

Harry, however had made some excuse to leave as soon as he possibly could, and left looking rather nervous. She briefly contemplated that maybe he was nervous because of her , but quickly dismissed the idea. There had been plenty of one on one training sessions with the DA last year, and she’d gotten a bit of a fluttery feeling in her stomach after each one, after he took her wrist and adjusted her form, body inches away from her own. But Harry had been the perfect teacher every time, kind yet professional.  So something else about the idea was worrying him, and she couldn’t help but worry about what it was.







Continuing on his path to Dumbledore’s office, Harry halfheartedly tried to clean himself. He manage to clean the tear-stains off his face, and fixed, well relatively fixed, his hair.  He couldn’t for the life of him remember how to clean the grit off his clothes while he was wearing them, though. Screw it. He’d get Dumbledore’s office a bit dusty. Not like the old wizard couldn’t clean it with a thought, and Harry found at the moment he thoroughly didn’t care. He just wanted to be unconscious. Asleep, in his shitty bed, in his shitty room. Or Gryffindor tower, or Grimmauld, wherever. He just didn’t want to be awake and thinking.  He practically stumbled through the gargoyle’s passage, and ascended the stairs exhaustedly, feeling his energy drain more with each step. The door swung open of its own accord, and he saw three familiar faces seated around the Headmaster’s desk.  

 

Tonks leapt out of her seat and walked over to the green haired boy.  “Blimey, Harry, you look like hell!” He chuckled at her bluntness, and tried not to flush as she started brushing the splinters and dust off of him.

 

“Geez, Tonks, don’t sugar coat it.”

 

“Harry, my boy, whatever have you been up to?” Albus inquired lightly from across the room

 

“I..I was feeling a little frustrated, so i went to the DA’s usual meeting place for some target practice… I may have been a little enthusiastic.”  He squeezed his eyes, trying to dispel the burning tiredness. He felt the light tingling of magic on his skin, and suddenly Dumbledore was in front of him, looking at him with those piercingly blue eyes.  

 

“You used up a formidable amount of magic Harry. You must be exhausted.” Harry’s head just dipped in agreement.

 

“I’ll take him back to Privet, and you and Moody can finish your talk?” Tonks questioned. The old wizard nodded swiftly, then they were both touching some kind of rope, and Harry found himself standing in the middle of Privet Drive. She helped the exhausted teenager up the stairs, and dismantled the locks on his bedroom door with a wave of her wand rather than take the time to unlock them. He trudged inside.

 

“Harry, where are your PJ’s mate?” She glanced around the dark room, figuring when she found them she could just hit him with a quick switching spell and that’d be that.

 

“Don’t have any. Never bought any.” Came the reply. She turned around just in time to see the lithe young man pulling his blue T-Shirt over his head.  She went to turn away again, give Harry some privacy, but damn. Boy looked good with his shirt off. He unbuckled his belt, and that was her cue to turn around. Reluctantly, feeling like a filthy old woman for being so reluctant, she spun and faced the wall. She saw Harry’s bare form staring back at her in the mirror on her wall, and cursed herself for not remembering it was there, or closing her eyes. Thankfully, Harry disappeared under his blankets a second later, and she hadn’t actually seen too much.

 

In spite of herself, Tonks giggled. I suppose that makes us even for the hospital incident.

 

Chapter Text

Harry was vaguely disappointed. It felt weird, but he’d kind of expected some sort of catharsis from his target practice somehow. But when he awoke, he felt just as meh as he had the day before. The anxiety was still there, the worries about Vernon breaking his promise and coming after him again, none of it had gone after he’d finished unleashing his fury on the replicas of his Aunt and Uncle. He felt no difference. It was a bit depressing really. Maybe this was why. He was still essentially a prisoner here, and he wasn’t likely to be sprung any time soon.

 

Harry tossed back his covers, snatched his towel off the ground and slumped towards the door for a shower. As he passed the mirror, he realized with a start that he wasn’t.. wearing anything?  Oh sweet Merlin. Either he’d unconsciously undressed in front of Tonks, or…  he flushed at the second idea, as uh.. unrealistic as it was. He hurriedly wrapped the towel around his morning glory and hurried to the shower, brooding hastily forgotten.  He spent longer than usual standing under the spray releasing his newfound tension, trying not to think of Tonks in vain. After a certain point he gave up, and decided to deal with the guilt later. If he didn’t deal with his current situation he’d be unable to focus all day.

 

He closed his eyes, and relived the dream he’d been having last night after he passed out. Tonks had been there, wearing the form she’d shown him at the hospital. She was teaching him dueling techniques in the practice trunk, showing him different ways to incapacitate enemies. Except when she hit him with the Incarcerous spell, she didn’t release it right away…

 


 

 

Get ahold of yourself, man! Harry berated himself angrily. Tuesday and Wednesday and come and gone, and Moody’s visit on Wednesday was productive. He’d taught him how to properly use the Bone Shattering Curse and his Severing Ribbon in battle. But on Thursday, Tonks was set to show up, and Harry already felt guilty. She hadn’t failed to show up in either his dreams or his morning ritual for the past three days, and Harry was thoroughly sickened with his own lack of self control.

 

It wasn’t like it was the first time one of his female friends popped up in one of his fantasies. He was a teenage guy, most of the women he knew aside from Mcgonagall, Mrs Weasley or the pink toad showed up at some point. Even Hermione and Ginny had made appearances. Neither girl would ever find that out, but hey, it happened.  Tonks was different. Not only had he actually seen her topless, she flirted with him incessantly . That alone was worlds apart from Hermione’s casual affection and Ginny’s fangirling. Even Cho, who clearly liked him, didn’t flirt like that. He vaguely wondered if it was a skill girls learned after Hogwarts. Maybe it was just Tonks. He had no bloody clue.

 

He didn’t know how he was going to sit there and deal with her suggestiveness all night. He’d start blushing, she’d start poking him with questions, and he’d have no idea what to say. Not like “Oh sorry, didn’t mean to be awkward. You just keep popping into my head every time I’m having a toss, carry on with the lesson.” would be well received. She’d either laugh her ass off or kick his.

 

So, Harry found himself in the dubious position of trying to figure out how to control his reactions. He scoured the occlumency sections of his books, but none of them were immediately helpful. If he’d started with the occlumency instead of the dueling, he might have enough control to keep the emotions off his face, but noooo. He just had to start with the fun parts.  He was doomed.

 

Maybe he could just keep the teasing to a minimum if he tried to focus on the practice?   It was a lot to hope for, but Harry was pretty sure it was the only way. Tonks usually didn’t flirt mid-practice.

 


 

 

“Wotcher, Harry!” Tonks stood at the doorway, holding a bag full of chinese takeaway and a couple new albums for Harry to try. She loved just popping into his room like that, it got the best reaction. Tonks could see the brooding practically melt off of him when she showed up. How bored did he have to be for her to get such an excited reaction after two whole weeks of visits? The pink haired auror sincerely hoped she’d never experience such monotony. It reminded her of Sirius whenever she popped by the House of Black unexpectedly. Honestly, Harry might look like his father, but he could be so much like his Godfather sometimes as well. The brooding, the hot blooded temper, the recklessness.

 

She stood there for a moment, as Harry heard her greeting, and his response was.. muted.  Tonks felt utterly crestfallen.

 

“Something up, mate?”

 

“W-what? No, everythings fine.. Shall we?” Harry gestured at the trunk absently. Tonks just held up the bag in her hands.

 

“Food’s gonna get cold if we don’t eat first, Har.” She walked over and sat next to the distracted young wizard, and passed him a paper container. “Give that a try, maybe it’ll pep you up a bit. That’s not just stir fry or chop suey, it’s real chinese food. Thats.. uh Szechuan chicken, I think”  He opened the container and just kind of stared at it until she passed him a pair of chopsticks.

 

“What in the name of Merlin do I do with these?” He asked bewilderedly. Harry momentarily forgot his awkwardness as she carefully showed him how to use chopsticks. He gave it a go, and promptly dropped a huge piece in his lap. Tonks burst out laughing, then quickly reassured him that he’s get the hang of it.

 

Not ten minutes later, Harry was using them like a natural. Damn his dexterity, he’s better with chopsticks than I am.  A fact that was clearly demonstrated a moment later when she dropped her clay pot chicken down her shirt.  She didn’t even know that was possible with the tight neckline. As usual, however, her clumsiness seemed to defy physics. Tonks had to reach into her flipping bra to get the stubborn piece of Lap Cheong, but after a minute of fumbling she was victorious. She fished it out and popped it in her mouth, and all of a sudden Harry was back in blush mode.

 

Damnit, how exactly do I find it hot that she ate a piece of food that fell down her shirt? He bemoaned. That’s ridiculous.  Luckily, she didn’t notice, and Harry finally found a way to go without blushing or stuttering. He just didn’t talk and focused on the food. It was gone in a flash— and it was absolutely amazing, Tonks was a genius—  and descended to the trunk, calling something about warming up over his shoulder.  

 

Harry was seriously starting to worry her. Maybe he blamed her for the Bones Manor thing?  Was he getting tired of their hangouts? A lot of people started to get annoyed with the polychromatic Auror when they found out that she was always this energetic, and the idea that Harry was sick of her struck a painful chord. He’d seemed different. Tonks forced the thought down. A) It was a huge assumption, based on little to no evidence.  B) she was a grown woman, damnit. Her happiness didn’t depend on the approval of teenagers, and hell if she was gonna dial it back.   But still, a voice reasoned in the back of her head  that would really really suck.

 



“Oi, Harry, what the hell’s wrong tonight?” Tonks finally blurted out, after their third duel. Normally, Harry would actually be a challenge. She was comfortable enough in her own skill to admit that a 16 year old was giving her the occasional run for her money, but tonight he just seemed ...off.

 

“Nothing’s wrong.” He replied, somewhat ineffectually. He shook his head “Just a lot of things bouncing around up here tonight, yeah?” She cocked an eyebrow, then shot a powerful knockback hex at him, and the game began again. He deflected it, and responded with a tripping jinx. It was battered aside without much effort just like the rest of his spells had been tonight, and Harry could feel himself getting frustrated.

 

He was far too easily distracted. This was asinine. What, was he just going to go all limp-wand everytime he had to duel someone he had the hots for? Apparently, it was time to actually sit down and read that damned Occlumency book. He lashed out angrily, firing three stunners in rapid succession, and his ire was slightly satisfied when he felt more power in each one. There we go! Tonks noticed the shift in his attitude, and decided to end the match before he started fighting to win. She took aim at the floor, and cast Glissando.

 

The state of the floor didn’t escape Harry, of course, and he simply shifted to a deeper stance, to keep his feet from sliding out from under him. Unfortunately, before he could return fire, Tonks cast a  powerful ventus jinx.  Wind blew around the small chamber like a miniature gale forcing him to backpedal, and the unorthodox spell combo did its work. Harry ended up arse over tits, and his wand was lying several feet away.  He considered drawing the second one, but Moody’s voice in his head told him that it would be a waste to reveal it in practice. Before he could make a move for his actual wand, thin ropes shot out of his opponents wand and wrapped him up rather tightly. A brief flashback to his earlier fantasy made Harry flush, and he hoped like hell Tonks couldn’t use Legilimency.

 

Tonks scooped up the abandoned wand, walked over and sat on top of Harry.

 

“Soooo, gonna tell me why the hell you’re being weird today?” Tonks inquired glibly.

 

“What d’you mean? Sorry if I was a bit distracted, I’ve got things on my mind.” Harry said. It wasn’t a lie, necessarily. He just neglected to mention what the things that were on his mind were. Tonks bounced on top of him, and Harry groaned. “Tonks, for the love of Merlin, get off of me.”

 

“Nope. Not until you tell me why you’re being all standoffish and brooding today. Did I do something? Are you upset over yesterday, with the Madam Bones thing? Spill.”  Harry stared determinedly up to the ceiling, trying with all of his might to empty his mind. in his mind, he was cursing Severus Snape for being the world’s worst Occlumency teacher, and he could feel the flush creeping up his face.

 

“Tonks, it’s nothing against you. Just, trust me, it’s really awkward and you don’t want to know.” The phrasing intrigued her. It was awkward? Both of her previous guesses went right out the window. She shifted backwards to look at Harry’s face, and felt.. something.  Oh. Comprehension flashed across her face, and she jumped up off him. Tonks honestly tried to keep a straight face, but it was hopeless. She started giggling furiously.

 

“Don’t worry mate, it’s p-perfectly natural to enjoy getting tied up by a pretty lass.” she gasped out between laughs. With a flick, the ropes disappeared.

 

“It wasn’t the ropes, it was you bloody sitting on me.” He lied. (Or rather, half lied.)  

 

“Suuuure. You know, I never took you for the BDSM type, Har. I’ve been told I’m quite good with binding spells though, if you want me to give it another go..?”

 

“Oh? Eager to indulge my fantasies, then?” Harry responded sarcastically, climbing back to his feet and holding out a hand for his wand. The second the words left his mouth, he regretted it.

 

“Hmm, depends. You’d have to tell ‘em to me first.” She shot back with a smirk.

 

“Pfft.” Harry shuddered. Not bloody likely. “And give you more ammunition? No thank you, I’d like to cling to my remaining shreds of dignity.”

 

“Ah, see, that’s where you went wrong, mate. I learned early on, once you give up on ‘dignity’ you stop getting embarrassed.”

 

“That sounds fake, but ok. So do I get my wand back, or…?”

 

“You get your wand back when you spill.”  Harry slammed the butt of his hand to his forehead.  

 

“You’re on about that again? Merlin, Tonks, trust me. You don’t wanna know.” He made a play for the wand. Tonks tried to pull it back, but she couldn’t compete with years of Quidditch practice. Harry hoisted the little stick of holly over his head triumphantly.

 

“Good try, but you’ll have to be a bit faster than that.” He said, laughing. Tonks just leaned in and whispered into his ear.

 

“I could just try sitting on you again.”

 




Remus curled up in a cold bed, in his quiet empty flat. He couldn’t stand it. Everything was so wrong. He was alone again. Sirius was lying in a bed at Headquarters, and he wasn’t waking up. After twelve years of hell and three long years on the run, the Ministry had finally listened. Madam Bones had investigated his lack of a trial, the circumstantial evidence his jailing was based on, and declared his arrest orders null and void. She expunged his record, and erased the dishonorable discharge from the Auror Corps.  They should be together, sitting at the Three Broomsticks, drinking and laughing, reminiscing about everything. Or out shopping, or  flying on his Motorcycle like they used to. He should be here with me, arm over my shoulder, holding me.   A tear slid down his cheek, over his scars.

 

Remus had accepted his lot in life decades ago. He knew that the world wasn’t a fair place, and that being a good person never meant good things would happen. At moments, however, the sheer unfairness of what had happened to the four of them made his chest hurt. James and Lily had been torn out of the world before their son could talk. Sirius had been locked away in hell, and hunted like a dog. Remus was left alone, without the friends he’d pledged his undying loyalty to years ago, without the love of his life, to suffer through each werewolf transformation alone and in pain.

 

And now, thanks to Harry Sirius was free and alive. Not a heartbeat from watching his Godfather fall through the veil, Harry had pulled him back. They should finally get to be happy. But somehow, Bellatrix Lestrange had taken him away anyway. So Remus was curled up alone.

 




“So, who is this again?” Harry asked, burping smoke. A small cup of firewhiskey was in his hand, and he waved it lazily in the direction of the speaker set.

 

 

 

After their rather awkward training session, Tonks asked if he thought he could stand her presence long enough to check out the albums she’d brought over. Harry knew she was poking fun because he refused to tell her why he was distracted today, but he’d seen a little glimmer of hurt in her eyes. She thought it was her fault or some such ridiculous idea.  

 

So, he agreed. While she was setting up the record, he’d quietly summoned the firewhiskey from under the floor and poured them both a drink. A drink would help him relax, he figured. Tonks gave him a funny look, but downed her glass.

 

“Harry, where’d you get  this?” She inquired. She didn’t sound upset about it, really, just curious.

 

“Oh, uh. That was a gift from everyone’s favorite Weasley Brothers!”

 

“Bill and Charlie gave you booze? When was this?”  He raised an eyebrow at her, chuckling.

 

“Bill and Charlie are your favorite Weasley brothers?  I should have figured. Bill is your age, you musta gone to school together, and Charlie’s pretty hot.” Tonks looked rather startled at that statement, but Harry hadn’t noticed.  “Nah, Fred and George gave it to me when they told me they were making me a partner at the Wheezes” Tonks had so many questions. She started with the safe one first.

 

“Why did they make you a partner?” Harry knocked back another round of firewhiskey before answering.

 

“I gave em their start-up.  Thousand Galleons, to make up for the money Bagman screwed them out of, so they could make their dreams come true.”  Harry blinked for a second.  “Damnit, that’s a secret. I shouldn’t have said that. Don’t tell Molly.”  Tonks crossed her heart with her fingers.  “Yeah, those two are my favorite Weasleys. Obviously Ron doesn’t count.”

 

“Okay..  So, you think Charlie Weasley’s hot?” She said with a smirk.

 

“Ah, so I did say that out loud…” Harry exclaimed. Tonks chuckled, and nodded.

 

“You definitely did. So… you’re gay?” at that question, Harry did an honest to Merlin spit take, spraying Firewhiskey halfway across the room.

 

“N-no, what?”

 

“Harry, it’s cool. I don’t have a problem with that, one of my best friends is gay.” He gave the clumsy auror a look.

 

“Tonks, I promise you, I’m not gay.” He paused.  “Well, I don’t think I am, anyway.  I definitely like ladies, I think I kind of proved that earlier.” They both laughed at that.

 

“Ok, fair enough mate.” Tonks was starting to realize that Harry was a lot more talkative when he was a bit drunk. All of a sudden, inspiration struck her.  She poured them both another glass, and Harry took it and dutifully knocked it back.




“So, Who is this again?” Harry asked her, glass waving dangerously.

 

“Built to Spill. The album came out last year, and it’s called the Normal Years.” Harry nodded

 

“I like these guys. I don’t think I’ve disliked a single thing you’ve played for me, actually.” Her plan looked like it was working. A small niggle of guilt was lingering in her gut for getting a sixteen year old boy drunk, but judging by how long it took this wasn’t Harry’s first Hippogriff rodeo.

 

“Yeah, I’ve got great taste.” She acknowledged.

 

“And you’re so very humble too!”

 

“I think my humility is probably my best quality. Well, that and my fantastic arse.” Harry just kind of hummed in agreement with an amused face. “So, if I’m so great, why were your knickers in a twist when I showed up?”

 

“Uh, Tonks I..” He sipped the glass again. “Honestly, I don’t want you to get all weird around me. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”

 

“Ha! Hypocrite. You’ve been weird around me all day.” She surreptitiously cast a refilling charm on the bottle, and poured another round.

 

“Can’t argue with that, I guess…”   She was literally burning with curiosity at this point. She wasn’t even concerned at this point, she just wanted to know.  It was always this way with Tonks. The best way to make her want to know something was to deny her the information.

 

“Soooo, maybe getting it off your chest will make it less weird for you?” She had to use finesse now, make him relax first.

 

“I don’t like my chances of feeling less weird after telling you.” He sipped his drink.

 

“Oh, come on, I’m like.. the least judgemental person in the world. Just trust me not to be weird about it. I won’t be.”  Harry sighed, drained the last of his glass, and visibly steeled himself.

 

“I’ve been having weird dreams since like, Monday.” Tonks just looked at him quizzically.  “About you.”

 

“Ahh, so I’m the girl of your dreams?” Tonks quipped Harry just sighed.  “What kind of dreams?”

 

“Uh…  it’s hard to say.”

 

“Come on, just spit it out Harry.”

 

“Like… dirty ones.  Every night. It’s extremely frustrating.” Tonks snorted in her drink

 

“Oh Merlin, Harry, don’t scare me like that. I thought it was serious. Fuckin’ A, you’re sixteen mate. A hot bird like me hanging out in your bedroom three times a week, if you weren’t dreaming about me I’d think you were gay.”  She gave a very self-satisfied smirk. “SO, I’m guessing one of these dreams involved me using incarcerous on you? and thats why you were all… flustered earlier?”  Harry blushed furiously, and Tonks awarded herself a thousand points.  “Any other interesting ones?”

 

“You’re twisted, you know that right?” But Harry was laughing again.

Chapter Text



Harry was just starting to drift off to sleep when he heard a hoot from the windowsill. He looked up and saw Hedwig’s elegant form framed in black.  With a whistle, she glided into the room and landed on his outstretched arm. Casually summoning the bag of owl treats balanced precariously on his desk, Harry fed them to Hedwig one at a time.  Harry reached underneath her, and gently detached the letters from her leg and set them aside.  Hedwig nibbled his  earlobe,  earning a broad smile. In return, Harry ignored the letters and ran his fingers through her feathers fondly.

 

She wasn’t really like most owls, Harry mused as she nuzzled his hand with her head like a cat. Most post owls that he’d met weren’t so… intelligent. or affectionate. He had no idea what he’d done to earn such a spectacular owl. Of course, she could be stubborn and moody, and more than a bit petulant.If it was true that pets reflected their owners, than he supposed that was probably his fault.

 

“Go on, girl. Go get some dinner.” He told the snowy bird. She hooted at him again, and took to wing, gliding out as silently as she’d arrived. a moment later Harry’s stomach grumbled, and he realized he should probably do the same. The food that the Weasleys sent was starting to dwindle, and he’d been trying to preserve his cache, so he’d skipped quite a few meals so far. He knew he could always ask Tonks to grab more food, but he was out of money from Gringotts and he didn’t want to be a pain. Also, by this point the stockpiling was a reflex. The constant worry that something would happen and he’d be without food again was second nature.



A choice presented itself to him, and he was torn. Should he go hunt for food in the kitchen or stay and read the letters from Hermione and Neville? Sure, he was hungry, but he was also desperate for contact with his friends, and both desires were pervasive.

 

His stomach growled again, insistently.   Alright, alright food it is. You win.

 

He cast a silencing spell on his feet and brazenly walked down the hall. The two older Dursleys were nothing if not predictable, and since it was nearly midnight, there was zero doubt in his mind that they were out cold. It wasn’t normal to stay up past 9 pm. Of course, it wasn’t normal to beat your eight year old nephew with a damn phonebook until his insides hurt, but of course Petunia conveniently overlooked that little quirk. All those old cop movies that Dudley watched were wrong, by the way.  Definitely still left bruises.

 

Thankfully, Harry was spared contact with any of his family members on the way downstairs. He might not have minded running into Dudley as much these days as in summers past, but all the rationalizing and apologizing in the world wouldn’t make the scars on his arm disappear. He wanted to move on, he did, but it was hard. Every time he saw Dudley he’d have painful flashbacks to crouching in bushes as Piers Polkiss ran past calling his name, hands full of rocks for “Harry Hunting”.  

 

Harry reached the sterile kitchen, stalking across the ugly linoleum to the equally hideous fridge. Literally everything they owned that could be flower printed was flower printed.  He was sorely tempted to switch the colors on every piece of tacky furniture they owned, paint the room black and lime green (Petunia’s two least favorite colors), make the flower print into actual flowers… Anything to shove his magic in her face, make her acknowledge that her brute of a husband had failed to beat the magic out of him. That he was happy not being normal.  Every rebellion had consequences, however, and if he acted out he’d just draw Vernon’s fury.

 

Something told Harry that Tonks and Moody might not agree to keep teaching if he used the Severing Ribbon to cut his uncle’s hand off, though, and he didn’t trust himself to keep it harmless.

 

He pushed down the capricious thoughts and unlocked the fridge with a wave. Apparently they’d gotten tired of Diner food or something, because the fridge was full again. Harry’s stomach wept with joy as he grabbed supplies and a loaf of bread for a sandwich.  He quickly devoured three plain Turkey and Mayo sandwiches, swiped the crumbs from the counter to mask his presence and beat a hasty retreat to his shoddy, soon-to-be-music-filled sanctuary.

 




The sandwiches were uninspired compared to Hogwarts food or the Weasley’s customary fare, but they were filling.  Harry reclined on the bed, and slid his finger underneath the seal on Neville’s letter. He didn’t recognize it, but in place of the usual plain waz there was a… coat of arms? It was a  checkered shield with two bears, and the phrase “Constantia et Pertinacia” underneath. The whole thing looked thoroughly Medieval which was par for the course for the wizarding world.

 

Harry realized that he’d never actually written to Neville before, so that could have been normal for all he knew, but it seemed so out of character. He’d expect seals and fancy  letters from someone like Malfoy, but not quiet unassuming Neville.  Then again, how much about his classmate did he actually know? Any of them, for that matter? Harry had never really thought of himself as particularly outgoing, and before Hogwarts he’d never had any reason to. He had a reputation as a hoodlum in Surry anyway,so kids and parents alike tended to avoid him, and he avoided them.  

 

He hadn’t really made any friends on purpose at Hogwarts either. Ron was the one who approached him, and well… neither of them had intentionally befriended  Hermione. Her joining the two of them was all thanks to Quirrell. No wizard had ever been so lucky to meet a troll.  He never went out of his way to interact with anyone at all, he realized steadily.  Maybe if he hadn’t been so isolated, the school wouldn’t have been so quick to jump on the “Harry Potter was the heir of Slytherin/ cheating at the Triwizard tournament/ a madman” train. On the other hand, maybe he would’ve opened up more if he hadn’t been a social pariah to begin with…

 

He shook of the thought, resolving to break his habit next year and actually talk to the group of people he’d found himself surrounded by . Maybe he wasn’t the most gregarious person, but being quiet and unassuming wasn’t much of an option when one led a secret society. Harry snorted at the label. Maybe they needed a secret handshake and decoder rings…

 

The seal on the letter broke, and he scanned it eagerly.



Harry,

 

It’s so good to hear from you! Sorry about the fancy envelope, by the way. I’m not too excited about it, but my grandmother said since I proved to her this year that I’m “My Father’s Son” I need to start acting like the Heir to an Ancient and Noble House. She made me wear the ring and everything.  I mean, I’m not even 16 yet, It’s ridiculous, right?

 

There it was again. “Ancient and Noble House” That was the fourth  time this year someone had mentioned that to him. Not only that,everyone seemed to think he should already know what the hell it meant! Did these people not realize he was basically a goddamn muggleborn?

 

Harry swallowed his aggravation, and read the rest of the letter. Neville went on to talk about his new wand, and how much better it felt to use, and how he couldn’t wait for the school year so he could try it out. Honestly, Harry tried to be a bit excited for his friend, but at the moment, his focus was elsewhere. He fished out a new piece of parchment, and bit the tip of his quill for a moment.

 

Fred and George wouldn’t tell him the whole story, Ragnok didn’t seem to have the time, Sirius apparently didn’t actually think it needed explanation…  Neville was his chance. Earnest, kind Neville surely wouldn’t begrudge him an explanation.      

 

Dear Neville,

 

Glad to hear that your summer is going well. I’m sure you’ll be a force to be reckoned with now that you’ve finally got a fitting wand. The DA is going to be getting pretty serious this year, so you got it just in time.

 

He wasn’t lying, he’d been writing down all of the dueling techniques from his book, and taking note of all of Moody’s tips so he could pass them on. In the two weeks since summer let out, Harry’d already come up with at least five new lesson plans.

 

Just out of curiousity, what is the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom?  Well, I suppose what i mean to ask is, what does being an “Ancient and Noble” house mean? People keep mentioning it to me, but either they don’t explain or they assume I already know, so I’m kind of lost.

 

I hope the rest of your summer is awesome, and I’m really glad your Grandmother changed her tune. It’s about time you got some recognition.

 

-Harry                                                                            

 

He sealed the letter and set it aside.  Hedwig would take the letters out in the morning. Fighting back a wave of drowsiness, Harry dragged the second letter over. He frowned. The envelope wasn’t what he expected.  Instead of Hermione’s customary stationary, this was a grubby off-white envelope with his name written across the front in a familiar slanting script. It was from Lupin?

 

It was torn open unceremoniously, and hastily read. Icy tendrils of fear pierced Harry’s chest as he read.

 

Harry,

 

I wish I could say I was writing you with happy news, but unfortunately there isn’t any to share. The headmaster has been waiting to inform anyone of what I’m telling you, because the information could be extremely damaging if it got out, but I believe that you have the right to know. Sirius would want you to be told everything, so with that in mind I wrote to tell you this: Sirius is in a coma.

 

He has been since the incident at the end of the school year. Madame Pomfrey has tried everything in her repertoire to wake him, but nothing has worked. We’ve transferred him to a safehouse where he’s being looked after, since recent events has proven St. Mungo’s unsafe.  The spell that Bellatrix used isn’t in any of the books in the forbidden section at Hogwarts, so I’ve been spending my summer so far reading through the Black Family Libraries, searching for it. You have my word that I won’t stop until he’s awake again. I promise.

 

Also, I believe you should be warned. Hermione, her family, and the Weasleys have taken up residence at Headquarters again like last summer, because Snivellus insisted they were unsafe due to “The Bones Incident.” I’m told you would know what that means.  Hermione had to return from France, because there was an incident involving Death Eaters showing up in the middle of the Champs-Elysees. None of them were harmed, luckily, because Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle were able to extract all of them in time.

 

...In somewhat happier news, Sirius has been pardoned by the Ministry, so

 

The writing grew a bit shaky here.

 

... once he does wake up, it will be as a free man.

 

Remus





Harry didn’t even stop to think about what he’d just read. He just grabbed his cloak and his shrunken school trunk, and he ran.  He made it down the stairs and out into the backyard before he even figured out where he was running to. He just knew he had to leave. Now … The Knight Bus. He could summon the knight bus, it would take him to Grimmauld place, or Hogsmeade, or… or he didn’t fucking care where. He had to be gone. He had to go see Sirius.

 

The moon hung heavy in the sky over Privet Drive that night, big orange and foreboding. It was full, he realized. Remus must have written the letter just before he locked himself away for the night. His heart ached at the thought of Remus curled up alone as the wolf, whining for Padfoot’s company. He had to fix it somehow.

 

Harry leapt the fence, wrapping himself in shimmering silk once he’d passed the boundary line for the wards.  He started trudging through the small copse of trees that separated Privet and the next neighborhood when a snapping twig caught his ear. Every muscle in his body froze, and the cool wind whipped the cloak around him.   There

 

He spun silently, and spotted a dark sillhouette on the hill, a little ways off.  It was a wolf. His mind flickered back to three years ago and a cold night full of terrors in the Forbidden Forest, but this wasn’t Lupin. The werewolf was substantially larger, and had much darker fur. It also had a sense of... intent. Remus had run wild, feral, attacking indiscriminately. This wolf was stalking him.   It clearly couldn’t see or hear him yet, but Harry could see its nostrils flare as it paced through the trees. It was breathing in his scent, tracking him.

 

It was terrifying. Harry loosened the second wand from his sleeve, and frantically reviewed the techniques he’d learned in third year for slaying werewolves. He could remember the incantation for the Silver Javelin spell, but he had no clue if he’d be able to pull it off. None of them had practiced it in class, due to the level of difficulty and danger involved. But, it was time for a practical lesson, apparently. The wolf breathed in deeply, one more time, and its pupils focused on his spot.  It knew he was here. He shrugged off the invisibility cloak.No point, if it could smell him. The cloak would only tangle his arms. The beast loosed a bloodcurdling howl, and launched itself down the hill towards him.

 




Nymphadora Tonks was freezing her bloody tits off. Why in Merlin’s name Moody thought they  had to do routes through the fucking marsh behind privet drive at night was beyond her, but she’d be damned if she was going to disobey orders.  She just wished she’d remembered an impervious charm on her boots before she did it.

 

The night was pretty dark, but she already knew her route. It was the same one every time. All of a sudden, the small ward monitoring nacklace she wore pinged. Upon brief inspection, she saw the flashes of yellow that indicated that Harry’d just crossed the wards. Tonks took off at a brisk jog, up towards the house.

 

Not a minute later, as she  jogged towards the house, the necklace started flashing black and white. Fuck.  That was a dark magic warning. A howl split the night, and Tonks started sprinting.

 


 

 

The werewolf bounced off his Fortis shield, and snarled viciously. It’s cruel fangs bared, and its hackles raised.  The beast raised up onto two legs, and swiped at the invisible barrier, and Harry felt his strength flag slightly.  He’d attempted the Javelin spell, but it hadn’t worked, so here he was.

 

With one wand, he poured his focus into maintaining the shield, and with the other he  summoned the now-familiar pink ribbon. He prayed this would scare the beast off a bit, but his hopes weren’t exactly high.

 

A quick swipe with the ribbon cut down several saplings, but the wolf leapt back just in time to avoid it. It was toying with him now, circling the shield line and periodically swiping at it. Every time it did Harry lashed out with the ribbon and it would retreat, but he couldn’t maintain the shield forever, and the beast seemed to sense that.

 

“Fuck this!” Harry exclaimed, dropping the ribbon. He couldn’t get to stuck on that one tactic. He decided that now was his best shot. Take the monstrosity by surprise before it sapped all of his strength through the shield.  He let the shield down after the beasts next swipe, and before it could react, He cast dual bombardas. One struck the wolf’s flank, knocking it off kilter, and the other sent a shower of dirt and swamp water over both of them. In a second, the invisibility cloak was back over him, and he was running as fast as he could. With each step, Harry summoned rocks from the ground and flung them at the water, at the ground, at the wolf.  He had to make as much commotion as he could, to cover his footsteps.

 

For the moment, it seemed to work. The wolf’s head tossed back and forth, pinpointing each splash and knock, but unable to find him. The shower of mud covered his scent just well enough. Since his focus was on the wolf, Harry completely missed the other figure arriving until he’d landed square in her path.

 

He looked up just in time to fling his body backwards, essentially limboing the spell.. The silver spear passed within inches of destroying his prized cloak, and him with it. With some satisfaction, Harry heard the thump and the whimper behind him.

 

Faced with silver, the beast ran off into the distance.

 

“Harry! Harry, I know you’re out here, We need to get back inside the wards now!” Tonks called desperately. Harry yanked the cloak off so she wouldn’t blast him, and pushed himself upright. She ran over to him immediately, grabbing his arm. “What was the—

 

“Hospital room, tits, yes it’s me, lets get the fuck inside.” He rattled off with wide eyes She nodded, and they sprinted across the stretch of woods.  Harry vaulted the fence without actually stopping, and Tonks tumbled over a second later. WHich was insanely good timing. Harry peered over the fence and spotted a pair of glowing amber coals staring back at him. “Tonks-”

 

“He can’t cross the border, it doesn’t matter. What the fuck were you doing outside the wards at night?”  Harry pulled her to her feet, shoved Remus’s letter into her hands, and sullenly walked inside. SHe unfolded it, and scanned the page by wandlight.


“Oh shit.”

Chapter Text

Greyback felt filthy. His mind was too clear, too Human . It had been a simple enough task that the Dark Lord had given him.   Before he turned this month, he was to take the Wolfsbane provided, and go to Little Whinging. He was not allowed to kill the boy under any circumstances, of course, but that wasn’t the point. Merely kill they boys guard, and if the opportunity arose turn the boy. The Dark Lord had smiled disturbingly at that statement. He hinted that they thought it likely that Potter would leave his safe little bolthole tonight, and he was right. Of course the Dark Lord was right.

 

The job was meant to earn him his Dark Mark. It was simple terrorism. If the boy was a werewolf, if more people died protecting him, his mind would weaken. Potter wasn’t like Greyback, he wouldn’t embrace the blessings of the wolf. He’d take after the useless whelp, Lupin. Since he struggled against the wolf, it took a toll on his body, scratched himself, tore his hair out.

 

He wanted the Dark Mark desperately. It would acknowledge him as an equal, as worthy of serving a being as powerful as Voldemort. Somehow, though, the mission had gone all pear-shaped. He wasn’t as graceful, as ferocious as he normally was during the change because of the damned potion. The wolf’s body felt like an ill-fitting suit now.  Moreover, the boy wasn;t meant to be using magic. Certainly not magic strong enough to stop him, Potter was still a pup.

 

The wolf lay down in a culvert,  and tried desperately to pull the silver spear out of his flank. It burned like acid against his teeth, and in his coat, but the burning subsided into a dull ache once it came free.  He flexed his leg.  It still worked properly, and the  skin was already knitting itself together (the wolf would have a permanent scar). The wind carried the scent of another wizard, and he perked up. Perhaps there was still time to complete part of the mission.

 




Kingsley and Mad-Eye apparated silently, on opposite ends of the forest. The second Moody’s feet hit the ground, he sank into a crouch.  

 

The terrain was terrible for Werewolf hunting. The woods branched out in between and behind every street in Little Whinging, and it had periodic drainage ditches that turned the woods into a swampy mess.  Werewolf hunting was risky business on any field, but when there were so many places to hide it became a nightmare. Luckily, He’d trained Kingsley well. The tall Auror already knew the plan; Flush it out, and subdue it with silver rope.  Once the beast reverted in the morning they’d wring some answers out of the wretch

 

Hestia Jones and Emmeline Vance were posted up on the street to maintain surveillance, and the Floo in the (now vacated) safehouse was locked open with a direct line to headquarters.  Every contingency was planned for.  Time to do the thing.

 

Mad-Eye cupped his hands to his mouth and blew, creating an almost uncanny birdcall. The response was clear from the other end. Kingsley was ready.  With his knife drawn and wand at the ready, Mad-Eye started walking towards Privet Drive.  Each time he passed a shadow or a drainpipe, his eye focused on it briefly.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.   Maybe the beast fled.  

 

If it was a wild wolf it would likely pursue the first victim whose scent it caught, so the boy was still in danger. If it wasn’t, then he was in even deeper shit, because it meant this was a planned attack.  Alastor heard the growl before he heard it, and felt teeth dig into his left leg, and tear.   

 

HA!  Wrong leg, whelp. Mad-Eye flung the silver knife straight back  the second the teeth connected.  A high pitched whine sounded, and his leg came free. Now that he had the thing out in the open, his eye tracked it effortlessly. It bolted through the underbrush, circling around to catch him from the right, and he let loose a barrage of silver arrows.

 

There was no question now. This attack was planned. The wolf was too large and grotesque to be anything but a lycanthropy victim, and it wasn’t acting like a goddamn werewolf. Werewolves attack indiscriminately. They were machines made of claws and rage.  This one was attacking and pulling back, going after limbs and stopping at ward lines. It was clearly driven by human intellect, and that meant Wolfsbane.

 

None of the arrows connected, and Moody was getting pissed. This would be simple normally. Beast attacks, coming for the kill, he runs it straight through with a Javelin or two, and Bob’s your uncle. But normal Werewolves would be smoother, better hunters,  In exchange for control, the wolf gave up instincts.

 

Mad-Eye didn’t pursue it into the forest. He just shot a patronus at Kingsley, letting him know that the wolf was heading his way..

 




A quiet thrill ran up Kingsley Shacklebolt’s spine as he arrived in the forest.  This was what he lived for.  He was absolutely silent, because he was an auror, a disciplined warrior, but still. There was a laugh caught in the back of his throat, threatening to spill out.  He relished the hunt.  Only two men ever got to see this side of him. Alastor Mad-Eye Moody had seen him laughing like an idiot the first time he ever duelled a Dark wizard, and had spent three months hammering that particular reaction out of him.  

 

The other man was Sirius Black, who he’d been partnered with after James Potter had retired to go into hiding.  They’d only been partners for a year, but Sirius was there the first time Kingsley had ever taken a life.  He’d felt so sickened with himself for weeks afterwards, but at the moment his fire whip had cut the man in half he couldn’t stop laughing. Sirius had grinned at him, and said “It’s good to feel alive, isn’t it?”

 

That statement, so simple and concise, had stuck with him ever since. That what exactly why he felt this way. The pure adrenaline, the closeness of danger, it made every nerve ending in his body tingle.  When Moody’s patronus arrived, Shacklebolt slipped on a pair of silver knuckles, and dropped into a combat stance. His senses were heightened from years of martial arts training, and he could hear the injured beast crashing through the underbrush. It was approaching from the right, upwind of him, so it had no clue he was here.

 

Kingsley allowed himself a small smile, one that wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of a dinner party, but inside he was grinning.



Greyback was losing control. After being injured for  the third time because of his clumsy control over this form, he just let go of his iron grip. The instincts and mentality of the wolf were suppressed still, but he could feel the bloodlust. In truth it wasn’t that far off from his own. So, here he was. Being hunted through the woods like a fox by Order members, wounded, and slipping.  Just great.

 

He barreled into a small clearing, and saw a dark figure crouched nearby.  The wolf sensed prey, and took over completely. It’s eyes constricted, and the wolf went for the jugular.  Something cold that burned like fire slammed into his jaw, and Greyback blacked out.



Kingsley slipped his weapon back into the folds of his robe. Mad-Eye would give him hell if he ever learned that instead of even casting a spell, Shacklebolt purposely uppercutted a werewolf.  Two quick spells, and the wolf was trussed up in silver cords and portkeyed into a holding cell far from here.  

 

He sent up blue sparks, and trudged back towards the house.  He couldn’t believe he’d let himself go that far. That was insane. He just actually punched a fucking werewolf.   He-

 

The sound of Mad-EYe’s stumping approach quieted his thoughts. He schooled himself back to a neutral expression.  Kingsley needed to meditate, badly. Perhaps it was time to take up martial arts again, or yoga. He couldn’t allow himself that kind of recklessness again, a war was starting. That adrenaline junky feeling  would send him the way of the Prewitt brothers if he wasn’t careful.

 





“What the  bloody hell were you thinking, Potter?” Moody roared

 

“Relax, Mads. I already gave him the biz for being an idiot.”

 

“No, Tonks. He needs to get it through his thick bloody skull that he CANNOT KEEP ACTING LIKE A CHILD!” Moody pointed to the stairs. “Go, wait upstairs with Shacklebolt. You like the boy too much to tell him what he needs to hear.”

 

“Oh, and you don’t? Bullshit.” She scoffed. “You and I both know different.”

 

“I like the boy enough to know that he needs to fucking hear this.  GO.” Tonks stormed off up the stairs, shooting Harry a sympathetic look as she passed. “Potter, front and bloody center.”

 

Harry stalked the length of the room, seething. He stopped in front of Alastor, and met his gaze unflinching.  

 

“Don’t give me that shit. You were a complete idiot tonight.  Did it never. ONCE. occur to you that the letter was probably a fucking trap?  CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!  I say that every fucking time I see you, because you of all people need to fucking hear it!”  Something clicked in Harry’s head, and he flushed with shame. Again. He’d fallen for the same trick again.  

 

“You want to be an Auror? You want to be part of the Order, and survive this war??  ACT LIKE IT!  I understand that Sirius Black is your last family member. But you make Riddle’s job a million times easier when you shut your brain off the second you hear his name.”   Something about the way Moody yelled at him, without insults or condescension made it so much worse. He felt like he’d… disappointed a parent. It was severely disorienting for someone who’d never experienced the sensation before.  He swiftly nodded his agreement.


“Good. If you do it again, you won’t have to wait for Voldemort, because I’ll kill you.” The battle-scarred Auror’s expression softened fractionally.  “Good job fending the thing off. Get upstairs.”

Chapter Text

The four of them sat in a circle on summoned chairs. In the middle was the letter, glaring at them. It was like a small, flashing sign that said “The Order has a mole, and it might be Remus.” The thought chilled Harry’s blood. It couldn’t be. There was absolutely no way. No way at all

 

“Alright, we need to handle this before any of it leaves this room.” Moody growled. “If this was a set-up, it was extremely well executed.”

 

“There’s no way Moony would ever-”

 

“Harry, I don’t think he’s a traitor either, but-.” Moody shot her a glance, but said nothing. He was never sure anyone wasn’t a traitor. That was  the whole point of being a traitor, being beyond suspicion. The only one he’d never suspect was Harry himself. Not that it was a show of faith in the boy, just that the only thing he had valuable enough to make the enemy accept him was his own neck.

 

“Albus always thought there were two spies in the Order back in the day. Also, only six or seven people know the information contained within that letter and three of them are here.It’s entirely possible that he’s gone over, defected to Voldemort of Greyback. We can ask the old wolf later”

 

“Well, that is Remus’s handwriting, but handwriting can be easily faked…” Kingsley mused.

 

“Wouldn’t they need a sample of it?” Tonks replied

 

“There’s a reason I use enchanted quills for all my writing, Tonks.” Moody grumbled. “Remus was a teacher at Hogwarts, he’s graded hundreds of papers, many of them for the children of Death Eater families.” Tonks groaned.

 

As the three Aurors discussed back and forth about the origins of the letter, Harry had wandered over to the window. Dawn broke a few hours ago, and by now Moony had to be back in his own skin. He fished Sirius’s present out of his trunk.  

 

“Sirius Black”  The mirrors surface clouded.




Remus was curled up in a chair in Sirius’s room, shaking. The moon had been terrible this month, and the aftereffects of the wolfsbane wouldn’t fade for hours. His throat and stomach burned like the worst heartburn in history. His skin crawled like there were ants running under it.  The potion’s effects were a godsend during the moon, but the hangover was hell. Unfortunately, he couldn’t afford to sit there any longer, however. The Black spell archives were massive, and he hadn’t been through a fraction of them yet.

 

Swallowing down the bile that threatened to rise in his throat, Remus stood.  He made his way to the wardrobe, stripping out of the rough pyjamas he’d worn that night and pulled out a random pair of muggle trousers and a shirt. No point in maintaining his usual style, no one would be around until Sunday for the meeting.  As he pulled what looked to be one of Sirius’s old sweaters over his head, a familiar sound caught his ear.  What in God’s name was that buzzing.  Remus hastily shoved his limbs into their proper holes and started hunting for the source. It was coming from underneath a stack of old journals Lupin had been hunting through a few nights before.

 

“The mirror?” He muttered to himself. “But, who has James’s…” The answer became apparent when Harry’s face swam into view.

 

“H-Harry? Where did you get this mirror?” He stammered, suddenly self conscious about his state of dress. Remus really didn’t expect Harry to care, but he couldn’t help but hate being seen like that. People always gave him the same look when they saw his clothes; poorly concealed pity, or disgust.  He buried his anger about such things when he was a child. He’d never be able to afford new things because of his affliction, and he couldn’t afford to let anyone see him ashamed of his appearance, because the wolf adamantly refused to show weakness in front of others. To do so would make him beta, and the wolf bowed to no one.

 

“Sirius gave it to me during the school year, in case of emergencies.”  Remus’s gut clenched at Sirius’ name, but he refused to let Harry see. Harry couldn’t know about Sirius’s condition. If last year proved anything, Harry would be gone at one mention of his godfather’s name. Their bond made them both less rational, more prone to sloppy mistakes that neither would make otherwise. He hated lying to Harry, truly he did, but just this once it was necessary.

 

“Of course he did.” Lupin forced out a chuckle. “I imagine he thought you were meant to have it. To carry on the tradition while Sirius was ‘stuck in detention’ at Grimmauld place.” Harry smiled at that. It was one hell of a smile, the kind that Remus only saw when Harry thought about Sirius.  Harry smiled occasionally, but they were… well, not quite fake, but they never quite reached his eyes. This one went all the way through to his core.  

 

Sirius was the same after he escaped.  Azkaban had taken away his ability to smile, but even the smallest mention of Harry gave it back. Remus dreamed about making him smile like that again, but the Sirius had been adamant. He refused to… pick up where they left off, because he thought.. Remus didn’t know what he thought. That Azkaban broke him? That Lupin was better off without him, without loving a fugitive?   It was all idiocy. As if he could stop loving Sirius Black like that?If he could stop loving Sirius, he would have done it when he thought the man a traitor.

 

“So, I was actually hoping to talk to you. About your letter.”

 

“...What letter, Harry?

 

“The one you sent me today. About how Sirius hasn’t woken up? And you’re at Grimmauld place, searching for the spell Bellatrix used? About how Dumbledore didn’t want me to know, but you couldn’t stand not telling me?”  Lupin’s face drained of all color (Just like Harry knew it would.) and his voice took on an incredibly urgent tone.  

 

“Harry, whatever you do, do not leave that house.”

 

“Pro-”

 

“No. Promise me. Say it right now. You will not set foot out of Privet drive without myself, Madeye, Albus, or Tonks.” Harry sighed, exasperation playing across his features, mixed with just a touch of embarrassment. He didn’t know he was that predictable.  

 

“I promise.”

 

“Good, I’m coming over.”

 

“No. Moony.. Sleep, you spent all night as the wolf. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok? The letter will still be here”  Lupin looked like he was about to object, but Harry waved his wand in front of it and the mirror call disconnected.

 

Moony sank down onto Sirius’s bed. He needed to sleep, Harry was right. His body wasn’t ready to do anything more than stand at the immediate moment. But something had to be done about this. He lifted his wand, and with whatever strength he’d managed to regain this morning, cast a quick patronus.




“Harry, what the hell? This wasn’t supposed to leave the room!” Tonks said the second the mirror hung up. Harry looked at the three Aurors, expecting disappointment from all three faces.  He was pleasantly surprised to see that Mad-Eye was nodding at him. He’d caught on to the point of the call.  Kingsley just looked neutral. Kingsley always just looked neutral.

 

“Tonks, We had to find out for certain if he was a traitor or not.”

 

“Okay? That didn’t prove any-”   Just that moment, two silver glowing wolves sailed in through the window. One went straight to Tonks, the other to Mad-eye.

 

Tonks, get to Harry’s house. Now. I’m almost certain Voldemort is planning on attacking tonight, either to take Harry or to kill his protectors. By the time you get this, Mad-Eye  should already be enroute with at least one other Order Member. Stay safe. Look after Harry, okay?

 

Alastor, you need to get to Privet drive. Bring at least two trustworthy Order Members. Harry got some kind of letter from “me” today, telling him about Sirius. Only, I haven’t written any such thing. I’m convinced it’s a trap, and I’m worried Harry will try to get here on his own. I don’t need to tell you how important it is that he stay inside the house. Be safe.

 

“And, there’s our proof.” Mad-Eye settled back into his chair.

 

“Fair enough, Potter. But We still have a leak.”






A week.  A goddamn week went by. No lessons, no Tonks, no visits from Lupin. Harry was isolated in his little barren room for a week with nothing to do but read and re listen to his entire record collection, and he was pissed .

 

Of course, his anger lasted about five seconds of contact with Tonks. That probably because the first thing she said to him when she walked through the door was “Take your shirt off. The jeans probably have to go too.” Accompanied by a victorious smirk when he turned red. She fucking planned that, the evil little…

 

“Uh, Tonks?  What the hell?” She gave a shrug.

 

“Moody wants you in better shape. I know, you’re all ‘Junior quidditch star, but that doesn’t really do much to build stamina or muscle. Especially not as a seeker. Since his peg leg isn’t very conducive to exercising, that’s my job.”

 

“...And why do I need to strip to work out?

 

“Well, we can’t go getting your new clothes all sweaty, can we? Plus no one can work out properly in jeans that tight.”

 

“Sure you aren’t just trying to get your clothes off, Tonksie?”

 

“Pfft, if I recall correctly, you have no problem stripping around me anyway. I don’t need an excuse.”

 

“Fuck, that wasn’t just a dream?” Harry’s face was on fire.

 

“‘Fraid not, hot stuff. It was pretty ballsy, but hey, I’m not complaining. At all.”  She saw a quick flash of his ass in the dark, for about two seconds, but Harry didn’t need to know that.

 

Tonks has to be the traitor. That’s the only reason why she’d be trying to kill him this hard.

 

“Uh.. Tonks. I don’t have any shorts.”

 

“I’ve seen boxers before, mate. It’s really not gonna kill me if you gotta work out in your skivvies.”

 

“U-uh…”

 

“Harry?”

 

“I don’t really haveanyofthoseeithersorry” One side effect of never buying your own clothes was that one had a tendency to forget little things like underwear and socks. He was dangerously low on socks, and didn’t actually wear underwear. Between going commando and wearing second hand boxers from Dudley, he gladly chose the former.

 

“Well, I’m gonna be waiting in the training room. You know transfiguration.Or if you’re feeling especially brave…” She left off with a wink, laughing about his expression all the way down the stairs.



Harry followed after her fifteen long minutes later, in a pair of terrycloth shorts he made out of a pillowcase. They were extremely uncomfortable. He hadn’t quite mastered conjuring clothes in his actual size, and the shorts seemed to enjoy riding up. Tonks wolf whistled at him, the cheeky bird.

 

“Well then. I see you decided to go with the boring option then, Har.” Was it just him or did Tonks sound a little wistful…  He shook his head to clear away that train of thought, lest the shorts get even tighter… “Not that those shorts really hide much. Going for the skin tight look?” Harry just glared.

 

“You know, you could’ve just conjured shorts for me, right?”

 

“Hmm, here’s the thing about that, Harry. Conjured items tend to disappear when the caster loses focus.. So I conjure you shorts, you get in one good punch, and all of a sudden I’m on the ground, eye to eye with your .. uh, basilisk” Finally, she earned a laugh.  The boy-who-brooded was starting to loosen up a little, maybe?   “Now, off with the shirt. Seriously, it’s way too tight to work out in.” and the smile was gone again.

 

“Okay, I’ll get rid of it. Just… don’t freak out, okay?”  Harry’s hands found the  bottom of his shirt, tugging it up over his shoulders.  As the black fabric came away, it unveiled a collection of scars that definitely weren’t there last time she checked.  Harry stood silently for a moment, waiting for some kind of reaction... But Tonks didn’t say a word for almost a minute, she just scanned his body.

 

“Harry, where the hell did those-”

 

“They’ve always been there, Tonks.”

 

“Not what I meant by where. How did you get them.” Her calm was terrifying, like low waves right before a tsunami. Harry’s eyes must have given the game away, flicking towards the stairs and the house above. Tonks spun on the spot, drawing her wand with a practiced flick. The pink of her hair instantly flushed dark red, and he could see the Black family resemblance in her features, more Sirius than Bellatrix.

 

“I’ve gotta go do something real quick, Harry. Be right back.”Harry lunged forward, and grabbed the Auror the second he saw her reach for her wand. There was a fire behind her eyes that kind of scared him, and yet at the same time warmed his heart. She’s that pissed off. For ME. on my behalf. She wasn’t running away, she wasn’t looking at him like he was a pity care, or a freak. She was just pissed as hell “Harry, let me go. Your uncle needs to learn a lesson real quick.”

 

“Tonks, no. He hasn’t  touched me all summer, thanks to Mad Eye.  Don’t assault a muggle just because of me. You’ll lose your job.”

 

“Don’t care. In fact, I’ve never actually cared less about my job lemme go Harry.”  She went to move forward again and Harry had to pull her against him so he didn’t lose his grip.

 

“Tonks. NO.  If anyone is jinxing that fat bastard, it’s going to be me. Just- Just leave it be. For me.” She went slack in his arms

 

“Fiiiine. But if he ever touches you again, I’m going to kill him.”

 

“That’s fair.”  There was a minute of awkward silence.

 

“SO, you are way stronger than you look.”  He chuckled.

 

“Well, I am an athlete, remember” They both chuckled awkwardly.

 

“Uhh… You can let go now, mate. I’m not running off anywhere, and if you keep grabbing my tit like that you’ll probably ruin your new shorts.” Harry would like to say he let go immediately like a gentleman. He’d like to say he quickly jumped back and stammered an apology.  In truth, his mind shut down the second he realized what she meant. In his panic to make sure she didn’t run off and commit murder, he’d aimed a little ...high.   Harry would also like to be able to say he definitely didn’t feel her up for a second before he let go and stammered an apology. That would also be a lie.

 

The next minute went on for at least a week. Probably longer. It felt like at least a month, Harry stood there trying not to look Tonks in the face. Meanwhile, Tonks was trying her absolute hardest not to look like she enjoyed Harry’s hand on her chest, and his hips pressed against her ass.  Jesus Christ there was actually something wrong with her wasn’t there? SHe realized it, and yet here she was, shamelessly checking out a sixteen year old.

 

Harry’s blush extended down from his face all the way to his shoulders, and it was absolutely adorable. The part that caught her attention however, was the rapidly forming bulge in his shorts. Oh sweet Merlin. I gotta go for a fucking walk or something.

 

“You know, if you wanted a feel you could’ve just asked..”  He gave a shaky laugh once  it registered in his brain that she was screwing with him.   Probably screwing with him.   No, definitely, I’d absolutely say no if he made a move. Absolutely, I have better willpower than that, right?  ...right?



“So.. uh, you hungry mate?.. Think I’m gonna run out grab some pizza or something.. I’ll be back in like an hour, okay?”

 

“Um, yeah sure that sounds great..”



The second she was out the door, Harry locked it and threw himself down on the bed. He had to fucking get rid of the throbbing in his loins before she got back. For fuck’s sake, she was an Auror, and she was like twenty two. Tonks didn’t need to deal with Harry’s traitorous body. Not like it was fair to her to be… lusting after her when she was just trying to teach. Not that that was going to stop him, but it wasn’t fair.   Harry closed his eyes and tried to remember what her tits felt like as he slowly started stroking himself. He remembered exactly what they looked like in the hospital, but they felt smaller and firmer tonight. Better for working out, he supposed.




It took Tonks a grand total of 15 minutes to actually get the food. It was convenient as hell not having to wait for it to be delivered when you could just appear at the restaurant.   

 

She was waiting for a good reason though. There was zero doubt in her mind what Harry was using his hour for, and the thought made her grin like an idiot. Harry, the shy, respectful boy that she met last summer, was laying in bed jerking off to thoughts of her. It certainly did wonders for her self esteem. Unfortunately, such thoughts weren’t doing much to quell her own urges. Such as the urge to go offer him a hand…

 

Merlin, this wasn’t helping, and she still had like forty minutes left…

 

Somewhere in the back of her mind Mad-Eye’s voice rang out, giving her a familiar lecture. It was from a couple of years ago, when she’d first become a Junior Auror. She’d been pursuing one of the younger instructors that caught her eye, and of course, Mads noticed and hauled her aside.

 

“Kid, I get it. I was young once, I remember what It’s like to be in training and getting distracted by hormones. Really I do. But keep that shit at home, or in bars, or literally anywhere else. When you’re here as an Auror, or when your training whether it’s as a student or eventually as a teacher like me, you can’t get that shit mixed up. And for the instructors, even if they do find you attractive, it would be abusing their position of authority to fraternize with the trainees, and if I catch one of them doing it I have to report them. So get your goddamn head on straight”

 

Fuck. As if she didn’t feel bad enough about the Harry problem, she was coming dangerously close to abusing her position.  Subconsciously wondering if she went back at just the right moment, maybe she’d catch him…

 

She could feel a little bit of bile rise in the back of her throat. Harry was a young kid, from a terrible home. Probably craving some kind of affection, literally drowning in hormones. No doubt if she asked him to jump into bed with her, he’d be there in a second, and that made her want to puke. Harry had more than enough problems without adding her to the list.

 

Tonks grabbed her pizza, angry with herself, and stalked off into town. She needed to go buy that goddamn boy some work out clothes and some fucking underwear before she exploded.





Harry swished his wand, clearing the air in his room so it didn’t smell like he’d been doing what he’d just been doing. The post-masturbation shame was in full swing, and he hated himself pretty badly. It was completely unfair to Tonks, who was taking time out of her life to come here and train him, to have to deal with his hormones. He needed to control himself, and he would starting now.  The second she got back, he was going to apologize profusely.

 

There was a knock at the door.  

 

“Tonks?”

 

“Yeah, Har”

 

“Why are you knocking? You never knock”

 

“Wanted to make sure it was.. Uh.. safe for me to enter.” Oh. She knew he was being a sinner. Well, there went any hope that she wasn’t completely disgusted by him.

 

“Yeah, it’s safe.”

 

“Cool. I brought pizza, and while I was out I got you some proper work out gear and stuff. Go throw this stuff on and come eat.” A pair of bags flew in his direction.  Harry frowned. Tonks was being… weird. Not usual Tonks weird either, she was acting professional. Serious.

 

“Tonks, what’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing, we just need to have a quick talk after you get dressed.” Harry grabbed the bags and ducked into the chest to change. She’d gotten three plain grey shirts, three gym shorts in different colors, and a pair of actual trainers.  And… Oh. like three packs of men’s boxer briefs.  Fair enough, I would want to see me in those shorts again either.




The pizza was divine, and he was on his third slice when Tonks cleared her throat.

 

“Hey, uh, Tonks. Before you say whatever your about to say. I want to apologize.” She looked blindsided to say the least. “I’m sorry about earlier. I let my hormones get in the way of training and I wasted your time. Not to mention what I did when you left… It was disrespectful, and I get it if you aren’t comfortable—”

 

“Harry, stop.”  He looked up, just a little terrified. That didn’t sound good, and no matter what he was about to say, he didn’t think he could handle it if Tonks stopped coming. “Harry, absolutely none of that was your fault.” Tonks took a breath to steady herself.

 

“I’m the teacher. I keep teasing and flirting with you. At any other time or place that would be fine, fun even,  It’s not appropriate now. You are my student, and you’re sixteen years old. No matter how much I might enjoy this dynamic, whatever it is, it would be incredibly inappropriate, almost abusive for me to continue. So I’m the one who should be apologizing to you. You asked me to teach you, and I haven’t been respecting that responsibility enough. I’m sorry” Harry blinked a few times, trying to process. Inexplicably, he felt both better and worse simultaneously. On one hand… well, the boy had never had a teacher or any authority figure apologize to him like that. No one had ever respected him enough to. It felt amazing

 

On the other hand, well, he never actually expected anything to  happen  between the two of them, but he’d be lying if he hadn’t kind of wished… Above all, though, he didn’t want their relationship to change. Tonks was fucking amazing, and fun and hilarious. Harry liked being able to be friends with her. Apparently Tonks wasn’t quite done talking yet, so he stowed his concerns for later.



“ As for what you ‘did when I left’ frankly, mate, I couldn’t give a toss. Everyone does it, and you can think of whatever you want when you do..   And don’t do that guilt crap  literally EVERYONE does it. Cool?”  She expected a nod, or a “yes”, something like that. What she didn’t expect was for Harry to bear hug her.

 

“It’s fine. Totally fine.” She breathed out, releasing air she didn’t even realize she was holding.  “Just, don’t change too much. I like our thing.”

 

“I’ll just tone the teasing down a notch, yeah?” Harry nodded vigorously into her shoulder

Chapter Text

“How are you this good at dodging punches?” Tonks complained loudly.  Harry smirked

 

“You can thank Big D and the gang for that. Been getting into playground fights for years.”

 

“I should have known the answer was going to be depressing.” Tonks grumbled, earning a laugh from the raven-haired youth.

 

“That’s not depressing! Strange as it is, i didn’t hate being bullied as much as the.. Other stuff.  Everyone got bullied in school. It made me feel normal. For once I was part of the majority.” He dodged a well placed kick, but didn’t catch the leg sweeping backwards at his knees and landed on his ass.  “Ooof”

 

“See, the fact that you felt so ostracized that being bullied was a high point is what makes it so much more depressing.”

 

“Jeez. I uh.. I think I’m supposed to be the angsty one in this situation, Tonks.” Harry grumbled as he stood up. She paled a little .

 

“You’re right, sorry mate. I should stop bringing it up, huh?” He nodded,  and two seconds later they were back at it, Tonks throwing surprisingly painful blows and Harry dodging them to the best of his ability.   They’d already gone over normal exercise stuff, and Tonks had corrected his usual routine (who knew there was a technique for pushups and situps? Harry sure as hell didn’t).   Just as they were about to finish up, there was a knock at the door of the trunk. In the time it took for Harry to blink, his turquoise haired teacher had summoned her wand to her hand and dropped into a fighting stance. Before either of them could do anything further, a dry, deep voice rang out.

 

“May I enter?” Harry blinked, and glanced over at his… guard? Teacher? Friend?  All of the above?  Tonks’ stance was unchanged. “Or is Nymphadora going to stun me if I do?”

 

“Uhhh… What..  WHat did you say to me in front of the Mirror first year? Sir.” He hastily tacked on the end.

 

“It’s summer break, Harry my boy. No need to stand on ceremony. And I believe I told you that It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. A particularly good quote, if I say so myself.” The ancient professor sounded pleased with himself and it made Harry chuckle.

 

“Come in.”  Harry quickly pulled on a shirt. After almost a solid hour, he’d stripped the garment off out of sheer discomfort, but it wouldn’t do to be talking to Dumbledore half naked. The thought made him feel… weird. Disrespectful.

 

Albus descended the stairs with an ease that belied his advanced age. He wore deep purple robes, adorned with golden hummingbirds that flitted back and forth with the illusion of life.  

 

“Ah, I see you’ve been making excellent use of Alastor’s rather ingenious trunk. How has the training been going, Harry?”

 

“Uhh, well I think?”

 

“He’s been doing brilliantly, Headmaster. Most natural talent for Defence against the Dark Arts I’ve ever seen.” Harry flushed at the praise, and opened his mouth to refute it, but the old wizard simply nodded as if that was what he’d expected to hear.

 

“Remus said much the same thing after teaching Harry. I expect Alastor is probably ecstatic to be teaching you one on one.” He lowered his voice conspiratorially. “Don’t tell him I told you that, however. Alastor prefers to project an aura of… grumpiness. As if he doesn’t like teaching very much.”  

 

“I noticed, sir.” Dumbledore beamed.

 

“Now, if Nym-” Tonks glared at Albus, and he caught his tongue. “Auror Tonks doesn’t mind, I have some rather important topics to discuss with you, Harry. I’m afraid they couldn’t wait until you came to Grimmauld place for the summer.” Tonks got up as if to leave

 

“U-uh.. actually, sir, would you mind if Tonks stayed?” Both adults looked at him with wide eyes. “Well, I mean, unless there’s anything particularly top secret about it, I’d… I mean..” Dumbledore’s eyes became thoughtful.

 

“Interesting… No, i suppose there isn’t anything particularly ‘top secret’ as you say. You don’t have any objection to staying for our chat?” He directed the question at Tonks, who seemed confused by the whole situation.

 

“No, ‘spose I don’t mind..”

 

“Very well.  Harry, Alastor informed me about the.. ‘Letter’ situation, and it was decided amongst the three of us that it was past time to inform you of our— That is to say The Order’s— current situation. Especially since after the last school year it became clear that either through your own actions or Voldemort’s, you are going to be dragged into play somehow. “ Because of the prophecy. He didn’t say it, but everyone in the room knew what he meant.  “So, while many of the Order members are still resolutely against children having any involvement in our business, the best way to protect you is to simply tell you everything we can, instead of leaving it to your own remarkable sleuthing skills to uncover.”  As usual, Dumbledore’s high opinion of him made Harry feel bashful. He didn’t deserve such praise, especially not from someone like Dumbledore.

 

“So, on to some rather unpleasant business. Sirius is indeed in a coma. The information presented in your letter was almost entirely accurate.” Harry’s mouth opened and he shot up, about to … he didn’t know. Demand to see him, ask for more information, something. However, a raised hand and a steadying look made him halt in place.  “If I may finish, Harry.  The spell that you saw Bellatrix hit Sirius with was almost certainly meant to incapacitate him, to take him out of the fight entirely for as long as Bellatrix could manage it. Sirius was a high priority target for her, both because of his relationship with you and  his own unique prowess in a fight. During the original war, Sirius was something of a counterpoint to Bellatrix. They were evenly matched, and neither could quite manage to defeat the other. Unfortunately, dear Bellatrix is the type to hold a grudge, and with Sirius weakened, she took her shot.”

 

“Why.. why didn’t she just kill him? Why this?”

 

“Sirius is the Head of the House of Black. Bellatrix cannot take such direct measures against him, because she is still a member of his House. If she had succeeded in knocking him through the Veil, or cutting him so that he bled to death, it would be different. But she cannot willingly use a lethal spell against him because of her oaths.”

 

“Why could she do… whatever it is that she did to him, sir? Is he going to wake up?” Harry sounded steadier than Tonks expected him to be. Perhaps it was the meandering, complete way Dumbledore explained, filling in so much information that Harry didn’t have time to absorb, or perhaps the young wizard was taking Mad-Eye’s words to heart. Either way, she was pleased at his newfound self control.

 

“Well…  the spell that she used technically hasn’t done any damage to him at all. It’s a nasty loophole in the ancient House Laws. At its base level, the spell is in fact a healing spell, which she no doubt finds endlessly entertaining. Sirius’s body and his magic are in better shape than they have been since before Azkaban. He simply isn’t aware of it occurring.   Now, his waking up is a … murkier issue.  

 

You see… long ago, before your lifetime there were rather persistent rumors that Arcturus Black had used such a spell on his oldest son, Sirius’s uncle Cygnus.  It said that Arcturus placed his son in a similar kind of stasis for almost five years until Orion, his brother, was born because Cygnus shared his daughter’s.. Disturbed nature, and Arcturus didn’t want the House to pass to such a boy. Now, Orion wasn’t entirely better, but that’s another matter. What’s important here, was that before Arcturus, no such spell was ever heard of. Arcturus was a powerful man, and a scientist. He took meticulous notes on every spell he ever created, and if he was able to revive his son, then we ought to be able to do the same for Sirius. As we speak, Lupin is scouring the old Black Archives, searching for Arcturus’ Grimoire, or his research notes.” Harry’s relief was palpable. His entire body seemed to go slack, and Albus quickly conjured a chair for the boy to sink into. The chair was one of Albus favorites, a squishy  muggle Lazyboy that enveloped you like a cocoon.

 

“So…  Can I help?”

 

“After you go to Grimmauld Place later in the summer, if Remus and his assistant still require assistance I’m sure he will welcome it.”

 

“Assistant?”


“Ah.. yes. That is the second thing I’m here to speak with you about. Unfortunately, your encounter with Greyback wasn’t the only attack that occurred last week.” Ice shot through Harry’s veins. Dumbledore’s inflection could only mean one thing. One of his friends, or someone from the Order. What’s more, it clearly wasn’t going to good news.  “Miss Granger and her parents were on vacation in the south of France up until last week. There was a group of Vampires, led by Amycus and Alecto Carrow, that ambushed them in their hotel room. Miss Granger’s quick thinking allowed her to survive, but both of her parents were lost in the attack.”

Chapter Text



Harry sat in the dark, staring at a quill and a blank sheet of parchment. He raked through the muck that composed his thoughts, trawling for something to say to her that didn’t sound like an empty platitude or pure self deprication. His first instinct was to apologize, to tell her that he would understand if she never wanted to see him again, but that was wrong. Hermione was grieving. Now wasn’t the time to make things about him.

 

Dumbledore’s last words before he left and Tonks went outside to watch the neighborhood were burned into Harry’s mind.

 

“Harry, I am well aware that you are going to feel as though these attacks, these deaths are your fault. You are a good man, and good men always feel that the things that occur as a result of their actions are their fault.  You should endeavor not to feel this way. These deaths do not lay at any feet except for Voldemort’s. All you have done thus far is have the gall to survive his attempts to kill you. That is the extent of your crimes, and not a soul could ever blame you for that. So do not give in to his terrorism, and do not assume blame where there is none.”

 

It was a nice sentiment, but it didn’t stop him from feeling terrible. Deep down in the dark corners of his mind, a small voice was saying what is the point? If my existing is enough to cause other families to die, then why bother continuing to exist?

“Spite.  Fuck the bastards. Keep fighting as long as you can, because you can. They’ll always find a new person to kill, once you’re gone, but not if you kill them first” Responded a second voice, which sounded suspiciously like Mad Eye Moody.

 

Harry gritted his teeth, and gripped his quill tighter. “If they want to kill us, they’ll have to do it the hard way.” He bent over the parchment, and began scratching out his letter.

 





Ron Weasley wandered about Number Twelve Grimmauld Place feeling as though he were lost in a fog. He had absolutely no idea how to fix anything that had gone wrong, and the inescapable feeling  of being useless was a crushing weight on his chest. The two people in his life that he looked to for guidance, that he counted as his closest friends in the world were in pain right now, and without them he had no rudder.  No flashing sign saying “here’s the solution! Here’s how we handle this, and what you need to do to help.”  So he wandered.

 

Ron knew he was no great shakes at magic or research, that was always Hermione’s thing. Trying to help Moony would hinder more than it would help. Words and speeches weren’t his strong suit either. He didn’t a single thing he could say to Hermione that would make her grief any less devastating, any less world ending. The ginger boy’s sole instinct was to go get Harry, go find the Carrows together and make them pay. That, he knew he was good for, at least. That was supposed to be his role. Harry led them into the fight, and he followed. He couldn’t DO this alone.

 

Ron looked up from his wandering to find himself standing in a small den.  A fire was slowly dying in the grate, left over from the Order meeting that had concluded a few hours ago, and all of the chairs had been vanished except for one. His father sat in the last one, reading a newspaper and remarking  about how the Aurors that were sent to arrest Dolores Umbridge were ‘a bunch of bunglers’.  Arthur heard the floorboards creak, and glanced up at his son’s sullen expression. With a flick of his wand and a knowing glance, he beckoned his youngest boy over to a conjured chair.

 

“She’s not taking the news well at all.” It wasn’t a question.

 

“Hermione…  I can’t tell what she’s feeling at all, Da, and it makes me feel like the worlds worst boyfriend. I have absolutely no clue what to do about any of this.” Ron ran a hand through his hair, leaving it stuck up in several places. “Normally, when I don’t know what to do, I ask Harry or Hermione, but they’re the ones I need to help and-”

 

“I can’t tell you what to do to help Harry, son. There’s nothing to be done but wait. But as for Hermione…” The balding man paused to ponder for a moment.  “Did you know that you used to have two uncles?”

 

“Uh.. yeah, Uncle Gid and Fab right?  Fred and George used to tell me about them” Ron had no idea where his father was going with the story.

 

“Correct, Gideon and Fabian Prewitt. They were members of the Order during the first War, along with your mother and I, and Harry’s parents.”  He paused and cleared his throat. “They were also two of the first casualties of it, along with your Grandfather and Grandmother. Fabian and Gideon were great wizards, and they managed to take out six Death Eaters in the attack, but the fire the bastards set killed them both and burned down the entire Prewitt manor. For weeks afterwards, I had no idea what to say or do for your mother. She seemed like she’d lost the will to fight. So, I did the only thing I could do. I comforted her to the best of her ability.”

 

“Eventually, your mother ran out of tears, and after her grief and anger subsided we did the only thing we could do. We got back into the fight.  It was a long time until I saw the Molly that I fell in love with again, but by the time Bill was born she’d started to heal.  My… well, I suppose that my point here, is that there isn’t anything you can DO to make it better. Killing the Carrows wouldn’t bring back her family, destroying the vampires for her won’t bring her any closure. But, if you truly love her, just be there for her.” Ron nodded.  “And.. make sure to bring tissues. You’ll need them.”




Fifty-seven books lay on top of her comforter, organized by subject and title. Fifty seven books and they were all useless. She needed the ones down in the Library, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave the room and get them. Her clothes were folded and stored, the books were organized, all of her school things were neatly packed away. The room was spotless. She was running out of things to do, so she pulled out a parchment and started writing. Hermione started with every single spell she knew, alphabetized and  sorted by type. After that, Magical creatures, then runes.   Just as she was about to start on magical plants, the door swung open. Ron stood in the doorway, looking out of place holding a tray of tea and biscuits.

 

“‘M-mione, what are you doing?”

 

“I… i need to keep busy. I’m trying to make sure I don’t forget anything I learned last year.”

 

“Babe, you need to stop. Just.. Just put the books away for a minute. I brought up some lunch.. Er, well, it’s after dinner time so I guess.. Well  I brought tea. Just take a break for a minute and have a cuppa.”

 

“No. I need to make sure I didn’t forget anything. This information is all going to be very important for our NEWTs and I can’t forget any-”  She was cut off when Ron dropped the tray on the bedside table, and turned her face towards his own.

 

“Hermione. Babe. Stop. It’s okay. You can stop for a minute.

 

“NO IT’S NOT OKAY!! IT’S NEVER GOING TO BE OKAY! EVERY TIME I STOP WORKING I THINK ABOUT IT!” She spun, and swept the books onto the floor. The tray followed, tea and crumbs spraying across the room and soaking into the carpet. Ron wrapped his arms around her shoulders as she began to sob.  “Everytime I-I close my eyes. I’m walking into the room again.  I see them laying there on the ground.J-just pale and no-not moving and I can’t.. I just can’t..” Her voice broke. Ron held her tighter.







“How’s the research going, Moony?”  Harry asked, turning the mirror away from the window to kill the glare. The response was tinny and distant because they were conversing through two sets of powerful wards, but it was still a million times better than writing letters and waiting a week for a response. He’d already used the mirror to talk to Ron, who gave him an update about Hermione.

 

It took every ounce of willpower not to march outside and demand that whoever was on guard take him to Grimmauld place immediately when he heard how she was  Since then he’d been using it to keep updated with Remus about Order business since he was apparently cleared for information now.

 

“The Headmaster told me we had some kind of lead about Sirius’s Grandfather?”

 

“I’m going to be honest, Harry. It’s going poorly. Arcturus Black might have been Dark, but he was one hell of a scholar. He invented and collected hundreds of spells in his lifetime, and they’re all documented here. Memories, journals, grimoires, scrolls… I could be here for months just skimming  for the words ‘coma’ and ‘trance’” The weight of the research was evident in the lines on Lupin’s face, the bags under his eyes.

 

“Couldn’t you get other Order Members to help?”

 

“Unfortunately, no. Everyone is on assignment at the moment.”

 

“If we still need to do research by the time I get to Grimmauld I can help. I shouldn’t be here much longer, right?”

 

“The official date for your retrieval isn’t set yet, but if it’s necessary, yes. I sincerely hope that it’s not. I’d like to have this done by then.” I need to have him back by then . The thought wasn’t verbalized, but he heard it anyway.  “I’d ask the Weasleys for help but Ron is.. Well, occupied, and I sincerely do not want a fourth soon-to-be-fifth year reading most of these spells, so Ginny is helping her mother with the housework.  To be honest, the only Hogwarts student I’d even remotely trust with these books is you three.” Harry chuckled at that.

 

“I’m going to be honest Moony, considering our track record with following rules and being responsible, that’s probably a mistake.” Moony smiled

 

“Mmm I was much the same way back in the day.  Once I found a new spell, I just HAD to try it out. Whether I knew what it did or not.  I learned my lesson the hard way when I accidentally sent  Alex Belby’s legs to the Hog’s Head without the rest of him”   It warmed Harry’s heart to hear Remus reminiscing. It wasn’t often the old wolf talked about school. Understandable considering the state of his graduating class currently (half gone, half Death Eaters).  

 

“From that moment on, I resolved to test every spell on a dummy first.”

 

“No offence, Moony, but HOW THE HELL did you not get expelled for that?”

 

“Oh, uh.. I kinda.. Sorta.. Obliviated him and convinced him that he’d tried to disapparate. Flitwick wasn’t convinced, but he had no evidence so….”

 

“Pfffft and you were a Prefect! That’s amazing” The grin on Moony’s face was the look of a man who got away with far too  many things to ever deserve the title of prefect.

 

“That’s not even in the top te-”  Moony’s voice faltered.  “H-Harry I’m going to have to call you back, I think I … I just FOUND IT!”  The Mirror went dead

Chapter Text

 

“Duck!” Harry flung himself to the side, tucking into a roll. “Good lad, now keep the momentum going. You aren’t always going to have a convenient shield charm in front of you. Hell, most powerful curses will shatter a shield like glass. If you’re stationary, you’re toast.”   As if to illustrate his point, Moody flung a second barrage of jinxes at him.  

 

Harry’s reflexes were working overtime. It was  the fifth time they’d run through the drill, and each time he’d been winged by a paralyser, or Mad-eye hit him with a stunner coming out of a roll. This time, Harry was determined not to get hit. He just needed to last another minute! He leapt to his feet, pivoting around a pair of summoned bindings and-

 

Harry came to with a nice view of the ceiling.  Beige and boring apart from the fading spell damage.  

 

“Oy, Potter. That’s enough for today. You did ‘bout as well as can be expected.” A four fingered hand came into his field of vision and Harry grabbed hold.

 

“What the hell are you talking about, Moody? I was out in under two minutes every time.”

 

“Aye, but the fact that you can play dodge spell for that long against a trained Auror is bloody impressive. The point of this is to stay on your feet long enough to get your wand back, or leave the fight. If two minutes can’t get you there, ten won’t either. Fights happen a lot faster then it seems to the people in them.”

 

“I-I guess that’s fair.”  Harry wiped the sweat off his forehead, and walked across the room to his wand.  “So.. I was wondering if you had any news about Sirius?”

 

“Mmmm. It’s.. complicated.”  That was probably the worst answer Moody could have given him

 

“What the hell does complicated mean. Did it work or not!?”

 

“Complicated means bloody complicated, boy. Remus is certain that the spell he found is the right one, but it’s not exactly a simple one to execute. He’s doing his best to figure it out.” Harry made a face, and judging by Moody’s scowl it wasn’t a friendly one.  “What’s that look for, lad? Don’t agree with our approach?”

 

“Damn straight I don’t! Dumbledore owes Sirius. The Order owes him! The Ministry owes Sirius, kind of a lot. Why is Remus the only one doing anything!?”

 

“How do you figure anyone owes the man anything?” Moody’s expression was inscrutable. “Bad things happen in war, and that’s what Sirius was fighting in. It’s sad that he was injured, yes, but we don’t owe him more than we can spare.”

 

“You don’t owe him because he was hurt on a mission, you owe him because you all abandoned him for years! Because all of the people who were supposed to be on his side shipped him off to Azkaban without a second thought because no one could be bothered to cast priori incantatem on his wand or give him veritaserum?”

 

“Yes, we should have, and no, we didn’t. In a perfect world, Sirius would be the Order’s sole focus right now, but we have a Dark Lord to deal with, lad! Unless you want to try your luck against him alone again, we need to be doing exactly what we’re doing now. And, really, we can’t spare Remus either.” Harry opened his mouth to retort but Moody cut him off “ If it was just up to us, Remus would be in with the British Werewolf pack, trying to sway them now that Greyback is gone. But he refuses to go anywhere with Sirius in the state he’s in currently. So, he’s on research”

 

“Look.” Harry beseeched  “I’m not asking you to pull Kingsley and Bill back to sit in the library to do research! But you’re telling me, in the entire Order, there isn’t a single person whose task isn’t more important than waking Sirius up? There’s no way I could go to Grimmauld place a week or two early to help? NOTHING?”

 

“The vote to oust Fudge is going down next week. We’re moving you shortly afterwards if all goes as planned. If Albus manages to get Amelia voted in as Minister, her and Susan won’t need the added security of living here, she’ll have the full  Praetorian guard on ‘er. So we’re gonna clear the neighborhood out all at once. So you’ve got a week to wait, maybe less. Then you can help all ye want.”  It wasn’t what he wanted to hear. But it was something, and Harry could work with it.  He got something out of Mad-Eye. Now to see if the other leader of the Order of the Phoenix could be any help.




Emmeline Vance stood in the Foyer of the House of Vance, greeting each party guest by name as they arrived. It was a mixed lot, as usual, Dark and Light, Old and New Money in equal measure. Vance Parties were neutral territory, anyone who was anyone knew that. Harry Potter himself could walk in this room and have a drink, and none of the 15 Death Eaters she saw mingling would harm a hair on his head. Well… not until he took his first step out the door, but that wasn’t Emmeline’s problem.   What was her problem was the pitying look that they were giving her. Unfortunately, they were well deserved.

 

Once the line ran out and the Party was full,  she abandoned her post and worked her way over to the fireplace, snagging a few drinks off trays and downing them on her way to the fireplace. Tonight wasn’t a Socialite-and-polite-Host kind of night, it was a sit by the fire and drink until she figured out what had gone wrong kind of night.

 

The letter to Potter was a failure. A dismal failure. Greyback was captured, the boy wasn’t turned, her fellow  Order members were unharmed. Hell, Kingsley came back looking like he’d had the time of his life. The Dark Lord wasn’t going to be happy in the slightest, and that meant that Emmeline wasn’t happy either. She needed something else. Some way to abate the Dark Lord’s fury, otherwise she was dead.  

 

Emmeline smoothed down her shimmering locks, and snagged a glass of celestial champagne off one of the elf-borne trays. The elves were invisible of course, because most of the guests couldn’t actually stand the sight of the piteous half naked forms, but not having House Elves serving the party would be seen as a sign of low status. Elvish disillusionment charms were an absolute blessing if only for that.

 

She eyed the shimmering galaxies in the beverage exhaustedly. Fixing Voldemort’s ruffled feathers without losing her head (or unbalancing the two sides of the war)  was going to be tricky, but the Vances had been playing both sides of every conflict in Magical Britain since the days of Merlin, and she wouldn’t be the first one to overplay her hand. The key was to find some new chip to offer the Dark Lord, valuable enough to be worth her own life, but not vital to the Order, lest she be found out and forced to actually declare her allegiance.

 

Sure, she was a member of the Order of the Phoenix, but what Albus Dumbledore didn’t know wouldn’t kill him… probably. It was looking more and more like Voldemort was going to be the winner of this particular war, and if something valuable enough to kill him came into her clutches… Well, a witch had to do what a witch had to do. He would understand.

 

Lord Nott took a seat across from her at the fire, crossing one leg over the opposite knee and sipping on his drink pensively.

 

“You know he wants to speak with you, right?”  She froze for a moment, then nodded ever so slightly “Emm, you know if I thought there was a way out of this, I’d find it for you, but it was a direct order. Bring you to him, as soon as you step out the door.” Ironic, that. Imagine, the Dark Lord, actually following her rules. But no. This was an attempt at mockery, one final jab at a set of rules that Tom Riddle had called pathetic, indecisive and wishy washy ever since they had been students in Slytherin together and her mother had been the one running the famous Vance Parties.  Emmeline nodded her understanding, and Nott  moved away.    

 

Time to make the best of her parties, and see if there was anything she could collect in the next three hours to save her skin. She stood, and stalked off towards Poppy Pomfrey and Rolanda Hooch . Time to go do some gossiping with her old friends.






“Severus” Albus rasped “are you sure of this?” He sat at his desk, examining a scroll that Snape had managed to steal away from his other Master, detailing the exact plans the Death Eaters had for the party.

 

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt. The information is genuine.” Snape shook his head. “Emmeline Vance will mostly be dead by daybreak without our intervention, based on information that I supplied.” He sounded… borderline remorseful about the fact, but Dumbledore shook his head.

 

“Any and all casualties are unfortunate, but Emmeline Vance has been betraying us for years, if Alastor’s information can be trusted. And one can only play both sides for so long, before it catches up with them.”

 

“Aye” Moody replied from his place by the fire. “I knew her family had a history of playing Light and Dark against each other, but I never would have guessed it of Emmy. She was in Slytherin with me, and she always seemed like one of the better snakes.”   

 

“So, I presume we aren’t warning her?” Snape inferred “We’re just going to serve her up to the Dark Lord, to what?”

 

“Severus, I am about as comfortable with the prospect as you are, but it is the only logical next step.” Dumbledore said, frowning. Moody picked up on that line of conversation, expounding on it.

 

“Aye. We let them have Vance, since she betrayed us and almost got several Order Members killed, not to mention the Potter boy was almost turned into a werewolf. The second Emmeline dies, as the last surviving member of the Vance Family, her passing breaks the neutrality enchantment on the Manor. Amelia makes a move the second the enchantment goes down, taking every Death Eater she can. And if she can make a big enough bust at the party, it should guarantee her the Minister’s chair when Fudge gets the boot.”

 

“We’re bartering a woman’s life for political leverage?” the Potions Master asked incredulously. He didn’t change sides to let anyone die, in fact quite the opposite! But neither of the older men seemed purturbed by the prospect in the slightest.  Both Moody and Albus acted as if it was business as usual. Snape had already been a part of these types of conversations, but always with the other side. He’d always imagined that the so-called Light Side would be just a little .. Lighter.

 

“Vance signed her own death warrant when she went after Harry and failed. She used up her mercy card.”

 

Severus really didn’t want to know how many of these conversations he had coming in the future..




Emmeline had worked her way through three more glasses of the otherworldly sparking drink before it came. Just a subtle tap on the shoulder from Nott, and she laid a hand on the cloudy piece of silverware he offered to her, gasping slightly as she was whisked away. No one at the party even noticed the noise, apart from the Aurors scattered throughout the crowd.

 




Harry almost decided not to go. The Order’s guard was conspicuously absent tonight, but it really was just down the block and well within the wards’ effects.  Well, probably.  And not only would he get to talk to someone his own age, he could approach Madam Bones about Sirius.  Win-win, and well worth the tiny chance that he’d be caught and yelled at.  Harry tugger the invisibility cloak out of his trunk and ducked low. Once he was out of the line of sight of the windows, he pulled it over his head. Stage one done. Now to get down the street without being noticed.

 

 Harry opened the back door as slowly as he could, masking the sound of the squeaky hinges with a silencing spell. He ducked under a spot in the fence that he’d discovered several summers ago behind a wisteria bush. The bottom was loose enough for him to slip under the chainlinks, and both sides were disguised by foliage. A quick silencer on the fence,and a  separate one for the bush, and he was  Together with his favorite cloak, it made for perfect cover. He crossed the street at a brisk walk,  ascended the steps of what was once Arabella Figg’s home, and knocked on the door.




Harry thought he was so slick.  Tonks smirked to herself as she sat on her broom, disillusioned. He better thank his lucky stars she was the one on guard, because the rest of the Order guards were about as stuffy and boring as could be. None of them could appreciate quality rebellious behavior anymore. They were all far too old.

 

She didn’t know exactly where he was, she’d lost him once she could no longer track his footprints on the concrete, but it wouldn’t really be that hard to find him. After all, she’d been sitting by his window, listening to him debate with himself for an hour. She already knew where she was going. He silenced the door, and the fence, but not once during the entire escape did he think to silence his own damn feet. Maybe she should suggest adding stealth training to the kids lessons next time she saw Mads.

 





“Emmeline, Emmeline, Emmeline. What did I tell you when you came to me, offering your services?” His voice was cold, more serpent than human. It rasped in her ears, and scraped down her spine.

 

“You said that-”

 

“That I do not tolerate failure. That I do not accept anything less than total devotion. However, you said you could be of use, and offered your services as a spy.” he tutted, petting the serpent in his lap with a single pale hand.  “I must admit, I doubted, but… certain advisors told me that your position in society, as well as within the Order” he spit the word Order as if it were bile, and he needed it off his tongue “would lead you to be useful…”

 

“My Lord.. I assure you, the plans failure was not of my doing! It was Greyback who could not capitalize on the opening I provided!” She was fully aware of how pathetic she sounded, begging for her life, trying to pass blame onto the werewolf, but dignity could be forgotten in the face of death.  

 

“Hmmm.. I don’t disagree, and if the Ministry doesn’t put the dog down I certainly will, but I cannot wait, Emmeline. I must set an example, and someone must be punished, do you understand? I cannot abide failures.” his wand was drawn, and calmly leveled at her.

 

“W-wait! I… I can give you information!”

 

“... Nothing you could possibly learn would spare you, Emmeline. Do not embarrass us both with these feeble attempts.”

 

“I can tell you where Albus goes when he leaves the school!” A pair of slitlike eyes widened briefly, and the sight terrified her to her core.

 

“While that is a welcome piece of information, it is nothing that Snape couldn’t procure for me with the right prodding” Lies. The Dark Lord knew full well that Snape would never be told, as long as he was spying for both sides.  

 

“Well… I also know where Potter’s Godfather is being held!”







Tom Riddle chuckled. Emmeline Vance tried to bargain for her life with information that she knew.  Information that dwelt in one’s mind was useless as a bargaining chip when you were dealing with the world’s most powerful Legilimens. He simply tore the information from her mind by force.. And what valuable information it was.

 

Vance was lying back in the chair she’d sat in upon her arrival, drooling. Her mind had been torn to shreds by his entrance to it.  The information about Dumbledore was useless. All she knew was that he met Mad-Eye Moody in a pub, the Hog’s Head, and they both disappeared from there.  However, the fact that Sirius Black was lying in a bed at Poppy Pomfrey’s home right now, comatose, was so much more useful.   He smiled as he rose, pointed his wand at the braindead witch across from him, and turned her to ash.

 

This was going to be so much fun.

 


 

 

The second the Vance Family Wards fell, the party erupted into chaos. Aurors and Death Eaters composed the majority of the guests in attendance, all of them anticipating that moment, and the opportunity to mow down their opposing number with impunity. The second neutrality ceased to be the Law of the Land, the entire house lit up like a Muggle rave. Flashes of green and red and sickly purple flew everywhere. It was brutal, and Kingsley Shacklebolt was in heaven, standing in the dead center of the action.



This was going to be so much fun.

 




“Hello?” Came a surprised voice from the doorway. Susan stood before him, holding the door ajar. She was wearing a pair of terrycloth shorts and an oversized t-shirt, and had an extremely confused look on her face. He must have woken her up. Just as she went to close the door again, Harry realized he was still cloaked.

 

“Shit, Susan, hold on a second.” The red-haired girl squeaked in surprise as he whipped the gossamer fabric over his head. “ Completely forgot I was wearing that.”

 

“...What was the first thing you taught me at the D.A.?”

 

“Umm..  OH!  I remember. You were ahead of everyone ‘cept me and Hermione. The first thing I actually had to teach you from scratch was the Patronus. I had to guide you through the wand motions.” She blushed a bit at the memory, and Harry grinned.

 

“So.. uh, can I help you, Harry? I thought we were on a curfew..”

 

“Oh, we are. That’s why I needed this!” He held up the invisibility cloak. “I was actually hoping I could speak with your Aunt about something.”

 

“Oh.” Susan looked rather put-out at that. “She’s off on official DMLE business tonight, sorry Harry.”

 

“Ah. No problem, I should have expected that.”

 

Far above them, an invisible Auror was eavesdropping on the teenagers and silently yelling at them.  For Merlin’s sake, one of you make a move or something! This is just awkward!

 

“Well… I suppose I should get-”

 

“Harry.. Would you like to come in for a bit? We could hang out in my room and play some exploding snap or something..?” She smiled shyly at the black haired boy, but Tonks knew full well what ‘Exploding Snap’ was code for and she wasn’t fooled

 

“ um.. Sure, Sue. Sounds like fun”



Tonks grinned, ignoring the slight twinge in her gut that was definitely not jealousy.

 

This was going to be so much fun.

 

Or at the very least it would be hilarious.




Chapter Text


“Madam Minister! Madam Minister! Do you have any comment on the recent attacks? And how your response to them will differ from Minister Fudge’s?” Came a shout from a reporter in the crowd assembled on the Ministry steps. Amelia had to resist a smile. The question was a slow quaffle if she’d ever seen one.

 

“Let me just preface my answer with this: I understand that it is traditional in politics to speak of your predecessor with a degree of respect and deference. However I firmly believe that respect should only be given where earned. And Fudge and his Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge earned no such respect. They allowed Voldemort’s former supporters in the Ministry and Wizengamot to pass laws and programs that were virtually indistinguishable from the man’s own rhetoric. They allowed Lucius Malfoy and his ilk unprecedented sway and leniency in exchange for political support and campaign funds.”  She straightened her spine, and her eyes took on a hard gleam.

 

“Our world is currently under attack from a resurrected Dark Lord because they did nothing. So my very first move as Minister will be to clean house at the Ministry, the DOM, DMLE, and the Wizengamot. His supporters will be rooted out, and once I am sure that we will not face attack from the inside, I will turn the British Wizarding World’s full might to bear on the man who stylizes himself as Lord Voldemort. This will not be the fearful, blind and scrambling Ministry of the last War. If it is a fight they want, It IS A FIGHT THEY SHALL HAVE!”

 

The chamber went into an uproar, but the second she raised her hands the press fell silent.

 

“Lastly. Beginning one week from today the Auror and Hit Wizard programs will be accepting all applicants pending a magical test and a background check. All veterans and former Aurors and Hit Wizards who feel they are able to resume duty should report in for duty. It is time for us to go to war, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let’s get to it.”





Amelia strode back to her office swiftly. Kingsley  and Dawlish fell in step behind her, scanning the corridor to her office with suspicious eyes. Both aurors shared the same thought. Now would be the ideal time for the Dark to eliminate the new Minister. The public reveal of the last administration’s crimes was bound to shake people. Losing the woman who had just sworn to correct their mistakes, that would destroy all faith in any regime that might be built.  Needless to say, neither Auror was playing around.  

 

The minister  rounded the corner to her new office.

 

“Minister, you should really allow us to sweep the office before you enter.” dawlish protested as she reached for the handle.

 

“I assure you, Auror Dawlish, the office has already been checked several times. I’d very much rather you stay outside the door.”  Shacklebolt opened up his mouth but she held up her hand. “ Head Auror Shacklebolt, I would much rather the two of you cover the hallway. After all, it does seem likely that something is about to happen, and while this,” she gestured to the double doors. “Is the second most secure office in Britain, it is not a particularly secure hallway.” with that, she turned and strode inside.  Dawlish looked over at Kings and mouthed Head Auror?  He just shrugged. News to him.


“My dear Amelia, that was very well done indeed.”  Albus  stood in the corner, next to the fireplace. He scooped up a handful of Floo powder, and tossed it into the flames. “Red Phoenix Nest.  Shall we leave the rest to Alastor and Kingsley?”  She nodded, and stepped into the flames.  A moment later, Albus followed her.

 



Albert Runcorn stood together with a group of men at the end of a hallway, and fidgeted.  He didn’t visibly move, that wasn’t his way. To move, to shake or seem nervous would be a sign of weakness, and amidst men like this no weakness was tolerable. The urge  was still there, however, and it became a peculiar itch in his shoe, situated just so he couldn’t quell it without bending over.

 

Yaxley and Rolfe turned to him, and Yaxley spoke.

 

“Runcorn, you understand the magnitude of what is about to happen, correct? This is the pivotal moment. If the  bitch dies here, without any of us being captured, without any evidence left, the British Wizarding World topples. Are you ready to join the new regime on the ground floor?” Runcorn hardened his nerves, and nodded.

 

“Dawlish is in place. He’ll stun Kingsley, then stand aside. Once we’re in, The bitch dies.” Rolfe and Yaxley nodded appreciatively.

 

“You’ll do just fine, Runcorn.”



Dawlish’s wand flashed red, and Kingsley went down right on time. Having Shacklebolt allow himself to be stunned would make the trap just a little more convincing for Runcorn.   In one fell swoop, the Order was going to clean house for their new Minister, and if Dawlish was caught in the crossfire, well… He was either far too easy to incapacitate and imperiate, or he was a traitor. It was ‘spell first, ask questions later’ these days.  Mad-Eye ducked back into a small alcove off the main hallway as he heard the crowd approach down the hallway.

 

Yaxley, Rolfe, Runcorn, and several Ministry employees gathered in front of the office in a half-circle. This was the only part of the plan that worried him. Kingsley was lying on the ground, helpless. Mad-Eye couldn’t so much as move his body, not unless he wanted to throw the baby out with the bathwater. He had to stay, and hope that a bunch of criminally insane dark wizards didn’t think to kill an unconscious Auror. Fat fucking chance of that. Kingsley accepted the risk, though.

 

Sure enough, one of the idiots Yaxley roped into carrying out the mission with him was bending over  Kingsley’s body, fiddling with his wand and grinning in a broken sort of way.  Something had to be done. Mad-Eye was never the type to sit back. He just couldn’t stomach it

 

The scarred Auror drew his wand, and silently slunk from his hiding place, but before he could come take action, Yaxley grabbed the man, and pulled him backwards.

 

“Oberst, what the hell do you think you’re doing?  Leave the Auror. We need these two alive. Dark Lord’s orders were to make the bitch disappear Without. A. Trace. No dead Aurors lingering about. They need to be standing guard just like we found them.”

 

Sounds like Snape planted the idea well enough.   Moody had spent hours bent over a desk with Snape, Albus and Amelia, planning this offensive. Snape had suggested to his master that the minister’s death would be more terrifying to the Wizarding World if it seemed like she’d simply walked into the office for the first time and disappeared. Shacklebolt owed Severus Snape his life.


“Yaxley, it’s time!”  Rolfe beckoned him over.  Yaxley strode to the door and waved his wand, and both doors burst open.

 

“Madam Minister, I’m afraid- What the fuck?!” By the time he made it to the end of the sentence, Mad-Eye had sealed the office.





“Sooooo…” Tonks said inquisitively, sitting up against the wall and breathing hard. “You never told me what happened with the young Miss Bones the other night…” She waggled her eyebrows.

 

“Tonks, how in the bloody hell did you know something happened with Sue?” Harry asked, looking aggrieved

 

“Simple, mate. I’m your bodyguard. I’m over here covering your ass as often as possible, and I just happened to notice you … what was it she said? Go inside to play some ‘Exploding Snap’” Harry turned scarlet, and started stammering a denial, but Dora just held up a hand. “Nuh-uh mate, don’t lie to your old friend Tonksie. I won’t tell. Now spill. Did she give ya a knuckle shuffle? Jobby? What?” Harry’s reaction to having an older bird use that kind of slang was frankly adorable.  

 

“The- um  the first one, I think”

 

“Ooo, you got a handjob from the Madam Bones’s niece, you dirty bugger.” Tonks slugged him on his already painfully bruised arm. “Was it good?”

 

“It was.. Uh, a bit rough if I’m honest. Listen, Tonks, what happened to not being inappropriate?” It was a valiant effort to escape further embarrassment, but unfortunately no dice.

 

“Nah, Har. I meant I wasn’t gonna hit on you. As Sirius’ cousin, it’s still my job to take the piss as often as possible.” He rolled his eyes. “Now, what d’ya mean by rough?”

 

“I mean she got a bit… enthusiastic..” Tonks barked out a laugh.

 

“Mate, you’re supposed to tell a girl if she’s squeezing too hard.”

 

“No, it wasn’t the grip, it was the speed .” The look on his face had Tonks torn between wincing and laughing even harder.

 

“Mate you gotta TELL her stuff like that.  It’s not her bits, she can’t feel what she’s doing.”  Harry silently conceded the point.  “Anyway, I have News!” The sweat drenched teenager lifted his head of the ground a few inches and looked over at her.

 

“What’s up?”

 

“Tomorrow’s the day.  Madam Bones won the Minister spot today, so we’re clearing the neighborhood tomorrow.”


“Oh my god that’s awesome!  How are we doing it?” Tonks leaned in close and whispered in his ear

 

“You’re gonna hop in the training trunk with all your stuff, and I’m gonna shrink it down and carry everything out at once.” Harry whistled and made an appreciative face.

 

“You know, that’s actually rather slick…”  Tonks put on an offended face

 

“What, you sound surprised that I could come up with something this great. I’ll have you know i’m an excellent Auror!”

 

“Mmm, beyond compare I’m sure. It would be even more impressive if Mad-Eye wasn’t the one who came up with it”  Her put-on pout made harry laugh so much his abs hurt.

 

“Soooo.”  Tonks hauled herself up off the floor with a groan. “WHat say you and I go up stairs and have a drink or two, celebrate your last days with the Dursleys?” Harry leapt to his feet and bounded up the stairs, and she followed after him, grinning broadly at his enthusiasm.





“So, here’s how we’ll do it!” Tonks said, pouring two shot glasses of firewhiskey. “We keep taking shots every time one of us calls a toast, until we’re out of things to toast or you can’t take it anymore.”

 

“Until I can’t take it? What about you!? You don’t exactly have a lot of body mass there for getting drunk with..” Tonks chuckled and started scrunching  up her face. Moments later she’d gone from ‘Indie Rocker’ skinny to a perfect hourglass

 

“Har, close the mouth , you’re drooling.” She said grinning.

 

“Pfft, yeah right… I-I was just thinking about how cheap that was” SHe gave him a sceptical look and slid him a shot glass

 

“Yeah, whatever green eyes. C’mon, time for a toast.”

 

“Hmmm… Toast to the second best Defence teacher I’ve ever had.”



 

The second Moody sealed the doors, Kingsley sat up.

 

“Well, don’t you look bloody sprightly, Head Auror Shacklebolt. Especially for a stunned, helpless man. You’re bloody lucky they didn’t check you.” the doors to the Minister’s office shook and dust fell from the ceiling, but neither Auror flinched.

 

“I felt more comfortable staying awake for that part. I had everything under control.” Mad-Eye rolled his eyes. Not much else he could do about it now.

 

“Alright, alright. Let’s get on with this.”  Both wizards placed their wands to the wall sconces on either side of the double doors. “ Three… Two… One.”

 

Vibrato Lucis!”

 

“Fumo Maxima!”

 

The second they heard the muffled yells and screams from the flashbang that Moody’d just set off, they breached the doors. The smoke leaking into the hallway was illuminated by flashes of red and green

 




“Oh I’ll drink to that.” She downed the glass. “Always knew I deserved recognition”

 

“What? Oh, no, that toast was for Mad-Eye” he shot back with a teasing smile. “I mean, we can do a seperate one for you.”

 

“I’m thinking… Hottest defense teacher?”

 

“Gilderoy Lockhart’s rabid fans might disagree with you there.”

 

“Mate, I don’t give a toss what a bunch of middle aged witches think of me. I know for a fact that every guy in your school would be drooling over me. And the girls too.”

 

“Fair enough. What should we toast to next?”

 

“Hmm… To.. The Marauders!”  She raised a second glass

 

“How do you…?”

 

“Sirius was the only wizard relative I knew outside my mother for years. He told me SO MANY STORIES.”

 

“Heh, fair enough. TO THE MARAUDERS!” and they drank.

 



Remus sat in a small kitchen, pouring over a magical thesaurus

 

“Traditionally, the term ‘from the Wand of’, orr ‘From the Wand that Cast It’  traditionally means that a counterspell would be ineffective unless it was cast by the witch or wizard who cast the original curse.  It was very rarely used in a literal sense.

 

“ Merlin Fucking Damnit!” Remus threw the book across the room. It slammed against the cabinetry and fell to the floor.

 

“Remus, Language!” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed, bustling in from the adjoining room. “I know Sirius is unconscious, but this is MY home, and I would appreciate a modicum of decency and restraint.!”

 

“My sincerest apologies, Poppy.” He sighed. “The… The research seems pointless sometimes.”

 

“It’s not pointless. You know that, remus. You were one of the brightest students ever to come through the halls of Hogwarts. If anyone can figure this out, you can.”

 

“That’s the point. I’m not sure anyone but Bellatrix can solve this. Arcturus stated very specifically, in his book of counterspells, that the trance can’t be undone by anything but ‘The wand that cast it’ According to most experts, that means Bellatrix herself has to undo that curse.”  Poppy paled.

 

“That means…”

 

“Yes. And the chances of us being able to capture her, then Force her to undo the curse?  Might as well be zero.”

 

“... I’m so sorry.”

 

“I am too. I have no idea how I’ll be able to tell Harry”





“Speaking of marauders.” Tonks looked up from the table, where she’d refilled the  glasses. “ I have a toast.”

 

“Go on. I haven’t even worked up a buzz yet.” She was lying. She had to be. This was like their fifth toast. He was definitely feeling it, and there was no way he was the only one.

 

“Here’s to friends. All of them.”

 




Ron lay in bed, curled around Hermione. He held her tight as she slept.   After he’d talked to his father, Arthur had managed to intervene with his mother, and convince her that they needed to be together, that Ron and Hermione were old enough to be trusted to share a room, and that it would help Hermione not to be alone. Ron was glad, because he knew he’d sneak in anyway.

 

His last thought before he drifted off to sleep was that he hoped Harry would be there soon. He was a vital part of their lives, and Hermione needed all that was left of her family if she was going to be doing any healing.   He pulled Hermione closer.




 Tonks must have been lying, Harry thought blearily, as he watched her turquoise hair thrashing to the music. No way in hell she was still sober after all that firewhiskey. To hell with it though, not like anything was going to happen tonight. Let her have fun On a side note, The Beastie Boys were awesome. Thank god the room was silenced, because otherwise the whole house would be shaking!  

 

Harry was starting to feel a bit lightheaded watching Tonks headbang, so he shut his eyes. Just for a second, to clear his head. He'd be back up in a second dancing with her.

 

He just wanted a second of shut-eye.

 




Sedgewick’s Fifth law of Charms: Unless designated otherwise, charms are impermanent, and must be recast if a wizard loses consciousness or falls asleep. They cannot be maintained unless provided a constant stream of magic.  This is why there is a difference between a Silencing Charm (which is temporary) and a Silence Enchantment (enchantment is a word that indicates permanence).

 

Chapter Text

Vernon Dursley was done, D.O.N.E.  done,dealing with the Potter brat and his magic hogwash. He’d tried everything/. He’d tried beating it out of him. He’d tried starving it out of him. He’d even tried boring it out of him. At this point all he really wanted was for Potter to disappear. Die, leave, whatever, just never come back to privet drive.

 

Unfortunately Moody (the terrifying man who’d visited his home at the beginning of the summer) made it very clear to Vernon that he had no control over the matter.

 

That was fine, they would just ignore him.  That worked, at first. Then Potter got more and more insolent. He started having that dyed-hair freak over every hour of the bleedin’ night. He kept stealing food from Vernon’s fridge, food that Petunia worked very hard to cook for HIM!” What’s more, he kept cutting the locks off that Vernon kept installing.

 

Vernon Dursley was like a high pressure hose with a knot tied at the end. He couldn’t relieve pressure how he normally did (beating the freak), and he was about to explode. All it would take is a little more pressure. One last straw, before the asshole camel’s back broke.  And the final straw, as it were, came in the form of a song.  A barely audible pop, then-

 

So while you sit back and wonder why

I got this fucking thorn in my side

Oh my God, it's a mirage

I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage”

 

Oh Vernon had a thorn in his fucking side, alright. And he was going to go remove it.


 

“WWWWWAAAAAAAAAA”

 

Harry’s door blasted off the hinges when Vernon kicked it, flying across the room. Tonks let out a loud grunt of pain as it blindsided her. It knocked his freaky little bird cage  off the table, and his shitey little owl started screeching.  The boy shot up out of bed, holding his head. By the time Harry’s world had stopped spinning, Vernon had already seen it.

 

“YOU LITTLE SHIT OF A BOY! DISREGARDING MY AUTHORITY! BLASTING THAT FUCKING-” He grabbed the record player, and yanked its cord out of the wall  “GARBAGE MUSIC, SELFISH PIECE OF SHIT.”  Vernon slammed the record player against the box of records and they shattered. Then Once. Twice.  Three times against his fucking trunk and it smashed to pieces. “I TRIED FOR YEARS TO BEAT YOUR FATHER’S FILTHY MAGIC BLOOD OUT OF YOU BUT IT JUST WOULDN’T GO!! wELL, I’M SNUFFING IT OUT TONIGHT, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER”   Vernon stomped across the room holding the shattered remains of the record player, and reached for the boys hair.  He lifted Harry from the bed, and cocked back his fist, and the world flashed red, then black.

 




“Tonks, just let me curse him a little bit? He smashed my record player! He was trying to FUCKING KILL ME!”

 

“Harry, it took me like, two seconds to fix it. Put your stuff in the bloody trunk, and Let. Me. Handle. This.” He opened his mouth to retort, but she cut him off  “I swear,  I’ll stun you if i need to!”



Vernon saw a blurry figure disappear down into a trunk. His brain couldn’t quite process what he was seeing, so he chalked it up to .. some kind of brain damage maybe? He couldn’t really remember what was going on.  He pushed off the floor and groaned.

 

“Oh look, you’re waking up!” Vernon felt himself lifted up into the air.  Once he was off the ground, his vision began to clear. That blue haired bint  was the one lifting- Vernon went to struggle when he noticed that he was floating, but found himself struggling against something. It felt as though iron bands were constricting his limbs, and his tongue had swollen to fill his mouth, and tied into knot.  He tried to shout through it, but the words just came out as:

 

“MMMMPH GGGGGG!?!”





“Oh, you’d rather stay on the floor? So sorry!” Tonks flicked her wand once the fat motherfucker had gotten to about eye-level, dropping him hard enough to crack floorboards.  

 

“ Now, I want you to understand something. The only reason I’m going to leave without permanently harming your fat ass is because you didn’t manage to hurt Harry. If you’d harmed a single hair on his head, I would fucking END you.” She crouched down next to him, took a fistful of his hair and pulled his head back.  “If I were you, I’d move far, far away. Because the second Harry doesn’t need me to guard him, I’m going to come back here, turn you into a frog, and fucking boil your ass like an old school witch”

 

Tonks turned around, and shrank the trunk, tucking it away in her coat pocket.

 

“Best if you weren’t here when I got back.”   she flicked her wand one more time, and a bright red light illuminated the room.









“Mollywobbles, it’s four in the morning. Come on, let’s just go to bed. Harry’s not due until morning”



“Arthur.” Molly shifted the pan in her grip. Cooking just soothed her, and tonight she needed to keep her hands busy. Everything felt wrong tonight, somehow. If the weasley clock had a hand for Harry, she felt it would probably be pointed at ‘mortal danger’ right now. “Besides, when has that boy ever done anything he was supposed to do?” Arthur just nodded in exasperation. Once Molly got an idea in her head there was really no stopping her

 

He should’ve known not to bet against Molly’s instincts.  Not thirty seconds later, they heard a loud knocking at the door. Arthur hurried over to the door and opened the peephole.



“...Tonks? You weren’t supposed to be here until” Arthur stopped himself. He drew his wand and aimed it through a slot lower in the door. “ The usual routine, if you please.”

 

With a muffled sigh, and a “bloody protocols” Tonks took a step back, shook out her limbs, and transformed into an exact likeness of Rubeus Hagrid, then immediately morphed back.  Trying to hold a transformation that made her almost twice as tall and four times as round was excruciating.  Thankfully, that was all she had to do to prove her identity. Half-Giants couldn’t be polyjuiced or artificially mimicked, and true metamorphs were rare enough that the chances of Voldemort finding another one in Britain were worse than winning the Muggle Lottery. Last she had heard, there was a pair of Metamorph girls, twins, in India, and an old shaman who had the gift in the American Southwest. Dumbledore was fairly confident none of them would move to London at the ‘Dark Lord’s behest.



Arthur swung the door open, and Tonks moved as if to go inside, then thought better of it. She drew her wand and leveled it at him.   

 

“What are you doing up this late, Arthur?” Molly made a disdainful huff from behind him, but Arthur waved her down.

 

“No, Molly, she’s right to double check. Go ahead Tonks. Ask your question.”

 

“What did you catch Charlie and I doing in our fifth year that got me banned from the Burrow all summer?”

 

“PFFT, you were running a muggle Poker game in Ottery St. Catchpole, and cheating with magic.” Arthur shook his head.

 

“Honestly, the nerve of doing that when his father ran the department of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, I ask you.” Molly remarked. Tonks smiled, and slipped inside.








The whole house was quiet by the time she got to Harry’s room. Molly had wanted to let Harry out and give him a bite to eat, but Tonks begged her off, saying that he should probably just go to bed.  She waited to enlarge the trunk until she was in Harry’s room. One tap of the lid, and it swelled back to its original size. And there, curled up at the foot of the stairs was Harry, dead asleep. He’d curled up with a pillow and passed out at some point during the trip, and it was absolutely adorable.

 

She almost didn’t mind lugging the sleepy bastard back up the steps. Not that there was much to mind. Molly was right, Harry was far too damn thin.  At least he wouldn’t be wanting for food anymore this summer.  Tonks laid him down on Sirius’ old bed and tucked him in. She tried to resist the urge, but after a moment she gave in, and kissed the him on the forehead.

 

“Sleep tight Harry.”





“Mrs. Weasley, if you cook breakfast like this every morning, you’re gonna have a hard time getting me to go back to school” Harry said around a mouth full of bacon sandwich. He drained another cup of tea and sat back, utterly satisfied.  Molly smiled indulgently at him and gestured with a fresh pan of eggs, but Harry waved her off “Thanks, but i’m completely stuffed. I’m pretty sure my stomach shrank this summer.”

 

“Shpeak for yourshelf, mate” Ron spat through a mouthful of kipper. “I’ll have the rest!” Molly slapped him upside the head

 

“You will not, you’ll take it up to Hermione. Poor dear needs to eat something! ” Ron looked instantly remorseful. “And what have I told you about speaking with your mouth full? I taught you better manners than that!”

 

“...Mind if i tag along with you? I…”

 

“Yeah, of course, mate. ‘Mione’ll be happy to see you.”



Harry carried the tea, and Ron brought the food. He was dismayed to learn that she’d only been leaving her room to go to the library to help Lupin. Ron warned him that she really didn’t want to talk about what happened, and he got it. Who in their right minds would want to talk about that, so soon. Honestly, though, Harry had no idea what to say. Well, he thought as Ron knocked on the door,he’d better figure it out quick.

 

“Hey, Hermione, are you decent? We got company”

 

“Give me a minute, I need to change out of my PJs” They stood awkwardly outside the door for a moment, both searching for something to say.

 

“So, you two are..” Ron nodded, “and your parents are just okay with it?”

 

“Well, Da reckons she needs the comfort, and for once Mum isn’t really arguing.”  He shrugged. “I’m not going to push my luck, really. Just glad they said yes.” Harry opened his mouth to agree, but just then the door swung open. Hermione was looking down, buttoning the top button of her sweater.

 

“Honestly, Ronald, who could be coming up to my room at six in the- Oh My God, Harry!” she threw her arms around him, scarcely avoiding spilling the tea everywhere. “It’s so good to see you here!”

 

“Great to see you too ‘Mione. It’s been way too long.”  They all went inside, and harry grabbed a chair in the corner while his friends sat on their bed. “So, uh…”  hermione looked over at him blankly while Ron gave him a warning look. “I.. uh, I could use some advice. And I know this might be a bit TMI, but.”

 

“Harry, just ask your question.” Hermione chided

 

“I need Girl Advice.” Both of them looked a bit gobsmacked at that, and Harry prayed he knew what he was doing. “So I.. Kinda sorta mightbedatingSueBones”

 

“Wait, what?!” Ron sputtered “Like feisty redhead, her aunt is the MINISTER OF FUCKING MAGIC Sue Bones?”

 

“Uh, yeah. The only Sue Bones we know” Ron roared with laughter. Harry was irked, but honestly Harry couldn’t blame him. It was a bit unexpected for him too. Apparently Hermione could blame him though. She elbowed him rather hard in the side

 

“Honestly Ronald! Sue is very pretty, and she’s a perfectly lovely girl!” She smiled weakly at Harry “Not that I… expected that, after the whole Cho thing, but good for you. What did you need to ask”

 

“Well, here’s the thing. I think I might just be pants at dating. I thought stuff was supposed to move like.. Slowly. But uh..” He swallowed. “The other day things were getting kind of.. Hot and heavy?” Hermione blushed slightly, but waved for him to continue. “And she asked me what I wanted to name our kids?”  And with that, it was like a dam broke. Hermione dissolved into a giggling fit. Ron was already laying back on the bed roaring with laughter. Harry gave an embarrassed little grin.

 

“I-” She paused to catch her breath. “I’m so sorry Harry, but that is just your life in a nutshell.” He shot her a quizzical look. “Well, I assume you were just trying to be casual, yes? But everything you do end up so bloody dramatic!”  Harry cracked a grin at that, and a moment later all three of them were gasping for breath

 





“Lupin should be working inside. He’ll.. He’ll fill you in” Hermione said, subdued.

 

“What’s that mean? I-is it not going well?”

 

“...He’ll fill you in. It’s not the worst news… but it’s not great either.” Hermione walked down the stairs. Harry paused for a moment at the door, but after a moment he hardened his resolve and went in.

 

Remus looked up from the table, and the second he saw Harry his face lit up.

 

“Harry, good to see you out of the Dursleys’! You’re looking good!”

 

“Wish i could say the same, Moony. You look exhausted.” It was true. Remus’ usual  greying hair was messy and in disarray, and he hadn’t even bothered with his usual suit. “I guess.. It’s not going well?” Remus sighed

 

“See for yourself.” He passed a book to the other side of the table, and Harry walked over to read it “According to Arcturus’s notes, the only one who can undo the coma is Bellatrix herself.”

 

“Wait, Remus, this says we just need her WAND.”

 

“Harry, it’s not literal!”

 

“But.. but what if it is?”

 

“We don’t have that either Harry!” Remus slammed his hand on the table in frustration. “It’s not like any of us are going to be able to coerce her into saving him.”

 

“But… But suppose..” Harry swallowed. “What if one of us hypothetically disarmed Bellatrix earlier this year. And that person kept her wand”  Lupin stared at Harry in disbelief. “And maybe he had it, and was willing to try waking Sirius up?”

“Are… you saying what I think you are?” Harry reached down his right sleeve, and withdrew a curved black wand.

 

“Let’s go get Sirius back, Moony”

Chapter Text

The dark cloaked figure shivered on the ground before him. Voldemort reached into his sleeve and withdrew his wand, sinking back into his chair. It was right for her to shake, considering how she had failed him, but he found her reaction pedestrian and boring. One would think, after being his self proclaimed top lieutenant for years, she would have developed a bit more resolve.

 

“Stand, Bellatrix.” She pushed herself slowly to her feet. “ I see, you have found yourself a wand.” His gaze turned icy, and he saw her pale. “I did not INSTRUCT you to find yourself a new wand. But, no matter. It serves my purposes anyway. I have decided to give you One. Last. Chance.”  She stepped forward to thank her master, to kiss his robes, but  he held up a pale, long fingered hand. “ But you must earn this forgiveness, Bellatrix. I dispatched you to kill your cousin, to destroy Harry Potter’s little comrades, to leave him alone and friendless.  You failed the first time.”   SHe bowed her head. “You will  return when Sirius Black is dead, or not at all.”

 

“Yes Master! Of course. I will go forth immediately.”

 

“I will do you this one courtesy, considering your years of service. He’s being held at a house in a muggle town. Newton Haven. 912 Cobbler’s Lane. As it so happens, I received that address directly from the house’s Secret Keeper. You may bring whatever resources you can gather, but you must have the job done by tomorrow. Return when it is complete or not at all.

 






They almost made it to the fireplace before they ran into Tonks. She was sitting in a fireside chair, popping blueberries in her mouth Harry was half tempted to try to sneak past her, but before he could even try to plan a route through-

 

“Remus”

 

“Nym… Tonks.” nice catch, moony “How was work?”

 

“Work was.. Work. Better now that Bones is minister, I guess?” She shifted and several blueberries fell onto the rug. “SHIT! Anyway” she scooped them up off the floor and tossed them into her mouth “ What’re you and Harry up to?”

 

“Actually, we were just.. Heading out for a second, Tonks.”

 

“Remus, you know Director Bones ordered me not  to let Harry out of my sight outside headquarters! Come on!” She slammed the bag onto the table next to her. “ Where are you going? At the very least you should take me with you!” Remus blinked.

 

“Well.. We were going to see Sirius, actually.” Harry interjected

 

“Uh.. Well, yes. We were going to see Sirius.” Remus glanced at Harry, somewhat abashed. “We found something in the research. And even if it doesn’t pan out, don’t you think he has the right to see his Godfather?” Tonks opened her mouth to respond, to tell him that  no, Harry had to stay there, that it was her DUTY to make sure that he did.. But she couldn’t. She didn’t have it in her to say no.

 

“Agh, fiiine. But I’m coming with you.” Harry beamed at her, and Tonks had to resist the urge to smile back. Damn kid.

 

“Alright, well, shall we then? Before Molly comes back and stops us?” Moony offered her a hand up out of the chair.

 

“Yeah, fair. You want to clue Harry in, maybe?” Remus shook his head exhaustedly.

 

“Right right right right.  Harry.” He leaned over and withdrew a scrap of parchment from his pocket, slipping it into Harry’s palm. The Nurse’s office is at 912 Cobbler’s Lane, Newton Haven . “Technically all this cloak-and-dagger Floo Code stuff is redundant since almost all of the Order’s locations are under a Fidelius charm, but you know how Mad-Eye is.” Remus turned and strode into the fireplace, disappearing with a word. Harry moved to follow him through, but before he could grab his handful of powder, Tonks’ lithe hand shot out and grabbed his wrist.

 

“Harry, are you sure you want to do this? If Remus’s spell doesn’t work, it’s just going to hurt worse seeing him..”

 

“Tonks, it’s GOING to work.” It had to. “ Let’s just go, okay?” He grabbed his pinch of powder, tossed it into the flames and called out the code, and the world disappeared.




 

“I thought you had fallen out of favor with the Dark Lord, Lestrange!” Amycus declared. The vampires standing around them tittered.

 

“The Dark Lord has given me a new mission,  in recognition of my years of service. I-  We are to go and kill Sirius Black once and for all, and anyone else at the Order Hideout where they’re keeping him.”

 

“We?” Amycus rejoindered

 

“The Dark Lord has also cleared me to collect whatever resources i could. He’ll probably be guarded, and I know how you and your associates like a good time.” She finished off with a venomous smile “So, can I count the lot of you in?” Alecto came up from behind and slipped an arm around her brother’s neck.

 

“Of course you can, Belly! You know how i love a good party. Let’s go give ol’ Sirius a good send-off, payback for what he did to Dad in the first War.” Amycus nodded.

 

“Fine, I’ll do it for her.” He pulled his sister fully into his lap, and kissed her roughly. Bellatrix cringed. The twins had always disgusted her, but she was desperate, and their vampires would fulfil her needs. She nodded. “Meet me here, at five.” She tossed a scrawled note from her Lord onto the table and strode out.

 





“Remus, are you sure this is a good…” The sound of the fireplace activating cut Poppy off, and she trailed away. Seconds later, Harry stumbled out of the flames.

 

“Harry, look sharp, Tonks is right behind you-” The warning came too late. Tonks came sprawling out of the floo in a similar fashion, only she couldn’t catch herself. Her forward momentum carried her into Harry, then took both of them onto the floor.

 

“Oww, damnit! Sorry Har’ didn’t mean to catch you up like that…” Tonks rubbed a hand against her tailbone, wincing at the bruise that was surely developing there. Harry just rolled over and leapt to his feet.

 

“No problem, let’s go get this over with.” His voice was resolute, but Moony noticed one hand rubbing the back of his head.

 

Poppy led them around to the backroom, and Harry got his first glimpse of his Godfather in almost two months. Sirius looked… serene. He honestly looked healthier than he’d ever looked when he was awake, but it was kind of a hollow sort of  look. He looked absent. Harry walked over to the bedside, and brushed a hand against  the older man’s face.

“Hi, Padfoot. We’re here to wake you up..”  Remus came up to the bed, standing across from Harry, and withdrew a tattered journal from his jacket.  

 

“Alright, Harry. The incantation for the reversal spell is Excitare Dormis. It’s a mangled bit of Latin that means..” Tonks shot him a look, and he stopped short. “Right, doesn’t matter. Anyway.. The wand movement goes like this” He traced a slow, perfect circle in the air in front of him, then slashed across it diagonally twice, forming an X. “You need to focus on him, and block out everything else.” Harry closed his eyes and drew Bellatrix’s- no, HIS wand from it’s holster. He traced the circle slowly in the air above his Godfather, willing all of his magic into the spell.

 

“Excitare Dormis!” He slashed twice.  There was a pregnant pause, as Harry’s words echoed around the room. They faded, and Tonks wilted as she watched Remus’s shoulders drop in defeat. She reached out to touch his shoulder, to comfort him, to do anything.

 

Harry remained rigid, clutching his wand and willing the spell to work.  The two adults were so distracted they almost missed it.

 

The emblem Harry had etched into the air crackled to life, two lines and a circle of neon magic hovering directly over Sirius’s heart. It flickered briefly as it drew red and black energy from the dark man’s form. He tensed in his sleep, and his spine arched as the glyph drained the sickly magic from him, and as it left, his color returned. Once the last mote left him, the light was extinguished, and the room went dark.

 

The only light came from a small crack in the blinds across the room, scarcely illuminating Sirius’s form, but it was enough for them to watch his eyes open groggily.

 

“Ugh, what in the bloody hell time is it? Remus don’t tell me you’re… Oi, what in the hell is..” His sentence was cut short by Remus leaping onto the bed and kissing him violently. Sirius didn’t even flinch, melting into the kiss completely. Harry’s heart felt like it was filled with light. He glanced over at Tonks, grinning like an idiot, but his smile faded when he saw her face. She looked like she’d been struck by lightning.

 

“Tonks, are you alright?”  he asked in a low voice. He saw her eyes flick in his direction, but she didn’t react to the question

 

“…Remus” Sirius said breathily “What’s going on? The last thing I remember is dueling Bellatrix.” Remus pushed himself off of the bed and blushed ever so slightly. He seemed embarrassed by his outburst. Harry felt the mood of the room shift. Tonks seemed upset, and Remus was floundering at the question, trying to come up with an answer that wouldn’t upset Sirius. Harry stepped forward. If they couldn’t answer he would

 

“Yeah, uh sorry about that Padfoot, you, uh, fainted.” He watched his godfather’s eyes narrow as he processed Harry’s presence in the room, and what he’d said. “It was kinda wimpy”

 

“Pfft.” The smirk that appeared on the older man’s face disappeared just as fast. “So.. how long was I out? A day? Two?” Tonks spoke up

 

“A month and a half.” She turned around and flicked her wand at the lights.

 

“TONKS! Maybe be a bit more tactful?!” Remus retorted. “Pads,” Sirius held up his hand.

 

“WHY have I been out for a month?” He pushed himself into a sitting position and rubbed a hand against his eyes, trying to get used to the bright light. “Also, what time is it?”

 

“Uhh..” Remus checked his pocket watch. ”It’s about five thirty in the afternoon, why?”

 

“I wanted to see if I could go back to sleep , I’m bloody exhausted. You didn’t answer the question, Remus” Sirius cocked an eyebrow.

 

“The spell that Bellatrix hit you with, it.. It was one of your grandfathers’ It put you in an irreversable ‘healing coma’. The only reason we were able to bring you out of it was because Harry got his hands on Lestrange’s wand.” Harry held up the wand in question. Before Remus could continue, a loud knock sounded at the door.

 

“T-That must be Dedalus. He usually comes by at night to stand guard for me.” Poppy exclaimed. “I’ll get it, you stay here.”

 


 

 

Poppy heard their voices continuing the conversation as she went down the stairs. Dedalus was late tonight, and something about it felt wrong. Diggle was never late, it was a point of pride on his part. She didn’t necessarily like the man (his eyes always seemed to linger over the female Order members a bit long at meetings) but he was a professional, and this was unlike him. She closed the door that led to the stairwell and walked over to the front door. A quick tap of her wand on the Lintel activated the ward on the door.

 

The door swung inward, revealing Dedalus.. On his knees, covered in bruises and cuts.  There was a blood vessel burst in one of his eyes, and his neat, professional robes were in tatters, hanging off one shoulder. He looked up at her, and regret shone in his one good eye.

 

“Poppy, I’m sorry.”

 

A silver knife erupted from his neck, and Poppy was sprayed with arterial blood. It severed his head cleanly, and Poppy shrieked. Her scream died in her throat when His head toppled to the floor, and she saw who had struck the blow



“Oh, dear. That was messy.” Bellatrix chuckled. “Aren’t you going to invite us in, Poppy?”

 

“Not in a million years.” The old medi-witch slammed the door in her face.

 

“I guess we’re doing this the old-fashioned way, then” Bellatrix strode back out to the street,  and flicked her wand. Every single man, woman, and child in Newton Haven was assembled there, shambling about. She flicked her wand at the house and the Inferi advanced, moaning. “See you in a second, Cousin Siri.”

Chapter Text

Sirius took Moony’s hand and pulled himself up, swaying slightly. He shook his head to clear the fog, but it was useless. He needed some bloody strong coffee. He took a single unsteady step forward, and felt Lupin’s hands find his arm to steady him

 

“Moony, Mooney, you can let go. I’m just going to the loo!” Lupin gave a fake laugh and let go. “Now, uh, where would that be?”

 

“Down the hall, first door on the right. Come on I’ll show you.” Sirius rolled his eyes, already done with being mothered, but he followed anyway. Harry crossed the room and peered out the window.

 

“Hey, Tonks?” The door clicked as the two older men left. Tonks looked up at Harry, expression sullen.

 

“What, uh.. What can i do for ya, Har’?” the usual nickname lacked any shred of it’s usual cheek.

 

“There’s a girl in the garden.”

 

“Sorry, what?”

 

“In the garden. There’s a girl.”

 

“There can’t be a girl in the garden, mate. We’re under a Fidelius.”

 

“Are zombies real?”

 

“A-are..” Tonks sputtered. “What, you mean like traditional Muggle Zombies?”

 

“Yeah. You know, all gory and disfigured, shambley and moaning..”

 

“No, the closest thing to that would be a Revenant.”  She sounded ponderous for a moment. “Or Inferi, I suppose”

 

“Okay, wellllll..” He looked back at her, his face gone pale and his eyes wide. “I hate to interrupt your sulk, but there are zombies outside.”

 



Remus was leaning against the wall next to the loo waiting on Padfoot when he heard the scream. He slammed his fist on the door  to alert Sirius, but by the time he went for a second knock it’d been thrown wide open.

 

“Back to the room now.” Sirius said tersely. It seemed the gut-wrenching shriek had been just the boost he needed. The voice in his head was loudly repeating (Harry Harry Go Check On Harry) and he wan't going to ignore it. Lupin was down the hall first and he burst through the door full speed, Sirius on his heels.

 

“Oh good, you two heard that” Tonks remarked, staring wide eyed out the window.

 

“What was it?” Her cousin demanded tersely.

 

“I have no goddamned clue, but it might..” She gestured out the window and both men started at the sight “Have something to do with the bloody horde of Inferi outside.” Remus turned on a dime and started back to the door “Remus?”

 

“If it wasn’t you too then that scream was -Poppy?!” The elderly nurse tripped as she sprinted through the door, and Remus caught her. “Poppy, why are you covered in blood? Did they get you?”  She breathed in deeply, trying to still herself enough to speak.

 

“They? No, Bellatrix!” Every face in the room paled “She- She’s here. SHE KILLED DEDALUS!” She gasped out the last word then slumped into a chair against the wall

 

“She killed Diggle?”

 

“She’s HERE?!”

 

“Excellent.” All eyes turned to Sirius. “Well.. Fuck, not the ‘Killing Dedalus’ bit, of course that’s terrible!” He cleared his throat awkwardly. “I meant, it’s good that she’s here so I can go KILL her.”

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Come on, Sirius, you just woke up! Tonks protested, cutting off Lupin's protests. “And This is Bellatrix bloody Lestrange! She already beat you once, maybe-”

 

“-Harry should go take care of the bitch, yes, I agree Tonks” Harry remarked. When she turned and glared at him, he grinned “What? I’m the only person in this room who HASN’T lost a duel to her! So If you’re disqualifying Padfoot because he lost last duel with her, then I’m the only one really qualified for the job..”

 

“Harry, that’s madness.” Lupin said. “We can’t just let you go fight LeStrange, just based on what happened last time” Harry beamed

 

“Exactly!” He pointed at his godfather. “Winning or losing in the past shouldn’t have any bearing on whether on not Sirius goes and fights her either. He’s got the most experience fighting her, doesn’t he? Anyway, the three of us will be there to back him up, won’t we?

 

“No.” Tonks and Remus said in concert. Sirius crossed the room, and put a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Sorry, Harry, but i have to side with them on this one. You need to stay up here. As long as the wards are up this is the safest spot for you.  None of us could focus on the fight if you were out there. NOT” He cut Harry off before he could interject “Because we think you’re rubbish in a fight, Merlin knows i wouldn’t want anyone else next to me in a fight. But because you’re too high priority of a target.  It’s safer if they don’t even know you’re here. Remus and I will go out the front and take out Lestrange. If we fall, Tonks will sneak you out the back and get you out of here.”


“Uh… I hate to say it, but I think Sirius’s right.” Remus sighed. “That might be our only play here, as terrible as it is.”

 

“Remus, Sirius, have you even looked out there?” Tonks gestured to the window. “This house is literally surrounded by Inferi. Why are any of us going outside?”  

 

“Tonks, that’s even more reason to go out there! She goes down, they all go down. We wait here, they overwhelm the wards by sheer number, we get torn apart.”

 

“Or we could just, I don’t know, MESSAGE THE ORDER?!” Sirius snorted and rolled his eyes, but Remus eyed him.

 

“Alright, let’s just relax for a second everyone. Sirius, she’s got a point, we should probably explain everything before you run off like Galahad.” He walked over to Tonks, who… still did NOT look too happy with him.  “Tonks, we..” He sighed. “Last time the Bellatrix LeStrange was active, she had a very clear MO. She always plans her ambushes the same way. Lockdown ward a hundred meters around the the location, blocking floo, apparating, patronus messages. Chances are it’s anchored in the woods somewhere” Harry slapped his forehead.

 

“I’m a bloody idiot. DOBBY!”  Nothing happened. “Uh, Dobby?”

 

“That kooky House Elf?” Remus looked bemused.

 

“Yeah, he’s gotten me out of a couple tight spots.. I..” He  shifted uncomfortably “He’s usually here by now. House Elves can apparate through wards, and they can carry passengers”

 

“Not Black wards, unfortunately.. My Grandfather was a genius, and Bellatrix was his biggest fan” Sirius grimaced “Clever thought though.”

 

“SO we’re actually buggered.” Tonks got up and started pacing.

 

“Not if Remus and I can get to Lestrange in time. Once the Inferi go inert, we can have a a look for that Runestone, but we need to hurry.” Sirius turned to the door, then paused. “We’ll be fine.”

 

“Padfoot, wait.” He freezes with one hand on the door. Harry crossed the room in three long strides and pressed something thin and curved into his hand. It felt like ice. “You’ll need a wand. Use this.” It’s Bellatrix’s  “And don’t you dare lose.”  Sirius snickered.

 

“You got it, Harry.”

 




Tonks wanted to be pissed off, but it was useless. When Lupin walked out he took all of her anger with her, and she was left feeling hollow. A sharp pain flared up in her chest when she saw the kiss, which was fading to a dull ache. It was obvious that they were in love, and that wasn't how it was supposed to GO. Tonks knew Remus didn’t take her seriously when she flirted, but it was going to work. Except apparently, it wasn't.

 

 

Of course, it had to be Sirius, too. Sirius, whose shadow she’d been standing in ever since she’d joined the Auror corps. Mad-Eye and Kingsley both served with her cousin last war, and expected her to fight just like her big cuz. She didn’t.  Ever since he’d broken out of Azkaban, half her co-workers had whispered about her “following her cousin’s footsteps” the bastards. Hell, even Harry had compared the two of them the first time they talked for real. And now this, now they were going out to fight without her.

 

Now wasn’t the time for petty crap, though. She shook her head, clearing away the fog of bitterness. You’ve got a fucking job to do, Tonks. Get your shit in gear. She glanced over to see Harry- dangling his fucking head out the window like a prat. Of FUCKING COURSE.

 

“ Harry, what in Merlin’s name are you doing?!”

 

“Wanted to see how many Inferi there were.. There’s a bunch of them down the lane too.”  Harry sounded a bit confused, and he leaned out just a bit further. “And it looks like they’re being directed by… Oh shit, that’s a Death Eater.”

 

“Harry, get your head back in, you’re outside the bloody Wards!” But of course she was about two seconds too late.


Harry heard the warning, but before it could register in his head, the figure he spotted was casting. And the next thing he felt was the vertigo of being wrenched out the window.

 



“Loopy Lupin! Lookie lookie! And it’s-” Bellatrix’s voice turned cold  “What are you doing awake..” Sirius tossed his hair back out of his face and grinned. He’d missed that fear in her voice.

 

“Well, what are you doing away from your roasting spit? The Devil must be missing his employee of the month!” She snarled, and flung a yellow curse at him. Sirius blocked the curse with a flick of his hand  “Your vacation is over, I’m here to send you back to Hell.”  Sirius flung an inky black curse that splashed off Bellatrix’s conjured shield and sizzled on the ground around her. The goo spread around, eating away at rocks and dirt and gaining mass.

 

“Fighting to kill, then?” She spit “About time, milord. And where did we find the new- THAT’S MY FUCKING WAND!” Sirius laughed, a hearty belly-shaking sort of laugh that only served to magnify her rage.

 

“Yep, my Godson did me the favor of grabbing it when you two met. Little research, the wand that cast the curse, and the proper motivation, and bing, bang boom.” She screamed, and flung a burning lash at Remus, but it never reached him. A spike of ice shot up from the ground in front of him, extinguishing the flames on contact.  “Now, now. No touching my boyfriend, bitch. He needs to run off and find the Ward Stone.” It looked like Lupin took the hint, because when Sirius looked back he was gone.  “Besides, I have a proposition for you, Bellatrix. one last duel, just you and I. I win, the House of Lestrange is mine, with all its holdings. You win, you get to be Lady Black just like Gam Gam wanted.” A humorless smile spread across her features.

 

“Fine. It’s about time someone did Grandfather proud.” They both cast, and when their curses met the ground shook.

 



Remus was moving before Sirius finished talking. He disillusioned himself, and began bobbing and  weaving through the crowd of Inferi. Some of them sensed him and reached halfheartedly in his direction, but he was gone before they moved. The trick to Inferi was to evasiveness. They were too slow to catch a moving target in the open.  

 

Sirius was about to get himself killed. What he was thinking, giving Bellatrix permission to use lethal spells against him, Remus had no clue.   That isn’t true, I know exactly what that stupid noble bastard is doing. Bellatrix would be focused on him like a laser now, and she wouldn’t let anyone interfere.  That’s what Remus got, falling in love with a Gryffindor. His mother always told him to marry a Hufflepuff.

 

Remus’s senses prickled, and he dove to the side and held perfectly still. Not a moment later, a silver arrow embedded itself in the ground where he’d been running.  “You know, wolfie, I can see through your disillusionment!” Came a raspy voice.  Perched on a faintly glowing boulder maybe fifteen meters away was Alecto Carrow, looking distinctly like the Fury she was named for.

 


 

 

Harry blindly cast a cushioning charm in a downward direction, and clutched his wand for dear life as the ground rushed up to meet him.

 

In the bright side, his aim was good. On the other hand, he failed to miss the rock.  His head just glanced the boulder,which was softened to something resembling maplewood, and the world spun.  When it slowed all he could make out was bleeding, oozing flesh.  

 

Harry raised his wand weakly, hoping to push back the wave of Inferi, but a disarming spell slammed into him before he could speak.  He was thrown backwards, but the death grip he had on his wand wasn’t broken. The world rotated violently again, and he had to fight just to keep his food down.


“Well, well. It looks like Alecto was right. This mission was worth taking after all.” the Death Eater who’d disarmed him was speaking, but Harry’s swollen brain struggled to parse the words. “ No offence, Potter, but I really hope your Godfather kills that  Lestrange bitch before he snuffs it. See, I got my eyes on her spot, but the Dark Lord only really needs one good Necromancer. But if she bites the dust, and I bring him You, all trussed up and drained of blood, I’m good and golden.”

 

“Dr-drained of blood?” He sputtered, revulsion once again driving him to vomit. This time he couldn’t win out, puking to the side. The acrid taste of bile flooded his nose and mouth, and the man laughed.

 

“Yeah, see, Timur here is going to drink your scrawny ass, then give you a little taste of his own brew.” A pale bald figure emerged from the blurry shadows behind the man, and fear shot through Harry’s gut like a railroad spike. “The Dark Lord wants you turned. Into what, it doesn’t matter. Werewolf, Vampire, Wendigo, Rugaru, anything Dark and inhuman. It’ll do wonders towards breaking the Light if their little savior becomes a monster.” The Death Eater flicked his hand forward. “Do it now, Timur. I can only hold these Inferi back for so long before the rip him to shreds. They aren’t mine.”

 

“Da, I vill make quick work of Chosen Boy.” The vampire crouched as if to pounce and caught a face full of red fire. The fiend screamed, and stumbled back into the shadows. A turquoise haired blur stood over Harry, and he relaxed, sinking back onto his stomach.


“That’s The Boy Who Lived, you piece of shit.” Tonks spat furiously, weaving a net of flames around them.

Chapter Text

 

Tonks twisted her wand, closing the fiery net, and dropped to her knees. Harry was lying facedown and motionless. She  ran her wand along the back of his neck, casting a quick spine stabilizing spell, and rolled him onto his side.

 

“T-tonks…”  Harry was pale and bleeding, and his voice came out at a whisper. “I’m sorry, I kinda messed up” Tonks made a funny little noise, halfway between a chuckle and a sob.

 

“Harry, don’t.. Just hold sit, I’ll get us out of here.” She.. honestly didn’t know if she was lying or not, but it certainly felt like it. She tried to move back, but Harry grabbed her, pressing a silky wad into her hand.

 

“By the way.. I.. I hate that nickname.” That one actually got her. Tonks started to giggle, but she sniffed forcefully.

 

“Harry I...  nevermind” She bent down and pressed her forehead against his “Be right back” She stood and turned just as the fiery net blew out, flicking her wand out with a silent spell.”





Bellatrix had stopped laughing a few minutes ago. She didn’t have the breath to spare, Sirius made sure of it. His plan was going to work. He continued, parrying and riposting furiously, pouring as much magical force through the curved talon as he could manage. It was a race. His power was going to run out, likely sooner rather than later, but all he had to do was push the madwoman back a few more steps. She was almost there.

 

He pulled one last spell out of his bag of tricks. It was an dueling trick he and and James had played around with once, essentially combining a particular spell with a variant of the Gemino Curse. It sailed true, right into Bellatrix’s shield, and erupted into self-replicating explosions. Lestrange didn’t brace in time, flying back a few feet and landing square in the black tar. Bingo.

 




Alright. Remus ruminated, as  Alecto spammed reducto spells at him, shattering trees and rocks. It’s fuck-it o’clock. He levitated a rock and flung it off to the left. It clattered down the rocky hill loudly. Just like he figured, she chased it, cackling to herself the whole way and tossing out destructive magic left and right like confetti. The second Carrow was out of view, he spun out right and raced towards the warding stone. He charged up his wand ready to annihilate the rock, but before he could fire a spell he felt a wand tip brush his throat.

 

“Hi there Wolfie” Lupin could hear the sneer in her voice. “Let’s have some fun, okay?” he felt a drop of blood slide down his neck as her spell cut into his skin.

 

“Alecto… As charming as ever.”

 





Bellatrix  tried to dive out of the way of the stream of conjured chains flying at her, and found she.. Couldn’t. Fury and  quiet panic mingled in her gut when they bound her hands around her back, and she toppled into the black tar coating the ground. Sirius’s barking laughter rang in her ears and she bit back the urge to scream in frustration.

 

No. Nonono it couldn’t end like this. Her lover was waiting for her to kill him. To redeem herself so that she could regain her place as his right hand. Bella strained against the chains, against the freezing greasy ooze that kept her glued to the ground.

 

“Heh. You’ve lost a step, dearest Bella.” Sirius flicked his wand, and she  flipped, so that she was supine. The tip of his wand pressed against her throat and began to glow ominously “Call off the hoard. Now.”

 

“Inferi Adgresso” She spoke defiantly, baring her teeth. “You’ll never-” The Inferi watching them began to advance, and Sirius reacted faster then she could blink. The sole of his boot was the last thing she say before the world went black.

 




Carrow’s deceptively strong arm was locked around his throat, his wand was in her back pocket, if he could just trip her up, he might be able to break the hold, gain back the upper hand. She shoved him down the path, back out in front of the house. Lupin could see a crowd of carcasses shambling towards....

 

“Padf-” The arm across his throat tightens.

 

“Oh no, mangy, nooo. We’re gonna sit right here and watch your man get torn apart!” She hissed in his ear. “That’s the only reason I kept you awake.” It was punctuated with a cruel giggle.  He strained against her grip, and she let go, kicking him forward onto the ground. “Imperio. Stand up and watch, filth.”

 

His limbs pushed him up, straining against the foreign will imposing itself on them. Fuck.  A shockwave blew back the group of shambling figures,  and all of a sudden he could see Sirius, standing tall. He had Bellatrix lying in the mud at his feet, and he was slinging bolts of fire at the encroaching figures. Suddenly, a surge of hope swelled up in his breast, and the Imperius curse  loosened its bindings.

 

“No..” Alecto prodded him in the back with her wandtip. “How did he win? This won’t work. Move, dog.” Her arm fitted itself around his neck again, and they marched out into the field.



“BLACK!” Sirius spun towards the voice, and caught sight of Alecto Carrow through the swaying bodies. She had an arm wrapped around his Moony “Release Bellatrix or I put down your boyfriend.”  Sirius blinked.

 

“Not a bloody chance.” Pointing the wand at his cousin’s unmoving form, he snarled at her. “I’ll kill her in cold blood, right now, before I let you run free again.”

 

“Fine, Avada Ked-” Lupin sunk his teeth into her wrist, interrupting the spell and tearing away a chunk of forearm. She screamed, and he dove away, and Sirius took the opening. “Expulso” and the ground around Alecto exploded.

 





Tonks was bobbing and weaving as fast as she could, dodging green jets of light. For someone trying to take Harry alive, that idiot was firing off a lot of Killing curses. She gritted her teeth. Defeating the ugly bastard wasn’t important. All she had to do was keep Harry alive. She sprinted across the garden towards Amycus’s static form, morphing herself mid-sprint into a smaller target.

 

A tuck and somersault carried her  under another spell, and inside of her opponent’s guard. Would it have been easier to duel him from across the yard? Perhaps, but the crunch of her elbow against his nose was extremely satisfying. Amycus growled an expletive, and backhanded her in the stomach, hard.  It staggered her, and he tried to bring his wand to bear in the opening, but she closed it again and pinned it between their bodies.

 

Tonks brought her knee up, aiming for his crotch, but he scooped her knee with his free hand  and stepped backwards, breaking her stance. A hard jab caught her in the jaw, and she dropped to a knee.

 

“Got you now, you fucking bitch.” He swung his wand up already starting his incantation, and Tonks headbutted him in the bollocks.  The high pitched noise emitting from his mouth almost made it worth having to put her nose anywhere in smelling distance of him. So she did it again. She ripped the wand out of his hand, pointed both wands at his face and fired off a pair of stunners. Game, set, match.



Harry came to with a start, and scrambled backwards. Two cold taloned hands caught his ankles.

 

“No, little Potter. Dinner does not get to escape”  Timur’s bubbling, melted face loomed in front of him. Harry struggled, shoving and clawing but the monster picked him up effortlessly.

 

“Hold it, asshole.” Tonks didn’t have a clear shot. Harry’s body was suspended between them. “Put the angsty teenager down and no one gets ashed.”

 

“Too late.” Tonks looked on in horror as the vampire buried its fangs into Harry’s neck— and immediately screamed and clutched his mouth. Curls of purple white smoke leaked between his hands, and Harry dropped like a sack of potatoes. The smoke got thicker and thicker, as the vampire shriveled up and disappeared. Tonks sprinted over to her charge casting a quick  diagnostic spell. Severe concussion, no vampirism. Thank merlin. She scooped him up, and sprinted inside as the Inferi Amycus had held off started moving