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Free Life Posted on 8/16/2014 1:03:46 AM
Chapter 7: 4000 words and counting
Hero Posted on 3/25/2012 7:32:33 PM
Chapter 6 Chance and Choice: 3,600 words and counting
Long Lost Brother Posted on 4/21/2010 2:57:30 PM
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling and Warner Bros. I in no way claim ownership of any rights to the Harry Potter Universe.

Author's Note:

Chapter 3: Animals and Alleys
The next couple days flew by in a blur for Harry. He was constantly training and studying. He was really getting bored with his current supply of books as it mostly just contained old textbooks that he’d already been through in his classes. He also had the defense book he’d been given over Christmas to help him instruct the DA, but he’d already been through that book more than once. He longed to make a trip to Diagon Alley to expand his library and just to get out of the house and do something.

He was becoming quite proficient in his apparation training. He progressed from popping around his house to apparating around his neighborhood. He could apparate with relative ease now even across the entire neighborhood, but Sirius had warned him not to try doing a long distance apparation just yet for fear that he’d splinch himself. Harry was getting restless.

His animagus training had progressed rapidly. He was able to change every individual part of his body into either his panther or owl form at will, which delighted him to no end. He was anxious to make a full transformation, but Sirius had stopped Harry from doing it the night before and made him promise to wait until the next night to try it. Harry couldn’t wait to go to sleep tonight.

He had written back to Ron berating his best friend for actually sneaking into Ginny’s room to read the letter Harry had sent to her. He explained in no uncertain terms that he considered Ginny a valuable friend and that he had every intention of continuing to write to her throughout the summer. He told him that he and Ginny were just friends and that she was perfectly capable of looking out for herself and didn’t need an overprotective brother hovering around sticking his nose in her business all the time.

He’d also told Ron that he had absolutely no intention of getting in the middle of one of his fights with Hermione about Viktor Krum. He told Ron that he was being rather ridiculous about the entire thing and warned his friend to drop the subject before things turned ugly.

It didn’t take long for Harry to receive a reply back from Ron. He had gauged his friend correctly when he had decided that Ron would most likely fly off the handle after reading the letter. Ron had warned him off writing to Ginny any more with a veiled threat hanging over him if he continued to write her. Ron had also asked Harry just whose side he was on of the topic of Viktor Krum. Ron claimed that he was putting their friend in danger by not warning Hermione to stop writing the Bulgarian.

Harry decided not to bother responding to his irate friend. He knew that his friend would be in no state to listen to reason at the moment, so he didn’t even bother trying. Ron’s temper got the best of him far too often for anyone’s good. Ginny was certainly right about one thing: Ron needed to grow up, and fast.

He had written to Ginny again after receiving Ron’s reply. He’d talked about Ron’s ridiculous threats and accusations a bit and other things as well. He told her that he had not yet mentioned the DA to anyone else yet, Ron and Hermione included, and asked her to hang onto his secret for just a little bit before he let his other friends in on his plans.

He received replies from both Neville and Luna, who were both surprised but glad to hear from him. They told him how sorry they were about the loss of his godfather. They also both asked if the DA would be continuing next year. Luna had, in her awkward way, told Harry that it was like having friends. Like so many other times, Harry had no idea how to respond to her.

Luna had also talked about the expedition she was on with her father to find the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. They had apparently been hot on the trail, but the animals kept eluding capture. She said she expected they will have caught one by the end of the month. Harry wondered what they were actually following but decided it might be best not to know.

Neville had seemed excited to be getting a new wand and had told Harry that he really didn’t have to pay for it. He asked Harry if he really thought that his magic would improve with a wand that was suited especially for him rather than his dad. He also said that his Gran had been a little upset that he had put himself in danger but that she was proud of him for what he had done. Harry was glad to see that his friend was finally getting some positive reinforcement; maybe his confidence would improve over the coming year.

Harry had taken to jogging and working out in the mornings on his godfather’s suggestion. He had said that most wizards overlooked the physical aspects of a duel. Dodging could be more effective than a shielding charm, especially when dealing with Unforgivables. And the endurance to last through duels taking up to several hours and multiple opponents was extremely important given the war he found himself in.

His running and workout routine would help him build up his endurance and his speed. His reflexes were already quite sharp, which he attributed to Quidditch practice and growing up with the Dursleys trying to avoid getting hit. He decided not to just work on that but to also build up some muscle as well. You never know when he might need to resort to physical violence instead of magical.

When Sirius had made the suggestion, Harry had no choice but to agree. Back in the Department of Mysteries, the duel with the death eaters had been as physical as it was magical. The extra quickness, strength, and endurance were sure to come in handy next time. Harry smiled ruefully at that thought. He no longer thought of it in terms of if he ever met another death eater in combat but rather when.

Harry was already considering including physical training in the DA. He knew he had to talk about the DA with his friends soon, especially Hermione. She was, after all, the brains behind the operation. He would need her help working out all the details of what he would be teaching when and organizing everything in a manner that would be acceptable to present to Dumbledore, and he could use her help with the magical contract.

Harry had settled into a bit of a routine the past couple of days. He would wake up, grab a quick bite to eat, then go for a jog around his neighborhood. He reckoned he ran a good four kilometers every morning. He would follow that up with a series of other exercises: push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, jumping rope, punching a bag that his cousin used to train for boxing, among other things.

He would then shower and get cleaned up and ready for the day. He’d eat an early lunch, then return to his room to study. After a couple hours he would begin practicing wandless magic. He would eventually move on to apparation followed by animagus practice. Afterwards he would eat dinner then spend the rest of the night studying and taking care of any personal matters such as letter writing.

His morning workout routine was leaving Harry extremely sore and tired, but he knew that it was only because he was not used to the physical exercise. It would only take a little while before he began to get the hang of it. He felt genuinely good about himself for the first time in quite a while. It is amazing what a sense of purpose can do for you, coupled with a plan of action. It is always best to keep busy lest you become bored and begin to brood. Harry didn’t leave himself any time for that as even his dreams were spent training with Sirius.

That night, as scheduled, Harry made his first attempt at a full transformation into his animus forms. “Here goes nothing,” Harry remarked with a grin.

“Just do what you’ve been doing with the partial transformations, only this time concentrate on the whole animal rather than individual parts. You’ll do fine,” Sirius advised practically.

Harry shut his eyes as he concentrated. He pictured the panther in his mind and began building his magic up inside himself. He let it flow through his entire body until he could feel it from his toes all the way to his fingers and head. He then focused his magic into that of the panther transformation and pictured a panther in his mind. Once in focus, he willed his magic to make it happen.

He could feel himself changing all over. He sunk down onto all four legs and whipped his tail back and forth. Opening his eyes, he found himself lower to the ground than he had been when he’d closed them. He could see his godfather smiling at him proudly and knew that he had transformed perfectly. He bounded about the room and pounced at his godfather unexpectedly, pinning him to the ground. Harry rolled off and reemerged in his human form.

“I’ll get you for that,” Sirius threatened as he rubbed his back. “Did you have to be so rough? I’m not as young as I used to be, you know?”

“Sorry,” Harry said around a sheepish grin. “Couldn’t help myself.”

“Well if you’re done savagely attacking me for the moment, perhaps you’d like to give the owl a shot,” Sirius input, still rubbing his back.

“Whatever you say, old man,” Harry retorted teasingly. He closed his eyes and repeated the process of building up his magic. This time he changed it slightly to reflect his owl form, then pictured the owl in his mind. He willed his magic to make the transformation. When he opened his eyes he felt shrunken; he was even lower to the ground than before. He stretched out his wings and beat them experimentally. He rose from the ground a couple inches before sinking right back down.

He began flapping his wings tentatively and lifted himself off the ground. He flew around the room slowly gathering his bearings before swooping around the room, delighting in his newfound freedom. He could fly! He swooped toward his godfather who ducked out of the way. He swung himself around and moved toward Sirius slowly this time and perched on his shoulder. His godfather stroked the feathers on his neck a couple times before Harry took off again. He landed on the ground this time and was replaced by human Harry moments later, a large smile plastered across his face.

“That was incredible!” Harry exclaimed.

Sirius only cocked an eyebrow and let his godson continue.

“I’ve always loved flying, but this is so much different than flying on a broomstick. This is just me in the air completely free. I can’t wait to fly out in the sky in the open air, free as a bird,” Harry said wistfully.

Sirius smiled at Harry’s excitement. “That’s actually a good idea. You should spend some time each day in your animus forms to get used to moving around and using the different muscles of the animals. The only trouble will be finding a place where you can do so inconspicuously.”

“Well I’m not going to find anyplace suitable in Little Whinging. I would need to go someplace like the Forbidden Forest or perhaps even the forest around the Burrow,” Harry thought out loud, grinning widely.

Sirius let go of a sigh knowing that Harry was right. He would need to use long distance apparation to find a suitable place. “You’re right. I just wish there was someone we could have keep an eye on you just in case.”

“You worry too much, Sirius,” Harry replied. “I’ll be fine. I haven’t had any trouble at all with my apparation, and I’m able to apparate all around Little Whinging without any difficulty. There’s nothing to worry about.”

Sirius let go of another sigh. “It’s not that I doubt your abilities Harry, but this is the first time you’ve ever tried anything like this. Things could easily go wrong.”

“I’ll be extra careful about it. I promise,” Harry replied.

“All right,” Sirius finally conceded.

Harry could only grin at the man who was the closest thing to a father he had ever known.

******

Harry began his routine normally the next day. He went for his morning jog and worked out afterwards. It was after lunch that his schedule changed. As soon as he polished off his sandwich, Harry prepared to apparate to the outskirts of Hogsmeade. From there he’d head into the Forbidden Forest to transform into the panther. Afterwards he would take flight in owl form before returning to number 4 Privet Drive for the rest of the day.

Harry said goodbye to his owl and told her where he’d be and that he’d be back later in the afternoon. Some people might think it weird to be telling an owl so much, but she always had an uncanny ability to know what was going on and understand what he was saying. She was a really intelligent owl.

He apparated into Hogsmeade near the Forbidden Forest a moment later. He rushed into the woods and made his first transformation in the real world. A panther was soon stalking through the forest, maneuvering through all the growth of plants on the forest floor and weaving in and out of trees blocking his path. He nimbly traversed the tree laden grounds. The trees weren’t thick enough to really impair his movement, so he was able to move around quite freely.

After a while he slowed down into a stealthier stalk through the forest. His movements were silent and he stuck to the shadows to blend in as much as possible. He kept low to the ground to keep hidden from other animals in the area. He decided to practice his hunting skills as the panther and tried to pick up the scent of an animal nearby. He finally thought he found something and followed it as best he could. After several minutes he came upon a rabbit meandering about. He slowly snuck up on the creature and prepared to pounce. As he was about to jump out, the rabbit noticed him and shot out of there like a bullet.

Always one for a challenge, Harry quickly darted after the smaller animal. His long stride allowed him to easily catch up, but the rabbit was much quicker in changing directions making it hard to stop the small beast. Soon enough Harry had the poor rabbit cornered. Fear was clearly visible in its eyes, knowing that it had no way to escape the large feline. Rather than move in for the kill, Harry merely gave the rabbit a poke with his paw then ran off, as if they were merely playing a game of tag.

Harry knew that the time might come where he would need to catch his own food and be forced to kill an animal in that situation. Sirius was proof enough that it could happen. But he had no intention of killing without purpose. He would never kill an animal just because he could or for sport. That was senseless.

Harry ran around for a bit longer, enjoying the exercise in his panther form. After some time he could see Hagrid’s hut at the edge of the forest and Hogwarts castle in the distance. He decided to turn around and head further into the forest. It wouldn’t due for a panther to be seen running about the forest by Hagrid or anyone else at the school.

After several more minutes running through the forest, Harry decided it was time to give his other form a shot. He shifted back into human form before making the change into an owl. He quickly fluttered up to a tree branch high off the ground. After a moment he took off again and rose above the canopy of trees shadowing the forest. He broke into free air and let the sun wash over him. He flapped his wings to rise high into the air before leveling out and riding the air currents.

He was able to mostly glide at this point, letting currents of air and thermals carry him around with just the occasional flap of his wings to correct his position. He found that he could control his movement somewhat by shifting the feathers in his wings a bit. It was awkward and would take some getting used to, but it was incredibly fun to play with. He began swooping down and pulling back up, enjoying the complete freedom of movement. He could go anywhere at all like this.

Harry could see Hogsmeade in the distance and decided to pay the town a little visit in his current form. He flew around the town for a while, looking in windows and at the few people wandering the streets. He could see Madame Rosmerta in the Three Broomsticks tending the bar for the couple of patrons inside. The town seemed eerily quiet and dead. Harry reckoned that it was because the only time he’d ever been in town before had been during Hogsmeade weekends at Hogwarts with hundreds of other students. The town just didn’t seem the same without them.

He rose into the air and left the town behind. ‘This is what life is all about,’ Harry thought to himself. He could go out and just have fun, completely free to do what he wanted. His whole life he had felt like a prisoner, caged in. He never had any say in his life. He was stuck with the Dursley’s for 10 years of his life and sent back there every summer despite numerous protests. They always kept him locked up as best they could. At Hogwarts the teachers were always trying to keep the students confined to keep them safe and keep an eye on them.

Out here, Harry left all of that behind him. This was freedom: no more cages to hold him in, just the air beneath his wings. He was free to soar the skies and do whatever he pleased. He had never felt so alive.

After some time Harry figured that he ought to head back to Privet Drive. He dove down to the ground and pulled up to make a soft landing. Once safely on the ground, Harry changed back into human form and apparated back to his bedroom with the Dursleys. “I could definitely get used to that part of my training,” Harry told Hedwig when he had arrived. “Do you enjoy flying that much, Hedwig?”

His owl gave him a strange look and hooted at him.

“You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? You’ve yet to see me fully transformed. Well you’re in for a bit of a shock I should say.” And so Harry transformed into the black owl to say hello to Hedwig as one owl to another. Harry hooted a “Hello Hedwig” to his snowy owl.

“Is that you, my human Harry?” a strange yet familiar voice filled Harry’s consciousness.

“What was that?” Harry tried to say out loud, though it only came out as a hoot. “Hedwig?”

“It is you, isn’t it?” was the only reply.

“Can all owls talk this way?” Harry asked.

“All magical owls can communicate to each other,” she told him.

“This is amazing. I always wondered how you could understand me so well. Turns out you know the language but just can’t speak it the way humans do. How are we speaking to each other anyway?” Harry asked.

“Mind speak. Magical animals lack the means to speak with our mouths, so we do so with our minds,” came Hedwig’s reply. “How is it that you have become one of us, human Harry?”

“I’ve been training to become an animagus,” he explained, “so I can turn into an animal form. I can become both an owl and a panther. You said all magical animals communicate this way? Does that mean I’ll be able to talk to all magical animals just like I am with you right now?” Harry asked imagining the possibilities.

“Yes and no. Most animals do not understand speech. Since owls spend so much time with humans, we often pick up human speech. Other animals you can communicate with in a way, by sending feelings or images. You can send calming feelings and images to an animal that is frightened if you wish to calm it down to show it that you mean no harm, for instance. Phoenixes are the only magical creatures that have their own language. We cannot understand their speech,” Hedwig dutifully explained.

While Harry would have loved to be able to talk to Fawkes, this new information was still incredible and opened up many possibilities for Harry. “I wonder if I can learn to mind speak in my human form,” Harry mused.

“I do not know, human Harry. I have never heard of a human who could communicate with us before even in animal form, let alone human form.”

“Well, it’s worth a shot at least,” Harry decided. “But anyway, I should get back to my training. It was nice talking to you, Hedwig.”

“It was nice to be able to speak with you too, human Harry” Hedwig replied.

Harry reverted back to human form and affectionately stroked Hedwig’s feathers. She gave him an appreciative hoot in reply. Harry then turned his attention to his studies.

******

“Do you know of any spells I could use to change my appearance?” Harry asked his godfather.

“Why do you ask?” Sirius questioned suspiciously.

“Well now that I have long distance apparation worked out, I thought it was time for me to take a trip to Diagon Alley. If I don’t get some new books to study at the very least, then I’ll never get anything accomplished this summer. I can’t just keep re-reading all my old text books.”

“Ok, I get your point. There isn’t much you can do apart from the simple glamour charms most witches use to do their makeup. They work the same way muggle makeup does in covering up the surface instead of actually changing your appearance. There are charms to color your hair and some that can grow your hair temporarily as well. There isn’t much beyond that you can do to change your appearance which is why a metamorphmagus like Tonks is so valuable.

“Well I can’t walk around in broad daylight looking like my usual self without drawing a crowd,” Harry replied.

“I agree. I think I remember the hair charms well enough. You’ll want to wear a hat or something to cover up your scar. If we could get you out of those glasses as well, that might be enough for you to wander around unnoticed.”

“Unless you’ve got a spell to fix my eyesight as well, I’ll be keeping the glasses, thank you,” Harry retorted.

“Have you ever heard of contact lenses?” Sirius asked.

“Of course, muggles use them in place of glasses. They go right into your eyes…oh. How do you propose I get some? I don’t know of any muggle eye doctors in the area.”

“There is a place in Diagon Alley you can go. If you go early enough you should be able to get the lenses before the streets become too crowded.”

“Ok, so how about those hair charms?”

******

Harry woke up with the sun the next morning. He didn’t want to mess up his routine, so he went for his usual jog and workout extra early this morning. After he was finished, he showered and dressed. He performed the charms to lengthen his hair to about his shoulders and to color it a dark blond. Then he transfigured a tissue into a bandana which he wore on his head to hide his scar from view.

Harry took a good look at himself in the mirror. His face was the same, but looked so much different with his hair changed the way it was. The only telltale sign that he was still Harry Potter were his wire-framed glasses and the green eyes behind them.

Satisfied with his appearance, he apparated into Diagon Alley just outside of the Leaky Cauldron. His first stop was to be Gringotts, the wizarding bank, because he only had a couple galleons left on himself. He walked quickly through the streets and up to the large, white building. As usual, there was a goblin sentry standing at the doors. Harry gave the goblin a polite nod as he entered the building. There were several available goblin tellers, so Harry chose the closest one and walked up. “Potter vault please,” Harry requested, already handing over his key.

“This is not the key to the Potter vault,” the goblin stated in a no-nonsense tone of voice, clearly feeling that his time was being wasted.

“What do you mean?” Harry asked incredulously. “I’ve used it to get to my vault before. Griphook took me down.”

The goblin looked up sharply, but his features were indistinguishable. “This is the key to the trust vault of Harry James Potter. It is not the key to the Potter family vault as you had requested.”

Harry was dumbfounded. “Potter family vault? I thought my vault was my parent’s vault. Can you tell me who controls the Potter vault now?” Harry questioned, wondering if it was possible that he still had some family left.

“The Potter family vault is currently in the control of Albus Dumbledore until Harry Potter, the only remaining Potter heir, comes of age,” the goblin explained.

“So you’re saying that I can’t get access to the vault until I turn 17?” Harry asked to make sure he understood everything correctly.

“I said you could not access the vault until you come of age. You wizards may consider 17 to be your coming of age, but we goblins consider it to be 15. After the heir turns 15, the executor is required to relinquish control of the account to the heir.”

“But I turned 15 last summer, and I was never given control of the family vault,” Harry retorted indignantly.

“Did you ever ask Mr. Dumbledore to hand over control to you?” the goblin asked impatiently.

“I didn’t even know the vault existed before today, so how was I supposed to know I had to ask for control over it?” Harry asked, annoyed.

“I could have an official notice sent to Mr. Dumbledore giving him until the end of the month to hand over control to you before it is forcibly taken from him if you would like,” the goblin offered.

“That would be perfect. Thank you for your help,” Harry replied politely. That would give Dumbledore about two weeks to give Harry control to his family vault. “In the meantime, can I visit my vault please?” Harry asked the goblin.

“Certainly,” the goblin replied. “Griphook! Take Mr. Potter to his vault please.”

The familiar goblin waved Harry forward and led him to a cart that would take them down to the vaults.

“It’s nice to see you again, Griphook,” Harry said politely.

“Beg your pardon?” was Griphook’s startled reply.

“Oh, you probably don’t remember me. You took me down to my vault the first time I was ever here five years ago. I was with my friend Hagrid at the time,” Harry explained.

“I remember perfectly,” the goblin replied. “You were with the half-giant that day. I was just surprised you remembered me. Most humans don’t pay attention to us goblins. We’re all the same to them.”

“Oh, well I know lots of wizards treat magical creatures as beneath them, but I never bought into any of that. I have friends who are house elves, werewolves, half-giants, and half-veela. One of my best friends started up an organization to promote elfish welfare,” Harry elucidated.

“Well Mr. Potter, you are certainly unique among your kind,” the goblin stated.

“Please, just call me Harry.”

“Very well, Harry,” said Griphook. “I hope you don’t find me too presumptuous, but why have you dyed your hair to another color? Your hair was black the last time we met.”

“I don’t want anyone to notice me while I’m walking around Diagon Alley today. Not only would any death eaters who saw me try to either capture or kill me, but Dumbledore and his followers would try to capture me as well. So it’s best if nobody knows who I really am,” Harry explained.

The cart suddenly stopped. “We have arrived. Key?” Griphook held out his hand.

Harry handed over the key and grabbed the lantern as he exited the cart after the goblin. Griphook opened the vault door, and Harry stepped inside. He began filling his money pouch, and it was soon stuffed to the brim with galleons.

“Might I make a suggestion, Harry?” Griphook asked.

“Of course” Harry replied.

“You seem to be withdrawing quite a bit of gold today. Would it not be easier to just use one of our bottomless money bags?” Griphook asked.

Harry looked at Griphook questioningly for a moment before asking the obvious question. “What’s a bottomless money bag exactly?”

Griphook looked surprised that Harry had never heard of one before. “It is a bag that is linked directly to your vault. You just state the amount of money you need, and it will be automatically transferred from your account to the bag.”

“Brilliant!” Harry exclaimed. “How can I get one?”

“If you’ll just follow me back to the cart and up to the surface, I can arrange everything for you. There is an initial fee of 35 galleons go get you set up with the bag and an additional 15 galleons per month after that. For an extra 5 galleons we can key extra people to your bag. Only one who has been keyed will be able to withdraw money from your account through the bag. That way nobody but yourself or anyone you designate will be able to take money from your account, so you need not fear if you lose the bag.” Griphook explained.

“Great” Harry said as he dumped the contents of his bag and counted out 35 galleons. He turned to Griphook and said “Lead on.”

And so, twenty minutes later, Griphook handed Harry the bag that was now linked directly to his account that would allow him to withdraw any amount at any given time. Before he left Harry asked the goblin “Do you have a record of how much gold I have in my account? I don’t want to end up spending all my money without even realizing it.”

“Of course, Mr. Pot – I mean Harry. Let me just find the latest statement,” Griphook responded as he began rifling through some files. “Ah, here it is. You have in your personal account an amount equaling 51,213 galleons, 7 sickles, and 3 knuts. Your money is not all in that form, obviously, but that is the total amount of money available to you.”

“Wow,” Harry sputtered. “Thanks Griphook; you’ve been a big help.”

“You are welcome, Harry,” the goblin replied formally. “It was a pleasure to do business with you.”

“And you as well,” Harry responded before walking out of the office and through the hallway to the main chamber of the bank. He exited the bank and headed immediately toward the second-hand robe shop. Sirius had explained to Harry that the eyewear store was just across the street from it.

As he walked through the door of the shop, a middle aged witch greeted him cheerfully from behind the counter. “Can I help you, young man?”

“Yes” Harry replied. “I’m looking for contact lenses to replace these glasses.” Harry momentarily lifted the glasses off of his face.

“Ah, now that I can do. Can I see your glasses for a moment, please?” the witch asked politely. Harry passed his glasses to the woman. “My, my, my. Your eyes are magnificent. You certainly shouldn’t be hiding them behind these glasses. Normally I’d offer lenses to change your eye color, but with those startling eyes, you’ll want the clear variety. I’ll just be a moment. Here you go, dear.” She handed Harry back his glasses and slipped into the back room.

Harry slipped his glasses back on with his cheeks flaming up from the woman’s comments. Ever since his third year he had been especially proud of his green eyes because they were the only physical trait that people associated with his mother.

He looked around the shop and found several racks full of glasses. Some were normal looking, others had various dials all over them like the omnioculars he had used at the Quidditch World Cup. There was also a rack with magical eyes, much like the one Moody had, displayed.

After a couple minutes the witch returned. “All right, I’ve got you a nice pair of clear contacts that I matched to the prescription of your glasses, and I’ve got a pair of our automatically correcting lenses that will sense your needs and adjust to them. Would you like to try them out?”

“Yes, please,” Harry replied holding his hand out. She handed him both boxes explaining which was which as she did so. He tried on the ones matched to his glasses, and, as expected, found his vision returned to normal. He carefully took the lenses out and tried the other pair.

The difference between the two was surprising to Harry, although it really shouldn’t have been. The Dursleys hadn’t taken Harry to an eye doctor since the school forced them to buy glasses for him when he first started attending. His prescription had probably changed since then, but the Dursleys would never bother to take Harry in to check. He could see much more clearly with these lenses than he could ever remember seeing.

Harry quickly made the decision to get the automatically adjusting ones without any color. But he thought that changing his eye color might help his disguise some, so he decided to ask for some brown colored lenses as well. The woman complied after a nominal complaint about hiding his natural eye color and ran into the back room to grab the additional pair of lenses.

When she reemerged Harry handed her back the clear pair that he was not buying. She rung up the two pairs he wanted and said “The clear contacts are 45 galleons, and the brown ones are 50, which brings your total to 95 galleons.”

“95 galleons,” Harry repeated while holding his money pouch. He reached inside and emptied the 95 gold coins that had magically appeared onto the counter. Harry took off his glasses and put on his new brown pair of lenses. “Thank you for your help,” Harry told the store clerk with a grin.

“Any time,” the woman replied as the door swung shut behind Harry.

Harry checked out his reflection in the glass of the store’s window. He was pleased to see that he hardly recognized himself and was confident that nobody would figure out who he really was in this disguise. He made his first stop the magical storage shop. Before he began buying everything else, he needed a place to put everything. His current trunk was big and bulky and already filled to capacity. Harry remembered Moody’s trunk with its 7 compartments from his fourth year at school and decided he wanted something similar.

Harry entered the store and began looking at the trunks on display. There were only a few trunks there, and they were pretty basic. There was a single compartment trunk with double the space of a normal trunk, one with quadruple the normal space, and a couple three compartment trunks with various added dimensions to each compartment. It was not what Harry was hoping for.

He approached the man behind the counter. “Excuse me, sir.”

“Yes, what can I help you with, boy?” the man replied gruffly.

Harry did not like to be called boy, especially in the tone of voice the man used. It reminded him too much of his Uncle Vernon, but he tried not to let it bother him. “I was wondering if those were the only trunks you had in stock or if you had more of a selection to choose from,” Harry answered, maintaining a polite tone.

“Course we got more. We only keep the most basic out in the front. The rest are in the back. What’d you have in mind?”

“I don’t know what’s available. What’s the top model you have?”

The man eyed Harry suspiciously for a moment before finally ordering “Follow me.” He led Harry through a door in the back to find a warehouse much larger than the building it was housed in. ‘Magical storage indeed’ Harry thought to himself. They were soon in the section holding all the magical trunks. The man led Harry up to one trunk in particular.

“This is the top of the line. It has seven compartments total. The first three compartments have six times the storage capacity of a regular trunk. The fourth compartment also has six times the regular space, but it is done up with shelves. It’s generally used as a bookshelf. That leaves three other compartments, which are actually rooms. Two of the rooms are five meters long, four meters wide and three meters tall. The last room is eight square meters, and again three meters tall,” the man explained in a superior tone.

Harry nodded approvingly. “That would definitely do it,” he muttered to himself, then more loudly asked, “How much does it cost?”

The man gave a toothy grin. ‘This is where the game ends,’ he thought to himself. “More than a kid like you can afford,” he sneered, sweeping his hand toward Harry. “Now why don’t you stop wasting my time and either make a purchase or move on to another store?”

Harry dropped his polite front and stood up straight and tall as he retorted. “Now listen here, sir. I don’t know what kind of a shop you’re running here, but where I come from it’s customary for you to actually try to sell the merchandise instead of chasing your customers away. Now you can either give me a price and an apology, or I can turn around and find myself another shop to do my business at. Your choice.”

The man looked unsure of how to proceed for a moment before adopting an apologetic visage. “I’m terribly sorry sir. I don’t know what came over me. The base trunk costs 1000 galleons. Normally it would be an extra 10 galleons to key you into it, but I’ll wave the charge for you. I’ll key you in as the master, and you’ll be able to add and remove others at will. Only someone keyed in can open the trunk on their own, but you can take people in without actually keying them in if you’d like.”

“You said that was just for the base trunk,” Harry commented. “What else can be added onto it?”

The man’s demeanor screamed forced politeness. He obviously still doubted that Harry would actually be making such a purchase, but to his credit, the man answered Harry’s question without preamble. “The rooms of the base trunk are completely bare. Many people wish to have the rooms furnished. We have a few different styles to choose from in that capacity. There are also a couple additional features that can be added on.”

“Yes, I’d definitely want it to be furnished. Can I have a tour of one of your furnished trunks?” Harry asked the salesman.

“Certainly,” the man replied in his salesman tone. “Just follow me.” Harry did, and the man led him up to a trunk a few meters away. The trunk was a deep, reddish wood, and had seven little circles evenly distributed across its front. The man reached out with his right hand and touched his index finger into the last circle. A moment later he quietly intoned, “Open.”

The lid of the trunk popped open, and the man climbed inside. Harry followed after him and entered into the large room of the trunk. The walls, he noticed, were the same deep red wood of the trunk’s exterior and were bare save for the scattered torches that were hung up to provide light to the room. Not far in front of him was a cozy looking couch and a couple of arm chairs. There was a wooden table set up in front of the furniture, and a small brick fireplace set into the wall. There were also two bookshelves set up against the walls of the room.

The kitchen was in one corner of the room, with a small table and four chairs set up in front of it. It had a stove, oven, refrigerator, sink with a drying rack next to it, many different cabinets, which upon inspection contained a few place settings, plates, pots, pans, and silverware. As Harry looked around the room, the salesman told him of all the different things that were included in this package.

The fireplace, for instance, had some sort of charm placed in it to dissipate all the smoke that rose up it. The wood walls, thankfully, were fireproof. What Harry considered to be the refrigerator would preserve anything that Harry placed in it for as long as he should like. The stove could be lit with just a tap from Harry’s wand. He was encouraged to try out the furniture, to note how comfortable it was. And Harry had to admit, it was.

The tour continued into one of the smaller rooms, which had been converted into a bedroom. The walls were again bare save for a couple torches, while the queen-sized bed was fitted with dark blue with a gold trim. There was a desk in the room as well as a dresser. A closet was set into the far wall.

The third room was set up similar to the bedroom he had just vacated. It had all the same furniture, only slightly different in style and color. Harry listened as the salesman explained that there were also trunks where the last room was set up as a study instead of a second bedroom. Harry mulled that over for a bit.

He highly doubted that he’d ever have company spending the night in his trunk. So a second bedroom hardly seemed necessary. Then again, he didn’t really have that much need of a study either. It would provide more bookshelves, though Harry doubted that he’d be filling the two in the main room any time in the near future, so that was hardly a concern. And he had a desk in each of the bedrooms anyway.

In the end, Harry requested to see a model where the third room was converted into a study. He just couldn’t decide which one to go with. While they were looking at that second model, Harry commented, “You know, the only thing missing from these trunks is a bathroom. Toss that in, and you could live in there full time.” That earned him a toothy grin from the salesman who informed Harry that there was a new model that did include a bathroom.

So the two took a tour of that model, and Harry was showed into the bathroom. It was small, no doubt about that. But it had a toilet, sink, and a shower. In other words, it had everything it needed to have.

The man asked Harry if he was satisfied with the tour or if he’d like to look around some more. Harry said that he was ready to leave, so the man took his hand again and with a whispered “exit trunk” they found themselves in the warehouse again.

The man turned to Harry once again and asked “Is the trunk satisfactory?”

Instead of answering the question, Harry had a few of his own. “You mentioned that there were some additional features that could be added on. What kind of features are available?”

“Well there are some standard features to protect the finish of the trunk against wear and tear and even from some spell damage. It wouldn’t hold up against an Unforgivable or anything, but it would protect the trunk from many different spells should they go astray and strike the trunk. There is also a feature that can be added which will allow you to be able to shrink and expand the trunk. Normally, a shrinking charm would wreak havoc on the space that the trunk holds, but a recent development has allowed us to get around that problem.”

“That sounds good,” Harry replied. “I think I’d like a trunk with a study and a bathroom. And I’d also like the additional features, both to protect the trunk and to allow me to shrink it, added on as well. Now how much would that set me back?”

The man gave a small smile. “As I said, the base trunk is 1000 galleons. The standard furnishings are an additional 2000 galleons, with the addition of a bathroom being an added 500 galleons. Normally, the additional features would be an added 50 galleons each, but I’ll wave those for you.”

Harry grinned right back at the man. “I’ll take it.”

“Excellent,” the salesman beamed. “It will take me about five minutes to get everything prepared. You can wait out in the front of the store.”

The man made as if to lead Harry out, but Harry held up a hand. “Don’t worry about me. I think I can find my way back. Thank you for your help.”

“Believe me, the pleasure was all mine, Mr….?”

“Thomas,” Harry blurted out. “Dean Thomas.” It was the first name Harry could think of that didn’t stand out. He couldn’t use Ron’s name because the Weasleys were fairly well known. And he was learning that many knew of the Longbottoms as well, so Harry didn’t want to use Neville’s name again. And Dean Thomas sounded more believable than Seamus Finnigan. Harry later realized that he didn’t have to use the name of one of his roommates, but as long as it worked, he wasn’t going to worry about it.

So Harry made his way back out to the front of the store and browsed around a bit while his purchase was being finalized. He found a selection of backpacks that were charmed to be featherweight and had various amounts of expanded space that might appeal to him come the next Hogwarts term, but Harry had no need of such a thing at the moment, so he just continued to wander the small shop until the salesman came back.

A short while later, Harry was exiting the shop 3500 galleons poorer. In his pocket was a shrunken down trunk that only Harry could open at the moment and , if needed, he could live out of, and it would definitely be able to store all of his possessions, as few as those were. But that’s one problem Harry was out to rectify.

He directed himself toward the bookstore for his next stop. He walked through the now busy streets reveling in his anonymity. In the past when he walked through Diagon Alley, people always stared and talked about him as he passed. They treated him as if he was just some figure-head but not a real person. He no longer had to endure strangers introducing themselves to him wanting to shake his hand and meet the famous “Boy-Who-Lived.” Today he was a normal 15 year old boy going shopping.

He walked into Flourish and Blott’s to find the store relatively empty, quite different than what he was used to. Harry was used to coming here close to the start of term to find it crowded with students and parents trying to get that year’s textbooks. Now there were just a few scattered customers, and the place was almost as quiet as a library.

Harry grabbed a basket and began browsing the shelves of the store. He wanted a variety of books, so he grabbed anything that looked interesting or that looked like it might help in his training. Advanced Dueling Tactics, Advanced Dueling Spells, Arithmancy Made Easy, Simple Charms That Could Save Your Life, A Guide to Protection Spells, Stealth: the Art of Sneaking Around, Occlumency: Shield Your Mind, Magical Protection: Standard Wards for the Home, Magical Contracts: Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into, and many other books made their way into Harry’s basket.

He found several auror handbooks, a couple more charms books, several books on transfiguration including Animating the Inanimate, and several books in Defense Against the Dark Arts. He also grabbed a couple books on teaching techniques and how to lead a large group of people effectively.

As he added more and more books to his basket, he noticed that he never ran out of room and that the weight never became unbearable. He figured the basket must be charmed to keep expanding and to always be light weight regardless of its contents, similar to those backpacks he was looking at. He noticed another book that he added to his pile: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Unforgivables (short of how to cast them).

Harry took his large collection of books to the counter where he was greeted by the friendly old shopkeeper. “All set, young man?”

“Yes sir,” Harry replied politely as he placed his basket on the counter.

“Merlin’s beard. Quite a collection you seem to be building up. I suppose you’ll be needing an enchanted bag to carry these around in…”

“Oh that won’t be necessary,” Harry interrupted as he pulled out his new trunk. He put his hand on top of it and said loudly and clearly, “Full size,” as he cast a wandless finite incantatem. Acting like it was the most normal thing in the world, Harry continued, “I’ll just store them in here,” gesturing towards his now full sized trunk.

“Remarkable. They have the shrinking charm added in there now, huh? I guess it was only a matter of time since you young’uns can’t use magic ‘til you’re 17.” Harry smirked to himself. That was the reaction he was hoping for. He needed some way to shrink and unshrink his trunk at will in public without arousing suspicion about underage or, even worse, wandless magic. So he decided to just make it look as though he wasn’t doing any magic at all. Make it look like it’s the trunk and not him. The attention is all on the trunk then and not on Harry.

“Dear me, I seem to have gotten carried away with myself. I’ll just ring you up then, shall I?” the old shopkeep said. He began sifting through the basket and adding each book to the tab. He handed each book to Harry to put in his trunk as he finished with it. When he lifted the book on the Unforgivables he paused, “Normally I’d be hesitant to sell a book such as this to one as young as yourself, but I suppose that with You-Know-Who back you’ll be growing up well before your time anyway.” With that he handed the book over.

When the last book was in Harry’s trunk the shopkeeper said “That will be 127 galleons, 11 sickles, 3 knuts.” Harry repeated the amount and fished out that exact amount from his money pouch. He handed over the coins to the old man.

“Thank you, young man. Have a splendid day, and stay safe,” the shopkeeper called out to Harry with a smile.

“Thank you, sir. You do the same,” Harry said to the man as he tucked his now shrunken trunk back into his pocket and exited the store. He had to stop himself from waving to Ernie Macmillan, a Hufflepuff in his year at Hogwarts, as the boy passed by on the street, remembering at the last moment that he was in disguise. It was definitely best not to call attention to himself.

As Harry continued walking down the busy street he felt his stomach grumble hungrily. He decided to make his way over to the Leaky Cauldron for a bite to eat before he continued shopping. After maneuvering through the bustling crowd, Harry entered the dingy pub. He spotted Tom the bartender and headed his way to request a meal.

As Harry walked towards the bar, what he saw made him stop in his tracks. Two faces Harry had not expected to see today swam into view, one very familiar, the other not so much, yet he knew both people. He stared intently into the somber face of Remus Lupin who was sitting at the bar with a woman who Harry unmistakably identified as Nymphadora Tonks. He may not have recognized her face, but nobody else could pull off the hot pink hair, nor would many others even try to. Besides, how many pink haired women could Professor Lupin know?

Harry quietly and discretely sidled up to the bar to try to eavesdrop on their conversation. He was very careful to remain as inconspicuous as possible; the last thing he needed was to be recognized by either of the two. He’d never hear the end of it.

“He won’t want to talk with me, Tonks. He’s got friends that will be there to help him. I’ll just remind him of what he’s lost,” Lupin proclaimed.

“Don’t be daft, old man. Harry needs you now more than ever. Sure he’s got his friends to help him, but he needs you more than he needs them. None of his friends were that close to Sirius, and they won’t have a clue as to what he’s going through or how to help. They’re just kids; they don’t know what it’s like to lose someone close to you. You’ve been there before, and you’re going through it again. Help him. Help each other. You may find you need him just as much as he does you,” Tonks encouraged.

Harry sat stunned as Lupin brooded over Tonks’ words. ‘How could I have been so selfish?’ Harry silently castrated himself. ‘He’s now lost the last of his friends, for the second time at that, and all I’ve thought of is myself.’ Harry had to fight the urge to rush over and comfort the man as he continued to sulk.

“How has Harry been taking it?” Lupin finally asked quietly. By the look on his face, Harry could tell that he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know the answer to his question.

“To be honest, I’m not sure,” Tonks replied with a sigh. “The first few days with his relatives, there didn’t seem to be any movement at all in his room.” She paused as though considering how to continue. “Then one day he’s moving about like everything is normal. He does close his shades quite a bit though, which makes it harder to tell what he’s up to. Makes me wonder if he knows we’re watching him.”

“I’m sure he knows. After last summer how could he not know?” Lupin asked sourly.

Tonks continued on as if he hadn’t said anything. “Several days ago he started running and working out in the mornings. I always get stuck with that shift, so I have to run with him in my invisibility cloak, which is not an easy task mind you.” Tonks paused again to think over her words carefully. “It’s strange, really. He seems like he’s ok. I’m worried that he might just be suppressing everything and not really confronting his feelings, maybe even pretending that he’s not really dead.”

Harry felt his chest constrict. Ever since his godfather had begun visiting his dreams, he had not really thought about the fact that Sirius was still dead. He was responsible for Sirius’ death, and lots of people were suffering as a result. He resolved to write to Remus as soon as he returned to Privet Drive.

Harry stumbled away from the bar and out of the pub, his hunger long forgotten. He wandered the streets aimlessly for several minutes, jostled constantly by the stream of shoppers now pouring out of shops and heading every which way to their new destinations. His desire to shop had also left him, so Harry stepped off to the side of the street to avoid the hustle and bustle of the crowd. He soundlessly disappeared from Diagon Alley and rematerialized in his room at Number 4 Privet Drive.

After spending several minutes staring unseeingly at a blank piece of parchment on his desk, Harry realized his restless mind would be unable to concentrate on anything at the moment. He needed something to help clear his mind and settle his nerves. The way he saw it, he was left with two options: owl or panther.

He apparated to the outskirts of Hogsmeade again and quickly took to the sky in his owl form. The sun was bright in the virtually cloudless sky. Harry quickly located the railway that the Hogwarts Express uses to transport the students to and from school.

He followed the tracks for several miles until he found what he was looking for. He was surrounded by open fields, green grass everywhere he looked. There was not a human being in sight. He angled himself into a dive and pulled up at the last possible second so that he was flying swiftly, level with the ground only a few feet below. He made the transition into panther straight from his owl form and didn’t miss a stride as he galloped through the green fields.

The world was Harry’s playground. He ran every which way, chasing everything and nothing. He left the path of the Hogwarts Express and traveled through the countryside not caring which direction he headed nor where he would end up.

After over an hour, Harry found a nice large oak tree and plopped down in the shade panting from exhaustion. He found himself compelled to hunt as his earlier hunger seemed to have caught up with him. His animal instincts longed for him to catch at least a small animal to feed on; his human self, meanwhile, was sickened at the thought of eating raw meat straight off an animal’s corpse.

Tired of arguing with himself, Harry reverted back to human form and apparated to the Dursleys’. He ducked out of his room to the kitchen to get some food. As he walked through the hall he glanced through the open door and jumped, startled momentarily by the image that greeted him in the mirror of the bathroom. A blond haired boy with brown eyes reflected back to him.

“I can’t believe I forgot to change myself back,” Harry quietly chastised himself. “If the Dursleys saw me like this, they would freak.” He slipped into the bathroom and shut the door. After taking the color off his hair, Harry removed the brown contact lenses and placed his glasses back on. He thought he rather liked his hair long, but he wouldn’t be able to explain the sudden increase in length to any muggles, so he decided he would have to let it grow the natural way.

Now that Harry thought about it, though, his hair didn’t ever grow. He hadn’t had a haircut since before he started attending Hogwarts when his aunt had shaved the hair off his head save for the fringe to cover his scar. The next morning his hair had all grown back to its usual length, and she had never tried to cut his hair again.

Harry focused hard on his hair and felt his magic flowing atop his scalp. He willed the hair to become shorter and shorter, then longer again. It worked. He had control over the length of his hair. He decided to leave it slightly longer than it normally was for now, and he would just increase the length a little bit every day until he was happy with it.

Harry looked at himself in the mirror again. He debated whether or not he should keep the glasses or switch to his clear contacts, but he decided that he didn’t want to have to explain them to anybody yet. He would wait until he left the Dursleys before he switched to contacts for good. Satisfied with his appearance, Harry left the bathroom and resumed his trek to the kitchen.

After scarfing down a quick lunch, Harry returned to his bedroom and sat at his desk. He found the blank piece of parchment he had left lying there earlier and his quill and ink. He dipped the quill into the ink bottle and began to write.

Dear Professor Lupin,

Hi. I realized today that I have never written to you before, and for that I am sorry. During my third year with you teaching at Hogwarts, I felt close to you and closer to my parents by extension. I had never met a friend of theirs before. You were there for me when I needed you, and I can never thank you enough.

When Sirius came along, I lost sight of the bond we had formed. He represented a chance for a different, better life, and he was yet another connection to my parents. But now he is gone. I’m so sorry. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and feeling guilty for what happened. I know Sirius’ death doesn’t really lie on my hands, but I cannot help feeling responsible. I’m not arrogant enough to try to take all the blame; I know there is plenty to go around. But I still feel like I have my own share to carry.

I spent all that time thinking only of myself without ever thinking about how his death had affected anyone else. What I’d most like to say to you is that I’m sorry that you lost your best friend, and I’m sorry for the hand that I played in everything that happened. I can’t imagine how you must feel, having already lost him once, but I want you to know that you don’t have to go through it alone. If you feel up to it, I’d like to talk to you about everything: Sirius, my parents, your time at Hogwarts, life in general, or whatever else might come up.

I don’t think it would be a good idea to meet at the Dursleys’ since they hate everything magical, especially magical people. They’ve been tolerable so far this summer, but I don’t think they would take too kindly to a wizard visitor. There is a park nearby where we could talk. If you would like to meet, let me know when to meet you. My calendar is pretty open right now since I’m stuck here with nothing to do all summer, so whenever works for you would be fine. I look forward to hearing from you.

Take care,
Harry


He read through the letter once and smiled inwardly. He really hoped this would help cheer his old professor up. The man had looked awful in the pub today, and Harry hoped he could do something to lift his spirits. He couldn’t believe that Professor Lupin thought that Harry wouldn’t want to talk to him. Harry rolled up the parchment and tied it to Hedwig’s leg asking her to deliver it to him right away.

His owl gave him a hoot to acknowledge his request before taking off out of his bedroom window. With that taken care of and his nerves finally settled, Harry took out his new trunk and enlarged it. He retrieved one of his new Defense Against the Dark Arts books and began reading.

******

Harry was a bit distracted that night while he was dueling with his godfather. He kept thinking of Professor Lupin in the bar and wanted to talk to Sirius about it, but he wasn’t sure how to bring it up. Sirius must have noticed something was amiss because he called for Harry to stop and asked “Alright, what’s on your mind?”

Harry met his godfather’s gaze momentarily before examining the floor carefully. “Was I that obvious?”

“Well…yes, you were” Sirius replied with a smirk.

“It’s Moony…” Harry replied despondently.

At his friend’s pet name, Sirius’ eyebrows quirked upward. “Oh?” was all he uttered.

“I saw him at the Leaky Cauldron today,” Harry explained. “He didn’t look so well. Tonks was there as well, keeping him company and trying to cheer him up. She’s worried about him, and they’re both worried about me. He seemed almost lifeless.” After a slight pause he added, “I wrote to him today asking if he’d like to meet me and talk about everything.”

Sirius’ expression almost matched the face that Lupin had worn in the pub hearing of the state of his friend. “That was good of you to do,” he finally replied after several tense moments of silence. “Moony’s strong. He lost all of us once before, but he pulled through. He has a tendency to try to handle things alone, defense mechanism he picked up living his life as a werewolf. Having someone to lean on and, more importantly, having someone who will lean on him will be good for him.”

“I hope you’re right,” Harry replied with a sad smile. “I feel bad that I never thought of how he was dealing with everything sooner. First I was too caught up in my own grief and guilt, then you came along and I began training, and I just didn’t really give it much more thought after that.”

Sirius sighed “I was afraid of that. Look, I know this is hard, but you still need to come to terms with the fact that I am dead, even though I’m visiting you in your dreams every night. Eventually I will move on and won’t be able to visit you any more, and I don’t want you to fall apart when that happens.”

Harry’s eyes moistened as he surveyed his godfather. “I don’t want to lose you again,” he choked out.

Sirius quickly closed the gap between them and enveloped Harry in a hug. “I know Harry. I know,” was all the man could say. He stood there holding Harry for a few minutes rubbing the young man’s back soothingly. He pulled away to look his godson in the eye “We still have this time together, and you’ll have time to accept what’s to come. I just don’t think you should lose sight of the fact that I am dead and one day will be gone for good.”

“I know you’re right,” Harry said. “I’ll try not to forget.”

Sirius gave him another brief hug before asking “You ready to get back to work?”

“Yeah. Yeah, let’s do it.”

******

When Harry returned from his morning workout, he found Hedwig waiting for him with a letter. He opened it up and read the short message.

Dear Harry,

I would like to see you very much. Meet me in the place you mentioned today at 2:00. It meant a lot that you thought to write to me.

With regard,
Remus Lupin


Harry couldn’t help but smile despite the nature of the visit. He was really looking forward to seeing his old professor again. He set the note aside and pulled out the book he had begun reading the previous night. He spent the rest of the morning buried under his newly acquired library, only taking a break when his stomach reminded him to eat lunch.

As it drew nearer to 2:00, Harry felt as if he was studying the clock at least as much as he was his book. He was anxious and nervous about his meeting with his former professor. Finally, at quarter to 2:00, Harry marked his place and shut his book. He put the book back in his trunk, shrunk the trunk, then slipped it into his pocket. He didn’t want to take any chances with his new possessions. He didn’t want anybody to know that he had bought any of them.

He left the house unnoticed by the Dursleys. They hadn’t been paying Harry much attention at all this summer. It was easier for them to ignore Harry than it was to be civil with him. The sky was overcast with dark gray clouds looming over him in all directions as he walked to the park. He hoped that it would not rain this afternoon, at least not while he was still out with Professor Lupin. He passed over Magnolia Crescent and onto Magnolia Road and continued his trek. He ignored the few residents giving him scathing looks as he passed by their homes.

Soon enough Harry was entering through the gates of the park. He looked around but did not see his old professor anywhere. With a shrug he began ambling through the park for lack of anything better to do. As he passed by an empty bench a disembodied voice startled him “Harry.”

Harry jumped into action as he whipped out his wand and rolled to the side. With his wand leveled toward the empty bench, Harry looked around for the source of the noise. “It’s me, Harry,” his former professor said as he removed his invisibility cloak and appeared before him.

“Merlin! Don’t do that to me,” Harry said as the man extended his hand for Harry to shake. Harry clasped his hand and encircled his old professor with his other hand to give him a backslapping hug.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” he replied. “But I must say I’m impressed with your reaction. Moody would sure be proud.”

“It’s alright. Just be glad I didn’t hex first and ask questions later. The last thing I need right now is another letter from the ministry about under age magic use,” Harry shot back with a grin knowing that any spell he shot would not have actually come from his wand, making it untraceable by the ministry. But he had to keep up the guise that he was unable to perform magic at the moment.

“Point taken,” was Lupin’s only reply as he guided Harry over to the bench where the two of them sat down.

For several minutes neither one said anything as they traded off studying each other and their surroundings. Finally Lupin broke the silence. “So how have you been holding up?” he asked.

“I’m okay,” Remus made to interrupt but Harry held up his hand and continued. “Really. The first few days back here I was a wreck. I didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, didn’t really move much at all. I spent all day and night lying in bed staring at nothing at all. But then I decided that brooding all day long wouldn’t solve anything and that Sirius wouldn’t want me to be taking it so hard. So I decided to do something with myself. Ever since then I’ve been doing a lot of studying, and I recently started jogging and working out in the morning. I’m finished with all the summer homework that was assigned for the classes I’m planning on taking next term. I’ve just been going through all my old text books picking up anything I might have missed.”

“Sounds like you’ve been keeping pretty busy,” Lupin commented.

“Yeah, you could say that. I just needed to do something. I’m sick of being left here cooped up in my room all day, so I started studying. That left me feeling restless, so I began training physically as well. That night made me realize dueling is as much physical as it is magical. I’ll need all the edge I can get next time, so while I can’t practice with my wand here, the physical training will have to suffice.” Harry hated lying about the magical training he had been doing, but he just couldn’t risk telling anybody. Not yet, anyway.

“That’s very insightful, Harry,” his old professor encouraged. “You may be onto something there.”

“I’m thinking about incorporating some physical training in the DA this year as well,” Harry continued. “I’m not sure how I’ll fit it in, but I think it’s important. I need to start planning what I’m going to be teaching and how it will work so I can present it to Professor Dumbledore. I’ve got to go over some things with Hermione as well. She was the real brains behind it last year.”

“You’re going to keep teaching the DA?” Remus inquired. “Even with Umbridge gone?”

“Yeah. Even if they manage to find a good teacher, they’ll still need all the training they can get, especially with the lack of consistent teaching over the years. In five years there, I’ve only had three acceptable teachers, and two of them tried to kill me. I already asked for permission to run it as a school club with me as the leader and was granted it. Only the details need to be worked out now, and we’ve got all summer for that,” Harry explained.

“Indeed,” Remus replied with a thoughtful expression. “I think it’s great that you’ve found all this stuff to keep yourself busy with, but I’m worried about you, Harry. It does not do to dwell on things you cannot change, but it is perhaps worse to ignore them or pretend that they never happened. I’m worried you might be doing that here.”

Harry sighed. “I know what you’re talking about Professor, but…”

“Harry,” Remus interrupted, “it’s been several years since I’ve been your professor. Please just call me Remus.”

“Alright…Remus,“ Harry tested the name. “That’s gonna take some getting used to. I will admit keeping busy does help me take my mind off of S-Sirius,” Harry stumbled over his godfather’s name. “I know that he’s dead and that nothing will ever change that. And I’m sorry I cost you your best friend.”

“Don’t say that Harry,” Remus soothed, putting a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Don’t ever even think that. It wasn’t your fault. Any one of us would have done the same thing in your shoes.”

“Not Hermione,” Harry dead panned. “She knew how foolish I was being and tried to talk me out of it. She warned me that I had a ‘saving people thing,’ but I wouldn’t listen. Then she came along anyway and got hurt because of me.”

“Hermione is…” Remus took a moment to choose his words carefully. “Hermione is the type of person to analyze a problem from all angles before attempting a solution. Sometimes that’s what you need in a situation, but other times you need quick, decisive action. Hermione would be left at a disadvantage there because she would refuse to act on her own without all of the information. If Sirius really had been taken and Hermione had been left to decide the course of action, you never would have left Hogwarts in time to make any difference. You may not have made it out of Hogwarts at all.”

Remus continued, “In this case that would have been the best course of action but only because Sirius was not in any danger. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Next time it could be your quick action that saves lives versus Hermione’s less risky, analytical ways. As you grow older and more experienced, you’ll learn to tell which type of action fits each situation better, but nobody is infallible.”

“Right,” Harry replied with forced confidence. He then asked “What about you? How have you been doing?”

Remus let out a long breath before admitting “Not so good. It was hard losing my friends the first time around. James, Lily, and Peter dead with Sirius their betrayer. When I got Sirius back a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders, but now I’ve lost him again. And I know that I’ll never get any of them back ever again. It will only get worse when the next full moon hits. Having Padfoot there helped calm the wolf down.”

“Could I help?” Harry blurted out before he realized what he was saying.

“What do you mean?” Remus questioned, studying Harry carefully.

Harry had to think fast. ‘How could I be so stupid?’ he berated himself. “Do you promise not to tell anyone?”

“Sure Harry, if that’s what you’d like,” Remus responded.

“Not even Dumbledore?” Harry shot back.

Remus gazed at Harry penetratingly. “What’s this about Harry?”

“Only after you promise,” Harry replied seriously.

“Okay,” Remus sighed. “I promise I won’t tell a soul. Now don’t make me regret this.”

“I’ve been practicing to become an animagus,” Harry said quietly.

“What? When? How?” Remus spluttered.

“Sirius…” Harry slowly explained. “He got me started over the Christmas holidays. He gave me the potion and told me everything I would need to know. He even told me a couple books he and my dad had used at Hogwarts that might help,” Harry fabricated, impressed with his ability to make this up on the fly.

“How come he never mentioned anything?” Remus asked. “Or you for that matter?”

“We wanted to keep it a secret, something just between the two of us,” Harry made up. “He didn’t think many people would approve.”

“I see,” Remus paused taking in this new information. “So what’s your form then?”

Making a quick decision, he said, “Panther,” since that would be the form that would help most in keeping Moony company during the full moons.

“And how far along are you?” Remus questioned.

Harry considered this for a moment before answering. “Well before the year ended I was able to do partial transformations for all of my limbs and most of the rest of my body. I had meant to give the full transformation a shot before summer started, but with everything that happened I never got around to it. Now that I’m here I can’t try without getting kicked out of Hogwarts.”

“I’m impressed,” Remus said. “Do your friends know about this?”

“Not a one,” Harry replied evenly.

“I thought for sure you’d share something like this with Ron and Hermione,” Remus said with some surprise. “You three are so close.”

“It was something that just Sirius and I shared,” Harry said carefully.

“Ah, say no more. Thank you for sharing this with me, Harry.” Remus paused to consider something before continuing. “If I share a secret with you, will you promise not to tell anyone that you heard it from me?”

“Of course,” Harry replied without even needing to consider.

“The ministry can only track magic performed with your wand. So if you were so inclined,” Remus told Harry, “you could continue your animagus training over the summer.”

“Really?” Harry asked in mock surprise. “That’s great.”

“But I want you to be extra careful if you decide to give it a try, and it wouldn’t be a good idea if others knew you were trying,” cautioned Remus.

“Right, I’ll be careful,” replied Harry.

“Let me know if you manage a full transformation, then we’ll discuss if and how you’ll keep me company on full moons,” Remus said. “If you want to maintain your secret, we may have to wait until school starts to plan this. I just want you to know that it really means a lot that you’d share your secret with me, Harry, and that you want to help me with my transformations.”

“Prof – Remus, it’s the least I can do…”

“No, Harry,” Remus interrupted, “it’s a lot more than that. Thank you.” He choked out as he put his arm around Harry’s shoulder. “I know I can never replace Sirius, but I would like you to know that I will always be there for you if you should ever need me.”

“Thank you, Remus,” Harry said through a stifled sob. “I’d like it if we could meet like this more often.”

“I’d like that too,” Remus replied with a small smile. “How about we try to meet once every week or two? We shouldn’t meet at regular times, best to change it up every time. Moody would have my head otherwise. I’ll let you know the date and time of the next time I’ll be able to come see you. I’ll wait for you under my invisibility cloak at one of the benches, so just walk around like you did today until I call for you, ok?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Harry replied.

Remus sighed. “I should get going, Harry. Take care of yourself. I’ll send you an owl sometime soon for our next meeting.”

“Okay Remus,” Harry said. “Thanks for coming, and be careful.”

“You got it,” he replied as he rose to his feet and embraced Harry once more. “Until next time.” And with a pop Remus was gone.

Harry began his walk back to the Dursleys’ and thought over his conversation with Remus. He had given away information he hadn’t meant to, but he had done a pretty good job covering up his real summer time activities. It really felt good to have someone to talk to though, and he was glad he would be able to help Remus, especially when the full moon came around. Harry hadn’t thought about it, but Sirius had probably stayed with Moony each full moon since he had been back in England after his escape on Buckbeak in Harry’s third year. Harry was determined that Moony not suffer through his transformations alone.

The next several days passed by in his normal routine. He made a small dent in his new library and was becoming increasingly proficient in his wandless casting. He found that if he practiced any new spells at night with Sirius to get a feel for the spell, he could easily pick up the wandless casting for it the next day. He moved much of his wandless casting inside of his trunk, to avoid being caught.

He was also beginning to increase in the speed with which he was able to cast spells. It only took him half a second to build up his magic and form it correctly before casting his spell. And he was increasing the speed in which he could cast multiple spells one after the other. He found that he was just as quick if not a little quicker without the wand than with it. He still practiced with his wand against Sirius, though, because he wanted to be used to using it for when he got back to school. He didn’t want to slip up and showcase his new abilities for the whole school to see.

As Harry made his way through books, he took notes of any spells he thought would be useful to use in the DA. He kept a list and a short description of each spell in a notebook he had found in his room. Towards the end of the summer he would take his list and organize it into the order in which he would teach the spells.

In the back of his mind, Harry kept reminding himself that he needed to write up the magical contract for the DA and that he should consult Hermione about it. He had skimmed through the book he had bought on the subject, but he wanted to know as much as possible about magical contracts before he began working on it. He finally made himself sit down and write her a letter.

Dear Hermione,

I need your help. I know that must come as a huge shock to you. I am going to continue teaching the DA next year, only it will be a club open to all students 4th year and up. There will be a requirement that every member sign a magical contract saying that they won’t discuss the DA with any non-members and that they will not use anything I teach them to help Voldemort or the Death Eaters.

I would like your help with the contract. It needs to be more than the one you had everybody sign last year. For one thing, if anybody is insincere or planning on breaking the rules of the contract, they would be unable to sign their name in the first place. But then I was hoping to find a way to stop people from accidentally mentioning it in front of other people, kind of like how the Fidelius Charm works with the secret keeper being the only one capable of disclosing the secret. And of course there needs to be suitable punishment if either clause is violated. Any thoughts you have on this would be greatly appreciated. I managed to get my hands on one book on the subject, but I was hoping you might know a little more. I need to present the contract before Dumbledore and have him approve all the subject material.

Have you talked to your parents about everything yet? I was thinking it might be a good idea to have some support to help explain everything. I know I won’t be allowed to come talk to your parents, but one of the Weasleys would be an ideal candidate or Remus. I met with Remus last week, and we’ve decided to meet up and talk on a regular basis from now on. It’s nice to actually have some contact with the wizarding world beyond owls for once. Let me know how your summer is going. Keep in touch.

Take care,
Harry


After Harry sent Hedwig off with the letter, he returned to his studies. He had turned into somewhat of a machine, it seemed. He spent his entire day studying, practicing spells, improving his wandless abilities, physically training, and training in his animal forms. He spent the majority of each night training with Sirius in his dreams.

Sirius helped him while he was learning knew spells and also served as his dueling partner. His godfather was still the superior dueler, but Harry’s skills were improving dramatically. Harry was getting faster and stronger, both physically and magically. He was able to dodge curses while hurling hexes of his own, his shields were able to deflect anything Sirius threw at him, and his reflexes were as sharp as ever.

Prior to this training, Harry had not been accustomed to an all out duel. The way it had always been done in classes had been with opponents alternating shots and shields. In a real duel nothing was so formal. You could volley hexes back and forth or one person could release a barrage of curses one after the other. Harry was still getting used to this aspect of battle, but he was improving every night. He had finally managed to best his godfather the previous night. Sirius had been a mix of happiness and pride in his godson and anger at himself for having been beaten by a fifteen year old. Harry could tell that Sirius had been very proud of him despite his confused emotions.

He began reading his books on Occlumency today, spurred to do so after his first Voldemort related experience of the summer the previous night. His scar had not bothered him at all since their encounter in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic. He assumed Voldemort had been lying low since his return was finally being acknowledged by the ministry. Last night Harry had been training with Sirius as was normal when he was suddenly ripped from the classroom.

When he was able to orient himself, Harry found himself in a dark, dank cavern surrounded by figures robed in black, faces covered by masks. He had sat upon a rough throne hewn from stone. As he stood up to address his followers, they fell as one to their knees in a bow. “My loyal followers, tonight our number grows. I have called in our faithful servants from Azkaban, and with them come your brothers who were recently captured.”

Voldemort paused as a muttering spread through the crowd. “Silence! We have been careful thus far, discreet in our movements to avoid notice. Now the world knows I have returned. They no doubt expect us to make ourselves more public, to spread terror and chaos throughout the land. And we will. Yes, we will. In time. Now is the time to gather up our allies, to build up our numbers. While the world expects us to strike out, we will build up our strength. And just when they let their guard down, we have our coming out party. After all, we wouldn’t want to deny the world a chance to celebrate our glorious return. Once we have properly announced our presence to the world, the dark mark will once more light up the skies, striking fear into the hearts of the Wizarding World. And you, my followers, will be allowed to enjoy yourselves torturing and killing muggles, mudbloods, and muggle-lovers. We will show the world the superiority of pure blood.”

“Ah, it would seem our guests have arrived,” Voldemort commented as several Death Eaters entered. “Welcome. I trust your stay in Azkaban was pleasant. Tell me, how is it that 12 Death Eaters were unable to overcome half a dozen school children?” Voldemort asked in mock calm.

“My lord,” Lucius Malfoy answered, stepping forward, “we were trying to protect the prophecy. We could not strike the Potter boy for fear of destroying it.”

“That would explain how Potter eluded your grasp, Lucius, but tell me, how is it you were unable to capture one of the other five children running around? Surely you must have realized that Potter would have traded the prophecy had you captured just one of his friends.”

“My lord, it was not that easy. Potter was constantly threatening…”

“Silence! I have heard enough of your pathetic excuses,” Voldemort raged. “Do not fail me again, Lucius, or you will find the consequences most severe. Potter and his friends will pay. Now I will tell you the same thing I told Bella: Crucio!” A blast of pain shot through Harry’s scar as Malfoy dropped to the ground, writhing in agony. Voldemort continued to torture each of the Death Eaters who had been captured at the Ministry. Harry awoke sometime during the torture session in a cold sweat, scar searing in pain.

He spent the next several minutes curled up in a ball on his bed, clutching at his forehead. Eventually the pain began to subside and Harry was able to think clearly and process what he had just witnessed. Harry wondered whether or not he should inform the headmaster of this latest vision. There was nothing conclusive given, but it couldn’t hurt to let him know.

He was sure that Dumbledore would soon know about the breakout in Azkaban if he didn’t know already. But the threat of impending attacks weighed in on Harry’s mind, so he decided to write a letter right away. He stumbled out of bed and over to his desk where he had found a piece of parchment he could use and pulled out his quill and ink to write.

Sir,

Had vision. Prison breakout, Dementors gone. Voldemort laying low for a bit, planning something big before the attacks start.

HP


The letter had been short and to the point, but given the subject matter and the fact that it was early in the morning, Harry hadn’t really cared. He had tried to go back to sleep after sending the letter off with Hedwig, but his mind was too preoccupied to allow him rest. He wondered what his godfather was thinking about his sudden disappearance. Harry figured Sirius would assume that he simply woke up unexpectedly.

While lying in bed, he was reminded of how his previous visions of Voldemort had turned out for him and decided not to wait for Snape’s Occlumency lessons. Which is how he found himself now pouring through Occlumency: Shield Your Mind. Unsurprisingly, he found the subject to be much more in depth than Snape’s simple instruction to “Clear your mind.” There were several different methods outlined, but the best explanation Harry had seen thus far told readers to think of their minds as a castle or fortress.

This fortress would be like a city with all the inhabitants and their homes and possessions being his thoughts and memories. The people who were considered less significant would be close to the city walls or even outside of them. These would have hardly any protection. The majority of the people would be within the city walls and would be protected from intruders.

No fortress is completely impregnable, so the most important people would be towards the center of the city housed in a castle with its own protections surrounding it. Should anyone break into the city, they would be bombarded and fought back the minute they stepped foot inside. They would hopefully be expelled before ever reaching the castle in the middle of the city. If they did reach the castle, the intruder would have to break through its defenses while holding off the attack from the rest of the city making the castle all but impossible to break into if you’re a gifted Occlumens.

The key, Harry found, was not so much clearing your mind but organizing it. When a Legilimens first attacks, he will only have access to the most trivial thoughts and memories if he breaks through your outer shield, allowing the Occlumens time to expel the intruder without becoming distracted by the memories being viewed.

And so Harry decided that the first step towards mastering Occlumency would be to organize his mind. So he decided to take a few hours every day to sift through his memories and organize them. To help with the process, Harry imagined several different trunks in his mind. He put different labels on each trunk to put similar memories in each one. Each trunk could also have different compartments to further divide his memories into subcategories. School had its own trunk with each of his classes and teachers having their own compartment. Friends was another trunk with each of his good friends getting their own compartment, he put the DA members into another compartment, and other classmates into another.

He created a trunk for enemies which included compartments for Voldemort, Death Eaters, Draco Malfoy, other Slytherins who have sided with Draco or Voldemort, Snape, Fudge/Umbridge/other ministry idiots, and other miscellaneous foes.

He made a trunk for the Order with compartments for Dumbledore, Remus, Tonks, Moody, other members, and Order information and secrets. He made a trunk for family, both good and bad. The Dursleys comprised one compartment, his parents another, Sirius had one, and the Weasleys had a compartment. There was also a trunk for miscellaneous pre-Hogwarts memories that ranged from bad to worse.

And he made other various trunks as was needed. It would be a hard process for anybody to go through all their past memories and organize them, but for one who had a lot of bad memories without too many good ones to counteract them, it was a grueling process. Harry was noticeably distressed during this time, and his godfather picked up on it during their nightly sessions.

The organization of his mind lasted for several days, and his training with Sirius was virtually on pause during that time. Sirius had decided it was more important to comfort and reassure his godson during that time than to continue dueling. The boy had been through so much in his young life and had shouldered so many burdens on his own; it was time to try to lighten his load a bit. Sirius asked the questions that he had shied away from when he was alive about Harry’s childhood, the Dursleys, some of his rougher times at Hogwarts when so many people had turned their backs on him, his parents, and anything else that came up.

Harry also met with Remus again during this time. The perceptive werewolf had picked up on Harry’s mood as well. He took it to mean that Harry was finally really facing Sirius’ death and comforted him as best he could. Harry felt really guilty about misleading Remus, but used the situation to his advantage to sell his grief to his former professor. He knew that everyone expected him to be taking Sirius’ death badly, but seeing his godfather every night made it so much easier to forget the pain. But with Harry looking as bad as he did at this time, it made it that much easier to hide his nighttime activities from others.

When Harry finished organizing his memories, he knew he wasn’t done with them. He had been suppressing so much for so long, and he was not naïve enough to think that he was over his past, but there were more important things to do now. So he pushed all that aside, trapped in the trunks in his mind for the time being. With all of his memories so organized and stored away, Harry found it much easier to control his emotions and thought processes. He could prevent himself from thinking about certain things if he wanted to, and it wasn’t hard to squash any emotions he wasn’t ready to deal with by just locking them up and the thoughts and memories that were causing them.

Now that everything was sorted out, it was time to learn how to protect his mind and memories. He read more of the book and found different analogies of how to protect the mind. Physical barriers were one example, while another example likened the process to setting up wards to protect a home or possession. Given Voldemort’s strength, Harry decided it was probably best to cover all fronts. He didn’t know anything about wards yet, but he had bought a book about them from Diagon Alley. That would be the next book to devour.

In the meantime, Harry imagined setting up physical barriers. He imagined his mind to be encased in steel walls on all sides, the ceiling and floor both steel as well. He then imagined his trunks being reinforced with steel as well. After he felt like he had done all he could with physical barriers, he decided to start reading on wards.

That was how Harry found himself reading through Magical Protection: Standard Wards for the Home today. Harry had been using his assignment notebook that Hermione had given him to help him keep notes to himself and keep track of the days. As he was adding a note to himself he realized the date: July 30th.

Harry realized that it was Neville’s birthday. He decided that he would write a quick note to his friend to wish him a happy birthday. He wished he had thought of it sooner so he could have gotten the boy a gift, but he would have to make due with just a homemade birthday card. He set aside his book and pulled out parchment and quill to begin writing.

Dear Neville,

Happy Birthday, mate. I wish I wasn’t stuck with my muggle relatives, or I might have been able to get you something. I don’t know if you ever realized this, but our birthdays are only a day apart. Kind of funny how despite that, this day could still sneak up on me. But the Dursleys never celebrated my birthday, so it’s never been a big deal for me, which has made it easy to forget about it.

I hope your summer is going well. I’ve been keeping busy studying. I’ve been coming up with new lessons for the DA this year. That’s right, the DA will be back. It’ll be open to new members and officially sanctioned by the school, so we won’t have to sneak around the school all the time any more. You’ll hear all the details about it when we get to school.

Well I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I hope your day goes well.

Take care,
Harry


Harry walked over to his owl and gave her the letter to deliver to his friend. It was never a strange sight to see Harry talking to his owl at Privet Drive; she was, after all, the only friend he had in the house. Ever since he had found he could talk to Hedwig, he would occasionally change to his owl form and chat with his snowy white feathered friend. He also tried to imitate their mind speak in his human form, but had not found any success yet. He told Hedwig to deliver the note to Neville and that it was the boy’s birthday. He wished her a safe flight and saw her out the window.

Harry turned back to his book and buried himself in it. He found a lot of wards that would not help his current problem, but that he read up on regardless because he was genuinely interested in learning more about them. There were anti-apparation, anti-portkey, anti-muggle, and confounding wards. There were wards that would prevent entrance to anyone except in a certain location designated as the gate. There were wards that you could key to certain people to specifically prohibit their entrance. There were also age specific wards like the age line that Dumbledore had used with the Goblet of Fire in Harry’s fourth year.

There were a few different wards to create different kinds of silent spaces. One kind would block any sound from leaving the enclosed area but would allow sound to enter, another kind would block sound from entering the enclosed area but allow sound to leave it, and the last ward would block sound from both entering and leaving the enclosed area. There was an imperturbable ward that would prevent anything, living or non-living, from crossing through the barrier.

Harry found that the strength of a ward is equal to the amount of magic poured into it. Long lasting wards can be regularly reinforced to increase the strength of it. That’s why such long-standing buildings like Hogwarts were considered to be so safe, because their wards had been active for so long and were constantly being reinforced. In order to break through a ward, one would have to pour as much magic into breaking it as was currently active in strengthening it. But wards naturally deteriorate over time, so if any wards were not regularly strengthened, they would be rather easy to break through.

The book stated that there was a way to amplify wards by keying them into a gemstone. Using different gemstones to house the wards would increase the lifetime of a ward by lessening the amount that the wards weaken over time. It mentioned that many studies have been done on how different stones affect different types of wards and how the size and quality of the stone can affect things as well, but it did not go into any details in the subject. It was just a book on the basics, after all.

Harry found himself very interested in the subject of wards. Hogwarts was considered one of the safest places in the world, yet he had found his life in danger several times throughout his five year career there. He wondered what wards were in place at Hogwarts and how they were protecting students. He wondered how these wards had failed to protect him and his classmates so many times.

Before he went to sleep that night, he imagined placing some of the newly learned wards in his mind. He placed an imperturbable ward around his entire mind space to prevent anyone on the outside from entering. Putting wards up in your mind wasn’t exactly the same as it was casting the wards in real life. It was more of an analogy of sorts. You cannot cast magic in your mind, but you can will things to happen a certain way. So Harry just had to will a force field to be erected around his mind for it to happen. He also put a field over each of the trunks in his mind that would allow only him access to them.

That night Harry and Sirius only spent half of their time together training. After a time Sirius called for a halt, and they spent the rest of the night chatting away about anything and nothing. Sirius told Harry that it was his birthday present, since he couldn’t actually give him any gifts. He told Harry that his parents, James and Lily, had asked him to wish their son a happy birthday for them. Harry had smiled, eyes glistening with unshed tears, thinking that hearing that was better than any present anyway.

Harry awoke in high spirits. He made a conscious decision to enjoy the day. He locked away all negative thoughts and memories and concentrated only on good things. He jumped into his regular morning routine and threw on some jogging clothes. The sun was low in the sky but bright and cheerful. There were light, scattered white clouds, but the sky was mostly a soft shade of blue. Summer was in full swing. It was warm out, but not unbearably hot at this time of the morning. Harry broke out into his jog to the sound of birds cheerfully chirping in the trees lining the sidewalk.

He had recently taken to keeping an eye and an ear out for Tonks, whom he had overheard telling Remus she always got stuck running after him under her invisibility cloak. He had on several occasions managed to locate Tonks as she trailed after him; she could be quite clumsy even in the best of circumstances, so running around under an invisibility cloak was an invitation to disaster.

Harry noticed that today Tonks was trailing behind him on the sidewalk. Being in the spirited mood he was in, he decided to have a little fun with the goofy auror. He was rounding a corner with a particularly high hedge lining the edge. When he made the turn he jumped off the sidewalk into the hedge and held still listening carefully for the sound of her footsteps. Seconds later he heard her approaching, and just as she was rounding the corner Harry reached out and plucked the invisibility cloak off of her head.

“Wotcher, Tonks!” Harry greeted cheekily.

Tonks whirled around on the spot and clutched a hand to her chest. She was reaching for her wand when she noticed who her assailant was. “Blimey, Harry! You nearly gave me a heart attack,” Tonks complained. “What’s the big idea anyway? You trying to blow my cover?”

“Tonks, I’m hurt,” Harry responded clutching at his heart. “Here I am on my birthday, and you were content just to follow along in the shadows without coming out to wish me a happy day. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.”

“Harry, you prat, you know I’m not allowed to reveal myself like that,” Tonks retorted, swinging a punch at his shoulder.

“Oh yes, heaven forbid you break protocol,” Harry teased.

“What’s got you so chipper this morning?” Tonks asked.

“Why it’s my birthday, my dear Tonks. Need I any other excuse?” Harry asked feigning hurt.

“So you think that since it’s your birthday you can just go and do whatever you want?” Tonks questioned.

“More or less,” Harry returned brightly.

“Alright, I’ll let you get away with your fun just this once,” she relented. “How did you spot me, anyway?”

“Oh I’ve known you’ve been following me for weeks. I’ve been keeping my eyes open and my ears too,” Harry grinned. “I’ve thought about springing a trap on you for awhile now, and today seemed like just the right day to go for it.”

“Moody would be so proud,” the young auror mock praised.

“As well he should be,” Harry said pompously, puffing out his chest, doing his best impression of Percy as he talked about his job. He shifted gears and asked her seriously, “So how have you been, Tonks?”

“I don’t know,” she started, then paused. “It’s been a hard month. I’ve been worried mostly, I guess, for you and Remus and everyone. I miss Sirius, but I never got a chance to know him very well. Sure he and my mom were cousins, but he was in jail for half of my life. I have a couple memories of him from when I was younger, then the past year. A death of anyone you know will always hit you hard.”

“I know what you mean,” Harry replied gravely. “The truth of the matter is that I didn’t know him that well either. I mean, I only had the past two years, and even those were mostly just sporadic letters. I only had half of last summer and the Christmas holidays at headquarters to really be with him. That was it.” Tonks put a hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Harry gave her a sad smile in return. “It didn’t really make it easier though. It only made me regret that we didn’t get more time together and wish that there was some way for it to change.”

“You just have to keep in mind all that you still have,” Tonks interjected. “You’ve got a lot of people that care about you, Harry. You may not get along with your relatives, but you’ve still got a family, just not in blood.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Harry’s full smile returned. “I’ve still got a lot to live for. Remus is the one I’m really worried about. He lost everybody once before, and now he’s lost Sirius for the second time only two years after getting him back. I wish there was something more I could do for him.”

“You’re a good kid, Harry,” Tonks said fondly. “You and Remus are good for each other. But don’t you worry; I’m keeping my eye on him too. If he thinks he can get away with moping about, he’s got another thing coming.”

“Thanks Tonks. It’s good to know someone’s looking out for him.”

“You can count on me, Harry,” she said, flashing him a dazzling smile.

“Well, should we continue our morning jog?” Harry finally asked.

“After you,” she replied.

Harry handed her back the invisibility cloak and turned to continue his jog when her voice caught him “Oh, and Harry?”

“Hmm?”

“Happy birthday!”

“Thanks.” He gave her a bright smile before turning back and jogging away. Tonks slipped the cloak back over her head after making sure no one was watching. After a moment she continued after him.

Harry finished his jog and regular workout routine with a spring in his step. As he came back up to his room, he was greeted by a handful of owls bearing various parcels. Harry quickly went around relieving each owl of its burden. He offered each owl a treat and some water before finally turning to his small pile of packages.

Pig had delivered a present from Ron with a note attached. It was a short note wishing him a happy birthday and apologizing for getting mad at him for writing to Ginny. In a generous mood, Harry decided to forgive and forget and made a note to write a thank you to Ron. His friend had sent him a box of chocolate frogs and a poster of the Chudley Canons. Harry shook his head at his friend. Ron was utterly devoted to the Canons and seemed intent on making sure Harry was the same way.

An unfamiliar owl had brought him a somewhat weighty rectangular package with a note attached. Harry opened the letter first and found Hermione’s script on the page. She had wished him a happy birthday and told him that she hoped her present would help him. He tore open the packaging and, unsurprisingly, unearthed a book and a pamphlet. The book made him grin while the pamphlet caused him to huff in annoyance. The book she sent was to help him out with the magical contract for the DA. ”The Five Stages of Grief” pamphlet made Harry want to yell out in frustration. How could Hermione think a stupid little booklet would help in a situation like this?

Remembering his earlier vow to himself, he decided not to let it get to him and moved onto the next package. Another unfamiliar owl delivered a present from Remus. The note he sent asked him to meet him in the park today at 3:00. His former professor had sent him a book on defense and a wizarding photograph of himself, James, and Sirius. ‘The true marauders,’ Harry thought to himself. The photo was housed in a plane wooden frame. He decided to look up a charm to do engravings. He rather liked the title he had thought up.

A Hogwarts owl came bearing a gift from his half-giant friend, Hagrid. Harry hoped that Hagrid hadn’t sent him any homemade food again. His friend meant well, but his food always ended up winning the battle against Harry’s teeth. Harry tore open the package to find a dagger. He reckoned it was about a ten inch blade and had a dragon theme to it. A dragon coiled itself around the hilt of the small blade; its eyes sparkled with red sapphires. The sheath also had carvings of dragons on it. Hagrid always did love dragons.

Harry smiled at the gift. It was unconventional, sure, but it wouldn’t have been a gift from Hagrid if it was normal. He didn’t know how much use he’d get out of it, but Harry rather liked the gift. He looked at the note that was sent along with it written in Hagrid’s messy scrawl. He had wished Harry a happy birthday and told him not to let his relatives bother him. He said that he had an interesting term lined up for the students this year which made Harry cringe. Hagrid’s idea of interesting generally meant life-threatening to everyone else.

Errol had brought a package from Mrs. Weasley. Her cooking was legendary, and Harry was not disappointed to find homemade fudge and a small cake. Harry set it aside for the moment. After he opened all his presents he would put it in the fridge in his trunk to preserve the food.

The twins had also sent him an owl with a box full of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes products. Harry decided to hold off opening any of those just yet. He didn’t fancy having anything explode in his face just yet. They had sent him a letter wishing him a happy birthday and telling him about their business plans. They were apparently opening a shop in Diagon Alley in September. They told him that as their financial supporter, Harry would own ten percent of the company. Harry resolved to write them back to tell them that ten percent was too much. If he thought they’d let him, he would have tried to talk them out of giving any of the company to him, but he knew he wouldn’t get away with it, so he decided to try to talk them down to five percent instead.

Harry moved onto what his own owl, Hedwig, had brought him. The first was just a letter, a reply from Neville thanking him for his letter and wishing him a happy birthday in turn. Neville seemed really excited about getting back into the DA. Harry smiled as he thought of his friend; Neville had really come a long way the previous year. After Bellatrix Lestrange, the woman who had tortured Neville’s parents into insanity, escaped from Azkaban, he had found a new determination that quickly made him one of the most formidable duelers in the whole club.

Hedwig had also brought him a package with a note attached. Harry tore open the letter to find Ginny’s handwriting sprawled across the parchment. She wished him a happy birthday telling him to do something silly today just because. Laughing, he thought to himself ‘Already did that, Gin. Just ask Tonks.’ He resolved to write her back to tell her about his ambush on the auror. He thought she’d get a kick out of that.

He opened up the packaged she’d sent which was rectangular in shape. He found a drawing framed in an elegant dark wooden frame with symbols unknown to Harry etched along its sides. To be honest Harry barely noticed the frame at all. The drawing had caught his attention and held it. A big, shaggy black dog was grinning at him in a way that no normal dog would ever be able to. But this wasn’t any normal dog that had been drawn.

Padfoot was captured in all his glory. Harry was struck dumb at the sight. The drawing was magnificent. His godfather’s animagus form was captured perfectly. His personality bled from the canvas. He bounded about a small orchard painted behind him. Harry didn’t recognize the landscape, but that didn’t matter to him. Padfoot’s eyes sparkled with mischief. He wagged his tail spiritedly and lolled his tongue out of his mouth. He gave a silent bark at Harry, and Harry could almost hear it in his mind. The top of the frame had ‘Padfoot’ engraved across it in large letters. The bottom of the frame read: ‘In loving memory of a dear friend.’

Tears streamed down Harry’s face as he once again mourned the loss of his godfather. He hadn’t thought much about his godfather’s passing in quite some time since he saw the man every night in his dreams, but this painting made it all real for him for a moment. It was a fitting memorial for his godfather and friend. He didn’t think anything else could capture his godfather’s spirit as Ginny had done. He hadn’t even known she could draw. He reverentially placed it on the nightstand next to his bed and continued to gaze at it for another long minute before looking back to the rest of his gifts.

He picked up his new books and placed them with the rest of his library in his trunk. Harry kept his unread books in the regular storage compartments, but as he read through them he added the books to the bookshelves of the study in the trunk. So he slipped the books in with the rest of the unread ones, then gathered the dagger, food, and poster into the trunk. He put the food away and placed the dagger on a table in the living room. He wasn’t sure what to do with it just yet. He stuffed the poster into a closet, not wanting to stare at the orange poster in the living room or bedroom.

Harry exited his trunk and returned to his bedroom. He decided that thank you’s were in order, so he sat at his desk and began writing. Glancing at the drawing on the little table beside his bed, Harry began to write.

Dear Ginny,

Thank you. I can’t tell you how much your gift means to me. I don’t think anyone could have captured him better than you have. I could have sworn I was staring into his eyes. I can’t thank you enough for the gift. I didn’t even know you could draw, but you’re very good. I’d like to see some of your other drawings some time, if you don’t mind showing me.

Ron sent me the usual: candy and Canons merchandise. I don’t have the heart to tell him that I could really care less about the Canons. I’ve never seen a single game of theirs. The only professional Quidditch I’ve ever seen was at the World Cup. I think he takes the fact that I don’t badmouth the Canons like everyone else as a sign that I like them. I’m not really sure.

Hermione sent me books. Shocking, I know. Take a moment to calm down and get over your astonishment. One will be very useful. It’s a book on magical contracts. I had asked for her help writing one up for the DA. I highly doubt the other book will be of much help to me, though. She sent me a booklet on the five stages of grief. How she could think a book was what I would need to help me with it is beyond me, but that’s Hermione for you.

Hagrid sent me a dagger with a dragon motif on the hilt and sheath. It’s kind of cool, but I don’t know what use I’ll find for a dagger. At least it wasn’t any of his home cooking though. I rather like my teeth whole. Remus (Professor Lupin) sent me a book on defense and a picture of him, my dad, and Sirius. I was thinking about engraving ‘The True Marauders’ into the frame, but I think I’ll wait and have someone else do it for me as my hand writing is hardly legible.

Do you know about the marauders and all that? Sometimes I forget that while you’ve been around all these years you haven’t necessarily been privy to all of our little secrets and everything we’ve done. Sometime this term we’ll have to sit down together and catch up. I’m sure you’ve got a few stories you could share with me as well.

Anyway, the twins sent me some samples of their merchandise which I have been too afraid to open. They told me they’re opening up a shop in Diagon Alley in September. I hope we get a chance to see it sometime. I’m sure it’ll be a great shop. Your mum sent me fudge and cake, exactly what a growing boy like me needs.

I’m meeting with Remus later today. He told me to meet him in the letter he sent, so at least I won’t be completely alone on my birthday. Oh, and I took your advice before I even had a chance to read it and did something quite silly today. I’ve got people watching me all the time here, so I decided to surprise one of them, Tonks to be exact. I know the surprises are supposed to happen to the birthday boy rather then the birthday boy surprising other people, but my birthdays never were normal.

So I was on my morning jog, and after taking a turn I hid in some hedges and waited for Tonks to come around the corner. She always gets stuck following me when I jog. I snatched the invisibility cloak off of her as she came around the corner. I think I nearly gave her a heart attack, but the expression on her face was definitely worth it. She wasn’t too pleased at first, but I told her that it was my birthday and that she should be wishing me a happy day rather than following in my shadows. So we chatted for a bit about things: Sirius, Remus, life. We were talking about how little we both really knew Sirius. She was related to him but never really saw him because he was in Azkaban half her life. I only knew him for two years, and we only spent a couple months together.

Remus is the one I’m really worried about. He, my dad, Sirius, and Peter Pettigrew were best friends. He lost all of them in basically a day 15 years ago. Then two years ago he gets one of his friends back, and now he’s been taken away again, for good this time. That was half the reason I began meeting with him. I wanted to make sure he was ok.

I don’t know how I got onto such a serious topic, no pun intended. You’re quite easy to write to. I don’t know why, but I never have to think about what to say in my letters to you. I wonder if you’ll be that easy to talk to in person. We haven’t really talked very much in person before. I guess we’ll just have to find out. Thanks again for the drawing. It really is wonderful. You have a lot of talent. I best be off to write the rest of my thank you’s. Write again soon.

Take care,
Harry


That was one down. Harry wrote letters to Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Mrs.Weasley, and the twins. They all said similar things, thanking them for the gifts they sent and describing what else he had been given, with personal touches here and there. He told Ron all was forgiven. He told the twins that their offer of ten percent of their shop was too generous and that he would accept no more than five percent.

He decided not to send a letter to Remus since he would be seeing the man later that day. When all was said and done he found himself with six letters to send. Luckily four of the six would be delivered to the same place. He walked over to his owl and realized that he’d have to find something to hold his letters because he couldn’t tie all six to her legs. He conjured a small bag and put all the letters going to the Weasleys in it. He tied the bag to her leg and tied the other two letters to her other leg.

A few minutes later his owl was gone, and he still had a couple hours to go before it would be time to meet Remus. He decided to make himself lunch, so he left his room and walked out into the hallway. His cousin was leaving his room at the time and didn’t pay him any attention as he scampered down the stairs. By the time Harry was at the top of the stairs, the front door was slamming shut, his overweight cousin nowhere in sight. “If he moved like that more often he wouldn’t be as wide as he is tall,” Harry muttered to himself with a small chuckle.

He continued his trek to the kitchen finding his aunt scrubbing at the already miraculously clean countertop. As she looked up at him coming through the doorway, Harry gave her a polite nod and began whistling a tune as he made himself a sandwich. His aunt ignored him at first, but eventually she gave up her efforts and just stared at her nephew, her scrubbing completely forgotten. For his part, Harry paid her no mind. He continued to whistle as he cleaned up after himself and made his way back up to his room to enjoy his sandwich in private. He glanced back at his aunt as he was walking out of the doorway and gave her a grin when he saw her murderous glare.

He was not in the least bit surprised that his relatives weren’t acknowledging his birthday. They never celebrated it when he was younger. To be honest, Harry still found himself somewhat surprised and at a loss when his friends sent him gifts. He wasn’t used to having people around who cared about him enough to make such a gesture. The habits of youth aren’t easily forgotten, but every year he became a little more comfortable and relaxed with the idea. He really was lucky to have such good friends.

When he made it back upstairs to his bedroom, he sat at his desk and began eating his sandwich. When he was halfway through, an owl swooped through the window and into the room. Harry recognized the Hogwarts seal on the envelope as he took the letter from the owl. Harry immediately spotted the headmaster’s loopy handwriting on the top piece of paper. He pulled it out and read through.

Dear Harry,

Happy Birthday. It has just been brought to my attention that you are now eligible to take control of the Potter family vault. The vault had been left in my care for lack of a proper wizarding guardian. Enclosed in this letter are the proper papers signing over the vault to you. All you need to do is sign, and you will come into your full inheritance. If you just send the signed forms back to me, I will take care of everything for you.

I know you would probably like to take a look through your family vault, but I do not know if that will be possible this summer. Your safety is my prime concern, and I’m afraid that Diagon Alley is not safe enough for you to visit. Even with a full guard from the Order, the chances for an attack are just too great to justify the risk.

I will be meeting with the staff of Hogwarts in two weeks time. During that meeting we will discuss the DA and what status you will have as its leader. I will update you on any pertinent information regarding the club that results from the meeting shortly thereafter.

Sincerely,
Albus Dumbledore


‘That devious old codger,’ Harry thought to himself. If Harry hadn’t already known otherwise, he would have assumed that he had just come become eligible to inherit the Potter vault today, on his sixteenth birthday, rather than a year ago on his fifteenth birthday. Harry didn’t bother trying to kid himself that maybe it was unintentional or a coincidence. This was Dumbledore he was talking about. Everything that man did was well thought out.

He waited to send this letter out until the last day possible, Harry’s birthday, so that Harry would not question why he was just now finding out about his family vault. He would naturally assume that it was not brought up before because he could not gain access before today. Harry knew, however, that he should have been given access last year. And he also knew that Dumbledore had been given until the end of the month to hand access over to Harry. It was just convenient that Harry’s birthday was the last day of the month and still within the time frame.

Harry read through the accompanying forms to make sure his headmaster didn’t have any other tricks up his sleeve. As far as he could tell, the forms were exactly what he said they would be. They transferred control of the Potter vault and all subsequent deeds and entitlements to Harry James Potter. He took out a quill and signed his name in the few places it asked for his signature.

Harry wrote a short reply back to Dumbledore, thanking him for his birthday wishes and for telling him about the vault. He very much wanted to call the headmaster out on his scheme but knew doing so would only raise questions that he was not willing to answer. The frustrating part was that the headmaster had not lied in his letter; he had merely molded the truth in a form that best fit his purposes. Harry could not accuse him of being untruthful, only manipulative, and the evidence for it was flimsy at best. He could not prove that Dumbledore had purposely misled him even if he tried.

He sent the unfamiliar owl back out with the signed forms and his reply to Dumbledore. By the time the owl was flying out the window, it was only ten minutes until three. Harry rushed out of his room, down the stairs, and out the front door in a flash. He was hurriedly walking through the streets to the park at the end of Magnolia Road. He paid no mind to anyone that he passed along the way. He was eager to reach his destination.

When he finally walked into the park, he began his turn around the path passing closely to each empty bench, knowing one would hold his former professor. Sure enough, as he was passing the third bench, a voice called out to him.

“Happy birthday, Harry.” Remus Lupin appeared before him and drew Harry in for a brief hug.

“Thanks,” came his reply, muffled by the man’s shoulder.

Remus released Harry and took a long look at him. “So I heard you’ve been having some fun today,” he commented.

Harry cocked an eyebrow. “Been talking to Tonks, have you?”

“She may have mentioned something about a meeting with you this morning,” Remus casually replied.

“Oh?” Harry returned. “And what did she have to say?”

“Only that you scared her half to death,” his friend replied, cracking a grin.

“She did seem rather jumpy this morning,” Harry replied, completely composed.

“The way she tells it, she had plenty reason to be startled,” Remus retorted.

“Hmm,” Harry shrugged noncommittally.

“Says you jumped her from a shrub and snatched the invisibility cloak right off of her before she even knew what was happening,” Remus was smiling widely now.

“I might remember something like that,” Harry said, his composure cracking as he snorted a laugh. “The look on her face was priceless,” he finally choked out.

Remus joined in his mirth. “I would imagine so. I don’t think she ever expected to be attacked by the person she was protecting. I don’t think any of them thought you knew you were even being followed.”

“After last summer how could I not know?” Harry asked, repeating Remus’s words almost verbatim. “If they were guarding me last summer when Voldemort was lying low, I imagine that if anything they would double their efforts this summer now that he’s finally out in the open.”

“And you aren’t too far off base,” Remus replied. “You won’t find Mundungus on guard duty any more, or any of the less experienced members either. They’ve got only combat ready members watching over you at all times. The only auror who has completely escaped guard duty is Mad-Eye because he’s got experience on everyone else and is too often needed elsewhere.”

‘And thank Merlin for that,’ Harry thought to myself. ‘If he were guarding me, he’d notice that I’m not always in the neighborhood, so to speak. I’m lucky he hasn’t been guarding or my cover would have been blown a long time ago.’ “I see,” was all he returned out loud.

“So do you see Tonks often then?” Harry asked, changing the subject.

“Every so often,” Remus said timorously. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason at all,” Harry replied coolly.

“I know that look, Harry James Potter,” the werewolf shot back. “Just what do you think you’re getting at?”

Harry’s grin only grew at his former professor’s discomfort. “Whatever do you mean, Remus?” he asked innocently.

“I’ve seen that look enough on your father to know that it means you’re up to something.”

“Remus, I’m hurt,” Harry grinned. “How could you accuse me of such a thing?”

“Well how about you, Harry?” Remus said attempting to shift the focus off of himself. “I hear you’ve been getting a fair share of owls coming in. You haven’t been getting anything from the young Miss Chang now, have you?”

Harry smiled widely at the man’s attempt to turn the tables. “Nah, we broke up months ago. I haven’t thought about her at all this summer, but your defensive behavior is only confirming my suspicions, Remus.”

“And what are you suspicious of?” Remus asked in return.

“Oh, no, I wouldn’t want to embarrass you” Harry said with a mischievous sparkle in his eyes.

“Oh bollocks,” Remus exclaimed. “Come on, out with it already.”

His friend’s behavior was only encouraging Harry. “Oh if you insist,” Harry paused dramatically. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Tonks is a girl.”

“Of course she’s a girl…”

“Oh so you have noticed, then,” Harry interrupted. “And you see, sometimes when a boy and a girl are grown up, they may find themselves becoming attracted to members of the opposite sex, or in some cases of the same sex.”

“Honestly, Harry, I’m as old as your parents. I don’t need a speech about the birds and the bees,” Remus groaned.

“So you know all about your attraction to Tonks and what you should be doing about it then?” Harry inquired.

“Of course I know what to do about it,” Remus shouted.

Harry abruptly burst out laughing. As Remus thought about what he’d just said he turned brick red, encouraging Harry to laugh even harder. He was soon rolling on the ground clutching his sides trying desperately to get in a breath around his laughter.

“Oh, you’re not that funny,” Remus half-heartedly rebuked. In truth he was rather glad to see the young man in such good spirits. The fact that it was at his own expense was just a minor drawback.

When Harry finally recovered from his mirth he adopted the sternest expression he could manage and asked, “So what are your intentions with Tonks?”

At the stern look he got in reply, Harry scampered out of reach of the werewolf, who took a swat at Harry’s head, and doubled over in laughter yet again. “I’m sorry,” he choked out trying to regain control. “I just couldn’t resist.”

“You’re rather full of yourself today, aren’t you?” Remus asked. “You’re just lucky it’s your birthday, or we, the victims of your fun, might not be so inclined to let you get away with it.”

“Oh, lighten up, Moony,” Harry said exasperatedly. “Weren’t you one of the marauders? I’m sure you put up with far worse than that in the past.”

“Well I won’t deny that,” Remus replied grinning in remembrance of his youth. “And believe it or not, I was known to give out as well as I got.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” said Harry behind a grin. “So you never answered my question,” Harry commented. When Remus didn’t respond he continued “What are your intentions with the young, Miss Tonks?”

“I believe that that is none of your business,” was the reply.

“Fine, if you won’t tell me about your girlfriend, you won’t get to hear about mine,” Harry bluffed.

“Tonks is not my girlfriend,” Remus responded.

“Well what are you waiting for?” Harry questioned.

“She’s much too young for me. Besides, what would she ever see in an old, poor, tired, worn werewolf like me?” Remus asked.

“So you are interested, then?” Harry asked seriously. Harry glanced at Remus and continued when he saw that the man was about to start raving at him. “Don’t sell yourself short. Tonks isn’t the type to care about your furry little problem. As for what she sees in you, I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask because whatever it is, it sure as hell isn’t doing anything for me.”

Remus half-heartedly glared at him. “You’re entirely too full of yourself today.”

“Well, better than being full of someone else, at least,” Harry returned.

“I think if aimed at someone besides me, I could rather like this side of you.”

Harry adopted the most innocent, childlike look he could muster, “Thanks Uncle Moony.”


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