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Alyx stumbled out onto the stage and looked around with a scared look.

"It's time for another chapter of Mutant Storm," she said hesitantly.

"YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!" shouted Illidian, dread lord of the Black Temple.

Alyx squeaked and whirled around. Seeing the dread lord she backed up. "But we're prepared!" she sputtered.

"You are not prepared!" Illidan repeated while slowly pulling out a fifteen foot long glowing sword. The sword of unpreparedness.

"BOB!" screamed Alyx. "Are we prepared?"

Bob looked up from his attempt to sap the boss when the raid wasn't looking. "Eh? I'm prepared! See?"

Bob opened his wallet and showed her a trojan condom that had to be at least thirty years old. "I'm always prepared, just in case."

"You are not prepared!" shouted Illidan again.

Alyx squeaked and ducked as the massive sword just barely missed her. "No," she gasped, "I meant are we prepared for the chapter."

"Did you tell the people that we don't own Harry Potter?" Bob asked calmly. While the raid looked at Onxyia he calmed targeted a whelp and threw a dagger. Let them survive this, snobbish raider bastards, he thought to himself. Armory me? I'll show them!

"No I didn't tell them that!" Alyx said with a whine, then she fell to the floor, just avoiding the burning blade.

"You are not prepared!" shouted Illidan"

"Bob!" shouted Alyx.

Bob looked up from his screen. "You are not prepared, you're so screwed," he replied smugly.

Alyx glared at him, then hit Illidan with her Frying Pan of Infinite Attacks. "You're next buster," she growled.

Bob looked up from the monitor and he paled and swallowed nervously. "Ummm on with the chapter while I see if I can escape the country quickly."

Mutant Storm
Chapter 06
Weasley Woes

Gryffindor Boys Dorm, (Monday, September 11th)...

Harry walked back into the dorm to change out of his work out clothes and take a shower before getting ready for the day. He was tired and sweaty.

"Where have you been, Harry?" asked Neville timidly.

Harry turned to look at him. He hadn't spoken with any of the boys in his room since school started. He was so busy ignoring Ron that he ended up ignoring the others as well. That had not been his intention, but it was the effect.

"Running, Nev. I get up early to do my exercises in the morning before classes start," Harry replied, then he bent over to unlace his sneakers.

Neville looked at him for a moment in puzzlement. "But why?"

Harry glanced up at him and realized he was serious. He sat on the edge of his bed. "It's like this, mate. I want to be decent shape for the next time I get into a fight and the only way to do that is to exercise."

"But why? You have a wand, isn't that enough?"

Harry shook his head, his expression serious. "Nev, at the Ministry, your wand was broken. If your wand gets broken again, how will you fight? Do you know how to fight without a wand? The Death Eaters won't wait for you to go get a replacement. They'll kill you if you don't defend yourself. If you're not in good shape, how will you be able to cast when your puffing like a bellows? If you want to survive this war, you need to be able to outlast your opponent. Every morning I run and do exercises to increase my speed and endurance, and I do some hand to hand fight training."

Neville sat on his bed silently thinking about what Harry said while Harry stripped down to his boxers and grabbed his clothes for the day, along with a towel.


"Yeah, Nev?"

"Could I start running with you in the mornings?"

Harry turned to stare at him. Seeing the earnest appeal in Neville's eyes, he smiled. "I'd like that. Let me take my shower, then we'll go down to breakfast and talk about what you need. I think we can transfigure most of it, at least until I can have it sent in by owl."

"All right. I'll wait for you in the common room," Neville replied.

Harry went off to the showers. Twenty minutes later he met up with Neville in the common room. The few Gryffindors in the room seemed shocked to see Harry smiling and talking animatedly with Neville as they left.

Down in the Great Hall, Harry sat talking with Neville when Hermione and Ginny approached him. Hermione took her customary spot across from Harry, next to Neville. Ginny hesitated for a second, then sat next to Harry. He glanced at her for a moment and his eyes narrowed slightly.

She looked down at the table for a moment, hurt, then she lifted her chin staring at him defiantly. "I'm not Ronald, Harry," she said softly.

He dropped his own gaze in reply. "No, you're not," he replied softly, then he whispered to himself. "You're even more dangerous than Ron is."

Ginny smiled slightly to herself, then she pushed down her romantic feelings. She promised herself she would be Harry's friend and that was all she planned on being no matter how much it hurt her.

"Good morning, Harry, Neville," Hermione said, reaching for a pot of hot tea. "Have you two finished your Transfiguration essays? They are due this morning."

Neville nodded warily. He was always a little nervous around Hermione.

"Yeah, four parchments worth," Harry replied. "It would be so much easier if she'd accept normal paper."

Hermione's jaw dropped and she wasn't sure how to react. The essay was supposed to be only two parchments long. She had managed to extend it to three parchments and Harry had somehow managed to beat her!

Ginny grinned at her friend. "There's a new genius in town," she said with a laugh.

Hermione turned to scold at the red head when she realized that all three of them were smiling at her and laughing. They were teasing her and to her own surprise, she found it felt good. She sniffed loudly and turned back to her breakfast, trying to pretend it didn't bother her.

"Harry, have you thought about restarting the DA?" asked Neville.

Harry shrugged. "I haven't given it any thought, to be honest Nev. I'm swamped with two different set of classes, plus Potions. Someone else is going to have to worry about that this year."

"Wait a moment," Hermione said, her eyes narrowing. "You're not taking Potions."

Harry grinned at her. "That's right, I'm not taking Potions... at Hogwarts. I'm taking it elsewhere under a Potions Mistress. I understand Snape is quite miffed about it."

"So that's where you go all day Saturday and most of Sunday?" asked Ginny.

He nodded. "Yeah, we covered the freckle removal potion this last class," he said with a straight face.

Ginny's eyes lit up, then she looked at him hard. "Hey! There's no freckle removal potion!"

"There isn't?" Harry asked incredulously. "Perhaps Hermione can invent one then."

Ginny's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Are you making fun of my freckles, Potter? Just remember, I'm better than Fred and George."

Harry gulped and pretended to cringe back before grinning at her. He had to admit this was far better than sitting alone.

Just as they were finishing up breakfast, they were interrupted again, this time from a unwelcome source.

"So, Potter, I see you have finally hooked up with the rest of the misfits."

Harry looked up from his breakfast to see Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle standing there.

"Argh! Malfoy, get away, you're turning my stomach! I can't believe there isn't a spell to fix your ugliness." Harry said in a loud voice.

"Potter, you freak..." Malfoy snarled.

"Go ahead, wizard," Harry said, slurring the last word making sound like an insult. "Take your best shot, but it better be fatal, because mine will be."

A gasp ran through the hall and several teachers stood up, alarmed. Jean watched on with a smug grin on her face.

Malfoy reached for his wand, his expression full of anger.

Hermione, Ginny and Neville looked on, shocked at how quickly the situation had turned deadly.

"I'm waiting, wizard," Harry said coldly. After five years of school, he was very familiar with Malfoy and his goons, and their wands.

Malfoy's expression changed to one of confusion as he patted himself down, trying to find his wand. Crabbe and Goyle were both in the same boat, unable to find their wands.

Harry stood and let some of his magic pool behind his eyes. He loosened his grip on it such that everyone around could feel the magic radiating off him.

"You came here to fight me unarmed? Malfoy, you're a bigger moron than I thought! I swear if you're the type of wizard that Voldemonkey is recruiting, it's no wonder he hasn't won yet. Go away, little wizard, go find your wand," Harry said scathingly.

Harry let his magic push just a little. It wasn't much, just a gentle puff of air, but it hit Malfoy in the face and he screamed then turned and ran. A moment later his two goons followed him from the hall. The Gryffindor table broke into laughter, followed by the other two tables. The Slytherins glowered at everyone.

He reigned in his magic and sat back down, satisfied that Malfoy would steer clear of him for at least another week.

"See what happens when you have no wand, Nev?" Harry asked.

Neville nodded, his eyes wide. "You don't have to convince me, Harry. I'll be there with you."

"I wonder what happened to their wands?" Hermione mused. The incident startled her. Harry was much more powerful than he was last year. They had all seen the glow in his eyes and they couldn't help but feel the power flowing off him. "It's not like Malfoy to be without his wand."

Harry grinned and pulled his book bag up off the floor, opening the bag he pulled out three wands.

Ginny started to giggle. "You summoned them?" she exclaimed.

Harry shrugged. It was better to let them think he had summoned the wands than for them to know the truth. Perhaps he'd tell them someday, but not today. It was the first time he tried to teleport an object to another location instead of his hand and he hadn't been sure it would work.

"What are you going to do with them, Harry?" asked Neville.

He thought for a moment, then he grinned. "Hermione can you transfigure three napkins into small flags that say 'Moron'? Just to be nice, put them in the Slytherin colors of green and silver."

Hermione pulled out her wand and made the three flags. Harry took one wand and attached a flag using a sticking charm.

"Now, a levitation charm, followed by a follow-me charm and an avoidance charm," he muttered, casting the spells to the astonishment of his friends.

Ginny started giggling again and he looked up to grin at her, then he banished Malfoy's wand back to Malfoy. A few minutes later he had done the same with the other two wands.

"Levitation, follow-me and an avoidance... Oh, I get it! The wands will float over their heads for hours, just out of reach, and the flag..." Hermione's eyes widened and she started to snicker.

Harry nodded, then he turned and stared at the staff table. Snape was attempting to use Legilimency on him. Harry's eyes darted to Jean and he could feel her gentle presence. He let her in enough for her to see what Snape was doing.

Harry let Snape slither around, unable to even find his mind, then just to annoy the man, he winked at him.

Snape paled and trembled with impotent rage. Harry had done nothing that he could punish him for.

Harry turned his back on the man secure in the knowledge that he couldn't break his shields. But he was going to have to do something about Snape.

Sitting next to Harry, Ginny smiled to herself. While they hadn't exactly been holding hands, it had been a thawing situation. He had welcomed her back in his own way by teasing her. Unfortunately, it was more of a reaction she expected from her brothers than she expected, or wanted from Harry.

Across from Harry, Hermione was also thinking hard. Harry had been demonstrating a level of competence that outstripped her and she was beginning to wonder if he'd ever need her the way he used to. It saddened her knowing that her friend might not need her like that anymore.

Headmaster's office, Hogwarts, (Wednesday, September 13th)...

Dumbledore turned away from Fawkes when the door opened. "Ah, come in Professor," he said to Jean. "Lemon Drop? I assure you, these are the unadulterated kind."

Jean sat in a chair and shook her head. "No, thank you, sir," she replied politely.

"No doubt you are wondering why I asked to see you. First off, let me say that while I've heard mixed reviews on what you are teaching, I am rather pleased with the results myself."

"Thank you, sir."

"Jean, I find myself with a problem and I'm hoping that perhaps you might be able to provide a solution," he said, then he reached into a drawer and pulled out a blackened, ink stained book with a hole in the center and handed it to her.

Taking his own seat behind his desk, he let her examine the book for a bit. "Back in his second year, Harry battled a memory of Voldemort from his days when he was Head Boy here at the school. This shadow of Voldemort was contained within that book and it was slowly draining the life force of one of our first year students when Harry stopped him."

"Ginny Weasley," murmured Jean, turning the book over and over in her hands.

"Ah, so he's told you about that then?"

"No, he and I... shared memories. He let me see what his life had been like. I wanted to know about Voldemort and that was the quickest way for me to discover what I needed to know," Jean replied. "I also shared my school memories with him to help him catch up to where he should have been."

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, that would be useful indeed. What Harry didn't know, and what I only found out in the past year is that this book was more than just a charmed copy of Voldemort at age seventeen. Voldemort has done something unspeakable. He created a Horcrux."

Jean frowned; she had heard that term before. "I know that word, but I don't know what it means, Headmaster. What is it?"

Dumbledore smiled sadly. He knew he'd have to share information in order to get information. "A Horcrux is a vessel in which a piece of a person's soul is placed. It is evil magic of the blackest kind. In order to create a Horcrux, you must split off a piece of your soul by killing someone in cold blood."

Dumbledore pointed at the book. "That book was a Horcrux, one of six which Voldemort created to house pieces of his soul. And until all five remaining Horcruxes are destroyed, he cannot be killed. Unless the Horcruxes are totally destroyed, Voldemort will continue to return, over and over again. He is, in a word, immortal."

"Five? But you just said..." Jean stopped seeing him raise a hand.

"Five Horcruxes, plus his own body, Jean. Originally the number was seven, but Harry took care of this Horcrux."

Jean leaned back in her chair, listening carefully.

"Harry destroyed that book by plunging the tooth of a basilisk into it. The same tooth that had been used to poison him. Fortunately, Fawkes saved Harry's life by weeping tears into the wound.

"I haven't had the opportunity to research it, but Madam Pomfrey told me that he now carries the magic of both the Basilisk and the Phoenix in his blood, both continually warring with the other. And now Fawkes shows Harry more courtesy than any other human he knows" Dumbledore paused and sighed before continuing. "But I'm getting off the track.

"My problem, and one I hope that perhaps Charles and you might be able to help with, is finding these other Horcruxes and destroying them. You see, you and your people have abilities we do not and you seem to be able to bypass some magical safeguards, like the ones on my door. And until all the Horcruxes are destroyed, Voldemort is unbeatable."

He leaned forward in his seat. "Can you tell me where you heard of the term?"

"From Snape," Jean said, thinking hard. "Remember I said that Voldemort had a hold on him?"

Dumbledore nodded worriedly.

"Snape seemed to be concerned that Voldemort had something of his. After that thought he castigated himself for ever being interested in creating a Horcrux. I didn't understand the word at the time, but now it makes sense. I do not dip into people's minds very often because the process can be unsettling, but I have done some brief scans of the man." She paused for a moment, then shuddered. "His mind is like a sewer." She straightened up in her seat and looked at him intently, trying to get back on track. "So, Voldemort has protected his Horcruxes?"

He did his best to remain outwardly calm. The information she'd given him about Snape was alarming, but he wouldn't consider it in front of this particular witch.

Dumbledore held up a hand and she noticed for the first time that there was a bandage covering the back of it. "I found one Horcrux, a ring, and in the process of destroying it this past weekend, I was very nearly caught in a trap that has ruined a piece of my hand. Madam Pomfrey says she's not sure if it will ever heal properly. No magic she has can help it. Had I been a little slower, the trap might have caught all of me."

Jean stood and walked around the desk. She took his hand in hers. "Do you mind?"

Dumbledore looked surprised, but nodded. "I forgot, you're trained in Muggle medicines."

Jean nodded and she carefully unwrapped the bandage revealing the back of his hand, burned badly. She turned it to examine the burn, then she pulled her wand and cast a lumos to examine it in detail under better light.

"That's a bad burn, second and third degree, covering most of the back of your hand. And while I'm sure Madam Pomfrey is an excellent healer, she didn't do anything to help with this. Are you in much pain?"

"Madam Pomfrey makes an excellent pain relief potion," Dumbledore replied, his eyes twinkling.

Jean frowned. "Ordinarily I'd suggest taking you to a burn treatment center, but somehow I doubt that's an option."

"Hardly," Dumbledore replied with a laugh.

"Very well, Headmaster, I'm going to summon Harry here with my medical kit. That will hold you over for the moment. Tomorrow, you, Madam Pomfrey and myself will sit down and I will show her a Muggle way to care for this burn, which will speed the healing, reduce the scarring and help prevent secondary infections. Left to heal on it's own it could be nearly a year before you're fully healed, if you don't die from a secondary infection first. Follow my method and your hand will be well on it's way to healed by the time a month has passed and you will retain use of your hand because we'll minimize the scarring."

Jean leaned back and frowned. "Now how can we send a message to Harry asking him to bring me my medical kit?"

"Why not have an elf bring it?" Dumbledore asked curiously.

"Would you trust an elf with something Muggle and as dangerous as my kit can be?" she asked rhetorically.

"I see. Very well, let's use an elf to summon Harry then," he replied.

Dumbledore summoned an elf, who appeared a moment later.

"Ah, Binken. Excellent! He'll take your message to Harry and his teacher will know he's been sent by me."

Jean turned to the little elf. "Gentle Elf, please find Harry Potter and tell him to bring my medical kit from my room to the Headmaster's office."

The elf nodded and vanished.

"While we wait, let me find out if Charles can come here for a visit," Jean said. She pulled out her mobile phone and pressed two buttons. Dumbledore's eyebrows rose in shock when she began speaking a moment later. He had heard rumors about her phone, but this was the first time he saw her using it in the castle.

She was just finishing her phone call when the door opened admitting Harry, carrying Jean's medical kit. Harry frowned, seeing the Headmaster.

"It's all set, Headmaster. Professor Xavier will arrive tomorrow along with a few others. We can discuss it then," Jean said, then she turned and smiled, seeing Harry.

"What's going on?" he asked, tensing up. He couldn't think of any reason why Professor Xavier and the X-Men would be coming to Hogwarts.

"It's nothing bad, Harry. You can attend the meeting, as well, if you wish. It does involve you in a way," Jean replied, holding her hand out for her medical kit.

He nodded, then his eyes widened seeing the blackened patch of skin on the back of Dumbledore's hand. "Madam Pomfrey couldn't fix that?" he asked incredulously.

Jean gently applied a cream, then she placed a self sealing bandage over the wound and wrapped it in gauze. "This needs to be cleaned and redressed three times a day, Headmaster. Tomorrow, after breakfast, I will meet you in the infirmary and I'll show Poppy how to do this. I'll also arrange to ensure we have enough cream on hand. If Poppy can help manage the pain I'm sure we have have this mostly healed in a month or two," Jean said, then she shrugged. "Muggle methods aren't the fastest in the world, but they can fill in the gaps in wizarding medicine."

Dumbledore looked at his bandaged hand, then he turned to Harry. "I'm afraid that not everything can be easily healed, Harry. Madam Pomfrey did her very best, but the curse that caused this injury was too resistant to being healed. Your aunt offered an alternative."

"My mother," Harry said flatly.

Jean shot him a warning look and he calmed down somewhat.

"Harry, I know I have made many mistakes in regard to your life and I see now how deeply I hurt you. I'm more sorry than you'll ever know and I hope you'll let me try to make it up to you," Dumbledore said softly. He knew that no matter what happened, he needed the boy on his side.

Fawkes opened his eyes and trilled in surprise, seeing Harry. The large bird took to the air and glided over to rest on his shoulder, singing softly. Jean was shocked at the calming effect the bird was having on everyone present.

Harry struggled for a moment before giving in to the Phoenix song. He looked at Fawkes, who gazed down at him smugly. "Smart arse uppity bird," he muttered to himself.

Jean started to laugh which broke the tension even more. Fawkes jumped into the air and glided over to his perch again. The expression on the large bird clearly said he was pleased with himself.

Harry looked at Dumbledore, then his gaze dropped. "I can't promise anything anymore," he whispered, then he turned and fled the office. Fawkes trilled softly, it sounded almost sad to their ears. He had eased the tension, but not the conflicts and emotional storm Harry was experiencing.

Jean glanced at Dumbledore apologetically.

"Don't apologize for his behavior, Jean. He is still hurting, although he's been hiding it well. Only time will heal his wounds, like my hand. Go find him and make sure he's all right. I don't need to use Legilimency to know right now his emotions are close to overwhelming him."

Jean closed up her medical kit and let the office in search of Harry. She finally found him in a classroom on the third floor, thanks to a helpful house elf.

"Harry?" she called upon entering the room.

He sat on the floor staring at a covered mirror.

"Here, Mum," he said softly.

She walked over and sat down next to him.

"What's under the sheet?" she asked.

"The Mirror of Erised."

"How about repeating that in English this time?" she asked, nudging him with her shoulder.

He grinned. "I don't know, Mum. I speak English, what you speak is debatable."

"Hey now! I may be a colonial heathen, but you'll show me respect," she replied laughing. "Now, what is the Mirror of Erised?"

Harry's happy mood vanished. "It's a mirror that shows you what you desire more than anything else in the world. Back in my first year I found the mirror and I saw myself and my Mum and Dad. I used to come here every night to look in the mirror until Dumbledore found me one night. He told me it doesn't do well to dwell on dreams..."

Harry paused then he looked away from Jean and took a shuddering breath. She could see he was struggling to maintain control over his emotions. "Back there, in his office, I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to cast my most dangerous spells, I wanted to hurt him like he's hurt me, but I couldn't. Not with Fawkes working his phoenix magic.

"How can I make him understand what he's done? I don't think he ever will understand," he said in a whisper.

Jean wrapped an arm around Harry and he let her hug him, but he was feeling decidedly uncomfortable about it. His empathy was picking up conflicting emotions from her that made him uncomfortable.

"I think it would be best for all if I don't attend tomorrow's meeting, Mum," he said softly.

She pulled away enough to look in his eyes. "Are you sure?"

He nodded, then stood. "I'd better get back to class."

"All right," she said dubiously. Something was bothering him badly but she didn't dare press him on it.

As Harry left the classroom, Jean stood and walked over to the mirror. She pulled aside the sheet and gasped. She dropped the sheet and hurried from the room, her complexion pale.

Hogwarts, (Thursday, September 14th)...

Harry was just sitting on the edge of the field when his friends caught up with him. Neville, Ginny and Hermione approached from the school. Harry nodded to them in greeting, then he went back to looking upwards. At the opposite end of the field, a small transponder pinged automatically. He had placed the unit there a few minutes earlier.

"Harry, what are you looking for?" asked Neville.

"The Blackbird," he replied.

"Harry," Hermione protested. "We passed nearly a dozen blackbirds on the way down to this field. Wouldn't any of them served your purpose?"

Harry grinned at her and placed a finger next to his nose in salute. "Not that kind of blackbird, Hermione," he said, then he paused to listen. In the distance, he could hear a muted whine approaching fast. "The Blackbird I'm looking for is about to arrive."

All three of his friends flinched as the grasses in the field suddenly flattened by a blast of hot wind. The sky above the field shimmered and the all black jet aircraft appeared. Landing gears were extended and it slowly lowered itself down to the field.

Harry stood and brushed off the grass and dirt on his pants, then he walked out to the now cooling aircraft. His friend followed warily behind him. He stopped while the ramp lowered from the rear of the aircraft and several people exited the plane, including Professor Xavier.

Harry walked over to his mutant friends, grinning. Seeing Scott, he broke into a run.

Scott's expression was one of surprise when Harry hugged him, but he smiled as he embraced the young man.

"Harry, would you introduce us to your friends?" asked Xavier.

"Guys, I want you to meet Professor Xavier, Logan and my dad, Scott Summers. This is Ginny, Hermione and Neville," Harry said pointing people out.

"Are they all witches and wizards like you, Wiz?" asked Logan in a growl.

"Yeah, they're all magical like me, Logan, so watch yourself with them, or they will turn you into a fluffy bunny rabbit," Harry said with a grin.

"Harry!" Hermione admonished. "We wouldn't do that."

"That's right," Ginny added. "Today is Thursday, so we'd turn you into a cow because it's a beef for dinner night. Rabbit is Sunday nights."

Logan did a double take, then he glared at Ginny, who looked back at him innocently. She was at least a foot and a half shorter than he was.

"You talk mighty big for someone so short," he growled at Ginny.

Ginny smiled prettily up at him, then turned to Harry. "Is he a werewolf? He seems awful grumpy."

Logan extended his claws under Ginny's nose and she took a step back, then she waved her wand and muttered something under her breath. The claws lost their frightening appearance when Logan found his hand clutching a bouquet of flowers. Scott started laughing and Ginny grinned at him.

Logan growled low in his throat, but Harry stepped in front of Ginny. "Now, Logan, she's only showing that size can be deceptive. Isn't that one of your lessons you teach in the Danger Room?"

"I'll show you deceptive, Wiz," he muttered, then he backed off and grinned at Harry.

"Harry, are you attending this meeting with us?" asked Xavier.

He shook his head. "I don't think that would be a good idea, sir. Frankly, I'm not sure it's a good idea getting involved at all with whatever he's scheming," Harry said darkly.

Xavier frowned for a moment, then he nodded.

"Mum's waiting up by the entrance for you, sir," Harry added.

"Thank you. Come along Scott, Logan."

Scott paused. "Will you be here? Otherwise I'll lock up the Blackbird."

"I'll lock her up when I'm done. I want to use the diagnostic bay to check out my jet's inertial guidance module. It seemed a little wonky the last time I took it out," Harry replied.

Scott nodded and followed the others up to the school.

Harry motioned to the others to follow him up the ramp. "You can't hurt anything. Most of the systems are shut down and I'll be shutting the rest down in a bit."

Neville and Ginny followed Hermione bravely, but they were clearly awed by the bright lights and shiny consoles.

Harry walked over to one section and opened his book bag. He pulled out a small black box, which he plugged into the console.

"Harry, how come this plane is so much quieter than yours?" asked Hermione.

He tapped a few keys on a keyboard and lights started to flash as the module ran through it's tests. "The Blackbird is designed to be quieter. My jet has a whisper mode, but not nearly as good and I sacrifice a lot of power and speed using it." He grinned at her. "Besides, what you heard that first day was me deliberately breaking the sound barrier. My way of saying, Honey, I'm home."

Hermione nodded thoughtfully, while Neville and Ginny looked confused by the purely Muggle reference. Harry used them more frequently these days and the two pure bloods often resorted to having Hermione explain his turn of phrase.

He pulled the module from the docking plug and waited a minute while the results were printed on a small slip of paper. He looked at the results, then shrugged and placed both the paper and the module back in his book bag.

"Come on, let's close up, then we can head back to the school."

He led the others down the ramp. At the bottom of the ramp he pressed a few buttons under a hidden panel which caused the ramp lift back into the body, then the plane faded from view.

Hermione grinned at him. "Disillusionment charm?"

"Adaptive Optics," he replied with a smirk.

"How did you learn all that stuff, Harry?" Ginny finally asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

Harry paused and turned to face his friends. "I could say that it came from several sources. Professor Xavier and my Mum are powerful telepaths. They were able to pass enough information to me to get me started. I'm a very weak telepath, more of an empath really, it's not my main talent, but I had enough of the ability to build shields to protect my mind from Voldemort, and to be able to link with the Professor and Mum. Outside of that, I'm more empath than telepath."

"So, what is your main talent then?" pressed Hermione.

Harry shook his head, his expression becoming serious. He looked around carefully to see if anyone was listening. Hermione, Ginny and Neville leaned in close. "It's a secret," he whispered, then he walked away, laughing.

Hermione scowled and resisted the urge to stamp her foot in annoyance. A moment later Ginny was laughing and Neville was grinning.

Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts, (Thursday, September 14th)...

"So, let me see if I get this right," Logan said. "This guy, Voldiemart, made a bunch of whore crutches and you need our help in finding them and destroying them before anyone tries to kill Voldiemart. And why would anyone want a whore on a crutch?"

"Logan!" hissed Jean, blushing furiously.

Dumbledore flinched several times as Logan spoke, then he nodded. "That's basically correct, Mr. Logan. Each Horcrux is guarded. What I'd like to find out is if you might have means of destroying them that would differ from what we would do. The chances are good that the Horcrux is hexed to protect itself against magical attacks."

"I think perhaps a demonstration might be in order for the good Headmaster. Scott? Would you do the honors?" asked Xavier.

"I'd love to, but on what?" Scott asked, looking around at all the knick knacks in Dumbledore's office.

Realizing the problem, Dumbledore hastily conjuring a drinking goblet. "Would this suffice?" he asked, placing the metal goblet on the desk.

Scott nodded, then he reached up to open his visor. A bright beam of energy lanced out and less than ten seconds later, the goblet was gone, totally vaporized. The desk underneath was untouched by the energy.

Dumbledore sat back heavily in his chair. "My word!" he exclaimed. With a shaking hand he reached forward and touched the spot on his desk. It wasn't even warm!

"My X-Men have a variety of talents, Albus," Xavier said softly. "I daresay we can find a way of destroying your Horcruxes."

"Yes, I can see that," Dumbledore replied, eying the spot where the goblet once lay. Then he turned back to his guests. "My thought was to team up some of your people with mine, Charles. I have a very smart curse breaker who can locate and disarm most traps around the Horcruxes and then your people can destroy them."

"Do you know where they all are, Professor?" asked Jean.

Dumbledore shook his head. "Sadly, we do not. I have several people that I trust researching the matter, but we have little to go on but memories of Riddle's interactions with others. What I propose is that once I have a suspect location, I'll ask Jean to contact Charles and we'll set up a trip to visit the location. William Weasley, our curse breaker, will check the object, if it's there, then test it for traps. The traps may require destroying the Horcrux in place."

"All right, if that's settled, will someone tell me why Harry didn't attend this meeting?" asked Xavier. "He really should be here."

"I think he's still hoping not to get himself involved in this fight, Professor," Jean said. "The past weeks have been difficult ones and he's had several encounters with Death Eaters. He's holding in his temper, for now, but he's feeling pushed. I'm doing all I can to ease the pressure on him, but the people around him seem to expect him to take a leading role in this war. So far, he's been refusing it."

"Encounters with Death Eaters? Where?" Dumbledore asked in confusion.

"I'm referring to Malfoy and his cronies, Headmaster," replied Jean.

"Draco's not a Death Eater," protested Dumbledore.

"I'm afraid you're wrong, Headmaster. He took the mark this summer. Harry probably sensed the charm on his arm to conceal the tattoo. Over the summer he developed the ability to see magic. That's another reason why Harry refuses to trust you. You've done nothing to remove the enemy you have within these walls. He thinks your insane, trying to give everyone a second chance, and he's convinced you will lose the war because you refuse to fight it."

Logan shook his head and whistled low.

"Do you have something to add, Logan?" asked Xavier.

"Yeah, don't let the Wiz get into a fight with these guys, not unless you have some body bags handy. In every simulation we ran this summer, he killed Death Eaters. He didn't take a single prisoner if he knew they were Death Eaters. His fight at the Ministry taught him a valuable lesson; don't leave live enemies behind for other enemies to rescue."

Dumbledore shook his head in dismay. He could not afford to have the Boy-Who-Lived killing Death Eaters! Society needed that blood!

"I hate to say this, Headmaster, but they aren't the only students with marks. Most of the seventh and sixth year Slytherin boys are marked and a couple in Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. There's even one in Gryffindor. But many of the Slytherin girls are rejecting Voldemort, probably because of his attitudes towards women," Jean said.

Dumbledore sighed heavily and wiped at his face tiredly. "Can you provide me with a list of names, Professor?" he asked Jean.

Jean nodded.

"Is Harry safe here? Should we consider pulling him from school?" Scott asked worriedly.

"It's not just Harry, Scott. There are nearly one hundred Muggle born students and even more half bloods at risk. Granted, Harry is especially at risk, but he can take care of himself in a fight," Jean said confidently.

"I'd like to see that verified," Dumbledore stated quietly. "I'm not doubting your word, but it would ease my own mind if I knew he could take care of himself."

Scott shook his head. "That won't be possible, Headmaster. If he doesn't trust you, then he won't trust anyone you ask to check his skills. You put him into a fight with one of your people and you're likely to lose that person."

"Perhaps you are right, I will think about it more," Dumbledore replied with a sigh. This poses considerable difficulties, he thought. These children need to be shown that their path is wrong. I can't do that if they are killed.

Gryffindor Boy's dorm...

Harry sat on his bed, finishing his essay on cellular mitosis for Professor Xavier. Most of the other boys were already asleep and he'd soon join them. He made a face and stared at his notebook screen. He really didn't like Biology very much. While he enjoyed the sciences in general, he seemed more drawn to things like Physics and Math than Biology.

He tapped a few keys on his keyboard, content that the other boys couldn't hear him thanks to his silencing charm. A sudden movement caught his eye. Placing his notebook aside he picked up his Marauder's map.

Malfoy, he thought. What could he be doing out of Slytherin house at this hour of night? He's not a prefect anymore.

He's heading for the Room of Requirement. I don't think he's meeting anyone. I don't see any other names moving on the map and there's no one in the room.

He placed the map down once Malfoy had entered the room. There was nothing more to see and even if he got to the room, it wouldn't show him what Malfoy was up to.

"I'm going to watch you like a hawk this year, ferret," he whispered to the map, then he turned back to his essay. He'd deal with Malfoy and his mystery another time.

Jean's quarters, Hogwarts...

"Something is bothering you babe, what is it?" Scott asked gently.

Scott had stayed behind while Logan and Professor Xavier returned to Blackmoor Castle. Jean was glad he had, but she wasn't sure how to broach the subject.

She paced in front of him while he sat on the couch watching her walk back and forth arguing with herself. Finally he had had enough and he grabbed her by the hand, pulling her into his lap for a searing kiss.

She struggled in his arms for less than two seconds before giving in. When they were done, she moved back slightly, her eyelids fluttering. He laughed softly and kissed her forehead.

"Now, tell me what is bothering you?" he asked again.

Jean sighed and snuggled closer to him.

"The other day, Harry stormed out of Dumbledore's office," she said, then she held up her hand motioning him to be silent. "I went after him to find out if he was all right. He wasn't and he isn't, but that's another issue. The point is, I finally caught up with him in an unused classroom on the third floor and I found him sitting on the floor staring up at a covered mirror.

"I think he was afraid to see what the mirror had to show him. He called it the Mirror of Erised, and said that it showed people what they desired the most in the world."

"So what did you see?" asked Scott with a grin.

Jean looked at him and laughed softly. "You know me too well, don't you?"

Jean's mood sobered and she dropped her gaze. "You're right, I did look after Harry had left the room. I thought it wouldn't show me anything different but it did, and I can't get it out of my mind now."

"So, what did you see?" Scott asked, suddenly becoming worried.

"I saw us, Scott. You, me, Harry, and two more children. A little girl maybe three or four years old, with hair almost as red as mine, dressed in a pretty green dress and in my arms another child, wrapped in a blue blanket. We were all a family," Jean said in awe.

"You sure this mirror wasn't showing you some kind of vision of the future?" Scott asked carefully.

She shook her head. "It can't be. The last time Harry looked in the mirror he saw his parents. It was showing what my heart desires."

Scott kissed Jean's neck softly and she sighed against him. His hand slid up her flank, slowly caressing her.

"I guess I better get started," he murmured in between kisses.

"What are you talking about?" she asked.

He stopped and looked at her. "Jean, I promised you I'd do my best to give you as normal a life as possible and if it were in my power, I would deny you nothing. The mirror says what your heart desires and I'm not going to go against it. I think Harry is going to like having a little sister and maybe a little brother."

As Scott spoke he was busy unbuttoning her blouse. She wrapped her arms around him, holding onto him tightly. "Oh, Scott," she breathed in his ear.

Hogwarts, (Monday, September 17th)...

Harry wasn't sure what prompted him to dive to the floor, but he was glad he did. The green light arced through the space he had just occupied. Someone had sneaked up behind him and fired off a curse!

He tried to flex his wrist to release his wand from his holster, but his hand wasn't working properly. His hand flared in pain, instinctively he teleported. The teleport was only a few feet, but it reoriented him in the direction of his attacker and placed him in the shadows. Harry stayed in that strange phase space while staring up the now empty corridor. Any sign of another curse and he'd teleport to Blackmoor castle.

It wasn't that late, but there was no one to be seen. Whomever had fired the spell didn't stick around to see the results. He ground his teeth in anger and glanced down at his hand, which was rapidly swelling. In his dive to the floor he had damaged his hand beyond a simple bruising. He had a choice, he could go to Madam Pomfrey or go to his Mum. Madam Pomfrey would contact his Mum, so going straight to Jean would short circuit part of the process. Gathering up his book bag with his good hand, he slung it over his shoulder then pulled out his wand.

He thought about teleporting to his mother's apartment but he wanted to use his abilities as little as possible in Hogwarts. He wasn't ready to let people know what he could and couldn't do. That left him with little choice but to travel down the four levels to his mother's apartment. Down four floors in what he now considered dangerous territory.

He moved silently and carefully, stopping often despite the pain in his hand. He stopped to listen and examine the corridors and stairs. Occasionally he'd cast detection charms for traps and wards. It was slow going because the castle was full of magic and he was using his wand in the wrong hand. His wandless magic wasn't up to casting the complex detection charms.

Finally he reached her door and banged on it loudly with his foot. He was facing away from the door, scanning the corridor for threats when Jean opened the door.

"Harry? What are you..."

He pushed his way in. "Not here, Mum. Close and seal the door, behind me," he said tersely.

He stepped past her, still favoring his injured hand and entered the small sitting room. He stopped seeing Professor McGonagall sitting on the couch.

The Deputy Headmistress looked at Harry sternly. "You know students aren't allowed in staff quarters," she said in a disapproving tone.

"Yeah, well, when the staff starts enforcing the rules with the other students, then see me about coming to my mother's quarters," Harry snapped.

Jean stopped in the entrance, shocked by Harry's rude comment. "Harry! Apologize at once to Professor McGonagall!"

He turned to stare at Jean. "No! Not until they start doing their job! I'm not here for a social call, I'm here because your apartment was closer than the infirmary."

Jean stepped up to him. "What? Are you hurt?"

Harry nodded and held out his hand, which was very swollen. Jean's eyes widened and she examined his hand carefully.

McGonagall saw the hand and stood. "I'll floo Madam Pomfrey," she said, stepping to the fireplace.

"How did this happen, Harry?" Jean asked.

He looked at her and she sensed he was willing to let her see his memory of the event. He carefully lowered his shields and pushed the memory forward so she could find it easier.

McGonagall turned away from the fireplace to find Jean and Harry staring at each other. When Poppy stepped through the fireplace, she motioned for her to be silent for a moment.

Finally, Jean blinked and stepped back, her expression deepening into a scowl. "I see."

Poppy stepped forward and waved her wand over Harry's hand. Above the hand an image of the bones formed. Poppy and Jean leaned closer to examine the image.

"Two dislocated fingers and a dislocated wrist. I must say, Mr. Potter, when you do something you do it right. I need to pop the bones back in place. Do you want something for the pain?" Poppy said.

Harry shook his head and looked away.

Poppy frowned and took his hand in hers. She gently massaged his hand for a moment, then there came a series of sharp pops. Jean looked on, appalled by his lack of reaction. Professor McGonagall flinched with each pop.

Harry flexed his hand slowly, wincing slightly. "Thank you, Madam Pomfrey," he said softly.

She cast several more spells on his hand, then reached into her bag and handed him a small single dose vial. "This will help you sleep tonight. By tomorrow your hand will probably only ache a little."

Harry smiled shyly at her and nodded his head.

Jean stepped up to him. "Go straight back to your common room for tonight. No side trips, all right?"

McGonagall frowned and opened her mouth to speak, but Jean shook her head slightly.

"I got it, Mum," he replied.

Jean smiled and hugged him tightly. She was trying to control her emotions but she was having trouble after reviewing the incident in his memory.

He hugged her back, then turned and left the small apartment.

"Why did you send him away, Jean?" asked McGonagall. "We need to know what happened."

"I already know what happened," Jean said absently. She shook her head and turned her attention back to Professor McGonagall. Poppy moved to sit next to her on the couch.

"Harry hurt himself, dodging a curse flung at his back. I'm not sure, but I think someone tried to kill him tonight. He didn't see who it was. He was coming back from the library when it happened."

"Did he hear the incantation?" pressed McGonagall.

Jean shook her head. "No, he didn't. But it was a bright green. The same color he has nightmares about. He's seen that light too many times."

"We should contact Professor Dumbledore," Minerva said softly. "He'll need to be told."

"We should be doing our jobs," Jean said bitterly in reply. "You know as well as I do that the sixth and seventh year Slytherin boys are dangerous. But we're not allowed to do anything about it! Harry was right, we expect him to follow the rules, but we're encouraged to look the other way when it's a Slytherin breaking the rules."

"You know why, Professor," Minerva replied unhappily. "Lucius Malfoy might have lost a lot of his political clout, but he's still on the Board of Governors for this school. Besides, Professor Dumbledore wants to give these children a chance to redeem themselves."

Jean walked over to a large armchair and sat down heavily in the chair. "Minerva, I know you will tell the Headmaster what happened. So you should also pass along a warning from me. If Harry had seen who had fired at him, he would not have hesitated to kill the assailant."

McGonagall frowned and shook her head in dismay. Surely it wasn't that bad, was it?

"Oh, Jean, Harry wouldn't do that," Poppy said softly.

Jean nodded. "He would. He'd hate it, but he'd do it. He spent the summer training to fight as though his life depended upon it. When he passed the view of what happened to me, he also told me to not bother fighting over this. He felt it was a waste of time, since he knew the Headmaster would ignore it, then he told me he'd kill his assailant next time."

Poppy and Minerva exchanged unhappy looks, knowing there was very little they could do.

Slytherin Boy's Dorm...

Blaise Zabini crawled into his bed, unhappy with himself. He had a perfect shot and somehow he had missed! He was incensed. He'd had the opportunity! Potter had been alone and it still hadn't mattered!

He growled in the back of his throat. He wanted Potter, badly. The Dark Lord gave him permission to do whatever it took to hurt Potter and he was going to have his pound of flesh for what Potter did to his family.

Unlike the other pure blood families who got caught up in Harry's financial vendetta this summer, his had the money, but bankrupted itself paying off the debt. His father's business was gone and he was struggling to keep a roof over their heads. All because Potter enacted some ancient law!

He punched his pillow viciously and rolled over on his bed, fuming and berating himself for missing what was a perfect shot.

"You'll pay, Potter," he swore softly. "I swear it!"

Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts (September 20th)...

Jean stepped into the office and paused, seeing Professors Sprout, Flitwick, Snape and McGonagall.

"You asked to see me, Headmaster?" she asked Dumbledore.

"Yes, Professor. Please come in and sit down. We have a problem which I think you can help us with."

Jean took a seat next to Minerva. "Oh?"

"You remember us talking about the missing Hufflepuff girls?"

"Yes, I remember. Have you managed to find them?"

"In a manner of speaking, we have. It took Filius several days to figure out the problem. Mind you, part of the problem is these girls were handing in their homework on time and, being first year students, no one really knew what they looked like.

"It was Filius who discovered they had been turned invisible. We've since charmed the girls so that we can see them, so that problem is at least partially resolved."

Jean looked at Dumbledore in confusion. "Excuse me, Headmaster, but I fail to see how I can help in this matter. Can't you simply reverse the spell?"

Dumbledore looked sheepish. "Yes, that was our first thought also, but it turns out they weren't turned invisible using a spell. The only remaining visible Hufflepuff first year girl is Cynthia Creevy. I believe I mentioned her to you before?"

Jean leaned back in her chair when she realized what he was asking. "Ah... The mutant witch you told me about. You think she's the cause of the girls becoming invisible then?"

Dumbledore lifted a hand helplessly. "If not, then we are running out of answers."

"Professor, what can you tell us about mutants at her age?" asked Filius.

Jean turned and smiled at him. She liked the little man and greatly enjoyed the few lessons she had with him.

"A mutant's abilities can be awakened in one of two ways, Filius. In the case of Cynthia, she's growing into her powers, so they activate slowly over time and usually begin to manifest themselves when she first begins to undergo puberty, although there may be some sporadic incidents before puberty begins.

"The second way requires a trauma to invoke the powers. Something terrible happens and the powers surge to the surface as part of the survival instinct. Harry is one such case. His abilities awoke at nearly full power over the course of days, not months like they should have, had they developed normally.

"Harry fits into a category which we call a survival mutant. His abilities awoke because his survival depended upon them. Had Harry gone through his teen years without such a trauma, they never would have awoken. There are no records of anyone older than nineteen awakening their powers. Without his powers, he would have merely been a carrier of the X gene.

"If Cynthia's powers are just coming to the surface now, they will be erratic for a while and she probably does not yet have the ability to turn things visible. I know some exercises she can do which will strengthen her control over her powers."

"Excellent!" Dumbledore said smiling broadly. "Will you need to give her any other special instruction?"

Jean thought about it for a moment. "That depends on how well her control develops, Headmaster. If necessary, I can ask Charles to come visit for a while to help her. Learning control is the most difficult thing a mutant must do, especially when the mutant's abilities are destructive in nature. Scott had a terrible time learning to control his abilities in the beginning. From what I understand, the damage was extensive. On the other hand, Harry had excellent control almost right from the start, but that's because they switched on, fully developed."

"Oh, this is ridiculous!" Snape said with a sneer. "Headmaster, if the girl is being that much of a nuisance, just expel her and be done with it."

"No!" protested Professor Sprout. "She's just a little girl. She didn't even know that she was turning her friends invisible!"

"Clearly compassion is not one of Professor Snape's leading qualities," Jean said frostily, then she turned to Professor Sprout. "Don't worry, Ponoma. I will work with her and if needed, call in more experts to help her."

"More freakish mutants?" Snape growled. "That's all we need, another like precious Potter."

Jean turned and glared at Snape. "I warned you once before, Professor, I'll not warn you again. Curb your tongue or I'll curb it for you."

"Enough!" barked Dumbledore. He threw an angry look at Snape, who shrank back under his glare. "No one is being expelled. And especially not for this. The mutant issue is going to continue in the wizarding world. I am already aware of four more possible mutant wizards that will be arriving at this school in the next few years. Ignoring it won't make it go away. These students are witches and wizards with an extra ability. And that is exactly how we will treat them. Am I clear on this issue?"

Everyone nodded, although Snape did it very reluctantly.

"Minerva," Dumbledore said in a gentler tone, "will you sit in on Professor Summer's sessions? I would like us to learn what we can so that we can handle future students with special abilities."

"Of course, Headmaster," replied Minerva.

"Excellent then," he said, then he nodded to Jean. "Thank you for your help."

"Jean," Flitwick said, stopping her. "I notice that you have carefully avoided mentioning exactly what Harry's powers, or your own, are."

Jean nodded. "Yes, I have Filius. Please do not take offense, but Harry has been told to keep that information strictly secret. As to myself, I am a telepath. That is a broad term which covers several mental abilities. The more powerful a mutant, the more he or she can do within the restrictions of their abilities. There are several things I can do because my talent is quite strong. Harry is also a very powerful mutant. Harry and I tend to refrain from using our abilities unless absolutely needed. The Headmaster knows of one of my abilities and I'll have to ask you to leave it at that. Perhaps another time, Filius, we can invite you to Professor Xavier's school for a visit if you're interested in learning more about mutants."

Filius nodded happily. It would be a trip he'd love to take!

Jean smiled, then stood and left the office with Professor Sprout close behind.

"Jean?" Ponoma called.

Jean turned to wait for her.

"Will you be able to help her? When it became apparent that she was the source of the other girls becoming invisible, she panicked. She's terrified that she is going to be sent away."

Jean smiled and patted Ponoma on the arm. The older woman was clearly worried about her student. "Don't worry, we'll be able to help her. But if you think it will help, why don't you sit in on the first few sessions I have with her?"

"Can I? Really?"

Jean nearly laughed at Professor Sprout's earnest look. "Yes. I think you'll find it nearly as helpful as Cynthia will."

"Oh, thank you! I must go tell Cynthia about this. She will be so relieved!"

Professor Sprout rushed away, leaving Jean standing there shaking her head in amusement.

"This won't last, you know. Sooner or later you and your kind will be thrown from this school," said a hated voice.

Jean turned slowly to stare at the man. "You know, you ought to go look up what happened to the dinosaurs, Professor. If you're not careful, the same fate awaits you and those that share your beliefs," she said, then she turned and walked away from Snape.

Snape shook his head and scowled. He was beginning to think both Jean and Potter were daft, talking about nonsense.

Muggle Studies Office (September 22nd)...

"Come in!" Jean shouted over her shoulder. She and Harry were struggling with a computer that she wanted set up. Harry was currently under the table hooking up cables and muttering to himself.

"Did we come at a bad time, Professor?" asked Professor Sprout.

Jean turned to spot Professors Sprout, McGonagall and a frightened little first year girl.

"Oh, no, please come in," Jean said smiling at the student. She hoped she'd be able to put the girl at ease. It was bad enough learning she was a witch and now she had to deal with another ability on top of that.

"Mum, jiggle that mouse cable will you? Oh, wait, I think I found it," said a voice from under the table.

McGonagall's eyebrows raised nearly to her hairline. "I take it there is a reason why Mr. Potter is under the table?"

Jean smiled wanly and nudged Harry with her foot. "I apologize. I had problems setting up my computer so Harry offered to help me," she replied.

Harry peeked out from under the table, his eyes widened and he scrambled out, then stood brushing off his pants.

He reached over and flipped the power on the computer and watched as it started up.

The girl eyed the computer with interest. Her parents were Muggle born, so she was no stranger to electronics and computers.

"Harry, take a seat. You'll probably find this interesting," Jean instructed as she sat down and motioned the girl closer.

"You're Cynthia, aren't you? Don't be afraid, you're not in trouble," Jean said softly.

The girl approached Jean and the other two Professors sat down to watch.

Jean offered a hand to Cynthia, smiling at her.

"Do you know what I am, Cynthia?"

"You're a witch?" asked Cynthia uncertainly.

"I'll say," Harry muttered with a smirk.

Jean shot him a glare and he shrank back in mock fear.

"Yes, I'm a witch," Jean said, turning back to the girl with a smile. "But I'm also a mutant, like Harry is, and like you are."

Jean summoned a paperback book from the shelf and held it out to the girl.

"Can you make this invisible like you did with your friends?"

Cynthia reached out shyly and pressed a finger to the book. It slowly faded from sight.

"Astounding!" exclaimed Professor Sprout.

"Yes, good work, Cynthia! Ten points to Hufflepuff," agreed Jean.

The little girl smiled broadly and preened a little under the praise.

"Cynthia, do you know what a mutant is?" asked Jean.

The girl nodded, then shook her head and dropped her gaze.

Jean chuckled and leaned back in her chair. "A mutant is a regular person with one tiny little change in their DNA makeup. One gene that activated your powers..."

"Professor, you're confusing her," Harry complained, seeing the girl's glazed look.

Jean looked up at Harry. "Then you explain it."

Harry stood, walked over to Cynthia and put his hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him with huge eyes. As a Creevy, she had heard all the stories about Harry Potter from her brothers.

"All you need to know right now is that you have an ability that came from your parents. They loved each other so much they created you by mixing pieces of themselves together, like making a potion. They loved each other and you, so much that they made you extra special by giving you an extra ability. Professor Summers will teach you to use that ability. It's not magic, so you don't have to worry about the Ministry during the summer months. You can continue to develop your skill."

Harry's expression hardened. "What you tell your friends is up to you, but you are no different than any wizard or witch in this school. So don't believe them if they say otherwise."

Harry's expression softened and the girl looked at him nodding. He turned back to Jean. "She won't need to know about genetics yet, Professor, not until she gets the Talk."

"You're a mutant too, Harry, aren't you?" asked Cynthia shyly.

Jean hid a grin. It was obvious to her that the Creevy brothers weren't the only ones in the family crushing on the famous Harry Potter.

Harry nodded, oblivious to the girl's obvious infatuation.

"So you can make things invisible also?"

Harry smiled and shook his head. "No, I can't. Our abilities vary from person to person. I know people that can shoot laser beams from their eyes, or fly. I know one very nice lady that can control the weather. Maybe someday you'll meet her. Everyone is different, even though there is some overlap and from time to time people have more than one ability."

Cynthia looked up at Harry. "So, what is your ability then?"

He leaned closer to her. "It's a secret, but someday I'll tell you."

Both Sprout and McGonagall looked disappointed at hearing that.

Harry winked at the little girl and she giggled and smiled back at him shyly.

Harry glanced over at the two professors. "Sorry, Professors, but I don't think I should let that information out yet."

"We understand," Professor Sprout said, to Minerva's displeasure.

Harry turned to Jean. "Mum, we need either to bring Hank here, or take Cynthia to Hank."

"Oh, why?"

He frowned at her. "We need to know exactly what she's doing when she turns something invisible. I can think of several ways to accomplish that, and at least one of them is quite destructive."

Jean frowned and nodded reluctantly. "Maybe. I'll talk to the Headmaster. Hank will probably want her to visit him," she replied, then she turned to the Professors. "What Harry just pointed out is that there are several ways you can make something invisible. It's important to find out what method she's using. If her method is dangerous, we need to know about it."

"That's one of the drawbacks of being a mutant," Harry said, jumping into the conversation. "You need to know your limitations and your abilities perfectly, or you can hurt yourself and others. My Dad, for example, he can heat your cup of tea in a second, or vaporize the cup, the table it sits on, and the floor under it. Learning about your talent is important.

"Right now I don't think Cynthia is hurting anyone. But we should play it safe."

Jean turned back to Cynthia. "For now, Cynthia, I don't want you to turn anything invisible, especially your friends or anything alive. Can you do that for me?" she asked the girl.

Cynthia nodded wide eyed at her.

"Excellent, take another ten points for Hufflepuff. And don't worry, we'll be turning plenty of stuff invisible when you come for your lessons," Jean said.

Cynthia shot a look at her Head of House, who smiled broadly. It wasn't every day that one of her first years picked up twenty points.

"Excellent work, dear. Why don't you run back to the common room and your friends now?" Sprout said.

Cynthia nodded and walked from the room.

"Who is this Hank you spoke of?" asked McGonagall after the girl had left.

"Doctor Hank McCoy. He's one of Professor Xavier's people. He's also one of the smartest people you'll ever meet. He should have no problem figuring out what Cynthia is doing," replied Jean absently.

"When he's not hanging upside down from the ceiling reading Shakespeare," Harry muttered. Jean shot him a warning look and he shut up.

McGonagall stood. "I'll speak with the Headmaster. How long do you think this Hank would need? And how far away would she have to go?"

"Southern England, I can't be more specific because I don't know the exact location," Jean said apologetically. "But I don't think Hank would need more than a day. Perhaps a weekend would suffice?"

"She'd need a faculty escort," murmured Sprout.

"I can supply that unless you want to come Ponoma, or perhaps you, Minerva," Jean offered.

"No, nothing should be decided just yet. I must speak with the Headmaster, and we'll need to get parental permission for a trip of this nature," Minerva said.

Jean nodded while Sprout looked disappointed. Harry stayed in the background, checking out Jean's computer. The conversation no longer concerned him.

Malfoy Manor (End of September)...

Severus Snape slipped out of the door and hurried past the main gate until he reached the boundary of the wards. There, he apparated away. He had a meeting to attend to.

Up in the Gryffindor tower, Harry watched from a window with narrowing eyes. He didn't trust Snape at all. That wasn't saying much; there were a lot of people he no longer trusted. But Snape was something special. Snape was an evil git, and more. Of that he was absolutely certain.

Snape walked to the door and lifted the heavy gold knocker making it fall loudly against the door. An elf opened the door a moment later and stepped back, letting Snape enter the large foyer. He removed his cloak, tossing it at the elf.

"Master says you are to go straight in, sir," said the frightened elf.

Snape's eyes narrowed and he felt a twinge of fear. His Lord must want to speak with him personally if he was to go straight in. Ignoring the elf, he walked quickly into a library, heading to a particular bookcase. He reached for a particular book and pulled; the bookcase moved into the wall and slid aside, revealing a staircase going down.

As he walked, he slipped on his robe and mask. It wouldn't do to walk into the Lord's presence without being properly attired.

He slowed, hearing screams coming from the audience chamber. Someone had invoked the Dark Lord's wrath. Opening the door to the chamber, he slipped inside, hoping to remain inconspicuous.

Voldemort looked up from the man writhing on the floor and smiled. It was a hideous smile. It made his visage even more frightening and it was aimed directly at Snape!

"Ah, Severus," Voldemort said in a croon. "Approach me."

Swallowing nervously, he approached the throne Voldemort sat upon. He stepped over the man on the floor, who was still convulsing.

"Malfoy," Voldemort said.

"My lord?" Malfoy said, stepping forward.

"Dispose of that," he said with a gesture to the man on the floor. "I no longer need his services and he has displeased me."

Malfoy bowed, then pulled his wand and turned to the man. "Avada Kedavra!"

The green beam struck the convulsing man and he went limp. Then Malfoy levitated the body and walked it from the room.

Satisfied, Voldemort turned back to Snape. Snape swallowed nervously. The newly created corpse being removed had been one of the most promising new Death Eaters. Snape had been sure the man would soon be elevated to Voldemort's inner circle of trusted followers.

"Well now, Severus, I have not heard from you in a while. I was wondering if you would respond to my summons," Voldemort said in a dangerous tone.

Snape dropped to his knees and groveled. "I live only to serve you, my lord."

Voldemort nodded absently and fingered his wand. "If that is the case, then why have you not been in contact."

"My lord, things are in an upheaval at the school. I fear Dumbledore may suspect me, as I find myself being excluded from key meetings. The old fool is taking even more precautions than usual, and the inclusion of these mutants..."

"Yes... the mutants. Why I do believe they could be as useful to us as the werewolves," he said with an evil laugh.

Several others in the chamber joined him. The werewolves had been promised equality and better treatment if they sided with Voldemort. He had no intention of giving them what they wanted however, and every intention of seeing that most of them were killed in the process of taking down his enemies.

"What can you tell me about these mutants, Severus?"

"Not much, I'm afraid. The one mutant that Dumbledore hired as a teacher is firmly backing Potter. In fact, all of the mutants I've met so far are backing him. On the the other hand, they do not seem to be exactly on Dumbledore's side either. Potter no longer trusts Dumbledore and refuses to work with him or his people."

"Interesting," Voldemort murmured. He motioned for Snape to stand and continue talking.

Snape gratefully rose. "There are three mutants in the castle now. Jean Summers, Potter's aunt and adoptive mother, Potter himself and a first year Hufflepuff. Dumbledore says that the number of mutants with magic will increase in the coming years. As to their abilities, I can't say what they are. Potter keeps his secret. His mother says she's a telepath, but she hasn't demonstrated any abilities that I've been able to discern. Both Potter and his mother are immune to Legilimency. I am unable to penetrate their minds. And the Hufflepuff girl is apparently just coming into her powers. She is still a child with no control over her abilities.

"There have been other mutants visiting the castle, meeting with the Summers woman or with Dumbledore. But I have not been included in those meetings."

Voldemort made a disappointed noise and he looked at Severus mournfully.

"I shall do my best to make sure they include me from here on, my lord," Snape said hastily.

"Succeed, Severus. I want to know what Dumbledore is up to. I also want to find out who is leading these mutants. Perhaps he would be amenable siding with us. If not, we'll kill him."

"Yes, my lord."

"Now, Severus, I want you to remind young master Malfoy that he has a task assigned to him. Remind him that the consequences for failure would be... unpleasant. And also tell Master Zabini that I expect results," Voldemort said.

Snape nodded, all the while wondering what tasks Draco and Blaise were given.

"My lord, is there anyway I can assist either of them?" he asked, trying to find out more information.

Voldemort gave him a piercing look, then shook his head. "Remember your place, Severus. You are in charge of my servants in that school, but I still command them. Both Malfoy and Zabini have high priority tasks, which should not require your assistance. However, if they should choose, they may ask for you help."

Voldemort paused, glanced around the room, then turned back to Snape. "Now, what else is happening in the school?"

"Well Lord, it seems that Potter and the Weasley boy have had a major falling out as a result of that newspaper article. Also, there is almost always an Auror presence in or around the school. Next month's Quidditch match will have a large number of Aurors present.

"I have spoken with the older girls of Slytherin and they have again refused your call. Conditions are tense in the house, as the girls and boys are close to open warfare. Perhaps if you moderated your stance on involving women in your service..."

"Crucio," Voldemort whispered.

Snape fell to his knees screaming in pain. Voldemort stood, keeping his wand and the curse trained on Snape. "Do not presume to question my methods, Severus. Fortunately for you, I still have a use for you. As to the women, they will come to join my forces willingly or unwillingly. Either way, they will serve as mothers to the army I will build."

Voldemort released the curse on Snape and he collapsed to the floor, whimpering and panting painfully. Voldemort slashed his wand, casting a privacy charm so only Snape could hear him.

"I own you, Severus; never forget that. You thought yourself capable of being above me, now I own you. Or have you forgotten?"

Voldemort reached into a pocket and removed a small leather pouch. Untying the laces, he upended the pouch and a silver ring bounced into the palm of his hand. "I own you, Severus. I own your mind, your body... and your soul. You who once thought to put himself above me. I possess your Horcrux, never forget that."

Snape crawled forward and kissed the hem of Voldemort's robe, while most of his mind gibbered in terror. He was Voldemort's. Of that, there was no doubt.

Just after graduation, he had joined Voldemort's service because he wanted to learn more about the dark arts. While in his service he stole a book about Horcruxes and created one for himself. Then Voldemort discovered what he had done, and had found the Horcrux which he now dangled cruelly just out of Snape's reach.

Voldemort knew more about Horcruxes than anyone and he had enchanted Snape's Horcrux. Should it ever be destroyed, Snape would be destroyed. Not killed, destroyed. His soul would be torn asunder and he would cease to exist. There would be no afterlife for Snape.

"My lord, I am your humble servant. I beg your forgiveness," Snape murmured, still kissing the hem of his robe.

"Enough! Return to that school and carry out your orders!"

Snape climbed painfully to his feet and bowed before backing out of the chamber. Sometimes, he thought, life really sucks.

The Great Hall, (Beginning of October)...

He paused in the entrance way and looked around. His friends were busy talking at their customary place at the table. Jean sat up at the staff table talking with Madam Pomfrey. Not far from his friends sat Ron, looking both angry and miserable.

Harry sighed and looked down for a moment. He knew that the situation between himself and Ron couldn't continue as it was. The level of tension in their dorm room at night was becoming unbearable. His empathy was picking up on the tension and making it even worse than it was.

Jean looked up sharply and sucked in her breath when she saw Harry approach Ron.

A hush fell at the Gryffindor table and it quickly spread to the rest of the school as they watched the two former friends face each other.

"Ronald," Harry said softly, catching Ron's attention.

Ron looked up in surprise and his expression became guarded. "Yes?" he replied warily.

"I think we need to talk. Someplace other than here."

"Just talk?" Ron asked warily.

Harry smirked. "Yes, just talk."

Ron looked ruefully down at his dinner, then he pushed the plate away and stood. "Where to?"

"Let's go outside. It's not that cold out yet."

Ron nodded and followed Harry out of the Hall.

Ginny and Hermione watched the pair with tears in their eyes. Both knew what Harry was experiencing by trying to make peace with Ron. Jean, up at the staff table, looked extremely pleased with her son.

Harry led Ron down the path towards Hagrid's hut until they reached a set of benches at the halfway point. Harry sat for moment in silence. Ron sat a few feet away, unsure of what to do now.

"What did I ever do to hurt you, Ron?" asked Harry softly.

Ron blinked at Harry and he shook his head. "What? No, Harry. Look, I've mucked things up for sure. You'd be right to hex me and I wouldn't even try to stop you," Ron replied.

Harry moved to speak but Ron shook his head.

"Please, just let me say this straight through, then we can go on our separate ways. For the longest time, I've been Ron Weasley, youngest of six sons. Nothing I owned was new. When I came to Hogwarts and I met you, I became Ron Weasley, Potter's friend. Despite our adventures, I was still in your shadow just like I was in the shadow of my brothers.

"Why can't you be more like Percy, the Head Boy? Or like Bill, also Head Boy and a curse breaker," Ron said in a fair imitation of Molly Weasley.

"I've always been hidden, in the back, invisible, or known for being the person that knew the one that did it all. I was jealous, Harry. So jealous I couldn't see reason, all I saw was your fame and wealth. I ignored the scars on your back and pretended they didn't matter. I ignored the fact that your clothes were in even worse shape than mine. I knew what it cost you to have those things, but I was too stupid and too wrapped up in my own problems to care.

"When you released Percy and brought him back to the family, you angered me so much. Here was Harry, who wasn't even part of my family, returning Percy to us because you didn't want to see Mum and Dad hurting. I couldn't make Percy come back, but you could.

"And then Dad said you had proven yourself a friend of the Weasley's forever. I'm convinced that if you hadn't found your Mum, my parents would have been clamoring to adopt you themselves. I stormed out of Dumbledore's office, hating you and hating myself even more.

"I didn't have any plan, I didn't know what I was doing. I just knew I needed to think. I hated you and I couldn't see a valid reason for it. I wandered into the Hogs Head pub and bought a fire whiskey. I planned on sitting there and thinking about things until they were straight in my head. The server kept bringing me more and more drinks, and next thing I know I'm talking to Rita Skeeter like she's a long lost friend."

Ron paused and he looked away, his eyes were suspiciously wet. "I should have known something was up. All those drinks couldn't have been bought with just one galleon," he said angry at himself. He turned to look at Harry. "In the course of a single hour, I threw away the best parts of my life. And I hurt my best friends. If there was a way to take it all back, I would in an instant. I lost my two best friends and my family hates me even more than they hated Percy."

Ron stood, looking miserable. "I know it's not nearly enough, Harry, but I'm more sorry than I can ever say. Try not to hate me too much... please?"

"Sit down, Ronald," Harry said softly.

Ron sat with a surprised look on his face. He hadn't expected Harry to accept his apology, so he had no idea what Harry was going to do.

Harry looked up, surveying the gathering dusk for a moment.

"I nearly killed myself at the end of last term, Ron, that's how bad off I was," Harry said flatly.

Ron turned to stare at him incredulously.

"You've been jealous of me and I've been nearly as jealous of you. Do you know how much I envied you and your family. Sure, you may not be rich, but you had something even better than money, Ron, you had the love of your family.

"When you sent me letters saying you were at the Burrow and I knew you weren't I was so angry. Angry and hurt. And then that article was printed and you said I wasn't even human. How am I supposed to react to that, Ron? Should I just forget what you've done until the next time?"

Ron shook his head in dismay. "I don't know, Harry. I don't have any answers, not for your problems or for mine. I've only just realized these past few weeks that I have no one to blame but myself for most of my problems. I wish you could say the same, but we both know a lot of your life was out of your control."

Harry looked down at his feet, then over at Ron. "Damn, this can't go on. We need to end this fight before the others in our room tie us down and make us kiss and make up."

Ron shuddered at the thought. "Somehow, I doubt you'd allow yourself to be tied up."

Harry smirked. "Depends on what she had in mind," he replied, then his expression darkened. "You're a git and a chump, Ron Weasley. We may never be best mates again, but I can't spend the rest of my life hating you, either. Where we go from here is your call. I don't trust you and there's no friendship without trust. I can't tell you how to rebuild what we've lost; that's something you're going to have to figure out yourself. But I will tell you, here and now; pull another stunt like talking to Skeeter and I'll turn your sister loose on you."

Ron sagged on the bench and looked away. Harry could feel him struggling to contain his emotions, so he stood. "I'll catch up with you later," he said softly.

Ron nodded gratefully, afraid to say anything. Forgiveness was something he had not expected from Harry and it humbled him. Tears threatened to fall unchecked and he knew if he said anything, he'd lose it entirely.

Harry turned and trudged back up the path towards the school. He felt emotionally drained by the conversation.

He was surprised to be met by Jean, Hermione, Ginny and Neville.

Jean had taken a liking to the shy Gryffindor whose life paralleled Harry's in many ways. She was helping him improve his school work by teaching him basic memory exercises to improve his concentration. They were similar to what Xavier taught Harry when he first started to learn to shield his mind from attack. Surprisingly, it was doing wonders for Neville's class work and spellcraft.

Harry stopped, seeing all four waiting for him.

"Well?" asked Ginny impatiently.

He grinned and looked at Jean. "Are all red heads this impatient? I thought it was just you, but she's the same way. Was my Mum like this too?"

"Potter," growled Ginny warningly.

Harry pretended to take a step back in alarm. "All right all right, cool your jets and ground. He's alive. I can't say I've forgiven him, but I can't keep hating him. He was stupid, but he was also ambushed by Rita Skeeter, so it's not entirely his fault. He's got a lot of work ahead of him before I'll trust him with my dirty laundry, let alone anything important. But I've told him he has this chance. It's up to him to do what he can with it. I also told him if he blows it, I'll turn him over to you, as punishment."

Ginny nodded in satisfaction, while Neville and Hermione grinned.

Jean stepped up to Harry and hugged him. He stiffened in her embrace and she looked at him curiously.

"What is it?" she asked.

"When are you planning on telling me?" he asked, trying hard to keep the bitterness out of his voice.

"I'm sorry? What are you talking about?" she replied.

"I'm not a good telepath like you Mum, but I can feel your anxiety every time you see me. You're afraid I'm going to find out something you've been holding back from me. I'm an empath, remember?"

Jean looked shocked, then her expression changed as she realized that her hiding things from him had left him doubting her.

Harry's friends stared wide eyed at the two.

"Harry," Jean said carefully. "I didn't hold anything back to hurt you. There are things I haven't told you because I know it would upset you. And I can't tell them to you here, in front of your friends. They have no protection from a Legilimencer."

"We could learn!" blurted Hermione.

When everyone turned to look at her, she blushed and shuffled her feet. "Well, we could. I haven't been a good friend of Harry's these past few months and that has to change. I need him in my life. And if that means I have to learn a skill to protect him and his secrets, so be it."

Ginny and Neville nodded in agreement.

Jean looked at his friends, then turned back to Harry. "Well? Can you hold off until they learn? It could take a while."

Harry nodded reluctantly. "I don't like it."

Jean stepped closer and wrapped her arms around him. "I know you don't, sweetie, but you need your friends. You'll need them close to help you when I tell you what I know."

He relaxed in her embrace. He didn't sense any deception on her part.

His friends smiled seeing Harry relax. They knew that Jean was the best thing to ever happen to him.

"Hugging is a great way of preventing a spontaneous Grigger attack."

Harry looked up to see Luna standing nearby, smiling at him. He stepped back from Jean. "Hello, Luna."

"Hi Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Neville, Professor Summers. Harry, have you finished cleaning out Ron's fuzzy thinking?"

Harry blinked and tried not to smile. It didn't help that Ginny was suppressing a giggle. "Yeah, I have, Luna."

"Oh, good. Now it's my turn. I need to teach him not to open his mouth without making sure he has no kite ticks in his ears," Luna said, then she went skipping down the path in the direction of Ron.

Jean blinked and stared at Harry. "Is she sane?" she asked incredulously.

"More sane than anyone is willing to believe, Mum," Harry answered seriously. "People make fun of her and treat her cruelly because she sees the world differently than the rest of us. It's a shame. She's really a sweet girl. I think she fancies Ron."

"How did you know about Luna?" asked Ginny with a touch of jealousy.

Harry shrugged. "She's been bullied for most of her time here at school. She told me about it last year while you guys were at the leaving feast," Harry said, then his voice dropped. "It's something I can relate to. Most people tend to overlook Luna, but those that know will pay attention to her. She can, with a single sentence, change your entire attitude."

Harry motioned for the others to move into the castle. It was dark and getting chilly.

Jean moved to sit at a bench nearby just inside the castle entrance. "What did she say to you?" she asked Harry.

"She told me she was glad I had stopped hiding. And I was, I guess, in my own way."

Jean nodded, having already made the connection Luna was referring to. But his friends hadn't.

"Hiding? How were you hiding?" asked Hermione.

Harry sighed and stared at the floor for a long time. Finally, he raised his head and looked at Hermione. "Your parents praised you for good grades. If I beat Dudley's scores, I got beaten, and Dudley wasn't a good student. It wasn't until I nearly got to our OWLs before I realized the Dursley's didn't give a damn about my Hogwarts grades," he replied in a soft tone. "Before Hogwarts, I was a good student, except when it came to homework or tests."

Hermione gasped in horror. In her mind, nothing was worse than being forced to get bad grades.

Neville scowled and muttered, while Ginny grabbed Harry in a hug.

Jean watched Harry's face carefully. Shock and surprise flitted across his expression before settling onto a look of bemused confusion.

"Er, right. Anyone for dinner?" Harry asked awkwardly, unsure of what to do next.

Author's Notes:

For those that had no clue what was happening in the disclaimer, I'll point you to the following url.

It's a bit of a joke for those that play warcraft about being prepared, all thanks to that three minute video.

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