Content Harry Potter
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Act 1, Scene 1: Spotlight opens to center stage. Harry Potter is stripped to his speedos and tied tightly to an X shaped metal frame. Hermione Granger steps out wearing hip high leather boots and a leather bustier. In one hand she holds a cat o nine tails.

Ronald (in a whiny voice): "Mistress, I’ll do anything, just don’t show them what you do with Trevor!"

Hermione (cracks her whip): "Say your lines Bug!"

Ronald: "My Mistress, the fearful and wonderful Hermione Granger insists that these characters are the property of JK Rowlings, the authors own nothing and humbly beg her forgiveness for bending us to their will!"

Hermione hands Harry the whip and kisses him sweetly on the cheek. Ron’s eyes start to bug out of his head as Hermione walks off the stage. Harry tosses the whip to one side and conjures a chainsaw. WHIRRRRRR….

Sunset over Britain
 Chapter 8

Hogwarts Entrance Hall…

When the meeting in The Three Broomsticks broke up, the group all looked at Harry and his obviously hurting leg.

"Harry, you are not walking back to the castle," Hermione said with a frown. "You’ve pushed your leg too hard today. It’s going to need some serious heat to get those cramped muscles to relax as it is."

Harry looked down at his leg. The muscles were knotted so badly that he could barely extend it. Sighing, he said, "I suppose I could apparate to the edge of the wards and wait for you guys. I should be able to make it from there."

Despite his ability to apparate in and out of Hogwarts, it was an ability he was reluctant to use unless absolutely necessary.

"I’ll apparate with you, Harry. The others should only be a fifteen minutes behind us," said Hermione.

"Harry," said Narcissa softly, "perhaps I can be of some help?"

Harry looked at the older woman curiously.

"I know there’s no real trust between our families…"

"Mrs. Malfoy," Harry interrupted, "you are and always will be a Black in my opinion. If you can do something for my leg, I’m interested."

Narcissa waved her wand and whispered an incantation. A soft blue light enveloped his leg and Harry could feel the muscles relaxing. Relieved, he smiled at her.

"It’s only temporary, Harry, and the muscles will knot up again in about thirty minutes, but it will allow you enough time to get it into a hot soak," she said seriously.

Harry surprised the woman by embracing her and whispering, "Thank you."

Harry turned towards the door but Hermione stepped in front of him. Her hands were on her hips and her was expression stern. "We’re still apparating, Harry."

Harry laughed, leaned forward and kissed her gently on her forehead. "Of course we are." Before the words had faded away, he vanished without a sound.

Hermione blinked in surprise, then she stamped her foot. "OOOO! I hate when he does that. Just when I think he’s going to be stubborn, he does what he should do!" Then, with a soft popping sound, she vanished.

Draco turned and hugged his mother tightly before leaving. Luna followed him closely, a small smile on her lips.

At the edge of the anti-apparation wards, Harry and Hermione sat in the grass waiting for their friends to show up. Hermione was leaning back against Harry and occasionally he’d lift up the back of her hair and nuzzle her neck.



"Can I ask you something?"

"You know you can ask me anything, Harry. I might not always answer, but you can ask," she replied, smiling again as he nuzzled her neck.

"You know that the Yule Ball is coming up, right?"

That got her attention. She straightened a little and began to concentrate more on his words than his actions. "Yes, what about it?"

"I’d like to make this Yule ball enjoyable for you, so how about if I make a deal with you?"

She spun around to look at him intently. "Just what sort of deal are we talking about?" Now she was curious.

Harry looked down at his feet. "I was wondering…if I teach you Legilimency, would you teach me to dance?" he said cautiously.

"You want me to teach you to dance in exchange for you teaching me Legilimency?" she asked incredulously.

He looked up at her. "Well, I thought it would be a fair trade… besides I want to be able to dance well enough, that you’ll enjoy going to the ball with me," he paused, looking at her astounded expression. "Guess it sounds stupid, right?"

"N-N-No, it doesn’t sound stupid. In fact, I think it’s really considerate of you to want to learn so I can enjoy myself at the ball. I would be happy to help you learn, but you don’t have to offer to teach me anything," she replied softly.

"I know I don’t have to. I just thought you’d like to learn. You have very strong shields, Hermione. It’s only a small step from Occlumency to Legilimency. Besides, I can’t imagine Hermione Jane Granger, the prettiest and smartest witch Hogwarts has seen since Rowena Ravenclaw, turn down the chance to learn something," he said with a grin.

Hermione flushed.

Hearing voices, Harry looked up and spotted their friends approaching. He struggled to his feet and then offered a hand to Hermione to help her up. When the larger group had caught up, they all entered the castle together.

Walking through the Entrance Hall, they heard a voice call out and saw the stiff form of Professor McGonagall walking briskly towards them.

"Mr. Potter, the Headmaster wishes to see you in his office immediately," the stern looking McGonagall said once she’d caught up.

Harry sighed and shook his head slightly. "Yes Professor, right away," he replied. Narcissa’s spell was beginning to wear off and his leg was starting to bother him again.

Hermione shot him a worried look. It was a long walk to the Headmaster’s office.

He sent her a reassuring smile, then turned and followed McGonagall.

Headmaster’s Office Hogwarts…

Harry limped into the Headmaster’s office ten minutes later. McGonagall had slowed her pace when she realized how much pain he was in.

"Have a seat, Mr. Potter," said the Headmaster.

Dumbledore watched Harry limp to a chair, noting the pained expression he was trying to hide. This could work to my advantage, he thought, and then frowned when McGonagall stood behind Harry’s chair.

"Mr. Potter, were you not aware that I had forbidden you from leaving the school grounds?" asked Dumbledore, trying for the grandfatherly approach. "Now look at you, limping and in pain. If you had been attacked in Hogsmeade with your injury, you would not have been able to protect yourself or your friends."

Harry’s head shot up to glare at him. "You have no right to keep me confined to the school grounds," Harry said stiffly.

Dumbledore glanced up at Minerva for a moment. "Professor McGonagall, you are dismissed," he said curtly.

"But Headmaster…"

"I said you are dismissed!"

McGonagall looked furious. She glanced at Harry, who grimaced in return. Turning, she left the office, slamming the door behind her.

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and smiled benignly. "Harry, must every one of our conversations be a fight? Can’t you see that I have only your best interests in mind? What will it take for us to trust one another again?"

"Headmaster, I think you are more concerned with the fact that you’ve lost control of your weapon than you are with my welfare," Harry said coldly.

Dumbledore frowned. "If you continue with this course, I will have no choice but to suspend you."

"That is your option Headmaster, but I realize you have to explain all suspensions to the Board of Governors. I would be more than happy to attend that open session to explain my side of the story."

He’s stalling. What is he waiting for? Harry wondered. He reached out with his senses, trying to determine what Dumbledore was doing.

"Now Harry, I’m sure it won’t come to that if you would just agree to follow the rules I set for you."

"If those rules apply to me and me alone, then they are an injustice and I will not agree to follow them. I have told you before, Headmaster, you do not control me, you do not own me," he replied flatly.

There it is, Harry thought. He could sense the aura approaching stealthily, using a different passage than the regular entrance to the office. Harry checked his mental shields, but they seemed to be fine. Let’s just see how this plays out.

"Very well, Harry. For disobeying my direct order, I deduct fifty points from Gryffindor and assign you a week’s worth of detention with Professor Snape," said Dumbledore angrily.

Harry was about to respond when he felt the telltale tingle of his wards being breached. Harry frowned for an instant, then grabbed hold of the mental tendril and pulled as hard as he could. The tendril fought against his action, but lacked the strength. Harry held the tendril at the breaking point for a moment before releasing it suddenly. Like a rubber band that had been severed, it snapped back into the sender.

Harry smiled as the sound of a body falling came from behind one of the portraits. Dumbledore sat up, startled by the noise.

"I think, that I had better serve that detention with Professor McGonagall, Sir. It would seem that Professor Snape has came down with a bad case of clumsiness and will be unconscious for awhile," he said, grinning unabashedly.

Alarmed, Dumbledore stood and started for one of the portraits before realizing that Harry was still in the office. "Very well, Mr. Potter, serve it with Professor McGonagall. Now get out," Dumbledore said angrily.

Harry levered himself to his feet, walked stiffly to the door and left the office. He’d not show Dumbledore how much pain his leg was causing him.

Leaving the staircase to the Headmaster’s office, Harry got only as far as the first of many staircases he would need to traverse to get to the common room when his leg finally gave out on him. He slid down against a wall, trembling violently as waves of pain radiated up his leg. His brow was beaded with sweat. Closing his eyes, he sat, panting and trying to work up the strength to go on.

It was a full twenty minutes later when he heard a familiar voice. "Harry?"

He cracked on eye open to peer at Hermione. Professor McGonagall looked on, her lips curled disapprovingly.

"Hi there," he said weakly.

"Harry, what happened?"

"The usual. He threatened me with suspension, and he had Snape try to use Legilimency on me again. He deducted points, gave me detention with you, Professor, for the next week," He replied, his eyes darting up to the very displeased looking McGonagall.

"How’s your leg?" asked Hermione.

"It’s… well it’s pretty useless right now, although the nerves seems to be working fine. Hurts a lot."

"Shall I get Madam Pomfrey and a pain relieving potion, Mr. Potter?" asked McGonagall.

Hermione turned to McGonagall, "He can’t use them in this state, Professor. Right now we need to get him to the Room of Requirement and put hot packs on his leg to relax the muscles. A pain-relieving potion would mask the pain and make things worse. I asked Neville to set up the Room for us. We just have to help him get there."

McGonagall thought for a moment, and then conjured a stretcher. Both women helped him onto it and Hermione cringed when she felt the hard knots under his pants leg.

Levitating him down the stairs to the Room of Requirement, Hermione helped Harry lay on the massage table. Conjuring a knife, she cut away pant leg and cast a heating spell on several hot packs.   Placing them around his leg, she waited a few minutes to let the heat sink in before she started to massage the knotted muscles.

McGonagall watched the young witch and frowned. This wasn’t something that she considered proper behavior for a young lady under her care. "Are you sure this is something Madam Pomfrey approves of, Miss Granger?"

"Yes, Professor. Normally I massage the leg first, and then we put weights on his ankles before he does his exercises. Once he’s done, I then massage away any knots caused by the activity. It’s never been so badly knotted before though," she said, glancing at the man on the table.

Harry grimaced and hissed in pain. "Believe me, Professor, there is nothing enjoyable about this… Hermione forces me to work my leg… It’s the only way to get it back to normal… Hermione hates this almost as much as I do…"

McGonagall’s features softened and she nodded. It may look improper, but they weren’t fooling around. "Very well, Mr. Potter. I expect you to start serving your detention with me on Monday."

"I’ll be there, Professor."

Airspace over Britain…

United Airlines, Flight 507 had completed the take off climb and was slowly circling up to altitude for it’s overseas flight to Washington DC. The local controller wiped his screen and prepared to hand 507 off to international departure control. He blinked in shock when, after passing 15,000 feet, flight 507 suddenly changed its transponder code on his screen. With a shaking hand he flipped a switch on his console alerting his supervisor. Flight 507 was now squawking 7777, the code for an in-flight emergency.

"United 507 heavy, confirm ident squawk 7777," he said emotionlessly over his microphone.

"United 507 heavy, confirm ident squawk 7777," he repeated when he received no answer.

His supervisor arrived and watched over his shoulder. Meanwhile, other controllers started the difficult job of vectoring other aircraft away from the plane declaring the emergency.

"Heathrow departure, United 507 heavy. We have an in-flight explosion, we have decompressed, descending," crackled the speaker, the voice anxious.

His supervisor reached over his shoulder to grab a phone. As he did, alarms sounded throughout the airport. Men scrambled to fire engines and nearby hospitals were alerted to expect wounded. The controller and his supervisor watched anxiously as the altitude indicator started to decreasing slowly

"United 507 heavy, confirm in-flight explosion, state your intentions,"   said the controller.

"Descending through 12,500 feet, will level out at 10,000 feet. Request immediate straight in approach, Heathrow," came from the speaker.

"United 507 heavy, turn right to 045 and continue your descent. We are clearing runway 060 for your landing, all traffic is being vectored out of your way."

On the scope, United Airlines Flight 507 began its turn. Then it vanished from the screen.

"United 507 heavy, Heathrow departure," said the controller.


"United 507 heavy, Heathrow departure," said the controller.

Other controllers in the dimly lit room fell silent as each man prayed to hear something from United Airlines, flight 507.

A nearby controller called on his flights. "Air France 45, can you confirm the presence of United Airlines 507, it should be at your 2 o’clock and descending."

He gasped as Air France flight 45 squawked 7777.

"Air France 45, confirm squawk ident 7777," said the trembling controller.

The supervisor whipped his head around in disbelief.

Within the span of an hour and before the Government of Britain could order all planes in its airspace to land, nearly forty aircraft fell from the skies of Britain.

Few could honestly find fault with the Government’s slow response in grounding all air traffic. While the skies had been raining aircraft parts down upon the land, a series of explosions had rocked the city of London.

The Prime Minister returned to London later that day from a conference in Bonn. His flight had a military escort. A special session of Parliament had been called for later in the evening. Meanwhile, the MOD sent a directive to all bases to go to a heightened state of alert.

Because the disasters involved mostly muggles, the wizarding world largely ignored the trouble.

Hogwarts Library…

Ginny was working on her potions homework halfheartedly. Madam Pomfrey had substituted for Professor Snape, but she was still working off his notes. Professor Snape’s homework assignments, even when he was sick, were hellacious.

Snape’s mysterious illness had the rumor mill working overtime. The current rumor running around the school was he had been poisoned by an unhappy student. Ginny didn’t know what Snape’s problem was, but if she had to bet money on it, she would have put her money on a certain Gryffindor student.

She should have been working on her homework, but she couldn’t concentrate. With a sigh, she closed her book and sat staring at it, considering her options. She could sum up her problem in one word. Neville.

Neville had grown over the past summer and she couldn’t help but admire his newly acquired form. Now, with his own wand, he was a powerful wizard and he gained confidence in his abilities almost daily.

She thought it amusing that Harry hand seen what Neville would become long before anyone else. Even with all his powers, Harry still had problems with his own self-confidence and yet he managed to instinctively instill it in others.

While Neville was quickly becoming one of the best wizards in the school as his confidence grew, it still remained seriously lacking in one area. And that was the problem.

To put it bluntly, Neville was afraid of Ginny and Ginny knew it. He’d occasionally hold her hand or, once in a great while, hug her. But he wouldn’t make a single move beyond that and it was beginning to drive her insane. He simply refused to make the first move on her. And while teasing him into speechlessness might be fun, she wanted more.

Sighing she did what she always did when she had a tough problem she couldn’t crack by herself. She went to Hermione for advice. Fortunately, she didn’t have to go far. Hermione was only a few tables away, working on her own homework.

Packing up her bag, she went over to Hermione’s table and sat down heavily. Hermione looked at the younger girl, her eyebrows raised inquisitively.

"Problems, Ginny?" asked Hermione.

"I guess so, Hermione. I just don’t know what to do about Neville. He knows I like him, I know he likes me, but he refuses to do anything about it," Ginny replied, the frustration clear in her voice.

Hermione started to chuckle and Ginny eyed her angrily. "This isn’t funny, Hermione!"

Hermione held up a hand and tried to get herself under control. Finally, when her mirth subsided she said, "I wasn’t laughing at you, Ginny. I was laughing at the situation. Harry and I spent the whole summer dancing around our feelings for each other and denying them. When they were finally revealed, still nothing happened. I went to my mum for this same conversation."

"Really? What did she tell you to do?" Ginny asked.

"She said to throw away the book and make the first move. Make it a small one, but make it and keep making it until he realizes it’s alright with you."

"Did it work for you, Hermione?"

"Oh my, yes. I walked in on Harry, sat on his lap and told him it was all right for me to sit there. Then I told him it was alright for to kiss me," she replied.

"And now, Hermione? I mean, I’ve seen him watch you and hold your hand and even hug you, but I’ve rarely seen you two kissing."

Hermione thought for a moment. "Harry… is something of a mystery sometimes, Ginny. He’s an intensely private man with powerful feelings that he keeps under a tight control most of the time. It took a number of weeks before he’d trust me enough to open up and tell me what he was feeling. I know how he feels for me. He shows it in every action. There are times, when we’re alone, that he tells me," she said with a sigh. Then she grinned wickedly. "Then there are the times when I’m able to make him loose all control."

"You haven’t!"

"No, not even close. But you can see it in their eyes, Ginny, and they can see it in ours. With the right guy, it’s something more than hormones, more than just a quick release, and you can see it," she replied softly.

Ginny left the library a few minutes later, a calculating gleam in her eye. Her mission, which she had accepted, was to seek out and teach Neville Longbottom a lesson he’d never forget.

Detention with McGonagall…

While Hermione was giving advice to Ginny, Harry was up to his eyeballs marking first year Transfiguration homework at a desk in front of Professor McGonagall. Harry didn’t mind serving detention with his Head of House. She was strict, but she was fair and, unlike Snape, she didn’t enjoy humiliating people.

McGonagall looked up as Harry passed one paper to his ‘marked’ pile and grabbed another to begin reading. The last seven weeks of school had seen an increase in tension not just between Harry and the faculty, but also between Harry and the other students. Many of them in her House blamed Harry for not playing Quidditch, despite the fact that it was the Headmaster who had refused to lift his ban. And then there was the Headmaster’s insidious article, which had turned many in the other Houses against him as well.

While Harry had his problems with the Headmaster and Professor Snape, he had always remained courteous and helpful when dealing with most of his other teachers, including herself and Professor Flitwick. Minerva felt she needed to make an effort to reach out to the young man. She had known his parents and they were among her best students, brave fighters for the side of the light, and good friends up until their deaths. Putting her papers and quill to the side, she studied Harry for a moment.

Waving her wand, she closed the door and cast a privacy charm. Harry looked up from his marking to eye her curiously.

"Mr. Potter...," she began hesitantly, "I realize things are becoming difficult for you here in Hogwarts, but I hope you’ll realize that you can trust me enough to talk to me about the problems you’ve been experiencing."

Harry leaned back and put down his quill. "Professor, of all the people I have come to know in the wizarding world, you’ve always been fair and honest with me. I know you mean well and I appreciate that. But confiding in you presents me with a dilemma that I don’t have a solution for."

McGonagall leaned back in her chair, considering his words carefully.

"Professor, not every thing you see is as it appears," he said before she could finish her thoughts. "Even things you have known for years. I want to trust you. I would greatly value your advice and support. But I think you have to make some decisions for yourself before that can happen."

McGonagall was now curious. She motioned for him to continue.

Harry cocked his head to the side and looked at her carefully.   "Professor, of all the magical creatures in the world, which are most attracted to the light side of magic?"

She blinked in surprise. The sudden turn of topic had caught her off guard. "Why, the Unicorn, the Griffon and the Phoenix, I suppose. And your point, Mr. Potter?"

"Don’t you find it interesting that, until recently, this school had a resident Phoenix, that has since abandoned its companion? Or that Hagrid says the Unicorn herds are leaving the Forbidden Forest? I can assure, Professor, none of that is my doing."

Shock whipped over Minerva as she realized what Harry was saying.   She hasn’t made the connection to Fawkes’ disappearance. Now that it had been pointed out, it was painfully obvious. As the meaning behind the Phoenix’s abandonment crystallized in her mind, she felt as if her world had been knocked off its axis.

Harry stood up and walked to a window. He spoke softly as he stared out into the deepening darkness. "War is coming to this land, Professor.   I can see it stalking closer with each passing day. The time to choose sides is near. I would like to know you are with me Professor, but that’s something only you can decide."

She was struck by the strength that radiated off him. At that moment, her view of Harry Potter changed forever. He changed from a student and the son of a couple she once loved as her own, to a determined young man, not to be trifled with.

Shaking her head she said, "I will consider what you have said tonight, Mr. Potter. In the meantime, you are free to go back to your common room."

He smiled at her. For a moment she could see in that boyish smile, an echo of James and Lily in happier times.

Gathering up the homework, he placed them back on her desk before leaving the office.

Gryffindor Common Room…

Entering the common room, Harry noted Hermione sitting off in one corner. Several other Gryffindors, including Ron, were sitting around another table, occasionally shooting her glares.

Frowning slightly, Harry walked over and sat down next to her. He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead before pulling out his own homework.

"I see our fan club is busy practicing their useless stares again," he murmured to her. She snickered in reply and placed a hand on his leg.

The door to the common room opened again and Ginny walked in leading Neville by the hand. Harry and Hermione looked up at the two and Hermione began to chuckle.

Neville had a glazed look in his eyes. His tie was crooked and hanging loosely and his collar was only partially hiding a noticeable bruise on his neck.

"Oh my," said Hermione breathlessly. "She went ahead and did it."

Harry looked at her curiously for a moment before turning to the two approaching them. Neville pulled out a chair for Ginny, and to Harry’s shock, he leaned down and kissed her neck. Ginny purred for a moment and lifted an arm to caress his check.

There was a movement out of the corner of Harry’s eye and as soon as Neville straightened up, Ron tackled him, driving him to the floor. Ginny squeaked and whipped around, her wand out. Harry bolted from his chair and was heading for the two when Ginny cast a spell that hit Ron in the side, throwing him off Neville.

"Keep your hands of my sister! I’m not letting you turn her into a Slytherin loving whore," Ron shouted when he climbed to his feet.

Ginny turned red and stood up.   "You don’t own me brother," she said, stalking towards him. "In fact, I wish you weren’t my brother…you disgust me. Neville is your friend and you know he wouldn’t hurt me. But no, you have to expose your stupidity in public. I will tell you this once and only once. Hurt Neville in any way and you will never have need of a woman in your life. Ever," she hissed at him, then she kicked him hard in the shin.

Harry helped Neville to a chair. Ginny turned away from her brother and walked over to the table, looking at Neville with concern. Once she was sure Neville was all right, she sat in his lap, wrapping both arms around him.

Neville’s eyes glazed over once more and Harry began to chuckle. "Ginny, remind me to never get you angry with me," Harry murmured.

Ginny snorted and grinned. "I won’t do anything to you Harry, I’ll have Hermione do it."

Harry glanced at Hermione, who smiled sweetly at him, batted her eyelashes and patted him on the back.

"Oh Merlin, I’m doomed if that happens," Harry muttered.

As the quiet murmur of voices returned to the room, Hermione went back to her homework.   She glanced over at Harry a few minutes later and saw him doing something with runes and charms, but she couldn’t quite make it out.

"What is that you’re working on?" she asked.

Harry looked up and his expression became guarded. "Umm… this? It’s nothing, Hermione."

"Harry, it’s not nothing. You’re playing with spell creation again. Can I see? Please?" she asked with a look he found hard to refuse.

"I can’t, Hermione…," he said, pained.

Ginny snatched the paper from his hand and looked it over, then looked at him questioningly. It was beyond her, but she recognized small pieces of it.

Harry rushed over to her, his expression pleading for the return of the parchment.

"What is this, Harry? It looks interesting. Shall I show it to Hermione? She could probably tell me what it is," Ginny teased.

"NO! She can’t see it! Ginny, please?" he pleaded with her.

"Tell you what Harry, whisper it in my ear and I’ll give it back to you."

Hermione watched the two for a moment and felt a momentary pang of jealousy float through her when Harry leaned down and whispered in Ginny’s ear. Ginny’s eyes widened and she grinned broadly at him, nodding. Then to Hermione’s surprise, she handed the paper back to Harry, who folded it up and put it in his bag before sitting down again.

Hermione was more than a little put out by the whole scene, so she quickly finished off her homework and said good night to everyone. Harry tried to give her a kiss before she left, but she would only accept a light peck on the cheek. Sighing, Harry went up to his dorm, with Neville close behind. Ginny followed Hermione.

Up in the girls dorm Ginny found Hermione sitting on her bed, reading.

"Hermione?" asked the younger girl.

Hermione looked up from her book. Then she marked her place and closed it. "Yes, Ginny?"

"You’re not mad at Harry and me are you?"

"No, I’m not mad at you, Ginny. I’m just annoyed that Harry would tell you what he was doing, but wouldn’t tell me," replied Hermione in a bit of huff.

"Oh Hermione, don’t be. He couldn’t show it to you without ruining the surprise. Those notes were for something he wants to make for you for Christmas," said Ginny in exasperation.

"A Christmas present?" asked Hermione incredulously.

"Yes, a present. And you might as well face it, you were a little jealous weren’t you?" Ginny asked, grinning.

Hermione looked down at her book, "Well, maybe a little," she replied sheepishly.

Ginny started laughing. "Don’t be, Hermione. That man has eyes only for you. I’ve seen girls practically expose themselves to him and he ignores it. He spends most of his day with you and his eyes rarely stray from watching you. I’ll bet you figure into a large part of his dreams and most of them have you barely clothed," she concluded, smirking.

Hermione smiled remembering Harry’s reaction to the first time she wore a bikini.

Ministry of Magic, Wizengamot Legislative Meeting…

"Madam Chairwoman, the next order of business pertains to proposed law 1996-65. Entitled ‘Amendment to the Emancipation Act of 1564’, sponsored by Albus Dumbledore and Stanley Gripse. Speaking on behalf of this legislation will be Representative Gripse," said the Master-at-Arms.

"The Wizengamot recognizes Representative Gripse."

Representative Gripse was one of the lesser distinguished members of the Wizengamot. He could only trace his family membership in the organization back six generations. The short, round man moved to the podium and faced his fellow members of the Wizengamot.

"Madam Chairwoman, honorable representatives, this proposed amendment is necessary and very needed. In the last one hundred years, fifteen underage witches and wizards have been emancipated before they were of age. Think of the havoc they could have caused had they acted irresponsibly! My esteemed colleague and dear friend, Albus Dumbledore, crafted this bill to ensure the safety of our society and of our children. With this amendment in place, no child risks loss of their education due to the capricious whim of an irresponsible adult who has decided to forego their legal obligations.

"I ask you all to vote from your heart and think of the children! We must protect our children, else we have no future whatsoever," concluded Gripse. His short speech had left him short of breath and sweating profusely. Stepping away from the podium after having given his second Wizengamot speech in thirty years, he waddled back to his seat, immensely proud of himself.

The Master-at-Arms pounded a staff on the floor to gain everyone’s attention. "What say the Ministry on this matter?" he boomed.

Cornelius Fudge stepped up to the Podium to speak.

"Madam Chairwoman, honored members of the Wizengamot, esteemed guests and visitors, the Ministry is against this bill. We already have safe guards and laws in place to avoid underage wizards and witches from unwisely exercising their powers. We feel this would be a serious misuse of Ministry personnel and a misappropriation of Ministry funding, upon which this bill leans heavily," he concluded. Then he stepped back to his seat next to Amelia Bones.

Amelia had a charmed tally sheet in her hands. If the voting looked like the bill would pass, the sheet would signal one of her staff, who would walk an application down to child protective services for immediate processing.

Again the Master-at-Arms pounded the floor. "The Wizengamot will put this bill to a vote!"

A large translucent fist appeared in the center of the chamber. The fist had the thumb extended horizontal to the floor. Under the fist were the words "Yea" and "Nay" with the number zero under each.

"Let the vote commence!" cried the Master-of-Arms.

One by one the members of the Wizengamot shot a voting spell at the large translucent hand and the numbers under the hand started to increase as the votes were tallied. When all the votes were cast the hand trembled and slowly rose so the thumb pointed up. Underneath the tally read forty five "Yeas" and thirty eight "Nays".

Amelia tapped her wand against the tally sheet and sighed. She had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but at least now they had an alternate plan in motion.

Representative Gripse handed a note to a clerk and instructed him to send it to Dumbledore immediately.   The clerk placed the note into the inter-office owl system, and like so many government documents, the machinery of government swallowed it.

Down on the same level as the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, a Child Protective Services Magistrate was handed a document package. Reading it over carefully, he placed the appropriate approval stamps on it, assigning Nymphadora Tonks, cousin of Sirius Black, as guardian of one Harry James Potter-Black. It was only for a short time. The child in question would only need a guardian nine months.

Breakfast, Hogwarts Great Hall…

Harry sat, a little depressed, at breakfast, sure that Hermione was mad at him. Mentally he kicked himself for taking out his notes last night and trying to work on them in front of her.

He sighed and went back to eating his eggs and bacon, wondering if she’d still be angry with him this morning. To other couples, this didn’t even count as a minor fight, but to Harry, with his woefully inadequate experience in relationships, it was devastating. He was so busy inventing ways to apologize that he never notice Hermione approach him until she ran her hand up under his hair and across the back of his neck.

He turned to look at her as she sat down, smiling. "Hermione, I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, honest…"

She stopped him by placing a finger on his lips. "Harry, I’m not mad at you. Ginny explained it all and I realized I was being silly about something that wasn’t there."

Ginny and Neville took their customary seats. Unsurprisingly, they were holding hands.

"Ginny told you about it?" Harry asked, wincing.

"I’m sorry, Harry. I know I shouldn’t have, but I told her you wanted it to be just right before you would show it to her," said Ginny with a smile and a fast wink.

"Oh, right. Yeah Hermione, when I’ve got it down pat I promise you’ll be the first one to see my notes," Harry said unconvincingly.

Hermione smiled into the cup and nodded as she sipped her tea. Harry never noticed the glance exchanged between her and Ginny. He went back to eating, although he did pause when Hermione began to discreetly massage his thigh under the table.

Ministry of Magic, Interoffice Mail Office…

Representative Gripse’s note to Dumbledore had finally reached its send off point. A clerk attached the note to an owl and sent it on its way. In a few short hours, it would arrive at Hogwarts.

 Hogwarts Great Hall, Lunch time…

Harry and his friends had just finished lunch when several owls winged into the Great Hall. The mid-day post delivery was always lighter than the morning post. One owl landed up at the Head table, another landed in front of Harry and extended its leg. Harry removed the letter and unrolled it. He frowned reading the note from Tonks explaining that the guardianship had gone through. But then, it did provide him with ample teasing opportunities for ‘Auntie Tonks’.

Harry looked up to see Dumbledore leaving the Great Hall in a hurry, before he turned back to Hermione and his friends.

"How can you read anything upside down, Luna?" asked Draco in exasperation.

"Honestly, Draco, how can you not? Books are so much more interesting this way. You see the hidden meanings the authors don’t want you to see," replied Luna dreamily.

Draco sat back, scowling. Luna always seemed to be nearby when they ate, or met in the Room of Requirement. She drove him nuts because he couldn’t figure her out. She seemed very smart, but then she’d say something totally off the wall that would make her sound like an idiot. He glanced over at Ginny, who was reading her Quibbler upside down. He frowned.

"Draco mate, don’t try to figure it out. Just accept it. It’s what I do," said Harry grinning.

Hermione poked her head out of her book and eyed Harry suspiciously. Fortunately she wasn’t reading it upside down. Harry took one look at Hermione and grinned nervously.

"You know Potter," said Draco with a smirk, "you are seriously whipped."

Hermione turned her attention on Draco, giving him her best, ‘DIE NOW!’ glare, but it immediately softened when she heard Harry murmur, "Maybe I am. But I can think of far worse fates, Draco."

Hermione blinked and she turned back to her book, inordinately pleased. For Harry, the comment was the same as if he’d climbed onto the table and shouted, "I love Hermione!" to the Great Hall.

 Ministry of Magic, Department of Child Protective Services…

Albus Dumbledore walked into the office of Child Protective Services and approached one of the clerks. The witch at the desk looked up at him.

"Yes? Might I help you?" she asked.

"I am here to invoke law 1996-65 for one of my students," replied Dumbledore.

Nodding, the clerk started compiling an impressive pile of paperwork in front of her. When she was finished she handed the inch thick pile to Dumbledore.

"Fill these out, Headmaster. When you have them completed, you may return them to me. There is a empty office two doors down on the left that you may use," she said with an artificial smile.

Wincing over the amount of paperwork, he went looking for the empty office.

Three hours later he returned with all the paperwork filled out and handed it to the same clerk.

"Thank you, Headmaster. It will take a few days for us to process this. You should know the results by Friday."

Nodding at the clerk he left the room thinking, I’ve got you now, Harry.

Hogwarts Room of Requirement…

Harry had asked his friends not to come to the room tonight. He wanted a little private time with Hermione to start her on Legilimency. He set up the room just the way he wanted it, then called for Dobby. When the small elf appeared, Harry gave him instructions to serve dinner for two when he was ready for it.

When Hermione showed up she was surprised to see how Harry had crafted the room. It looked a lot like his bedroom at Padfoot manor, except there was no bed. The room was spacious and there was a fire burning in the fireplace. A large bay window showed a moonlit meadow.

Guiding her over to a couch in front of the fireplace, Harry sat next to her. "Hermione, I know we’re missing dinner, but don’t worry. I’ve made plans for that," he said, smiling at her.   "Now then, take out your wand. We’re going to start with the basics of Legilimency. If you can master the basics tonight, we’ll try something a little more advanced."

He showed her the complex wand movement, and she practiced it a few times until she had it down.

"Good, but you always get the wand movements really fast," he said. She blushed prettily.

"I think you compliment me just to see me blush, Harry," she murmured.

"Umm… well yeah, but mainly because I like looking at you," he replied, blushing himself.

Continuing he said, "Alright then, you have the movement. As you probably know, the incantation is ‘Legilimens", but the wand movement and the incantation are the easy parts. The hard part is focusing on the emotions that trigger the memory you’re looking for. Remember, I once told you that Legilimency was like opening a book and flipping through its pages. You focus on an emotion and you trigger all of the memories that invoke that emotion in your subject, hopefully including the memory you want to find."

"But what about those memories that might be triggered by more than one emotion?" Hermione asked.

"You’re right, some memories will invoke more than one emotion in a person. But either emotion can trigger the memory, so it doesn’t really matter.

"A good Legilimens will ultimately learn to control his or her own emotions. That doesn’t mean they become emotionless. What it means is that they learn to suppress them at certain times. Let me give you an example.

"I sit here in front of a romantic fire place and I kiss you. That leaves you a memory, hopefully a happy one," he said. Then he leaned over and kissed her deeply, breaking away a few moments later.

"You don’t bother to suppress your emotion for that. In fact, you don’t want to suppress the emotions or the flavor of the moment is lost," he said, then paused to let her consider what he had said.

Slightly flushed Hermione nodded and motioned for him to continue.

"Right, then. In another example, I tell you I am about to give you a secret that holds the key to winning this war. Forewarned, you can suppress your emotions while hearing that secret. Now with the emotion suppressed, that memory becomes much harder for a Legilimens to dig out."

"Is this why you don’t display much affection in public, Harry?" she asked shyly.

Harry looked surprised, then a little hurt. "That’s part of it, I suppose, but more likely it’s mostly cowardice on my part."

"Cowardice??" she exclaimed.

"I think we’re getting off the subject, Hermione," Harry said, trying to avoid the topic.

"No Harry, I think we need to talk about this," she replied softly, watching him. She knew he wanted to pace, but couldn’t due to his leg. Running a hand through his hair he tried to stand up, but Hermione stopped him.

"Harry, talk to me, please?"

"Hermione, you’re the smartest witch in this school, but sometimes I think you must be nearly as clueless as I am," he said.

"What do you mean by that, Harry James Potter," she said hotly.

"I love you, Hermione. It’s an emotion I’m not used to and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. If it’s not love, then I don’t know what to call it. Around you I find myself losing control of my emotions, around you I have trouble thinking straight. Sometimes I don’t think you’re even aware of how you make me feel.

"I go to sleep listening to Seamus bragging about shagging Lavender, or listening to Ron tell about the time he got Parvati alone in the Astronomy tower. Sometimes I find myself wishing we could do some of those things and then I feel ashamed and disgusted with myself for thinking about you in that way. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. I don’t want to drag what we have down to Lavender’s level though. I think it would be demeaning.

"I don’t show much affection in public because I’m afraid that one day I’ll start and won’t be able to stop myself. I want you on so many levels that I can’t even begin to describe it.

"Argh! Can’t we just get back to Legilimency and forget this topic, Hermione?" he asked plaintively.

Hermione watched him as he talked, her initial ire passed quickly as his words sunk home.   She moved into his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. "It’s not cowardice to desire the person you love," she told him.

Harry wrapped his arms around her waist and held her against him, his eyes closed.

"Harry, are you listening to me?"

She shuddered as he began to nibble her neck and her own self-control was suddenly under assault. Closing her eyes, she tightened her grip on him and shivered in delight as he traced soft kisses along her neck. When her body relaxed against him, her eyes popped open in surprise.   Self-control indeed!     She broke out of his embrace and stood up.

She stared down at him, and he watched her warily. Both were breathing heavily, and each could feel a powerful urge to lunge for the other. Sitting at the end of the couch away from him, she shivered again. She watched him for a long moment before she managed to regain control. Merlin! If what I do to him is even half as strong as what he does to me, no wonder he tries so hard to control himself, she thought giddily.


"Yes?" came his husky reply, sending another arrow of shivers down her back.

"Soon, but not now. We have Legilimency to do remember?"

"I remember telling you the same thing a few minutes ago," he said, watching her carefully.   "I seem to recall you weren’t too interested in returning to the lesson, but insisted that we…talk, instead."

She squirmed for a moment, realizing that he was right.   She had been the one to push for the discussion, and she’d ended it by crawling into his lap, then pushing him away and reminding him of the Legilimency lesson.

"I’m sorry, Harry.   I didn’t mean…that is, I hadn’t realized…Oh blast!" she sputtered.

Harry laughed, ignoring the glare she shot at him.   It wasn’t often that he managed to catch Hermione out, and he planned on enjoying it.

"Harry…" she said, pleadingly.

Harry shook himself and grinned. "Right then, Legilimency. If you do the spell correctly, you should feel like your mind is reaching out to grasp something. Now without a target, it will feel like you’re reaching for something, but are unable to catch hold. Try it out."

Hermione nodded and pointed her wand at the wall. "Legilimens," she said.

It took several times before she could feel that tenuous sensation of reaching for nothing. Excited, she turned back to Harry. "I can do it! I can do it!"

"I knew you could. You never have problems with spells, Hermione," he replied proudly.

"Alright, what’s next?" she asked, hungry for more.

"Well, the next thing is to try it on a test subject, and since there is only you and me, that means me, I guess. I’ll drop my shields and you’ll try to get a happy memory," Harry replied.

The turned to face each other on the couch and he nodded once his shields were down and his wards adjusted to allow her in.

Hermione nodded and pointed her wand at Harry. "Legilimens," she said softly.

Her vision faded and within her mind she could see a flood of images.

Hermione sitting on Harry’s lap laughing and talking with friends on the Hogwarts Express.

Harry playing his tin whistle for Nutters and feeding the little animal.

The look on her face when Harry gave her the music box.

Hedwig rubbing his cheek.

Shaking herself, she broke the connection and leaned back, considering what she had seen. Harry sat quietly, smiling at her.

"I think it takes some time afterwards to consider what you’ve learned," she murmured.

Harry shrugged. "It does. I don’t use the art much, but once you learn the discipline behind it, you’ll find it makes a lot of things easier. Between Occlumency and Legilimency, learning and recalling facts becomes a lot easier. Now, are you ready to try again?"

She nodded and pointed her wand. She was still thinking about what Harry had said, rather than concentrating on an emotion when she cast the spell.

The inrush of images this time was broader, overwhelming in intensity and volume.

"BOY! YOU WILL DO YOUR CHORES RIGHT!" roared Harry’s Uncle Vernon. He raised his belt and beat the small child across his back mercilessly.

"Hermione move!" Harry yelled. Then he leapt onto the back of the troll, sticking his wand up it’s nose while Ron stood, frightened out of his wits.

"Please not Harry!" pleaded Lily Potter.

"I don’t want to kill you woman, stand aside and you’ll live," snarled Voldemort.

"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort shouted pointing his wand at a baby Harry.

Lily leapt in front of the spell shouting, "HARRRRYYYYY!"

"Wands out, d’you reckon?" asked Cedric nervously.

"Yeah," replied Harry.

His scar exploded in pain and from a distance he could hear, "Kill the spare."

Sobbing, Hermione broke the connection to Harry by dropping her wand as both hands flew to her mouth in horror. Harry had curled himself into a tight ball and was trembling violently. There were tears flowing freely from his closed eyes and his breath came in ragged gasps.

"HARRY!" she exclaimed. She moved to his side of the couch and leaned down to hug him tightly. She held him for a long time weeping over the pain she had seen and caused him. His tremors slowly subsided and he relaxed into her arms.

Harry opened his eyes and was surprised to see Hermione crying. Ruthlessly, he pushed his pain down and sat up.   Turning slightly, he gently guided her into his lap, where he wrapped his arms around her and waited for the storm to pass. She buried her head into his shoulder, staining his shirt with her tears. Having dealt with those feelings for so long he was able to push them aside and concentrate on comforting her.

"Shhh, sweetheart. It’ll be all right. I’m fine, your fine, no one’s hurt," he whispered to her.

She lifted her head to look into his eyes. "How can you say that, Harry? You’ve lived with so much pain, how can you go on?" she asked him quietly.

He rolled his eyes. "Do I have a choice? Shall I go jump in the lake and drown myself because I have horrid relatives, then?   Come on, Hermione. I can’t change the past. All I can do is look to the future and hope that it will be better. No, scratch that, I know it will be better with you in it."

She shook her head in wonder. "I don’t know how you do it, Harry…"

He interrupted her. "I have Remus and Tonks and I know they love me, even if I’m not their son. I know your mum likes me. Your father likes me too, but I think he’s worried I’m going to steal his daughter away from him. And someday I’m going to have a family of my own with children to raise and love. I might not have a real family right now, but it’s close to the real thing and will do until I make one for myself."

She smiled at him and snuggled a little closer. "Got yourself a wife already picked out?"

"It’s a short list with few candidates on it. Shall I add your name to it?" he asked casually.

She punched him in the arm. "Prat!" she exclaimed, trying to push herself away from him.

He held her fast, not letting her go. When her struggled ceased, he kissed her temple lightly and whispered, "It’s an empty list, Hermione. Although I do have one candidate in mind."

She instantly stopped struggling. "Really?" she whispered. He smiled and nodded at her and she grinned back at him.

Then Harry’s mood turned serious again. "Do you know what you did wrong with the spell?"

She sighed and ducked her head. "Yes. I was so busy thinking about what you said that I rushed into it without concentrating on what emotion I wanted to look for. I’m sorry, Harry."

He placed a finger under her chin and gently lifted her head. "No harm done," he said softly, staring into her eyes. "We learn by making mistakes and if I know you, you’ll never make that mistake again."

She smiled weakly at him, the images she had pulled from his mind still fresh, and marveled at how easily he could forgive and forget something like that. Then his stomach rumbled.

"Right, guess it’s time to have something to eat… Dobby?"

There was a soft popping sound and Dobby appeared in front of the two of them.

"Yous call me, Master Harry?"

Harry sighed and shook his head. No matter how many times he had asked Dobby not to call him master, Dobby never seemed to get the message.

"Yes, Dobby. Would you please serve dinner now?" asked Harry, smiling at his little friend.

Dobby snapped his fingers and a table appeared near the bay window. With another snap, the house elf lowered the lighting in the room so the candles on the table provided most of the light except for the fireplace. With a third snap of his fingers, he vanished as food appeared on the table.

Hermione stood up and looked at the romantic setting. Harry led her over to the table and pulled out a chair for her. She smiled gratefully at him as he helped her sit, then took the chair opposite hers.

When Harry sat, soft music started playing. Harry looked startled and Hermione started to chuckle. "If I didn’t know better, Mr. Potter, I’d say you’re trying to seduce me," she said smiling.

Harry looked aghast. "N-N-No, that’s not it Hermione. I didn’t ask Dobby to add music. Or the candles… I just asked for a nice table setting by the window…"

She laughed, interrupting him. "Oh Harry, only you would have a house elf who was a romantic at heart as a friend. I’m not sure if I should thank you or thank Dobby."

There was a popping sound and Dobby appeared. His big tennis ball eyes grew wide looking at Hermione. "Oh no, Miss Hermy… Dobby set up table as Master Harry wanted, even if he didn’t say so."

Harry groaned and buried his face in his hands.

Laughing, she thanked Dobby and the little elf vanished again.

"I always suspected you had a romantic streak in you, Harry Potter, even if you need house elf help to show it," she said laughing.

Harry blushed furiously. "Hermione, I wasn’t trying to seduce you. I just wanted for us to have a nice dinner…"

"Harry… Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to bite you. Now, how about passing that platter of meat? The roast smells heavenly," she said, smiling at him.

As Harry reached for the platter of meat, he felt a strange sensation on his arm. Hermione looked at him curiously as he pulled up his sleeve and they both gasped.

The tattoo of Padfoot was bulging up off his arm. In just a few seconds, a small, black cloud hovered for a moment over his arm, then it floated down to the table where it formed into a perfect six inch high Grim. Harry was dumbstruck as he watched the small figure walk along the table.

Hermione reached out with a finger and touched the small Grim. It wagged its tail at her happily while her finger passed right through it.

"Well, its not corporeal," said Hermione. "I wonder why Sirius gave the tattoo this ability?" she mused.

The small Grim walked over to the meat platter and sniffed. Then it bit down into one slice and tore off a chunk of meat. Both Harry and Hermione gaped.  

"Alright, he’s not totally incorporeal," said Hermione, wide-eyed.

"I think I better write Remus and ask him to look into what Sirius did to the wards around Padfoot Manor," Harry said carefully, watching the little dog. He pulled a slab of meat onto a small plate and gave it to the Grim. Then he offered the platter to Hermione.

The two spent a pleasant time having dinner and enjoying each other’s company. After dinner, Hermione stood up, walked over to him and took him by the hand. Once Harry stood, the Grim faded from view. He could tell by the tingle in his arm that it had returned to its proper place.

Hermione led Harry out to the open space between the table and the couch. "Harry, you’ve started to teach me Legilimency, so now it’s my turn. I know your leg will give you some problems, but we’ll work around it."

With the music still playing in the background, Hermione stepped into his arms and started to show him how to dance some of the slower dances. Harry couldn’t think of a nicer way to spend an evening.

Order of the Phoenix Meeting, the Three Broomsticks, Hogsmeade…

Dumbledore looked around at his Order. A few faces were missing. This was the first official meeting of the Order since the start of school. With the students wandering the castle, they couldn’t risk meeting there. Fortunately, Madam Rosemerta had a room large enough to fit everyone…barely.

Rapping his knuckles against the table he called the meeting to order. "Thank you all for coming this evening. Before we begin, I’d like to recap some of the events that have occurred. As of the start of school, Harry Potter returned to Hogwarts. Plans are now in motion to see that a repeat of last summer does not occur.

"An attack was made on Harry’s life near the end of September, which resulted in an injury that he is still recovering from. Almost immediately following the attack, Hogsmeade was flooded with members of the Brotherhood of Druidic Knights. I personally received a communiqué from the Brotherhood, holding me responsible for the attack and saying they will not tolerate another."

Several Order members gasped at the thought of anyone threatening their beloved leader. Dumbledore smiled reassuringly at them.

"Auror Nymphadora Tonks," the Headmaster continued, "has formally resigned from the Order and, although I regret having to accept her resignation, she cites personal and job related reasons for her resignation.

"I have not heard personally from Remus Lupin. He did visit Harry twice in Hogwarts, but I was unable to talk to him when he visited. I can only assume that he, too, has left our ranks. Unfortunately, Severus is not with us tonight. He is… ah indisposed at the moment.

"Now I would like to turn our attention to this Brotherhood. They have, it appears, managed to exert an undue influence on not only Harry Potter but also, perhaps, Hermione Granger. Harry has been less than forthcoming about his time spent with them. Right now I am unconvinced that Miss Granger has been actively involved with them, although she clearly appears to be under the influence of Harry…"

"Albus, they are a couple," interrupted Minerva McGonagall. "If I were pressed, I’d say they are even more in love with each other than James and Lily before they got married. It’s not influence, it’s love."

"As I was saying," Dumbledore overrode her with a frown. "Influence. Harry has apparently helped her learn some new forms of magic. Nothing dark that I can tell, but she, too, is refusing to cooperate with me…"

Minerva interrupted him again. "What did you expect? You asked her to spy on the man she loves. I’d tell you no also. Albus can’t you see what you’ve done? You’ve set most of the school against…

"Professor McGonagall, that is quite enough!" Dumbledore exclaimed loudly. "I will remind you that I am Headmaster, as well as leader of the Order. Now, if you will kindly allow me to speak without any further interruptions, we can get on with business and get out of here tonight."

Minerva McGonagall leaned back in her chair, fuming. Damn that man, she thought. He turns the whole school against a student and then has the gall to complain that the student is being uncooperative? James, Lily, if you can hear me, forgive me.

"I am most concerned about this Brotherhood and I think it’s becoming imperative that we resolve this issue once and for all," Dumbledore continued. "This is the second time they have threatened an Order member. Kingsley, do you think that perhaps you could alert Amelia to the possible threat they pose? We must determine if the Brotherhood is working for the light or for Voldemort. If they are working for Voldemort, then they have control of Harry Potter. By the end of this week, I will have legal control over Harry, so I will sever his contact with them. Nevertheless, we must find out where they stand."

"I’ll speak with Director Bones in the morning, Albus," said Kingsley.

"Very well then. I think that will do for now. Let us adjourn and return to our homes," Dumbledore announced.

"B-B-But Headmaster," shouted Emmeline Vance. "What about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"

Dumbledore turned around to look at her. "Oh, he’s out there making his plans Emmeline. Right now however, we must make sure that this ‘Brotherhood’ does not join him."

Malfoy Manor…

"Lucius, my friend, how is it that Severus has not visited us?" asked Voldemort quietly.

"My lord, our spies in Hogwarts say that Snape has not left the castle since the start of the school term. I think Dumbledore is keeping him there for his own safety," replied Malfoy.

Voldemort thought for a moment, then nodded in acceptance. Snape was, after all, only a minor matter in the grand scheme of things.

"Tell me Lucius, is that idiot cousin of yours, McNulty, still alive?"

Malfoy looked surprised at the sudden change of topic. "Yes my lord, he’s still alive. Last I heard he was living in Hogsmeade, barely surviving by doing minor enchantments for a clothing store."

"Good. I have a plan that involves both your money and your cousin to sway and confuse these sheep. In the meantime, step up the attacks against the muggles. Since our illustrious Minister is so willing to ignore them, we might as well take advantage."

"Master, I humbly ask for a little time before continuing the muggle attacks," said Lucius, now groveling at Voldemort’s feet.

"What? Why? Explain yourself, Lucius!" snarled Voldemort.

"Master, I have been examining muggle society. It is more complex than our own, but vulnerable. I wish to retarget the attacks in ways that would be more effective, more disruptive of the muggles. It is not enough to simply kill them, Master. The muggle government must fall before you can rule in Britain."

Voldemort leaned back in his chair and let one hand drop over the side to absently stroke Nagini’s head.   "Yes, I see that, Lucius. Continue your studies and, when you are ready, strike hard."

Lucius bowed low before backing out of the room.

The Great Hall, lunch time…

Harry and the Outcasts sat together, as was becoming habit. With the exception of Ginny and Luna, the others had all come from sixth year Transfiguration class. Harry pulled out his graded homework that Professor McGonagall had handed back in class. He hadn’t had a chance to look it over before class ended.

Pulling the parchment out of his bag, he was surprised to see a second, smaller parchment attached to the back of it. He carefully peeled the second parchment from the first and read it. His surprise must have shown on his face because Hermione nudged him. He handed her the unsigned note.

D claims he has taken steps legally to put you under his control.

He also thinks you are somehow controlling Miss Granger.

Both of you are in danger here. Be careful.

Hermione gave him back the note. Although unsigned, it was written in a hand they both knew very well. Harry banished the note, then two sets of eyes turned to the Head table, catching the eye of Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress. She nodded imperceptibly to them both and went back to eating their meal.


"I know, but it’ll be alright. I won’t let anyone hurt you," he said.

"Me? What about you?" she asked acidly.

"The old fool won’t take direct steps to hurt me, Hermione. He still sees me as his weapon and he needs that…"

Harry stopped talking as Ron, Dean, Seamus and a group of Gryffindors approached them. All of the Outcasts tensed, seeing the group. Ron stopped a few feet away from Harry and stared at him for a moment.

"Potter," Ron spat, "we don’t want these others sitting at our table," he said, pointing at Luna, Susan and Draco.

"Sod off, Weasel. We’ll sit where we please," said Harry.

"Come on Potter, that snake is ruining our appetites," said Dean.

"There are three other tables you may sit at, Dean. No one forces you to sit here," replied Ginny acidly.

"Slut," Dean said, glaring at the redhead. It was a single word, but it echoed through out the Great Hall. Ginny paled and Neville put an arm around her.

Professor Flitwick scowled up at the Head table and started to get out of his chair when Minerva stopped him. "No Filius, leave them for now. We need to talk later," she said quietly.

There were only three Professors present at the Head table. Minerva, Filius and Romany Blackthorne all watched the scene unfolding before them silently.

Hermione gasped as she felt the air around her turn electric. Waves of magic were rolling off Harry as he stood. He turned and walked the few feet to the group. He stopped in front of Ron and waited.

Ron took one look at Harry’s eyes and flinched back in fear. Harry’s eyes glowed a bright green, his hair seemed to move in an invisible wind and his robe billowed out behind him.

"Give me an excuse, Weasley, just one excuse.   Dumbledore’s not in the Hall to protect you or your friends this time, so be a man, Ron…show everyone how tough you are.   Take a swing at me or draw your wand and cast a curse, anything," Harry said quietly, but calmly. "Or better yet, be a real man and punch Dean for calling your sister a slut."

Ron and his friends started backing away.

"Ah, just as I thought," Harry said, contemptuously.   "Without the Headmaster to back you up, you’re nothing more than a coward.   How disappointing."

"You’ll get yours, Potter. The Headmaster will fix you good. You’ve turned evil!" he shouted, then turned and stumbled back to his seat, following his friends.

Harry turned and looked around him. Nearly every eye in the Great Hall was on him and most looked at him fearfully. Shaking his head in disgust, he sat back down. He glanced at his friends, a little afraid of what he might see in their eyes.   While their expressions didn’t hold fear, they did seem a bit shocked by the display of power he had shown.

Harry pushed back his magic to a manageable level and grinned sheepishly at his friends.

"Merlin, Harry!" Ginny exclaimed. "And you say not to make me angry at you?"

"Sorry Ginny, but I wasn’t about to let them continue, not after what they called you," he replied in a soft, serious tone.

"You guys are friends and family to me. And more," he said, reaching out to touch Hermione’s hand gently. "I’ll not sit by and let any of you get hurt if I can help it."

Transfiguration Office, Later that evening…

Minerva paced in her office waiting for Flitwick to arrive. With October nearly done, she mentally reviewed all she had observed about Harry over the past two months. She’s sent Harry a note earlier and sincerely hoped that it would help her and Harry build some trust in each other.

The door to the office opened and the diminutive Charms Professor entered the room. He took one look at the pacing McGonagall and he cast the strongest silencing charm he knew, and then locked the door against all intrusions.

"Alright Minerva, will you kindly tell me what in the name of Merlin’s beard is happening in this school?" squeaked the little Professor.

"Filius, have you been watching Harry during your classes?"

"After his display of wandless magic in the infirmary? Of course I have! His work is the best it’s ever been. In fact, he’s on par with Miss Granger in practical and only slightly behind her on theory at this point."

"And what about his attitude, Filius? Towards the other students?"

"I’d say Harry has become very cautious around them. It’s as if he no longer trusts most them. Although he and several others have become amazingly close, like the Malfoy boy. Who would have believed he’d befriend Harry Potter?"

"I know, Filius. The problem is our Headmaster seems to be convinced that he must control Harry’s every action and Harry’s having none of it. Albus is doing everything he can to make his life as difficult as possible. The other day, I saw him spend over an hour lecturing Harry, ignoring the fact that the young man was in intense pain from his injury.

"I tried talking to Harry about it, but he said I had some choices to make before he could talk to me. Then he went on to point out that Fawkes has abandoned the Headmaster…"

Filius’ eyes widened as he made the connection.   "You don’t think Harry is asking us to support him over Dumbledore, do you?" he asked.

Minerva nodded sadly. "Yes, that is exactly what I think, Filius. What’s worse, from what I can see, Harry is right in asking for our support. The Headmaster is convinced that Mr. Potter is somehow controlling Miss Granger."

Filius snorted. "I think the Headmaster has it the other way around. The young man is in love with that young witch and she could easily pull his strings if she wanted. She doesn’t, from what I can see, except for spurring him to make a greater effort in his work. But he’d gleefully wrap himself around her finger if she’d allow it."

"Yes, he does remind me of James in his last year. Lily could get him to do anything just by asking," Minerva said with a smile.

"What do you think we should do, Minerva?"

"I think we need to reach out to them. I believe that the Headmaster now poses a danger to them both. We must make them see that at least some of the staff support them," she replied quietly.

"Why don’t you arrange a meeting with them next week, Minerva? I’ll attend if you like."

"Yes Filius, perhaps that would be a good idea," she replied. Perhaps between the four of them, they’d be able to talk.

Author’s Notes:

For everyone that failed the Online Sobriety test, we have a sober up potion hidden beneath a word in this document. All you need to do it scratch off the appropriate word using a coin and you’ll find it.

We’d also like to commend all those people that have taken the time to get their mice neutered. It’s nice to see people trying to control our excessive pet population. So here’s to you people with the ball less mice!

Just remember things are not always what they seem to be. And for those people that want to see the hearing, well that’s still two chapters away! Can you believe this? We’re at the end of October here and its still taken us two chapters to get to the hearing.

We want to state ON THE RECORD that our attacks on Britain are STRICTLY FICTION! Besides, if we were going to attack anyone, we’d attack Canada. Why Canada? Because like idiots we already conquered California!

Obviously the Matura is a plot device we created. The length of such a thing would be determined by genetics and environmental factors. Think of it this way. If a child has the genetic predisposition to grow to be 6 foot tall and you don’t feed that child well, they will never make that height. Feed them well and they may even exceed it. In Harry’s case, he would have had a longer than normal Mature, but conditions beyond his control, malnutrition and abuse, resulted in a much delayed, much more dangerous Matura.

A Wizards Debt, as in the one the Weasley’s owe Harry for saving Ginny in book II does not mean that person cannot betray you. If that were the case, Pettigrew would never have been able to harm Harry in book V.

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