And here we are at year six! Thank you to everyone who has followed me this far. I hope you enjoy the next installment! I'm sorry it took so long, but I got really hung up on how to twist the sixth book to my own story. And I'm trying my hand at an original story, so I've been working on that a bit as well. But here we are, for your reading pleasure!
You're getting the first chapter at a weird time. I like to update on weekends, so that I can ensure I actually manage to get a new chapter out. But I finished this story late tonight, and I didn't want to wait a whole week before posting. So after this, it will be weekly updates, on Saturdays.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter in any way, shape, or form
Harry broke off from his offensive attack as a whistle pierced the air.
His sparring partner, Neville, also looked towards the doorway to the training room.
Sirius was standing there, watching the two teenagers fight. "Not bad," he commented, smiling slightly. "Neville, keep your wand arm up. Harry managed to get a few hits in because you give him an opening when you drop your guard."
Neville nodded, panting slightly from the exertion of the morning. He and Harry had been going at it nonstop for almost an hour.
Sirius turned to his godson. "Harry, Amelia's here and she'd like to speak with you."
Harry nodded, and looked over at Neville. "We'll pick this up later, all right?"
Neville smirked. "Looking forward to it."
Harry returned the smirk, and followed Sirius out of the room.
Though the dog animagus had been released from St. Mungos almost a week ago, he still walked with a bit of a limp, so their journey upstairs was slow.
Just a couple weeks earlier, Harry had been forcibly abducted from Hogwarts, when Draco Malfoy, an arrogant toe rag and all around prick, had thrown a portkey - or something like it - at him, sending him to the Ministry of Magic. There, Harry and his friends, who had followed him to the Ministry, were attacked by Death Eaters.
Though they fought well, Harry had been relieved to see help come in the form of Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix. He might have some issues with the headmaster of Hogwarts, but he wouldn't turn down help when he and his friends so badly needed it.
Fortunately, there were few serious injuries. The worst hurt was Sirius, who had to spend some time at St. Mungos. Harry was relieved that his godfather was not permanently injured, but it had still been a huge scare for him. Even though he still showed signs of the attack in the form of his limp, the healers assured them that it would fade in time, and he should regain full mobility.
After dueling Voldemort himself, Harry had been less than pleased when Dumbledore had portkeyed him back to his office at the school, rather than the Infirmary, where he definitely should have gone.
There, Dumbledore had proceeded to inform him of the prophecy that Voldemort – and the headmaster – put such stock into. Harry would much rather have just gone to the Hospital Wing.
He had gotten some satisfaction though, when his guardian and Head of House, Minerva McGonagall, interrupted their 'talk', and slapped her boss and the leader of the light across the face.
Sirius and Harry arrived at the sitting room, drawing Harry from his thoughts.
Amelia was waiting for them on the sofa, but she stood up immediately as they entered, kissing her fiancé before focusing on Harry.
"Thank you for coming so quickly," she smiled. "I'm afraid I don't have a whole lot of time, but I wanted to keep you updated on the situation with the fight at the Ministry."
They all sat down, before Amelia continued. "As I'm sure you're aware, all of the Death Eaters you captured have been arrested. Those who had escaped Azkaban have been sent back. We'll be holding trials for the others within the next month, as we complete our investigation." Harry and Sirius nodded. Amelia smiled tightly. "I must thank you, Harry, for dealing with Mr. Malfoy for me. I've been trying to lessen his influence for nearly a year now."
"What will happen to them?" Harry asked, shifting in his seat.
Amelia shrugged with one shoulder. "They will all undoubtedly be convicted and sentenced to life in Azkaban. Those who have it will be stripped of their lordship status."
Harry nodded. It was no less than they deserved.
Amelia sighed. "It has not been an easy few months," she admitted. "Fudge had a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, and I'm still trying to clean house. Things are getting better, slowly."
"Have you questioned him at all yet?" Harry asked.
Amelia nodded. "Unfortunately, taking bribes and furthering his own agenda at the expense of the greater wizarding world, while horrendous and distasteful, is not strictly illegal. I couldn't charge him with anything, but I promise you he'll have a hard time finding work in Britain."
Sirius looked pleased with that, though he did wish it were possible to arrest the former Minister. Fudge had negatively impacted the wizarding world for so long, and it would be a while before they could fully recover from everything that idiot had done.
Amelia smiled wanly. "I'm trying to reverse several laws Fudge pushed through, which will hopefully make things better, but it's not easy. I'm fighting an uphill battle. More than one actually, with Voldemort moving out into the open like he has."
Harry winced. Since the attack at the Ministry, the Prophet had attributed several deaths to the megalomaniac.
Amelia sighed again. "I've also had Kingsley investigate Malfoy Junior's involvement. I know Dumbledore won't do anything, but quite frankly, that's not up to him."
"And?" Harry asked, his voice neutral. He didn't like it that a kid his age could potentially be facing jail time or something like that, but Draco had made his bed. He had chosen his path, and Harry wouldn't lose any sleep over the Slytherin.
Amelia shook her head, disgusted at both the teenager's actions, and the fact that Dumbledore was unwilling to hold him accountable. "As he has completed his OWLs, the DMLE can investigate, and if necessary, prosecute him as an adult. We are still gathering evidence, but at the very least, Mr. Malfoy will be suspended. Most likely, he will be expelled, but I don't think we have enough to actually send him to Azkaban. He didn't take part in any of the fighting. But we will bring our investigation to the Board of Governors, and they will undoubtably choose to take action. Especially since Augusta is on the Board."
Harry nodded. With Malfoy gone, perhaps they could all breathe a little easier at school. With the formation of the DA, a lot of the animosity between Slytherin and the other Houses had all but disappeared, but Malfoy had been one of the ones to keep it going, instigating conflicts and encouraging his fellow holdouts to make things difficult for their classmates.
Amelia smiled tightly. "I'll keep you updated, and let you know when a decision is made."
"Thanks," Harry replied. He bit his lip, hesitating, before he asked his next question. "What's going on with Percy? He hasn't contacted his family since their falling out, and I know Fudge had promoted him."
Amelia shook her head slightly. "I've redistributed many of Fudge's personal hires. Most of them displayed attitudes adverse to a cohesive government." She rubbed a hand across her face. "Percy is a bright young man, but he needs to learn to think for himself and stop trusting in power. He should have realized something was wrong when he got promoted so soon after having to answer questions about to whom he was reporting, when it clearly wasn't Barty Crouch. I moved him to the Department of Magical Transportation for now. We'll see if he actually learns anything. I will reassess at a later date, should Percy show himself to be improving."
Harry nodded, knowing that Amelia's course was the best one for everyone, especially Percy. She would give him a chance to prove himself, to earn his position at the Ministry.
After a few moments of silence, Amelia stood up. "I need to get back to work, but I'll see you tonight." She gave Sirius a kiss, before stepping through the Floo.
Sirius and Harry headed back to the training room, where they spent the rest of the afternoon practicing their defense work.
Summer continued to pass in a similar vein. Blaise, Luna, and Daphne became regulars in the defense training, and Fred and George stopped by when they could. They were in the process of setting up their new joke shop, and were quite busy getting everything ready for their opening, which would hopefully be the first week of August, just in time for the back to school rush.
Cedric spent the first couple weeks of summer with Harry and his friends, but all too soon, his new job started, and his time was severely restricted. He did, however, come by every Saturday morning with Blaise, Daphne, and Luna, for animagus practice.
They finished brewing the potion a little over a week into summer, and Harry and his friends eagerly gathered to find out what animals the others were. Harry knew it was likely that his friends' forms were the same as their Patronuses, but he knew that wasn't always the case. When he had first learned the Patronus Charm, his had taken the shape of a stag, and his animagus form was a panther. Of course, his Patronus had changed to a phoenix, but he thought that had more to do with his and Ginny's soul bond, rather than their shared animagus form.
Fred and George went first, wide grins indicating their pleasure at their forms.
"Coyote," they said in unison, looking at the group.
Harry nodded, remembering what he had read about them in the animal book Sirius had given them for study. "Not native to the British Isles, but they typically represent clowning and humor, intelligence, and pranksters. It fits."
Cedric went next; he shifted in his seat, and smiled. "I'm an elk."
Sirius was the one to inform him of the traits of this animal, since he remembered when James had looked through the books to find his animal; elks and stags were somewhat similar, or at least, in the same family. "Strength, freedom, power, nobility. From what I know of you, I think it fits."
Cedric's smile widened, and Blaise spoke next. "Bobcat."
Sirius tilted his head. "Vigilance, the ability to see through masks. It's a good animal."
Blaise nodded, pleased with the assessment.
Daphne leaned forward. "I'm a fox."
Sirius smiled. "Cunning, intelligence, ability to observe unseen, protection."
Daphne returned the smile, though it was slightly more guarded.
"Falcon," Luna's voice was just as mysterious as it usually was, but her smile was genuine and pleased.
Sirius turned his grin to her. "Falcons have a mythological role of soul healing, and accompanying the soul back to the soul world. They're believed to represent astral traveling and healing. From what I've learned about you, I believe the animal fits you perfectly."
Luna nodded, her expression slightly vacant, but it was easy to see she was happy with her animal.
Sirius passed out copies of the animal book Harry and the others had learned from the year before. "The first step is to learn about your animal. Once you do that, Harry will take over, since his method proved much more effective than my own."
They all took the reading with them and dispersed for the day.
As the days passed, the newer additions became familiar with their inner animal, and Harry proceeded to teach them his theories on wandless magic. None of them took to it right away, but they continued to practice, determined to get it to work.
Two weeks into summer, Minerva called for those adults she and Sirius had formed into their own circle, so that she and Harry could speak with them about the possibility of bringing Snape into their confidence.
Several of them were less than thrilled – mostly Bill and Tonks, as those two had been at Hogwarts and observed Snape's sour disposition – but eventually, they agreed to give him a chance.
Harry didn't want to tell them everything he and the Potions master had discussed, but he did lend his support. He had had several months to process everything, and while he still had some issues with the choices the man had made, the fact that he was upfront and actually told him the truth counted for a lot. That, and he could see clearly how much Snape regretted his actions.
Harry sighed as Bill once again voiced his concerns.
"I'm not saying we'll all become the best of friends," the soon to be sixth year had to pause as several of them let out snorts of laughter. "But I think Snape can be trusted, and he probably has some useful information that we could use. He was a Death Eater, after all, he has to know a lot about Voldemort."
A few of them flinched at the name, but Sirius nodded. "It's a good idea," he admitted ruefully. "I don't like the man, but I can work with him. As long as he doesn't do anything to betray our trust, I say we give him a chance."
They all agreed with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and broke for dinner.
Since Cedric had started his job at the Ministry, he was no longer attending Defense lessons during the week, but he and the twins still came for Saturday morning animagus practice every week, eager to complete the transformation.
Luna was the first one to successfully levitate her feather without a wand, and soon after, moved to attempting to transfer the theory to her transformation.
Harry figured she was the quickest because of her willingness to trust in the unknown. The others, having all been raised a certain way, still had to get over their conceptions of how magic worked.
Harry asked Jason to come one Saturday to test the others' Occlumency shields.
Jason was impressed at their progress, and deemed them well on their way to mastering the art. Luna's mindscape he equated to Harry's: it made no sense and gave him a headache.
He also gave Harry a lesson on Legilimancy, but stressed the importance of using the skill responsibly. Fred and George gave Harry permission to practice on them, trusting him not to abuse the privilege. The others were less willing, which Harry understood completely, and wasn't offended. Once he got a little more practiced against someone with less than perfect shields, he'd see how far he could get against someone with rock solid shields, like Ginny, or Hermione.
A little over three weeks into summer, Minerva contacted Snape and asked him to come to the Castle to meet with her and her allies.
Uncertain but willing, Severus agreed, and promised to be there.
Snape stepped out of the Floo promptly on time, and nodded at Minerva, who was waiting for him. She replied in kind, stepping forward. "Severus, thank you for coming. Most of the others are already here, so let's join them." They headed out into the hallway as Minerva continued, "Arthur, Bill, and Fleur had to work and couldn't come today, but the rest are here."
Severus nodded again. He was surprised that Minerva had allowed him into her home, to be honest, even if she wanted him involved in this group she and Black had going on.
As if reading his thoughts, Minerva smiled thinly. "You have restricted access to our home. When we meet, you will be allowed through the Floo. You cannot apparate here, however, so I would not advise trying it."
Snape nodded, thinking. He was grateful that Harry was so mature. Any normal fifteen year old would not handle the news Snape had dropped on him so well. Since their conversation in January, the teenager had given no indication of his thoughts towards the Potions master. He seemed almost confused: appreciative that Snape had told him the truth, but angry that the older man was the reason for his parents' deaths, and disturbed that, had it been anyone other than Lily in danger, Snape wouldn't have done anything. He hadn't been sure what would happen after he had talked with Potter, but this invitation to meet with Minerva and several other adults who seemed to be separating themselves from Albus indicated that the teenager was willing to put aside the animosity.
Minerva opened her mouth to say something, but she was cut off before she could speak as Harry rushed out onto the landing on the second floor, seeing the Potions master. "Professor!" he called. "I'm glad you're here."
Ron, coming up behind him, stared. "Mate, are you sure you're all right?"
Snape glared at the Weasley boy, but Harry paid him no mind as he hurried down the stairs. "I have something I'd like you to look at, if you're willing. I've gone over it a thousand times, and I think it's right, but I'm sure you'll find a bunch of mistakes."
Snape rolled his eyes. "It can't be summer homework, Potter, as you don't have any, and I'm busy."
Harry looked at him beseechingly. His bright green eyes pleaded silently, and were so much like Lily's, that Snape could do little more than stare.
Harry took the professor's silence as acquiescence, and grinned. He shifted the books in his arms around, and one of the titles became readable.
Minerva lifted one eyebrow. "I was not aware you had a copy of Most Potente Potions in your possession, Harry."
Harry looked up, blushing as he realized just how many people were in the entry now, watching him. In addition to his friends – Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Susan – Minerva, Sirius, Remus, Amelia, Kingsley, Molly, Augusta, and all three Tonkses were also there. He shrugged with one shoulder, looking at his guardian. "I saw a copy at the bookstore in Hogsmeade last term. It was pretty busy, so I don't think the man at the counter realized what I was buying, but I figured it would be a good book to study from. It's not like we're second years," he and Hermione shared a look, as they remembered brewing the Polyjuice Potion from that very book.
Minerva nodded slightly, though she still had a slightly disapproving expression on her face. Sirius just looked happy that his godson had a little Marauder in him.
Snape cleared his throat. "I thought you had something you wanted to show me," he drawled.
Harry's blush deepened. "Right," he muttered. He switched Most Potente Potions and Advanced Potions Making to one arm, and pulled out a smaller book. Flipping it open, Snape could see handwritten recipes and notes inside. He felt some surprise rise up inside him; this book appeared to be a potions journal. He wasn't aware that Potter was so interested in the subject that he would be investing this much time into it.
Harry seemed unsure of what to do for a moment, before Ginny sighed and reached out, taking the textbooks out of his hands. He smiled at his girlfriend in thanks, and turned his attention to the journal, flipping through the pages. "I've been doing some research, just in theory, because I really think there's a way to improve this potion." He held out the journal, and Snape stepped closer, reading the ingredients and instructions, along with the notes written down on the pages Harry had shown him.
His eyebrow rose minutely, and he looked up at Harry with something almost like shock on his face. He held out his hand, and Harry willingly passed the journal over. Snape glanced over at Remus for a moment, before he turned his attention to the handwritten book. Rather than the untidy scrawl he would expect, everything was written out neatly and painstakingly, clearly an indication of someone who cared about what they were writing.
Harry shifted nervously as Snape read. After several minutes of silence, the Potion's master looked up, respect in his gaze. "I'm impressed," he said quietly.
The teenagers all showed their surprise at the praise, having never heard such words come from the man, especially directed at Harry.
Harry smiled. "What do you think? It's just a start, but I think the first step is to improve the potion, before I think about finding a cure." He grinned bashfully.
Snape had to force himself to hold in a snort. If there was anyone who could come up with a cure, somehow, he figured it would be Potter. He gestured to the journal. "Your notes here suggest switching the lionfish and moonseed."
Harry nodded. "I think the moonseed would dissolve better with the undiluted bat blood. And the lionfish would react to the aconite…"
Snape nodded thoughtfully. "The toxicity levels of both together would create an opposite effect of reducing the toxicity. And here, you posit switching Fluxweed for the Nightshade? Risky, but innovative. It might just work. This is quite impressive, Harry. How much time have you spent working on this?"
Harry shrugged, suddenly embarrassed. "Off and on for the last six months or so," he replied. "I think it will come out a slightly darker shade of blue at the end, but the overall appearance won't change too much."
Around them, it was easy to see people were getting frustrated. "Can one of you tell us what potion you're talking about?" Ron finally asked. Neville nodded, agreeing.
Susan and Hermione rolled their eyes at Ron's impatience, even though they were curious as well, and Ginny just beamed at her boyfriend's brilliance.
Snape glanced up at the crowd. "Wolfsbane," he stated calmly.
Now everyone was staring at Harry.
Remus was shocked beyond words. "Harry…" he trailed off, unable to say anything.
Harry was now beyond embarrassed. "I've been studying the potion, in theory, for a while. I was just so sure there was a way it could be improved." He looked at Minerva, knowing what she was thinking. "I promise, I haven't tried to brew the potion, and I won't without a licensed Potions master present. I don't want to have to explain any exploding cauldrons to anyone." Once more, Snape felt the need to hold in a laugh. Harry looked down briefly. "Honestly, I'm not sure if I'm even skilled enough to brew the potion myself, but I thought I could at least study the theory."
Snape shook his head, exasperated. "Trust me, Potter, you could do it."
That was certainly unexpected. Snape had just praised Harry again.
Harry was now even more embarrassed, but he had approached Snape for a reason. He looked back at the Potions professor. "So do you think it will work?" he asked.
Snape studied the son of his oldest friend and biggest rival. After a moment, he let something almost like a smile adorn his face as he nodded. "Yes," he replied. "In fact, I am almost certain it will work."
Remus shifted nervously. "What exactly is it you are trying to accomplish, Harry?"
Snape looked up at the werewolf. "If these improvements work the way I believe they will, it should cut down the pain of the transformation by roughly seventy five percent."
Remus' jaw almost hit the floor. As good as the Wolfsbane potion was, it still didn't do anything to help with the pain.
"You really think it will work, Severus?" Sirius asked, knowing his oldest friend wasn't able to say anything at the moment.
Snape looked at his onetime rival, and now… colleague. He nodded. "Without testing it, obviously, I cannot say for sure, but the research is sound." He looked at Remus. "The obvious question then follows: are you willing to test it?"
Remus snapped out of his shock, and looked over at Harry. His pseudo nephew was looking nervous under the scrutiny of so many people. Looking back at Snape, he nodded. "If you think it will work, I trust your expertise."
Snape almost smiled. He looked at Minerva. "I trust you have an adequate Potion's laboratory?"
She nodded. "I can have a house elf –"
Snape shook his head, looking at Harry as he cut her off. "Potter can show me the way. Come on, Potter," he gestured for Harry to lead him towards what was presumably the way to the basement and Potion's lab. "Let's see how adept you are at the Wolfsbane Potion."
Harry grinned and took his books back from Ginny with a quick peck on the cheek, before he quickly hurried after Snape.
Minerva shook her head, smiling slightly. It looked as if they would need to catch Snape up later. There were just over two weeks left until the full moon, and as the potion took a week to make, and needed to be taken for a week before the full moon, they had just enough time to brew the potion for Remus.
Remus was still staring at where Snape and Harry had disappeared. "But Lycanthropy cannot be cured," he whispered, just loud enough for them to hear.
Sirius shook his head, slinging an arm around his oldest friend's shoulders. "Not yet," he argued. "But with thinking like that, how will it ever be?"
Hermione nodded her agreement. "I trust Harry," she stated firmly. "If he says he's going to come up with a cure, he will, and I'll do everything I can to help him. I wonder if he's thought at all about how to approach it?"
They all looked at her, confused, and Hermione shrugged sheepishly. Even after five years of being corrupted, she was still the same bookish girl at heart. And she loved a good challenge.
"How to approach what?"
They all turned to see Harry walk back towards them. He answered their unasked question with a small smile. "I've got one more journal I need to fetch."
Hermione's eyes gleamed with the idea of learning something new. "Can I watch you and Professor Snape?" she asked eagerly.
Harry nodded, chuckling slightly at her characteristic attitude, and Hermione followed him upstairs to grab the journal he had gone to fetch, before they returned to the potions lab.
Once there, Hermione was put to use slicing ingredients, while Snape and Harry set up their station, still talking about the improvements.
It wasn't until over an hour later when Hermione was able to ask Harry about his ideas on potential cures. They had just added the first ingredient, the bat blood, and set the cauldron to simmer, and had to wait precisely three hours before they could add the moonseed.
Hermione twisted her hands nervously. "Harry, you mentioned thinking about potential cures. Have you actually considered possibilities yet?"
Harry looked at her, and then at Snape. The Potions master looked interested as well. He shrugged. "I've considered ideas, but probably not in the way you'd expect. I actually think the muggle world might hold the answer." Both looked surprised. Harry sat down at one of the large tables, and Hermione and Snape followed his example. He rested his arms on the table and leaned forward slightly, his bright green eyes passionate. "The disease is in the blood, right?" Both nodded. "I think we might have better luck studying muggle medicine. Did you know their hospitals have machines that can filter out blood from the body?"
Snape looked intrigued, and Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "I remember my grandfather having to be hooked up to that machine a while back. Dialysis, I think it was called. You think it would work for this?"
Harry shook his head slightly. "As it is, no. But with a little tweaking and a little magic, maybe." He looked down, embarrassed. "I'm not really that far along in the thought process, it was just an idea. The improved Wolfsbane is something that can help Remus now, and it's something I can actually do."
Hermione smiled, shaking her head slightly. "Harry, you're a good person, but don't stress yourself out too much." She laughed lightly. "I know I'm the last person who should be giving this advice, but don't take on too much. You've got a lot going on, and a lot to deal with. Try not to wear yourself out."
Harry nodded his agreement, smiling as well. It was amusing to see his friend tell him not to spend too much time studying and researching, considering all she tried to do herself, especially her third year. "I know," he agreed. "Right now, it's just theories and ideas. I'm not going to spend too much time thinking about it until I have the time to do so. I'll wait until after graduation, all right?"
Hermione nodded decisively. "Agreed, so long as you let me help you. This sounds fascinating!"
Harry chuckled, and even Snape let out a small laugh.
Hermione looked startled at the Potions master's mirth, but hid it much better than Ron would have.
Snape seemed impressed at the level of thought Harry had already put into the theory. "I will admit that I have not kept up with muggle advancements since I left my father's house," he admitted, "but the idea of filtering the blood seems remarkable, if not a little absurd. I would be interested in involving myself in this research as well, if you are willing."
Harry nodded agreeably, looking relieved. "I'm glad you're both interested. I'm not sure how far I'd get on my own, this isn't exactly a small project."
Both kept their exasperation on Harry's unwillingness to see his own brilliance to themselves, and instead passed the remaining time before the next step in the potion discussing what they would be changing.