Chapter Fourteen – Special Projects

"Class dismissed."

Everyone was gathering their things and leaving when they heard the professor say "Mr. Potter? A word please."

Harry went up to Professor McGonagall. His friends were hanging back waiting on him.

"I need to speak with Mr. Potter alone. He will catch up with you later." Harry's friends nodded and left through the door. McGonagall cast a quick silencing spell around Harry and herself.

"Mr. Potter I've noticed, and you've said so yourself, that you're beyond your fifth year level in knowledge. You don't have to study for your classes now so I would like to give you a special assignment." She put up her hands in front of her to hold him off from saying anything yet. "I understand that you're very busy with all the classes you teach and extra-curricular activities you participate in, including the DA, but I believe you would be more than capable to take on this special assignment."

"It's true, I am very busy Professor, but what exactly did you have in mind? I do my own personal studies in areas I wish to learn or improve on. I'm currently beyond seventh year in the core areas. It could be your special assignment would be in line with my personal goals."

"It just might at that Mr. Potter. Before I tell you the assignment though I want you to know that I expect you to still attend class. I can use you in class to help the students with the practical application of what they're learning. I've noticed how good of a teacher you are Professor Potter," she said with a smile, "and I could use your expertise in my classroom. This is your OWL year and the other students could use the time to prepare rather than taking so long learning the spells."

"Now, don't get me wrong. I'm more than capable of teaching my class without assistance but I was hoping with your help we could speed up what they learn so they would have more time to prepare and therefore do better on their Transfiguration OWL exams, both written and practical. I believe Miss Granger would also be able to lend us a hand on occasion."

"That she could Professor. She works hard to stay ahead. I like your idea so far. So, you will handle the theory then Hermione and I will pitch in on teaching the practical that way the ones struggling can get individual instruction and help speed up the learning process."

"Very good, Mr. Potter. You understand perfectly. Now, would you like to know your first special assignment?"

"Yes, Professor. I'm curious to know what you have in mind."

"Mr. Potter, I want you to study to become an animagus."

Harry paused for a second. "Funny you should pick that. I have that on my agenda but I haven't managed to get around to it yet. I understand how difficult it is to accomplish so I've put it off for now."

"I think you are more than ready. Now, keep in mind that not everyone can become an animagus. James, your father, was one but Lily was not. Of course, I never knew if she even tried to attempt it. Still I think you have a better than average shot at it."

"It would be fantastic if I could make it happen. I would love to keep Remus company during his transformation. I understand that Sirius still does so on occasion like they did when they were here in school with my dad."

"Yes, it's still difficult to believe that those boys were able to learn that on their own. The Animagus Transformation is extremely difficult as you alluded to just now. Normally, people learn from a mentor such as myself who has already accomplished it. Yet, they did it all on their own to keep it secret but mainly to keep their friend company while he went through his change each month. Those boys really cared for each other and apparently would do just about anything for the other."

"Yes, I feel the same for my friends and I believe they feel the same way for me."

"I have no doubt about that Mr. Potter. Now, would you like to get started? I have some reading I want you to do on the subject to begin with."

"Actually, Professor I have a book on the subject that my parents left me. Shall I bring it by sometime and let you have a look?"

"Yes, that would be good. I have some books as well on the subject. Stop by my office sometime with your book and we will look at that and the ones I have and see which one you should start on first."

"Sure, Professor. I plan to talk to the Headmaster right after dinner tonight. Would it be okay to come by your office after that?"

"That will be fine. I should be there by then."

"One last thing though. If I should manage to succeed and can become an animagus then I insist on not registering with the Ministry and keeping it a secret, at least for the time being. If I'm to be fighting Death Eaters and possibly Voldemort again then I need all the advantage I can get."

"Normally, I would say 'no' Mr. Potter but given the circumstances I quite understand. What we can do is have the paper work done up but we simply will not file it with the Ministry until you are ready and it's safe to do so. That way it will not be your fault but a simple clerical error."

"Thank you Professor. I'll bring my book by your office later."

"Thank you, Mr. Potter. I'm looking forward to what you can accomplish with this task for I believe you can do anything you want if you put that mind of yours to it." She said with a smile as she cancelled the silencing spell.

Harry smiled back and left through the door to find his friends. "See you later, Professor."

oOo

After another grueling training session with his close friends Harry waited until Kingsley and Tonks left then asked his friends to wait for a second as he had something to ask them. They all stopped and waited to see what Harry wanted.

"Can everyone meet in the Gryffindor Common Room tonight at 8:00?" asked Harry. "Luna, just show up at eight and one of us will let you in. I have something I want to discuss with all of you."

"Sure, Harry. Not a problem."

"Wait, Harry," said Hermione. "You never told us what McGonagall spoke to you about. What did she want?"

"She just wanted to have me work on a special assignment and due to the nature of it she wanted to keep it private for now."

"So, what did she want?" asked Ron.

"That is what I want to talk to you guys about tonight. It's too much to go into right now. We need to get cleaned up, go eat, and then meet again at 8:00 tonight. Agreed?" Everyone nodded in agreement.

"OK. Let's go. I'm starving," said Harry.

oOo

"Come in, Harry"

Harry opened the door and walked into Dumbledore's office. "Professor, you always know who's at your door."

Dumbledore chuckled. "My little secret, Harry."

"Got a minute for a chat?"

"Sure Harry. Make yourself comfortable."

"Thank you Professor. I won't need much of your time," Harry said while sitting down. "I only want to run an idea by you."

"Care for a lemon drop?"

"No thank you sir. I just had dinner and am quite full and satisfied."

"So, what idea do you want to share with me?"

"This came to me while working with the DA. Now, first of all, this is an idea for next year not this year. There is barely enough time for it this semester and I don't want to rush it. Plus, we have the rest of the semester planned out for the DA already."

"Okay."

"What I was thinking about sir, was having a dueling contest inside the DA so they're exposed to that and have the experience of performing a duel in front of everyone. In addition, they would experience the pressure to win and all that. I think it would be good for them and promote good sportsmanship."

Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully.

"After I had that idea, I immediately asked myself why not open it up to the entire school? There's no need to make it just a DA event but make it a school wide event and try to get everyone involved, even the first and second year students. As a matter of fact, I was going to require all the DA members to participate and do the same to my first and second year classes as part of their grade. What do you think? I was hoping it might get some of the others to join the DA and improve their defense."

"I like that Harry. Sounds like a good idea. What other details have you worked out? I'm starting to see some potential problems but maybe you've already given it some thought?"

"Yes sir. I saw a few issues myself. Obviously, a first or second year should not be going against a seventh year or just about any other year that is several levels above them, unless they are some Defense prodigy of some sort. What I thought we could do was start with the first years and let them battle it out until they come up with a champion. We do the same for the other years so that now we end up with a champion for each year. The first and second year champions duel each other next and the winner takes on the third year champion. That winner takes on the fourth year champion and it keeps going until the winner takes on the 7th year champion. Whoever wins against the seventh year champion is the school champion. Like it so far?"

"Yes, that sounds fair. What else do you have? Do you plan on participating, Harry?"

"No, sir. I will not participate. There may be some others in the DA, like some of the ones who help me instruct, that should sit out as well. It would not be fair at all sir if I were to participate."

"That confident are you?"

Harry just nodded his head. "I work hard every day to improve and help my closest friends so they can improve at a much advanced and faster pace than the DA. Those are the ones who should likely sit out with me. That group includes Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Luna."

"Neville Longbottom is that good?"

"Yes sir. Neville has probably come the furthest than any of them. Once I got his confidence up he's come into his own ever since."

"That's good to hear, Harry. I would wager that he has a good amount of power as well, not at your level of course, but I believe Neville is using his father's wand. If he were to get one of his own, 'the wand chooses the wizard' as we've been told, then he would likely see some of that extra power he carries around."

"Thank you, Professor. I didn't realize that. I will keep that in mind."

"Perhaps the winner should be thrown in with your group and another competition take place with them? You could either be in the drawing or the winner of that round of duels could take you on."

"I'm not sure professor. I agree that my friends should not be made to sit out completely but I like your idea as them being held back but the overall champion having to defend his title against them in another round of duels. The problem that I see is I don't want word getting out about my abilities to fight. I need every advantage I can get against these Death Eaters and Voldemort so I would rather no one knew what I can truly do."

"I see your point Harry. Having your friends duel will likely expose them too. No worries, we don't have to decide everything tonight. We can discuss this more another day and I'll inform the staff at our next meeting about the event that will be held sometime next year. I'll not mention your name yet. I'll just say one of the students suggested it."

"Thank you, Professor. I appreciate you hearing me out on this. I think this could be very good for the school. I was even thinking this could lead to a dueling club where the members could constantly work on improving their dueling skills."

"Another great idea Harry. We all need as much preparation as we can get with this coming war. Thank you for working so hard to be prepared Harry. You're taking on a whole lot of responsibility for someone your age but I see that you're doing it with ease. I'm very proud of you and I know your parents would be too."

"Thank you sir. That means a lot. I'll try my best not to fall on my face," he said with a smile.

"No worries there, Harry. I'm sure you'll just shake it off."

"We'll see Professor… we'll see. I have to be off. Enjoy your evening."

"You too, Harry. Thanks for coming by and sharing your great ideas. I'm looking forward to seeing them in action. That reminds me, could I stop by sometime and look in on your special training with your friends? I'm merely curious."

"Certainly, sir. You're welcome to join us. Stop by anytime. I'm sure you're aware that Kingsley and Tonks join us regularly?" Dumbledore nodded. "See you later then." Harry left Dumbledore's office and headed to his dorm to pick up his book. He then went to McGonagall's office to show her and discuss the project more.

Knock, knock.

"Come in."

Harry opened the door. "It's just me Professor. I have that book I told you about."

"Oh, come on in and have a seat. Let me take a look at it." Harry handed her the book.

"This is a really good book Harry. I have the same one on my shelf but I like yours better. It appears to be a rare edition. Hang onto that and don't lose it."

"Yes, ma'am. I will." Harry took his book back and looked at it carefully. He began handling it better than he did before now that he knew it was worth something. McGonagall was pulling some books down from her shelves and placing them on her desk in front of Harry.

She turned back around and picked up one of the books. "This book is the one I want you to read first. When done with that book, I want you to read your book. It will likely answer any questions you have after reading the first one. The first one'll give you a good introduction though. Of course, feel free to come and visit me if you have any questions that you don't find an answer for in the books. Also, do not attempt to transform unless I'm present. It's not likely, but sometimes things can go wrong so someone who knows how to fix it needs to be present when you try to transform. Got it?"

"Yes, ma'am. Got it!"

"Good. Now read those as soon as you can and familiarize yourself with the theory. Once you're done, I will work with you on the practical. Keep in mind though, this could take a while before you can fully transform. We will likely be working on it this term and next."

"I'm looking forward to it, Professor."

"Me too, Mr. Potter. I'm anxious to see what animal you are to be. I have a feeling it will be something spectacular."

"I'll be happy with just about anything but I would prefer something that would either allow me to escape or fight back or maybe even a little of both. Somehow I think that would be more beneficial given the way my life goes."

"Indeed, Mr. Potter, indeed."

oOo

At 8:00 pm, Harry opened the door to let Luna into the Gryffindor Common Room. His other friends were already there with him. He looked around the room and saw it was too crowded for the six of them to have enough privacy for their talk. Dean and Seamus were in the Common Room so that left his dorm room empty.

"Everyone follow me. We need more privacy." Harry led them up to his dorm room. He took his trunk and stood it up against the wall so that it turned into a door. He then cast a modified disillusionment spell on it so it looked like the rest of the wall. The doorknob was now invisible. He was able to find it easy enough and opened the door for everyone. They all filed in. Harry turned and put a strong magical lock on the door. He didn't have to silence it since the trunk automatically did that when the door was shut.

"Welcome to my hideaway again," said Harry. "There are things to drink and eat in the kitchen if you want a snack… Ron." Ron smiled at Harry. "You will find butterbeer and pumpkin juice in the cooler. There's fruit and other things available in there as well. I gave Dobby some money and he purchased the items for me."

"Very nice Harry. A little home away from home," said Luna.

"I thought it was about time I started using it more. I plan to use it for studying when I need some peace and quiet. As a matter of fact, I'm thinking of expanding the fourth compartment to use for several different things, one of which will be my own potions lab. Class is moving a bit too slow for me and I want to work ahead mainly because I want to know how to brew certain advanced potions. This will give me a chance to learn how. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome. I will likely buy more cauldrons, more potions equipment, and lots more potion ingredients once I get the lab established."

"Nice, Harry," replied Hermione. "That's sounds great. I'd love to take advantage of that but having to go through a boys dormitory kind of makes that difficult."

"What's the matter Hermione? Are you afraid you're going to see something?" asked Ron.

She started shaking her head up and down. "Yes, I am."

Harry started laughing. "Just remember to knock first."

"I'm not worried Harry," said Ginny.

"Me either," said Luna.

Harry started laughing again. "Somehow I knew that about you two."

They just smiled at him real big.

"It really is a problem Hermione. We boys would not like all the disturbances that might happen depending on the hours you wanted to use it. I'll think about it and see if I can come up with a better alternative. Right now, I don't have one. The other issue is I don't want Dean and Seamus knowing about the trunk. I may include them later on simply because if it stays here it'll be easier if they know. However, as much as I like them I prefer to keep the lid on this. So, for now we stick with that being a secret just among us." Everyone agreed.

"Now, just so you know, that was not what I wanted to speak to you about. I have a question for you all."

They looked at him expectantly.

"Animagus anyone?"

"What?" they all asked at once.

Harry grinned. "I want to know if you'd like to see if you can become an animagus."

"That's huge Harry and quite difficult," said Hermione.

"What made you think of trying that Harry?" asked Neville. "I know your Dad and Sirius were able to do it but what made you think of trying it?"

"That's what McGonagall talked to me about. She wants me to study this as a special assignment. I thought I would give you guys the opportunity to study with me and work on it together. I have a couple of books I'm to read first before I meet with McGonagall again."

"I would love to be an animagus," said Ron. "I don't know if I can do it but I certainly will give it a try with you Harry."

"Me too, Harry," said Ginny. "I want to try too."

"Count me in then," said Neville. "I'll give it a go."

"I'm not sure if I can do it Harry," said Luna. "I have a feeling my animal will be very difficult to achieve but I'll be happy to study with you and help any way that I can."

"Harry, I've enough to do. This is our OWL year, you know. How am I going to be able to study enough if I work on this too? You already have me excited about the potions lab but another assignment?"

"Alright Hermione, I'm not going to push you to do it but I will be terribly, terribly, and even more terribly disappointed. We all need your brains on this. This could be one of the most difficult things we ever try. Some or all of us may not even be able to do it. It has a great potential to be one big headache. But, it's a challenge I'm willing to take on and not just for extra credit."

"It'll probably be easy for you the way you learn. Plus your Dad was an animagus so you'll likely be one too."

"Not necessarily. My Mum was not an animagus and I've just as much of her in me as I do my Dad. Of course, we don't know if she ever even tried but it's more likely she was not able to do it since few in our society ever achieve it. This makes the challenge even bigger."

"Harry, stop making me feel guilty," said Hermione.

"Hermione, I am terribly, terribly, and even more terribly sorry for making you feel guilty. Really I am," he said with a smile.

Hermione looked at Harry for a couple of seconds. "Okay, I'll help you as much as I can but I may not be able to work with you every time you guys meet for this. That's the best I can do."

"Thank you Hermione. That's very acceptable. You are too kind to give in to my machinations. I know how busy you are. You truly are my big sister in all the right ways."

"Oh, Harry. You nearly make me cry every time you call me that," Hermione replied as she shuffled over to Harry and wrapped him in a big hug. She then kissed him on the cheek and hugged him tighter.

Harry looked up at the others. "We're not kissing cousins. We're simply a very close brother and sister team." He put his arm across Hermione's shoulders. "As a matter of fact, I believe Tonks is the one who fills the role of kissing cousin." They all started laughing, remembering Christmas at Potter Place.

"One last thing before we depart," said Harry. "McGonagall also told me that she wanted me to continue to come to her class, even though I don't need it. Her idea is that I can help her with teaching the practical part of the class. She'll handle the theory as usual and then I'll pitch in when we work on the practical side. She also mentioned that my big sis here could help on occasion. I fully agreed with her, as I know how hard Hermione works to stay ahead. Transfiguration also happens to be one of her best subjects. She always gives me a run for my money."

"So, my point is this – all of you in that class need to do the same. Ron and Neville if you're not struggling with the practical then you should get up and help as well if you're needed. Let's get our class on a faster pace so there's more time for it to sink in and prepare for OWLS. Luna and Ginny, you should do the same in your class if you can. Let's help people be better prepared. We might even win some friends while we're at it."

Harry cast a spell on the door so they could see through it from their side. They didn't see Dean or Seamus so they quickly exited the trunk and went back downstairs to the Common Room.

"I'm going to walk Luna back to her common room so she doesn't run into any foul trouble," said Harry.

"That's okay Harry. I can take care of myself," replied Luna.

"Of course you can take of yourself. I know that because I taught you. However, that's not the point Luna. A gentleman always walks a lady back to her place so as to see her safely home. Plus, it's after curfew and I'm allowed to be out. Not to mention, if there is any trouble out there then I wouldn't want to miss out on the fun."

"Do you plan on kissing me goodnight, Harry?" asked Luna with a straight face.

"Um… I didn't plan on it. Were you expecting me to?"

"I might."

"Uh oh, I might need a chaperone for this little walk."

"Luna, you be nice to my little brother," said Hermione with a smile.

"You heard her. You have to be nice to me now," said Harry.

Luna looked at Harry in a real sultry way and said in a low and slow voice, "Oh, I can be real nice."

Ginny was barely holding herself in check. Harry gulped nervously (playing along).

"Come on Lover Boy. Walk this way," she said swinging her hips walking toward the portrait hole.

Harry turned to his friends. "I'll see you guys in a little bit… hopefully." He then turned and followed Luna walking the same way, swinging his hips. When he heard people laughing at him, he turned back around and explained that she said to "walk this way" which prompted even more laughter. Harry quickly exited through the portrait hole, following Luna.

About 10 minutes later, he returned to his own common room. His friends were waiting on him. He went over and sat down next to Ginny on the couch.

"Well, did she have her way with you?" asked Ron, "because if she did that was really quick."

"Did you kiss her goodnight?" asked Ginny.

"No Ron and yes Ginny. I planted a big wet sloppy one right on her… cheek. She kissed my cheek as well and thanked me for playing along. She said it was great fun to pretend and carry on. She's one goofy girl but a really good friend. I never knew she could play around like that but I thought it was pretty funny."

"Yeah, real funny," said Ginny dryly.

Hermione looked up from her book and gave Ginny a look. Ginny immediately put on a big smile, pretending that she was just kidding with her tone.

"Well, I'm going to get a head start on my reading and my book is upstairs. It's getting late anyway so I'm heading that way." Harry got up and went over to Hermione. He leaned over, gave her a kiss on her cheek, and said "Goodnight Sis." Hermione smiled real big at him. Next, he walked over to Ginny, leaned over, and whispered breathily in her ear so that he caused her goose bumps. "Good night Ginny. Sweet dreams." He then quickly kissed her on the cheek while she was tilting her head away due to the sensation he caused.

"Hey, you did that on purpose!" exclaimed Ginny.

"Hmmm… yes I did. That's because you were being cheeky."

"Well, that kiss on the cheek needs to be done right. I was moving my head when you kissed me because what you did to my ear tickled. So, kiss me again and no whispering in my ear and giving me goose bumps this time. Do it right."

"Yes, ma'am."

Harry leaned in again and just when he was about there she turned her head and their lips met. They kissed and Harry raised back up.

"That did not feel like your cheek at all. In fact, that was downright sneaky."

"I got you good, didn't I?"

"You certainly did Ginny. If I didn't know better I would swear you and Luna set all this up."

"No, I had no clue what Luna was going to do. Besides, you tickled my ear and stepped into this all by yourself. I just took advantage of you and I'm not the least bit ashamed of myself."

"Ginny!" said Ron.

"Hush, Ron. You're not part of this conversation. I'm picking on Harry right now."

"She's doing a right smart job of it too," said Harry.

"Yep, I'm the best! I'll teach you to mess with me," she said pointing her thumbs back at herself.

"You might need to remember little lady that I, Harry James Potter, am the long lost son of the head of the Marauders. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve and when you least expect it I could strike."

"Is that a promise Harry, because I'm up for a challenge? Bring it on."

"Ooh, you just may be worthy little lady. You may be worthy indeed."

"Why thank you, Harry. I appreciate that."

"See you in a bit Ron and Neville. Goodnight Ginny… and thanks."

"Okay mate. We'll see you in a bit."

"Goodnight, Harry," said Ginny sweetly, still thinking about the stolen kiss.

oOo

On Saturday morning after Quidditch practice, Harry took his trunk with him to the Room of Requirement. Luckily, no one was using it. He wanted to work on his trunk to expand his fourth compartment then have a way to get to that area from the fifth compartment. He felt confident he could enlarge the fourth compartment but was not sure how to get to it from the other. It wouldn't be that big of a deal, if it couldn't be done since he could simply exit and come back in the fourth compartment. Anyway, his goal was to get it setup the way he wanted. He planned to create a very large space. He would then start creating rooms or sections inside that space. The first room was going to be his new potions lab.

Before he could have a potions lab, though, Harry needed to expand the fourth compartment to as large as it will go. Harry had no idea if the trunk had limitations on how large you could expand it but he was about to find out.

Harry opened the fourth compartment and pointed his wand into the space. "Here goes nothing." Harry cast the Undetectable Extension Charm and put a bit of power behind it. When he looked inside, he was quite impressed. The compartment appeared to be around 30.5 meters (100 feet) high from floor to ceiling. It was also around 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and about 61 meters (200 feet) wide.

"Wow that's a big space. Looks like I can do a lot in there. Now, let me see if I can join it to the fifth compartment. He climbed down inside the big space and lit his wand with a very powerful Lumos that lit up the entire space. Harry had to make sure he didn't look directly at his wand tip since it was so bright so he kept it above his head out of eyesight. He tried to figure out what direction the fifth compartment would be but he had no clue. He gave up after a bit and decided to go into his fifth compartment, sit at the table and draw up plans for his potions lab and what he was going to use for lighting and other conveniences.

Harry exited the large room and put his trunk on its end against the wall so that it formed a doorway. He entered his trunk home and was headed toward the table when he saw a glow coming from the middle of the hall opposite the small loo that was on one side of the hallway. Harry went to check it out and discovered it was a doorway. He opened the doorway and entered into his large room he had just created.

"Excellent!" said Harry. "The trunk did it for me and notified me of the change. Man I love magic!"

His biggest problem solved, Harry went back to the table and began his layout for his potions lab and started thinking on how he would light up his large space. Harry had never done any of that type of magical construction or create lighting for a room. He was hoping he could figure it out.

Not getting anywhere for several minutes, it dawned on him that he was in the Room of Requirement so he walked out of his trunk home and into the Come and Go Room, as it was sometimes called. He then asked for books on creating magical lighting for buildings and construction guidelines for walls, doors, etc. He also wanted to know how to build his potions lab with proper ventilation. Suddenly a large bookshelf with a whole bunch of books appeared on the wall. Harry walked over and picked out some books to read to get him started.

He soon found some of what he needed. One book he looked through showed him multiple ways to setup lighting. It went over the spells to use and diagramed the wand movements. Thirty minutes later Harry had excellent lighting throughout the entire large space. Another hour later, Harry had walls up for his potions lab and a door leading into it.

Harry walked back into his trunk home and retrieved the shrunken cauldrons and potion tools and supplies. He expanded them once he had them in his new potions lab. He could see where he wanted to put his potion ingredients and where he wanted to store his potion tools. He could also picture where additional cauldrons could go and made a note of how many more to get and what sizes he needed.

It was time for lunch so he shrunk his trunk again, pocketed it, and headed to the Great Hall.

Harry sat down next to his friends and started filling his plate and building his sandwich.

"Where did you sneak off to after practice? You just disappeared," asked Ron.

"I was working on my… expansion charms," Harry replied with a look at Ron so he knew this was not something he could discuss.

"Oh," Ron replied realizing what Harry was talking about, "how did that go by the way?"

"Spectacularly! Remind me to show you guys later," he said with a smile.

"Can we have a look right after lunch?" asked Hermione.

"Sure, I have more work I want to do on it today but I'll show you guys after we get done eating. I've been working on it in the Room of Requirement. We can go back there after lunch. I like all the books it provides when I need a little help figuring out how to do something."

After everyone was done eating, they grabbed Luna and followed Harry back to the Room of Requirement. Harry walked three times in front of the troll tapestry that included Barnabas the Barmy trying to teach the trolls ballet. A door appeared on the opposite wall to the tapestry and Harry lead his friends in. Harry walked over to a wall, took out his trunk, and kissed it so it expanded. He then placed it on its end against the wall so that it turned into a door. He opened the door and let his friends in.

"Harry, I thought you were going to expand the fourth compartment?" asked Neville.

"I did."

"So you can get to it from in here?" asked Ginny.

"Yes."

"How did you manage that?" asked Hermione.

"I didn't."

"Then why are we in here?" asked Ron.

Harry had reached the middle of the hallway with the loo on the left and the door to the large space on the right. Harry opened the door and had his friends enter.

"Whoa! Harry, this is huge!" said Ron.

"This is incredible, Harry," said Neville.

"I thought you said you didn't figure out how to tie the two areas together?" asked Hermione.

"That's correct. I didn't. The trunk did."

All of Harry's friends said a collective, "Huh?"

Harry chuckled. "Well, I expanded the fourth compartment with the Undetectable ExtensionCharm and I put a little bit of power behind it so it would be large. I was somewhat concerned about limitations on the trunk but it worked out nicely."

"I'll say," said Ginny.

"I was concerned about tying the two areas together without having to exit one to get to the other. I looked around in here before giving up and going back to my other compartment. I was going to sit at the table and try to figure it out along with how to create my potions lab but when I got closer to the table, I saw a glow in the hallway. When I went down there, I saw a new door that was glowing. I opened it and the glowing stopped. Of course, it was the door to my new area. The trunk did it for me and notified me that it had. Pretty cool, huh?"

"What are you going to do with all of this space?" asked Luna.

"Oh, I'll think of something Luna. In fact, I already have. Please step into my brand new potions lab." Harry opened the door to his potions lab and gestured for them to enter.

"Wow! Very nice and spacious," said Hermione.

"I have a lot more to do on it but I need to consult a few more books so I make sure I get it right. I have to conjure some permanent work places and cabinets for storage. I also need a potions ingredients storage room. Last, but not least, I need to magically vent this room so the fumes and odors dissipate properly. I requested some help from the Room of Requirement before to get this far so I was planning to do the same this afternoon to figure out how to do the rest."

"Do you need any help?" asked Ginny.

"Well, I wasn't going to ask for any but I certainly will welcome any that is offered."

"I'd love to stay and help Harry," said Hermione, "but I've too much studying to do. Plus, I promised Ron I would help him with his studies too."

"Sorry, Harry," added Neville. "I promised Sprout that I'd help her this afternoon in the green houses. Otherwise, I'd love to stay. What you're doing sounds really interesting."

"Luna?" asked Harry.

"I can help," said Luna.

"Great! Tell you what… if you and Ginny will help me research how to do it and help me get it setup, then I'll help you two tomorrow for a couple hours with any classes you need to study for. Deal?"

"Deal!" they both replied. They'll take Harry's help with classes anytime.

"Okay, we'll see the rest of you guys later."

Hermione, Ron, and Neville left the Room of Requirement.

"First of all ladies, let me tell you what I have in mind. Since I've got a potion's lab figured out already, I thought I'd add a second floor on top of it and let that be where the bulk of my potion supplies are kept. I can make some stairs to get to the second floor. Of course, we have to figure out how to properly vent both of those floors."

"I've never built a potions lab before. This sounds like fun," said Ginny.

"Can you two conjure items permanently yet?"

"Harry, we haven't even been taught how to conjure yet, much less permanently. We're just in fourth year. Isn't that a seventh year spell?" asked Luna.

"Yes, sorry, I believe it is. No problem. I'll do all the conjuring. You women just help me with the research and the design. Although, maybe by the time we're through you'll be able to conjure something as well."

Ginny and Luna smiled at that. Looks like Harry was going to teach them how to conjure.

"Alright, I need someone to find out how to ventilate the lab. Who wants that duty?"

"I'll do that Harry," said Ginny.

"Thanks, Gin. The job is yours."

"Luna, could you find out how to conjure stairs?"

"Sure Harry. Sounds like fun."

"Thanks, Luna. That leaves me with all the cabinetry, shelves, workspaces, and storage, which should all basically be the same type. Just think of what you need and the books should appear."

Harry started thinking about what he needed right away and the books started appearing on a bookshelf against the wall. Ginny and Luna followed suit and they saw books they needed added to different shelves. The room provided some nice comfortable chairs and a couch for them to sit on so they grabbed some books and went to work.

Harry figured his part out quickly so asked the room for a table and parchment to start drawing a design for his cabinets, shelves, workspaces, and storage. He was about three quarters of the way finished when Luna, then Ginny, indicated they had located the information and had their assignments figured out. Ginny believed she could actually do the spell herself for the ventilation.

"Let me see the information ladies and while I read through it I want you two to take a look at the design I've been working on. Make improvements and add whatever you think it needs. I was almost done."

Harry read through the spells to ventilate the potions lab and how to create stairs. Conjuring was not an issue for Harry but the problem was you couldn't properly conjure something you don't understand well enough or not know enough detail about. Most likely Harry could conjure the stairs without any research but since he doesn't know how stairs are built and supported, then the stairs he conjures may not be safe to use. By understanding how they are made and supported, he can follow that detail when using his spell and the stairs will be sturdy and safe.

Harry completed his reading and joined the girls to finish up the design. They had come up with a few changes that Harry completely agreed with since it would make it more organized and look better over all. They finally decided on everything and were now ready to get the project completed.

"Follow me ladies and we'll finish up this project."

Harry took the girls back to his potions lab. On the way, he explained the concept of conjuring. When they arrived at the lab, he told them to watch while he created a sturdier roof over the lab and then created the walls and roof for the second floor. After he completed that, they wanted to see some more conjuring and have him explain it again while he did it so Harry took them into the lab on the first floor and explained it all over again before he created the workspaces as an example. He then conjured the cabinets, the shelves, and storage. All the while, he explained every step.

Harry then took a break and gave a simpler lesson about conjuring so they would understand better. He conjured a small pillow then worked with them to get them to do the same. After about 20 minutes of constant trying both Ginny and Luna were conjuring a pillow of their own. Their pillows were not as nice as Harry's, but they were pillows nonetheless. They made a few mistakes at first but eventually got the hang of it. They would need a lot more practice to get to Harry's level but they were well on their way.

Harry started to conjure the stairs but Luna asked if she could try first. She felt that she understood what she had read well enough and wanted to give it a shot. Not one to stand in the way of progress, Harry readily agreed.

Luna concentrated for a few seconds then conjured the stairs. When she finished there were some weak looking stairs but she did at least conjure stairs. Luna sat down on the floor.

"Whoa! That took a lot out of me," she said.

"Are you alright, Luna?" asked Ginny.

"That must have drained you a bit," said Harry. "That was some impressive conjuring for someone who just learned how to do it. Those are definitely stairs. I'm not sure I would want to use them but since you can't do permanent conjuring yet then I will have to redo them anyway."

Harry waved his wand and the stairs disappeared. He waved it again and some very nice stairs, exactly how they had designed them, appeared.

"After you get a better handle on conjuring, it won't take so much out of you for bigger and more complicated items like stairs. Give me your hand."

Harry reached down and offered Luna his hand. She put her hand in Harry's and was expecting him to help her up but instead he concentrated for a second. His hand that was holding Luna's glowed for a couple seconds then he opened his eyes and smiled down at Luna. He helped her up then.

"Do you feel better now?"

"Yes, Harry. Did you just boost my magical energy?"

"Yes, you needed it. All the conjuring you were doing before plus the stairs used too much of your magic."

"Wow that's awesome. How'd you do that? I feel great!"

"I don't think it's something I can teach. I don't fully understand it myself. It's all internal and I can somehow push it externally. It's the same with my ability to heal. When I first started healing, it was from learning spells my grandmother taught me. After a while, I discovered I could heal without using spells. I can detect what's wrong then send healing magic to heal the problem, like I did for you that one time."

Ginny glanced at Luna who was smiling.

"I've discovered that I can share some of my magical power as well. It's easy for me, I think, because I have an abundance of it and it builds back up quickly after I use it or share it. In fact, I'm certain I've already recovered what I gave you. You see, the more magical energy you have the faster it can build back up to capacity. When your energy is low then it takes longer to build back up. Once you have some built up though, it speeds up the process. Therefore, the more magical energy you have the faster it regenerates."

"That's incredible, Harry," said Ginny. "One question though. When do I get a sample? Luna has experienced it twice now. That's Luna two and Ginny zero. Why am I being neglected?"

Luna grinned.

'Well, Ginny, Luna was injured the first time and this time she used too much of her magical energy. Since you haven't been injured or drained your magical energy, then I haven't had the opportunity to give you a sample, as you called it. Keep in mind though that it's too dangerous to give you some of my magic if you're not in need of it. Your energy should be full now and there's no room for any of mine. Forcing on you more than you can handle would be very dangerous indeed. However, I'll be very happy to heal you if you're hurt or share some of my power if you're low. Please don't make any of that happen on purpose though. It would be dangerous and not a smart thing to do."

"I was joking. I wouldn't do anything like that on purpose. However, if I get injured I'm coming straight to you."

"It's a deal. Now it's your turn. I believe you said you could cast the spell for the ventilation. Since we have stairs, we can do both the lab and the storage above it. After you my lady," Harry said with a bow.

"Thank you kind sir." Ginny did a curtsy and went up the stairs to the second floor. Harry and Luna followed her up. Once inside she cast the ventilation spell she found in the book. Harry then cast another spell that checked to see if the ventilation spell was working.

"What spell was that?" asked Ginny

"That was the other spell to check and see if the ventilation spell was working properly."

"I don't remember seeing that one."

"I read a little further and discovered it. The book said to cast it right after the ventilation spell to check and make sure it was working. Your spell worked perfectly by the way. Let's go down and you can do the lab."

The three of them went back downstairs and Ginny cast the ventilation spell on the lab. Harry checked with his spell to verify and it was working perfectly. He then taught the spell to the girls.

"I believe that's all I want to do on this today. I need to read the rest of my assignment on becoming an animagus so I can start Monday with McGonagall learning the practical side. Plus, it's almost time to eat again."

"I am getting a little hungry," said Luna. "I hope there's pudding."

oOo

The following Monday afternoon in McGonagall's office…

"Any questions after reading the books, Mr. Potter?"

"Just one. I was wondering about the potion. The books were a bit vague on that part. What exactly does the potion do?"

"Excellent question, Mr. Potter. I thought you might want to ask about that. I had the same question when I first read those books myself. The potion is simply a tool that helps speed up the process. As your book explained, your animagus is predetermined. The potion shows you what the animal is that you're to become. If you don't see an animal then it's likely you can't be an animagus. Well, it's either that or you brewed the potion wrong. Once you know what animal you're to be then it's easier to change into that animal because you can picture it in your mind and you will know your end goal."

"For centuries, before the potion was invented, becoming an animagus was even more difficult because no one knew what animal they were to be. Therefore, the process took even longer. Oh, they had a spell but it was not very accurate most of the time. Some of the ones who could never be an animagus wasted years of their lives trying to be one. If they had the potion like we do now they could have known that it wasn't possible for them and could've moved on and used their time more wisely."

"So what will the potion do to me and where do I get it?"

"You'll need to take it before you go to bed. You'll then have a vision that will either show you the animal you're to become or there'll be no animal and only you'll be there as yourself. When you wake up you'll remember the animal vividly. It's that image that you'll use to work on changing yourself into. Where you get the potion is questionable."

"Questionable?"

"Yes, you see normally I would have Severus prepare the potion for any student who is trying to become an animagus. That way the potion is guaranteed to be prepared correctly by a potions master. The potion isn't difficult to make and it doesn't require a long time to brew so it's an easy one for him to do on the rare occasion we need it. Given, however, your need for secrecy I thought it would be better if you prepare it yourself. I believe you are more than capable and your secret would remain that way."

"That's acceptable to me. I definitely don't want Professor Snape knowing about this… at all."

"Somehow I knew that would be your answer," she said with a smile.

"Where do I find the recipe?"

"Here is the next book for you to read. You actually don't have to read all of this one since it mostly repeats what you've already read but the recipe for the animagus potion is in here. That part you will need. Now do you have a place to privately brew the potion? If not, I can provide you with one."

"Yes, ma'am, I have a place. That won't be a problem."

"Good, then I'll need to meet with you again after you've had your vision. I'll give you the first steps you need to work on. When do you plan on taking the potion?"

"Is there enough time to brew it tonight and take it?"

"Yes, plenty of time."

"Then I'll take it tonight."

"Excellent! I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."

"Thank you Professor. I appreciate all your help."

"Sweet dreams, Mr. Potter. I can hardly wait until tomorrow."

Harry left McGonagall's office and headed straight back to the Gryffindor Common Room. Some of his friends were studying and others were chatting. He told them what he had to do and left them to go to his trunk and use his new potions lab.

Harry opened the book and skipped over the parts he'd already covered until he found the potion recipe. It was a rather simple potion that could be made in about an hour. Harry read through it carefully so he had a complete understanding of it. He then setup his cauldron and gathered all the ingredients he would need. He prepared the ingredients as instructed and began making the potion.

After an hour, the potion was finished. Harry then used a test found in the book that showed how to check and make sure the potion was correct. It tested positive so Harry measured out the amount he needed so he could take it before bedtime. Harry had made extra of the potion since it would last a few weeks. He was going to have his friends take the potion as well to see who could move forward and become an animagus.

He stoppered his potion vial and went back down to the common room to find his friends. He quietly told them about the potion and his plan to take it tonight. Hopefully, he would know something tomorrow. His friends were anxious to take the potion as well but Harry insisted they read at least the first book before taking the potion. He promised to answer any questions they have after reading the book. Right now the book was making the rounds as fast as everyone could read it. Harry had to return it to McGonagall pretty soon before she became suspicious.

At bedtime, Harry readied himself for bed and climbed in. He took his potion and laid down. He found himself feeling a bit nervous about it all. He started thinking. "What if I can't become one?" He contemplated that for a minute. "I'll be fine because it's no big deal. Nothing would change in my life since I'll be no different than I am now and I can live with that." Harry turned over onto his side. "I wonder what it'll be?" After a few minutes, he turned back onto his back again. "Merlin, calm down and just go to sleep!" he told himself. He remembered his Occlumency about that time and soon was relaxed and dosing off.

Harry opened his eyes and looked around. "What is this place?" It looked like an open field with wild flowers and some lilies. Harry looked around for a minute and slowly he realized that this was his animagus vision. He searched all around him but didn't see an animal anywhere. "Oh," he thought. "I guess it's not to be. It's just me here."

Harry heard a noise behind him and turned quickly. There was a pale looking, but magnificent stag walking toward him and behind the stag their trotted another pale looking, but beautiful doe. They walked right up to Harry and stopped.

"I thought I was only supposed to see one animal that would be my animagus? And, I thought it was supposed to be a vivid image that I could recall easily and remember all the detail. No offense, but you guys are very pale and practically translucent."

The stag and the doe were standing right next to each other just staring at Harry who just stood there and stared right back.

"Wait a minute. Dad was a stag animagus." The stag nodded his head. "But I thought Mum didn't become an animagus." The doe stepped up close to Harry and licked his cheek before stepping back.

"Mum?" The doe nodded her head.

"Dad?" The stag nodded his head.

"Unbelievable! So Mum was an animagus after all?" The stag nodded his head again.

"Well, it's too bad I can't be one. It would've been really cool to do it as well. I hope you guys aren't too disappointed in me."

The stag and the doe shook their heads and walked past Harry. The stag moved his antlers in a waving motion as if trying to get Harry to look up and over a certain direction. Harry stepped around the two of them to see what his Dad wanted him to see. He looked up in the air and what he saw brought him up short. There was something large flying up there and it was coming in for a landing. It landed on the grass in the middle of the field and immediately Harry could see that it was an animal in vivid colors but it was an animal Harry had never seen before. Harry just stood there for a minute taking it all in.

He walked over to it to get a better look. The closer he got the bigger it looked to be. In fact, it appeared to be a little larger than a horse. It was very strange looking as well. It had the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The powerful back legs had paws like a lion and a long tail like one too, if not longer. The front legs were different. They came down like a lions then changed suddenly around the knee joint to large legs and sharp talons like an eagle.

Its color was almost entirely black with a lion's mane around its shoulders that gradually changed into feathers as it moved up to the head. Its head, like a giant bald eagle, was black with a myriad of red and gold flecks. It had emerald green eyes like Harry and a small white lightning bolt scar over its right eye. Its huge, magnificent wings had the same red and gold flakes and the underside of the wings were more red than any other color. The creature was magnificent to behold. It looked fierce and proud, and would give anyone pause to come across it.

Harry was not afraid of it though. He knew this was what he would be and he needed to get a good look at all the detail so he could recall it fully when attempting the change. He looked at it very closely, at every detail, every contour. He had made his way all the way around when he heard a voice in his head. "How about a ride?"

The creature lowered itself down until it was completely laying down. It moved its wings out of the way so Harry could climb aboard. Once Harry was seated, it stood back up and took a few steps until it walked in a complete circle. It then leaped into the air and its huge wings began to lift him higher and higher before it took off in a straight line. Harry could feel the rhythm of the beat of the wings and let it mesmerize him for a minute. He noted how the body responded to every little change and movement. After a few more minutes, the great beast landed again and lowered itself so Harry could dismount easily. He found his parents still in animagus form watching. Harry turned back to the creature and watched as it took off again flying higher and higher until it was completely out of sight.

Harry turned around and found his parents had come up behind him. "This is amazing! I'm not sure what that was but I'll figure it out. Thank you both for coming to see me and helping me see what I am to be. I can feel the vision is coming to a close."

Harry reached over and hugged both the stag and the doe at the same time. "I love you guys and I know that you love me, otherwise you wouldn't have done this." He was hugging them when the vision faded.

Harry immediately woke up and sat up straight in his bed. The clock said it was a little after 3am. Harry couldn't sleep so he grabbed his robe and headed down stairs. There was no one in the common room so he sat on the couch in front of the fire thinking about what he saw. His eyes wandered to the fireplace then around the room looking at the wallpaper when his eyes stopped on a creature that looked familiar. He got up and walked over for a closer look.

Now he understood. The creature in the wallpaper was a gryphon and that means his animagus, that magnificent creature he saw in his vision, was also a gryphon, a very powerful and majestic creature.