"Well, Mr. Potter, we best not be making a habit of meeting like this." Harry looked up from where the Aurors had sat him down. Someone had shoved a chocolate bar into his hands, and he had taken a few bites, but he still felt unnaturally chilled.
"Minister Fudge, sir." Harry acknowledged. "I'd agree. Do you know what happened?"
"I know some of what is going on, but first I want to know what you saw. Start from the beginning."
"Alright, well.." Harry paused to collect his thoughts. "Malfoy barged into our carriage, Draco that is, and was mouthing off about his father again. In the middle of our argument, I felt something change. I shushed him and was trying to find out what was going on when I saw the dementor on the window. I pushed down my memories and debated casting a Patronus, but I wasn't sure where we were. I didn't want to cause an incident with the muggles."
Fudge had pulled a junior auror over to take notes, and the scratching of the quill filled the air for a moment.
"I pushed everyone back and was trying to figure out what to do when the window broke. The dementor oozed in and was about to do something when something happened to the train. I came to and heard screaming. I investigated and found the dementor ready to kiss Hermione and Luna. Something came over me and I grabbed its cloak and threw it away from them. It rushed at me and I er, I punched it."
"You punched it?" Fudge asked.
"You punched a dementor." The Junior Auror asked, quill dripping ink onto the grass.
"I don't know what came over me, but yes I punched a dementor."
"When I hit it there was a flash of light and it flew back. Hermione screamed and there was another one flying at me."
"I suppose you punched it too." The Junior Auror sneers.
"Yes, I did. It flew back sizzling. By this time the first one was getting back up, so I grabbed it and reached into its hood. I grabbed something and yanked it out. It was a skull. Once the skull was out the cloak just withered away. Then I grew really tired and well." Harry shrugs.
"That's quite a story." Fudge says. "Let me tell you what I know that you don't. This afternoon, as the dementors that were guarding Hogwarts were traveling back to Azkaban, two went rogue. They made a beeline for the Hogwarts express. One attacked the conductor of the train, while the other appears to have sought you out. It's attempt to kiss you was foiled by the conductor derailing the train to avoid being kissed. After that, they both were seen to be attacking you. Based on witness accounts, you indeed fought with the dementors and killed one."
"You can't kill a dementor!" The Junior Auror shouts.
The minister reached down and picked something up, holding it out to Harry. "This is yours, Mr. Potter. If you'd like to show the young man?" Harry grabs the skull and holds it up.
"Mr. Auror, the skull of a dementor. Perhaps its my luck, but dementors can be killed."
"Alright!" The minister says, breaking the moment and climbing to his feet. "Now that we have your statement, we'd best be sending you on your way, right Harry?"
"Yes sir, that would be best."
"Good. Turn that interview into the captain overseeing this incident. We're going to track down Mr. Potter's things and get him home." The Minister orders, resting a hand on Harry's shoulder. He leads harry out of the tent. Outside, Harry can see the damage. The Hogwarts express was sprawled over a small hill, the cars tossed about like Dudley's train set when he was 8. Carriages were overturned, the sides ripped open and wreckage strewn about. Parts of seats and bits of wall were embedded in the loam.
"It doesn't look good does it?" The Minister said.
"No sir." Harry agreed.
"The Auror team who responded said it looked like one of the old death eater attacks. Thankfully no one was seriously harmed in the crash. Scrapes and cuts, a few broken bones, but no dismemberments or fatalities."
Harry grew pale thinking about one of his friends hurt.
"Here we are, the luggage car." Fudge announced, drawing his wand. "Don't get to do this often." He smiled at Harry. "Accio Harry Potter's Luggage!" From within the pile of trunks, so carefully sorted and packed by the Hogwarts elves, Harry's trunk came flying out. Surprisingly, a small rucksack flew out of the car as well. The trunk settled at the ministers feet, but Harry caught the rucksack in one hand.
The minster noticed Harry's look of confusion. "Not yours? It happens sometimes. The spell doesn't always grab exactly what you need. Just toss it back."
"It- it says James on it." Harry coughs out.
"Does it? Marvelous. It is yours after all. Let's be on our way now, many people still to be sorted out." The minister lead Harry back towards the tents, where Aurors and mediwitches milled about, interviewing students and releasing them to their families.
"Scrimgeour!" fudge called out, causing a lanky man in sharp robes to turn from the aurors he was instructing to look over. "Can you spare someone to see Mr. Potter home?"
"Tonks." He barked, turning back to the group of aurors.
A young woman with bright pink hair peeled out of the group and approached the duo.
"Wotcher! I'll get him home safe, Minister Fudge." She said, casually tripping and recovering her balance in the short walk. On flat ground.
"Right." The minister said, hesitant to hand The-Boy-Who-Lived off to this… recruit. He still passed Harry off, releasing his spell on Harry's trunk. "Ah! Rita! Imagine seeing you here!" He shouted, rushing off to a woman with acid green glasses and a quill and parchment out.
"I can see why mom refuses to vote for him." Tonks says, watching the overweight man run off. "So, I'm guessing you've never apparated before?" She takes his blank look for confirmation. "Right, listen up. I'm going to give you the same advice my dad gave me." After seeing him nod, she continues, her hair unconsciously shifting to short brown and wavy. "apparition is a method of travel in which a wizard squeezes themselves through the space between spaces, traveling quickly from one place to another. For first timers, like you, take a deep breath and hold it. It passes in an instant. Are you ready?"
"Er, I guess so?" Harry says nervously.
Tonks wrinkles her nose. "Not much of a Gryffindor are you?" Before Harry can respond she grabs his arm. He quickly sucks in a deep breath and with a sharp snap they're gone.
They reappear outside a café in Surrey.
"I bet you could use a moment to relax before you head back to your relatives. Besides, we have a few things to discuss. I'll buy lunch." Tonks says, tapping the trunk. "Notice-me-not."
Harry follows her in, takes a seat at the same table as her and nervously picks up a menu.
"Order whatever, Mom's paying for it." She says, browsing her own menu.
They order and when the waitress disappears Tonks leans closer, giver her wand a discreet twirl.
"Harry. I'm guessing you're not aware, but we're cousins. My mom and Sirius were cousins, yada-yada pureblood nonsense, interbreeding, we're cousins. So, with his recent departure from the land of the living, things have started waking up in the Black Family. The Family magics are loose and open for claim. My mom is going to submit a claim for them, but she doesn't expect it to work. She's the oldest eligible child but was also cast out. Her sister, Narcissa Malfoy, has even less of a claim. Her son, Draco, though, has a somewhat decent claim. The Black family operates through patrilineal primacy. It falls to sons before daughters. So, Draco has a solid claim. Bad news. Good news, there is someone else who might have a claim."
"Who?" harry asks after the waitress brings them their food.
"You silly." Tonks says, stealing a chip from Harry.
"Yeah, the family tapestry, please don't ask, has you linked to him. Given he was the previous heir, and that he held the magics until his death, you might have the better claim. Of course, you're in the process of being claimed by the Potter Magics, so the black might not accept you based on that."
"Slow, slow down. I'm being claimed? I'm tied to Sirius? Just tell me like you would a first year."
"That was my explain-to-a-first-year explanation." Tonks says, leaning back.
"Basics, you're being claimed as a Potter by your magic. That's in your blood, it's happening. You could also inherit the Black family magic, because you're somehow connected to Sirius in the eyes of the family magics. However, since you are not a black by blood, you have to submit a magical claim on them. Given the main line is dead, anyone who wants to inherit them will have to submit a claim. According to my mother, you and Draco Malfoy stand the best chance at claiming them. We would rather have you hold the family than the spawn of Lucius Malfoy. I'm here to feel out what we need to do to get you to submit a claim. You are, after all, head of house potter."
"Head of House Potter. Course, it isn't much of a house. It's got one kid wizard, and one house elf."
"I'm just Harry. No house Potter. No Black. Just-"
"Harry." Tonks finishes. "I wish you could be just Harry, I really do. But, besides you being the Boy-Who-Survived, you're also the last of your line. You were never going to be 'Just Harry'. Sorry."
"Alright. Give me a few to adjust. I'm just, I" He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. "I never wanted any of this. I just wanted to go to school, to learn and grow up and-"
"I understand." At his look of disbelief, she shakes her head, checking to see if anyone was watching. "I really do. She meets his eyes and slowly her face shifts to mirror his, scar and all. "I'm a metamorphmagus. It means I can change my appearance at will. The talent manifested my second year. It made the rest of my time at Hogwarts hell. When I was sorted, I just wanted to be like my mom. Work hard, graduate well, get an apprenticeship and join a solid career. Then this happened. With so much wild magic, I can't do potions. I mess them up by being nearby. So, suddenly I couldn't be a healer or a potions mistress. I'm pants at arguing, so I can't follow my dad. It was only by luck that I caught the eye of Mad eye and he got me into the academy. I know what its like to want to be 'just somebody'. Only, life doesn't work that way. We have to be who we are. We can't run away."
She shifts back to her normal appearance and focuses on her chips, giving Harry a moment to digest her spiel.
"Alright." He says after a moment.
"Wat?" She asks through a mouthful of chips.
"I'll do it."
"You will!" She swallows, excitement turning her hair spiky.
"Yeah. But, I want some things." He says.
"I'm not supposed to negotiate this, but okay, what do you want?" She replies, pulling out a notepad and snagging a pen off of a nearby table.
"I want someone to help me understand what all of this house business is and what I'm getting myself into. I want someone to teach me what I should have known going into Hogwarts- all of the little stuff that no one thinks about. For instance, what magical people do, how wizarding society works, why we have such a bizarre monetary system, what is important for what jobs?"
Tonks laughs. "I'm pretty sure we can do all of that bar one, no one knows why we have such a strange money system. If you figure it out, publish. You'll make enough money that you can change it to whatever you want it to be. I'll talk to mom, and let you know what she says. Expect an owl within the week."
"Wait! Professor McGonagall told me something about a mail redirection ward on me." Tonks frowns.
"That makes it more difficult."
"I'm working on figuring it out. For now," Harry closes his eyes and concentrates. He holds out an arm and Hedwig lands on his shoulder gingerly. "for now, call for Hedwig when you need to send something. She'll take it." The Snowy owl eyes Tonks and starts preening Harry's hair possessively.
"As long as she won't bite me." Tonks says.
"She'll behave." Harry says. "Won't you girl?" he scratches her breast with a finger.
"Within the week. See ya Sparky!" Tonks calls out, disapparating with a crack.
"Sparky?" harry asks to the now empty air, before grabbing his trunk and starting the walk back to 4 privet drive.