GASP! Two updates in less than a month? Has my account been taken over?
BIG thanks to the guest who caught one of my mistakes in the last chapter. It was replaced. (Third daughter to fourth daughter. I fucking forgot Astoria. How did I forget Astoria? She was right there!)
Guys, PLEASE stop leaving guest reviews if you have discussion points to actually talk about. I CAN'T RESPOND THAT WAY. And I'm not about to start filling author's notes with them. I make these damn things long enough already.
Also, if you want to know about chapter progress, check my profile. I try to keep it up to date. If something is abandoned, it will say so there. If no progress has been made, then the date at the bottom will be from a while ago. I keep telling people this, but I have no schedule everyone. I write when I feel like writing, if I have the time to do so.
I've been contemplating beginning a bit of a side-quel to this story. A GoT crossover. Not sure if anything will come of the idea, but I'm certainly having amusing thoughts of Harry being born in Westeros and turning into a tiny dragon and crawling all over his now-gobsmacked parents.
I also had an idea for a crackish one-shot where my Harry gets summoned to the canon universe. I imagine I could have a barrel of laughs with that one.
Harry awoke with a groan, noticing that his body still hurt like the dickens. He felt sore and uncomfortable in his own skin. He noticed something golden floating above him, and he blinked rapidly to try to clear up his vision, scrunching his face up. Finally, Albus's face swam into view above him. They stared at each other for a moment, before Harry croaked, "Why do I feel like I had Hogwarts dropped on my head?"
Albus's mustache twitched, "Well Harry, I suppose having Hogwarts dropped on your head will make you feel like you had Hogwarts dropped on your head."
Harry raised a hand up – wincing as he did so – and rubbed his face, "How long was I out?"
"It's been almost a week." Albus said, looking fairly disapproving, "You were in a magical coma until yesterday. Your young friends have been quite beside themselves."
Harry winced again, though not from pain this time. "Shit." He muttered, and thankfully Albus allowed him that one.
Not without smirking though, "Yes, I do believe young Miss Greengrass wants to electrocute you." Harry winced again, and finally took note of what looked like half of Honeydukes entire stock laying on a massive table nearby, "Ah yes… tokens from your admirers." The headmaster smiled lightly, knowing full well Harry wasn't a fan of sweets, "What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrel is a complete secret. So…naturally, the whole school knows. Or they think they know, at any rate. I believe Messrs. Fred and George Weasley were responsible for trying to send you a toilet seat. No doubt they thought it would amuse you. Madam Pomfrey, however, felt it might not be very hygienic, and confiscated it."
Harry began to laugh, and then began coughing as he clutched his chest in pain, "Gah, maybe it would have if I didn't bloody hurt everywhere."
"Yes…well… perhaps if you hadn't eaten the bloody Philosopher's Stone, you would have already been up and about." Dumbledore's gaze was piercing straight through him, "So now I am forced to ask you. What in the world possessed you to EAT an extremely powerful magical artifact?!"
Harry cringed at the anger he felt wafting off the headmaster. He scooted back and sat up with difficulty, "Possessed would probably be a good word for it." He raised his right hand up to his chin and jerked his head. A satisfying crack rang through the air, "You remember my home right? I told you that it was my instincts that led me there. Same thing here. It was the strongest urge I felt since that first one. It was only the second time since I first transformed that I couldn't control it. Part of it was exhaustion, I think."
Albus looked troubled, "I see." He sighed, "Well, there is nothing for it now. I tried to remove the Stone from you. It was the second thing I did after I got all the rubble off of you and got you into the Hospital Wing." He took off his glasses and gently cleaned them, "Unfortunately, there was no longer any Stone to remove. It has merged into you. Specifically into your heart. Unless, of course, it is only the most overt location and is blocking my scans."
Harry grimaced, "How bad is it?"
Albus leaned back in his chair, "Your magical control is utterly shot, for starters." He smiled, and not only a little vindictively. Even if his old friend Nicholas would had made the decision to destroy the Stone himself, he no longer had that choice, "Every single bit of progress you've made throughout the year has been undone. I'm uncertain if you shall even be capable of transforming properly for a while."
Harry cringed, and raised a hand in trepidation. He pointed it away, and tried to transform. Only instead of the limb transforming into his to-scale draconic limb, it instead transformed into one giant talon and speared straight through one of the candy boxes, "Fuck. Shit. FUCK!" He also couldn't get the limb back to normal.
"No Harry, tell me how you really feel." Dumbledore looked extremely amused as he hit a human part of Harry with the Animagus Reversal spell. Harry's arm shrank back to normal.
"This is not funny!" Harry glared at the man, "What the hell am I supposed to do if those bastard imps decide to attack my home while I'm like this!"
"Perhaps you should have thought of that before rushing off to fight Voldemort!" Albus's voice was incredibly sharp, "There was no need for you to be down there! Voldemort could never have gotten the Stone and perhaps I could have captured his essence until I figured out how to destroy him for good!" Harry cringed back under the weight of the man's magic, and Albus settled down.
"How did I get it anyway?" Harry asked, "I'm actually not entirely sure. I didn't do anything myself."
"An oversight on my part. I am only human after all." Albus ran a hand down his face, "Originally I made it so that only someone who wanted to find the Stone – find it, not use it – would be able to pull it from the mirror. I suspected that it was Voldemort looking to steal the Stone, but it was only after Quirrel started draining unicorns of their blood that my suspicion was confirmed. It also confirmed for me that Voldemort was possessing him. Since his servant would not have wanted to use the Stone, but rather present it to his master, I decided that it was far too risky to leave it like that. Intent based magic can be incredibly finicky. So I then tied the final protection to Fawkes instead." He said simply, "Only someone Fawkes approved of could have taken the Stone from the mirror. I neglected to consider the fact that you would be included in that very small number."
"Ah…" What else could Harry say to that.
"Regardless, the damage is done. This is an unprecedented situation you have found yourself in. Your body seemed to be cannibalizing itself from within, and building it back up at the same time. Not only that, but you were utterly impervious to almost all magic. We couldn't even heal you properly. It was a wonder you didn't bleed out once that hole above your hip reopened. Even Fawkes's tears had no effect on that wound. And that was without even counting the hundreds of tons of stone burying you for at least a couple minutes. I'm utterly amazed that you didn't die right then and there." Harry flinched at every point, realizing quite starkly how close he had come to death, "It was a minor miracle that some Potions still functioned on you. Were it not for the Blood Replenisher I am quite certain you would have died." He made sure Harry understood the gravity of the situation, "Luckily, on the fourth day whatever was happening inside of you appeared to complete itself, and the magical imperviousness disappeared. We were finally able to properly heal that wound and save your life. For a good two days you almost had less magic in you than Argus. You're only now back up to what I would consider a normal first year." Harry cringed at what his headmaster was telling him. A quick check of his own body revealed that yes, he was practically as weak as a kitten.
"Indeed. Be thankful that you seem to be recovering. You have more magic now than you did when I checked on you a couple hours ago." Albus smirked at his charge, "Regardless, the worst seems to have passed, and you are, at the very least, still alive."
"I'm not too sure I'm going to still be alive when you let the girls in." Harry muttered, and Albus laughed.
"Yes, I may even stick around to watch them lambast you." The old man replied as he crossed his arms.
"So my control over basically everything is shot, I almost died, and I'm an idiot. Anything else?" Harry asked sardonically.
"Oh heavens no." Albus looked quite amused, "You ate the Philosopher's Stone, and it has merged with you. I haven't the foggiest on what that has done to you. Perhaps you will even stop growing older, and remain that age the rest of your life."
Harry flinched, "Right, did anything good happen?"
"Well, you stopped a Dark Lord from coming back to true life. There's that I suppose. Not that I couldn't have done that myself while he was wasting away in front of the Mirror, but I digress." Harry gave him a dirty look, and he chuckled humorlessly, "Time will tell with this Harry. You best hope beyond hope that any negative effects are only temporary, and that there are actually positive effects to it." He clapped his hands, "Now, I would like to see your memory of the events of that night. I was able to infer quite a bit if I do say so myself, but it isn't quite the same as seeing it." He snapped his fingers and a large, runic bowl appeared in his hand. He gently placed it down on a desk next to them, "Please concentrate on the events so that I may extract them." He placed his wand to Harry's temple, and slowly extracted a long, silvery strand of memories. He placed them into the bowl, "Shall we?"
They both dipped their fingers into the bowl and vanished with a sucking sound. A few minutes later, they were both back and looking contemplative. Albus was stoking his beard with a light smile, "I am surprised to see your mother's protection is still functioning. That was why your touch burned Quirrel, if you didn't know. A being so full of hate could never touch someone so protected by love."
"I had been wondering about that." Harry mumbled, "How did I do by the way?" he asked the headmaster.
Albus snorted, "Terribly. You were full of tells. Had Voldemort been at full power or even had his body not been practically falling apart, you would have lost badly." Harry winced, "You used one spell throughout the fight and that was only to counter one of his. You used no magical shields, and had Voldemort been in his right mind he would have exploited that mercilessly. He actually performed far, far worse than he used to. He seemed to have no strategy beyond brute force. Quite a disappointing performance from him if I am honest. He almost seemed deranged really, but I digress. Your physical shields functioned, but they also blocked your vision. That can work when you reinforce them magically or runically the way he blocked your magma, but it'll generally prove a detriment against skilled opponents if used as simply as you did. There are plenty of spells that outright ignore regular physical barriers, which I am guessing you realized in the fight. Had you not armored up as it were, he would have pierced your heart while you were trying to heal yourself. Your tendency to dodge left was easily read and that got you your major wound. You relied almost entirely on your superior strength and speed to last you through that fight."
"No, tell me how you really feel." Harry shot back in annoyance.
Albus laughed and decided to ease up on the lad, "Despite that, I was quite pleased to see another user of Battle Transfiguration. All of it unimaginative and basic of course, but you are a first year." He patted Harry on the shoulder, "You're young. You'll learn."
Harry chuckled ruefully, "I don't suppose I could get some pointers?"
Albus laughed, "Perhaps, young Harry. Not now, but perhaps. Keep working on it yourself for now. I would also keep working on your fire based magic. They have far more impact than they rightly should. I assume it's due to your other half."
Harry threw the covers off of him and stood up, stretching. "Perhaps my wand as well."
"Indeed! Oh, before I forget." Albus grabbed a small box and opened it. Harry's vambrace was sitting snugly in it, "We were forced to remove this from you. It was draining what little of your magic that wasn't destroying you from within faster than you were replacing it." Harry blinked in shock and looked down at his arm. He hadn't even realized that he hadn't been wearing it. He grabbed it and made to put it back on, but Albus stopped him, "Have you forgotten the power requirements?" The old man asked dryly, "You'll have to wait at least a day to put that back on. I'm guessing that your magic will be at a decent point by then, from the rate at which it's been recovering."
"Right. Thank you sir!" He put the vambrace back into the box and tapped in, and then a small rune on his wrist. The box vanished. Harry stretched, and tried to transform again, this time aiming just for an outer layer of scales on his right arm. Instead, his entire arm transformed into a giant wing and almost wrenched his arm out of socket at the shoulder due to the weight, "Gah!"
"We'll have to work on that." Albus sighed, "As much as this punishment for your actions amuses me, we cannot rightly have you completely out of commission for too long." He hit him with the Reversal once more, and Harry straightened up, rolling his shoulder with a grimace, "The leaving feast is tomorrow night. The day after you shall take the train back to London, and I shall have a portkey bring you back here once you can get hidden. Hopefully the three days I can stay with you shall bring you back up to par, otherwise you may be in trouble." He straightened his glasses, "And of course, we shall be performing tests to see what other issues your idiocy has caused." He said sternly. He snapped his fingers and the runic bowl disappeared, after he returned Harry's memory to him. "I don't believe I need to say this, but for now I would keep the ending of your little escapade to yourself. Only the two of us know. Not even Madam Pomfrey is privy to that information."
"Yes sir." Harry said, feeling hopeful that he would be back to a hundred percent soon enough, "What the hell am I going to tell the girls?" He mumbled to himself.
"I'm sure you'll figure something out. But with that…" Albus stood at the door to the Hospital Wing with a smirk on his face, "I leave you to your doom."
He exited and not five seconds later, Hermione's bushy head popped through and saw Harry standing there, "HARRY!" She screamed and tackled him back onto the bed. They both crashed down with her on top of him and he already felt her soaking through his shirt, "You idiot!" She pounded her little fists on his chest, "You big IDIOT!"
He sat up while hugging her and rubbed her back gently. He eyed the other four girls who walked in warily. While Padma and Parvati had red-rimmed eyes, they didn't really know him well yet nor were they as close to him as the other three. No, it was Daphne and Tracey he was really worried about. Tracey's face was red and she was clearly furious from the way she was eyeing him, and Daphne's face may as well have been cut from a solid block of ice. "We were supposed to be angry with him, Hermione." Tracey said airily, her tone even.
Hermione sniffed, and got off of him, settling next to him and shooting him a watery glare. Tracey took a step forward, and her hand cracked right into his cheek. His head jerked to the side from the impact and the loud clapping sound, "I deserved that." Harry winced, rubbing his face.
Daphne didn't try to smack him like Tracey did, but her voice was positively arctic, "Start talking." Harry winced again.
He sighed and fell back, staring at the ceiling with his arms out to the side, "I'm sorry." He said heavily, "I fucked up." He continued, "Real bad."
"You think?!" Tracey hissed at him, "You fucked up? That's it?!"
Daphne was looking at him like he was Malfoy, and he felt like complete scum, "Three days Harry! Three days where we didn't know if you would even survive!" Her glare intensified, "And you promised us that you wouldn't go down there!"
Harry winced again, but before he could say anything else, Hermione's quiet voice quivered next to him, "Why didn't you bring us with you? We could have helped!" Her quiet reproach may have been worse than Tracey's fury.
Harry sighed, "You mean beside the fact that you girls were so exhausted that day that I had to carry you into bed?" Their pursed lips told him that probably hadn't been the right thing to say, "You don't know what happened down there." He said finally, "And while I can tell you most of it, I can't tell you all of it. I've been sworn to secrecy, unfortunately. Even if I had brought you with me, only one of you would have been able to go with me into the final chamber."
They all sat down, staring at him furiously. "Can't tell us?" Tracey ground out.
"Yeah, unfortunately." He replied humorlessly, "I know that isn't what you want to hear, but all I can say to reassure you is that I'll be able to tell you eventually."
They all glared at him, "You damn well better! Now start talking!" Tracey almost snarled.
He chuckled lightly, "Well, I went to Cerby's room-"
"Cerby?" Parvati tasted the word in her mouth quizzically, "Sorry, can you fill us in?" The girls had been in a right panic at Harry's condition, so while they were getting to know the twins they had filled them in on some of their adventures this year. The Cerberus had slipped their mind since they were more worried about what happened beyond it.
"Oh that's right. You weren't with us." Daphne said, sighing and wilting near them, "The third floor corridor – you know, the one Dumbledore said to avoid at all costs – had a Cerberus inside. I'm surprised you didn't at least hear rumors about it Parvati."
The twins choked, "A Cerberus?" Padma gasped out.
Tracey chuckled humorlessly, "This idiot here wanted to play with it. He's really powerful physically. And by that I mean that the Cerberus was afraid of him." The twins stared at him wide eyed, and then smiled lightly when he flexed.
"Stop fooling around!" Daphne's voice cracked like a whip, "You're not out of the doghouse yet!"
"No, I suppose I'm not." Harry said lightly, "Anyway, I went to Cerby's room and a harp was playing. Turns out that Cerberi fall right asleep if you play them any music." The girls goggled at him, "Yeah…" He said dryly. "I lifted his paw off the trapdoor, and jumped down. Landed on Devil's Snare." Hermione choked, "Was a massive one too. Covered the entire chamber. Wasn't much left of it after a little fire." And there was that smirk the girls loved. Too bad they were still furious with him. "Frankly, the traps down there sucked. Next room had flying keys which you had to catch to fit a door, and yes the real key was in the bloody room." Their looks turned deadpan, "And because I didn't touch the brooms provided for the task, I think I bypassed that protection entirely."
"…What?" Tracey asked flatly, "Was this a huge defense or an obstacle course?!"
"Thank you! That's what I said!" Harry said, pointing at her triumphantly. To his happiness, he managed to get a few quirked lips, "Anyway, the next room was a giant chess set, that you had to play across as one of the pieces. I just smashed them all instead."
Daphne was looking less mad now and more confused, "What in the world? Weren't they trying to hide the Philosopher's Stone down there? Even a regular first year could have gotten by that."
"I told you they sucked." Harry deadpanned, "Only the first and last traps were actually traps. After the chess set was a troll, which was already knocked out. Most dangerous room so far. The smell almost killed me." He winced, wrinkling his nose.
Hermione reached over and pinched his nose angrily, "Not. FUNNY!"
Harry winced and jerked his head out of her grip, "Not a joke. I almost got flat out knocked out by the smell." He rubbed his red nose, "It was a very tiny hallway and that thing had been down there for months. It smelled putrid."
"Ugh, please stop." Parvati wrinkled her nose in displeasure.
"Anyway, the next room was the second to last. The moment I walked in, purple fire sprang up behind me and black fire in front. There were seven bottles on a table. One to move you back, one to move you forward. Three were poison and two were nettle wine. And of course, instructions on how to figure out how to get past it were on the table, instead of doing the smart thing and filling all seven with poison and keeping the real key with you."
"A logic puzzle?" Hermione asked, "I guess that would slow people down, at least."
Daphne held her face in her hands, "You weren't kidding when you said these traps were horrible." Her voice was muffled. She rubbed them up and down and then deadpanned at him, "How long did it stall you for?"
"Quite." Harry said, "And it didn't. The right bottle was – quite typically – the smallest. Wouldn't want too many people going through at once, right?" He deadpanned right back. All five girls facepalmed, "Damn thing was half full. The person who went down first had already drank some."
"I see." Hermione said, "So there would have been enough for you and one of us. That's why it wouldn't have mattered if we all had gone down with you."
"Nope. The bottle was only this big." He held his thumb and his finger apart a tiny distance, and their eyes widened, "I didn't even bother with the stupid thing. I AM fire."
"Please tell me you at least tested that before you tried walking through it." Tracey pleaded with him, and sighed in relief when he nodded, "Well, you aren't hopeless at least." She muttered.
He snorted, "So I go through, and who do I see but Professor fucking Quirrel."
"WHAT?!" They all straightened up, "You're joking!" Tracey shouted at him with wide eyes.
"Nope, apparently p-p-poor, st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrel was just an act. Worked out brilliantly actually. I didn't suspect him at all until finals." Perhaps he shouldn't have said that.
All of their eyes narrowed, "Finals?"
He winced internally, "He was the one drinking the unicorn blood, and when I went into the room to have our tests I could smell him completely slathered in burn paste." He shrugged helplessly.
"So you knew, and you didn't tell us?!" Hermione burst out angrily. Daphne and Tracey looked equally furious, while the twins merely stared at him coolly.
"Again, what good would it have done?" He was a little irritated himself now, "Only one of you would have been able to follow me in, and even Daphne would have only turned into a hostage."
"You're good Harry." Daphne hissed out through gritted teeth, "But you're treating us as if we can't even pretend to handle ourselves! You've never beaten me in a duel!"
They stared at each other, one passively, the other furiously. And then Daphne blinked, and her eyes bulged in shock as she found Harry's hand centimeters from wrapping around her throat. The other girls jumped backwards in shock. Harry and Daphne had been at least seven feet apart. They hadn't even seen him move. She swallowed in shock as Harry backed away and sat down, "Yes, I've never beat you in a duel." Harry said, "Because we're practicing. We're helping each other get better and learning new spells, and how to use them. Constantly getting annihilated wouldn't help anyone! A fight is different than a duel." He looked at his three best friends seriously, and idly looked at the twins as well, "What I just did was the only thing that saved me down there, according to the Headmaster. The only reason I was able to last long enough to beat him was because of my strength and speed! Daphne was the only one who could have done something similar, but only if there was no way to counter her elemental form!"
Daphne was looking down at the floor morosely now, "Have you even been trying in our duels?"
"Of course I have!" Harry said, "It was only because of our duels that my Battle Transfiguration was good enough to win the day. It was really, really helpful." He got up and lifted her head, smiling at her, "Don't look so down Daphne. I'm sure you could beat anyone in our year but me, and you could probably even beat most second and third years." She smiled, though it didn't really reach her eyes, "If it really bothers you, I'll start going harder on you all in our duels."
"I'd like that." She said quietly, "I think I was getting a bad case of the ego myself."
Tracey finally broke and hugged him, "Please…just don't do something so stupid again! At least tell us so we can get help, even if we can't come with you!" She turned watery doe eyes up at him, and he almost melted.
"I'll try." He said, happy to be hugging her once more. Daphne and especially Hermione couldn't contain themselves either. Hermione leapt forward and hugged his back, while Daphne hugged both him and Tracey.
"No! No trying! Please Harry! We're your friends!" Hermione mumbled into his back, squeezing tighter, "We couldn't bear it if you were hurt this badly again…or worse." He felt his back start to soak again.
He sighed, "I can't promise I'll bring you with me, but I'll at least tell you next time." He chuckled suddenly, "You can probably figure out by now that I don't turn away just because something is dangerous."
Tracey grumbled, "Fine. Better than nothing."
"I'm really confused though." Daphne said, "You beat Quirrel. Why were you so bad off if you won?"
"Well…not…exactly." He winced, and tried to weigh on what he should tell them. His uncharacteristic waffling alarmed the three who knew him best, "I actually only took one injury in the fight. Unfortunately, the thing you girls probably want to know the most is the one thing I can't tell you." Harry said, "Like I said, I've been sworn to secrecy for now."
Hermione grumbled, "Well, tell us about the fight then."
"The fight came a bit after. We talked and taunted each other for a bit first." He was trying to come up with a delicate way to put this, but gave it up as a bad job and figured that maybe just yanking the band aid was necessary, "It's kind of funny, you know." He waffled a bit, "I'm sure the Weasley twins would have been utterly horrified if they knew this."
"Knew what?" Padma asked curiously, and the other girls all sat with them in front of him.
"You remember during the winter? How they were enchanting snowballs to bounce off of Quirrel's turban?"
"Yeah, what about it?" Tracey asked, "I thought it was funny myself." She giggled.
There really was no easy way to say it, "Quirrel was possessed." He deadpanned, "Voldemort's face was sticking out of the back of his head." Chokes all around, "That was why he needed the unicorn blood. His body was literally tearing itself to pieces because of his little parasite." All five girls paled as far as their skin-tones would allow.
"You-Know-Who?!" The twins squeaked shrilly.
"Don't do that." He stared them down, "Say the damn name." They stared at him without comprehension. He grumbled, "We'll work on it. Anyway! Quirrel's body was falling apart from when I incinerated him as well as the damage from the possession. He was far weaker than he should have been. He drank a final bit of unicorn blood he managed to get into a flask before I forced him to flee, and then Voldemort possessed him entirely. So my fight wasn't exactly with Quirrel, but with – according to Dumbledore – a vastly weakened, deranged, and uncharacteristically stupid Voldemort."
"AND YOU SURVIVED?!" Daphne screamed shrilly. The subject of the Dark Lord really scared the hell out of her.
"See, this is what I mean. If you had gone down there you would have gone to pieces when he took his turban off, if you're acting like this just from hearing the story." She looked away in shame, "Even as weak as he was, every swipe of his wand shot a dozen spells at once. It was only my Transfiguration and my speed that kept me in the fight. Eventually I managed to take him out with transfigured spears and then…" He stopped, "Well, there's no pleasant way to say this. I immolated him."
Padma's voice was more than a little shaky, "I don't understand. You-Know-Who is dead isn't he?!"
Harry looked at her sadly, "Sorry Padma, but I'll tell you exactly what I told these three. Show me a body." She looked stricken, "All they found that night was a robe saturated with evil magic and a wand." He rubbed his face, "A wand which later disappeared from where it was kept. No, that son of a bitch is still alive. He's weak. Terribly weak. He's even less than a wraith now. But somehow that damn cockroach managed to survive." He sat back down heavily, "But for now, he's beaten. Unfortunately, after I won, my stupidity almost got me killed. And I'm really, truly sorry about that." He moved over to them and gathered them into a group hug.
"You better be!" Daphne mumbled into his shoulder, "You sure you can't tell us?"
"Someday." He said, "Someday."
The next day Harry felt back to normal. Well, his body felt normal at any rate. His magic churned and writhed chaotically inside of him now that he was back to full strength. There was none of the control he had fought for since they had discovered his cavern. Still, he felt well enough that Madam Pomfrey wouldn't have been able to keep him there even if she wanted to. But before he left, Hagrid came by to see him, sobbing rather hysterically, "It's – all – my – ruddy – fault!" The grown man bawled, "I told the evil git how ter get past Fluffy! I told him! It was the only thing he didn't know, an' I told him! Yeh could've died! All fer a dragon egg! I'll never drink again! I should be chucked out an' made ter live as a muggle!"
Harry snickered, "Hagrid I don't think you could even fit in a car." The hairy man choked up, "And if you want to be technical, I only took a minor injury down there from the asshole." A hole in his side that he managed to partially heal wasn't too bad, right?
"Wha…? But yeh were in a coma!" Hagrid blustered and waved his giant arms up and down.
"Not my greatest moment." Harry deadpanned, "Let's not talk about it." He waved his hand, "And either way, it was Voldemort. He would have figured it out eventually anyway."
"Don' say tha-" Hagrid started to go wide eyed, but Harry cut him right off.
"VOLDEMORT!" He yelled, shocking Hagrid rigid and making his tears freeze, "I don't fear him or his stupid made-up name. Gryffindor up man!" He lightly punched Hagrid in the arm. Harry surprised himself when he was forced to rub it.
Hagrid let out a watery chuckle, "Heh, yer a good kid Harry." He took something out of his massive pocket, "Got a gift fer yeh." He took out a handsome, leather-covered book. "Had the day off a few days ago ter fix this up. Course, Dumbledore should have sacked me instead." Harry took in from him and his face lit up at seeing dozens of wizarding pictures of his parents.
"Thank you Hagrid." He grinned, leafing through the pages. Later that night, he joined the rest of the school for the leaving feast. It irritated him that he would only have Hermione and Parvati with him tonight, since he had gotten used to having at least Daphne and Tracey along too, but he could deal with it for a night. Brilliant smiles lit up their faces as he made his way down the tables, and they scooted up so he could get a seat in between them. "Ladies." He said with a smile as he sat.
"How are you feeling Harry?" Hermione his arm a squeeze anxiously.
"Physically, I feel fine." Harry said, "Maybe even more than fine, actually." He grinned, but it became strained, "Magic still feels like there are three separate tornados having a duel inside me though."
Parvati winced, "That's rough. How are you going to get back up to speed for second year? And I still want to know what in the world you did that could make your magic that chaotic."
"I'll figure something out." Harry said, more confidently than he actually felt. Of course, he did not answer the second part of that statement. No doubt he'd be getting badgered about that until he finally told them. He started piling on his normal masses of food, though with much less ease since when he tried to levitate one of the plates towards him he embedded it into the ceiling. And then it lit on fire, just to irritate him.
"Oh my, you weren't kidding!" Hermione looked at the piece of chicken perched precariously on one of the arches on the ceiling. She giggled, "You better get better quick Harry! Otherwise I'm sure Malfoy will enjoy lording this over you!"
Harry twitched, pausing as he accepted a plate with his hands, "Will that be before or after I rip him in half?" Noses in earshot wrinkled. He smirked in victory. The rest of the feast continued without much talk of any interest. Of course, there was the rewarding of the house cup to go through, but Harry and Hermione didn't actually care about that.
Parvati got excited for it and was celebrating their victory with the rest of the house, until she noticed Harry and Hermione not even paying attention. Instead, they were discussing Charms. "What's wrong guys? Aren't you excited that we won? Look at the egg on Malfoy's face!"
Harry and Hermione leaned back to take a look at Malfoy, and he indeed looked as if something had crawled into his nose and died. Tracey and Daphne smirked at them and raised their goblets for a toast. The two grinned and raised theirs in turn, before laughing a bit at Parvati, "Not really." Harry shrugged, "I never cared at all about this house cup business."
"Really?" She looked surprised, "But why? It's an honor isn't it?"
Hermione shrugged, "Well, seeing as how we – and by 'we' I mean our original group of four – think the house system as a whole is stupid and worthless, we can't really be bothered."
Harry picked up, "Besides, what do we even win with this? McGonagall gets a shiny trophy for her office for the year. The students don't actually get anything other than these silly banners for the night. They don't even stay up. I guess we get to make fun of Malfoy, but we do that anyway." Parvati still looked a little dubious, but accepted that explanation.
The next day they were due to leave the school, and spent the previous night packing. When they arrived in the hall they met up with the two Slytherins and one Ravenclaw, who were already crowding a massive board with their class rankings on it. They had gotten their individual scores the previous night of course, and they had all passed by a long shot. Hermione smiled brilliantly when she saw herself at the top of the top list, denoting her as first place. Daphne was next, followed by Parvati, Tracey, and Padma. Harry had a good chuckle over that, wondering how the adventurous one had beat out the studious one. He brought up the rear of their group in sixth.
Tracey punched him looking irritated, "Jerk. We all know you should have been number one. Your practicals smoked… well," She smirked at him, "-they used to smoke ours."
He shrugged, "I told you I didn't care for that. I could have earned more points on the written exams, but I couldn't be bothered." He searched the board and smirked, "Hah, dear old Draco was in tenth. I'm sure daddy will be…happy…with that."
Daphne smiled dreamily, "Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation." She sighed exaggeratedly with her hands clasped together. They all began to laugh and continued out the double doors onto the grounds. Harry of course, had been designated the luggage rack. He had all six of their trunks over his right shoulder, and he was fairly sure they had actually packed bricks this time to get back at him for the incident. Months ago, they all would have goggled at that. Now it wasn't even a blip on Hermione, Daphne, and Tracey's radars. Padma and Parvati only giggled after a momentary shock. Padma knew that her trunk at the very least was a stone or three. Pinned to each was a note declaring that magic was not to be used outside of school unless you were over the age of seventeen. Said orders would, of course, be disregarded by a majority of them.
"I'm so glad I can stay with you and Tracey." Hermione hugged Daphne for roughly the millionth time that week, "I would have gone crazy if I had to stay with my parents for months and therefore forced to follow that stupid law."
Daphne smirked, "Not a problem Hermione. We wouldn't just leave you hanging."
Padma smiled brilliantly, "You all will write, won't you?" She and Parvati were eager to get together with them over the break.
"Of course!" Tracey declared for herself, Daphne, and Hermione.
"Maybe." Harry said as he scratched his chin.
Daphne laughed all of a sudden as the twins started looking sad and hurt, "That's right!" She turned to the twins, "We don't know why, but most owls outright refuse to come near Harry. It's really strange. I've never seen him get a letter that wasn't hand-delivered."
The twins frowned, before Padma brightened up, "Well, you could try the post office in Diagon to send us letters. Not sure how we could get them to you though."
Harry smiled, "Not a bad idea. I'll try that." With that, Hagrid led them over to the same rickety old boats that had brought them across the lake on their first night here, and if anything they looked even worse in the daylight. The train ride went by without much incident. Not even Malfoy showed up to ruin the ride. Then they were let off the train, and a wizened old guard let them out onto King's Cross in twos and threes, so they wouldn't shock the muggles. He hugged the girls goodbye, knowing he would miss them. What he would certainly not miss, was the young redheaded girl who he could hear squeaking, "Oh Merlin, look mom! It's Harry Po-" and then he stopped paying attention and pretended to go out to call a taxi. In reality, once he was sure the girls weren't looking at him any longer – being busy with finding their own families – he ducked into an alley. With no one looking, he took a small sock out of his pocket – and it amused him greatly that Albus still was on about socks – and sighed, "Activate." It glowed blue, and then a hook seemed to stab into his navel and drag him upward. The world disappeared around him in a whirling maelstrom of color.
"Hello Harry." When Harry slammed into the stone floors of Hogwarts with a groan, his mentor's voice was the first thing he heard. Albus was calmly sipping at a cup of tea, with another prepared for Harry, "I presume you were not seen?"
"You did that on purpose." He groaned and hauled himself up. He sat and took a sip from his own cup, "So, how are we going to do this?"
"Whatever do you mean?" Albus's light smirk was not at all hidden by his beard, "Now, there are two possible ways that we can bring you back up to par. The first is the slower way of course, where I work with you in baby steps for three days and then you pray you can at least transform by the end of it. I imagine we shall both be quite bored."
"Pass." Harry deadpanned.
Albus's smirk widened, "The second is more entertaining. For me, of course." He said lightly, "You try to transform, and I fix you until you get it right. The rest shall – hopefully – follow. I trust the room has been made big enough. I don't know how much you've grown since I last saw you."
"It's big enough." Harry said with a hiss of breath, "Let's not waste time then, shall we?" He drained his cup and made his way out a fair way into the room. He focused on his arm, and much like in the Hospital Wing, his massive, unwanted limb almost ripped his arm off his shoulder. "FUUUUUCK!"
"Daphne! Tracey!" Hermione yelled ecstatically as she crashed down into the foyer of the Greengrass mansion. She went forward to give her two friends a hug, and promptly fell on her face as the dizziness reestablished its grip on her, "Owie…"
"What are we going to do with her?" Tracey asked in bemusement as she gathered Hermione up for a hug.
"Now, now girls." Alexander was quietly snickering to himself despite his words. He had apparated down to Hermione's house with a portkey to pick her up. Hermione wished it could have been shorter, but she had needed to spend some time with her own parents. It had been three weeks since she had seen her friends, "If I remember correctly, the first time the two of you used portkeys you-"
His two girls glared daggers at him, "Not. One. Word."
He held up his hands in mock surrender as Hermione began to giggle, "Alright, alright." He smiled down at Hermione, "And welcome once again Hermione. Daphne and Tracey will show you to your room. Or you can all bunk. Lord knows Daphne's bed could probably fit ten of you." He chuckled and went to go greet his wife, knowing that the kids probably wanted to be alone now.
Hermione latched onto her friends in the tightest hug she'd ever given. "Ack!" Tracey croaked.
"Hermione! Air!" The currently silver-haired Daphne gasped.
Hermione ignored them for a moment, before releasing her death grip on them, "I missed you two so much!"
"I'm guessing you had fun with your parents then?" Hermione glared dagger at Tracey, "Sorry, couldn't resist." The redhead snickered and held her hands up in surrender much like Daphne's father had, "Come on! Let's go for a swim and then we can start practicing!"
Hours later the girls were simply floating in the pool under the sun's rays. They had actual bikinis on now, rather than one-piece suits, since they were on private property. Hermione would have said they were tanning, but seeing as Daphne pretty much stayed porcelain year-round and Tracey was liberally lathered in wizarding sunblock so as to not turn into a cooked lobster, it would be more appropriate to say she was tanning. She had already picked up some decent color with the wizarding version of tanning lotion. "Oh, I never asked! Have any of you heard from Harry or the twins?"
That brought Daphne and Tracey's mood crashing down, "Parvati and Padma yes. They're currently vacationing on the Patil's summer home in India. They've sent a couple photo cards. I'm actually rather jealous, to be honest." Daphne pouted outrageously.
"That sounds fun." Hermione smiled, "They sent me a couple as well. What about Harry though? He said he would write didn't he? Even if we can't reach him he can reach us with the public owls!"
"That jerk." Tracey mumbled, "I thought we were supposed to be friends!"
Daphne harrumphed, "We haven't gotten a single thing either."
Hermione frowned in worry, "Maybe he's having a harder time than he thought he would with his magic?" She suggested pragmatically, "We know he hates being mobbed. Maybe he's worried he could fry the Alley if his magic isn't under control."
"Hmmm." Surprisingly, neither of the two Slytherins had considered that, "Maybe you're right." Daphne said.
"Gah! I miss him!" Tracey yelled angrily, "Let's all take a picture and send him a letter! Maybe it won't work, but we have to at least try, right?" She jumped off her floating bed and ran off into the house to get a camera before the other two could even open their mouths. They merely looked at one another and giggled. Minutes later, they had snapped a moving photo of them all laying in the pool and waving, before they kissed their hands and blew it towards the camera.
We've missed you these past few weeks! How come you haven't written? You said you would give the public post a try. Magic still acting wonky? We definitely need to meet up during the summer, so let us know when we'll be able to find you!
Hope to see you soon!
Daphne, Tracey, Hermione
They wrote the short note and attached it to the Greengrass Owl's leg. Surprisingly, when they told the owl Harry's name and watched as the Post Magic gave it a target, the owl did not freak out and drop the letter. It took to wing under their brilliant smiles, and raced out of the property. None of them noticed the letter momentarily glow a light red as soon as it was outside of the ward boundary. Neither would any of them know the letter never reached Harry. Less than a day into her flight, Eir was intercepted by a rather determined individual.
July passed quickly and opened into August. The girls had grown increasingly sad and disheartened that their best friend had seemingly forgotten them. Padma and Parvati joined them in the last few days of the month, and the nice and tidy Greengrass pool had quickly turned into a water park under the twin's hands. Cassie and Alexander especially were utterly delighted with the new magic, and had turned their already gigantic pool into more of a man-made lake. Muggles would have taken weeks to do what Selena had done in minutes.
The twins it turned out, were late bloomers in terms of family magic. Elemental magic the likes of Daphne and the Greengrass family's lightning also ran in the Patil family. Unlike the lightning all of Daphne's family could command, Patils were not guaranteed to be elementals, nor was the element always the same. Parvati had been utterly delighted to find herself one with the water, and Padma had started learning to control the wind. When they had learned of their new abilities, Hermione had deadpanned that all they needed to do was combine with Daphne and they would have a storm goddess. Their smirks were not at all reassuring.
Still, the merriment was very much strained by the elephant in the room. The elephant being the lack of Harry. They had gone through the disheartened stage into the sad and moping stage, then blazed through the furious anger stage at him ignoring them, and now, more than eight weeks since they had even heard from him, they were outright alarmed. "You don't think something happened to him, do you?" Padma asked looking incredibly down. The sun was rising and casting a warm glow on them.
Tracey had her lips pursed, "When I see him I'm going to strangle him."
Hermione suddenly had the light bulb light up inside her head, "Hmm, Daphne, Tracey, do you think maybe the headmaster could know where he is?" The two girls blinked owlishly at her, "Harry did seem a little close with professor Dumbledore. I mean, before we even met him he had borrowed a Transfiguration text written by Dumbledore didn't he?"
Daphne and Tracey smiled brightly, "You're right actually! It's a long shot, but it could work! Let's go." The five girls raced to the Floo, and Daphne took a calm breath. She threw the powder in and said as clearly as she could, "Hogwarts Headmaster office!"
Albus was enjoying a nice cup of tea. He was back from the ICW meetings that had taken up much of the past two weeks, and was looking forward to relaxing with Fawkes for a few days before the next Wizengamot meeting. So of course, he was forced to bite back a groan when his fireplace roared and turned green. He quickly made sure he was presentable and faced the fire. He was quite surprised to see the floating head of one of his best younger students floating there, rather than Cornelius as he had expected. "Miss Greengrass!" He allowed his surprise to show in his tone, "I hope you're enjoying this lovely day. What may I do for you?"
"Sorry to disturb you, headmaster." Daphne said calmly and with poise, as she was taught, "I was wondering if you had a few moments to spare? May we come through?"
"Certainly." Albus replied, "How many will be coming through? I can enlarge my fireplace in a moment."
"Five." He eyed the small amount of hope on her face, and raised a bushy eyebrow. He drew his wand and the fireplaces at both ends enlarged – which, as an aside, utterly shocked the girls. They knew he was good, but that good? He could affect objects on the other end of a Floo gate with his magic? That was…astonishing.
"Well, hello Miss Davis, Miss Granger, Misses Patils. How are you on this lovely day?" He smiled at each girl in greeting.
Hermione stepped up, "As much as we hope you were enjoying it, headmaster." She smiled and they all curtseyed.
"Indeed." Albus smiled, "I have just come back from Geneva. But I shan't bore you with details of the Confederation. What can I do for you five ladies?"
Daphne decided to take the reins, "Well professor, we noticed during the school year that you seemed a little closer to Harry than headmaster and student. We've been trying to get in touch with him for weeks with no response."
Tracey scowled lightly, "We blew straight past moping and angry over him ignoring us and we're now just flat out worried about him."
Padma and Parvati spoke at the same time, "We were wondering if you would know where he is?"
Dumbledore rubbed his beard lightly, "Fascinating." He said as he lightly nodded to himself, "And most intriguing, if I do say so myself."
"Headmaster?" Hermione asked in confusion.
"You see, Harry was in here not a week ago rather furious that you girls were ignoring him." Dumbledore said simply.
"…eh?" For once, not even prim and proper Daphne had a response.
"What?" Tracey asked flatly.
Dumbledore chuckled lightly, "Indeed. He told me that he sent all five of you letters not two weeks into the break. He told me that he had arranged things with Tom down in the Leaky Cauldron so that you could address any letters to him there for him to pick up. He sent those instructions to you in that first letter, and now you say you never received them?"
Daphne was cold, but a storm was building inside her eyes. It was the only tell of her fury. The other girls weren't any better, but Hermione managed to keep her eyes on the prize, "Professor, have you been able to communicate with him? Do you think you could pass a letter to him for us?"
Albus chuckled lightly, "I believe I can do you one better." He inclined an eyebrow at Fawkes, who seemed to give off a long-suffering huff of 'stupid human. What am I, a post owl?' Fawkes vanished in a burst of flames.
Fawkes burst into flames inside of Harry's cavern singing his song. He landed on a piece of rock sticking out of the ground in front of a truly massive pile of gold. He loudly trilled out his song, and several gold coins shot out of the pile and landed a fair ways away. Steam rose from the nostril as the mound shifted. One massive eye opened, first like a human eye and then with a membrane sliding sideways like a reptile. The green iris was blazing with inner flame as it zeroed in on the firebird. "Fawkes?" His head shifted and showers of gold started falling off of him as he rose, "What is it? We weren't due for another meeting until next week." Fawkes trilled in response, "A surprise in his office? What is that man up to now." He shook his head and started shrinking. Fawkes let out somewhat of a squawk of laughter, "Stupid bird. Of course I can transfigure clothes again." It went unsaid that even a month after fixing his most major issue, he still sometimes lost clothes in the transition. Harry lay his hand on Fawkes who was still laughing at him. The two vanished in a burst of flame.
"What's this about Alb-" Harry would have continued, but before the fire had even fully dissipated a brunette missile crashed into him, followed by a redhead, two Indians, and a much more sedate but no less relieved silverette. "Ack!" The pile crashed into the floor among Albus's booming laughter. "What the?!"
"Oh Harry! We've missed you so much!" Hermione's voice vibrated in his neck, and their scents invaded his nose. The familiarity almost went to Harry's head, and for the first time, did go a little further down and do… interesting things. Hermione who was on top of him let out a little embarrassed squeak as his reaction started pressing into her leg. She was on the bottom of the pile so she just had to bear with it.
"Miss me?" He groaned, "Why the hell didn't you answer any of my letters then?" He really wanted to be furious with them, but now with them in his arms he couldn't bring himself to.
"We never got any letters!" Tracey said angrily, "And you never got any of ours! We must have sent over a dozen at this point!"
"Ahem." Dumbledore's amused voice rapidly reminded the group that there was a headmaster in the room, and the girls jumped away with bright blushes as if they had been scalded. Harry got to his feet and stared at the girls. They had grown an inch or three, except for Tracey. It appeared as if she really would be the short one of the group. Daphne was the tallest followed by Parvati and Padma. The twins had already started showing a few more signs of puberty, as had Daphne. Tracey and Hermione looked to be a bit later bloomers. Harry himself had grown another inch but had packed on a fair bit more muscle. "Yes, it is quite a mystery that is surrounding you six, isn't it? Not the 'what' of course, but the 'how?'" Dumbledore twirled his wand lazily.
He put it onto his desk and reached into a drawer, taking out a different pair of glasses than the ones he already had on. It had a few extra lenses to it that could be moved in or out of the way., "Now if you all would separate for a moment – just a few feet is fine, thank you – I'll see if I can figure this out." He took off the glasses already on his face and put on the new ones, with bright hot pink lenses. Despite the silly look, they could palpably feel the power in them. "Interesting, I don't see any mail redirection wards attached to any of you. Clearly this will take a bit more digging." He flipped the blue lens onto the main one, and for some reason it turned green. Hermione almost choked and her hands twitched, wanting to grab it and learn its secrets, "Hmm, nothing there either." He flipped the lens back up and dropped a yellow one on his left eye, turning the combination dark purple, "Aha!"
He took off the glasses and put them back into his desk, before slipping his regular ones on. Harry and the girls waited a few seconds before raising eyebrows, "Well?" Harry asked, getting a tiny kick in the ankle from Hermione. He smirked lightly.
"A pretty interesting trick." Albus said with a chuckle, "Somehow, someone managed to slip a rider onto the post magic itself." The eyes of the Pure and Halfbloods of the group shot wide open. That was very difficult to do. Very difficult. "The rider was attached to Harry. Any time someone addressed him in a letter or Harry himself wrote one, this someone would be alerted and would then be able to intercept any owls."
Harry pursed his lips in anger, "Right, so who do I have to murder?" The girls turned alarmed eyes at him, not quite believing that he had said that in front of literally the most important person in the country.
Albus chuckled, more than used to Harry by now, "No one my young friend. Not even I would be able to figure out the 'who' of this tale. Not with the method they chose anyway." He picked his wand up and flicked it lightly. The sound of shattering glass rang through the office, "Breaking it is another matter. Putting a rider onto magic like that is not only difficult, but more than a little dangerous. I imagine our clever friend is now nursing a bit more than just a blistering headache."
Harry smirked viciously, "Thank you Albus."
"Anytime." The old man chuckled, "But the day is young and I imagine your friends have missed you quite a bit." A flick of his wand turned a piece of paper into a portkey, "Have fun in Diagon children. Your book lists should be arriving in a week or two."
"That late?" Daphne couldn't help but ask in confusion, "Don't they usually come much sooner?"
"They do." Albus confirmed, "Alas, there are quite a few who believe the position of Defense is cursed. Not one teacher has lasted more than a year in decades. I am beginning to have trouble actually filling the post."
"How do you curse a position?" Hermione asked in wonder, and then looked at him sheepishly, "I assume you've tried switching rooms?"
Albus looked down at her with a raised eyebrow, "Of course. I imagine I would have felt quite silly right now if it had never occurred to me." Hermione blushed and her friends laughed at her, "My guess is an item." Dumbledore mused, more to himself than the youngsters really, "A curse on the castle would have dissipated long ago. It is far too magical to keep a strong curse like that hidden from me, and any weaker curse would be overwhelmed. An item is a much more likely candidate, if there is even a curse at all. We could just be extremely unlucky." He shrugged.
"Decades of losing teachers in a single position yearly is a bit more than just unlucky." Parvati said dryly.
Albus chuckled, "Indeed. Good day, children!"
"How has your summer been Harry?" Hermione was basically a limpet at this point, attached to his arm tightly. They were all enjoying ice cream at Fortescue's in Diagon.
"Painful." He deadpanned, before chuckling, "It took me over a week to get enough control over my magic to do anything." Luckily, he was able to transform fully on the third day, since Albus needed to leave. However that ended up being all he could do. It took constant transforming back and forth to get his magic even somewhat stabilized.
Tracey winced from her position on his other arm, "Ouch. Are you back to normal now or is it still acting up?"
"Still acting up." He said with a groan, "Occasionally my magic takes a page from my wand's book." The girls puzzled over that for all of two seconds, before they all started to giggled, "Yeah, yeah, laugh it up." He grumbled, "Stupid non-burnable friends." That got them to laugh outright, and he let out a self-depreciating chuckle of his own. It was rather amusing if he was honest, even if he hated it. "How about you lot?"
They all looked at each other and smirked, "We've had a great time. We basically turned my yard into a water park and we had our parents make us a bouldering course last Yule." Daphne said airily, "We've also continued dueling and started practicing with my parents. I'm looking forward to our next duel." She gave him a smoldering gaze of challenge.
Harry smirked back at her, "Well, I'd hate to disappoint. And as promised, I won't be holding back as much." His grin was a little toothy and he watched the pale girl pale a little more.
Parvati chuckled at Daphne and put her own hand into the challenge, "Maybe it should be us against you then." The girls started looking thoughtful, "You can handle that, can't you Harry?"
Tracey was basically bouncing in excitement, "I like this idea! Let's do it! Come on, let's go home!" A short trip later and they were all inside of the Greengrass manor.
Well, strictly speaking it was the Greengrass manor. Tracey and her parents practically lived there anyway, with how often they visited. Greengrass/Davis would have been more appropriate. When they got outside, the Greengrass patriarch raised an eyebrow at the new member of the group, "Well, well, you must be Mister Potter." He got up and walked over to the smiling group, "Alexander Greengrass." He introduced himself. He held out his hand for a shake, and whistled, "Firm grip you've got there lad."
Harry chuckled lightly, "Not gripping."
Alex chuckled. "You weren't kidding were you, princess?" He asked Daphne, who was smirking at him, "Did you really punch out a troll?"
"More of a kick, really."
"No, no, that was the first one!" Tracey said, "Second one was a punch."
"Well, do be careful with our ladies, won't you?" He smirked as the girls flushed, "Now, any particular reason you decided to drive my girls batty with worry this summer?" His tone was decidedly more arctic, and while he wasn't glaring at Harry, he certainly was making it clear that he wasn't particularly pleased with him.
"It wasn't his fault daddy." Daphne shook her head at him.
Padma piped up, "Some jerk was stealing his mail! Apparently he tried to send us over a dozen letters already, and he never got any of ours either!"
Alex went stone faced, "That's a serious issue. Do I need to Floo Amelia?"
Hermione shook her head, "No sir." She flushed as he once again told her to just call him Alex like everyone else, "We only found him because we hit on the idea of going to Professor Dumbledore. He removed the spell from Harry, but said it was untraceable."
"It was a rider on the post magic tied to Harry!" Parvati explained, "Isn't that supposed to be really difficult? Who could have done that?"
"I'm not certain." Alex looked troubled, "Regardless, I'm glad this didn't ruin your friendship." He smiled, "Make yourself at home Harry. We'll be having barbeque tonight." He laughed as he watched Harry's face light up with glee, "Yes, we heard about your little addiction to good meat." Harry mock glared at the girls, who all giggled, "Enjoy yourselves, kids. Don't tire yourselves out too much. Pleasure meeting you, Harry."
"Your dad seems cool." Harry laughed as the man went into the house.
"Yeah, up until he gets mad." Tracey and Daphne mumbled, "Last time he got mad the town a couple hours away had a blackout for two days."
Alex's smile disappeared the second he went into the house. The other three adults were in the kitchen preparing the feast, "So, our girls managed to find young Harry, finally."
"Oh really?" Cassie turned and raised an eyebrow, "Did Tracey claw his eyes out like she said she would?"
"No. In fact they weren't mad at him at all." He explained the situation as he joined them in preparing some of the dishes.
"That's troubling," Selene said, "But not something we can do much about. What did you think of him, dear?"
Alex pursed his lips, "If it wasn't for the fact that we've always allowed the girls to make their own choices – and the fact that they've been friends for almost a year already – I would be leery of allowing them to continue knowing him." He sighed. Unknown to him, Harry could hear every word with his enhanced hearing. "I could tell from the way they interacted that they all care very much for him, and he them. That's the only reason I'm not going with my gut instinct."
"Oh my!" Selene was completely wide eyed, "But why?"
Alex shook his head with a light smirk, "Have you ever been near a dangerous magical animal?" They stopped what they were doing and blinked in incomprehension, "He hid it well, but I know how to read auras. I felt the way I imagine a steer would feel while being hunted by ten separate tigers simultaneously. If anything the girls understated things when they were telling us about him. When we shook hands, he could have turned my bones into powder." He paused opened his mouth, closed it again, and then snickered, "Well, if I couldn't turn into lightning anyway." He shook his head, "He's dangerous. Not to our girls or to us, I don't think. They're all far too attached to each other for me to worry about that now. I can see how close-knit they are. But he is dangerous. A twelve year old boy shouldn't be that tall or muscled. His magic shouldn't be so mature, even if the chaoticness the girls told us about was definitely present. I do wonder what he did to cause that. All we know is that he was in a coma for almost a week because of it. And most of all it shouldn't project such a feeling of utter violence."
"Violence?" Cassie asked sharply, "Explain." She would most definitely go mama-bear against anything that could threaten her little ones.
"Yes." Alex sighed, "Not directed anywhere. It wasn't anger or rage or anything like that. It felt remarkably controlled to be honest. Maybe violence isn't the right word. Danger is more suitable. As if he projects a palpable feeling of, 'don't mess with me or mine.' Maybe that's why Daphne told us most owls avoided him. Maybe they can sense it better than us and feel like they would prey." He chuckled, "Talking about it has made me think about it more. He could be an excellent protector for our girls where we can't be. Maybe their friendship is for the best."
Beorn chuckled, "Let's watch them closely then, shall we? I do love a good mystery! Let's see if we can figure out young Harry."
"Perhaps we should insure our home first." Selene said dryly. She had her right eye closed with two fingers over it, "They started dueling, five against one." Unknown to the kids, Daphne's mother had taken control of one of the local birds and was watching the duel quite closely.
Alex laughed, "Maybe they were still angry with him."
"Not quite." Selene deadpanned, "Padma was already taken down. He is absurdly fast. He didn't even use a spell. He just moved quicker than she could react and held a claw hand close to her throat. She moved away and sat down. Apparently they're considering a touch from him a knockout."
"Apparently the troll punching story was true. They better consider that a knockout." Alex chuckled, "Don't hold out on us. Let us see as well." Selene held up her other hand and it started misting up. A scene appeared in the cloud, and they all settled down to watch.
Padma was indeed sitting out while pouting outrageously. Hermione had her wand out and was flinging two to three spells per wave of her wand. She had already frozen parts of the lawn with a spell and was trying to corral Harry by controlling his movement. "Our lawn!" Cassie moaned more for the sake of complaining. She was quickly shushed. That could be fixed easily.
Harry wasn't having it, and he whipped his own wand out. The earth roiled and turned into shackles, which grabbed onto a panicking Hermione. She was forced to drop her wand and sit down sadly. The other girls hadn't been idle. Parvati and Daphne combined an attack. Parvati conjured a deluge of water from her own body and sent it flying towards Harry. That amount of water flying as quickly as she had managed would likely do a fair bit of damage on its own, but Daphne had added her own lightning too it. The electrified water dug a trench through their lawn and shocked Harry even as he dodged.
A pulse of something radiated from him, and the water evaporated. A heat haze made his form shimmer. Tracey was above him shooting down both spells as well as her rainbow bombs. They had grown in potency over the summer and she was also much more maneuverable in the air. Harry shoved his hand into the lawn like it was water, and pulled out a transfigured metal shield. He raised it over his head and deflected the bomb, before throwing it like a Frisbee at Tracey. Her eyes bugged out in panic and rather than simply moving out of the way, she tried to shield it.
It hit her shield with a clang and the force knocked the girl right out of the air. Harry leapt under her and caught her with a cheeky smile. Tracey was scowling and huffing with red cheeks as he set her down. He leapt away from the girl with a laugh, and focused on Parvati and Daphne. Parvati turned her arms into water and shot it towards him like a cannonball. Harry waved his hand and a massive conflagration erupted in front of him. It raced towards the water and evaporated it effortlessly. Parvati's eyes widened and her entire body liquefied and turned into a puddle. She started forcing her way underground, but even so the sheer heat still hurt a little. She rose out when the fire ended and turned back into human. She was panting and she was steaming, but she was thankfully uninjured. She swiped her hand near her neck back and forth, apparently calling it quits.
Daphne was the last one left, and she was even paler than usual. She went for the shock and awe strategy. She should have known better than to expect that to work on Harry, though with her it was a bit more literal than normal. A truly massive amount of lightning erupted from her body and started striking out at Harry as well as randomly out at the grounds. Harry raised rods of earth which warped into iron. The lightning immediately went for the grounded targets and avoided Harry entirely, up until she realized it and started actively controlling the bolts with additional magic. Then they started ignoring the metal and frying the air where Harry's head had previously occupied.
Harry cupped his hands and a massive plume of fire erupted towards Daphne, who cut out her attack and transformed completely. The girl vanished from her location with a thunderous crack and reassembled herself behind him. At these short distances, she could practically consider it apparition. Her wand swiped through the air and she shot four different charms and hexes at his back. A wall of earth rose to intercept them all, but the piercer went straight through and grazed his arm.
He dodged out of the way as the wall exploded from a Bombarda and flicked his wand. A giant stone hand rose out of the earth and grabbed Daphne's wand arm. Just as she was about to transform and get out of dodge, Harry appeared behind her and wrapped her up in a hug from behind. She puffed her cheeks, before sighing and chuckling.
Selene cut her power off and the cloud vanished. She removed her fingers and opened her eye, "He won." She looked as if she was surprised, "Daphne took that loss a lot better than I thought she would. She hates losing."
"They all do, I think." Beorn rubbed his clean-shaven chin, "Padma was looking quite put out that she was the first one out."
Alex was chuckling to himself, "I think Cassie and I will have our work cut out for us. I'm fairly sure we're about to be bombarded with training requests."
Selene smiled, "Yes that does sound about right. Three elementals for you, Tracey for Cassie." She looked happy, "I think I'll take Hermione myself. She seems more of a direct spell mistress."
"I suppose that leaves me with Harry." Beorn rumbled with a smile, "I wonder if he'll be as good with weapons as he is with magic."
"Just don't break him." Alex chuckled, "I'm pretty sure that all five of the girls would tan your hide if your mess with their Harry."
"Yes, they do seem quite taken with him, don't they?" Selene moved into her husband's arms, "I hope that situation doesn't end up turning sour."
Beorn snorted, "Break him? He punched out a troll man! If anything you'll be picking up my pieces."
The next day Harry was greeted with a situation that he had not yet encountered, which left him feeling both bemused and entertained.
That situation being Daphne and Parvati in the morning.
He had been among the first to wake, and had barged into the room the girls were all sharing – which he was told in no uncertain terms was girls only for the time being by the smirking adults – to wake them as well. Hermione was already sitting up blearily and rubbing at her face, as was Padma. Tracey was also already even sitting in a comfy chair and reading a book. He didn't notice that all three of them were hiding smirks when they caught sight of him.
Daphne and Parvati were an entirely different story. Parvati was sprawled out on top of the mattress with her limbs splayed everywhere. Her nightshirt had ridden up exposing her midriff. Her short sleep shorts didn't do much to hide her legs either, and Harry was again beset by those unfamiliar feelings as he looked at her. Daphne on the other hand, was wrapped up so tightly in a cocoon of blankets and comforters that it was a miracle she could even breathe. All he could see was one closed eye, a bit of nose, and some silvery hair. "Anyone going to wake them up?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Have at it." Tracey waved at him negligently, keeping a close eye and smirk hidden behind her book.
He raised an eyebrow again. He sat and put his hand on the pile that was Daphne, but the second he started to shake her and softly say, "Wake up Da-" He was cut off by a hiss. He looked taken aback for a moment, before shaking her again. A rumble echoed in the room and Harry's lips quirked. That had been a remarkably good growl for the girl.
"Mmmmmm," Came from the coffin. One purple eye opened with red veins surrounding it. She glared at him, before closing her eye and snuggling again.
Harry started to snicker, and he went to shake her again, "Come on Daphne, time to get u-" He managed to get part of the comforter loose and away from her. He didn't even finish his sentence as her hand flashed out quick as lightning and left him eyeing his now-bleeding arm in bemusement. There were three scratches from where she had clawed him. She let out another hiss and turned around, showing off her bare back. He hadn't seen anything, but apparently she slept topless.
The three girls who were awake started to giggle helplessly. Harry looked so utterly confused that it was adorable. He started to grin, "If you don't wake up I'm going to tickle you, Daph."
"You wouldn't dare!" Was what she said. "Ywldndr!" was what they heard. The other three girls laughed when Harry did as said. He made sure she couldn't move her arms by trapping them with his legs, and then he started tickling the girl, "Harry!" She yelped and started to thrash, "Nooooo!" She started giggling helplessly under his assault. She tried bucking him off, but he was far heavier than she was and it didn't work.
"Getting up?" He chuckled as he got off. She whined and glared at him again, making sure she covered up properly as she turned, "You gave me a good one!" Her face blazed red when she eyed his arm.
"Gwy!" She tried to go back to sleep, "Stooerly."
"It's ten." He deadpanned, and she just whined again. He turned to Tracey who was laughing her socks off, "How in the world is this the first time I've seen her like this?" He was laughing himself.
"Because I have to deal with it at school." Tracey got out through her giggles, "Tickling and caffeine usually works. If all else fails a bucket of ice water and running very fast does too. Her sister Astoria almost dies at least once a month from that."
"She has a sister?" Harry blinked, "Where is she? I haven't met her."
"Gone for a while." Hermione had used the distraction to get dressed in some summer clothes, "She'll be back next week I think. She's off visiting some friends." It took another ten minutes to raise the other two, and Harry discovered himself to be increasingly amused with Daphne because of it.
Two days later, something much stranger happened. Harry had said good night to the girls and went into the adjacent room to get ready for bed. Only there was someone already in it. A House Elf. He eyed it seriously, knowing the Greengrass family had only one, and this was definitely not a she. He sent his stance aggressively and strode forward, "Who are you?"
The little being stopped hopping on his mattress cheerfully and hopped to the floor, "Harry Potter!" His voice was high pitched and if it weren't for silencing spells, it would have carried far into the house, "So long has Dobby wanted to meet you, sir! Such an honor it is… I am Dobby sir. Just Dobby. Dobby the House Elf."
"Alright, you've met me." Harry allowed, "Now what do you want? Why are you here."
"Dobby has come to tell you, sir… it is difficult, sir… Dobby wonders where to begin…" Dobby said earnestly, though he liked to trail off often.
"The beginning is generally a good place." Harry deadpanned, "Sit."
To his shock, the House Elf looked as if Harry had just smacked him with a trout. He burst into noisy, wet tears, "Sit…sit down?" he wailed. "Never… never ever…"
"What are you blathering about?" Harry snapped, already feeling his already-short fuse start to burn. This reeked too much of fangirl.
"Dobby has never been asked to sit down by a wizard. Like an equal!" The elf cried.
So, he was probably owned by an abusive family then. It really shouldn't have surprised him that there would be families like that, but it did. "Dobby!" He snapped and put a little bit of his presence into it, and the house elf froze, "Good. If you start to punish yourself in my presence I will hurt you, is that clear?" He unleashed his aura a little farther out, and was pleased to see the familiar shiver of fear overcome the elf. The little being nodded rapidly. Harry sighed, "You can't have met many decent wizards then." Dobby shook his head to affirm that, and then froze, looking very much like he wanted to grab a lamp to hit himself with. Harry speared him with another glare, and Dobby settled down, "Good. Remember, do not punish yourself."
"Dobby will have to later." He sounded miserable, "House Elves cannot be speaking ill of their families."
"Then I assume they don't know that you're here."
Dobby shuddered. "Oh, no, sir, no… Dobby will have to punish himself most grievously for coming to see you, sir. Dobby will have to shut his ears in the oven door for this. If they ever knew, sir…"
Harry deadpanned, "And they won't notice you shutting your ears in the oven?"
"Dobby doubts it, sir. Dobby is always having to punish himself for something, sir. They lets Dobby get on with it, sir. Sometimes they reminds me to do extra punishments…"
Well, that sucked for the little being. Despite himself, he started feeling a little bad for the thing. He couldn't even do anything to help, since he doubted he would get a name out of Dobby. So he moved on, "While that's horrible, that's not why you're here. Again, why are you here?"
"Dobby heard tell," He said hoarsely, "That Harry Potter met the Dark Lord for a second time just weeks ago… that Harry Potter escaped yet again."
"Escaped?" Harry laughed darkly, "Is that what they're saying? No, no Dobby. The only one escaping was that sack of shit." Dobby let out a gasp of shock.
"Ah, sir," He gasped, dabbing his face with a corner of the grubby pillowcase he was wearing. "Harry Potter is valiant and bold! He has braved so many dangers already! But Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door later! Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts!"
Harry eyed him with a dull look, "Right, and I have a bridge to sell you."
Dobby blinked, "What would Dobby do with a bridge?"
Harry shook his head, "Never mind." He chuckled, "Now I don't suppose you'll explain what your family and/or their friends are doing that was require you to come warn me."
Dobby looked to be straining. His little hands were inching towards the lamp, but a glare froze him again. "Harry Potter must stay where he is safe. He is too great, too good, to lose. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger."
"I'm in mortal danger like once a week." Harry deadpanned. An exaggeration to be sure, but he didn't feel like coming up with something different.
"There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year," whispered Dobby, suddenly trembling all over. "Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in peril! He is too important, sir!"
Great. A fanatic. He was dealing with a fanatic. "Well, thank you for the warning, Dobby." Harry said, "But you're wasting your breath. I never shirk from a challenge. And either way, you couldn't keep me away from my friends."
"Friends who don't even write to Harry Potter?" Dobby asked in what Harry was sure he thought was a sly manner. The elf had quite inconveniently – for himself – forgotten that he was inside the house of two of Harry's friends due to meeting his idol. A moment later he really wished he hadn't.
Dobby blinked and suddenly Harry's hand was wrapped around his throat and squeezing, "So, you're the little shit who was stopping our letters. I assume you got it in your head that the lack of communication would depress me enough that I wouldn't want to go back." Dobby choked and nodded minutely, his bulbous eyes wide, "Be grateful, Dobby…" Harry said conversationally while holding Dobby up with one hand as if he weighed nothing, "That we were able to patch things up without any trouble." Dobby had started changing colors already, "If our friendships had been ruined because of you, I would be squeezing your little head right off your neck." He gave a slightly harder squeeze as the elf feebly kicked, and then dropped the elf, who immediately started coughing and gasping for air. "Now, you seem to be under the quite mistaken impression that I'm some fragile little waif who needs protecting. I am not. If I see a threat, I'll destroy it myself. Is that in any way unclear?"
Dobby coughed looking at Harry with new eyes, "Harry Potter is very strong." He had tears in his eyes as he looked at Harry.
Harry laughed, "I knocked a troll twenty feet with a punch Dobby." Dobby looked awed, "So let me reiterate, I could very easily pop your head off your neck like a pimple. So if you can't tell me any more details about this plot, give me back my letters and leave." Dobby shakily pulled his letters out of his pillowcase, forcing Harry to wrinkle his nose. He accepted them without a hitch though, and patted Dobby on the head, "Thank you. I'll keep your warning in mind, but if you try to stop me again I will find you. Is there anything specific you can tell me? Is it Voldemort again?"
Dobby started to strain, "Not…not He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, sir." But he started straining very hard, reaching for the lamp despite Harry's glare pinning him in place. He appeared to be trying to give Harry some sort of hint with his eyes, but obviously Harry couldn't read his mind.
Harry hummed, "Not Voldemort-" He ignored the elf's twitch of despair again, "directly, but the way you're straining makes me think it has something to do with him." The elf's eye twitched, making Harry surer of the statement. "Alright, if that's all you have for me, I'll take it. You're free to go, and if I have the chance I'll try to free you from your owners." Dobby gasped in shock and joy, "You're a little shit who thinks he knows better than everyone else, and you apparently have no respect for personal choice, but no one deserves a family like that." Harry remembered his own family all too well, "So if I get the chance, I'll give it a go. Now fuck off."
"Dobby apologizes, Harry Potter sir." Dobby eyed him tearfully, before he clicked his fingers and his body faded away.
Harry eyed the vanishing wisps for a second, before getting up and going to the room near his. He knocked twice, waited a moment for the girls to yell that he could come in, and then opened the door holding up all of their letters fanned out, "Guess what just happened?" He deadpanned.
"What, how?!" Tracey immediately recognized the papers they had sent him. The other girls weren't too far behind.
Harry sat on the bed, "Some fanatic little shit of a House Elf is owned by some sadistic bastards who like to make him punish himself. Apparently he listened to them discussing some 'terrible plot' that'll be unleashed at Hogwarts this year and got it in his head that he had to save me. He was hoping the lack of communication would mean that I thought you all hated me and that I wouldn't want to go back to school. When that didn't work, he came to try to warn me away in person."
Daphne nibbled on her bottom lip, "Definitely a Death Eater family then. That encompasses most of the 'Dark' families," she used air quotes here, "and the more moderate families never treat House Elves that badly."
Tracey sighed and fell back, "Another year where we have to watch our backs? You take us the nicest places Harry."
The twins chuckled along with Harry, but Hermione looked up at him seriously, "You didn't hurt him did you?"
Harry eyed her with a raised eyebrow, "There may have been a little choking involved. Don't give me that look. Who knows what he would have tried next if I didn't impress on him that it was very much unappreciated. Maybe he would have done something idiotic like try to expose us near muggles to make sure we couldn't get to school. You never know with fanatics." He shrugged. Hermione still looked disapproving, but it was a more thoughtful and dubious look than before. "The warning was nice actually. At least we won't be blindsided this year. I was just angry that he risked our friendship." They all smiled, and Hermione yawned, "Anyway, I'll see you girls tomorrow. I'm going to bed."
"Night, Harry!" They chorused as he shut the door behind him.
The rest of the summer was going by far quicker than they hoped. Harry had found a new appreciation for bikinis once they started spending time in the pool, and he cursed the fact that they would be going back to the school and boring, slow classes soon. The next two weeks passed all too quickly, and as promised, their Hogwarts letters arrived without a hitch. Harry was pretty sure that the owl who carried them wasn't too appreciative at having to carry six of the things itself though. All six were yellowed parchment written on with green ink.
Harry ripped the letter open sedately while he chewed on a breakfast sausage, but then he almost choked, "Harry? Are you alright?"
Harry coughed, "What the hell?" He exclaimed, getting raised eyebrows from all five girls as well as their parents, "Who the hell is Gilderoy Lockhart and who did he pay off to have seven of his bloody books on our assigned reading?"
Selene slapped her face, "You have got to be kidding me." Harry passed her his letter, and she took a minute to read through it, "Bloody hell." She mumbled.
"Mum!" Daphne looked shocked to hear her mother swear.
"Bloody hell is right." Beorn grumbled, "It isn't a problem for us, but those books are expensive for the less wealthy folk. And seven of them on top of it? Paying off isn't exactly the thought that came to mind." He chuckled as the sentence went over most of the kid's heads.
"I don't understand." Hermione and the twins looked confused, "Isn't Lockhart supposed to be really famous? I heard he won the Order of Merlin!" She said while reading through her own letter.
Parvati giggled girlishly, "Among other things."
Alexander rolled his eyes, "Yes, he's supposed to be really famous." He shook his head, "I've read those bloody books, and while they're fantastic children's stories, they certainly aren't textbooks. They may as well have assigned Harry's books." He grinned at Harry slyly, who glared at him.
Cassie had stopped paying attention to the letters and had gone back to her newspaper. Still, she lowered it for a moment and grinned at them, "We went to school with that fop. He was always full of himself and thought himself to be far more special than he really was. He carved his bloody signature onto the Quidditch pitch in twenty foot long letters in one year, and always claimed he would recreate the Philosopher's Stone before he graduated. He of course, did not. If you looked up narcissist in a dictionary you would probably just find his picture. These books have no actual good instruction in them."
"Then why are his books on the list?" Daphne scowled, "We already had that useless idiot Quirrel teaching us last year. You can't tell me we're going to go two for two. We'll go insane at school!"
Alex shrugged, "If I had to guess, a fan of his or maybe the 'big' man himself got hired for one reason or another. Albus is always having trouble filling that post."
Tracey groaned, "Great, another year with a useless idiot for a teacher. Can we get permission to just skip?"
Hermione still looked dubious, "Well, maybe he changed after school?" Everyone but Parvati turned to stare at her dully, "What? It could happen!" She exclaimed, "Besides, he got an Order of Merlin and he's an honorary member of the Dark Force Defense League! They don't just give those titles out, right?"
Beorn snorted, "His Order of Merlin was awarded by former Minister Millicent Bagnold, and it is widely speculated that she had an affair with the man." Hermione and Padma's jaws dropped,
"What's an affair?" Astoria – who had finally gotten back home – skipped into the room with a cheerfulness that simply shouldn't be allowed so early in the morning. Apparently she was enough of a 'morning person' for both herself and Daphne, since she apparently pulled all of it away from her sister. Thankfully, she got her Harry Potter fangirl awe out of her system quickly, otherwise her hyperactivity would probably have driven Harry up the wall.
Several blushes lit up the room from the younger crowd, as the other adults turned saccharine grins to the large, now-sweating blonde, "Err…we'll tell you when you're older sweetheart."
"Aww." Astoria pouted as she loaded her plate up with syrup and added a couple pancakes, "No fair, you meanies!"
Daphne twitched, "And why are we allowing pixie here to have pancakes with her syrup? Don't you remember what happened last time?" She eyed her sister like she was a bomb about to explode. Astoria stuck her tongue out at Daphne triumphantly.
"Anyway," Beorn hurried to change the subject, thankful for the distraction, "As for the Defense League…well there's two problems with that one. First, he's an honorary member. Which means he didn't have to actually get in. From what I remember of him, he certainly wasn't skilled enough in Defense to actually manage it. Secondly…the Defense League never actually does anything of note anymore. Oh they'll put themselves in articles and take interviews, but not once in the past century have they actually been responsible for taking down a major Dark Wizard. Long ago they were the best, sure. Now? The organization has just turned into a 'pat yourself on the back' circle. All four of us turned down offers to join them. So did Harry's parents if I remember correctly." The word he had wanted to use was 'circlejerk,' but he imagined his sweet Cassie would have made him pay for that one later since the kids were still a bit young for that kind of humor.
Harry groaned, "Right, I'll give him at most three classes. If he's as much of an idiot as you're suggesting I'm taking the girls and going to do something else. We already have one nap time at Hogwarts. We don't need two."
"And if he gives you detention?" Selene asked mildly.
"I'm sure there are ways to break a man without hurting him." Harry said cheerfully, going back to his breakfast.
Alex snorted and smirked widely, "If you get a chance, try moving everything in his room an inch out of place. That one drives people up the wall!"
"No, no. I should reverse everything every day or two! Even pictures!"
Daphne groaned, "Oh Merlin, what have I done? Why did I not think that getting you two together would be a bad idea?" She covered her face with her hands, while Tracey patted her on the back with an amused smile.
That Wednesday the adults didn't have anything to do for the day, so they all went down to Diagon Alley with the kids. "Gringotts first, I think." Alex said airily. The reactions of everyone else as they went down the tunnels amused Harry. Hermione was clutching his arm like a vice and was paler than Daphne normally was. Selene, Cassie, Beorn, Tracey and Parvati whooped and cheered all the way down. Padma merely looked relaxed, while Daphne and Alex hid maniac grins. They got their gold quickly, with Harry offering to pay for Hermione since it would be more annoying to deal with the little cretins who ran the bank.
On the white steps of the bank, Selene asked the big question, "So, where first? Not the bookshop." She said quickly as both her daughter and Hermione opened their mouths, "We'll hit that one last. No doubt between the six of you we'll be leaving with half the inventory." She smirked lightly as the other parents chuckled.
"Brooms?" Parvati asked with a grin, getting groans out of Hermione and Harry, "Okay, Hermione I understand. She talked our ears off more than once last year and it's clear she's afraid of heights. But I still can't get you Harry! You were awesome on that crappy school broom! Why don't you like flying?"
The parents looked on in interest, having not heard this one before. "They're slow and boring." Harry shrugged in response, "No effort at all. You're just sitting on a stick."
Beorn deadpanned, "If those crappy school brooms are the same ones I remember, I would agree. They can go sixty miles an hour at best. But the new Nimbus 2001 hits a hundred and thirty easily."
"The speed wasn't the only problem." Harry chuckled as they walked, "Again, you're just sitting on a silly stick. I don't find it fun. No effort at all to make it work."
Hermione whistled as they made it to the store, "I'm not really a fan, but 'price on demand?' This thing must be expensive to the point of being silly."
Alex chuckled, "Yes, indeed they are. I got a quote a few weeks back, and they go for around nine-thousand galleons." Hermione choked on her own saliva, as did several of the others. Hermione wasn't exactly sure on the conversion rate, but that was at least a more-than-decent car's worth. They next went to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor and gave the kids a sugar high. Though in Astoria's case, that was seemingly her natural state so not much changed.
An hour or two later, they called it quits and made it to the bookshop. Only they didn't go right in, because there was a massive crowd blocking the entrance, "What in the world?" Cassie mumbled to herself. Beorn got behind her and casually lifted her up, "Oh great." She snapped, "Lockhart's doing a book signing." She said as her husband put her down. The adults and most of the kids let out a couple groans of dismay, "12:30 to 4:30. We can always come back later I suppose."
"Nah." Harry said, "We don't have to actually meet him. Let's just get our books and get out." He then blinked, "And what the hell are these idiots doing? Are they wizards or not? Enlarge the bloody entrance!" He shook his fist like a cranky old man as he yelled at the mass of magical folk in front of him. The girls giggled at his annoyance, but followed him in. Of course, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy
They managed to get The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 easily enough. It was in a part of the shop that wasn't occupied, after all. They went back to the adults who had decided they would grab the seven 'textbooks' for them, so they could spend as little time in there as possible. Lockhart was in full view now, and Harry almost gagged. He was seated at a table surrounded by large pictures of his own face, all winking and flashing dazzlingly-white teeth at the crowd. The real Lockhart was wearing robes of forget-me-not blue that exactly matched his eyes. His pointed wizard's hat was set at a jaunty angle on his wavy hair. A short, irritable-looking man was dancing around taking photographs with a large black camera that emitted puffs of purple smoke with every blinding flash.
"Ow!" Tracey yelped as the man stepped on her foot, "Watch it!"
"Out of the way!" He snarled at her, moving back to get a better shot. "This is for the Daily Prophet!"
"Big bloody deal!" Tracey snarled right back.
Gilderoy had heard the commotion and looked up, his eyes landing on Tracey, then the silver-haired Daphne who was right next to her, and then landed on each of the group and stopped on Harry. His eyes widened and a blinding grin lit his face up, "It can't be Harry Potter?"
The sea of people near them parted with gasps ringing in the air before they started whispering excitedly. Harry's amused face closed up and became stone-like. He hated these goddamn pests who treated him the way a muggle would treat an animal at a zoo. Lockhart dove forward, seized Harry's arm, and pulled him to the front.
No, that wasn't quite right. The diving and the seizing was on point, but the pulling to the front?
Not so much.
Lockhart had grabbed his left arm with his right with a limp grip that might have succeeded in dragging a ten year old. He didn't hear Tracey's hissed exclamation of 'oh fuck!' before the shit hit the fan. The shit being Lockhart and the fan being the largest portrait of the man. Harry's right hand grabbed the man's forearm in a vice hold as he spun on his feet. He yanked the arm away from his chest and therefore dragged a yelping Lockhart into his back, before he bucked and threw the man over his shoulder roughly ten feet across the room. He imagined that he would have gone farther, but the blonde fop smashed into the portrait of his own rapidly-becoming-horrified face. A ripping sound rang through the air as Lockhart's body punched through the flimsy material and landed in a groaning heap on the other side. Harry swiped his hands across his person with a stony, dry look on his face, "Don't touch me, pervert." He couldn't see his friends and their parents, but most of them were staring at him with expressions of glee.
"Can't take him anywhere." He heard Daphne mumbling. Her voice was muffled, so she probably had her face in her hands.
"Why did you do that?!" A dumpy, redheaded woman yelled at him shrilly. Judging from the redheaded twins – who were bowing on their knees to him and proclaiming him their master – and the rest of the redheads looking at him with expressions ranging from hero-worshipping awe to flat out dislike, he had just met the Weasley matriarch.
Harry raised an eyebrow, "A strange man grabbing an innocent young boy doesn't seem off to you?" He heard his friends coughing pointedly behind him, and held back a smirk.
The woman sputtered noisily, "He's Gilderoy Lockhart!" She got out finally.
He eyed her coldly, "Is that supposed to mean something to me?" He didn't even pay attention to the rest of her sputtering before turning around. Selene and Cassie were hiding massive grins, while Alex and Beorn weren't even trying. Hermione was stuck between horrified disapproval and amusement, while the rest of them were just giggling and shaking their heads.
"We really can't take him anywhere." Tracey was loudly complaining to Daphne and Parvati while winking at him. They both giggled harder. He hadn't expected Parvati to rid herself of the hero worship that quickly, but it was clear that after a single meeting she could care less about lockhart. Unknown to Harry, Parvati had compared the man to him and had found him lacking. Hermione had as well, though she hid it better. They paid for their books and made to leave.
"Bet you loved that, didn't you, Potter?" Said a voice Harry had no trouble recognizing.
Harry rolled his eyes and turned around with a smile plastered on his face, "How are you, cousin? Did you do well in finals?" Jab definitely directed straight at the Malfoy heir's spleen.
Draco flushed, "Famous Harry Potter. Can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page."
"And you Draco, shall forever be passed over and forgotten. Too bad, so sad." Tracey had a fairly convincing tone of commiseration as she came over and slipped a shrunken set of Lockhart's books into Harry's pocket for him.
Draco turned an angry red as the Weasleys showed up, "Leave him alone, you jerk!" The youngest, female redhead said. Harry almost turned to her in surprise. He hadn't expected the Weasleyette to actually have a spine.
Draco scoffed, "Got yourself a girlfriend, Potter?"
The younger girl went scarlet, but Harry merely rolled his eyes, "What are you, five? Cousin your father must be so disappointed. Your jabs are terrible." Malfoy paled and then flushed as Ron and his older brothers fought their way over.
"Oh, it's you," said Ron, looking at Malfoy as if he were something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe.
"Weasley!" Draco exclaimed, "In a shop? Are you mad? Your parents will go hungry for a month to pay for anything here." Ron went as red as his sister and dropped his own stack of books into her rather worn-looking cauldron. Harry almost had to give Draco that one.
"What are you doing? It's too crowded in here, let's go outside." A balding redhead who was clearly the elder Weasley showed up to collect his brood.
"Well, well, well — Arthur Weasley." A man who could only be Draco's father stepped up behind his son. He had long, perfectly straight platinum-blonde hair and was dressed opulently. Every stitch of clothing was clearly designed to make sure everyone knew he shit gold. He held a walking stick in his right hand made of black lacquered wood. It was topped by a silver, snarling snake head with emeralds for eyes. He stood with his hand on Draco's shoulder, sneering in just the same way.
"Lucius." said Mr. Weasley, nodding coldly.
Lucius turned to Harry and his friends, as well as the adult Greengrasses and Davises, "Harry Potter…" He sneered lightly at Harry, "I've heard…so much about you and your…friends."
Harry grinned lightly, "Not as much as I've heard of you, I'm sure. Dear Draco here can't seem to go a couple minutes without mentioning you." Draco's cheeks turned very, very red, "I'm sure you're quite proud of him for the past year. Why, he almost broke single digits for our class rank."
Draco glared at Harry hatefully, while the Weasleys watched in awe. Lucius's sneer grew far more pronounced as he looked down his nose at his son, "But of course. We have had quite a few talks over his success."
"I'm sure with your guidance, he's bound to do better this year. Who knows, he might even make ninth." Harry watched with a growing grin as Malfoy's pale features started reddening, "You're welcome by the way!" he said, switching subjects quite quickly. He held out his hand for Malfoy to shake, knowing the man would have to keep up appearances.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow as he took Harry's hand. He immediately wished he hadn't, and had to fight to keep the wince of pain from his face, "Whatever would I be thanking you for?"
"Why, saving you from Voldemort, of course." Several people gasped and let out little shrieks of shock as Malfoy curdled, "I can't imagine what it must have felt like for such an… upstanding member of society to be so powerless."
Malfoy was fighting very hard to keep from whipping the boy across his smug face with his cane. The entire right side of his face was twitching minutely. The air of the bookstore was rapidly becoming charged, and Harry's eyes were glowing with an inner fire. "Why yes, of course." Malfoy hissed through clenched teeth. Both from rage as well as the fact that Harry was crushing his hand. He was in public and could do nothing to address the blatant insults Harry was barely trying to hide in what would have been somewhat innocent words had Lucius actually been innocent. He finally was able to draw his hand back and it throbbed angrily on his stick. He couldn't do anything here and his seeds still needed to be planted. He turned to an easier target. "Busy time at the Ministry, I hear." said Mr. Malfoy. "All those raids… I hope they're paying you overtime?" He reached into the female Weasley's cauldron and pulled out a rather worn and battered looking book, specifically Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration. "Obviously not," Mr. Malfoy said. "Dear me, what's the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"
Mr. Weasley flushed darker than either Ron or his sister. "We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy."
"Clearly." Mr. Malfoy said, "I wonder how often your children have to go hungry for you to play with your useless muggle junk." That was a lot heavier handed than Lucius had wanted to go with, but his feud with Arthur was already well known. It wouldn't bring too much scrutiny.
What it did bring, was Arthur's fist. His daughter's cauldron hit the floor with a metallic clang as the balding redhead dove forward and punched the elder blonde so hard that he crashed into a bookshelf. Dozens of heavy spellbooks came thundering down on all their heads. Ron, Fred, George, and the young girl all cheered their father on, while his wife was screaming for him to stop. The crowd stampeded backward, knocking more shelves over as the store's owner cried as his shop was damaged for the second time that day, "Gentlemen please! Please!"
But the loudest voice came from someone just walking into the shop, "Break it up there, gents. Come on now, break it up." Hagrid was wading toward them through the sea of books. In an instant he had pulled Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy apart. Mr. Weasley had a cut lip and the right side of Lucius's face had already started turning purple.
He was still clenching the old Transfiguration book he'd taken from the Weasleyette furiously. He thrust it at her, his eyes glittering with malice, "Here girl, take your book. It's the best your father can give you." He snarled and yanked his mussed-up robe out of Hagrid's meaty fist. He grabbed his son by the arm and started leaving.
"Mister Malfoy!" A lightly-smirking Harry called out to him, "I quite like your cane. Where did you get it?" Harry knew full well that Malfoy's wand was hidden inside. He could feel it, as well as some other enchantments on it.
Malfoy fought for control of his face, "It is a family heirloom," He said finally, "And it is not a cane, boy, it's a walking stick." And he left without another word.
"No!" Tracey said sharply when Harry turned around, "You cannot have a pimp cane Harry!"
Cassie choked, "Do you actually know what that means, young lady, and if you do where did you hear it?" Tracey smirked unrepentantly at her mother. She casually looked around at the fallen books with an angelic look on her face.
"Yeh should've ignored him, Arthur," Hagrid interrupted them as he almost lifted Mr. Weasley off his feet while straightening his robes, "Rotten ter the core, the whole family. Everyone knows that! No Malfoy's worth listenin' ter. Bad blood, that's what it is. Come on now, let's get outta here."
The assistant looked as though he wanted to stop them leaving, but he barely came up to Hagrid's waist and seemed to think better of it. Harry and his group went an entirely different direction as they left as well, though Harry could still hear the matriarch lambasting her husband, "A fine example to set for your children… brawling in public… what Gilderoy Lockhart must've thought!"
"Who cares!" Fred's fading voice was still tinged with excitement, "Did you see Harry throw him like twenty feet? He'll probably work that in as a publicity stunt! I think I heard him telling the photo bloke if they could work the fight in…"
Harry heard no more as they gathered around the portkey and vanished off across the country. Now in private, Alex and Beorn both pulled Harry away from the group for a moment, "That's a dangerous individual to play such games with, Harry." Alex said. Beorn nodded with a troubled look on his face.
"Listen kid, we all know what it's like to be your age. You all think you're invincible." Beorn patted Harry on the shoulder, "Trust us, you're not." He said dryly as he pulled his shirt's collar down and displayed a massive scar under his collarbone, "Lucius Malfoy is a dangerous enemy to make." He said sternly, "Not only for yourself, but for our girls as well." Harry's face turned chagrined now, "Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you can protect yourself far better than we suspect. I rather doubt it, but it's a possibility. But our girls can not."
Harry winced, "Sorry Beorn." He struggled for a moment, before confessing, "I'm…not used to having to worry about other people. I'm sure Daphne and Tracey have at least mentioned that."
"Ah yes." Alex had an ugly sneer marring his features, "Your family." He spat the word like a curse. He shook his head, "I get it Harry. We understand. But you have to think before you start making enemies like that."
"Sorry Alex." Harry sighed, genuinely regretting his actions now.
"Don't say sorry." Beorn shook his head, " Sorry gets no one anything. Now you must take responsibility and fix the problem. That does not mean you have to apologize." His lip twitched, "That would probably kill you." They shared a chuckle, "No, you have to make sure to keep the girls training as hard as they feel comfortable with, and you need to be watching their backs. I don't think that Malfoy will actually do anything any time soon, and especially not against Daphne, Tracey, or the twins. He knows full well that we will know if he does, and he is terrified of us. That's the only reason we aren't screaming at you right now, for the record. But all the same, keep an eye out. Malfoy will not forget this, and Hermione doesn't have a big shield the way the other girls do."
"I will." Harry said darkly, his eyes blazing. If a single hair was put out of place on Hermione's head, Malfoy Manor would burn.
"Now," Alex said, his own not-inconsiderable power coming to bore on a now wide-eyed Harry, "What in the world makes you think you can tango with grown Death Eaters? You're twelve! No matter how old you look or how strong you think you are, that's insane!"
Harry lost his look of shock. Alex had one of the most powerful aura's he'd felt, by far. He wasn't about to show them his other half, but he could show something else. He grinned lightly as he slowly unbuckled his vambrace and slipped it off his arm. The two grown men choked.
Two weeks later, and the summer break was over. Harry pouted outrageously when he noticed the girls packing their one-piece suits rather than bikinis. Still, he didn't make a fuss over it. They were up at dawn and made it to the platform with more than enough time to spare. Well, other than actually getting Daphne out of her furious zombie-like harpy state. That ate up most of the time involved, and they still made it onto the train with about two hours to spare. They were relaxing and idly reviewing spells from last year – which they would no doubt be quizzed on – when they saw the Weasley horde making their way onto the platform.
Harry snorted, "Are they really purebloods? Why in the world haven't they shrunken their trunks?"
"Neither did you." Parvati smirked at him pointedly.
He raised an eyebrow, "I can carry all of our trunks and the only reason I would even need to pay attention is so I don't drop them." He deadpanned as they smirked at him, "They don't have an excuse. I really hope it's that they're lazy and not their mother meddling the way she did with Ronald."
"Honestly?" Hermione was frowning, "I wouldn't be surprised with that woman. I can't say I know her, but she didn't exactly make the best impression at Flourish and Blotts. If she followed the letter of the law with her kids on magic, then maybe she is doing the same here. It would look strange to be sending kids off in uniform without trunks."
They looked at her dully, "Then don't show up in uniform." Tracey snorted dryly.
Hermione flushed, "You know what I meant!" She pouted as her friends chuckled.
Well, I decided to cut this chapter here. It was already getting more than long enough. I'll beginning tackling the year proper in the next chapter. This chapter felt vaguely fillerish to me, but it really wasn't. Or at least it wasn't supposed to be.
I tried to start integrating the Patils into the core cast as well as the parents into the supporting cast. Hopefully I did a decent job with that. I'm not entirely certain I had the parents exactly the way I wanted. I would like some feedback on how I handled them.
Had a great number of reviews in the last chapter. Thank you all!
You all had some pretty great ideas regarding Animagus forms for the girls. Many I had already thought of myself, so it was nice to see so many others having the same train of thought. Unfortunately, Daphne was the only one to have a knockout. Her form is now decided. I also have a tentative final form for Tracey as well. I've said this to a fair number of you in PMs, but I think I need to say it here as well; I should NOT have started asking you guys about forms yet. Hermione especially was basically impossible to get something that would match her because I pulled the trigger too early on the question. But the question was asked, so I'll keep it going. Obviously, I would like some suggestions for Padma and Parvati too. (Some of you obliged on that already, even though I hadn't yet made the decision to make them main cast. Thanks for that!) In case I wasn't clear enough in the chapter, they're both elementals the same way Daphne and the Greengrass family are. They're wind and water respectively. (You'll find this is not all that uncommon in this story. I'm not certain who yet will also be getting these powers – comparable to the Logia of One Piece – but I can say that they will NOT all be friendly.)
You'll note that I basically avoided the Philosopher Stone's effects on Harry. Well, not avoided, per say, since I went fairly deep into the negative short-term effects, but I did not go into any benefits. I also avoided writing about the tests Dumbledore put him though. Those are for later. All I can say is (LOL) no, Harry does not have 24 carat shit.
Now, I do kind of want to address the topic of power levels. In terms of sheer power, Harry is way up there. That is why he can show off and get legitimate surprise from the adults in the story. That does not mean he could easily trash the most competent adults in a fight. Far from it. Last chapter showed Voldemort in one of the weakest forms I could have him in fighting Harry way more than evenly. If the body hadn't been falling apart (among other issues) he'd have beat Harry like a drum.