~Chapter Three~

An Eventful Train Ride

Harry stared out the window of the train. He hadn't decided whether to find himself amused or annoyed. He was riding the train to Hogwarts. Again.

What's worse was he and Nym had to floo from Hogwarts to the floo in the magical side of the King's Cross station, simply in order to ride the train back to Hogwarts.

The Headmaster had insisted it was traditional, for all students to arrive that way. After the use of the train was first instituted there had not been a single exception when a student's life wasn't in jeopardy. Harry had smirked slightly in remembrance of he and Ron's arrival to the school his second year.

While they were waiting for the train to arrive, Nym insisted it had nothing to do with tradition and that Dumbledore was simply being barmy.

On the flip side it was shaping up to be the best ride of his life. Tonks was curled up against his side and under his arm, glancing through the Prophet while he idly stroked her hair. Of course this was after she had insisted on popping his Hogwarts' Express Mile Post Club cherry, making his assertion of this being the 'best ride of his life' rather literal, much to his satisfaction...and hers too if her enthusiasm was any indication.

She had pouted a little when he had enchanted their door to prevent entry and obscure the images of anyone looking in, although the possessive way he'd growled 'mine' as he pulled her close had clearly been more than even recompense.

He enjoyed his wife's sense of adventure.

They had now been married for a little over a week. Harry had never really thought about marriage and with his muggle roots, and the examples he had seen it wasn't really some sort of life goal. Voldemort's few memories were never focused on the actual act of getting married but on the political and social ramifications of a union with anyone. It wasn't something he had considered very long or very often.

Still, it was nothing like Harry with his Muggle roots had seen on the telly or read about. There was no white dress, there was no priest or anything of that nature.

It was a simple matter of signing a contract in blood between the two of them. The goblins providing a magical contract and signatory. Though Harry and Nym had both made a few edits to the standard contract. Harry was somewhat surprised to find the Goblins expected alterations, until he realized that each family no doubt wanted different terms when structuring contracts.

Nym was now officially, and magically as recognized by the goblins, Teodora Nimue Peverell.

Of course that was easier to wrap around the idea than the fact that he was married but whatever.

As he had promised Nym, Ted and Andromeda Tonks had signed as witnesses. Something Nym had been more than a little grateful for as she had proved that night on their honeymoon. And repeatedly since then, to the despair of any bed that had to bear the weight of her...eager appreciation.

Afterwards, the Goblins simply notarized it and sent it in their standard notifications to the Ministry. The goblin, Gothmog had told them the Ministry tended to be relatively slow at filing paperwork from Gringott's but that the news of their nuptials would come out sooner or later. Harry had yet to see any sort of announcement in the Prophet.

The Tonks family had also been dinner companions on two other occasions. The occasions were far more social than with any real purpose. But both young couples got on well together, and enjoyed each other's company. And Harry could tell Nym had deeply appreciated the time with her family. Both times they had dinner at the Tonks' house. Mostly to keep their interactions private. All four were pragmatic enough to note that if Harry had been seen in the company of the Tonks publically, it would make them an instant target.

He had added some of his own protections and wards to the house, but he knew that without an extended amount of time setting them up, that the wars would not stand long under a concentrated siege. He had floated the idea of the fidelius charm to them the last time they had eaten together. The Tonks had said they would discuss it and let him know.

The intervening month had been more than a little interesting. They had spent it at Hogwarts. But the place was nearly empty. In fact none of the actual teachers had been there.

Despite the thoughts and assumptions of generations of Hogwarts students, the teacher did not, in point of fact, sleep in the school all the time and even had (shockingly enough) homes outside the school they could retire to.

Dumbledore came and went at irregular intervals, though that left Harry with plenty the chance for plenty of discussions with the older wizard. The topics were wide ranging and Harry had actually found the conversations that occasionally became debates rather enjoyable.

They talked about magic mostly. Dumbledore tested him in various areas, transfiguration, charms, potions, and a lot of time spent on defending against the dark arts. Though of course Dumbledore had pried at Harry's history, subtly and at other times not so much.

This might have diluted Harry's enthusiasm for the talks before he'd gone through the Veil but now, now he found it actually invigorating to test his wit against one of the most brilliant wizards of the age. And make no mistake about it, Dumbledore was absolutely brilliant. Something Harry never really had the chance to truly appreciate.

All of Tom's memories were tinged with anger and jealousy as well as fear. Most of Harry's memories of the man were of his grandfatherly facade. He had seen impressive displays of magic from Dumbledore just twice. Once in the Ministry Atrium in his battle with Voldemort, and once in the cave surrounded by a lake of inferi. But he had never really plumbed the man's magical knowledge.

Dear Merlin, the old wizard knew a lot!

Still, with Tom's knowledge, along with Harry's more rational approach Harry was mostly able to hold his own in discussions with the older man.

Harry was no fool, he knew that while he might have guessed some of Dumbledore's motivations, the old man was still not an open book. His instincts were telling him that there was a least one more significant reason Dumbledore wanted him at Hogwarts. Probably more. Reasons Harry hadn't managed to guess yet.

The only other people Harry had seen at the castle over the past month were Ollivander who had essentially taken over a classroom as a replacement for his wand shop. The sign from his store had made a reappearance outside the classroom. The old wizard had taken to popping up at random intervals, though he only exchanged pleasantries with Harry.

The other person Harry had run into was Argus Filch. They first ran into him when they had exited the Room of Requirements with one of Tom's soul pieces safely held in a box.

Harry and Nym were both stunned to note that the squib caretaker, literally did not look different at all from their own years at Hogwarts. He was just as grumpy and unpleasant. And he seemed to have the same damn cat too

Outside of the castle, there was not much change.

Voldemort had completely dropped off any sort of grid. Harry didn't even have the faintest idea where to look for him. Unfortunately for Harry, the newly minted Dark Lord had been arrogant enough that Voldemort had no plans for fallback if he had been beaten like Harry had done. So none of Voldemort's memories really helped.

Harry had no idea where he might have retreated to. So there was no way to track him down to confront him directly.

He had also kept his eye on the news. There had been no attacks anywhere that he could determine, though Ollivander's completely empty shop suffered a fire not two days after Harry's initial discussion with Dumbledore and a day after the wand maker had packed up everything in his store and moved to the castle.

"Oi, listen to this," Nym said, taking Harry's attention from his thoughts.

"'The wizards identified as Igor Karkaroff and Augustus Rookwood were found deceased in a flat in Knockturn Alley. Their bodies were apparently discovered when the manager went to evict them after several days of unpaid rent. No word on cause of death, but one Auror anonymously called the circumstances 'suspicious.'"

She huffed and closed the paper in irritation, looking up at Harry with a look that was both smug and annoyed, "I told you we should have forged a suicide note."

Harry's mouth quirked in amusement, "Hey, I gave in and agreed to put them into bed together, and undressing them beforehand was bad enough. A note proclaiming a suicide pact between the two of them because of their hidden and forbidden love for one another would have just been over the top."

"Says you." Nym huffed still pouting.

"Says Me. But, it doesn't matter," said Harry. "We won't be able to catch very many of them like that with his people before people start cottoning on to what's happening, and there was a very good reason why we picked those two."

Nym rolled her eyes at her lover, "Yes, I know. When I was an Auror, we were still managing to find ways Rookwood had sabotaged the Ministry twenty years later. And Karkaroff's contacts brought some of Riddle's foreign mercenaries into the fold."

Harry nodded, "The only other big names we might have access to are Avery and Nott, and we already got rid of one heavy financier. Adding two more of his sugar daddies would be convenient but not easily feasible. And Greyback unfortunately knows how to hide when he wants to."

He lightly tugged on her hair with two fingers, as it turned from red to pink under his fingers.

She blushed and smiled, resting her cheek on his shoulder, briefly before pushing up off him with a grin. "I'm going to go wash up, and get some sweets from the trolley."

She leaned forward and kissed him with a grin before sauntering off, though Harry noted she changed her appearance as she did.

Harry briefly smiled, he didn't want her to get caught off guard on the train but also didn't want the two of them to need to be by each other's side at all times. Though there were times he got the impression that wouldn't bother Nym much.

All he saw was a flash of blonde hair before she was out of sight.

Harry slowly spun his wand in his fingers as he turned his attention to the passing countryside, realizing they were less than a third of the way to Hogwarts. Before he could get lost in his thoughts once more another voice intruded on his thoughts.

"I don't care if they're your friends, and you think it's just harmless pranks." a rather loud and irritated female voice drifted in. "They're picking on the younger students and you're still letting them get away with it!"

There was a pause and no rejoining comment.

"Of course, what did I expect? That this year would be different?" The female voice spoke again in a sort of disgusted resignation. "No, I don't want to hear it. Just… just go back to your friends. Our rounds are done."

There was a brief pause and then the sound of retreating footsteps, followed by a loud sigh and then silence

Harry's attention had just drifted back to the passing countryside. Suddenly, the door to the cabin slid open, and a sound almost like a growl came from the door

"Potter?" An irritated voice came into the spot, causing Harry to turn, "I thought I just left you back with the rest of your ars-"

Harry found himself face to face with Lily Pot-Evans he mentally corrected himself.

She looked different than he remembered. This woman was still a teenager, and had not yet been a combatant in a war. Pictures, a hazy mirror and memories around dementors did no justice to the woman.

Harry once more found his feelings oddly neutral or maybe not so odd… considering. Unlike Nym with her parents, he had almost no exposure to her. So there wasn't an immediate swell of longing for a maternal presence. Voldemort's own memories were tainted by irritation, and briefly fear and thus easily ignored.

She was a woman Harry felt he owed, but other than that, very similarly to when he was confronted by Dumbledore, his feelings were surprisingly neutral.

"Oh… I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else," she trailed off looking sheepish.

Harry smiled, trying to relax as he waved it off negligently, "No worries, it happens."

Lily's brow furrowed as she studied him, "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

Harry tilted his head, "I doubt we've ever met, I think I'd remember. I'm Harry, Harry Peverell."

She managed not to gasp, but a quick intake of breath was audible from her. "You're… you're him?" Lily exclaimed in disbelief.

Harry quirked a smile, "Well, I have no idea who you mean…'him' isn't the most descriptive statement I've ever heard."

"You're the guy from Diagon Alley, the one that beat Voldemort." Her voice dropping to a whisper.

"Oh, that him," Harry replied, still looking amused. "Well then yes, I am him."

"What…" She trailed off and hesitated a moment and seemed to gather herself, looking in the compartment, though it was obviously empty at the moment, "Do you mind if I join you?"

Harry hesitated only a moment before shrugging his shoulders, "Sure, knock yourself out."

Her smile was bright and instant as she stepped in, and sat down across from him, "I'm Lily Evans, nice to meet you."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Evans," Harry replied with a soft chuckle. He recognized the expression on her face. It was one that told him she was bursting with questions but trying to at least rein in her curiosity enough to be polite.

He leans back, a small smile on his face, and held up a hand, to beckon her on, "Go ahead."

Lily blushed slightly at the ease with which he read her, but before she could ask a question, there was a feminine laugh.

"I leave you alone for just five minutes," the female's voice floated into the compartment, her hand on her hip and amusement on her expression.

Harry certainly didn't recognize the woman by sight, at least at the moment. She was blonde with shoulder length blonde hair. Her voice didn't even match Nym's, a byproduct of her transformation, but Harry could sense the unique magic in the metamorph, and knew that it was her.

Harry grinned impishly, "Well, I have a knack for finding trouble don't I?"

She grinned and sauntered back into the compartment, with a surprised expression that flickered across her face briefly turning into a smug look. Her attention on Lily as she sat down next to Harry and curled up next to him, burrowing under his arm as it settled easily around her shoulder. "And who is this?"

"Nym, this is Lily Evans, Lily, this is my wife, Teodora, but call her Nym, she prefers that." Harry made the introductions, his voice had a trace of sternness in it, doing his best to let Nym know to tread carefully without making it obvious.

"Nice to meet you Lily," Nym said genuinely with a smile and a little wave, her tone pleasant.

"It's… ah… nice to meet you…" Lily seemed a little bit taken aback by the genuinely welcoming greeting from the girl,

"Is something wrong?" asked Harry, who had definitely noticed the expression on Lily's face.

She shook her head immediately, very quick to placate them, "No, No, No. It's just that… just…"

"Calm down, Red!" Nym said with a chastising grin. "No one's gonna bite yer head off here. Cor, you act like we're a buncha arrogant wankers. Besides…"

She leaned in close and winked, "Besides, nothing wrong with a little biting!"

Harry lightly tapped her on the forehead with a reproving finger, "Shush, you."

He then turned back to Lily, "Seriously though, no reason to get stressed out around us. Unless you're firing hexes at us-"

"Or trying to spy on us, for that matter," Nym interjected, then grinned saucily, "Don't really want everyone to know the color of my knickers."

Harry briefly stopped what he was about to say, before he narrowed his eyes at her, "The way you said that makes me wonder whether you're actually wearing any."

Nym prepared to retort with something even more inappropriate, when Harry placed a finger on her lips, "Enough, luv. I believe our cabin mate here is about to melt from turning so red."

Lily was in fact turning a color that was well-past bright red, as she looked back and forth between the two of them.

Harry shook his head in fond exasperation. "You'll have to forgive Nym, she… likes to push boundaries."

"I really don't bite… unless you really want me to." She offered with something approaching apology, before she grinned impishly.

"I also have to keep her on a tight leash sometimes." Harry commented, his eyes narrowing as Nym continued to push.

"Oooh, a leash? Does that mean I get to wear a collar? Fun!" Nym chirped brightly her eyes sparkling.

Harry turned his head and fixed her with a slightly exasperated look, though one that had more than a little amusement to it before he tugged lightly on a few strands of hair, "That's enough for now." His voice clear that it was a command, not a suggestion.

Nym bowed her head, but the brief smirk on her face told that she enjoyed when he temporarily put an end to the game as much as she did the game itself.

"Anyway, so what was your question, Red?" Nym said, giving Lily a rather smug anticipatory grin, which clearly said 'watch what you say or I will make you blush even further.'

Lily stared at her, then glanced at Harry, then back at Nym, then back at Harry.

This repeated for at least ten seconds before Lily finally shook herself from her thoughts and seemed to recollect her thoughts, demanded, "Why on Earth are you attending Hogwarts? Why would you even need to?"

"I hear the house elves make excellent breakfast," said Harry replied with a bland shrug.

This actually seemed to get a bit of Lily's color back, as her eye quirked and she gave him a rather disbelieving look.

"No?" asked Harry casually. "Didn't figure you'd go for that."

Lily shook her head slowly.

"We've had our own education in magic," Harry said, deciding he'd messed with his mother… former mother… enough. "Unfortunately most of those who taught it and can attest are... no longer around."

"We wanted to have the official records, and there were some incentives to come to Hogwarts, even if we aren't really taking many classes."

"What will you be taking then? And why aren't you taking all of the classes?" Lily asked, relaxing slightly.

"Tested out of most of 'em already, Red," answered Tonks. "We took most of our NEWTS already and passed, but Dumbledore offered us some specialized education if we spent a year here."

"Specialized education for what?" Lily asked, her green eyes sparkling in interest.

"Alchemy mostly, though Dumbledore also has a brilliant mind for magical theory," Harry commented with an amused smirk, "Although I will also be taking Runes. Since its one area that I'm relatively weak."

"Weak… right. Taking post-OWL level runes, when you have practically everything else above NEWT level." Nym rolled her eyes and lightly elbowed Harry.

"And while Nym has no interest in Runes, the Headmaster said he would either prevail on his deputy Headmistress to polish Nym's skills in Transfiguration, or make time to do it himself. With the goal being to certify her for her mastery." Harry commented with a wry smile. "So… we'll be students. But barely."

"Alchemy…" Lily breathed as she looked back and forth between the two. "Would you be willing to tutor me?"

"Tutor you?" Harry repeated, slightly caught off guard, and then wondering why he was so surprised, the expression was eerily familiar to ones he had seen in the past… future... on a good friend of his.

"Well yes!" Lily nodded, the eagerness on her face present for all to see. "I'm way advanced in potions, Professor Slughorn says I could have easily gotten an E in my NEWTS when I began last year, even before I did all that extra work preparing for my OWLS!"

"I've been interested in potions as much as I am in Charms, but Slughorn never made the jump to alchemy and while he knows a few people with knowledge of alchemy… none of them are inclined to teach. And Headmaster Dumbledore has always been too busy," Lily's tone which had shifted to a slightly rambling tone was now slightly pleading.

"Potions are only a part of alchemy, they involve a myriad of other disciplines, charms, magical theory and even examinations into symbols and soul magic." Harry said, slowly. "From what I understand, there's even a touch of plain ol' muggle chemistry in there, too."

"And I'm willing to learn!" Lily countered immediately, and stubbornly.

"You realize that I'm not far past beginner level right?" Harry hedged, half worried and half amused at the stubbornness. It was true he had only begun to talk over the topic with Dumbledore during this past month.

"So?" Lily demanded, "So maybe we can learn some things together. But I would be an idiot to let the opportunity past!"

Harry looked thoughtful, "I… will think about it." He allowed. He wasn't sure how much or how little he wanted to spend around his mother or former mother.

When it looked like Lily was considering another avenue for pressing in order to get a more firm commitment Harry changed the topic smoothly, "What was that argument you had out in the hallway before you came in here? You sounded more than a bit irritated."

"Argument?" asked Nym, her eyes narrowing.

"Oh, that," said Lily, deflating before their very eyes. "The other Prefect for my house in my year is... practically useless in terms of actually doing his job. His three best friends believe they're master pranksters, but they're really just arrogant toe rags. Bullies. They'd pick on a crying first year if it made them laugh."

"And this Prefect doesn't do anything to reign them in?" asked Harry, who felt something clench inside. He knew that when Remus Lupin had been a prefect that hadn't done much to stifle the Marauder's worst traits, but didn't expect their 'pranks' to be quite as bad as Lily was describing.

"No," Lily said, wrinkling her nose up. "He'd never go against those three. For all his intelligence, Remus can't use the loo without the other three giving their approval. Asking him to reign those delinquents in is like asking a cloud to hold back the wind. Useless."

Harry nodded unsure how to respond to that. He had mixed feelings regarding Lupin. On one hand he had given Harry specialized instruction, taught him the Patronus spell. Something none of the other professors had bothered to do. A glance over at Nym showed that she seemed slightly more bothered by the comment, though whether it was because she had known Lupin, or the idea of a useless prefect, Harry was uncertain.

On the other hand the man had been completely absent the first thirteen years of his life, and then after that year had pretty much become a non-entity again.

On the third hand, the man had shown up and died defending Harry because of his own stupidity at the Department of Mysteries.

Thus… Harry's mixed feelings regarding the werewolf.

To hide his bemusement, he glanced down at the ground, and realized that Lily had never brought a trunk in with her. "Where is your trunk, by the way?" he asked, changing the topic

Lily smiled, and patted her pocket, "Shrunk it as soon as I got on the train. I may have not been able to use my wand this past summer, but I'm a rather deft hand with runes. I snuck off to Diagon one point, luckily not anywhere near the time you had your battle… I went to the trunk store, and found that most of the additions I made to my trunk would've cost me over five hundred galleons."

"Really," said Nym, looking at Lily anew, and with respect in her eyes as well. "That could be a handy set of skills to fall back upon."

Lily looked ruefully at her, "If only anyone would actually hire muggleborns. At this rate, I doubt I'll be getting much of a career at all."

"Well, who knows," said Nym, looking speculatively at Lily. "Maybe someone will take down the rest of the idiots who worship the Dark Arse. With them out of the way, there are sure to be a heck of a lot more jobs out there."

"And if that doesn't work, I'll certainly hire someone who can do what you just said you did," added Harry. "There are plenty of things one can do if you have skills in runes like that."

"Really?" Lily looked at him with wide eyes, before she sighed and looked down at her hands.

"Thanks, though to be honest… I've half pondered leaving the magical world entirely after graduating. Heading to the continent maybe." Lily confessed.

"Why?" blurted out Nym, and her incredulity was mirrored to a lesser extent on Harry's face. He had never heard anything like that about Lily Potter. Then his eyes narrowed, of course he hadn't. If he had gotten it in his head that it was something she wanted to do, maybe Harry would have wanted to fulfill those dreams, and Dumbledore couldn't let England stand without the prophesied one.

Lily shrugged, unaware of the direction of Harry's thoughts. "Not much reason to stay."

"No friends, no family?" Nym asked, ignoring a flat look from Harry that was a warning to be careful of her rather intrusive questioning.

Lily sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "That's… a bit of a story." Her tone was one of frustration and irritation.

Nym opened her mouth to reply only to be cut off by a firm tug on her hair by two of Harry's fingers. He pre-empted anything she was going to say, "We won't pry. But don't mind listening if you'd like."

Lily gave a rueful mile. She seemed to consider the idea for several long seconds before acquiescing, "Well… let's see. There was my best friend… or a guy I thought was my best friend since I was nine, called me a mudblood after I had the gall to commit the crime of defending him last year." Her tone slowly turned bitter and angry despite an attempt to make it sound like the start of a list.

"The only other person I would call a close friend, a muggleborn, was killed this summer by Death Eaters in this damn war."

She scoffed, "How can it be a damned war if no one even fights them? The aurors are clearly useless, the Ministry can't seem to get anything done. The only one who does anything is Dumbledore… well… and you now."

She breathed deeply, and closed her eyes, then continued speaking, bitterness and frustration, along with an amount of hurt bubbling in her voice, "My parents try and be supportive, but I can't even tell them what's really going on without freaking them out."

"Even my own sister hates me and everything about me now because I'm a witch." Lily sighed and slumped, "So all I'm left with is school and class-"

There was the sound of a female squeal of protest outside of the compartment that halted Lily's rant, followed by the sound of several people laughing uproariously.

"Oh and a pranking stalker who won't leave me alone." Lily rolled her eyes, clearly less than impressed, "Not a whole lot of reasons to stick around."

"Lily, there you are!" a male voice filled the compartment as all three occupants turned to the source.

"Speak of the devil," Lily muttered, crossing her arms and glaring at the teen that stood in the entrance way flanked by several others. "What do you want, Potter?"

Harry was a little surprised by the blatant disgust in her tone, but was distracted as he took a brief moment as he found himself face to face with his father, or rather, future father.

He had to admit, the resemblance to himself was uncanny, or would be if Harry put on the glasses he no longer needed.

And if Harry's hair was somewhat more tameable.

As well as if Harry had ensured he put on a bit more weight.

That was the biggest difference was that the teen who had just entered had a larger frame, wider across the shoulders and at this point six inches taller than Harry himself.

Harry also realized, that like the others, he was rather neutral to his father's presence. There was no immediate emotional connection or reaction, at least not a strong one. He once again wondered if this was just the fact the man hadn't really been a real presence in his life, or if it were an impact of Voldemort's memories. He also had to acknowledge it was possible he was simply dissociating.

Harry also noted that while James Potter seemed to have tunnel visioned on Lily, the three people flanking him were appraising him and Nym.

"Look, Lily, it was just a joke." James said soothingly, "We didn't mean anything by it."

"You were picking on a couple of fourth years, Potter." Lily shot back.

"It was just a couple of Slytherins, who wouldn't get out of our compartment," the man on James' right-hand side said. He had dark hair long enough to reach his shoulders and a lopsided smirk on his face

Harry couldn't believe how mostly clean cut and put together Sirius appeared in the moment. So different the almost manic man in his memories.

"They said they were there first, Black." Lily responded angrily.

"So? That's been our compartment since first year. Had to show them not to take what's ours," a slightly more stout man on James' left spoke up angrily.

Before Lily could snap again, Harry spoke up, "Would you care to introduce us to your… classmates, Miss Evans?"

As if Harry speaking up was the catalyst for their attention to shift and lock on him, James eyes widened, and he pointed at Harry, "Wait… I know you! You're the wizard that beat You-Know-Who in Diagon Alley!"

Harry bowed his head forward slightly, "I may have had something to do with it… yes."

"You're the same bloke that they said claimed Gryffindor and Slytherin," the stouter boy spoke up. Harry managed to keep his expression placid as he recognized a much younger Peter Pettigrew.

He had slicked back, dirty blond hair that fell to his shoulders, though his hairline even now appeared to be receding a bit despite him being in his mid-teenage years. His face had blemishes here and there and Harry also noted that his ears appeared ever so slightly pointed. He had a smirk on his face. And as much as Harry might like to deny it, it matched the ones on both Sirius and James' faces. So he wasn't sure whether there was hidden malice there.

Given Harry's experience with the Dark Mark, it only took a very little reaching out with his magic to determine Peter did not have one at the moment. That was all Harry was able to tell without a far more obvious scan. He considered legilimency, but didn't know how skilled Pettigrew was in occlumency. On one hand he wasn't exactly a skilled magic user, on the other hand occlumency was one of the skills most helpful in becoming an animagus.

His emotional reaction to Pettigrew was surprisingly stronger than either of his parents or Sirius. Probably because Harry could not look at the teen without the word 'weak' coming to mind. Most vividly the man sniveling and acting rat-like in Harry's memories.

Harry's eyes fixed on the man who had grown up to betray both his parents and himself. He nodded slightly. "Yes, I'm Harry Peverell."

"And how did you claim the Peverell title?" James asked with a tone of genuine curiosity.

"Went to the goblins, and proved my claim, the normal way," Harry responded blandly.

"The Potters have tried on and off for years to do so, and no one in the family has ever managed it," James ventured, ignoring everyone else in the cabin now as his eyes narrowed slightly.

"I guess they didn't meet the necessary requirements then did they?" Harry countered ambivalently with a shrug of his shoulders. He wasn't about to get into how or why, and he was also aware that James was prying.

Before James could say another word, Sirius Black spoke up, diverting everyone's attention as he focused on Nym where she observed the entire interaction with an open interest, "Why hello there gorgeous. What's a pretty bird like you doing on this train without ever having met me?"

Lily, apparently still not quite over whatever bout of irritation she had toward the group of teens, held her hand up to her mouth, clearly not believing Sirius had said what he had to Harry's wife.

Dora stared at Sirius for a moment before a brief smirk flashed across her face, "No offense but someone who reminds me of a slobbering mutt who is more bark than bite doesn't really do it for me."

There was silence for a moment as all four boys stared at her in disbelief before James snorted in amusement, followed by Peter snickering. Remus smiled faintly but didn't say anything more.

Sirius blinked as well and then let out a laugh of his own before clutching his hand over his heart dramatically, "Disarmed and petrified on the first spell. My reputation shall surely suffer for almost ten seconds!" He paused a few moments before straightening up and smiling brightly. "There we go. All better."

"You still haven't even given your names." Harry said, watching their interactions curiously.

"Oh, that's Sirius Black," he cocked his thumb over his right shoulder, and then his left, "Peter Pettigrew, and that's Remus Lupin." He pointed to the man in the back who stood there quietly, and hadn't said anything yet.

"And I'm James Charlus Potter." He bowed grandly, overdoing it enough to make it obvious he was goofing around, "If you'd like I can show you around Hogwarts, tell you who is who. You know, who it might be best to avoid, who is likely to curse you in the back."

Harry blinked once. For just a moment he was reminded of his first time on the Hogwart's Express. A smug Draco Malfoy introducing himself. It was… eerily similar. The differences might be able to be put down to age. Draco had been eleven when he had made the offer, and James was sixteen. Harry wasn't sure how to feel about the similarity though

He also caught Lily's slightly deepening scowl out of the corner of his eye.

"I think I can tell the right sort for myself, thanks." Harry replied, though his tone was a bit more polite than it had been when he was an eleven-year old shutting down the albino ferret.

James' eyes narrowed slightly at the odd emphasis in the comment before he shrugged and leaned back. Smiling and not seeming bothered by the brush off.

Whatever anger that James might have felt at the snub or amusement at the situation, appeared to be immediately sidelined as his eyes shifted from Harry towards Lily, "So, Lils… there's a Hogs-"

"No," Lily cut him off shortly.

"Why not? We could go wherever you like. My treat. I would even be willing to go to Mada-" James wheedled.

"I want nothing to do with you, Potter." Lily interrupted bluntly, "Why can't you get that through your thick skull?"

Five people present bore witness to the rage in Lily's eyes, and all but Potter seemed to grasp the concept that the girl wanted nothing to do with him.

Harry and Nym both watched as James ears reddened slightly, much like Harry remembered Ron's used to do when embarrassed.

James seemed at a brief loss in what to say when Sirius' hand landed on his shoulder, "C'mon mate, let's get back to our compartment, we don't want to miss the trolly. And we wouldn't want to miss Rabastan's annual visit. We've been prepared for that for the last week."

James briefly looked relieved and then grinned wickedly, "Right, wouldn't want to miss that…"

Harry clearly saw that Sirius was distracting him and allowing James to save face.

James backed out of the apartment quickly his eyes on the object of his affection, "Talk again soon, Lily-Flower!" He called out as he disappeared from sight. He was immediately followed by Peter and Remus. Sirius paused a moment and met Lily's eyes, shrugging in a manner that clearly said "What can you do?" Then he shot a grin and a wink Nym before following the others.

"Merlin I can't stand that prat!" Lily growled, still staring at the entrance to the compartment as if she was debating going after him with her wand.

Harry glanced over at Nym who seemed to be just as surprised as he was.

"Your stalker, I take it?" Harry asked, a trace of amusement.

Lily nodded with a resigned look. "I'm guessing the only reason he didn't start getting territorial was because he knew you or because your wife was hanging all over you."

Harry raised an eyebrow, looking at her with an evaluative expression, but it was Nym that spoke up. "He does that often?"

"Ugh." Lily said with disgust, "Between him and Severus, my ex-best-friend, they've spent years practically running off any guy that so much as smiles at me. Well, frightening people in Severus' case, or pranking in Potter's, which then turns to fear. And when they're not doing that, they're trying to one up each other."

"Well, if you're ever bored, you're welcome to come hang out with us." Nym offered, "I can promise neither of us is likely to be scared off."

"Of course," Lily agreed with a mischievous grin, "How else will I pester your husband into letting me learn alchemy?"

Both Nym and Lily laughed as Harry rolled his eyes. Before he could come up with a suitable rejoinder they were interrupted once more by a person at the door to their compartment. Several people had walked by, glancing in but when not seeing someone they were looking for had continued on their way.

This time it was a sallow faced young man who surveyed the room. His eyes fixed on Harry and set into a sneer before breaking off in what was easily determined to be surprise. Then his face blanked, only to turn his gaze to Lily and turn into an expression of sorrow and longing.

Harry found himself amused at seeing the flitting of expressions across the man's face, especially since it only seemed to have two settings in the future, sneering and smirking.

"What do you want, Severus?" Lily's voice cut across the compartment. It was absolutely cold, and Harry was surprised not to see windows frosting up or his own breath show in the air.

Harry found himself staring at Lily Evans. Her face had suddenly shifted expression to anger, but her eyes… Her eyes were familiar to Harry. They showed no emotion, they were hard and shuttered.

He recognized it from employing it so often growing up. It was a sure sign that she had closed herself off to showing any of the emotions she was feeling. Usually Harry shoved them to the back of his mind to deal with later… Or never.

"I'm glad I found you," Severus said, taking a moment to compose himself, "I wanted to say how s-"

"What?" Lily Interrupted, "You want to apologize again?"

There was an actual sneer on Lily's face as she faced him. One that seemed to take Snape aback. He attempted to open his mouth to reply, but she cut him off, "Have you stopped hanging out or communicating with those 'friends' you seem so fond of?"

"Lily," Snape seemed pained, "It's not that easy… They're my friends. They…. It's… It's… Complicated!"

"Your friends killed Mary!" Lily snapped, her eyes flashing.

"They didn't kill her!" Snape protested.

"The Death Eaters killed her and half the McDonnell family!" Lily snarled as she stood up abruptly, her magic reacting in rage, causing the window of the compartment to shatter.

Harry, had his wand in his hand and was watching the interaction with rapt interest. Tonks jolted slightly in surprise beside him. But she didn't comment on anything.

"They're not-" Severus started only to be cut off.

Harry wasn't sure if his low opinion of Snape marginally rose for the bravery required to argue with an enraged witch of Lily's caliber who was throwing off accidental magic... Or if his opinion fell for the inherent stupidity required for doing so.

A little of both... he decided.

"The hell they're not!" Lily cut him off, "Your friends and their pureblood superiority views, their discrimination and hatred of muggleborns. It's only a matter of time until they are out there doing the exact same thing!"

"And it's only a matter of time for someone who I thought was my friend!" She finished, slumping a bit.

"Lily, I would never-" Snape started only to be cut off again.

"Like you would never call your oldest friend a 'mudblood'?" Lily cut in bitterly.

"Lily..." Snape said, his voice trailing off.

"Are you still friends with them?" Lily asked, pointing a finger at him her tone a clear demand.

Snape opened his mouth to reply, but for several seconds couldn't think of anything.

"Then we have nothing more to say to one another, Mr. Snape." Lily said coldly.

Snape flinched as if he had been struck. When he saw her resolute expression, he faltered.

He looked around, mostly to avoid that piercing gaze, his eyes falling on Harry and Nym who had yet to say anything and were just watching. His eyes widened briefly before he sneered at the two of them before he whirled around and stormed from the compartment.

Harry knew he saw recognition in those eyes and his own narrowed in consideration.

He also gave Snape's whirl a three. While he was sure black and flowing robes would help, but clearly the man practiced the move for the future.

Lily watched him go before her shoulders slumped and she ran a hand through her crimson hair before falling back into the seat with a sigh. She shot a sheepish smile at Harry and Nym.

"That was the friend you mentioned?" Harry asked wryly, breaking the tension, and taking a moment to wave his wand and repair the shattered window.

"I didn't even realize he had friends." Nym blurted out only to cover her mouth.

Harry shot her a glare at the mention of what was clearly implied future knowledge.

"Ex-friend," Lily coughed slightly, too lost in her own emotion to analyze Nym's slip, "And yes… Severus… isn't good with people."

"No kidding," Harry and Nym snorted and said in unison.

"He was the person who first explained to me what I was, what the magical world was," Lily sighed sadly, "As I said, muggleborn. I had no idea what all the weirdness was… and he made it make sense."

There was a silence lasting nearly a minute as Lily clearly flitted through distant memories, before she sighed, "But his obsession for magic, especially the darker variety he can't find in Hogwarts has him fallen in with a bad crowd."

"Dark magic is an incredibly vague definition. Even knowledge of true dark magic, doesn't necessarily make a bad person," Harry responded neutrally. Especially given all of the knowledge he currently had.

"I know," Lily responded, "But Severus, he… wants to know and to use magic of any sort, including actual dark arts involving sacrifices and rituals. He wants to create his own magic. His 'friends' are more than happy to share their family's knowledge with him. It's… they've changed him."

She shook her head and looked somewhat pensive as she considered it. "I'm surprised he didn't say anything to you before he left."

"That wouldn't have mattered, except maybe to embarrass him a bit more," Nym replied with a smirk.

Lily sighed and brushed a hand over her eyes, before looking up with real concern, "Just do me a favor and be careful what you eat or drink. Between Severus and Potter and his lackeys… any guys who spend too much time talking to me tend to become the victims of pranks or fall mysteriously ill."

Harry made a humming noise of consideration, but before he could reply the only partially closed door was jerked open once more.

"It's you!" Bellatrix Black pointed in disbelief at Harry.

Both Harry and Nymphadora stared at the sudden intruder for a moment before looking at each other and laughing, while Lily seemed absolutely baffled at Bellatrix's behavior.

"You sure seem to get that reaction an awful lot," Nym commented to Harry with a smirk.

She had recovered nicely to the sudden intrusion of her once-upon-a-time psychotic aunt, and while there was a hint of wariness in her voice that only Harry could hear, the abrupt stiffening of her body was quickly released.

"What are you doing here?' Bellatrix demanded, her hands on her hips with her focus on Harry.

"Is that just how you greet everyone, Miss Black? Or am I just special?" Harry tilted his head and a smirk of his own crossed his face, "I seem to recall you asking the same exact thing when we encountered you at dinner a few weeks ago."

Bellatrix Black took a steadying breath, though her eyes narrowed as she regained her bearing, "I just did not expect you to be on the train to Hogwarts of all places."

"If people knew you were on here, half the train would be looking for you," Bellatrix commented as she stepped into the compartment. She sat down abruptly and without invitation next to Lily, who now openly gaped at Bellatrix. A moment after she sat, Bellatrix seemed to finally realize there was a third person in the compartment.

"Evans," She said by way of greeting, in a tone that was surprisingly polite if coolly distant.

"Miss Black," Lily responded in a tone that almost perfectly matched the other girl's.

Bellatrix turned her attention completely back on Harry, "So why are you going to Hogwarts?"

"Any number of reasons, but like I told Miss Evans, I hear the house elves make amazing breakfasts." Harry replied.

Bellatrix stared at him, ignoring the comment as she considered the situation, "Where have you been for the last month?"

"Why so curious?" Nym demanded in a slightly challenging tone.

"Because… he disappeared!" Bellatrix said incredulously, "Everyone wants to talk to him! Practically every Head of House! The Head of the DMLE! Even Minister Minchum has been wanting to talk to you."

"Not sure why it's such a big deal. The Chief Warlock certainly knew where I was all month." Harry replied, a faint smile on his face. "Considering Nym and I have spent the last month at Hogwarts."

Bellatrix sat back as she considered that, she glanced over at Lily, and then back at Harry, "Hiding at Hogwarts for the past month?" Her voice taking on a challenging tone, along with a trace of understanding.

"Not really hiding, per se," Harry gave a half shrug as he spun the wand in his hand, "Had errands to run here and there. Had some things to do. People to talk to. Things to arrange. Got married." He grinned impishly and squeezed Nym's shoulder.

"You got married?!" Bellatrix gave up her pretense of detached interest and sat forward abruptly. Her gaze flicked from Harry to Nym, "Which… house did you marry her into?" The question was hesitant.

Harry quirked an eyebrow, "She took the name Peverell, if that's what you're asking." His own tone betraying his curiosity at her response.

Between Harry's guarded curiosity, and the now suspicious look with Dora was shooting her way, Bellatrix retreated a bit in her approach.

As much as someone like Bellatrix was capable of making a tactical retreat was, that is. Which was actually someone akin to a rampaging elephant rearing backwards approximately one step. She wasn't sure how to proceed.

Her quandary was alleviated by Lily asking, "Why does that matter? Isn't she married to him now?"

Bellatrix looked away from Nym's eyes to meet Lily's. Her tone making it clear that she felt she was stating the obvious, "It matters which name she took, because he is the head of the different houses."

"Right…" Lily agreed in a matching tone, "And he's married to her." She gestured between Harry and Nym.

Bellatrix' jaw clenched and it looked like she was going to make a comment. However her eyes caught Harry's suddenly cool gaze and it looked like she re-evaluated whatever she was going to say.

"It doesn't work like that." She managed to keep most of the disdain from her voice as she focused on Lily who just looked puzzled.

Bellatrix let out a small huff of air at Harry's reaction, "Houses are led by one Head, almost always male, save for… three matrilineal lines…" her voice lifting in a questioning manner on the number three, uncertain as she considered it.

Bellatrix seemed to pause as she actually searched her memory, "Two of which are believed to be extinct."

"Anyway, the Head of House is in charge of the family." She continued.

"But if he's the only member of the family… what difference does that make?" Lily asked, her interest clear.

"Because the Head of House is in control of any magics that have become part of a House itself. Whether it's newer houses only two or three generations old, or older houses that are considered Ancient and Noble. Any magics that are created or intertwined with the family come under the control of the family Head."

"You mean magic people in the family create is controlled by the head of house?" Lily asked, her tone intrigued. Clearly this wasn't something that had ever been explained to her before, nor was it something she had sat down and considered.

"Yes, to an extent and most of that goes into what's considered family magic." Bellatrix responded, but her tone was dismissive, "However it's not just… created magic. But magic that develops within a family's bloodline or that intertwines itself in a family's skillset. A predilection for certain abilities or certain inborn skills that are passed down."

Lily didn't look like she quite understood causing Bellatrix to sigh in frustration and then suddenly point at Nym, who along with Harry had been watching quietly. "Look, you see her, you've seen what she can do?"

"She's a metamorph…" Lily replied, promptly, "They're incredibly rare. Supposedly only three or four in the world every generation."

"Right," Bellatrix agreed, "But did you know that in the Black Family, out of the last four generations, my generation is the only one born without someone with at least some measure of that ability?"

Her attention shifted to Nym as she regarded her, "Albeit the ability seems stronger than what I've seen in my family save… for maybe my... niece. Still Magic travels along family lines and I would not be surprised to find Black blood runs through her veins."

Nym smirked, but seemed to restrain herself after Harry squeezed her lightly about the shoulder.

"And it can apply to a whole range of skills. Some families have developed talents for runes, or for transfiguration, or have a magic touch with plants and excel in herbology. Traits can manifest within a bloodline and then run down the bloodline." Bellatrix explained.

"It also explains part of why some families get so obsessed about finding the right 'match' for their family members," Harry interjected, drawing both of their attention to him.

"I thought that was mostly about galleons and making sure a family remains… 'pure'." Lily said, managing to keep down most of her distaste, shooting a sideways glance Bellatrix, whose eyes narrowed somewhat but who didn't have a chance to reply.

"In part it is." Harry commented, easily using Voldemort's knowledge as he explained, "But there's also the hope of breeding certain magical traits into a family line. A line known for producing potion makers, marrying one with a predilection for skills in herbology, hoping to breed it into the family line."

Lily scrunched her face up as she considered that before she spoke, "You… make it sound almost like… dog breeding."

Bellatrix inhaled sharply, her eyes narrowing and a sneer forming on her face, but before she could unleash a tirade at such an insulting observation and comment, Harry cut her off at the knees.

"While it's a good deal more complicated because of the politics and give and take. Not to mention the patrilineal nature of most families, and what it takes for a talent, quirk or skill to be become something that actually becomes incorporated into family magic, I won't deny that there are some similarities to dog or horse breeding. However it flows along magical lines, rather than purely along bloodlines and genetics."

Bellatrix shifted from sneering at Lily to glaring at Harry. Her jaw clenched but she seemed uncertain what she would manage to say, he wasn't attempting to be insulting, simply speaking calmly.

"Okay, I get all that, I'm still not sure I see why it matters…" Lily hedged, focused on Bellatrix' and Harry's explanation, her eyes occasionally flicking up as people wandered up and down the train past the compartment.

"Right, because very rarely does someone hold the headship of multiple families. Usually when those families are on the verge of extinction." Bellatrix continued, despite her clear irritation as her gaze focused on Harry rather than the person she was talking to, "In fact, it's not happened in our lifetime. Or since my parents were young. It did happen twice around the turn of the century with someone holding the Spavin and Dupont family headships and someone holding the Knatchbull and the Stump family headships, both at the same time."

"Okay…" Lily responded, clearly not making the connections.

"Just because both headships belonged to the same person, did not mean that the families and more importantly, their magic, became one. They were still two separate family lines, two separate magical lines." Bellatrix explained. She saw that Lily still had a puzzled expression on her face, so she added, "Meaning that both families were eligible and practically required to be married into separately to pass the magic on."

"Oh." Lily said by way of not having anything else she could think of saying. She was intelligent enough to draw her own conclusions from that.

"Yes, 'oh'." Bellatrix said, "I know that the man who was head of the Spavin and Dupont families married twice and fathered children to keep both family lines from dying off. The man who was head of the Knatchbull and Stump families died in an idiotic potions accident in 1901. And managed the heretofore unmatched achievement of rendering not one but two families extinct at the same time. But this isn't about two middling noble families no one knows or gives two knuts about. This is about two names everyone knows, practically royalty, and a third only slightly less well known that carries its own weight in certain circles."

"You are pretty well informed, on something that happened quite some time ago," Harry observed.

Bellatrix snorted, "While you had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth it was a major topic of conversation in my family in the last month. I probably heard facts about those things a hundred times."

"Oh, I bet it wasn't the only major topic of conversation," Harry replied lightly, though there was an undercurrent of something else his wand still spinning in his hand. "I'm sure there were any number of your family who were eager to track me down for other reasons."

Nym picked up on it and scowled, "I'm sure there were plenty there who just hoped to find us for their master."

Bellatrix didn't flinch but she couldn't refute those comments.

Harry was going to add another comment but the hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he felt the magic rising in the air. He was moving instinctively before he stopped to think.

The hand that had been threading through Nym's hair suddenly grabbed and threw her roughly behind him as he rolled toward her, essentially switching their positions while waving his wand. The entire compartment rocked as several spells slammed through the door and glass of the compartment and into the marble wall Harry had conjured a split second before.

Harry ignored the cries of surprise and cursing from behind him.

He banished the bottom portion of his conjured wall forward slamming the way the spells had come from toward the sides of the compartment door.

The rest of the wall remained floating in the air with only a small application of Harry's magic, almost unconsciously doing so to keep them protected.

He heard several people cry out and at least two more spells slam into the crumbling top of his conjured wall. His wand spat spells quickly following the banished stone as he crouched. One more spell slammed into the wall while Harry barraged the outside of the compartment with powerful stunning spells.

Then there was silence. Harry felt a hand on his lower back, but didn't glance backwards.

"Harry?" Nym asked, she was crouched behind him.

"Stay back," Harry said sharply his voice brooking no argument. When there were no further spells, he vanished the stone wall with a wave of his wand.

He could see several unconscious people on the ground in the hallway and in the compartments on the other side of the train car. Harry looked to the left and right, and saw people further down, cautiously peeking their heads out, but no sign of any other aggressive movements.

He surveyed the unconscious bodies with a discerning eye.

"Harry, are they…" Nym asked quietly from behind him.

"No, just unconscious." He answered the unfinished question. "I didn't have a clear line of sight, and didn't feel that dismembering any innocent bystanders was a good idea."

He looked back at the three women he had been sitting with. Quickly checking over the three, Nym seemed to be relatively fine, a bit of dust on her robes. Showing all the calm of an experienced auror and a war veteran. Bellatrix's hair was frazzled and on edge, her wand gave off occasional sparks, but it wasn't pointed in a specific direction as she rapidly looked around for more attackers. Lily looked much more frazzled and shaking. She was still cautiously keeping back as if ready to dive for cover again and her head darted every direction at each little movement.

"All right there?" He asked the three, looking at each in turn until he got nods from each one of them. A firm one from Nym, a slower one from Bellatrix and a shaky one from Lily.

"I want to know who attacked us," Bellatrix practically growled.

Harry regarded them for a moment more before turning back to the bodies lying on the floor of the train car. With a scowl and a wave of his wand he levitated the six unconscious bodies. He examined them closely. Five of the six were wearing Hogwarts robes, while the seventh was obviously decades past Hogwarts age. Two of the five Hogwarts students looked like they couldn't be older than second years.

"Let's see what we have here…" Harry muttered examining the group.

"Rodolphus!" hissed the angry voice of Bellatrix from behind him.

"Well that answers one of them," Harry murmured, as he examined them. "Let's see these others now… these two seem a bit young to be even junior minions."

With a wave of his wand he enervated the two youngest students, a boy and a girl both Ravenclaws. They groggily woke up, looking confused. Harry caught the boy's eye and dipped into his mind quickly with a light legilimency probe.

The boy was a second year, a muggleborn Ravenclaw who had been with his friend and classmate, along with the classmate's older brother, a Gryffindor, who was a fourth year. They had just had the misfortune of being catty-corner to Harry's compartment when the spells had started flying.

He floated the two younger students, along with the older sibling who had been just a bystander over to the side. He innervated all of them more strongly with a wave of his wand.

"Wh… what happened?" the older Gryffindor asked somewhat shakily, as he and the two younger students looked around at the partially destroyed train car.

"You got caught by some of my spells. Sorry about that," Harry answered, his attention on the three still hanging unconscious in the air.

The Gryffindor fourth year looked like he was prepared to demand more, but he was cut off by Lily who had stepped up from the compartment, looking a little shaky. "Not now, Matthew go find the Hufflepuff prefects, have them check your sister and her friend out, just to be safe."

The younger Gryffindor shut up and took one look at Lily's grim face and moved to usher them off. Through the growing crowd on either end of the compartment hallway.

Harry was only half paying attention to that conversation as his eyes moved over the three remaining unconscious. Two Slytherins and an older man.

"So, we have little Roddy Lestrange," Harry moved to the other student floating in the line and turned the student's head with his wand, "Mm. Rosier… Evan Rosier, I believe." He said after a moment's consideration.

There was a sudden rush from the side that had Harry, Nym and Bellatrix immediately all three whirled with wands pointed in the direction.

James Potter was leading the charge and skidded to a stop as he found himself at wand point, Sirius and Remus behind him, with Pettigrew pulling up the rear.

"Whoa… Lily, are you okay?" James asked reflexively before his eyes fell on the floating people. "W… what happened?"

Harry ignored the question as he turned back to the three unconscious men once more. He trusted Nym to protect them should one of the Marauders or someone from that side chose to attack. Though he noted Snape hovering behind a few other students at the other end of the hallway, attempting to remain inconspicuous rather than rushing forward.

Harry ignored the gathering audience as he moved onto the clearly older man, the only one not in student robes. His brow furrowed. The last time Harry had seen him, this man had been decades older, so it took Harry a moment, to place him from Voldemort's memories before he murmured, "Yaxley."

"Yaxley?" Lily's voice came hesitantly, completely ignoring James and company. "As in our new Defense against the Art's teacher?"

"That's the one." Bellatrix confirmed, "When Dumbledore had trouble with his choices the position… Yaxley had connections that pulled strings to fill the position."

"His choices kept suffering 'unfortunate accidents'," Sirius spoke up from behind James.

"Connections, huh?" Harry waved his wand and vanished the left sleeves of all three. Standing out, ugly and black on all three arms was the dark mark. "I can see just what sort of connections those were."

Lily's response was a quick indrawn breath so was most of the gathering crowd. Bellatrix didn't say anything, though she didn't look surprised.

"The Dark Mark…" James murmured shakily running his hand through his hair.

"What are you going to do with them?" Nym asked, from her position behind Harry. Her tone was rather frigid. A glance back at her told Harry that her face hadn't shifted from the form she had taken, but her hair was now an angry red and her eyes traced the two ends of the hallway for any of the crowd to so much as breath wrong.

"Well, let's see just what happened here before we decide," Harry said. He pointed his wand at Rosier and enervated him. The teen blinked slowly, his eyes coming into focus just in time for Harry to raise his wand and dive in with Legilimency probe.

Unlike the gentle sampling of the boy's memories he had done a few moments earlier, Harry made no attempt to be gentle. He took all of five seconds to utterly shred the teen's defenses. He did so without care. He found the most recent memories with ease. Then he took time to plunge deeper searching for any information on Voldemort's whereabouts. He found nothing that he didn't already know. The teen was ignorant, and apparently Tom had been uber-paranoid for the past month.

Harry pulled out with a scowl. He was upset for multiple reasons.

"Urgh…" Rosier cringed, his entire face scrunched up as he tried to deal with the pain of the assault.

Harry shook his head and enervated the other two men. He hadn't decided what to do with them yet, but did want them awake from the proceedings. Then he waved his wand and without so much as a murmur from him, a silver white patronus shot from his wand. Though there were murmurs from plenty of students watching at the manifestation of his patronus.

Like many things about him, Harry's patronus had changed. This was a change he didn't mind, as an exact replica of his first friend and first real birthday gift, flew around and landed on his shoulder.

"There has been an assault on the Hogwarts Express. Your presence is requested at your earliest convenience. It might be expedient to bring Aurors as well, considering the age of one of the attackers is beyond Hogwarts years," Harry said to the guardian spirit.

The fully corporeal patronus owl bobbed its head and then Hedwig flew off his shoulder and out of the train.

"Now, help should arrive shortly," Harry said over his shoulder, more for the benefit of the people around them than Nym who clearly already knew where he had sent the patronus. He turned back to the three men hanging in the air, "Now the question is what to do with you three."

Rosier was shaking his head, trying to put together his thoughts. A process Harry knew would take several minutes even for an expert. Rodolphus was staring at him with barely contained rage on his face.

"Release us now," sneered Yaxley, getting out a moment before the others spoke.

"Let me think," Harry tapped his wand against the bottom of his chin, pretending to consider the request. "I'm going to go with...no."

He smirked and then narrowed his eyes, "Accio portkeys."

The three men all had items jump off them.

Rodolphus Lestrange however, despite being held immobile spread eagled, his hips seemed to repeatedly jerk forward, like he was humping the air. Harry raised a brow before snorting and with a quick vanishing charm vanished the youth's belt, and the portkey that was tied in, succeeding in causing the jerking hips to stop.

"There, you can stop embarrassing yourself now." Harry said smugly at the enraged Rodolphus.

"You killed my grandfather." the teen half shouted at Harry, spittle flying in the air.

Harry tilted his head to regard him, "Technically, Voldemort cast the spell that killed him. I just used him as a shield. But I guess that's semantics."

"He's dead!" Rodolphus screamed. "That's not semantics."

"Huh. I'm surprised he actually knew what that word meant," muttered Nym.

"News flash for you," Harry growled, stepping forward to stare eye to eye with the teen, "The Dark Lord arsehole you are so proud to follow, has declared war. And in war people die."

"It's your fault and I'll see you pay for it!" Rodolphus screamed, "We will-"

Harry silenced the boy with a wave of his wand, in no mood to hear a rant.

"I demand you release us this moment or I will have you in Azkaban before sundown." Yaxley snarled, instead of the volume Rodulphus had gone for, he went for scorn and venom in his voice.

Harry stared at the man who he knew in the future had succeeded at infiltrating the DMLE and passing on information about its inner workings to Tom Riddle and later, the now-deceased Lucius Malfoy, and then again during Voldemort's second rise. He stared for several long moments before he laughed in honest amusement. "The only release you'll get is if I toss you off this moving train. Or perhaps in front of it."

There was another longer groan from Rosier, followed by a bit of a whimper.

"What have you done to him?" demanded Yaxley, turning his head enough to look at the younger man.

"Legilimency probe to find out who all was involved," Harry answered blithely. "As you attacked a compartment with a Lord, my wife, and another pureblood witch, the dementors of Azkaban are calling your name."

"You can't do that!" Yaxley sneered, "He is a pureblood with a father on the Wizengamot. Maybe they'll give you the cell next to mine, I'll wager I'll get out first. By nightfall most likely… and you never will."

"I kind of doubt that." Harry responded dryly.

"You don't get it," Yaxley said, his tone more calm and smug now, he knew he had been outed as a Death Eater. But he had also found the person his Master had been looking for a month. Sure his attempt to bring news that he had killed the man didn't turn out the way he wanted. But all wasn't lost.

"We know where you are now," Yaxley gloated, his voice carrying through the crowd, "Even if you cower behind Dumbledore's robes at Hogwarts we will still wait for you to come out and then we will get you. There is no place that will be safe for you.

"We will take the Houses you have dared to lay claim to and give them to those who truly deserve them. Your life and that of your whore and any family and friends you have are over." His eyes were alight with zealotry, "When you are broken and left completely destroyed, then my Master will give you a slow and agonizing death. You will share the same fate of all the filth that inhabit our world. This he has promised."

"Why you-" Nym's voice growled out.

"Nym!" Harry said sharply holding his hand out, silencing her with just that word.

Yaxley smirked at her, a look of sadistic glee on his face.

"Oh, my dear Yaxley, how wrong you are," Harry's tone was amused though he was no less angry than Nym, but simply far more controlled. "You don't even know where your master is, so it seems to me like he's the one who is hiding like a coward. Not that I blame him. Given how our last encounter ended with him missing an arm, oh… And this wand."

Harry idly held up Voldemort's distinctive wand with the white claw on the end. He was amused at the way both Rodolphus and Yaxley's eyes followed the wand almost hungrily. They weren't the only ones, there were several others who were watching the spectacle who gaped at the Dark Lord's infamous wand.

When Harry spoke again it was almost conversational, with that same undercurrent of danger, "Things have changed now Mr. Yaxley, especially thanks to that pretty little mark on your arm."

"It is my Master's mark," Yaxley responded, lifting his chin defiantly, unafraid of stating it, "It's his symbol, and a symbol of my loyalty and devotion to him."

Harry regarded him and very slowly a smirk spread across his face. "Mm. You're only partially right." Harry's voice had changed, it was soft, and practically a purr of malice. Everyone watching could hear the danger now and an edge of viciousness underneath it.

Yaxley blinked in confusion and concern at this sudden change in Harry's demeanor.

Harry twisted his wand and all three bodies shifted, orienting the arms with their dark mark held out.

"What are y-" Yaxley started to demand as he struggled to move from his held position in the air.

"Shh…" Harry cut him off silencing them with that same smile. His own tone shifting to an almost calm lecturing. "You are right, the symbol is the Dark Lord's. The snake coming out of the mouth of the skull, winding in the shape of infinite is all his."

Widening smirks that were crossing Yaxley and Rodolphus' face were cut off by Harry's continued tone, "Unfortunately, like so many things about what he tells people, that's not the entire story."

"The symbol? That's all Voldemort's. However… the mark?" Harry said, "That's Slytherin family magic. As a matter of fact we were just having a discussion of family magic."

That just brought confusion to their faces, though he felt Nym jolt behind him, where she maintained her guard. He also heard Bellatrix' intake of breath, no doubt remembering their previous conversation so fresh in her mind.

Harry's focus was on the three men though and he smiled in amusement as a low chuckle escaped him. His tone turning lecturing, and almost conversational.

"You see, your Dark Lord just decided on the design, he did not actually come up with the magic that created the mark. That… came from the Slytherin line."

Harry kept his tone amused, and knew he was cheating a bit. Tom had spent years researching spells and any obscure magic he could find. If he didn't have the largest knowledge base in the world, it was second only to Dumbledore's.

It was something that also included family spells he outright stole. In most cases that was not likely to be any help. But… on something like this. Voldemort's own arrogance would hurt him. "This magic, was once created and used by one of Salazar Slytherin's sons. It was used to mark slaves and chattel as belonging to the house. Giving the head a powerful mechanism of control."

"Now, someone who had claimed to be the Heir of Slytherin marked you with it. That master you felt so proud to follow marked you as his property." Harry's smirk had widened into a full grin. "But… now House Slytherin has a head. And as all good purebloods should know. The Head controls family magic."

Yaxley and Rodolphus eyes were wide, and Rosier who had at least started to follow things, seemed to try and make sense of Harry's comment.

Harry waved his wand and each man jerked as their arms thrust forward just a bit farther. It wasn't strictly necessary, but Harry wanted to emphasize that they were in his power. Only the closest to him noted that the Slytherin ring had appeared on his hand. Harry hissed in parseltongue and waved his wand horizontally over the outstretched arms.

The Dark Marks began to writhe and actually hiss out loud. As sickly green magic began to swirl between Harry and the men. The men began to writhe and squirm, their faces made it obvious they were crying out.

Harry could feel the mark fighting him. He had only been partially telling the truth. Tom had twisted the mark for his own ends, so it was an application of will to take control of the marks like he was doing. To cut off Tom's direct access and control of them and supplant it with Slytherin's and his own.

Distantly he saw a red flash out of the corner of his eye, but didn't have time to focus on it, trusting Nym to handle it if there was some sort of attack. Or get his attention if she couldn't There was an audible snap, followed by two more in quick succession as all three figures slumped into their invisible levitated bonds.

Harry slumped slightly, breathing heavily and looked down at his handiwork. He wasn't the only one, all three of his captives were staring at their arms in horror.

Where the Dark Mark had been there was now a green shield with a silver snake coiled it in. The symbol of the House of Slytherin.

"What… what have you done?" Rosier demanded, his voice now shrill and filled with horror, he actually appeared to be on the edge of tears.

"You wanted to serve the noble House of Slytherin so much. Now you can." Harry said, straightening slightly looking at all three. "This way I can be fairly certain that none of the three of you can hurt myself or any I deem friends or family."

There was a slight hissing as the snakes on all three shields moved in acknowledgement. Harry's smirk grew wider. "Oh. And none of you may use any magic whatsoever without my express permission." The snake once more hissing in acknowledgement.

At the blank looks of the three men who were still staring at their arms in horror, Harry offered helpfully, "That means you can't use magic at all unless your owner, me in case you were slow, says its okay!"

Harry theatrically seemed to ponder something and then looked shock as if he had just had a startling revelation, "Why… I guess that pretty much makes you effectively squibs!"

"You… you…"

Harry reached up and patted Yaxley's cheek lightly as the other man glared hatefully, "You wanted to serve the Noble House of Slytherin. Now, you can cast as much magic as a muggle. Isn't that just… fascinating?"

"Very fascinating indeed Mister Peverell," Albus Dumbledore's voice spoke up causing Harry to turn sharply. He hadn't known the man was there. Rare for his sensing abilities. Then he realized that must have been the flash he had seen. Dumbledore arriving, and it appeared with three Aurors in tow.

He met the older man's serious gaze, "Headmaster Dumbledore, so good of you to join us."


Dumbledore was stroking his beard slowly. He had dismissed every one of the students who were not in the compartment that was attacked. So the train car was slightly less crowded than before. The headmaster had also stopped the train, so the Hogwarts Express was just sitting on the tracks.

The three aurors, Moody and two Harry didn't recognize had imprisoned the three men, and after some brief explanation and discussion of what had happened, they had portkeyed the men to the Ministry for further interrogation. The longer detailed report took another half an hour to complete.

Moody and Dumbledore had exchanged several significant glances but neither one had said anything much. The two nameless aurors had questioned Harry closely about the new marks. However, the instant Harry had mentioned 'family magic' both aurors had instantly shut down their line of questioning.

Before he had portkeyed away, Moody almost casually mentioned that the whole business was likely to cause an inquiry before the Wizengamot. Harry had just smirked in response. Moody had given him a long measuring look before shaking his head and making to leave.

Harry didn't protest the aurors taking the prisoners with them as legilimency probes on the three of them had told him that none of the three would provide more information than he currently had. They certainly didn't know where Voldemort was hidden.

"I have to admit I did not expect this," Dumbledore confessed breaking the silence after the distinctive whoosh of a portkey had faded. He turned to regard Harry with a thoughtful expression.

"Really?" Harry asked, his eyebrow raised in challenge, "Because this is almost exactly what I warned you would happen."

Dumbledore ducked his head slightly in acknowledgement, "You did, and you were correct. I just… did not expect actions to be so brazen or to occur before even arriving at Hogwarts."

"Some of the Death Eaters aren't exactly known for their brains, or for their well thought-out plans," Nym opined from her seat back in the compartment.

"For good or ill, impulsive actions are all too often the folly of youth," Dumbledore replied calmly.

Harry couldn't stop himself from chuckling at the very truth of that statement. "Yaxley isn't exactly a youth, though."

Dumbledore's gaze fell on Harry, "You realize though, the ramifications of what just happened?"

"Which ramifications are those?" Harry asked, unable to keep the wry amusement out of his voice, "That the Dark Lord will know where I am? That was going to come out anyway the first time someone got a glance of us in the hall."

"The fact that those three idiots are likely to be freed from the Ministry before sundown?" Harry shrugged, "Not all that worried about that. They're effectively squibs at the moment."

"The fact that he's going to be pissed off after he found what I just did to his precious mark?" Harry rolled his eyes, "Not really sure how much more pissy he can get at me. I did after all take his wand."

Dumbledore chuckled, "Not entirely what I meant, but using their marks to claim them as property and restrict their access to magic… That's going to make families very nervous, and very unhappy."

"Well, if someone doesn't go and get themselves get marked as property by a genocidal madman, then there's nothing to worry about." Harry replied blandly, "Besides Tom was overconfident but he's not dumb. He'll figure out a way to tie the magic in the marks more closely to his own specific magic. Me being able to twist more marks after he does will be much more time consuming and far more challenging. He just didn't plan for someone capable of speaking parseltongue, it is after all a very rare trait. He certainly did not expect someone with more authority in the House of Slytherin to exist, much less challenge his ownership of the marks."

"Will he be able to undo what you did?" Dumbledore asked as a thought occurred to him.

"I don't immediately see how…" Harry's brow furrowed as he considered the question, "That being said, we both know he is one of the most intelligent magical beings alive. So I would not entirely discount the possibility. There's also the question of just how much self-interest is tied up in circumventing my control. But I have to expect he'll at least make the attempt."

"I would also point out that those three attacked a compartment with several purebloods in it," Bellatrix spoke up, having been surprisingly quiet up till now, her tone had an undercurrent of anger to it. "While Mr. Peverell may have publicly set himself against the Dark Lord, an attack on myself probably isn't going to be looked on favorably by at least a handful of members of my house."

Harry's eyes happened to be looking at Dumbledore when she spoke and he clearly saw the doubt at that statement there though it was brief and quickly covered up.

Privately, Harry doubted it would make that big of a difference either. Between Voldemort's knowledge in his head and his conversations with Andromeda, Harry knew just how zealous a majority of the family was. It was a much larger family now than it would be in twenty short years.

"However, those ramifications weren't exactly what I was referring to." Dumbledore coughed slightly, though his eyes clearly betrayed amusement.

"Oh?" Harry asked warily.

"Why yes," Dumbledore responded amicably, as he brightened considerably, "I am now short yet another defense professor. We do struggle to get one to stay longer than a year. But I must say, this is a record. Losing one before he had managed to teach his first class."

"Why did you hire someone like Yaxley of all people?" Harry asked, finally putting voice to the question that nagged at the back of his mind.

"He was not my first choice. But I hired two others who then... became unavailable." Dumbledore explained, "The minister recommended him to me. He had been relatively quiet in politics and had not openly aligned with the staunch pureblood factions. He did have his defense Mastery, I wasn't given much of a choice. I hired him two days before your encounter with Voldemort in Diagon Alley.

Harry's eyes narrowed as a suspicion began to coil in his guy, "So what are you going to do now?"

"Well, I thought I would offer it to the most capable person available." Dumbledore commented in a far too off-hand manner.

Harry didn't say anything but that suspicion in his gut began to practically burn inside of him. He could feel what was coming.

"Mr. Peverell, how would you feel about taking on the position of Defense against the Dark Arts professor for this upcoming year?" Dumbledore asked with a smirk that took away from the formality of his words.

Harry heard several intakes of breath from behind him. He ignored them, as even his own face betrayed his shock, "Senileheadmastersayswhat?

Dumbledore just quirked a brow and didn't rise to the statement.

Harry stared at the Headmaster for several long moments. His voice particularly calm. "I don't have my mastery. I distinctly remember you mentioning that was a requirement to be a professor except in extreme circumstances."

"Oh? Right! I knew I was forgetting something!" Dumbledore looked far too surprised, for it to be genuine, before he began patting down his robes, and speaking absently, "While I would say that this should be construed an extreme circumstance… you are correct that having a mastery is always preferred… Hm. Ah, now where is it… I know it's here somewhere."

Every person in the cabin was giving the Headmaster an absolutely incredulous look, which he blithely ignored, eventually making a very over the top 'Ah-Ha!' post before reaching into a specific pocket.

"Oh yes. Here it is." He handed Harry a letter.

Harry looked down at it, it was addressed to him. In ornate script with the mark of the Ministry on it. He glanced up at the older wizard who seemed to be looking elsewhere as he unwrapped a piece of candy and popped it into his mouth. He slid his finger along the envelope, breaking the wax seal and removing the letter.

When Harry failed to acknowledge what was on the parchment beyond a gaping mouth and widened eyes, Albus reached forward and tugged it from his fingertips.

"This cannot be real…" Harry blinked several times in sheer disbelief.

"Well, since your mental faculties seem to have temporarily failed you, my dear boy, perhaps I will just have to read it aloud for you. Dumbledore began to read the contents, his tone a combination of smugness and amusement. "Dear Lord Harry Peverell,"

Albus paused to look up theatrically, "Why, I do believe that's you."

Harry didn't deign to respond, and merely continued to gape at Dumbledore along with the three girls in the cabin.

"Through demonstrated proficiency and skill of the highest level, the board is proud to award you a Mastery in the subject of Defense against the Dark Arts." Dumbledore continued smugly, "A formal ceremony for all recipients of Masteries in their respective fields is held three days before Yule at the Ministry of Magic, during our annual celebration. Further information shall be provided closer to the event.

"Congratulations, and the Wizard Examination Board is looking forward to your witnessing your continued academic excellence, Griselda Marchbanks. Directory and Chairwoman of the Wizarding Examination Authority."

The surprise and murmurs of congratulations that came from the girls in the compartment, and the various individuals still nearby finally roused Harry from his brain-lock. He looked up, "You made them award me a mastery so I could teach?" His tone was faintly incredulous.

"I didn't make them do anything. I just sponsored your application." Dumbledore answered sounding scandalized.

"I didn't even submit an application! And… I'm well aware there's a practical and a theoretical requirement to get a Mastery!" Harry said, his tone still one of disbelief.

He had to admit he was caught completely off guard by this. So he was struggling to catch up. The mastery requirement had been nixed several years after the defeat of Voldemort, when keeping a professor proved impossible and the need to fill the position outgrew the rather miniscule amount of people who had completed masteries.

"Well, I took the liberty of submitting an application on your behalf. And you are correct about the requirements," Dumbledore agreed, that same smile on his face. "Funny enough, defeating a much feared dark wizard in front of a crowd of witnesses is more than sufficient to certify the practical portion of the application.

"And the theoretical?" Harry asked almost not wanting to hear the answer, ignoring some of the snickering occurring from Nym at his expense.

"Well, admittedly, you didn't take any written test for that." Dumbledore replied as he nodded agreement, "However you certainly displayed a depth and breadth of knowledge clearly to someone certified to assess such things."

Harry jolted slightly. The conversations in the evenings with Dumbledore covering a wide range of topics. He had enjoyed them and assumed Dumbledore had been probing for information about his history, which he likely had. But he hadn't seen any other purpose. They had talked about defense and guarding against various dark arts skilled on a number of occasions.

Harry looked down at the letter in his hand and then up at the aged wizard in front of him. "You set this all up." There was still a trace of disbelief.

Dumbledore just grinned, looking totally unbothered by the situation and the accusation. "I set nothing up. I was, however, prepared for the eventuality. While I hired him, I did not trust Mr. Yaxley. And thought your presence might provoke him. I did however expect it to take longer. You have not answered my question, would you be interested in accepting the position to teach Defense against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts for this upcoming year?"

Harry looked up at Dumbledore and then down at the letter before a bemused smile crossed his face, "You realize this doesn't change anything we talked about?"

Dumbledore nodded agreeably.

"Alright," Harry nodded slowly, "I'll accept the position, provided the rest of our deal regarding Alchemy instruction remains intact-" there was a deliberate and very Tonks-like cough from behind him and Harry continued without missing a beat, "And I am allowed an assistant professor."

"The terms of our agreement remain intact, and Lady Peverell is more than welcome to take a post as an assistant Professor." Dumbledore replied agreeably, without the slightest bit of hesitation.

"Very well, you have yourself a Defense Professor… you manipulative old bastard." Harry said after a moment's consideration.

"Excellent!" Dumbledore clapped with a wide grin not at all looking bothered by the accusation.

Harry narrowed his eyes. He knew the old man had ulterior motives when it came to his motivations. However, Harry was honest enough to admit that he had been manipulated and completely played. That didn't mean he was just going to let Dumbledore get away with it. Besides, the old man looked entirely too pleased with himself.

"Just remember the old saying Headmaster, 'It is fair for one to suffer whatever one has caused others to suffer.'" Harry said with a slow grin, "In other words, you may have scored the first point, but turnabout is fair play."

Dumbledore met his gaze with his bushy brows raised, "Well, I very much look forward to whatever retribution you might concoct, young man."

He glanced around, "I believe I shall let the conductor know he may continue the journey." With a wave of his wand a message spell shot off. A few moments later, the cart gave a slight lurch as the train moved forward.

"I wonder where Fawkes has gotten to…" Dumbledore murmured as he looked around, before he sighed a little bit. He shifted, and Harry could tell he was getting ready to apparate.

"Headmaster, would you care to join us for the rest of the journey to Hogwarts?" Harry asked, somewhat impulsively.

Albus blinked at the unexpected invitation before his smile returned and his eyes twinkled. "I have not ridden the Express in decades. I believe I would be delighted!"

Dumbledore practically bounced into the compartment, while Harry looked both ways up and down the hall. He saw people gathered on both ends, not even bothering to hide the fact that they had been and were watching the proceeds with interest. Even now that most of the action had past, they continued to watch for any additional tidbit that they might be able to tell their friends.

He noticed the heads of Sirius and James both watching. James looked like he wanted to run to check on Lily, but the expression on the redhead's face made it clear to the boy it wouldn't be appreciated. Sirius despite hitting on Harry's wife in front of him, seemed to have enough common sense in this case to place a hand on James' shoulder to hold the boy back from angering Lily further, this time in front of Dumbledore.

When Dumbledore entered the cabin, it was finally the impetus that appeared to disperse the crowd somewhat. Dumbledore sat down easily on the cushioned seat in the compartment and smiled genially at the three women in the compartment, "Mrs. Peverell, good to see you again." He nodded pleasantly, having seen her the previous evening.

"Miss Evans, Miss Black, I trust your summers went well?" He spoke conversationally, as if the past half hour's events hadn't occurred and the compartment's carpeted floor wasn't covered in glass and other assorted debris.

"It was an interesting summer, if nothing else, Headmaster." Bellatrix responded, her tone short and formal, as she regarded the older wizard warily.

Dumbledore nodded cheerfully, looking completely unbothered by her tone. "That is good to hear." He paused a moment glancing at the ground, and then with a wave of his wand vanished the glass and various other bits of detritus on the floor. Then he turned his attention to Lily

"It was… not a great summer, Professor," Lily responded looking more than a little down, "But I survived, which is more than I can say for some people."

Harry saw a dark look pass over Dumbledore's face before the older wizard sighed, "I heard of what happened to Miss McDonnell and her family. I know you were close, you have my sympathies."

Harry saw Lily's eyes flash in anger briefly and she seemed to struggle with herself before she swallowed words that were on the tip of her tongue, and just nodded in response.

He looked away to give her a moment to compose herself. His eyes caught movement at the end the compartment, with several people still milling about without trying to seem like they were doing so. His eyes narrowed slightly as he saw one particular student.

"Headmaster, as I am now a Professor; that means I am given a fair bit of latitude when it comes to how I educate and discipline, correct?" Harry asked conversationally, glancing out of compartment window towards a few of the remaining loiterers and one in particular.

"Within reason, yes…"" Dumbledore agreed in a cautious tone, which matched the expression on his face.

"Oh good," Harry responded amiably and then whirled with his wand out.

There were several startled cries including one loud "What?!" A moment later a familiar black haired figure in Slytherin robes slammed against the compartment door frame with enough force to jar him, though there was no snapping sound to indicate any sort of broken bones.

"Ah, Mr. Snape, so good of you to join us." Harry said conversationally.

"What do you think you're doing?" demanded Snape as he seemed to be pinned to the frame by some unseen force.

"Why do people always feel the need to ask me that question?" Harry asked as he tilted his head in thought.

"Headmaster, are you just going to allow-" Snape began to demand only to be cut off by a gentle tap on his cheek with Harry's hand, far softer than a slap, but the implication was there.

"Ah ah," Harry cut him off, "I am the one disciplining here."

"You have no right!" Snape snarled, his pale face coloring with rage.

"I have every right," Harry corrected meticulously, "First, I am now the professor of Defense for Hogwarts.

Snape glanced over at Dumbledore who was watching the encounter closely. He nodded shortly at the unasked question in Snape's eyes.

"Secondly, and more important," Harry said, his voice turning frigid, "And something that should concern you far more. I am one of the ones you endangered with your idiocy. Myself, my wife. And two others."

"I did nothing of the sort," Snape protested angrily, he was a good liar but Harry could see the hesitance and fear in his eyes.

"I took it from Rosier's mind, Mr. Snape." Harry responded in clipped tones, not quite devolving into the sibilant hissing of Voldemort, but remaining only a half-step from it. His emerald-eyed gaze bored into the young man who was the one responsible for his parents' death in the past, "You were so proud, so... pleased to share the information that I was here on the train with your friends.

"I didn't think-" Snape tried to protest.

"You knew exactly where their loyalties lie, Mr. Snape." Harry's voice was sharp, and accusing. "You had to have some idea of what they would do."

"Severus… You didn't…" Lily's voice came from behind him, sounding horrified. "They could have killed us…"

That seemed to do more to crack through Snape's defenses than anything Harry had managed thus far. Snape's eyes were clearly focused behind Harry, and he didn't have to guess that Snape was staring at Lily, who was standing and staring at her old friend. Harry shifted slightly so he had both of them in his line of sight.

"No… they weren't supposed to…" Snape trailed off and a stricken look crossed his face at what had just slipped out.

"They weren't supposed to what?" Harry demanded flatly, "They weren't supposed to attack when Lily was around? Because you care so much for her, they were supposed to wait until she had gone? Thereby sparing her... while the rest of us were the victims?"

Snape refused to answer, but every person there could now see the guilt on his face.

"How… how could you? You bastard…" Lily whispered, and then snarled at him advancing on him with her wand sparking in her hand now. Harry saw Dumbledore with his wand in his hand, though he seemed content to let things continue to play out for the moment, at least until Lily made to cast a spell.

Harry shifted smoothly, catching Lily about the waist to halt her forward advance. He reached out and with a quick tug pulled her wand from her hand. She didn't seem to notice the sudden loss of the wand in her rage, storming forward toward the teenage Slytherin stuck halfway inside the compartment and halfway still in the hallway..

Harry held Lily's wand out blindly behind him and Nym quickly snagged the wand from him so he could wrap his other arm around Lily's shoulders, holding her tightly to keep her from assaulting the teen. The stop of her forward momentum seemed to halt whatever desire for physical retribution and instead loosened whatever tight controls the normally well-mannered girl held upon her temper whenever figures of authority were present.

"You evil... disgusting… arrogant… selfish… spiteful… repugnant... deceitful... bitter... conceited... vile... witless... dunderheaded... arse!" She seemed to falter as she ran out of words, which apparently was a look that was completely foreign to her, as both Dumbledore and Bellatrix looked more shocked at her silence than the increasingly hate-filled words she had been shouting at the boy by the end of her explosion.

Lily eventually wound down, her entire body was heaving with exertion as if she had just run a marathon. She took a slow shuddering breath. "The person I called my friend, who first taught me about the wonders of magic, would never have done something like that. Clearly I never really knew you."

Her voice was far calmer, than moments ago but all the more impactful for it. "I hate you Severus Snape. I absolutely despise you. Don't ever try and speak to me again. As far as I'm concerned all my friends are dead now. Mary passed this summer. You… well… my oldest friend stopped existing sometime before that, I'm just finding out now."

She continued to stare at him with loathing

Harry spoke quietly, his gaze fixed on Snape's eyes who looked back at him, a mix of fear and loathing there as well, though Harry kept his grip on Lily who he could feel still trembling, and "This is what your choices have led to Mr. Snape. You seem to have lost a friendship, and could have cost someone their life. You have to ask yourself if it's worth it in the end. That pat on the head and false praise from people who will only ever see you as beneath them despite whatever deplorable actions you do in their name, all in exchange for destroying everything you've ever valued. You don't have his mark yet… I can tell. But just remember, when you do, He will own you."

With a twitch of his hand he released the sticking spell. Snape fell to the floor in an ungraceful heap. He looked up at Lily and opened his mouth to say something, but seemed to think better of it when her jawline clenched and she moved to step toward him once more. A move Harry prevented by tightening his arms

"If you so much as approach me, I won't hesitate to make anything Potter and his sycophants have done to you or you have done to them seem like a damned walk in the park," Lily's voice spat out.

That seemed to be the final straw, Snape scrambled to his feet, before he hightailed it down the passageway and out of the car completely. Lily watched him go with hard eyes. But the instant he scrambled out of the car, she turned and practically fell against Harry, clinging to the front of his shirt as she sobbed.

Harry was slightly taken aback as he patted Lily on the head. He looked helplessly over her head and met Nym's eyes which were filled with concern and sympathy for Lily, and showed absolutely no inclination to help him. Not even when he tried to gesture with his chin. In fact all three of the other people in the compartment seemed amused at his predicament

Harry awkwardly shifted and managed to maneuver himself to sit back on the cushioned bench, as Lily continued to cry. She practically curled up against him before he could figure out what was happening.

He realized this was an outpouring of several issues all coming to a head at once. The death of her friend, loss of her friendship, the pressure of not being able to talk to her family so bottling it all up, and the stress of her life being at risk less than an hour earlier. To give the girl at least some privacy as she broke down, he closed the cabin door, and fired a number of concealment and privacy spells at the door, silencing the sound of the cabin and ensuring no one could see anything inside.

It was almost ten minutes later when she had cried herself out and seemed to settle into an exhausted slumber. Nym sat next to him, and seemed to have her attention on Lily with concern. Bellatrix and Dumbledore ironically sat on the other bench with only a few feet of space separating them, and both were watching them curiously.

Harry met Dumbledore's eyes and spoke quietly, careful not to disturb the woman on his lap, even if he doubted she was going to wake unless disturbed by significant noise. Harry's voice was a mixture of sadness and grim resolve, "I told you, Headmaster. This war will be fought in your very halls."

The older man sighed, not even attempting to hide how much the comment hurt him to now have to admit to its correctness, "You were… and are correct."

He pursed his lips, as if trying to find the words, before he closed his eyes and gave a frustrated quick slow shake of his head, "I had hoped…"

He trailed of, apparently no closer to a means to express his disappointment now that he had witnessed one of his staff and multiple students attempt to kill another student, all while being set up by another third party.

Harry began to whisper again, ignoring the fact that both Dora and Bellatrix were listening intently to the conversation. "Hope is a powerful thing, Albus, but sometimes it's nothing without action. Or without help."

Dumbledore nodded slowly, "And sometimes there is no telling what the actions of one can inspire."

Nym looked up and smirked widely, "I would say Mr. Snape left very inspired."

Harry snorted softly, and he would later swear that Albus' eyes were twinkling in amusement.

Harry glanced at Bellatrix, who had remained silent for the entirety of what she had witnessed, much of the time staring out the window deep in thought. He wondered what was going through the young woman's mind, and he couldn't help but contrast what he saw in front of him now with what he knew she could become in the future.


Author's note: Yay! Another chapter!

1) This was rather fun to write! Writing interactions on a train ride with quite a bit of events.

2) Analyzing Harry's reaction to people was also fun, given his rather Neutral stance to almost everyone. Really the only one he had any sort of more than slight reaction to was Pettigrew, mostly because his own memories of the rat were strong, and he and Voldemort probably shared thoughts on him.

3) Dumbledore was amazing to write: D openly manipulative and indulging in it, acknowledging what he was doing without any real sense of shame, and without any sort of malice behind his actions.

4) Plums Ponderous Pontifications:

We got stuck on Bellatrix's conversation. Then it was "ooooh, shiny!" with other stuff. No real excuses here.

5) I totally blame Plums for how Karkaroff and Rookwood died. Totally his idea. The pervert. He's also the one who found that the 'Mile Post Club' is the train equivalent of the 'Mile High Club.'

Alternate Chapter Titles and Comments

"Dumbledore's Manipulations!" - Harry

"Hah! Written as a manipulative mastermind, AND not portrayed as Satan reincarnated! It is possible! Suck it bitches!" - Dumbledore

"Ew. No." - Harry.

"From Death Eater to Squib: A minion's tale, by Rodolphus Lestrange." - Harry

"He totally deserves it." - Bellatrix

"Yet another way to piss me off." - Voldemort

"Oh. Like that's difficult. Are you ever not pissed off?" - Any Death Eater, ever.

"You do have a bit of a temper. You may want to look into that." - Neutral Observer

"Thank you for that obser-CRUCIO!" Voldemort.

"Rookwood and Karkaroff, it's practically a modern day Romeo and Juliet!" - Nym

"How I ended up teaching Defense… again." - Harry

"Oohh! We get to play teacher and naughty schoolgirl!" - Nym

"Harry Potter- Inspirational Speaker!" - Nym

"When your possible betrothed nearly kills you." - Bellatrix Black.

"Ways you know your marriage is likely to fail?" - Nym

"How to muck up a friendship." - Severus Snape

"Alternatively, how Severus Snape is a purely self-motivated prick!" - Harry

"Hey! He showed how much he loved Lily! He even died for her! He's such a tragic hero!" - Canon fan

"Yes. What a trial it must have been. Spending years abusing a boy (not to mention pretty much everyone not Slytherin) because his mother loved a man he hated. What a burden. Almost as bad… as you know… being abused." - Harry