Ok, first of all, I have to apologise for the RIDICULOUSLY long wait for this chapter. Hopefully all technical glitches are fixed and won't be causing as much trouble in the future. Also, thank you to everyone who reviewed and encouraged me to keep writing - your kind words were very much appreciated.
Disclaimer: You all know the drill, the world of hp does not belong to me. The only thing I claim to own is the world of the Warriors, any characters not found in the original hp books, and that rather nifty locket room of Harry's - I really need one of those!
Enjoy the chapter!
Sirius watched as his Godson and his ex-fiancee kissed. He smiled nostalgically. Harry was no longer the cute little boy with the huge, bright eyes. He was a man. Sirius had never felt prouder than at that moment. Despite his awful upbringing, Harry was a strong, decent and loving person. Both he and Tonks deserved to be happy. As the kiss got more heated, Sirius averted his eyes, watching the lake. That was when he noticed that the boulder in the centre of the lake was slowly crumbling. Grinning widely, he turned away, deciding to go and explore this dimension of Harry's a bit further - he really didn't need to see Harry and Tonks getting any closer, after all.
It was dinnertime at Hogwarts, and all of Harry's friends had made a conscious effort to attend, hoping to achieve even a small semblance of normality. They would later agree that they should have known better than to hope for this - especially where Harry was concerned. Everything seemed normal enough - the students were chatting, gossiping, and bemoaning the amount of homework that they had been given that day - naturally with the exception of the Ravenclaws, who were always delighted to study. The staff, including Leona, Remus and Severus, and with the addition of Narcissa, talked in low voices to each other, all the while keeping a careful watch on the students entrusted to their care. All of a sudden, a flash of lightning streaked across the dusky sky, and the three Warriors in the room - Lee, Dani and Rhia - fainted.
"What's happening?" Ron asked Hermione, after seeing the three girls faint. They could see, up at the staff table, Remus, Severus and Narcissa trying to revive Leona.
"I don't know, Ron, but I'll bet that it has something to do with Simba."
"Because the only three Warriors in Hogwarts just simultaneously collapsed. It's hardly coincidence, is it?"
"I guess. You don't think...?"
"I'm sure both Harry and Simba are ok, Ron. I suppose Leona will be able to tell us." Hermione said, as Leona begin to stir, followed shortly by Rhia and Dani.
"Are you all right, Miss Tide?" Dumbledore asked curiously. Leona knew that he wasn't merely concerned about her.
"I think perhaps I should go for a lie down." Leona replied lightly.
"I'll go with you - you don't look particularly steady on your feet." Remus immediately volunteered, offering her his arm.
"Thank you, Remus. I would appreciate that."
Back in her rooms, Leona sank into a chair, shaking slightly.
"Are you sure you're ok?" Remus asked in concern.
"I'm fine, honestly. Just a little shaken. That's all."
"A power surge. A huge one. Much larger than the one that happened when Harry disappeared."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that something big has happened."
"Can you be a bit more specific?"
"No, I can't. For all I know, he could be dead!" Leona cried, verging on hysterical.
"He's not." Rhiannon announced, standing with Dani, Ron and Hermione at the door.
"Yes. The power surge was a good thing."
"Why? What caused it?"
"That would be him and Tonks having a...erm...a private moment." Rhiannon's cool façade faltered as she blushed a little.
"That was caused by Harry and Tonks getting it on?" Ron asked, sounding stunned. All of the girls were silent, until Dani voiced the thoughts of them all:
"Damn, how much do I envy Tonks right now?"
Harry lay beside Tonks, watching her as she dozed lightly, wrapped in his arms.
"I missed you so much." He confessed, running a finger along her jaw line.
"I missed you too. I love you more than anything in this world - or any other, for that matter." Tonks said, opening her eyes to look at him.
"I love you too. But I think that it might be a good idea to get up and dressed - I'm sure that Sirius would be scarred for life...or afterlife, I suppose, if he saw us like this."
"Oh. Damn. I totally forgot..."
"I know. We did get...umm...rather carried away."
"Just a teeny tiny bit." Tonks giggled, blushing as she thought back on their earlier activities. She sighed happily, feeling safe in Harry's embrace. This was where she belonged. She felt as if something had changed now - as if somehow she had changed when she had reached an understanding with Harry. Or perhaps it was the other way around - perhaps he had changed. She looked around, half-expecting to see that there surroundings had changed, but saw nothing remotely out of the ordinary - she did, however, note that the lump of solid rock in the middle of the lake had all but disintegrated.
Harry followed Tonks' stare, and was shocked to see that his block had nearly gone. The only things that remained were a few small rocks and some silt, both of which he knew would be washed away soon. Focussing on himself, he mentally took an inventory of his powers.
"Well, this is an interesting development." He said, his face showing the shock he felt.
"What? What's wrong?" Tonks asked, instantly concerned.
"Nothing's wrong exactly, it's just...well...see for yourself." Harry said, joining his mind to Tonks' and leading her to the core of his power.
Tonks, for her part, was utterly astounded that Harry trusted her enough to take her to such an intimate part of himself. She knew he was showing her the very centre of his power - the centre of his very being - but she still wasn't entirely sure why.
"What am I supposed to be looking at?" She murmured.
"Don't look," he advised softly, "Feel." Frowning, Tonks closed her eyes tightly, trying to focus only on the sensations. Her eyes snapped open when she felt something...Harry's power, she supposed, swirling around her, enclosing her. She got the odd feeling that perhaps she should be panicking, but immediately dismissed it. Harry had never given her a single reason to fear him. She knew that he would protect her, not hurt her.
"Thank you." He murmured, as they exited their joined state of meditation.
"There's nothing to thank me for." Tonks said seriously, kissing him.
"Let's go home." Harry said, realising that no matter how comfortable he was in this dimension, no matter how much he wanted to stay with Sirius, this place would never - could never - be his home.
Sirius' exploration was rudely interrupted by his Godson and his Godson's girlfriend - or fiancee, he supposed.
"It's gone, Siri." Harry said, looking more relaxed than Sirius had ever seen him.
"That's...fantastic, Harry." Sirius ground out. He couldn't bring himself to smile though.
"Tonks, can you give us a minute please?" Harry asked. Tonks nodded silently and left after kissing Harry's cheek.
"Sirius..." Harry began, pausing to consider what he was going to say.
"It's ok Harry, really it is. I knew that this day would come sooner or later."
"I want to try and bring you back with us too."
"It won't work, Harry."
"It will." Harry said, determinedly.
"Harry, listen to me. I cannot belong in the world of the living again. There would be no place for me. At best I would be some nameless, faceless person with no reason for their existence. At worst...I could become a lost spirit, damned for eternity. I can no more go back with you than you can kill Tonks."
"You don't know that! You haven't even tried."
"Harry, listen to me. I love you more than anything in this world, or any other. You are the son I never had. And I am more proud of you than you can know. I would love to go back, to pick up where I left off, but I can't."
"I don't want to lose you."
"You won't - you can drag my dead ass here whenever you want to, remember."
"Harry, this is how it has to be. You know that. You have to go back to your life, and I have to go back to my...death. Your parents will be dying to hear how you are - no pun intended, of course."
"Of course." Harry laughed, feeling a bit better.
"Right, now, let's get you and your fiancee back where you belong, shall we? Oh, and if it's not too much trouble, Harry, I would rather like to be helped back to where I belong."
"I guess I could do that." Harry grinned.
An hour later, Harry, Tonks and Sirius left the dimension that Harry had created, heading back to their respective homes. Harry and Tonks back to Hogwarts, and Sirius back to the afterlife. Harry, despite having to leave Sirius, and despite being nervous about what Voldemort had been up to in his absence, was excited about seeing his friends again, and mentally vowed that he would find more time to spend with them.
Harry and Tonks landed - rather haphazardly - in Harry's room. Luckily, though, it was the bed which bore the brunt of their impact.
"Owww." Harry groaned - Tonks' elbow was buried in his stomach.
"Sorry Harry." Tonks said, looking not in the least bit sorry, although she did kindly move her arm to a much more comfortable position.
"How long d'you think it will be before anyone finds us?" Harry asked quietly. Neither he nor Tonks felt any particular compulsion to move from their current positions - they were, after all, quite comfortable where they were.
"Knowing our luck? Oh, I'd say about thirty seconds."
Sure enough, just moments later, Leona came bursting into the room.
"Harry! You're ok!" She yelled, jumping at him and hugging him tightly. "I'm so, so, sorry." She sobbed, clinging to him as if her life depended on it.
"Ssshh, it's ok. It's all right." Harry soothed.
"I was so scared. I thought I - we - had lost you."
"Ssshh, you haven't lost me. No one has. I'm right here, and everything's going to be ok."
"Yes, it is." Harry replied, a small smile playing on his lips as he hugged her. He was home. And everything would be ok. As long as he had his family and friends beside him, he would be ok. And Voldemort would pay for his crimes.
The three of them sat and talked for the next few hours. As Leona calmed down, she couldn't help but tease Harry and Tonks, especially about the methods they had employed to break the block on Harry's powers. The teasing only got worse when the others came to in the party. Even Remus was teasing them! Tonks looked mortified, but Harry was laughing, albeit while blushing brightly.
"I can think of worse ways to piss of the Dark Megalomaniac!" He announced, to the amused agreement of everyone in the room.
The same day, Harry resumed his classes as if he had never been away, much to the relief of all. He was careful, however, to keep any spells to a minimum - after all, he wasn't entirely sure how his magic would behave now that it was unblocked. He was glad to see that Leona had continued - for the most part - with his plans for the lessons. Now, however, Harry felt that it was time to change the pace a bit.
"Dani, why don't you come up here for a bit?" He asked, his eyes glowing with amusement. Dani looked positively horrified! Nevertheless, she walked up to Harry's desk, schooling her features into an expression of cool confidence and calm. Only Harry knew that she was worried.
"My Lord Mage?" She murmured quietly.
"Dani, in the next class, I'd like to demonstrate a duel between a wizard and a warrior - would you mind terribly attending as a healer, rather than a student?"
"Of course, Sir. I'd be honoured." Dani grinned, her nerves disappearing. "If I may ask, though, who will you be duelling?"
"You'll see, Dani, you'll see. You may return to your seat."
Dani did so, smiling brightly. Around her, everyone was whispering excitedly. They were going to see a real duel between a wizard and a warrior. Everyone seemed to have their own theory as to who would be taking part in the duel, with Snape being the favourite of many. Harry, though he heard a great many of these theories, refused to comment - after all, there were no set opponents as yet.
"Leona?" Harry asked sweetly.
"Uh oh. What do you want?" Lee groaned, knowing that tone of voice.
"Well, I had planned a duel in few days - you don't mind, do you?"
"Not again. Haven't you humiliated me enough?"
"Well think of this as a way of regaining your pride. Did I mention that you'll be representing Warriors in the duel?"
"You mean I won't be fighting you?"
"No. I was rather hoping that Narcissa would consent to a small duel."
"Harry, that's..." She was going to say 'insane', but she thought about it for a moment, and realised just how ingenious it was. Having her and Narcissa duelling would create the impression that Narcissa was trying to gain favour with someone. Also, it would serve as a warning, should Narcissa feel the need betray Simba. Not to mention that Narcissa had a huge repertoire of offensive spells - she was an ex-deatheater, after all, and was married to one of the most feared men in their world. If Leona beat her...
"...incredible. I'll do it. When are you going to inform Narcissa?"
"In about...oh, two minutes - she's on her way to join us as we speak."
"How do you know?"
"That would be telling - and I rather like keeping everyone on their toes."
"Speaking of which, when are you going to visit Dumbledore?"
"I daresay he'll come by eventually - whether I wish it or not." Harry replied vaguely. Lee glared at him, but was unable to respond as Narcissa chose that moment to knock on the door.
"Hello 'Cissa, how are you today?" Harry said pleasantly.
"Fine, My Lord, and you?"
"I'm very well, Narcissa. I do have a small favour to ask of you though." Narcissa nodded cautiously - she had been expecting him to ask something of her. She stayed silent, knowing that he wasn't quite finished.
"I would appreciate if you would take part in a duel in my class in a few days - the sixth year class."
"A duel, My Lord? Who would be my opponent?"
"If I said it was myself?"
"Then I must regretfully admit that I could do not fulfil My Lord's request." Narcissa said softly.
"Then," Harry said, surprising Narcissa, "I am glad that it is not me who will be your opponent."
"Then...may I ask who, My Lord?"
"Indeed you may. Leona will be your opponent."
Narcissa paused, lost in thought. She knew what Harry was doing - knew that he was testing her loyalty. And yet, she also saw that this was the perfect ruse for her. He had set everything up so that she could go to Voldemort and tell him that she had been spying for him. The decision she made - whether to fight for Harry, or whether to fight for Voldemort, would affect her for the rest of her life, she knew. And would also be likely to affect her son.
"I will do it, My Lord. Thank you for giving me the chance." Narcissa knew she had some serious thinking to do about just where her allegiance lay.
Almost as soon as Narcissa and Leona left, Harry pulled out his locket, holding out a hand to Tonks. She took it, but gave him a brief quizzical glance.
"I need to get used to my full strength, and we still have a lot to discuss."
"I know." Tonks sighed. She knew that the issues between her and Harry weren't nearly resolved, but that didn't mean she was looking forward to this discussion - it tore her apart to see just how badly she had hurt her fiance.
In the locket, Harry cooked lunch for them both, before heading out into the field. Tonks followed at a safe distance, not entirely sure whether she was welcome. She supposed that he had expected her, however, welcome or not, as he had placed powerful protection wards at the edge of the field - he didn't want any stray spells to hurt her. Tonks felt her heart swell with love - even though he was preoccupied with everything else, he still thought of her safety first.
Harry spun and twirled, shooting spells off at phantom enemies. It was more like a dance than a duel - an intricate, choreographed dance. By far the most incredible thing, however - to Harry, at least - was that before that moment, he had had no idea about many of the spells that he was using. He slowed and stopped, muscles burning. He was thankful that while in Lesea he had kept up his physical training, but knew that he would need to work harder on that aspect as well. Taking a deep breath, he began to stretch out his muscles, before springing into a run.
Tonks watched on in astonishment as Harry pushed his limits, both physically and magically. It was an awe-inspiring sight. She had seen Harry doing some amazing things before, but never quite on such a scale. This was...incredible. She watched as he began running laps around the field, letting off some steam, she supposed. Sitting cross-legged on the grass, she thought about the situation she had put them in, and how best to fix it.
Harry lost track of the amount of time he spent running before he wore himself out, but Tonks had fallen asleep on the grass. Smiling to himself, he gently picked her up and carried her inside. While she slept in the bedroom, he went for a shower, letting the hot water soothe his body and his mind.
The sound of running water gently roused Tonks from her dreams, and she lay still for a moment, thinking. Slowly, her sleep-fogged mind caught up with reality - she was in Harry's hidden rooms. Her tensed muscles slowly relaxed - she must have fallen asleep outside, and Harry must have brought her inside when he was finished exercising. After what seemed like an eternity of staring up at the ceiling, listening to the running shower, Tonks decided to get up. She really wanted to join Harry in his shower, but knew that she really shouldn't push the boundaries of their patchily repaired relationship. Instead, she settled for heading to the library, figuring that Harry would come to find her when he was ready to.
Harry was beginning to realise that despite how much he loved Tonks, and despite the fact that she apparently felt the same way, their relationship couldn't just pick up where it had left off. They needed to work at it. They needed to rebuild it, make it stronger. Luckily, Harry thought, they had the advantage of having a room in which no time passed, meaning that they quite literally had all the time in the world to get to know each other again.
"Boo!" Harry said in Tonks' ear.
"Harry!" She squeaked, jumping. He had crept up on her and deliberately startled her.
"Argh! You are impossible!" Tonks huffed.
"You love me for it though." Harry replied with a cheeky grin.
"No," Tonks disagreed, "There are many things I love you for, but your ability to annoy the hell out of me is not one of those things." Harry merely grinned, sitting down in front of her. After a few minutes of not-quite-comfortable silence, Harry grew serious.
"Why did you do it?" He asked, his voice barely above a whisper. The pain in his voice made Tonks wince.
"I thought…I don't know. I just...I couldn't bear the thought that you were putting yourself in danger. I had nightmares about what would happen. All the time you're away, and I'm left here like a good little housewife. I hate it, Harry. I can't just sit and home and worry about how much danger you're in." Tonks cried in distress.
"Ok, so what can I do to help?" Harry asked calmly, hiding the terror he felt that she might decide to leave him again.
"That's just it. I don't know. It's not like I can expect you to take me everywhere you go - for a start, I can't see a certain Headmaster being overly pleased about his Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher disappearing on a regular basis, can you?"
"Hardly," Harry snorted, "Look at what happened when I needed to leave." He began to relax as Tonks didn't seem like she was about to break up with him.
"I know I'm being a pain, love, I do, but…I just want to know that you're safe."
"I have an idea." Harry said suddenly, cursing himself for not having thought of it earlier.
"Well? Are you planning on sharing this idea?"
"No." Harry teased, laughing as Tonks launched herself at him, knocked him to the ground and proceeded to tickle him mercilessly.
"Ok, I give, I give."
"So what's the idea then?" Tonks asked, having reluctantly paused her tickling, but not having moved from sitting on his thighs.
"You know the bond between me and Lee? It's called a Trainer's Bond. It was originally created so that if a Warrior trainee got into trouble, his or her trainer would know immediately and could help their charge."
"Could you use the same bond between us?" Tonks asked curiously. It sounded perfect - rather than only being able to talk to Harry mentally when he used her as an anchor, there would be a permanent link between them.
"In theory, I should be able to manipulate the spell to work for us, but it will take some time."
"Do you have the time?" Tonks wondered aloud.
"Not particularly, but then that's why this room is such a bloody lifesaver."
"There is that." Tonks agreed, "Oh, and one more thing, can we please schedule a time in your hectic life to just come down here and spend some time together? We hardly ever seem to spend more than a few minutes together here and there, nowadays." Tonks pouted. Harry smiled fondly at her, tucking a stray strand of curly blue hair behind her ear.
"I think that can be arranged." He said, leaning up to kiss her.
After spending the equivalent of several hours with Tonks, Harry decided that it was time to stop putting of his visit to Dumbledore's office. Though he personally thought that the old man was more trouble than he was worth, he knew it made very little sense to make an enemy of such a powerful wizard - particularly as he had quite enough powerful enemies to be going on with.
Upon reaching the Gargoyle, Harry's good mood had all but vanished, and he had to restrain himself from snarling at the stone carving. He was most definitely not in the mood to play guessing games.
"Move." He ordered firmly, wishing he were still in his hidden rooms with Tonks. To his immense satisfaction, the statue leapt aside immediately, standing to attention and saluting him.
"Thank you." He said, taking a deep breath and steeling himself for the irritation that was surely ahead of him.
"Ah, Harry, you're back." Dumbledore said, looking less than amused.
"It would appear so." Harry replied tonelessly.
"May I ask where you were?"
"I went to Lesea - as I told you before I left."
"Yes, and I believe we decided you would stay here, did we not?"
"No - you agreed that I would stay here. I am afraid you misunderstood me - I was not asking for your permission, I was informing you of my intentions to leave."
"My dear boy, it isn't safe…" Dumbledore began, adopting his grandfatherly air.
"I am safe nowhere, Albus, as well you know." Harry snapped.
"As your employer, I do have the right to ask for notice if you intend to leave the grounds for any extended period of time."
"Then I apologise for leaving at such short notice, but it was an emergency." Harry said, wondering just where the old man was heading - if he didn't know better then he would swear that the old fool was about to fire him.
"I understand, my boy, that you want to help the Warrior people, but I must insist that, as a teacher in this school, you remain here. At the moment, the best way for you to help the Warriors is to educate young witches and wizards and destroy the prejudice against them." At this, Harry forcefully schooled his features into an expressionless mask, while his anger made his blood boil. It was only after a few deep breaths that he trusted himself to speak without hexing the man.
"I see. In that case, it is with deep regret that I must hand in my resignation. I shall have it in writing and on your desk tomorrow morning."
"Harry, please, be sensible. Where will you go?"
"To Lesea, of course."
"Harry, my dear boy…"
"No, Albus, I am not your 'dear boy' any longer. Please, just…accept that I'm an adult, and that I no longer need you to make my decisions for me." Harry said wearily. Tonks was going to go loopy when he told her that he had resigned, he just knew it. Lovely. To think he had been hoping for a quiet night. Typical.
"Very well, I shall make the announcement tomorrow at breakfast. You are, of course, welcome to stay in the castle for as long as you need."
"Thank you, but I think it would be best if I were to leave as soon as possible - it would just confuse matters if I were to stay any longer at Hogwarts."
"Yes, indeed, you are quite right." Dumbledore agreed, rapidly ageing before Harry's eyes. Harry moved to stand, feeling rather awkward. Despite their disagreements, he had always been rather fond of the irritating old fool.
"I must apologise, Harry." Came Dumbledore's soft, weary voice, cutting through his musings.
"For what?" Harry asked curiously.
"It is...humbling, to say the least, to look back on life and realise just how many important decisions you have made - I must apologise as some of my worst blunders came at your expense." Harry was quite unsure as to how he was supposed to reply to this statement.
"You did your best, Albus." He began slowly, "I know that. The decisions you made weren't always the right ones, but you did all you could in the circumstances. You forget that I know better than most that no single person is infallible under the pressure that you faced - and still face now."
"You sound as if you're speaking from experience, Harry."
"I'm the Boy-Who-Lived." Harry shrugged, "In one world, I'm the only one who can defeat the Dark Lord, and in the other - well, in the other I'm a legend in my own lifetime, the youngest Warrior trainee in centuries, and a figure of general mistrust. Believe me when I say that I know what I'm talking about."
"Yes, of course. Well, I suppose I had better let you go - I expect young Nymphadora will be waiting for you."
"Yes, she will." Harry agreed, "Goodbye then, Albus."
"Good bye, Harry, don't be a stranger. You are always welcome at Hogwarts."
"Oh, I daresay I'll be around from time to time." Harry said with a smile. One last nod to his one-time mentor, and Harry left the office.
Stepping into the cool air of the corridor, Harry couldn't help but feel torn - on one hand, he now had one less demand on his time. On the other, however, Hogwarts had been his home for so long, and the majority of his friends and family were at Hogwarts, not to mention some of his most cherished memories. It certainly wouldn't be easy to leave. Not easy, but unfortunately necessary.
Rather than going straight to their rooms to find Tonks, Harry wandered up to the Astronomy Tower. The view from the grounds from there was beautiful - not to mention the fact that it was a great place to sit and think. Despite all the bad memories that the castle held for him, despite everything that had happened there, he would truly miss Hogwarts castle. He gave a start when a strong presence tore through his Occlumency barriers like they were tissue paper. If he didn't know better, he would have even said that the presence was apologetic about doing so.
I'll miss you too, my dear, but we both know that it's for the best. But don't worry, my Lord Mage, you'll be back again. Harry felt his jaw go slack - Hogwarts was talking to him!
My dear Lady, I thank you for your kind words. You have been generous to me over the years. I am heartened to hear that I will return in the future.
Such lovely manners for one so young. You will always be welcomed here, Harry, and I do believe you will make an excellent Headmaster in the future.
I can think of no greater honour, my Lady.
I should think not! Now, be off with you - your young lady is looking for you. She is heading towards the Headmaster's office.
Thank you, my Lady, I am in your debt.
No, my Lord Mage, it is I who is indebted to you. Now, get going! With that, the motherly presence withdrew from his mind, repairing barriers as it went, and leaving Harry reeling.
"Until next time, then." He murmured fondly, exiting the tower to find his girlfriend.
Tonks walked slowly in the direction of the Headmaster's office, wondering what was taking so long. She was two corridors away from the stone gargoyle when Harry found her.
"There you are!" She said, grinning at him. Her grin faltered, however, when she saw the look on his face - the look that screamed 'bad news!'.
"Let's go back to your room." Harry said, taking her hand and pressing it to his lips.
"That bad?" Tonks wondered aloud.
"It depends on your point of view, I suppose." Harry shrugged. Tonks frowned, looking closely at Harry's face - he didn't sound particularly unhappy, nor did he look all that upset. Then again, Harry had long ago mastered hiding his emotions.
"Will I think it's bad?"
"Yes, you will." Harry said with absolute certainty.
"Well that's reassuring." Tonks muttered.
"Would you rather I'd have lied to you?"
"No," Tonks sighed, defeated. "But I would rather know what it is that I'm not going to like."
"You will," Harry promised, "As soon as we get somewhere private."
"Ok." Tonks replied, starting to get very worried now.
The moment the door to her room was closed, locked and guarded by a silencing charm, Tonks began questioning Harry.
"Tonks, please. Sit down and I'll tell you everything - but please, let me finish before interrupting me?"
"Ok, I promise." Tonks said softly, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Right, well, I'm leaving Hogwarts. That was what the meeting with Dumbledore was about - he was hinting that if I left the castle grounds without his permission again, he'd fire me. He said that I was doing all I could do to help here, teaching the students to disregard the prejudice about Warriors. So I handed in my resignation."
"When are you leaving?"
"The day after tomorrow, I think, that should give me enough time to tie up any loose ends."
Tonks was silent for a moment, her face blank as she thought it over. Then, much to Harry's great shock, she nodded.
"It needed to be done, I suppose."
"You're ok with this?" Harry asked cautiously. Tonks turned her face towards him, her great big brown eyes sparkling with tears.
"It had to be done, I understand that, I do. I don't like it, no - if I had my way, you'd never leave my bed, unless it was to go to the kitchen. But you have so many responsibilities - I think it will do you good to have one less. I'm not selfish enough to begrudge you that. Plus, you could never stay in Hogwarts as he wants you to. It would destroy you, I know it would."
"Thank you." Harry said gruffly, kissing her. Her words meant more to him than she would ever know. Harry couldn't help but draw parallels between this and his brief visit to Voldemort. Thankfully, this time he would be leaving with Tonks' full support. Hopefully, it was a sign that their precarious relationship was healing.
"You should probably go and tell the others. It wouldn't be fair for them to find out with everyone else." Tonks said quietly. They had been lying silently on the bed holding each other as if their lives depended on it. Tonks' eyes were red-rimmed from crying, her face blotchy and her hair was starting to rival Harry's for messiness.
"I must look a state." She said, catching his eyes on her.
"You must know by now that I don't care what you look like - I've seen you morph into Filch, remember." Harry said, shuddering playfully.
"As much as I hate to admit it, Potter, you do have a point."
"Of course I do." Harry grinned, pressing a kiss to her lips.
"Right." Tonks said, taking a deep breath and using her metamorphic abilities to clear her face. "Let's go - you shouldn't put this off any longer."
"I know, I know." Harry groaned, stretching and sitting up. "I'm just really not looking forward to telling them, that's all."
"Hey, I took it well, didn't I? You don't know that they're going to take it badly, Harry. Everyone knows how stretched you have been recently."
"I guess." Harry said, not sounding entirely convinced. Nevertheless, he stood up and straightened his clothes, holding out his hand to take Tonks'. "Ready?" He asked.
"Whenever you are, love." She replied, squeezing his hand gently.
Their first stop, Harry decided, was to be Gryffindor Tower. Ron, Hermione, Dani and Rhia were probably going to be those affected most by his leaving, he guessed. With it being just after dinner, the common room was bustling with students, but Harry managed to snag his old chair by the fire, sitting down while waiting for Ron and Hermione to return from dinner. Hopefully, he thought, they wouldn't be too long.
Ron, Hermione, Dani and Rhia wandered slowly up to the Gryffindor Tower, deep in conversation. Everyone had noticed that neither Harry nor Tonks had shown up for dinner, and they couldn't help but worry a little - had Harry gone off again? So soon? They hoped there was some other explanation, but were at a loss as to what that explanation could be. Rhia knew something, but she wasn't saying - all she would tell them was that Harry would explain everything when they got back to the Tower - hence the reason she was joining them. Needless to say, they sped up a bit on hearing that Harry was waiting for them in Gryffindor Tower, each feeling more than a little apprehensive about what he would tell them when they arrived.
They arrived in Gryffindor Tower to find Harry sitting in the chair that had been his while he was still a student. It still belonged to him even now, for no other Gryffindor would sit in it.
"Hey Harry." Ron said, dropping ungracefully into the seat to the right of Harry, while Hermione took the one to the left. Dani chose to sit on the floor in front of her Lord, as did Rhia.
"Hi guys." He said, smiling at them.
"Are you all right Harry? Truthfully?" Hermione asked, looking worried.
"I'm fine. I've just got a bit of news that I have to share with you."
"Is it good news?" Dani asked, looking from Harry to Tonks and back again.
"That would depend on your point of view." Harry sighed, "I'm leaving Hogwarts."
"WHAT?!" Ron and Dani chorused. Rhia merely looked resigned to the fact, while Hermione was frowning, apparently deep in thought.
"Why?" Dani asked, tears appearing in her eyes. The thought of her brother - by choice if not by birth - leaving them was one she did not relish.
"Please don't cry. It's something I have to do." Harry said softly, kneeling next to her.
"Did we upset you?" She asked, her voice wobbling slightly.
"No, love, you didn't upset me. Look at me." Harry put a finger under her chin and lifted her face to meet his. "This has nothing to do with you. You're my little sister. You are all family to me, and I don't want to upset you. But I can't stay here. Not anymore."
"Why, Harry? What aren't you telling us?" Hermione asked shrewdly. Harry sighed softly - he hadn't wanted to sour their view of the Headmaster, but it seemed that it was unavoidable.
"The Headmaster gave me an ultimatum." He said quietly. "If I was going to keep disappearing, he'd have to fire me. If I wanted to stay as a teacher at Hogwarts, I would have to stay on Hogwarts grounds unless I gave him sufficient reason and notice in advance." As he had guessed, his friends were outraged at this, and were increasingly vocal in their displeasure at the Headmaster. However flattered Harry was by their support of him, they were drawing the attention of the others in the Common Room, and that was something he would rather avoid dealing with.
"Guys, please. I know it's not fair, but it was always a possibility that this could happen. How many teachers do you know who disappear at regular intervals?"
"Snape!" Ron snapped angrily.
"Professor Snape is something of a special case, Ron, you know that."
"And you're not?"
"As far as the Headmaster is aware, no I'm not." Harry said, a hint of warning entering his tone. That stopped the protests rather effectively, at least for a short moment.
"So you handed in your resignation, then?" Hermione asked quietly, and Harry was stunned to see a tear making its way down her cheek.
"I had to." Harry said, "The Headmaster cannot know…what you all know."
"But if he knew…"
"Then he'd try and use it to his advantage. Hermione, he may be a great wizard, but he fails to realise that sometimes, people need to make their own choices. This is not his battle."
"Can't you talk to him?" Dani asked quietly, "For us?"
"Darling, if I thought I could talk to Dumbledore as an equal, I wouldn't be sitting here now. He sees me as a child. Not purposely, but he does. He can't accept that I'm a full grown man, fully capable of making my own decisions. Please don't ask me to put myself - and others - at his mercy."
"I'm sorry. I just…I don't want you to leave."
"None of us want you to leave, Harry, but as much as we dislike the idea, it is for the best." Rhia murmured. She turned her attention to the others. "We've all seen how much Harry has to juggle. No one should have to be so stretched. Can you begrudge him one less duty?"
"No." They replied in unison, each looking a little ashamed.
"It's true, I'm tired." Harry admitted. "It's hard being pulled in so many different directions. I think…I think I need to concentrate on being one person for a while."
"Will we see you around sometimes?"
"Of course. I won't lie to you and say I'll be around a lot, but I promise to visit occasionally - Simba will probably be around more than me, though."
"Just make sure you take care of yourself, mate, ok?" Ron said gruffly. Harry nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
"We'll miss seeing you around everyday, Harry." Hermione said softly, brushing away her tears and giving him a watery smile.
"I second that." Tonks replied.
"You'll just miss me in your bed." Harry replied cheekily, making Tonks blush, though she didn't deny it.
Harry spent the next few hours in Gryffindor Tower, chatting quietly with his friends. He would miss them in the next few weeks, he knew. However, he also knew that he would have to spend that time as Simba - the Warriors needed their leader, and as much as he wished the job belonged to someone else, the fact remained that he held that power and that responsibility.
"I should go." He said eventually, knowing that it was getting late, and that he was putting off telling Severus and Narcissa of his plans.
"When do you leave?" Rhia asked, shocking everyone bar Harry. "I don't See everything, you know." She said, annoyance clear in her voice.
"The day after tomorrow, if everything goes to plan." Harry replied.
"Oh, well we'll see you tomorrow then?"
"Yeah - I have several things to do, but I'll be around. Oh, and Hermione? Can you let the DA know that there'll be a meeting tomorrow evening?"
"Yes Harry." Hermione nodded.
"I'll see you all tomorrow then." He said, holding out his hand for Tonks.
"See you tomorrow." They chorused as he left.
Harry walked out of Gryffindor Tower with a heavy heart - it still felt like home to him, and the more goodbyes he said, the harder it was getting. Almost as if she could read his mind, Tonks wrapped her arms around him.
"We're all so busy feeling sorry for ourselves that no one's noticed the fact that this is hardest on you." She murmured.
"This is my home, Tonks. I never thought it'd be taken from me so soon." Harry said quietly, his voice full of sorrow.
"Hogwarts will always be your home - no one can change that. Not even Dumbledore."
"I know. She said something similar herself, but…it's not the same, is it?"
"No. No, I suppose not. Wait, Hogwarts spoke to you?" Tonks pulled away from him, her eyes wide with disbelief. Harry chuckled a little, his mood brightening slightly as he remembered his conversation with the school.
"What did she say?"
"Oh, this and that." He replied, feigning disinterest.
"This and that?! What kind of answer is that?" She huffed.
"Come on, Love, I'll tell you later. Now, we have to go and speak to the others."
"One of these days, I'm going to make you wait to find something out. Let's go." Tonks huffed, though privately, she was glad that Harry was smiling again.
Harry was grateful to find that Severus and Narcissa were completely unruffled by his announcement - not that he had really expected anything else of the two Slytherins. Leona was the real surprise, he thought. He had expected her to be at least a little upset, but she was calm and reasonable about the whole thing. Then again, as Tonks had mentioned, Leona was the only one of them who could contact him with ease when he was in Lesea. Plus, they shared a mind link, which would enable her to talk to him at any time, so long as he didn't shut the link.
"At least now we won't have to worry about you running yourself into the ground quite so much." She said logically, giving Harry a hug.
The next morning came much too quickly for either Harry or Tonks' liking. They had spent most of the night lying in bed, making love and talking quietly, and neither wanted to leave the warmth and comfort of the bed. It would mean that it was so much closer to Harry leaving.
"We have to be in the Great Hall for breakfast, Love." Harry murmured regretfully.
"I don't want to." Tonks pouted.
"Neither do I, but we don't have much of a choice, do we?"
"I suppose not."
"Come on, let's go and shower." Harry said.
The Great Hall was full by the time Harry and Tonks walked in for breakfast, but neither paid very much attention. Tonks was doing her best not to look in the direction of Dumbledore, knowing that snarling at him would not go down overly well. Harry, on the other hand, met the old man's eyes squarely, almost challengingly, smiling grimly as Dumbledore looked away first. They had only been sat down at the Head Table for five minutes when he stood and signalled for silence.
"I have an announcement to make." He said, only to pause as Harry also stood.
"If I may, Headmaster?" He asked. Dumbledore nodded, sitting down and allowing Harry the floor, though Harry noticed that he didn't look entirely comfortable in doing so.
"For a variety of reasons, I feel that I am no longer able to dedicate the time and attention to my class that you all deserve. As a result, I have handed in my resignation to Professor Dumbledore, and will be leaving the castle tomorrow morning. Leona will be taking over my classes. Thank you." He said, retaking his seat. There was stunned silence for thirty seconds as his words sunk in, and then chaos reigned, as many of the students protested loudly. Harry did not stand to calm them, however, focussing on finishing his breakfast and leaving the Great Hall without another word. After he had left, Tonks stood, gaining the attention of everyone in the room.
"If anyone even thinks about harassing him today, they will serve a month of detention with me. Trust that he has his reasons, and that if he could avoid it, he would stay." She said, throwing an angry glance at the Headmaster before stalking out after Harry.
Harry had the fourth year Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors first thing that morning, all of whom were unusually subdued. He had expected to spend most of the day having to defend his decision, but so far, the only comments made by his students were to wish him well. He had a funny feeling that Tonks had said something to them, and was immensely grateful for it. If all of his classes were as well behaved as his first, the day would go much more smoothly than he had anticipated - a fact which cheered him up immensely.
Sure enough, while each of his classes that day expressed their sorrow at his leaving, and gave him their best wishes, not one of them badgered him about his reasons for leaving. He knew he would have to thank his fiancée for that when she finished teaching. He had the last class of the day free, and so he made the most of that time by finishing his packing, grateful for once that he didn't have many possessions at Hogwarts. After he had finished, he decided that he and Tonks should enjoy a romantic meal together on his last night in the castle.
When Tonks finished her last class of the day, all she wanted to do was fall into bed and cry. It had been a hard day, listening to the students' gossip about why Harry was leaving. She was all too aware that Harry's time in the castle was dwindling, and it hurt more than she thought it would - after all, Harry hadn't spent a great deal of time in the castle since he had started teaching, but it was somehow different now that he wouldn't be using the castle as his base. By the time she reached the rooms she and Harry shared, she was barely holding back her tears. When she walked in to find a table set for two, lit by candlelight, the façade she had worn all day shattered, and she broke down into sobs. Harry was by her side immediately, holding her close and letting her cry into his shoulder. No words were spoken, they just held each other in silence.
"I'm sorry." Tonks sniffed some time later, uncomfortably aware of the fact that he had planned a nice dinner for them and she had spoiled it by coming in and crying all over him.
"Don't be." Harry said, kissing the tear tracks on her face.
"What time is the DA meeting? Do we still have time to eat?"
"Not really." Harry said, "It starts in twenty minutes."
"Oh. And you went to all that effort."
"Don't worry about it, Love. We can go to my rooms after the meeting, and have dinner there, how does that sound?"
"Perfect." Tonks said, smiling at him through her tears.
"It will be." Harry promised quietly.
The DA meeting ran more along the lines of what Harry had expected in his classes - everyone seemed to want an explanation from him. This time, however, it was Ron who came to his aid.
"Look, if he wanted to discuss this, he would have said at breakfast. He has his reasons - just accept that, and shut up so that he can speak!" He said angrily. Harry flashed a smile in his direction, fighting back a laugh at some of the more shocked looks on the faces of the DA members.
"I do have my reasons. And that is just what they are: my reasons. Now, I just wanted to make a few announcements. First of all, I am handing over leadership of the group to Ron and Hermione - aided by Professor Tonks, when she has the time. If they tell you to do something, listen to them like you've listened to me. If you have any questions, go to them and ask." Harry paused, looking over the assembled group. It contained members from each of the four houses, and all years. "I'm proud of you all. When Hermione badgered me into starting the DA, I thought it would be just a handful of us. I'm glad now that I listened to her. I never could have imagined that the DA would be so successful." He smiled at them, amused at how they hung onto his every word. "Now, how about we get on with the meeting?" There was a chorus of good-natured groans, and Harry couldn't help but laugh.
At the end of the meeting, a small group of DA members approached Harry, apparently acting as representatives of the entire group. They carried a small package, and an envelope.
"We wanted to get you a leaving gift." A second year Gryffindor said.
"Yeah - it's from the whole of the DA. We all helped make it." A fourth year Hufflepuff added.
"Go on, take it." A tiny first year Slytherin squeaked. Harry accepted the gift from the last member of the group - a fifth year Ravenclaw, speechless for a moment.
"Open it!" The DA yelled as one. Harry nodded and pulled the ribbon from the package, letting the paper fall open. It was a small golden pendant, in the shape of the Hogwarts crest.
"Everyone put their own protection charms on it." Hermione explained quietly.
"Thank you, everyone, this means a great deal to me." He said quietly, fastening the chain around his neck. It rested in the hollow of his throat, above his locket, and felt warm and comforting.
"Do you like it?"
"I love it, it's perfect." Harry assured them. He swallowed the emotion that threatened to overwhelm him, wondering how he had been so lucky as to have such good friends.
"We're glad you like it, Harry. Now, don't you have somewhere to be?" Hermione said, with a pointed glance towards Tonks. Harry laughed happily.
"Ah yes, I do seem to remember promising my fiancée a candle-lit dinner for two." He said, taking Tonks' hand and kissing it. Every girl in the room sighed, while the males groaned.
"I'll be leaving tomorrow before breakfast, so I don't expect I'll see you. But don't worry, I'll visit now and again." He said before he and Tonks left, a cacophony of farewells following them.
It was still dark when Harry woke, and started getting ready to leave. He hadn't been kidding when he had told the DA that he was leaving before breakfast - he intended to leave at sunrise. He paused by the bed, watching as Tonks slept. On her ring finger, her engagement ring shone in the candle-light. He had put it back in its rightful place the night before, while they were in his rooms.
"Tonks, Love, wake up." He murmured, touching her cheek almost reverently.
"What time is it?" Tonks asked groggily.
"It's early still. Will you have breakfast with me before I leave?"
"Of course." Tonks said, more awake now. She was calmer this morning than she had been for a long time. She had had a long time to put everything in perspective - this move was what was best for Harry, and in the long run, it would probably prove to be best for everyone involved.
"I love you." She told him seriously.
"I love you too. I can't wait to make you Mrs Potter."
"Hmm. Sounds good to me."
"Come on, let's get some breakfast."
Sunrise was Albus Dumbledore's favourite time of the day. A new beginning each and every day. He sat by the window in his office, watching one of his most beloved pupils leaving the school. His heart was heavy, but he knew that ultimately, this was the right path for the young man to take. As much as he would have loved to help him in his task, he knew as well as Harry did that this time, the battle was not his to win or lose. He sighed, a tear falling as he watched the small group of people that stood to see him off - a strange group, but all of them strong and faithful friends. Hogwarts herself was reaching out, saying farewell to what Albus suspected was her very dearest occupant. The castle would miss Harry Potter every bit as much as those within her walls.
Well, that's that. Another chapter finished. I have started the next chapter, but it's only about 100 words long at this point. Hopefully the wait won't be quite as long as this last one, though.