Chapter 24

"Unfortunately, Potter's rash decision to flee resulted in his moronic move to dive off of the cliff into certain death. So yes, he was alive, but now he's not. Somehow, Potter has managed to achieve the impossible, he died twice." Snape announced to the silent group gathered in Dumbledore's office. Dumbledore's sad eyes, with no trace of a twinkle, were prominent staring back at him.

"There is no chance he survived?" Dumbledore asked when no one else seemed willing to.

"Potter had a lot of injuries not only from three consecutive crutatious curses, but also according to a few sources he was refusing to eat, not to mention the injuries received from his scuffle with the chimera," Snape said idly removing a piece of lint from his robes to avoid looking into the old man's tear stricken eyes. "He would have had to of missed the jagged, pointy rocks beneath the cliff, survived the kilometer fall into the water, which was partly frozen, fought against the current of the river and found his way to land, all in the 2 minutes it took for the deatheaters to reach the bottom of the cliff, and then proceeded to elude capture for the 3 ½ hours the deatheaters looked for him."

"It's more likely," Mad-eye said in a gruff voice after a few moments of tense silence, "That Potter was killed on impact, and his body was washed out to sea."

"What are we going to tell everyone," asked McGonagall, her usual brisk manner broken as she dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief given to her by a teary-eyed Flitwick.

"We needn't burden the student body with this information," said Snape scowling slightly.

"Severus, several of your students witnessed the events," Dumbledore said shaking his head sadly, "they're not just going to forget it happened."

"Not to mention Miss Granger, the first time around was bad, how will she react to this!?" Madam Pompfrey said hugging her arms to herself.

"School resumes in 3 days," Dumbledore said closing his eyes, "We shall inform the student body at that time, until then, we shall keep this information to ourselves. This includes the rest of the Order; the news would kill some of them."

"And how will we be ensuring my students silence?" Snape asked coolly raising an eyebrow archly.

"Their presence at a deatheater meeting is troubling, Severus," Said Dumbledore frowning shaking his head.

"The ministry is prepared to hold them as prisoners-of-war," Shaklebolt spoke up for the first time in his deep baritone.

"They haven't joined the dark lord," Snape snapped snarkily, "they had no choice but to attend the 'event' or their lives would have been in danger."

"Before we decide what to do with your students, Severus," Dumbledore said pensively, "I believe one of them wishes to speak to us," he indicated towards the closed door, "please show them in."

Harry awoke in a stone room warmed by a large fireplace that a cozy fire crackled merrily into the silence of the room. He was lying in a bed that was barely large enough for him covered in no less than six blankets.

"You're awake," a voice said echoing lightly around the stone walls. "Welcome back to the land of the living, Mr. Potter. We've missed you."

"Where am I?" Harry asked frowning at the goblin in thought trying to remember how he had gotten there.

"Residential section 14 of the black officers brigade of financial advisors," replied the voice, a little higher than any of the Goblins he met, upon further observation Harry concluded the Goblin was a female.

"I'm sorry where?" Harry asked in a confused tone.

The goblin sent him a contemptuous look before sighing to herself, "You are below Gringotts, pretty near your vault."

Narcissa Malfoy sat outside the office of Albus Dumbledore nervously adjusting the diamond bracelet on her pale white wrist. Her son sat across from her nervously swinging his legs back and forth below the chair like he used to do when he was younger and was facing his father after doing something wrong. Under normal circumstances she would have reprimanded him on his undignified behavior but these weren't ordinary circumstances.

Narcissa had betrayed her husband and the Dark Lord by seeking out the disowned Nymphadora Tonks, an auror and known member of Dumbledore's illustrious band of goody-two-shoes, the Order of Phoenix, in order to ensure the safety of her son, but her plan was ruined with Potter's death.

She allowed Nymphadora to take her place, coached her even on her mannerisms and how to convince her sister of the ruse, in order to prove that Potter was alive, which would be instrumental in the rescue of the boy, allowing her to have leverage when asking for protection for her son. He wasn't like his father, no matter how much he tried to be, the boy looked up to him so much. But stranger, he seemed to look up to Harry Potter more.

It started years before the wizarding world met the young man with overtly large clothes, and the famous lightning bolt scar upon his forehead. It started with the bedtime stories. Lucius was avid about telling 'old war stories' to Draco before bed, ensuring his hatred for Dumbledore and muggleborns. Draco was forced to read awful muggle books about murder and wars to frighten the boy of what muggles were capable of. And it worked for the most part, her husbands mistake however, was to regale Draco of the story of the night the Dark Lord fell.

Children love heroes that aren't adults, they can relate to them. It started off with a simple request to hear the tale over and over, a good way to instill hatred of the boy-who-lived in Draco her husband thought, but only she saw the glimmer of excitement in Draco's eyes when Potter survived the dreaded curse and the dark lord didn't. Even back then she knew her son would never be able to follow in Lucius' footsteps, but she didn't have to worry about that, the dark lord was dead and her husband went back to politics and she had a nice 10 years, until Potter returned to the wizarding world.

It's awful to blame a 11 year old kid for destroying your world, but his return shattered her quiet upscale life, for with him back, so was the dark lord, and a dark cloud began to form on the horizon of her son's life.

She wouldn't know until he returned home for Christmas break his 1st year of Hogwarts, but Draco met his childhood hero, Harry Potter. And he was devastated to reveal that they didn't get along. He didn't believe in the same things as Draco believed. He hung around with Muggleborns (corrected by his father as Mud-bloods) and clearly favored by Dumbledore because he was allowed on the Quidditch team in first year! And yet, through the anger he vented she could still hear an awe of Potter in her son's voice when he talked about how 'badly' the boy played.

Draco never had an interest in being a seeker; he wanted to be a chaser, like Gordon Abachase of the Falmouth Falcons. But the summer before 2nd year he spent hours outside practicing catching the snitch. Of course her husband approved of it as a way to beat Potter since the house cup was snatched away at the last second, but he was blind. Draco wanted to be accepted by Potter. It continued like that for years, first it was rivalry in everything they could be in together, then he started quoting the boy on the war (only to her of course) he started questioning his father's view. Then the Dark Lord returned and the only thing Draco could talk about was how Potter was handling the wizarding world turning on him.

She met Potter over the summer, and despite herself she could see where the fascination was. The boy radiated a power she rarely felt elsewhere, but he didn't use it. He had those sad disarming eyes of a boy who had lost too much and seen too much to pose any threat, but they could quickly turn cold and powerful to warn off those who wanted to hurt him.

She had offered to take over his guardianship in an effort to save her son from his devotion to his father, 3 weeks with constant access to Potter's damning looks on the dark arts and exposure to his views was bound to convince Draco of the path he should take, but alas she failed to acquire it.

But now, Potter was gone for good, and she had no leverage to save her son who had been apart of the boy's downfall. Her son was doomed to walk in the same footsteps her husband had walked so many years ago, and she was to lose them both to the same damn war that separated her from her family and dragged her sister into the depths of insanity.

She wasn't alone in her respite of remembrance of the past wrongs and the unknowing future. Several of her close friends sat around her holding their children's hands' as if they were 5 years old again casting sad looks at the closed doors that held the teaching staff of Hogwarts behind them that would determine the fate of their lives, allow them to stay at school, expel them, or turn them over to the Ministry.

The door creaked open and Severus Snape stood there silently before addressing the room, "Dumbledore wishes to hear what you have to say for yourself…"

Harry downed the brown-tinted liquid greedily as Hiergs wife Amie handed him another plate of chicken and some unidentifiable food that Harry didn't think to ask be identified in case it were to offend the woman that already seemed less-than-thrilled with his presence in her home.

"Alright, so you were never convinced that I was dead because my vaults were still active?" Harry asked between mouthfuls. He still sat upon the bed he was given due to both of his legs being encased in metallic braces with unknown runes etched into the sides. Both legs had broken due to his fall. A greenish-yellow sticky sap was applied to the large gashes across his back in an effort to heal them.

"The vaults have an enchantment on them to alert us when the last heir dies in order to… revert the estates to Gringotts possession," Hiergs said looking anywhere but at Harry.

"Remind me to make out a will before I leave," Said Harry taking another sip of the bitter liquid.

Hiergs laughed heartily, "Indeed." He nodded approvingly before tearing a piece of chicken from the bone, "Your vaults stayed active, therefore you were alive, in my opinion at least. It was a rather lengthy debate amongst the Council of 6, after all your estate is rather large, it would have been a great asset to gain."

"The council of 6, I met them at the will reading right?" Asked Harry frowning, he knew of the Goblins want of wealth so it wasn't that surprising, but he was definitely filling out a will before he went back to Hogwarts.

"You met 5 of the 6, Geural Wonsaji; Head of the GGC was in Romania acquiring some relics from a tomb the curse breakers found," Hiergs smirked, "Anyway, He was the deciding vote, since your vault was still active we weren't allowed to touch it, which is great news for me." He smiled quite conspicuously here, "With you putting me in charge of your account I received a rather large promotion and with it we were moved here, to be closer to your vaults." He smiled.

"Alright, so how did I get here?" Harry asked watching Amie refill his glass with the liquid.

"Drink up. It'll give you strength," she said before turning on her heel, a contemptuous look sent towards Hiergs, and she left the room.

"She's not happy I'm here," Harry said observantly.

"No she's not," nodded Hiergs truthfully, "But then again should you be found here I would be in tremendous danger, humans aren't welcome within the residential sections, our society has learned it's lesson from years past from that mistake."

"You're talking about the Goblin War of 1295, right?" Asked Harry trying to remember the exact details of the war, the King of the time was invited to spend sometime with in the Goblin Society in which he found the metal magic the Goblins had something he wished to possess and ended up slaughtering nearly 100 goblins in an effort to steal it. Humans weren't allowed inside the core of the Goblin society again.

"Indeed," Hiergs nodded. "So your presence here is a dangerous thing, especially how you were brought here."

"How was I brought here?" Harry asked curiously.

"A stone phoenix." Hiergs said smirking, "A Goblin secret, a stone phoenix has the transportation powers of a real phoenix and can locate the magical source it's tied to as soon as it's activated. Your magical signature brought it to you when you were in danger, it's a lucky thing your magic automatically acted to brace your fall off of the cliff, and helped you avoid the rocks at the bottom."

"How did it come to be attached to my magical signature?" Harry mused aloud.

"I took the liberty of syncing your magic, the sample we had from the Emancipation Papers was enough, to that of the phoenix, it was to be a gift for you because of the trust you put in me," Hiergs said solemnly. "No Wizard has ever fully trusted a Goblin as you have, a truly idiotic move if I do say so myself."

Harry smiled, "Yes, I agree I've gained nothing from trusting you," he returned sarcastically.

"I fear you may not feel the same way much longer, The cupcake in charge of the Ministry is trying to confiscate your holdings along with that of the Pureblooded Families," Hiergs said maliciously, "He's here everyday trying new ways of gaining access to them, He's put a hold on all the vaults he's trying to take."

"Under what circumstances is he able to do that?" Harry asked frowning, "Surely there are laws to prevent that."

"He has instigated that the high security vaults are tied to Dark activities and are subject to investigation, and should any suspicious activity be found they may have legal grounds to confiscate the contents 'to ensure the peace' I believe the warrant states," Hiergs said frowning. "And I fear should he find you here, it would not be a happy reunion."

Harry frowned, "What are you saying?"

"You are believed to be dead, he would have nothing to gain from your return, and everything to gain from your continued absence, after all your account is one he wishes to gain control of, you're an icon in the magical world-even among my people, and you of all people have nothing to hide with in your finances when it comes to contributing to the Dark side, if you brought attention to his actions, well, he wouldn't have a leg to stand on as it were," Hiergs said sipping from his metal cup.

"I see," Harry frowned would Fudge really have him killed just to secure his vault holdings; sure it was rather substantial but not enough to kill over in Harry's opinion.

"That is why I have arranged transport out of here tonight, Fudge is forcing his way into our domain for an inspection, no doubt a ruse to see the different security we have around the vaults, if you're discovered both of our lives will be forfeit," Hiergs said frowning.

"Dumbledore would surely pick me up," Said Harry wishing to go home already and see his friends and force Hermione to eat something.

Hiergs spit at the sound of Dumbledore's name, "We do not deal with the bumblebee, he's as foul some and treacherous as his mentor Flamel! Clearing out vaults before they die, ensuring we Goblins gain nothing."

Harry frowned slightly before voicing his concern, "Then who is transporting me out of here?"

Hiergs smiled crookedly, "Those whom could never betray us Goblins, for they have no need of monetary values."

"Young Mr. Malfoy, I believe you wish to address us before we make a decision on whether or not to allow you and your comrades to return for the spring semester," Albus Dumbledore said after the door was closed behind him. His mother had settled herself into the chair next to the usually pink-haired auror and was whispering in a frantic manner to her. Professor Snape his only real ally in the room was standing in the corner, his arms crossed and a pensive look on his face.

Draco frowned slightly at the group that by the looks on their faces has already made up their minds. "I…er…" he racked his mind with what he could possibly say and fell short so instead he just reached into his pocket and fished out the wand and placed it on Dumbledore's desk.

It was Snape that was the first to react to the wand, he swept across the room in two large steps and snatched the wand from the desk inspecting it carefully, "This is Potter's wand, how did you get it!?"

"Father left me in the Library while they searched for Potter, it was on display there… I recognized it. After all how many times has Potter drawn it on me," Draco shrugged, "I figured when he shows up again he'll want it back."

"You believe Harry to be alive?" asked Albus Dumbledore watching Snape turn the wand over and over in his hands inspecting every inch of it.

"With Potter, until I see a body, he's alive," Draco said scowling slightly, "He's got more lives than a cat."

"Headmaster, as far as I can tell this is Potter's wand," Snape said a look of unmingled fascination on his face, "The wand equal to that of the Dark Lords."

Draco frowned, "What do you mean, equal to the Dark Lords?"

Dumbledore smiled slightly at him, "Do you realize what you had in your possession? I thought not," he said indicating to Snape to hand over Potter's wand, he did-albeit reluctantly- "Harry's wand and Voldemort's wand have the same core, phoenix feathers from the very same phoenix. The only two feathers the phoenix ever gave, this wand can render Voldemort's wand useless."

"And you gave that to Potter? Why not an auror or yourself!" Draco said glaring slightly at the headmaster. "In the hands of a trained wizard the Dark Lord would have been defeated by now, instead you gave it to an 11 year old kid and look where it got him…"

"The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore said tightness in his voice, "And this wand chose Harry."

"Perhaps we should discuss the children's chances of returning for Spring Semester," McGonagall said.

"Yes, we can discuss who will get Potter's wand later," said Snape reaching out for it again, Dumbledore allowed him to pick it up, an action Draco found dishonorable towards his rival, after all Potter hated Snape he wouldn't want him to be touching his wand, let alone have it to keep.

"Severus, conjure more chairs I think it's time we talked to the rest of your students," Dumbledore said watching the wand in his hand curiously.

Snape smirked, "As you wish…" He twirled the wand in a complicated motion, a tinge of blue appearing at the wand tip, when suddenly a large BANG was heard as the wand tip sparked angrily blasting Snape through the office door and into the large waiting room where parents and students sat dumbfounded looking at Snape's prone figure that was smoking slightly.

"Well, it would seem the wand will not be going to Snape," Mad-eye Moody said in an amused voice.

"Are you certain your leg can support your weight?" Hiergs asked uncertainly looking with apprehension at Harry as he removed the metallic brace from his leg.

"You said it yourself, the brace has healed it as much as it can, besides I can't walk with it on," Harry said grabbing the clothes that Hiergs had procured for him from Madam Malkins.

"I still think you should wait another day, the cupcake is due for his visit today, and you'll be passing by the junction he's trying to gain access to," Amie said frowning with worry.

Harry tossed off the undersized clothes he wore that Hiergs wife Amie had put him in so many days ago and pulled the new shirt over his head before testing his weight on his leg, dull throbbing pain made its self present as he semi-limped across the room. "It's better than I expected," shrugged Harry considering Hiergs had explained that the metallic brace was intended for goblins and had rarely been used on humans.

A loud knocking was heard on the front door which caused all three of them to turn towards it apprehensively. Harry frowned before taking the clothes and hobbling into the bedroom in which he closed the door.

"Councilman Teir, Councilman Wonsaji, how may I help you today?" Hiergs voice asked from the other side of the door.

"Hiergs, we seem to have a problem with some activity on one of your accounts," a male's voice said suspiciously.

"Which account?"

"The only one of interest to that damn Cupcake!" Growled the other voice. "He's on his way down here right now convinced that he's finally found a way of confiscating the Potter Vaults."

"What's he trying this time?" Hiergs asked ominously.

"He's claiming that the Potter Vaults have been corrupted by the Black Inheritance and therefore have ties to the Dark Lord's followers. He's requesting the expense reports from all the vaults tainted with the Black Money for the past 20 years," Growled the first voice.

"Councilman Tier, you know as well as I do that neither families vaults have accurate and complete expense reports, neither family saw reasons to keep them," Hiergs said in a voice that conveyed his frown he undoubtedly was wearing. "The Potter's were heavily involved in the war; it would have raised major questions about their spending during the 1st reign. And the Black Family fell apart after the Mother went insane with losing both heirs."

"Yes we know that," The other councilman said, who was now identified by the process of elimination as Councilman Wonsaji. "We need to know which vaults house the Black fortune."

"All of them," Hiergs said despairingly. "Mr. Potter wanted his vaults combined together; I moved all of his possessions into the High-Security area in the row of adjoining vaults, a total of 6 vaults. It is impossible to determine what came from the Black vaults and what came from the Potter Vaults."

"Well that's just great!" Tier returned in a sarcastic manner. "With no living heir to these vaults we have no legal standing to object to turning over the expense reports."

Silence reigned for nearly a minute before Hiergs spoke, "Then what we need is the heir to object."

"Hiergs we know you're one of the few still holding out on declaring Potter dead, but we have no proof…" He trailed off as Hiergs interrupted him.

"High Councilman, if you can delay the cupcake, I have absolute faith that the heir will object wholeheartedly to the search of his vaults, in the coming days."

There was silence for a few moments before Councilman Wonsaji spoke, "What are you hiding maiki," The word was unrecognizable by Harry but the tone was not pleasing, it was the same as one Snape often used to insult Harry with.

"Take my word, the heir will come in two days time, on this I vow, Tarko," Hiergs spoke with a tone of respect.

"We shall talk again, on this I vow maiki," Councilman Tier said before the door shut soundly, a few seconds later the door opened to reveal a pensive Hiergs and a worried looking Amie.

"Well then," said Harry clearing his throat, "perhaps I should get going so that I can return in time to object to the invasion of my privacy."

"Indeed," Hiergs said grabbing two large, black capes cover with dust and soot from the caves that Gringotts held their vaults in, "We shall be taking the excavation route, you will need to wear this to avoid detection by our wards. No wizard has ever traveled as far as you will into our society, I dare hope I have not entrusted the wrong wizard."

Harry threw the cape on over his head immediately feeling the weight of the heavy cloth weighing him down on his weakened legs, "I hope to live up to that trust." Harry said as he followed Hiergs out the door.

"Well I hear that a handful of Slytherin's are about to be expelled!" A third year hissed about three feet down from where Hermione sat. Christmas Break was nearly at an end, and she had returned back to school after a slight reprieve of her depression and a visit to her parents.

However, she was very anxious to hear what news the Order had recovered about Harry's location. Surely if they had rescued him he would have asked to at least notify her and Ron of his being alive and rescued. But for two weeks she had received no word, her owls were seemingly ignored and the teachers seemed to be avoiding her at all costs; Which was quite conspicuous when she went to ask Professor McGonagall about any information she had and the woman changed into her cat form and jumped out the transfiguration classroom window, sure she landed on the ledge and quickly ran off to some unknown destination, but still it was quite insulting to say the least.

Ron, whom had remained at Hogwarts was just as clueless as she was, in fact he hadn't been aware of the possibility-neigh the actuality that Harry was alive and in need of rescuing. His resulting temper tantrum was less than helpful, however, once he did calm down he did begin to start planning out a rescue mission of his own if the Order wasn't going to rescue his best mate, then he sure as hell would. After the fiasco with trying to talk to her professors, (Flitwick knocked himself unconscious to avoid talking to her with the aide of Peeves- which didn't fool her for a second, surely Flitwick could have just levitated the walking sticks before they hit him), Hermione full heartily began to help Ron plan a rescue mission.

"Whoa," Harry muttered under his breath at the vast cavernous space that was before him. He was currently in a black cart racing through the underground caverns of Gringotts Bank. Large bulbous lights blinked sporadically above them in the ceiling of the cave above the track.

"Those are mionite explosive charges," Hiergs said waving a hand idly at the blinking lights, "Should someone un-authorized be detected by our wards they will detonate and trap the perpetrator in a cave-in."

Harry sucked in a breath at the thought of all that rock coming down on him as he tightened the cloak around him, it would allow him to pass through the wards undetected as long as he didn't perform any magic that the wards could pick up on.

Soon the cart came to a large incline in track that had them climbing up the small track reminding Harry of a muggle rollercoaster, which did not bode well in comparison because where there was an increase, there would also be a decrease, which was a bad thing considering how much they were increasing!

Ron frowned as he looked over several maps that Fred and George had somehow secured detailing where the Order believed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was holding prisoners in the Great Hall.

"I don't see why my plan doesn't work," he scowled at the blonde idiot, "and why you're even here, Ferret Boy!"

"That was in FOURTH YEAR! Move on Already!" Sneered Malfoy as he tugged the closest map towards him.

"We've already discussed this Ron!" Hermione said exasperated, "Malfoy is here to help, he retrieved Harry's wand, and without him the order wouldn't have known Harry was still alive."

"That spell doesn't always work," snapped Ron. "It's why the order didn't use it in the first place! Besides, Tonks was the one that confirmed Harry being alive, not his stupid attempt."

"Tonks knew because his mother sought her out!" Fred or perhaps it was George growled in irritation. "And we need all the inside information we can get, Harry's the Deatheater expert, might as well get someone that has similar knowledge and who better than a deatheater's son!"

"And Ronald, your plan is quite ludicrous, really where would we find that many mandrakes in so little time?" Asked Luna as she rested her head on Neville's shoulder.

Harry's cart rolled to a stop the cavernous walls sliming to a narrow pathway that even with his lithe frame he was unsure of his ability to pass through it.

"You will journey through the passageway and find yourself leaving the cave of obscurity in the far reaches of the Forbidden Forest. Tell no one of this entrance, Mr. — Harry… unfortunately this is where I must leave you. Tell our mutual friends I will be in touch," Hiergs said loftily pointing his bony finger at the pathway to their right.

"Er… Alright. Thank you for all of your help, Hiergs." Harry said stumbling out of the cart, wishing beyond the Gods that he had a wand. Only a true idiot would willingly enter the Forbidden Forest without one… Merlin he was an idiot.

"Make no mention of it Harry, and be sure to hold your word true, and return in 3 days time, We can not hold off the cupcake any longer than that," Hiergs said as the cart began to roll away farther into the darkened caverns his voice reverberated off the slimy cavern walls, "Adloki Harry!"

Harry frowned unsure of what that meant and waited until the sound of the cart's journey was no longer discernable to the human ear. Sighing with trepidation Harry squeezed himself into what he would call a crack in between the two opposing walls. If one ever wondered what it was like to be in a sandwich Harry could accurately describe it after this. Tremendous pressure surrounded his body on both his front and back side as he slide himself down the extensive passageway that unfortunately was not a straight path but instead flowed in a winding manner that reminded him unhelpfully of a snake as it moved along the ground, which brought back damning memories of a certain self-proclaimed Dark Lord's favorite pet. Which inspired Harry to ignore the scraping of his skin due to the proximity of exposed flesh and the harsh unforgiving stone it rubbed across and increased his speed along the path; none of which was helpful to his right leg that tinged in numbing pain every step he slid?

After what felt like hours Harry found himself extradited from the passageway, sweat pouring down his back, gasping for large breaths as a wave of fresh night air assaulted his senses. Like a drowning man breaching the surface of the water Harry fought his way out of the cave and found himself being rocked backwards slightly by a cool night wind.

"Mars is indeed bright tonight, would you not agree, Mr. Potter?"

Moony sat locked inside the North Tower at Hogwarts, the Full moon was high in the sky, and the empty goblet that held the vile potion lay shattered on the floor from the transformation. After investigating the broken shards of glass, and deeming it unworthy of further investigation Moony had settled himself upon the ledge of the window that was barred shut and stared blankly at the full moon. The cool night wind unsettling the dust that cluttered the floor tickling his senses with a familiar scent. Intrigued Moony began to sniff the area around him. The unused desk off to the side held none of his interest, nor did the fluffy chair that beside a few claw and teeth marks was in fair shape, the books were of no consequence and the floor while dusty did not register as the familiar shape.

Whining at the unfairness of not discovering the smell, Moony settled himself again beside the window, the cool air doing wonders against the build of adrenaline that began to make itself present, the reason unknown to the werewolf. As the wind picked up in speed the smell assaulted his senses once again, this time it was stronger as if it were moving closer.

Straining his memory to connect the smell with an object he sat for several minutes dismissing the different things the smell could be until his memory connected with the smell he encountered two years ago… HARRY!

Severus Snape was not one for late night strolls when he was sure that wandering, rule-breaking Gryffindors were not out of bed. He would instead be more inclined to be working on the Helion Potion that was currently simmering in his quarters, however, the house elf was quite insistent that the stupid werewolf was in some sort of distress, and had she not seemed sincere in her worry that the wolf was attempting an escape from his prison he would have told her just that. Muttering to himself as he climbed the stairs it was then that he should have noticed something weird, but with his perpetual bad mood it seemingly didn't register as odd.

"Stupid mangy mutt… making me have to check on his scruffy… should lock him in a cage…. What are you sniffing at!?" He kicked at the grayish dog that had been wandering past him down the steps and had stopped to sniff the bottom of his robes. "Letting dogs run around the castle… unleashed… if Black wasn't dead I'd bet it was him… but he was Black, not grey… and didn't look like a werewolf…wait."

Snape turned around quickly but only spotted a small tail flick as the idiot known as Lupin disappeared out of sight, "Where do you think you're going!" Snape yelled as he removed his wand from his pocket and descended down the stairs quickly.

"Good Evening Magorian," Harry said observing the small gathering of centaurs, only one other did Harry recognized. "Pariles, good to see you again."

"Harry!" Pariles said exuberantly, pushing past two slack jawed foals that looked around the same age as Pariles himself. "I told them you weren't dead!"

"Yeah," laughed Harry humorlessly, "it'll take more than deatheaters, ambushes, and a few months of torture to kill me…er and a cliff and really cold water… how have you been? Traveled into any more dangerous lair's since we last talked?" Asked Harry frowning to himself, he really had no idea how he'd survived and it was best not to dwell on it.

Pariles looked slightly abashed at this and was about to respond when Magorian interrupted him, "Pariles has learned to abide the stars and will never repeat such a human action again."

Harry smiled, "Of course he won't, are you accompanying me to Hogwarts than?"

Pariles frowned, "No, we're taking you back to our burrow, the stars have demanded it."

"Have they?" Harry asked frowning and casting a betrayed look towards the blinking heavens.

"Indeed Vesta and Ceres dance around the Lion tonight, And Chiron watches down upon us, tonight is a new beginning, we feast!" Pariles said excitedly, "The ntate and the morwa of the tsala's of the isle have gathered!"

"Er… how exciting," Harry said unsure not aware of the meaning of the words, but Pariles' excitement shown through his eyes as brightly as the stars themselves.

"Undeniably," Magorian said. The lead centaur said breaking his silence from his observation of Harry and Pariles' interaction. "Maa'kee; Braike, you will escort our guest back into the foals and Harry.

Harry watched them go before finding himself under scrutiny from Maa'kee and Braike, a scrutiny Harry returned full force. One of the foals, a deep chocolate brown, pulled a sneer and a harsh laugh followed it, "You're Harry Potter? You're hardly bigger than a sapling." The other foal a caramel brown with several white spots along his back legs joining in to the laughing, Pariles frowned to himself.

"Ah Maa'kee and Braike, I've heard so much about you," said Harry pulling his face into a similar expression. "Tell me Pariles do they often act as though they are human?" The two foals stopped laughing. "Dares… really such a human thing to do, especially if you're too scared to do it too. Cowardly even."

"Shut it human," The caramel one said.

"No, Braike, let him talk. What would he know of bravery, we live by the code of Artimis, he lives by no such code, all humans are cowards," Maa'kee said glaring slightly at Harry.

"He's braver that the both of you combined," growled Parilies at them. "Let's go." He snapped at them, "before the others come searching for us; wouldn't want your Mtwas worrying!"

Harry smiled he may not know what most of the centaur language meant, but it was certain from the way the two boys acted that Mtwas meant mother, for they barely paused before following after Pariles.

"Albus, I don't understand why we're doing this! Surely you don't need all of these!" Minerva McGonagall said exasperated as she watched Albus Dumbledore pull an overtly large box of bed pans out of the room. "And why in the name of Merlin is there a room filled with bed pans in Hogwarts in the first place?"

"Ah Minnie," Albus said smiling at the repulsed look that crossed her face, how she hated that nickname, "There are many wondrous things at Hogwarts that have no explanation! However, as to why I need them… well I doubt I will ever re-find this room again! And why waste the opportunity!?"

"Albus, I know you like to play up your… eccentricities but this is just crazy! We do not need this many bed pans in the Hospital Wing!" Minerva said frustrated at his lack of sanity.

"Who said they were for the Hospital Wing!" Albus laughed pulling another large box out of the room.

Minerva stood there slack-jawed for several seconds before voicing her confusion, "Then why do you need… no never mind I'd really rather not know."

"Ah, Minnie, you… I say, was that Remus just now?" Albus said frowning looking over her shoulder.

"Albus, it's a full moon tonight," Minerva sighed marveling at how quickly a headache could form.

"Come back here you mangy mutt!" The sound of Severus' voice made her turn around. He passed by in a hurry, "You can't sniff me and then walk away! I did not give you permission to sniff me!"

"What in the world… Albus, where are you going?" Minerva said.

"To see why Remus sniffed Severus' of course," and with that he disappeared out of sight around the corner.

"Why, Merlin, why!?" Minerva looked towards the ceiling pleadingly, before casting a look at the hallway still filled with bed pans, "Wait up Albus!"

"Alright, so tonight will just be a scouting mission," Lee Jordan said rolling up the plans, we'll spit up into 3 teams, Fred, Malfoy, Luna, and Neville you'll be going to Castell Coch remember to avoid the ghosts of the castle, they may give you away! George, Ginny, Moon, Bill, you'll be scoping out Arundel Castle the Blue Man shouldn't give you any trouble just stay out of the Library. Charlie, Angelina, Katie, and I will be checking out Riddle Manor, but according to the Order's notes they doubt he-who-must-not-be-named isn't using it because Dumbledore knows about it now. Hermione, Ron, and Alicia will be checking out Herstmonceux the Grey Lady will be accompanying you as well, there has been a few prisoners held there, not much security though."

They all nodded gathering up there things before casting disillusionment charms on themselves, before opening the Great Hall Doors.

"I'll flay you alive you mangy beast!" Severus Snape's voice bellowed down the hallway making the teens stop dead in there tracks. The lone figure of a graying wolf with glowing yellow eyes paused before the teens, sniffed each of the prone figures, before beginning on its journey again.

"Really, Severus, I'm sure Remus sniffed you with only good intentions, and it wasn't a slight against your personal hygiene," Dumbledore's voice traveled into the hallway.

"He's headed outside!" Severus growled in an annoyed tone, "I'll stop him before he reaches the forbidden forest!"

Snape took off at a run, McGonagall trailing after him quickly to interfere in any bloodshed that may occur. Dumbledore paused slightly almost seemingly looking at the large group of teens. "I would have to punish students out of bed… however; I have more interesting endeavors at the moment." He nodded himself as he took off after McGonagall.

"That was—," Hermione started to say but the twins cut her off.

"Let's follow them!"

"But what about our missions!" Neville said uncertainly.

"After some mischief," they said taking off after the teachers, leaving the others with no choice but to follow.

Harry sat in the burrow feasting on tasteless bread that the centaurs made especially for the gathering. His plate was filled with a mixture of different plant life and berries from bushes, several plump plumbs and juicy apples were also provided, a large trunk of a fallen tree was the holding place for the large buffet of food, along with a spit in the middle of the clearing held a rotisserie pig being turned slowly over the campfire. While he was having fun listening to the old centaur tell a story about Hercules and Chiron he longed to go to Hogwarts, to see his friends and to sleep in his own bed, and one of Hermione's bone crushing hugs wouldn't go unappreciated. It was as he bit into his apple that it happened. Several of the mares of the tribe screamed in fright before latching themselves onto their mothers, and several of the hunters levied their arrows towards Harry. But it was too late; the large beast took a hold of Harry, glowing gold eyes burning themselves into green one's before… a massive tongue slimed his face with sticky drool.

"Ah… get off!" Harry said trying to push the werewolf off of him. "Gross! Come on Lupin… stop licking me!" He recognized the wolf for whom he was. Besides what other werewolf would lick him.

"Bleeding Hell Potter, Don't you ever just die?" Came a sneering voice.