The first morning of his stay in his new house, Harry put off studying for his newts and flooed to the Weasley's. When he arrived, he found Ginny sitting in one of the squashy chairs in the living room reading, and he suspected Ron was still asleep. Mr. Weasley was undoubtedly already at the ministry, but there was the scent of eggs and bacon coming from the kitchen, exactly what Harry had been looking for. Ginny jumped and looked up in surprise as someone stepped through the fireplace, but relaxed when she saw Harry.
"Harry I nearly jumped out of my seat!" She exclaimed, "What are you doing here."
Harry raised his nose and inhaled the smell of good breakfast cooking.
"I smelled breakfast," he said smiling.
Ginny merely raised an eyebrow.
"You smelled breakfast?" she said smirking, "All the way from Godric's Hollow?"
Harry jokingly nodded vigorously. Ginny sighed and laid down her book before getting up and taking him by the elbow.
"Alright alright, better take you to mum," She said smiling,
Harry grinned. Ginny dragged him into the kitchen, shoving him through the swinging door. Mrs. Weasley was leaning against the counter, spatula in hand, reading Witch's Weekly while monitoring the pancakes.
"Mum!" Ginny said loudly, getting her attention. "I found a stray," she said, gesturing at Harry.
Mrs. Weasley chuckled.
"Do you need breakfast Harry dear?" she asked, putting down her magazine on the counter.
Harry lifted a hand up and scratched his head.
"So sorry to bother you Mrs. Weasley," he said, blushing slightly, giving up the joking air he had around Ginny.
Mrs. Weasley shook the spatula at him before using it to flip a few pancakes.
"Nonsense!" she exclaimed, " You are always welcome here, and I know that you have a completely empty refrigerator at home."
Ginny nodded matter-of-factly.
"Alright boy," she said, lugging Harry out of the kitchen by his elbow again, "Lets get out of mum's way," she said. As they both left the kitchen, Harry whirled, catching Ginny by the waist and ducking them into the empty hallway, partially hidden by the coats hanging from the rack on the wall. It took Ginny a moment to realize how close Harry's face was to her, where she was stuck between him and the wall. He was grinning mischievously, in a way that made Ginny's breath catch.
"I haven't had a chance to give you a proper good morning," he whispered, hands still holding her around the waist.
Ginny smiled slightly.
"And what would that be?" she asked innocently, eyes sparkling.
Harry bit his lip. She was so beautiful. They weren't officially dating, or seeing each other, but he was willing to take the risk. He wasn't about to throw away this opportunity, when he had done it so many times before. He leaned in very carefully, and barely brushed his lips with hers. Ginny sighed against his mouth, and kissed him back, a little deeper. Harry pulled her close, and brought one hand up to her head, stroking her hair, brushing her cheek with his thumb, sending shivers down Ginny's spine. After a moment, Ginny pulled away. Harry looked at her in concern.
"Does this mean we're…together?" she asked hesitantly, in a rare moment of boldness.
Harry ducked his head, blushing slightly. Ginny loved it when he did that.
"It does if you want it to," he mumbled, voice partly muffled by Ron's coat.
Ginny reached over and pulled his head back up. Then she tugged at his arm a little (the one that was around her waist).
"I want it to," she said, looking him in the eyes. Harry's face broke into a large, boyish smile. He leaned forward and kissed her deeply. Ginny brought her arms up around his neck. They stayed like that, the morning light from the window above the front door splashing directly on them, hidden from onlookers from down the hall by the coats, perfectly happy not to move until breakfast.
The sun was barely over the horizon on a beautiful spring morning in May, but Harry Potter was not under the soft covers of his bed as he would like to be. No, instead, he sat yawning in a chair in a room at Auror Headquarters, waiting for his turn in the testing room. The testing room was exactly that, a room in which an applicant for auror training was tested by someone or something in order to judge his or her proficiency, so that the ministry would know where to place the trainee. Harry leaned back in his chair and stretched, looking at the room full of prospective aurors. Many looked completely unsuited for the job, and Harry knew they would most likely be sifted out in the end. Harry guessed that many of them had the brains for the job, and had received the necessary newts scores, but didn't quite understand the physical and emotional stress as well. He himself had been relieved, but not really surprised at his own newts scores, owing to all his extra training. He remembered Ron and Hermione's shocked faces when they looked at his paper:
Defense Against the Dark Arts
Care of Magical Creatures
Harry grinned. He hadn't beaten Hermione, but he had gotten close enough, he thought, to make her slightly uncomfortable. Hermione had managed to pull the best set of newts in a century and Ron had been not far behind Harry, qualifying both Ron and Hermione for Auror training. They would be applying soon as well. Just then the man next to him leaned towards him and spoke, brining him out of his own thoughts.
"Bloody boring this is," the man yawned.
"I wouldn't be surprised if its part of the test," he responded, looking at the man.
He was tall, perhaps about as tall as Harry, with a similar build to Ron's, with brown hair, and hazel eyes. The man looked over at him in surprise.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Well, I bet if we make it through, there will be many times when we'll have to be really bored while waiting for a battle or a raid or something," he said. Then shuddered. "Waiting is the worst part," he added quietly, thinking of searching for Ginny in Azkaban.
The man gave him an odd look, then reached over and offered his hand.
"Tony Draper," he said genially. "Parents were murdered by Voldemort, what's your reason?"
Harry looked at him in surprise, and saw his expression mirrored in Tony's. Then he understood why. This young man was used to people flinching and yelping when they heard him speak Voldemort's name. Something Harry wouldn't do. Harry reached and shook his hand.
"Harry Potter," he said, watching Tony's mouth open slightly. "Arch-nemesis of Voldemort…or maybe that would be Dumbledore," he added with a short grin.
Tony grinned back.
"I thought you looked familiar," he said nodding. "Your in the bloody Prophet every week," he said in disgust. Harry hoped it was disgust of the newspaper and not of himself.
"Ah yes," he said, leaning back in his chair with an air of long suffering, "don't believe a thing they write, its all bollocks… most of it anyway," he said with a touch of heat.
"No worries, Fudge owns the prophet now, everyone I know is completely disgusted with it."
"Then you and I are going to get along famously," he said.
"Potter, Harry?" came the voice of an auror who had just come out of the testing room.
She stepped aside as the previous applicant, supported by two other men, was helped out of the room groaning and hopping on one foot. Many people gulped, but their trepidation was overridden by their surprise. There were murmurs and whispers and pointed fingers as Harry got up and went over to the woman. Harry rolled his eyes. One would think that people would grow out of the whole murmuring and pointing fingers thing. The woman who had called his name caught the rolled eyes and smiled, cocking an eyebrow. She opened the door and moved back to let him in first before closing the door behind the both of them. Inside, was a table on a raised portion of the room, behind which sat five people. The person in the middle was a grizzled, particularly imposing man with a build like an ox, a hard-bitten face, and long salt and pepper hair pulled back in a ponytail. None of them said anything.
"All right Mr. Potter," said the woman, putting down her clipboard and pencil in the corner of the room. "This is the testing room. We can assure you nothing will be done to you that is too far out of your capabilities, and injuries will be minimal."
Harry sighed. He wasn't intimidated at all, which he supposed was partially what these people counted on seeing. He took off his coat and tossed it against the wall. He turned, but barely had time to register the look of surprise on the woman's face at the array of three blades at his hip, because a new man had appeared in the room about two feet in front of him, and was bringing a gigantic two-handed broadsword down at a slant right at his neck. Harry yelled, and had his own sword out faster than one could blink, blocking with a force that obviously surprised his opponent. The man recovered immediately from his surprise, and was off swinging in the other direction, using a different move. Harry, combat training and instinct kicking in, ducked and rolled, coming up holding his wand in hand. He whirled, raising the sword in a backhanded sweep to meet the other man's with a crash. At this point, he began to realize what was happening. This man had appeared suddenly and without warning and had begun the fight with no pretense, when he had no way of knowing if Harry could fight back. If Harry had been anyone else, he would have been seriously injured. This angered him to no end, and he felt the fury boil inside him. As Harry felt the magic pooling within his center, he blocked and retreated, blocked and retreated, not wanting to hurt the other man. Eventually, his temper got hold of him. He was tired of being pushed around the room, and he intended to tell the judges sitting at their table a thing or two when this was finished. Harry exploded into action, he slammed his sword into the other man's, then whirled in the other direction, mirroring the move he had just made, and simultaneously shielding himself magically from a stunning spell aimed at him by…not his opponent but the woman auror who had called his name. He growled under his breath.
"Expelliarmus!" the woman shouted the time.
He crouched, dodging the disarming spell and snapped out his leg in a sidekick, catching the man he was fighting in the hip. Just as the man lifted his leg to retaliate, Harry ducked, rolled, and came up low. Still crouching, he swung his leg around, close to the ground and caught the auror's leg, sending him tumbling. The man fell into a well-practiced roll, but before he was even finished, Harry was up facing him with his sword leveled. As the man came out of his roll he leaned forward to find the tip of Harry's sword several millimeters away from the bridge of his nose. He cursed, and panting heavily, said,
Harry nodded curtly, but barely had time to lift his sword when he was attacked from behind by a leg-locking spell. He quickly brought his sword out of the way of the man's face and toppled to the ground when the man he had just beaten pushed him. Harry turned over on the ground and faced the woman. She came over and snatched his wand out of his hand.
"Do you yield?" she asked, smirking.
Harry felt his anger mount higher at this point. He wanted to wipe that annoying self-satisfied smirk off her face and teach her to fight honorably instead of behind people's backs. He didn't allow any of the anger to show on his face however. Instead, he grinned maniacally.
"Not quite!" he snapped, catching her off-guard with his attitude.
In the time it took her to get over her surprise he had released himself from the leg-locking curse with a little wandless magic. He yelled and sent a wandless banishing charm in her direction. She dodged, and the spell hit the door, blasting it off its hinges. There were shouts from the people waiting on the other side. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw his other opponent, who was supposed to be defeated, get up and reach for his wand.
"Accio wands," Harry shouted.
Both of his assailants wands, and his own, which was being held by the woman sailed through the air, and landed neatly in Harry's hands.
"NOW are we finished?" he demanded angrily.
The man who had attacked him first looked as though he was about to make a grab for his wand or perhaps his sword at his hip.
"Don't even think about it," Harry said sharply.
The woman at his other side was about to make a similar move, when the man in the center of the judges spoke.
"Test complete," he said.
Both aurors relaxed immediately, something that did surprise Harry because they were no longer trying with all their might to win. The man at the table chuckled, while the other judges looked completely flabbergasted. The center man, who was most likely the Commander, got up and came down to where they were standing.
"Allow me to introduce myself," he said in a booming baritone.
"I am Commader Giles Aegidius, you will be serving under me," he said. "I would very much like to know where on earth you learned to fight like that boy?" He demanded
Harry blushed hotly and held his temper.
"Not on earth, that's where," he mumbled.
The Commander roared and Harry heard chuckling. He turned to find the man he had fought limping over, clutching his hip but smiling good-naturedly. Harry frowned.
"My name is Marcus," the auror said, offering his hand.
Harry shook it reluctantly.
"If I hadn't known how to fight, I would be bleeding all over right now," He told Marcus seriously.
Marcus' smile dimmed slightly.
"I wouldn't have actually hit you if I saw you were unable to retaliate," Marcus told him, equally serious.
Harry, still mildly angry about the whole situation, nodded curtly and gave him back his wand. Marcus accepted it with thanks. Harry turned and tossed the other auror's wand to her as well. She caught it and smiled at him. Harry turned away from her without a response.
The Commander came to stand beside the three of them. He looked at Harry, a measuring look.
"What is the extent of these abilities?" he asked slowly.
Harry looked straight back at him, measuring as well. The Commander was no fool.
"That is a question whose answer I have given to no one," Harry said quietly, "not even Albus Dumbledore. I barely know myself."
The Commander paused, but then nodded, he obviously understood that Harry preferred to keep things to himself.
"Well we certainly can't put him with the trainees," came the woman's voice.
"Mr. Potter this is Magdalene," The Commander said, gesturing to her, "And no, we most certainly can't," he said. "You two are relieved," he motioned to Magdalene and Marcus who sighed in relief, "Call in Joel and Hunter as replacements. You may go as well Mr. Potter, you will be notified as to where you will be placed within a week."
Harry nodded, temper still high-strung and took his coat from the wall. He walked out of the room to find everyone staring at him with varying degrees of shock and amazement. Many were eyeing his blades with trepidation, but what most of them were wondering was how he had managed to single-handedly beat two aurors and barely break a sweat. Harry avoided these stares and crouched, lifting the door that had fallen flat on the floor, and placing it back in its frame. He walked through the room of people, nodded once to Tony, who grinned and gave two thumbs up, and left.A few months later…
"…Everyone please rise, the honorable Amelia Bones presiding…"
Harry stood with a sigh, wishing that this could be over quickly. He looked around the courtroom, recognizing several people, the foremost being Albus Dumbledore, who sat in one of the front rows. At the front of the room, on the raised platform that held the judge and the witness stand, sat Draco Malfoy, chained loosely to the large chair that Harry had once sat in. Draco looked tired and unhappy, but without the haggard look of most prisoners, because the dementors had long since left Azkaban. Draco in particular had been held in a private area inside the ministry in protection from vengeful underlings of the dark lord. The two young men met eyes for a second, and Harry nodded confidently. He was going to make sure that Draco did not suffer more consequences of his actions than were due.
"How exactly, did you manage to get into this room you speak of, in Azkaban, without being seen?" asked the barrister.
"I found a secret passage which, luckily," he said with a small smile, "lead into the room from behind everyone," he said without hesitation.
Even though it was a lie, Harry felt Dumbledore's approval, without looking at him. It would not do to inform the court of his animagus form. That information was better left contained to the smallest amount of people possible. From the day Dumbledore had registered him, he had requested the information be confidential, and be kept from anyone who did not have specific permission from Harry.
"And when Mr. Malfoy Junior happened to turn and see you, what then did you do."
"I had of mild heart-attack and shook my head, hoping that he would for some reason, not sound the alarm."
The barrister nodded.
"And what happened then," he asked.
"Draco did something that surprised me very much. He walked away, through the crowd of other deatheaters, until he was somewhere on the other side of the room. I don't quite know where because there were too many people to see," Harry elaborated.
"He then began to shout. He said 'My Lord, someone is over here'" Harry quoted.
The people in the courtroom murmured for a moment at the sound the words 'My Lord'.
"Silence!" shouted Amelia Bones.
The room quieted immediately.
"And what then happened?" asked the barrister.
"Everyone in the room ran to where Draco was standing. It diverted Voldemort's…" there was a collective gasp, "attention, and left me a perfectly clear opening in which to reach Ms. Weasley." Harry said.
The barrister nodded.
"Have you anything more to say, Mr. Potter?" he asked.
"It is very clear to me, ladies and gentlemen, that the actions of Mr. Malfoy Junior were quite clearly and unmistakably intentional, and that he purposefully attempted to create a diversion in the best interest of me, Ms. Weasley, and therefore indirectly, the interests of the ministry. It is my belief that he is our ally and possibly friend, and that the ministry should not make a bad example by giving him more than the necessary punishment," Harry glared very heavily at minister Fudge. "The fact that he aided in the rescue of Ms. Weasley will surely excuse some of his previous indiscretions," Harry said. He looked at Dumbledore, he gave him the most subtle of raised eyebrows, as if to say, "You could not be more full of shit Harry, but good job." Harry raised an eyebrow in response, then turned his gaze to Draco, who was looking entirely flummoxed by his speech.
"Very well Mr. Potter," stated Amelia Bones, "you may return to your seat."