After the incident involving the Slytherin-colored robes and the book, Ron had mellowed out considerably. He had even gone so far as to offer Hermione a public apology in the Gryffindor common room one day. Hermione hadn't forgiven him, though she did appreciate the gesture.
Nothing had changed with Solieyu. He still frequently left the Tower in the dead of night, only to show back up before classes the following morning. Harry had made another futile attempt to follow his friend, but had somehow managed to lose the boy in the space of a couple of hallways. Harry still wasn't sure how.
Tonks had become closer to Harry after his ordeal. It wasn't uncommon to find the two reading together in the Tower. She still helped keep the other girls away from Harry, much to his relief. She and Harry had fallen back into a more familiar pattern of going to classes, reading, and Harry practicing his Metamorphmagus skills. During the final week of school, Harry managed to turn his hair to a sandy brown color and back again, much to Tonks' glee.
Fred and George, by the end of the school year, had pulled off roughly one third of the pranks on The List and promised that they were thinking of new ideas every day. They also promised to help make sure that 'ickle Ronniekins' kept himself in line over the summer.
Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup that year, mostly due to Harry being stuck in the hospital wing during a key match. Likewise, though Harry had earned a good 75 points for keeping Quirrell from getting to the Stone, it wasn't enough to win Ravenclaw the House Cup. And due to Ron's constant fighting during the first half of the school year, Gryffindor didn't win it, either. For the first time in what was apparently a long time, Hufflepuff was awarded the House Cup. Harry couldn't recall a time when he had ever seen Professor Sprout so happy.
Though he tried keeping up appearances, Harry was dreading the end of the school year. He and Dumbledore had spent a long time talking about just why he had to return there every year. Andromeda had written to Harry shortly after Dumbledore brought the topic up, saying that she would certainly help to ensure that he wasn't treated poorly anymore. Tonks had also agreed to help, saying that she would come over as often as Harry wanted her to. Harry felt quite a bit of relief at all of this, though he still wasn't looking forward to the return to Privet Drive.
"I can't believe it's time to go already..." Tonks said, wistfully, as she flopped down into her seat on the Hogwarts Express.
Harry sat down between Tonks and the window, nodding slowly. "I can't believe I survived." He said under his breath.
Solieyu had the other seat in the compartment to himself and sat with his legs stretched across it, rolling his eyes. "I can't believe you two still can't see what's happening between you."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, blinking.
"What did we tell ya about not makin' any sense, Leon?" Tonks said, smiling crookedly.
Solieyu shook his head and chuckled. "I suppose it'll take awhile longer before you catch on. I hereby reserve the exclusive right to say 'I told you so' when something does finally happen."
"Oh, shut up..." Tonks muttered.
Harry listened to his friends go back and forth for awhile before tuning them out and gazing out the window. To him, the trip back to King's Cross couldn't take long enough. He idly wondered why neither he nor Tonks really knew where Solieyu actually lived. He made it a point in his mind to write and ask sometime. He thought that he would need something to help kill time when Tonks wasn't around.
He wasn't sure when he had shut his eyes, but when he opened them
again, it was dark out and they were almost back at King's Cross.
Solieyu was still stretched out and seemed to be reading something. Tonks was slumped against Harry's side, her head having lolled over onto his shoulder. Harry could hear her breathing slowly and assumed her to be asleep. Looking back across the compartment, he murmured, "How long has she been out?"
"Not long after you." Said Solieyu without looking up from his book. "She said something about thinking that she was going to need her rest..."
"Ahh..." Harry replied, shifting to get more comfortable as slowly as possible, so as not to wake his best friend. "You know, I don't think either of us have ever asked where you live, Leon..."
Solieyu looked over at Harry, eyebrows raised slightly. "Come to think of it, I don't think I've asked where you two live, either. We don't seem to be very bright Ravenclaws..."
"Yeah, we're bad at this." Harry said, grinning. "Me and Tonks live in Surrey... what about you?"
"Well, you're closer to London than my family is, then." Solieyu said, stretching slightly and producing a painful crack around his collarbone. "Oww... anyway, we live up near Ipswich. Dreadfully boring, really..."
"I know how that feels. The only thing of interest around Privet Drive is a small park. It's where I met Tonks last summer, actually." Harry said, looking over at his sleeping friend again. "Glad I did, too..."
"I'm sorry that you have to go back to those awful relatives of yours." Solieyu said, shaking his head. "If I lived closer, I would visit as often as I'm sure Tonks plans to."
"It's alright. It's just nice knowing I actually have friends and a real life to come back to after the summer's over. And I don't have to be there all the time... Tonks' mum said she had some kind of plan in the works to help make sure that the Dursleys don't do anything to me again. She wouldn't say what, though..." Harry said, frowning.
"Well, if her mother is anything like she is, then I feel sorry for your relatives." Solieyu said, grinning slightly as he resumed reading.
"Nnn, dun wanna wake up... g'way..." Tonks whined as Harry tried waking her up. The Hogwarts Express had stopped five minutes prior and he was still having difficulty waking his friend.
"Alright, then." Harry grumbled. "Time to go, ickle Nymmykins! Gotta get you back to your mummy! -- OW!"
Tonks had smacked Harry in the chest, grumbling something about not
calling her 'Nymmy' as she sat up straight. "S'goin' on?" She asked,
"Time to get off the train." Harry said, scowling as he rubbed his chest. "Next time I'll just shoot some water at you."
"You do an' you'll get more than a swat on the chest. Oi, where's Leon at?" Tonks asked, noticing that their long-haired friend was no longer in their compartment.
"He had to go to catch a bus back home. He really had to move fast, too - the next bus wouldn't have been by for about an hour or so. He told me to say goodbye to you for him, though. He should be writing us sometime soon." Harry explained. "His mum's working and his dad... well, he didn't say much about his dad, but he didn't look too happy when I asked about him."
"Sounds familiar." Tonks grumbled, standing up. "Well, let's get going. Mum's probably wonderin' where we are."
The two got their trunks and made their way off of the train. There were still plenty of students both on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters and inside of the train, much to their surprise. Harry had figured that both places would have been fairly vacated by now.
Andromeda waved to them when she caught sight of the two, running over and scooping up Tonks into a tight hug. "Ohh, I missed you so much, Nymmy! It's been too quiet about the house without you constantly getting into everything."
"MUUUUM!" Tonks whined, trying to push her mother away. "C'mon, mum, you're embarassing me!"
Andromeda grinned, but let her daughter go, turning to hug Harry almost as hard. "And you! You look so much better than you did last summer, Harry! How've you been?"
"Mum, knock it off! You can ask on the way home, can't you?" Tonks asked, looking around to see if anyone was watching her mother be so utterly melodramatic.
"I'm fine...really..." Harry said, biting back a grin at Tonks' embarassment. "I'd be better if I didn't have to go back to Number Four, though."
"Oh, don't you worry about those relatives of yours." Andromeda said, a sly smile forming on her face. "I've got everything thought out. You just wait and see. Get through the first night back and you'll be fine."
"What're you planning?" Harry asked. He had tried getting the woman to tell him numerous times during the last few weeks at Hogwarts, but she had kept silent on the issue.
"Telling you would only ruin the surprise." Andromeda said, smiling still. "Well, come on then, you two. Car's waiting and it's already dark out!"
The trio passed back through the barrier to King's Cross, Harry still
trying to get Tonks' mother to tell him what her plan was. "You know"
he said, looking around the busy train station, "I wish I could stay at your house tonight and go back in the morning. Facing the Dursleys in the dark isn't something I really feel up to."
"Oh, you'll do fine." Andromeda assured him. "I dunno how they feel about magic... but you could always threaten to turn them into toads if they tried to hurt you..."
"But I dunno how to do that." Harry said, confused. "And besides, we aren't allowed to do magic out of school..."
"You know that, and I know that... but do they?" Andromeda asked, looking pointedly at Harry.
"No..." Harry said slowly, a grin starting to form. "No, they don't."
"I'm gonna miss you!" Tonks said, suddenly, as they pulled their trunks out of Andromeda's car. Harry still had to lug his back to Privet Drive, something he wasn't looking forward to. Andromeda had quickly fixed this problem, however, by conjuring a couple of small wheels that attached to one side of his trunk. Wheeling it around was definitely much easier than dragging it.
"You'll see me tomorrow." Harry pointed out to his friend.
"Yeah, but still. I'm gonna miss you." Tonks repeated, looking down at the ground. It was too dark to really tell, even with the street lights on, but Harry could have sworn that he saw Tonks blushing.
"Besides, I get up early. Around 6 in the morning, usually. If you're up that early, feel free to come and drag me away." Harry said.
"Oh, I doubt I'll get much sleep. Be too busy worrying about you..." Tonks replied.
"Alright, you two, don't look so glum. I'll tell you what I'm planning
once we get inside, Nymmy. That ought to help your worry. And Harry,
dear, you don't worry, either. Have yourself a good breakfast in the morning, in fact."
"The Dursleys would lynch me if I tried eating enough to get full." Harry grumbled.
"Point your wand at them and say you could always turn them into food?" Tonks suggested.
Harry snorted. "As amusing as that would be, I think I'll pass. Uncle Vernon and Dudley are nothing but fat and Aunt Petunia wouldn't have enough meat to make a sandwich. I could always threaten to transfigure Dudley into a real pig, though..."
"That's the spirit!" Andromeda said, grinning. "Right. It's been a long day and a long trip for you two. Nymmy, go on inside and wash up for supper. Harry, good luck on dealing with those awful muggles tonight. We'll be by tomorrow, bright and early. I promise."
"Alright." Harry said, nodding. He turned to head off up the sidewalk but was interrupted by Tonks bounding over and throwing her arms around him. Squeezing tightly, she whispered that he better keep himself safe that night.
Before Harry could ask what was up with Tonks' odd behavior, she had let go and rushed into the house. Andromeda had an eyebrow raised, but otherwise offered no insight into her daughter's randomness. Figuring that he would never be able to figure women out, Harry said goodnight to Andromeda and set off up the sidewalk again.
He wasn't sure what Andromeda had in store for his relatives, but he was eager to see it. He only prayed that he would be able to make it through the night. He wasn't even sure that threatening his relatives would work. He figured his Aunt Petunia might recognize a wand, since she had probably seen his mum's often enough... but he wasn't going to rely on a bit of possible information to get him through the night unharmed.
He had survived eleven years of torment and abuse at the hands of the Dursleys. He had been rescued and learned he was a wizard. He had gone to a wizarding school and survived the whole year there, despite the numerous close encounters. He also had friends for the first time in his life.
As Harry approached Number Four some fifteen minutes later, he stared at the house for a moment before walking towards the front door. He was nothing if not a survivor. He had lived eleven years in this hellhole - one more night wasn't going to do him in. He wouldn't let it. He had too much to stay alive for now, after all. And his friends' sadness aside, if he up and got himself killed, he was sure that Malfoy would never let Tonks and Solieyu hear the end of it.
Taking a deep breath, Harry brought a hand up and knocked three times.
Author's Notes: And there we have it, guys! I'm DONE! I want to thank everyone who sat down and read through all of this. I promise that the sequels will wind up even longer. I'm gonna make this the biggest Honks series on the whole of FFN, even if it kills me! We need more fluff instead of random RagingHormones!Harry. I also want to thank my beta, Gabriel Shans again, for sticking with my odd and often annoying schedule of sending him new parts to look over.
Now, I have a couple things to go over really quick before I leave you.
First, I'm taking a small break. It will be two weeks, at most, and I'll most likely still work on chapter during this time. I can't just sit and NOT write for this thing. This will do two things. It'll let me get one or, hopefully, two chapters ahead, so that I can take things at a slower, calmer pace. Don't worry, just keep an eye out and you'll see The Chamber of Secrets: Reopened show up soon.
Second, and this is the odd bit I was mentioning in the previous chapter's notes... I've read a number of good fics that have had fanart done for them. And, not being at the level of being able to draw hair and bodies properly enough, I can't make art for this thing myself. I'd really be honored if one of my readers felt like doodling up various scenes or something. There are just some scenes that stick out in my mind that I'd adore seeing in a pic... Harry meeting Tonks for the first time, Tonks curled up next to Harry in the hospital wing after the Stone incident... and possibly any prank involving Malfoy. I dunno. Maybe Leon's little duel with Malfoy in the Entrance Hall...
I hate to ask, though. To me, at least, it sounds... I dunno. Somehow inappropriate, I suppose, is the best way to put it. Then again, I always tend to feel awkward throwing questions out to a large group of people. It's just how I am. Anyway, best just to forget about that little ramble. Oh, and to GundamNymph - Leon's eyes are gold. Coulda swore I wrote that in somewhere other than the little original chara guide I jotted up. Whoopsy. It's nice to know a character I made is inspiring someone to draw, really...
So that's it. It's been a pretty interesting trip for me. Hopefully, book 2 will be a little longer. There are certain things I'm going to change, certain events I'm going to play around with... and certain professors I'm going to have a LOT of fun writing. It helps that I can start to slowly advance Harry and Tonks' relationship. I've got plenty of fluff scene ideas and nowhere to put 'em currently. Le sigh.
What does Andromeda have planned? Will the Dursleys be as foul to Harry once they find out he's a wizard? What's going to happen when a certain house elf appears? And will Harry and Tonks ever figure out just what the deal with Leon is?
I'm not telling.
See you in the Chamber. Mwahahahahaha!
Post-edit edit: Thank god, I think I've fixed all of PSR's formatting problems finally. Always edit things yourself, kids. Less hassle in the long run. Thanks for putting up with it all this time. Sorry my lazy butt didn't fix it sooner!