I blame the length of time this took on Fleur (who I needed to research), Mr. Bass Man (by Johnny Cymbal), and my Technical Writing professor. Oh yes, and on the sad lack of ice cream and free meals.
You may also blame the Long length of time on the fact that somehow the folder containing all of my notes and drafts for this story disappeared off my hard drive. That was bad.
Harry awoke the next morning a little groggy but full of excitement. He had not slept well the night before because he had an unpleasant dream.. In fact it had been one of his many reoccurring nightmares. This nightmare had been about a donkey, a jar of peanut butter, three barrels of pickles, and a strange person drawing chalk art. Harry had been having this strangely disturbing dream since he was six or so.
The dream was not even remotely scary when he was awake. Asleep however, it terrified him.
Harry had woken up several times from either chills or fever as well. Harry decided that there was really nothing worse than freezing while at the same time sweating heavily, trembling, and running a fever while trying to sleep after a long day.
Harry wondered if he was coming down with something. He did not have a history of illness and despite his many trips to the hospital wing at school not once had he gone because he was sick. This illness seemed to come and go and because of that he never remembered to ask anyone about it.
Harry pushed that thought aside as it was giving him a headache. He had other things to think about other than his restless sleep and the come and go illness he had been having the past few days.
Harry closed his eyes and quickly entered his mind. He was interested to see if anything had changed after going through the rituals the day before. His mind was a place that Harry was quite familiar with after the extended period of time he spent locked up in the dark that summer.
When Harry first found himself floating inside his own mind he thought that he had gone insane. Fortunately for Harry and the rest of the Wizarding world that was not quite the case. Almost, but not quite, because of the lack of outside stimulus coupled with the lack of food and depression Harry had at the same time as he turned all his thoughts inward had distanced himself from his own mind. Harry had found himself floating outside a tangled mess of silvery strands that remind him of a pensive somehow. Harry after an indeterminable period of time gathered his courage and touched one. He quickly found himself in a memory from his first year of Hogwarts. After a few moments Harry got bored of it. He had little enough desire to sit through one of Binns lectures when it was real, let alone in a memory. As the weeks wore on Harry mastered his own mind.
However there had been an unexplained development in there even before the ritual. Harry, after going through the Potter ritual, now knew that that empty area that that suddenly appeared in his mind was the place where the bond was going to form between him and whomever the Potter curse chose as his mate. He kind of hoped that now that the ritual was over he would finally be able to figure out who that would be.
Harry took stock of what he saw in his mind. Some things had changed while others remained the same. Apparently he visualized his mind differently now. No longer were all his memories stored in a messy library that only he knew the order to. Now his mind was separated into three layers of memories.
The two inner spheres resting within an outer sphere of horrible memories. His nightmares were still being shunted into this defensive wall of pain, horror, and boredom made up of all his negative memories (including Binns's classes). Once Harry was done checking this layer he was certain that no one would want to break into his mind if it meant that they had to go through that. Of course since he was on the inside of that sphere, Harry was not sure that he would be able to get out as there appeared to be no way to bypass the memories. Harry was happy with this though. He had no desire to learn Legilimency; he had enough trouble with his own memories without going into other peoples head to learn theirs.
Harry looked at the happy memories that made the next wall of memories. These were Harry's memories of joy and love. Behind them in the innermost ring of memories was where Harry kept things like the prophecy, his meeting with Ron on the train, the memory of the DA, his memories of Sirius. All the memories that Harry never wanted to lose or let anyone else ever see.
Within this area was the empty space that had appeared after his first meeting with the goblins. Only there was more of it, much more. Some of the space appeared to be walled off into two sections however, leaving the remaining empty space only a bit larger than it had been back then.
Harry with no little trepidation moved up to one of the two areas that were walled off. Hesitantly Harry touched the first wall. To his relief all he got was a vague sense of sleepiness and as well as a mental image. He saw a large field surrounding a small hill. On top the hill was what looked like the foundation of a large Manor. Try as he might Harry was not able to find anything else out about it and he did not have time to try and break in now. Harry moved over to the other part that had been sectioned off. At Harry's touch this time he got a little more than just a sense of sleepiness. He also got feelings of love and amazement. Harry gasped in shock as he saw several children playing in front of a large one-story ranch surrounded by trees. Harry was not able to discern any features of the children though. It almost was as if their features were not set and kept changing on him. Harry wondered why.
Harry looked around his mind one more time before being satisfied that no dangerous changes had taken place. Harry was confused about what the second walled off section was and why there was still some empty space waiting to be filled. Since he had sensed no harm from them he resolved to leave them until he had more time to study them.
Harry was a little concerned when he could not find the part of his mind that bore his link to Voldemort. He had been able to find the new link that downloaded his experiences into the Potter Ritual Pool however. It appeared in his mind as a glowing golden archway that opened into a constantly swirling pool of golden light. Harry resolved to worry about the missing link to Voldemort later as he needed to get to the Longbottom's soon.
Harry shook his head as he exited his mind. Harry had discovered that time spent in his mind rarely passed at the same speed as the rest of the world. Sometimes what seemed to be an hour in his mind was in reality but a few moments, as now, but other times it was the opposite.
As Harry got himself ready to go his mind toyed with ideas of all the things that he could do now that he was a legal adult.
Harry soon arrived in the Leaky Cauldron and greeted Tom as he brought Harry something to eat. Harry dug into his cream of wheat, sausage patties, grapefruit juice, and orange slices like there was no tomorrow. Everything Harry ate tasted full of flavor and goodness. Harry was just in one of those moods where everything around him seemed brighter.
Harry, after finishing his meal, swiftly went to Gringotts and left a message for Bill stating that he would be at the Longbottoms for the day just in case Bill needed to get a hold of him for any reason. Harry greeted a few of the goblins he recognized from previous visits and quickly port keyed away.
Harry once more stood before the front door of the Longbottom Manor. Harry took a deep breath and was about to knock when a sudden thought struck him. Why hadn't anyone from the order come to talk to him about all the gallivanting around he had been doing? In fact, the order members he had seen had not mentioned it either. Harry made a mental note to ask about that as soon as possible, obviously something important had changed.
The door opened as soon as Harry finished knocking.
The butler that Harry had met the last time he was here was nowhere to be seen. Harry did recognize the person who opened the door however.
"Master Harry Potter-Black Sir," Jafari said as he bowed respectfully. "Mistress and Master are asking Jafari to bring you to them when you arrive Master Harry Potter-Black Sir."
"Thank you Jafari," Harry said. Upon hearing his name Jafari righted himself from his bow. Harry almost swore he saw a glimmer in Jafari's eye before Jafari blinked it away. "I would be happy to follow you."
Jafari was extremely happy that Harry had remembered his name. This was an honor that he had hardly hoped to receive. Jafari was a very proper and dignified house elf however and was not going to jump around and squeal like a youngling would he thought to himself. He was after all the head house elf for the Longbottoms.
Harry was quickly taken to where Neville and his Grandmother were waiting. As Harry entered the Longbottom Library he saw that Neville was already hard at work taking notes from one of the large books he had in front of him. Mrs. Longbottom was standing near one of the bookshelves reading titles. Once Jafari announced their presence and disappeared with a pop she turned to Harry. Neville glanced up and waved before immersing himself in his book again.
"Harry, we will be studying Society's Customs from now until noon when we will then have lunch." At lunch Henry will instruct you on things like proper behavior and table manners for different situations. After Lunch the two of you will have a two hour break before dance lessons with Fleur." Mrs. Longbottom said.
Harry nodded, "That sounds good to me Mrs. Longbottom."
Harry was swiftly given books on current customs in the English wizarding world, as well as books on the customs in the French, American, Egyptian, and German wizarding worlds. Harry was supposed to see three books written by muggles on etiquette in there as well.
Mrs. Longbottom told Harry that etiquette would probably be the most important thing he learned that summer. After all, Harry would need it not only as the head of his families and as the Goblin's Ambassador but it would be very useful in his everyday life as well. Harry was required to not only know the proper etiquette expected from a upper class Englishman, but he should also try to learn the proper etiquette of other cultures and races. Harry learned that proper etiquette was not always doing things the "proper" way, but was often doing things the way that set your company at ease and was polite under the circumstances.
By lunchtime Harry and Neville were dropping. Their brains were not used to doing this much bookwork during the summer break. Neville was in a little better position than Harry since he already knew most of the rules. Unfortunately for Neville, this caused his Gran to drill him all the harder and have him research the differences between current etiquette and etiquette in the past.
Henry, the Butler, coached and prodded the two of them on what they had looked up during their studies earlier throughout the scrumptious lunch. He would frequently stop the meal and discuss with them something they had overlooked or done wrong, or sometimes even something they had done correctly. By the end of the meal Harry was fairly certain that he would never ever use the wrong fork again and was very grateful for charms that kept food warm. Otherwise most of his meal would have been eaten cold, he was sure.
Fleur arrived promptly at 4:30 and was greeted by Mrs. Longbottom. Harry and Neville had once again been mucking around in the mud working with Neville's plants after lunch. Harry had never really enjoyed gardening before. All his experience with gardening was either at his Aunt's house as punishment for some imaginary offence or Hogwarts where it was homework. Gardening with Neville opened Harry's eyes. Gardening could be fun and relaxing despite the toil. Harry had dirt smudged on his cheeks and grime under his fingernails from digging in the dirt. Neville was slightly worse off.
When Mrs. Longbottom walked into the green house where Harry and Neville were she only needed one look before ordering the two of them to go and quickly shower and change. Harry smiled warmly at Fleur when he looked up and saw her. He was a little embarrassed because of the dirt that was covering him while he walked up to Fleur in her beautiful and expensive dress.
Harry bowed slightly after walking up to Fleur. "Hello Fleur. I am glad to see that you are well." Harry said as he straightened from his bow. Smiling at her Harry felt the Veela compulsion press against his mind. Harry pushed it aside with little effort, banishing the foreign compulsion from his mind completely. "I was excited to learn that you would be one of my tutors this summer."
Neville copied Harry's bow after he finished putting the trowel away that he had been using, Harry saw as his friend came up beside him. Harry was glad to see that Neville did not seem to have the same problems around Fleur that Ron had back in fourth year. Harry noticed that Fleur's Veela charm was not as strong as he remembered. Fleur, Harry deduced, had managed to exert greater control over it than she had been able to before, and was probably suppressing it, for which he was grateful.
"Harry, it is great to see you again. Hurry and go and get ready so that we can have a proper talk and start our lessons." Fleur greeted Harry with a smile.
Harry smiled broadly at that. He could tell that Fleur was extremely excited about teaching them to dance. She reminded him of Hermione just before exams, extremely excited, very energetic, but with just a bit of worry.
After the chatting with Fleur and Mrs. Longbottom for a few minutes in which Fleur proudly showed off her nearly perfect English accent, Harry and Neville swiftly excused themselves and left to go and clean themselves up. While Harry was washing up he wondered why Fleur seemed worried. Harry hoped it was something small or easily solved like first time teaching jitters or worrying over how he and Neville would be affected by the Veela charm and not anything serious. Ten minutes later Harry and Neville were both ready and they went to rejoin the ladies who were waiting.
Fleur started the music playing when she saw Harry and Neville enter the room. Fleur thought that Harry looked a little nervous and that Neville looked more than a little queasy. Fleur knew that Harry had not had a very good time at the dance during the tournament and if Neville's slightly green face was any indication dancing was probably not one of his strong points either. Fleur saw that neither had any belief that they would ever be any good at dancing. Fleur smiled at them, she was going to enjoy this. Her grin grew when she saw Neville and Harry quail a little upon seeing it. Yes, she thought, losing most of her jitters, I am going to thoroughly enjoy teaching them to love dancing.
Twenty minutes later Fleur saw that Harry was chatting stiltedly while counting his steps as he and Mrs. Longbottom danced around the room. She almost laughed out loud when she saw how scared he was of stepping on Mrs. Longbottom's feet.
Fleur stopped trying to carry on a conversation with Neville shortly after they started dancing. Apparently the effort of counting his steps, resisting her charm, and carrying on a conversation took too much concentration for him to do for very long. Fleur was not upset though. She knew from experience that the closer a male got to her the stronger the charm affected him. So she just let herself be carried by the music and the rhythm of the dance. Pulling out only occasionally to correct one of Neville's mistakes. Mrs. Longbottom was doing fine correcting Harry's mistakes she saw.
Suddenly Harry heard a loud bang and a voice that spelled doom for Neville and pain for Mrs. Longbottom rang across the room startling Fleur.
"Harry, Neville" shouted a fifteen year old female's voice.
Hearing the door slam open surprised Harry enough that he lost his count and trod heavily on one of Mrs. Longbottom's feet. Despite the pain she was obviously feeling and the limp that she was most likely going to have, Harry saw that she was in a far better situation than Neville.
His concentration slipped. Fleur's concentration slipped
Fleur had been caught by surprise when the door Ginny had flung open hit the wall causing the loud bang to sound throughout the room. Her concentration slipped allowing the full power of her allure to blast as an almost physical force across the room, completely dominating Neville's mind, almost forcing Harry to his knees before he regained control of his mind.
Harry, after regaining control of his own head saw Ginny and Bill out of the corner of his eye. Ginny was staring at what she had done in a bit of shock while her brother dropped to his knees beside her.
Fleur was so caught up in the euphoria that accompanied the release of her natural power that she lost herself as she stood there in a state of shock.
After recovering from the blast of Veela charm, Harry quickly helped Mrs. Longbottom to a chair as she could not walk very well on her own with her now badly bruised foot.
Neville had fallen on his knees at Fleur's feet and was gazing up at her with adoring eyes at the angel of love and beauty that he perceived before him. Bill was a little more vocal and started loudly proclaiming his undying love and devotion to the Veela. Ginny, in a moment of brilliance, pulled him out of the room and locked the door behind them before Bill said anything too embarrassing for all involved. Unfortunately Ginny was not able to reenter the room because it would cause Bill to come under the full power of Fleur 's charm once again and he was struggling with it even now, despite the door between them.
Harry, after taking care of Mrs. Longbottom turned to Fleur. Harry looked at Fleur in amazement at the sheer power that he felt coming off of her. He trembled as he thought of the amount of effort it had probably been for her to suppress her power so much for so long. Harry could feel it beating upon his mind with ever growing intensity and knew that his mind was quickly tiring. He needed to end this and quickly.
So Harry did the only thing that came to mind. Harry grabbed a vase of flowers from the table next to Mrs. Longbottom's chair. Vase in hand Harry slowly walked closer to Fleur, struggling against the ever-increasing power pressing against his weakening mind. Just as he felt his mind beginning to fall sway to Fleur's charm he chucked the water, flowers included, from the vase into Fleur's face.
Fleur sputtered as she suddenly found herself with a mouth full of water, soaking wet, and feeling very weak. Turning her head towards the direction the water had come from Fleur only had time to notice two green eyes before all was darkness.
Harry reacted instinctively as Fleur crumpled in front of him. Bending his knees slightly Harry quickly brought one of his arms down and out at her knees while he wrapped his other arm around her just under the shoulders, pulling Fleur up into his arms before she could hit the ground. Before Harry had any clue what was going on he found himself cradling an unconscious Fleur in his arms standing next to the equally unconscious form of his friend Neville.
Mrs. Longbottom overcame her shock at what had happened first. Raising her voice slightly she called out for Jafari. Almost instantly Jafari was there.
Jafari quickly took stock of the situation. With a snap of his fingers the dignified house elf got rid of the water that covered the floor, dried out both Fleur and Harry, fixed the vase that Harry had dropped in his haste to catch Fleur, and neatly arranged the flowers in it once more. With a second snap of his fingers Harry felt Fleur lift out of his arms and along with Neville start to slowly float towards the door.
"Jafari, please put Fleur in the Maple Room." Mrs. Longbottom said before turning to Harry. "Harry, are you alright?" She asked with a note of concern in her voice.
Harry, although he a bit drained, felt fine. "I am alright Mrs. Longbottom, thank you for asking. How is your foot?"
Mrs. Longbottom looked down at it in surprise. "I had forgotten all about it." She said. "Haamby," Mrs. Longbottom called out, "could you please get me a potion for my foot?"
By this time the floating forms of Fleur and Neville were at the door, which opened before them as they had approached. Bill, although a little dazed and flushed, seemed fine to Harry and was being helped up off the floor by Ginny when his eyes suddenly rolled back and he collapsed on her.
Bill was put on a cot in Neville's room to rest. Ginny sat between Bill and Neville waiting for them to wake up. Harry and Mrs. Longbottom were in the guest room talking quietly as they awaited Fleur's awakening.
Harry had been a little surprised when Mrs. Longbottom had chosen to wait in here instead of with her grandchild. Mrs. Longbottom had wanted to talk to him and Harry had not wanted Fleur to be alone. Despite feeling a little guilty about keeping Mrs. Longbottom with him instead of Neville, Harry was soon chatting amiably with her about Neville's exploits at Hogwarts.
Bill regained consciousness an hour later. Neville woke up shortly after Bill. Upon hearing this from Ginny, Mrs. Longbottom excused herself and left to go dote on him.
Harry moved his seat a little closer to Fleur's bedside. He was very worried about her. He knew that not only would she be physically and mentally drained from the experience but also if they were not careful, she would probably feel pretty guilty about losing her control like that. He knew that just a month or so ago he would have if he had been in her position.
Harry wanted to be next to her so that when she woke up the first thing she saw was him to reinforce the fact that he knew that it was not her fault and that he was still her friend.
Jafari entered the room a few minutes after Mrs. Longbottom took her leave.
"Harry Potter-Black Sir, the house-elves have finished preparing dinner. Would you like to take yours here?" Jafari asked politely once he had Harry's attention.
"Thank you Jafari. I would like to eat here please." Harry responded quietly to Jafari's inquiry. "I would also like a mug of hot raspberry Jell-O if you have any."
Jafari looked at Harry strangely before hanging his head sadly. "Sorry sir, Jafari is afraid that there is none. Jafari does not even know what this Jell-O is to his shame."
"Don't worry about it Jafari. I figured that you would not have any. It is a muggle thing after all. Could I have a mug of Cocoa with hazelnut creamer instead then? "Harry hastened to reassure the house elf.
Bill came into the room alone around eight alone. Mrs. Longbottom was busy in some other part of the Manor and Ginny and Neville were ensconced in a corner of the library chatting about the O.W.L.s.
"Harry I'd like to talk to you now for a sec if that is okay." He asked as he carried a chair closer to the bed and where Harry was seated.
"Sure Bill, I figured that you had something to say since you dropped by." Harry responded teasingly. "What is it?"
"I was thinking about the Patils. The way things are set up now by he Goblins you will not meet Padma or her family until just before the Press Conference. The current schedule shows you arriving around 2pm to meet with the Goblins to go over what information is going to be released and to meet the Patils." Bill looked up from the note he had pulled from his pocket. "Is there anything else we need to cover?"
"Yeah, Remus sent me a note last night asking to meet for lunch. I also would like to do something nice for Padma tomorrow. I was thinking that maybe we could go do something in Muggle London."
Bill thought for a moment before responding. Suddenly Bill slapped his knee and exclaimed, "I got it. How about I get you a reservation at a fancy restaurant and a pair of tickets to see a show afterwards."
Harry's eyes lit up at this. "I love it Bill. Don't forget to hire a car, no, a limo with driver to ferry us around." Harry said with a grin. Harry hoped this would get him off on the right foot with Padma. Harry made a note to himself to write to Padma that evening asking her to go out to dinner with him following the Press Release.
Harry had never actually been to a restaurant in the Muggle world before and Bill had never really spent much time there either so the two of them decided that Bill needed to get some outside help. Harry reminded Bill that Tonks' Dad was a Muggle and would probably be willing to help. Bill told Harry that he would owl him the exact information later that evening after speaking with Mr. Tonks. After wrapping that up with Harry Bill took his leave to go find his sister so that they could go home as it was getting rather late.
Bill returned a few moments later with Ginny in tow. During their goodbyes Ginny extracted promises from Harry that he would visit the Burrow more and that he would bring a present to her birthday party the next Tuesday. A "Big" birthday present, after all Ginny said that since Harry had not gotten her a present for her birthday yet he owed her big time.
Harry fell asleep after Ginny and Bill left. Neville had gone down to the Library again to review that day's lessons. He told Harry that he wanted to make sure that he did not forget anything.
Harry awoke with a painful crick in his neck when he felt something squeeze his hand. Fleur had finally woken up.
"You know Harry, sleeping in that position cannot be good for you." She said with a small smile. At Harry's sheepish grin she continued, losing the smile. "Is everyone alright? What happened exactly? The last thing I remember was being startled, feeling a rush of euphoria, and then seeing your eyes before waking here in bed."
"Everyone is fine Fleur. Bill and Ginny dropped by for a bit and it was Ginny's rather abrupt entrance that startled you." Harry smiled. "Actually it was kind of funny, well except the part where I stepped on Mrs. Longbottom's foot. I had been trying so hard not to too."
"Oh no, is she alright?" Fleur asked with a slightly guilty look on her face.
Harry hastened to reassure her that Mrs. Longbottom was fine. He then went on to tell Fleur what happened in as humorous a way as he could. By the time he was finished Fleur was giggling at his narrative.
Mrs. Longbottom and Neville had come in during the retelling of the day's events without Harry or Fleur noticing.
After chatting for another forty minutes or so Harry stood to take his leave. He had to get back home and get ready for tomorrow. It was shaping up to be a big day and he wanted to make sure that he got plenty of rest just in case.
Once home Harry got out a piece of parchment to write Padma and her family a letter each. The one to the family was just a cordial greeting expressing his happiness at being able to meet with them the next day.
The one to Padma was a bit longer. First he mentioned that he as going to be arriving in the Alley early. He also told her that he would like to go out to dinner, just the two of them after the Press Release and maybe a show afterwards. As soon as the owl from Bill arrived Harry quickly finished it and sent it off.
That night Harry crawled into bed a nervous wreck. He wondered why. He had not been nearly this worked up before his dinner with Blaise, before meeting Hermione to tell her about his engagements, or before going with Luna to perform the rituals to become the Head of his Families.
Harry was so nervous that he spent the next two hours talking to the portraits of Ethel and Audrey about how he should act tomorrow and what to get Ginny for her birthday. Harry figured that even though they were only pictures they probably had a better idea then he did on those matters. After all they were girls and Audrey was the same age as Harry and Padma and Ethel was only a little older.
Harry was listening to them debate with their mother whether or not Harry should kiss Padma goodnight as he drifted off to sleep.
If anyone is interested in which muggle Books Harry is looking in Please notify me and I will tell you. I own them and they can be quite interesting to read. : )