Dragonmaster: I appreciate your constructive criticism, I really do. It's true that sometimes I focus too much on dialogue, so I will try and fix that up in this chapter. For the robes, please note that in chapter five, Harry only acknowledged and considered the idea of using dementor robes. There will be significant meanings in later chapters for why Harry chooses the robes he does (in this chapter Harry constructs his robes). As well as that, the rainbow phoenix robe is not as necessarily immortal as you claim. In my opinion, battle robes adapt similar, not identical qualities to the animal it was made from. I don't want a god-like Harry in my story. But I incorporated your views into my story. And there is a reason why I made Harry buys the eyesight potion, if you read this chapter you'll see why. But other than that, thanks for your comments.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its associated trademarks are the property of J.K Rowling. The plot and original characters in this fiction are my own. This fictional work is written for recreational purposes only. No copyright is intended.
It was on the morning of July the 2nd that Harry first used the Time Distorter. After filling himself and Mana with breakfast, he took her to the Dursley lounge, turned on the TV and told her to watch. Blaise seemed to have taught Mana really well, since Mana's eyes lit up when he mentioned TV. That means, at the very least, she understood what a TV was. Sitting down on the lounge, the owl-turned-girl happily began to watch the morning's programs, which consisted mostly of anime. After making sure Mana wasn't going to do any stupid for the next three hours, Harry took the Time Distorter, his trunk and other supplies into the Dursley garage. It was a double spaced garage, and since the Dursleys were gone, it was completely empty, save for the spare car parts, unused goods and most importantly, Dudley's gym equipment. Petunia and Vernon had bought this for their over-sized son in order to get him fit, but because Dudley was the kind of person who'd rather be friends with Harry then exercise; it lay in the garage, gathering dust. Harry decided to use the equipment to improve his skinny looking form. So after entering the garage, Harry shut all the windows, closed the roller doors and locked the side door. He then took out his Time Distorter and the instructions that came with it.
To activate the time distorter, press the green square twice, which will seal the room you are in with the forces of time for an hour, granting you a week in distorted time. You will know this effect is in place because the Time Distorter will surrounded by a green halo. Each subsequent press of the green square will add another hour, i.e. a week, to time distortion. To end the effect early, press and hold down the red button in the middle row of cubes until the green halo disappears.
Beware; it is advisable that you do not, under any circumstance, spend more than 7 weeks in Time distortion per day. Since your body's needs are stopped during distortion, your mind can go insane in real time. You may eat too much because you haven't eaten, theoretically, in weeks. You may not sleep, because you feel that you don't need to, etc. Use with caution.
-Mervin Linius, creator of the Time Distorter.
With each day, Harry spent the three hours between 9 to 12 exercising and improving his overall fitness, using an engorgement charm to increase the size of his workspace. In his book Auror's Battle Handbook, Harry would read the physical tactics wizards used against evil wizards, and one the main rule of thumb was 'you only block what you can't dodge'. So after going for one and half hours of running the treadmill and doing weights, he would use one of the spells in Handbook, the Conjurus Nemesis Statio spell, to create a dummy that would fire harmless blasts of light at him. Harry would practice avoiding these blasts. At first, he was quite clumsy with evasion, since he set the dummy at Auror level of proficiency. Not only was he relatively unfit, but he also didn't have a clue in knowing how to dodge effectively. But as time went by over the 19 days, Harry gradually became fitter and stronger. He also consulted some of the books he randomly pulled out from his bookbag of requirement, which mainly centred on muggle martial arts. Although he wasn't too good at them either, he learned enough over the 19 days to defend himself against wizards who weren't accustomed to hand to hand combat. As for the dodging element, Harry progressively got better. Initially beginning with clumsy side-steps, Harry soon learned how to move with minimal effort, depending on the situation. Learning to duck, bend his body, roll and even cartwheel his way out of danger, Harry became an impressive combatant.
As soon as the three hours were up, Harry would leave the garage. He would then eat lunch with Mana, often trying to converse with her. As the days went by, Mana proved to be an adept learner (and Blaise a skilled teacher), as Harry found out during their conversations.
"What are you eating, Mana?" asked Harry as Mana chewed happily on her food. She looked up and smiled slightly.
"Umm…Uhh…Mana eating steak…"
"Do you like that, Mana?" as Harry pointed to the ice-cream he conjured. Mana nodded.
"M-Mana like…Mana likes ice cream lots…" she said shyly.
Aurora, Harry's ice phoenix, also began to grow into a beautiful, blue and white version of Fawkes. She was still small, about the size of a parrot, but her blue and white plumage was very nice to look at. Aurora's grey eyes also tended to sparkle, giving Aurora a sense of innocence. She would sing happily when Harry would stroke her, and she always trilled joyfully whenever Blaise came along. Aurora got a long very well with Mana, well, from Aurora's point of view. Although Aurora would sing her phoenix song for Mana, the inquisitive golden-eyed girl couldn't help but touch and poke Aurora every now and then for doing so. She obviously did not know what a phoenix was, although Aurora didn't seem to mind that at all. In fact, she pulled a Pig, and would flap her wings enthusiastically whenever Harry, Mana or Blaise would pay attention to her. Although Harry felt a little guilty about not letting her outside (she might get spotted by muggles) he did give her free reign over the house. It was pretty common to see Aurora flying down the hallways of the house, or perch on the kitchen table. Using the books Hagrid gave him, Harry raised Aurora with utmost care, although Aurora was still a little too young to use her phoenix powers.
His letters to his friends assured that he was in good health, and that all was well with the Dursleys who had 'left him alone'. True to Dumbledore's promise, the Order hadn't tailed Harry during the summer break, although Harry knew that old coot was up to something. With one of his letters, he sent his subject selections for sixth year: Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, Potions and Care of Magical Creatures, which were requirements of being an Auror.
At 1:00, Blaise would show up for the afternoon lesson. The black-haired, blue-eyed Slytherin girl would always arrive with her parents, who would always regard Harry as some kind of strategic map (Mr Zabini) or humiliate him with muggle innuendo that she obviously didn't know the meaning of (Mrs Zabini). After giving Harry a quick run down of what she would teach Mana, Harry then left to go to the garage to pursue his magical studies at 1:30. He would set the Time Distorter for four hours, putting Harry on the borderline of the seven hour limit. During these four hours (or four weeks, in Harry's case), Harry would study the 'finer' arts of magic. In other words, the stuff they don't teach at Hogwarts. Along with his Hogwarts curriculum, he began with Dark and Light arts, using the books he bought and stuff he pulled out of his bookbag. Along the way he also began Tetramancy, or elemental magic, which had perked his interest when the shopkeeper who sold him his supplies mentioned it. Pulling a book labelled Earth, Fire, Wind, Water: The ABCs of Tetramancy from his bookbag of requirement, Harry soon learned that once again, he was not (and never will be), normal.
Tetramancy, or the Art of Elemental Magic, is one of the rarest and prestigious magical arts. It works by changing the magic of a person into that of one of the cardinal elements of the universe:
Earth, the stalwart building block of the universe. (Geomancy)
Fire, the passionate power of life. (Pyromancy)
Wind, the gentle free spirit. (Aeromancy)
Water, the giver of life. (Hydromancy)
Each magical being has two elemental affinities. One is their Arcana Major, which is their primary elemental affinity. Though a wizard can learn every type of tetramancy, his Arcana Major will be the strongest. His Arcana Minor is his second, weaker, but still effective, affinity, and it does not necessarily have to be a cardinal element. Often, it is a lesser element like thunder or ice. To find your elemental affinity, raise your wand in front of you, pointing forwards, speak the incantation 'Revealo Tetra', and a coloured sphere will appear in front of you. The colour of the sphere is represents your Arcana Major, and the halo around the sphere represents your Arcana Minor. Please consult page 52 for the meanings of the colours…
Harry performed the spell, and when he did so, he was quite intruiged to find that his sphere was purple. His halo was yellow. Eagerly thinking what his elements could be, he turned to page 52 of his book and was shocked into wordlessness…
If, by sheer chance, you have received a purple sphere, then you are either colour blind, or one of the most powerful wizards/witches in existence. If the later applies, then I congratulate you. You are affluent in all elements, including the minor elements. In other words, you are a Tetramancer. The only other wizards and witches in history to posses this affluence was Merlin, Morgana Le-Fay and Shaman Queen Himiko. You are able to perform every type of elemental magic with equal proficiency.
Harry was stunned beyond belief. He, a tetramancer! He was on par with Merlin himself! It wasn't possible. But instead of his old, pre-awakening, whining that he would never be normal, he accepted it with stride. He accepted that would never have a normal life and he wasn't going to throw a hissy fit because his abnormal-o-meter went up another notch. Rather, this revelation only improved his resolve to become stronger. With each of the 19 days, Harry studied tetramancy with a passion, alongside his light and dark arts. He found that, despite being a tetramancer, he had a special liking for the thunder element. Harry also began to dabble with wandless magic. According to Without a Wand: Guide to Wandless Magic and other assorted books he had retrieved from his book bag of requirement, wandless magic was not as impossible as many claim it to be. Although you did need to be pack some power and have strong will powers, wandless magic could be done. The wand was really a focus for a wizard to direct his magical powers. It also assists in providing power for the wizard to cast the spell. But for wandless magic, a wizard would need total control over the spell he wanted to cast, meaning he has to will for the spell to happen. And because there's no wand in providing extra power, the wizard needs to tap all of his magical reserves, making wandless magic inefficient for average wizards.
He also began looking more deeply into Occlumency and Legilimency, now that Snape and his greasy hair weren't going to mess him up. He actually found that Occlumency was a lot more complicated than just 'clearing one's mind'. Occlumency was developed as a counter to Legilimency. There were two types of legilimecy: silent and forceful. The forceful type was the easier version to master, where the legilimens would actually break into the victim's mind to look for memories and feelings. The victim, of course, would feel the entry, just like how Harry felt when Snape did it. The silent type was used by the more powerful wizards like Voldemort, and it was difficult to utilize. It allowed the user to search the victim's mind without alerting the victim, or to implant false images. Silent legilimency would allow a legilimens to search another's mind quietly, while forceful legilimency could immobilise the opponent. Occlumency defended the mind according to the type of legilimecy used: for forceful legilimency, the occlumens would learn how to master his mind, that is, to prevent the legilimens from looking through his memories by taking control of what the legilimens sees. By arranging one's mind, the occlumens could feed the wrong images to the legilimens. It was a battle of willpower, as the occlumens would try to redirect the legilimens' attack, and if possible tries to convince the legilimens that he isn't defending himself.
For silent legilimency, the occlumens would need supreme mastery over their mind, being able to tell when someone is trying to quietly break into their mind. The occlumens also learns to reject foreign thoughts of the legilimens, which in itself was a feat as it isn't in human nature to stop noticing things. Like forceful legilimency, the occlumens defends himself by redirecting the legilimens' thoughts. The ultimate defence, however, was the mushin, or no mind technique. This ultimate form of mental defence was made when the occlumens would think of nothing, letting instinct drive his actions. No legilimens, even a dementor or boggart, could break this defence, and intruding thoughts would be easily found and driven away. Harry had trouble at first, he used a Nemesis Occlumens Statio and Nemesis Legilimens Statio as testing dummies, but he wasn't faring too well. But by the 10th day of training (or nearly a year and half in Harry's terms), Harry had completely mastered occlumency and legilimency. The reason for this was because he mastered his animagus forms, and inherited each trait that each form possessed.
Harry was keen on learning how to be animagus, and thanks to the books he found in his bookbag of requirement, that transformation on animagus was also considered a form of wandless magic. Firstly, he had to study about the animals that he was going to transform into. It was little hard for Harry, since the rainbow phoenix was considered a legend and possible nobody would have the guts to do a biological analysis of a condemned dementor, but his bookbag provided one book of each. Who the hell owns this bookbag, and how big is his library! Harry thought. He learned what his animals feasted on (rainbow phoenixes were omnivores, while condemned dementors loved human souls and happy thoughts), their habitats, etc. He had to be 'one with the animal', or so the books say. After a few weeks of learning (ie 3 hours), he figured that he had enough information to make the transformation. In order to do it, he had to shut out all human feelings in his mind, and adopt the persona of the animal. He had to be his animal. By doing so, he would be forcing his magical powers to transform him into his animal. After several half assed attempts (which resulted in him transforming parts of his body), Harry finally made his first transformation into a rainbow phoenix, where he quickly morphed from his human form into one of a bird. Once again, he basked in the glory of his magnificent form, admiring his multi-coloured plumage and his long, elegant wings. Although he thought like a rainbow phoenix, he still had his memories, and so he could remember how to turn back into a human. It was the opposite of transforming into the form; all he had to do now was to shut out the thoughts of the rainbow phoenix and think like a human. Needless to say, it was a lot easier, but as he was making the metamorphosis back to his human form, Harry could've sworn that he heard a voice in his head:
Good work, Harry. I am proud of you. Now, there are two of us!
As Harry stood there, shaking his head in the aftermath of the transformation, he realised that he couldn't see well in his glasses. He took them off, and found that he could see normally, no, even better that with his glasses. It was then that he realised that the rainbow phoenix's traits had kicked in.
Oh…that's right, Ho-Oh told me about this. Well, looks like I don't need my Occulus Repairo potion anymore. I'll just give it to someone in Hogwarts who needs it.
Harry then tested out his other traits. Pointing his right hand towards his left arm, he cast one of his thunder spells (although with weak force),
A bolt of lightning emerged from his hand and struck his arm, charring his skin and paralysing the nerves. For a moment, that is, until he realised the pain had disappeared almost as quickly as it come. Looking carefully at his arm, he realised that the burn wound had disappeared almost as quickly as it had appeared.
Must be my healing powers...damn I'm lucky! Well, at least these powers will help me against Voldemort.
After testing all of his traits, Harry then performed the transformation to the condemned dementor. Unlike his phoenix form, he wasn't feeling all too glorious about the transformation. He could only shudder in disgust as he looked at the eerie, black and red robe, his shrivelled skin and his horrible, yellow bone wings. After staying in the form for one too many moments, he transformed back into his human form.
Dad, Sirius, Remus, I hope you're proud of me. If I was a marauder, what name would you have given me?
Harry, after breathing harshly from the transformation, let eyes stray around his little makeshift training area. And like his phoenix form, his condemned dementor form's traits kicked in. He eyes eventually fell upon his robes that he had bought from the 'weird but cool' shop, as he called it.
Oh…yeah…I was going to make myself some good battle robes…I best get started now, I have about…3 weeks left in this training session…
He thought long and hard about what materials to use. Either his condemned dementor, with it's powerful dark energies, or his rainbow phoenix, with it's mighty light power. With the dementor, he was guaranteed protection against dark arts, but he was not so sure with other type of magic. With the phoenix, he supposed that he would have protection against all types of magic, but since rainbow phoenixes had never supposed to have existed, he wouldn't be sure on the outcome as there was no information on the matter. He debated on the pros and cons of each robe type, and then decided that he would have every advantage he could acquire. In the end, he had decided on a dual rainbow phoenix and condemned dementor robe. He would combine both the darkness of the dementor and the light of the phoenix into his robes. He was sure he would not be invincible, nor did he think that this theoretical robe could block unforgivables or Voldemort's more powerful spells, but it was his best shot. It was time for him to gather the materials.
Harry took his rainbow phoenix form and, using his long neck, plucked twelve wing feathers and set in on the ground. He then assumed his condemned dementor form, for the next phase of his plan. As he completed his transformation, Harry grabbed the cloak of his form with his corpse-like hands, and pulled it upwards, roughly. It went up halfway, until Harry realised that he had to consider the bone wings. So, he awkwardly pulled out each bone from the cloak, until the cloak was totally free. He then threw the material onto the ground, satisfied with his grim work. Out of curiosity, Harry took a look at the shiny metallic surface of Dudley's gym equipment, to see what a dementor looked like. He was quite disgusted to see that a dementor, without its robe, looked more than a 10 year old corpse. His skin was a pallid greenish-grey, and it was so tight that his bones showed. If it wasn't for his condemned form's bone wings, he would not look out of place in an unearthed muggle grave. Sickened with the sight, he quickly transformed back into human form.
That's strange…I feel a lot weaker…it must be because I removed my robe in dementor form, that my human form was also weakened. I shouldn't do any intensive training right now. I guess I should just finish making my robes, and then I'll call it a day.
Breathing somewhat hard, Harry grabbed his unmodified robes, and set them on the ground. To conserve his strength, he used his wand to cut four sets of 3x3 inch patches from the dementor robe for his robes, four sets of 2x3 inch patches for his pants and four sets of 2x2 inch patches for his shirts. He stuffed the rest of his excess dementor robe into his trunk. He then put each size piece and a feather to its respective piece of clothing. Starting with one of the robes, Harry made sure that the piece of dementor robe and phoenix feather was on the unmodified robe, before he pointed his wand and cried out,
"Ki Tai No Ichi!" To Harry's surprise, a silver beam of light shot out of his wand and struck the robes, forging a connection between him and his apparel. Harry, by instinct, raised the angle of his wand and thus, the robes followed. He was surprised to see the patch of dementor robe gradually expand and cover the unmodified robe while the phoenix feather seemed to be absorbed into the robe, but he kept the spell going. Finally, the spell culminated in a flash of silver light. After rubbing his eyes, Harry walked over to his newly created robe, giving it a good inspection. The robe itself was black (which Harry surmised was from the dementor materials), and Harry was thankful, because it was more subtle than a multi-coloured robe. He could wear it anywhere. But the strange thing was, that when the robe was unmodified, it was a silky black. But now, Harry could see that the light coming through the garage window wasn't being reflected by the new robe, giving it a sinister, void like appearance. However, the lining on the robe and the insides were not void black; rather it was a bright platinum blue, and it reflected the sunlight brilliantly. Harry figured that this was due to the phoenix feathers. Harry then decided to test the power of his dual phoenix/dementor robe, by laying it on the ground, and casting the strongest tetramancy spell he knew of (without demolishing the Dursley's garage).
"Sacra Pyro!" An intense, bluish-white flame burst from his wand and streaked towards the robe on the ground. It struck it, and the ensuing impact caused a minor explosion that knocked Harry backwards. When the smoke had cleared, he saw that his new robes were unmarked, as if nothing had touched it.
Wow! They're awesome!"
Pleased with the results, Harry spent the rest of the day fusing the condemned dementor robes and rainbow phoenix feathers the rest of his clothing, before calling it a day…
And on July the 15th, he received a special package from Mr Olliviander…his Rainbow Phoenix feather wand! It was metallic silver with the colours of the rainbow decorating the wand. Attached to it was a note.
Dear Mr Potter,
Please find your new wand enclosed with this box. It was a pleasure, no, an honour to work with this wand! I have never in my life seen such a powerful magical item, and it took every ounce of my knowledge to get this right. Ordinary wood didn't seem to work with this wand, not even the fabled Cruficious wood. The only substance powerful enough to handle the awesome magical potential of this wand is myrthil, the blessed steel of the elves. What you have in your hand is quite possibly the most powerful wand in existence. It's specifications are: Rainbow Phoenix tail feather, myrthil, 12 inches, elegant and sturdy. Suited for powerful magical arts.
Enjoy your new wand! Try not to level an island while you're at it, Mr Potter?
Harry gazed at his wand with fervour. At school, he would still use his old wand, but if he ever got down and dirty Death Eaters, he would use this wand. Just holding it, not only gave him the feeling of warmth like his old wand did, but he almost felt a surge of power, about to burst forth from the wand. He enlarged the Dursley garage, and conjured a stationary dummy for a test object. Placing it firmly on the ground, Harry moved away and prepared to test his new wand.
The blasting hex roared out of his wand with a massive surge of power. The normally red, narrow beam of light was now a thing, branch sized beam of intense red, which streaked towards the helpless dummy. Upon contact, the dummy simple was annihilated by the sheer force of the power behind the spell. The remnants of the dummy, a few charred cinders, flew back and struck the garage wall. Harry gasped. And this was supposed to be just the blasting hex! He didn't even put much intent behind the hex in the first place. No wander Olliviander cautioned him with his wand, what would happen if he used his more powerful magical arts! Harry carefully pocketed his wand, almost paranoid of the possibility that his new wand just might blow up. During his training, as he got more familiar with his wand, he found that the effects of even his lower level spells were magnified infinitely. He definitely had a weapon in his hands. However, he also noticed it was quite draining on him to use. He could, at most, cast stronger tetramancy spells about 4 times, before he felt exhausted.
So after 19 days of training, or 133 weeks of training, almost two and a half years, Harry Potter was no longer, simply, the 'Boy-Who-Lived', since the term 'boy' could no longer be applied to him. He was a young man, who had suffered too much for too long. He was a shining example of manhood; he stood proudly at 5'10" and had a toned body from all his physical training. His once perpetually ruffled hair was now changed. Because his father's change-me-not charm on his hair had been removed after almost 16 years, his hair began to make up for lost time. Within the 19 days his hair had grown out and all the way down his back. Harry, however, cut his hair in such a way so that his hair was still ruffled, but he allowed himself a pony tail that reached the bottom of his neck. Added to that his shiny, sparkling green eyes and the slightly playful smile that was now etched in his face, one would say Harry had changed from the cute boy wonder of Gryffindor to a handsome young man. Harry was a powerful, awakened wizard, who had considerable knowledge of dark and light arts due to his 'two and a half years' of constant study, an accomplished Occlumens, a vicious Legilimens (due to his condemned dementor trait), a skilled Tetramancer, an adept wandless magician and a Polymagus (an animagus with multiple forms). He was by no means perfect, he did not have Dumbledore's experience or Voldemort's power, but he was strong and determined. He still had remnants of his temper from his 5th year, but he had mellowed down somewhat, so that he probably wouldn't flip out anymore if someone called him a deluded liar. Perhaps, it was because of Mana's antics around the house, or Aurora's soothing phoenix songs, or maybe Blaise's company, whatever it was, Harry had a much better control over his temper.
However, although he was supposed to be smarter, he didn't gain much in the way of, 'worldly knowledge'. For example, whenever he caught Blaise staring at him when he back from his training all sweaty in his singlet and shorts, he automatically assumed that he needed to clean himself up. Whenever he would go out and about with Mana to borrow more books or to show her the world, he was quite surprised to see girls giggling and blushing when he passed them. And because our scar faced hero will always be a dense male, he never understood what it meant. On the other hand, Mana had also grown quite a lot. The lessons with Blaise had taught her about almost everything around the house, and some things about the magical world as well. It was now common to see Mana pouring out milk for herself during breakfast, or to see her feed Aurora. Although she still couldn't talk like a normal person, she could at least speak commonly used phrases. For a Miss Blaise Zabini, she had become good friends with a Mr Harry Potter, almost to the point that he considered her similar to Ron and Hermione. Harry was grateful for Blaise's tutelage and companionship, while Blaise herself was happy with her growing friendship with Harry. Aurora, Harry's beautiful Ice Phoenix, had grown considerably. She was now two thirds of Fawke's size and could teleport at will using her powers of ice, appearing in a burst cold air out of nowhere. She often accompanied Harry in the garage during his training.
The last three weeks of peace and happiness, however, were going to come to a complete halt. During the night of July 20, Harry eyed his watch, and when the hands struck 12, signifying it was now July 21, he swore under his breath. The Dursleys were going to come back in the morning. Sighing, he looked over and watched the shallow breaths of Mana leave her body as she slept. How was he going to explain all this! No matter, he thought, he would deal each problem as it came. For now, he too fell asleep…
…Until he was awoken with a dreadful banging of the front door. Harry awoke with a jolt, thus waking Mana with him. The golden eyed girl, looking extremely appealing in the white sleeping gown Blaise had given her, yawned and stretched her arms, before giving Harry a warm smile.
"Harry…good morning." She whispered, tilting her head to the side. Harry, however, couldn't return her greeting.
"Morning, Mana." He replied tersely. Mana sensed something was wrong, and lowered her head somewhat.
"Mana…did Mana do bad to Harry?" she asked sadly. Harry almost regretted his cold good morning, and patted her on the head, which perked her up.
"Mana, I want you to stay here," he said gently but firmly, "Something is going on." Mana nodded, she seemed to understand because she sat on the side of the bed, twiddling her thumbs. Harry also gave a pointed look to the blue and white bird perched next the bed.
"Aurora, I want you to stay here as well. Please don't sing, it's important." The ice phoenix understood, she gave a low trill and kept quiet then on. Making sure all was well, he left his room, closed the door and travelled to the front of the house. Opening the door, he was met face to face with his blasted relatives. Vernon, purple faced, acted first.
"WHERE THE RUDDY HELL HAVE YOU BEEN, BOY!" he yelled, ignoring Petunia's protests to keep quiet. Spit flew from his mouth, landing on Harry's shirt. But after taking a careful look at Harry's new form, Petunia made her move.
"Who on earth you, and what are you doing in our house!" she shrieked. Petunia expected to see her spectacle faced, short and skinny nephew. Instead, a tall young man with rough yet elegant black hair took his place. Harry spoke,
"It's me aunt Petunia, and Uncle Vernon, I just woke up. Don't wake the neighbours, it's only 7:00." he replied calmly. This infuriated Vernon even more.
"Are you going to let us in our house, then?" he snapped. Harry shrugged.
"Please." he said mockingly, bowing as he allowed passage to the Dursleys. They glared at him as they trudged into their home, bags at their sides. After entering, Vernon inspected the house.
"It looks like the house is not yet a crack house." he sneered, looking at Harry, "but if I even sees one speck of dust in the wrong place you won't eat for a week!" Harry shrugged again, his mind working on new ways to annoy his relatives,
"I did as you asked. Check yourself." And try as Vernon and Petunia might, they could not find one dirty place in the house. In the meantime, Dudley confronted Harry.
"Hey, freak!" Dudley said maliciously.
"Hey, pork chops." Harry replied smoothly, "Did you suck up to good ol' auntie Marge again?"
"At least I have someone! You've got no right to say that!"
"I just did, big man." Dudley glared a hole into his cousin, who didn't seem to give a damn. "What, Dudley, no comeback? Oh, that's right, your mind can only think of one insult at a time." Dudley was getting pissed off.
"I bet," Dudley growled, "you wouldn't be such a big guy if you didn't have that little stick of yours." Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Oh? That's right; I left it in my room. Guess I'm not a big guy, eh pork chops?" If Dudley's face had gotten any redder, he would match the Weasley's hair colour.
"You're not allowed to use the you-know-what, so you better watch what you say to me, freak." A smirk appeared on Harry's face.
Guess all my training has made me into a bit of an ass…power really does corrupt. Oh well, it's only Dudley…
"Is that right?" Harry stuck out his right hand, and made a series of complicated hand gestures, ending with a dramatized cry of "Abra Kadabra Alazkam!"
Dudley looked fearful, "What on earth did you do to me!" Harry grinned.
"Remember my eleventh birthday, the little 'thing' my giant friend gave you? Well, I just put it back on, but longer this time." Dudley panicked
"Where!" he yelled out, before he turned his fat neck around to look at his butt. Of course, being the weight-challenged little whale he was, he couldn't see all the way around. He spent the next minute or so spinning on the spot, trying to look at his supposed 'tail' (there was no tail). Which is how Petunia and Vernon found him.
"I suppose the house is cle-…What on earth is wrong with you, Dudders!" Screeched Petunia. Dudley whimpered as he stopped spinning. He pointed an accusing finger at Harry, who had a neutral face (on the verge of cracking up)
"He…he…he used you-know-what one me! He's trying to turn me into a pig"
"Too late for that, Dudley." Came Harry's smooth reply, as he crossed his arms. Vernon cut in.
"Ah ha! Now you're done for! You can't use that…thingy in your holidays! You're in for it now, boy!" Harry's look of mirth quickly vanished, and a look of supreme loathing filled his eyes. He wasn't going to take any crap from his hated relatives, who treated him as something lower than dirt. His power, he mused, had made him more…confident. Thus, he could stand up to the people who always put him down. He never asked to be taken in by them, but as Dumbledore wanted it, he was. All he ever wanted from them was a home, which he never got.
"Remember our talk, uncle?" hissed Harry, "I'm emancipated, and so that means I can do magic…"
"Don't say that word in our house!" snarled Vernon. Dudley nodded along with his daddy, although his chubby arms were still trying to feel for any changes to his backside. Petunia, however, was deep in thought.
"Emancipated, am I correct, boy?" she asked carefully. Harry and the Dursley males were quite surprised at the calculating tone of their voice. Harry nodded warily.
"Meaning you're an adult now." Dudley snorted at this, but was silenced by an elbow jab from Vernon.
"I guess so." Petunia smiled maliciously (a very disturbing sight, Harry thought)
"In that case, I should remind you what my letter from your esteemed freak professor said. We are only to mind you until the coming of age. 17 years, which is adulthood. You may not be 17, but you're an adult now!" she said triumphantly.
"That means…" Harry murmured, knowing what was going to happen. Vernon, and even surprisingly Dudley caught on.
"That's right! Get out of our house, you spawn-from-hell!" Petunia wrenched open the front door and pointed out. Dudley and Vernon also joined in.
"Off with you, boy!" "I'll beat you up if you ever come here again!" Harry backed off into the stairs.
Finally…my dream come true. I'll finally be able to leave them! I've got money, I can stay wherever I want!
"Give me a moment! Let me get my stuff!" He yelled as he ran up the stairs.
"Don't you dare take away the clothes we so graciously gave you!" Petunia's voice screeched as Harry vaulted into his tiny room. Inside, Mana was watching Aurora in her cage while the beautiful phoenix trilled softly. She looked up as Harry approached.
"What is wrong, Harry?" she asked. She didn't like the tense yet satisfied look on his face. She noted with some curiosity that Harry began to pack away his possessions into his trunk.
"We're leaving, Mana. Going away from this place." Mana, who never knew what it was like to live with the Dursleys, looked almost upset.
"No more TV Harry?" Harry gave her a tight smile as he packed in the last of Mana's belongings into his trunk.
"Maybe when we get to our new place." Mana perked up at that. Harry's was room completely devoid of possessions, the only things left were his wands (stashed away in his pocket), his invisibility cloak, Aurora and her cage. Getting Mana's attention, he pointed to Aurora's cage.
"Mana, carry Aurora ok?"
"Ok Harry." With that, the owl-turned-girl wrapped her arms around the cage, and brought it close to her voluptuous bosom. Harry then draped the invisibility cloak over Mana, causing her to shudder.
"What to do Harry?"
"Mana, hold my hand. We are going to leave but no-one is to see you. Aurora, please don't make a sound, I need to do this correctly, for our safety. An 'OK' and a affirmative chirp was heard. Harry, making sure that Mana's hand was holding on to his, and his trunk in his other hand, left his room and slowly made his way down stairs, where the Dursleys awaited. Supreme looks on triumph were on their faces. Vernon chose to speak first.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Get out of our house!" he yelled. Petunia followed suit.
"You should feel lucky that we're letting you keep your clothes!" she said. Dudley had the last word.
"Never bother us again, freak!" he snorted. Harry took one last look at his hated relatives, and gave them a brief nod.
"You know," he said, "I never asked for this. I never asked to intrude in your life, but things happened and here I am. Do you hate me so much just because I am a wizard? Am I that much different to you all? I still live and breathe, I have feelings too, you know. And I have felt nothing but pain living here. As much as I want to say that I hate you, I am above that. So I will say this. Farewell." With that, he opened the door, and ushered Mana out first, which looked strange to the Dursleys from their point of view. After making sure all was clear, he too exited with his trunk. No sooner than he got out, did the door slam in his face and mutterings of 'good riddance, freak', lingered.
Harry walked a few blocks away with his invisible charge until they were clear from the sight of any nearby muggle. Harry then took off the invisibility cloak off Mana, and draped it around Aurora's cage instead (he didn't want his phoenix to be seen). Mana was still holding onto Aurora's cage, looking somewhat apprehensive.
"No more home, Harry?" she asked. Harry shook his head.
"Not yet, Mana. I'll get us out of this mess." He stuck out his wand and immediately, the Day Bus arrived. He bought himself two tickets to the only place he could go right now…Grimmauld Place. Once seated with Mana, he mentally steeled himself with his coming encounter with the Order and Dumbledore. As he was doing so, a sudden thought occurred to him.
Blaise! Oh, crap! What's going to happen if I'm not there!"
It was about 8:30 when the Day Bus arrived at Grimmauld Place. As usual, there was no house number 12 between 13 and 15. After disembarking from the bus (and making sure it was gone), he and Mana walked towards house number 10 and stopped. He turned to Mana and said,
"Mana, can you remember something for me? A secret?" Mana's eyes lit up with interest.
"What is it, Harry?" she asked curiously.
"Remember this: The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix can be found at 12 Grimmauld Place." He whispered. Mana nodded, and repeated the line a few times under her breath, before nodding to Harry.
As soon as the pair had turned, a house suddenly seemed to push its way between number 10 and 14. Tugging at Mana's hand, he led her to the front door and was about to ring the bell when suddenly, the doors opened, as if the house itself had expected him. The two teens and phoenix entered quietly, so as not to alert anyone in the house. 12 Grimmauld Place, while still looking like a dark wizard's hangout, at least was somewhat clean. Cobwebs no longer existed in the corners, the walls looked like they received a fresh layer of paint and the floor looked like it had been cleaned pretty well. Despite that, Mana could not help but shudder. Harry thought that it was because Mana was not used to being in a house that, while relatively clean, had such a dark and foreboding air. Making sure Mrs Black's portrait wouldn't begin screaming; he led Mana (while covering her with the invisibility cloak again) and went towards the kitchens of the house…
So much for getting picked up on August the 17th…
Some time earlier…
"And this meeting of the Order of the Phoenix has officially started."
Dumbledore, Tonks, Moody, Lupin, Mr and Mrs Weasley as well as other order members sat in their seat, patiently waiting for Dumbledore to reveal his agenda, in the kitchen of the house. Although, Arthur Weasley was a bit apprehensive, and with good reason. Albus Dumbledore, for the last three weeks or so, had looked more tired and weary than he had ever seen, almost to the point that he looked upset. And I think I know what it is about, Arthur thought grimly. Dumbledore stood up and gestured to Severus Snape, Hogwart's resident potions master/bastard.
"Severus, have you anything to report for us?" The greasy haired man cleared his throat.
"For the last few weeks, as you may have already surmised, the Dark Lord has been very quiet in his activities. The exploits of Potter and his little gang of vigilantes at the Ministry of Magic had disrupted his plans completely." intoned Snape, throwing the occasional sneer at people he didn't like, "From what we of his inner circle have heard, his original plan was to use Potter to break into the Department of Mysteries, obtain an item for him, and to, for a lack of a better word, retrieve it with his Death Eaters. He was even considering the fact that the Ministry may arrest Potter for what he did, considering their hatred of the brat at the time. He did not plan, however, that Potter and his groupies to put up the fight that they did, nor did he plan on getting you, Albus, and the rest of the Order involved. Most of all, he did not plan to have the item he was searching for to be destroyed. As a result, the Dark Lord has been prematurely revealed to the wizarding world, the wizarding world is now banding together to resist his forces and he is very angry at the loss of the item he wants and nearly his entire inner circle."
"Good, the more death eaters we catch, the less problems for us." growled Moody, his normal eye in a twisted glare. Remus also voiced his concerns,
"Severus, what exactly is Voldemort looking for?" he asked mildly. Shudders went through the table as the name was mentioned. From the corner of his sight, Snape saw Dumbledore shake his head ever so slightly.
"If I had known, do you think I would be referring to that information as merely an 'item', Lupin?" hissed Snape, "Of course I don't know. Not even Lucius Malfoy knew exactly what that item was until the day of the operation."
"More like, doesn't want us to know," sneered Moody under his breath, "Once a death eater, always a death eater." Snape did not hear, and continued.
"The Dark Lord, for the last few weeks, has kept a low profile. He does not want to force an unnecessary confrontation yet, seeing that he only has a handful of his more skilled death eaters, dozens of new recruits and some dark creatures."
"Do you have any specifications on who has joined, Severus?" asked Dumbledore.
"From the Ministry of Magic battle, the remaining inner circle is Bellatrix Lestrange, Nott, Pettigrew, the Harrison brothers and Crawford. He has also begun to recruit new members, so I advise you take heed of any student acting suspiciously at Hogwarts. For his dark creatures, he has recruited several trolls, dementors, lethifolds and I hear he has acquired a pair of manticores." Everyone shuddered at this, even one manticore was deadly, "The Dark Lord has also sent envoys to several dark creatures. Hagrid has informed us that his attempt to sway the giants has failed, and they will stay neutral. On the other hand, he has sent envoys to the dominant vampire families and the strong werewolf clans." Dumbledore nodded,
"Remus?" The kindly werewolf stood up.
"I have spoken to our leader, Talbain, and he has told us that although he has declared neutrality, some of the rogue clans are interested in joining Voldemort. I fear you may be facing rogue werewolves in the near future."
"I see," said Dumbledore, "Hestia?" The pretty black haired witch also stood up,
"I have heard from my second uncle, a Tremére family patriarch, that the major clans have also declared neutrality. However, if You-Know-Who offers what them what they desire, then they may consider an alliance with him. As a matter of fact, even the matriarch of the Malkavian family is already trying to get her vassals to join You-Know-Who." Dumbledore nodded gravely
"This is indeed disturbing. If Voldemort indeed succeeds in recruiting both the vampires and werewolves, than I am sorry to say, but the wizarding world would be in dire straits. Remus, Hestia, you know what to do…?"
"Yes." both said in unison
"Than I wish you all the best. Severus, Remus, Hestia, thank you for your reports." The three sat down as Dumbledore began to speak again.
"If there is nothing to report, than I hereby declare this mee-"
"There is something!" interjected Mr Weasley, surprising even his wife. He wasn't the assertive type, but Dumbledore nodded to him graciously.
"What is on your mind, Arthur?" Mr Weasley set his jaw, looking very grim, which Molly thought was quite strange; even in the worst situations he was quite easy going.
"Yes, Albus. For the last few weeks, you have looked like a mess. Something is wrong." Many curious stares were thrown in his way, but Mr Weasley paid no attention to them, "As your fellow Order of the Phoenix member and as your friend, I would like to know what is going on." Dumbledore gave a hollow sigh.
"I, I suppose I can reveal what has been troubling me, if I may be permitted to do so?" The order nodded and murmured affirmations as one, "Very well, I shall begin. It concerns Harry Potter." Nearly all of the order members strained to listen, except for Snape who simply made a derisive noise under his breath.
"When last we met, Harry and I were not of the best of terms. It…it was my fault, and now he no longer trusts me. His anger at me was so strong that he trashed my office," gasps of surprise were heard, "When he left Hogwarts, he left specific instructions to leave him alone for a while. Eventually, he began to communicate again, using his friends' owl, seeing that his own one had left to mate. He seemed to be alright according to the letters, but he constantly avoids mentioning me. When Hagrid informed me about an amnesic, magical girl Harry found at his home, I knew I had to do something. For the last three weeks, I have been monitoring his movements, via Miss Tonks and Alastor Moody. They have reported that, for the last three weeks, he has stayed mostly in his house, out of sight and has acted in such a way we cannot discern his actions. For the few times he has left the house, he has travelled with the girl he found, Miss Mana, and according to Alastor who oversees Harry's movements out of the house," Moody nodded, "the girl is genuinely no threat to Harry. They have not been able to get close to Harry, or they might be discovered. Finally, they have reported that a Miss Blaise Zabini from Slytherin has been constantly visiting his house."
"Don't worry," chortled Moody, at Mrs Weasley's scandalized look, "the lad is still a lad I suppose, though you couldn't tell by the way he looks now." Moody got prominent stares from the Order members, particularly the Weasleys and Tonks, who had not been able to get visual contact on Harry. "They haven't been living in sin, or may Tonks here may think otherwise…?"
"No, although I can't see Harry I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary. He should be fine." said Tonks, her hot pink hair matching the colour on her face. Hagrid tried his best not to let his face give anything away.
"What does this mean, Albus?" asked Mr Weasley, still being assertive.
"It means that Harry is up to something that we don't know about, despite the fact we have been observing him. He obviously does not trust me or any of us enough to tell us what he is planning."
"And with good reason, too." snapped a voice from the other side of the kitchen. Faces turned, and the Order of the Phoenix was greeted with the sight of one Harry Potter.
Harry was standing there, ignoring the supremely surprised looks and Snape's glare coming his way. He was no longer the spectacled, scruffy haired boy with the shabby jeans, faded shirt and hands-in-pocket routine. To the order, he was a tall, handsome young man with rugged yet elegant long black hair, fit body, wearing a black tank top, designer jeans and brand name shoes (he did buy muggle things with his credit card he got from Gringotts). He stood there, tall and confident, with his shiny green eyes not betraying anything. Behind him (and invisible) was Mana, looking quite bewildered at the sight of so many people in one room. Moody seemed to have noticed her with his magical eye, but a quick glare from Harry silenced whatever protest he was about to make. Various thoughts ran through the heads of various people.
Harry…what's happened to you? thought Remus
Oh Harry, you've grown! How on earth did this happen? But you look so handsome thought Molly, filled with her motherly concern
Hey, don't look at me like that, boy! thought a disfigured Auror.
Took a leaf out of my book, eh Harry? thought Bill, grinning
My god…he's gorgeous… thought a certain clumsy Auror, her cheeks lighting up
I like porn, err, that brat has returned. Trust him to make an entrance, his arrogance is killing me thought a greasy haired potions master
My boy, you have returned to us. But, how? thought Dumbledore. He greeted Harry.
"Harry, how on earth did you get here?" he asked, although he was happy to see the boy he thought of like a grandson safe and sound.
"And hello to you to, headmaster." replied Harry in a voice so cold that the room temperature dropped. Again, the Order was exposed to yet another shock. When Dumbledore told them that he and Harry didn't get along, it was understatement of the year.
"I cannot begin to tell you how much anxiety you have caused-"
"Save it, you old fool." growled Harry, looking at the old man with supreme contempt. The Order was speechless. Whatever happened to their sweet boy from Gryffindor? Staring at Harry, his now emerald eyes were now an acid colour, burning the nerves of those who had the courage to face him. However, Mrs Weasley decided to cut in.
"Harry, watch your language!" she cried, "I know something happened between you and Albus but." Harry cut her off. He loved the Weasleys with all his heart and soul, especially Molly Weasley who had treated him like her own son, but he just had to get some things off his chest. With all the revelations about his parents revealed to him on the fateful Diagon Alley trip, his mistrust of Dumbledore from his fifth year and reminders of how he and others had suffered over the years because of Dumbledore's manipulations due to his improved mind and Occlumency, the rage within Harry, sealed away since his showdown at the headmaster's office, had broken when he laid eyes on the manipulative old bastard. Emotion ran through Harry's veins; despair, betrayal and anger. He would not be denied.
"Mrs Weasley, I love you dearly, but I have a score to settle with our esteemed Professor Dumb-and-Dopey over there. Please, allow me to speak." Harry's words were quiet, but firm. Something about Harry's persona just seemed to command attention. The plump red-headed woman sighed and backed down. Remus, on the other hand, was just relieved to see Harry in good health, so he waited to see what would happen. Snape, although he hated Harry with a vengeance, was curious to see the boy wonder from Gryffindor would say to his idol, Albus Dumbledore. Seeing that he had shocked everyone into silence, Harry continued,
"Headmaster, I thought my letter was clear. You are an intelligent wizard, are you not?" he asked in a deadly, silky voice, "which part of 'I want to be left alone' do you not understand?" Dumbledore feigned ignorance.
"I do not understand, Harry." he said, with a slight but slowly fading twinkle in his eyes, "We respected your wishes…" Harry rolled his eyes.
"Oh, please. Don't tell me I didn't know I was being followed, hmm?" asked Harry coldly, surprising all with his cunning, "I knew that I was being followed by Tonks and Moody. However, I must thank you for confirming the fact that you really are a bastard that controls people like they don't matter. All I wonder is why you would do such a thing."
"We did no such thing!" protested Tonks, while Moody remained passive, "I swear that nobody followed you!"
"Please, Tonks, don't insult my intelligence. During my brief hiatus at Durska-ban, I sensed that I was being followed during these last three weeks, and so I resolved to find ways to uncover who these spies were. A muggle once said 'know thy enemy', and so I did. I sensed someone with little finesse trying to observe me at home, so I placed random debris around the windows of the house." Tonks eyes widened, "No offense Tonks, but there's only person that could possibly trip over the same rock twice, at the same window." Tonks hung her head in shame, while Remus secretly applauded the young man's resourcefulness. But didn't he say he sensed them…? thought Remus.
"As for you, Moody, I discovered you were spying on me too. Do you remember when I walked with Mana in that forest with dead leaves? Craneberry Forest? I know what a foot step sounds like, treading on dead leaves, but you don't have two feet, do you Moody? There is difference between the sound of a foot and the sound of a wooden leg. I may not have been able to see you under your invisibility cloak, but my ears didn't betray me." Moody looked surprised, then surprised everyone by smiling somewhat.
"You got me, laddie. Constant Vigilance, always works eh Potter?" Harry bowed, before turning to face Dumbledore again.
"I guess that proves your manipulations, headmaster. Don't tell me Tonks and Moody get off to spying on other people now…?"
"Harry, I was only doing this for your own safety. I only had your best interests at heart." replied Dumbledore wearily. Harry's glare intensified.
How dare he…my best interests? Like sending me off to the Dursleys when I wasn't supposed to, or withholding the prophecy from me? I'll show you!
"Oh? Like shipping me off to the Dursleys, when my parents stated in their will that I should be sent to Sirius?" asked Harry venomously. Dumbledore paled.
"How did you know about that?"
"I've been busy, Headmaster. But I digress. Did you feel good defiling my parents' final wishes by sending me to my mother's hated relatives? Did you get a rush when you separated me from Sirius and Remus, just so your plans would be carried out?" he asked accusingly. Remus stood up and faced Dumbledore, ashen faced.
"Albus, please tell me Harry's lying. Please tell me that what Harry just said isn't true. Please…" begged Remus. Dumbledore lowered his head, saying nothing. Remus howled like an injured wolf as he banged his fist on the table with his superhuman strength. The Order members looked upon Dumbledore with shock and betrayal.
"How could he do that to James and Lily?" asked Kingsley Shacklebolt, aghast.
"Surely, there must be a good explanation for this…" replied Emmeline Vance. Dumbledore looked stricken.
"That's not all! You condemned Sirius to Azkaban!" he shouted. Dumbledore, despite the melancholy he had fallen into, straightened up at that remark.
"I do not deny that I have acted in ways you do not agree with, but I would never go as far as to sentence an innocent man to Azkaban." replied Dumbledore calmly. Harry's rage pulsed as he heard this. He had thought about Sirius' case, and things didn't add up. Dumbledore, looking shaken, still had a defence,
"While I will forever regret doubting Sirius, you must understand that at the time we thought of him guilty. Everyone of us did, even Remus. We were fooled by somebody we thought was one of us. Now, I can only pray that he forgive our sins of the past. But you understand, Harry, don't you? Didn't you also believe he was guilty too, Harry? I am guilty in believing he was guilty for all those years." asked Dumbledore in a pacifying voice. For a moment many thought he had caught out Harry, but they were wrong.
"LIAR!" screamed Harry, which awakened Mrs Black's portrait. Surprisingly, she didn't start screeching like she always does. As any true Slytherin, she eagerly listened to the events transpire. Harry continued, his eyes now a deadly green, "Don't lie to me, I know better than that! You believed he was innocent, Dumbledore! If you didn't then why on earth did you believe, in our third year, that he was innocent! You took the words of a 13 year old wizard and witch almost immediately, yet for the last 13 years prior you believed him guilty! How does that add up? No one knew, not even his close friend Remus Lupin, and that was only until he had the Marauder's Map and confronted Sirius himself. You weren't there, and if Remus didn't know, then how on earth would you!" The kitchen was deathly quiet now, "Simple. You knew because you knew he was innocent all this time. Even though you say you don't, you know you had your doubts." Dumbledore seemed to wither on the spot.
"Harry, there is-" Guilt was all over Dumbledore's face, and it spurned Harry on.
"I'm not finished, you old fool! Why didn't you do anything! You're the bloody Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, aren't you? You could redeem hardened death eaters" Snape froze at this, but was relieved that Harry didn't mention names, "…but you couldn't do anything for Sirius now, could you? Was it so hard to request a trial, even Veritaeserum? Aren't you a freakin' legilimens! Huh! Aren't you? And if you believed him innocent all this time, then why did you let him rot in Azkaban all this time! And if you didn't, why did you risk breaking several cardinal laws of the universe to help us out? Those Time-Turners, damn you! Tell me, Dumbledore. Has your sweets made you as senile as you look!" Mrs Weasley looked like she was about to shout in Dumbledore's defence, but when she gazed upon the Hogwarts headmaster's guilty face, she too paled. Harry then pulled out his trump card as he faced the stunned Order. Throughout the dark, antique, almost haunted environment of 12 Grimmauld Place's kitchen, silence reigned.
"And you want to know why your beloved old fool let a man rot in Azkaban for more than a decade? Simple. He wanted his weapon, yours truly, to be made into the perfect tool for taking down Voldemort. But he couldn't do that if someone was raising Harry different to what he wanted. So he needed to get Sirius out of the way. You let him rot in Azkaban while I rotted away at my aunt's house, knowing that I would turn to you as the 'kindly old man' who helped me through all my troubles, because no-one else would!" hissed Harry, ignoring the 'hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar' look on Dumbledore's face. Harry sniffled, but powered on, "How could you do that? How could you sentence an innocent man to fate like that, just to make sure your plans were on the right track!" Harry's words cut Dumbledore like Gryffindor's sword, as the old man crumpled beneath the accusations. He faltered and placed a shaking hand on the table, causing Bill, Charlie and Mundungus Fletcher (who were sitting nearby), to pull away. He looked sorrowfully at the bitter young man who glared at him with utmost loathing.
"Harry…I…I can never repay Sirius, Remus or you for the suffering I have caused. But I just want you to know this: During the days leading up to your parents' deaths, Sirius seemed quite short-tempered and withdrawn, which I now know was due to the rumours that there was a spy in our ranks. Many thought he, the outcast of the infamous Blacks, was the spy. I never for once believed he was the spy, but you must understand that he never told me he switched secret-keepers at the last moment. So when your parents were murdered, many of the order immediately accused him. Could you blame us, considering the way he acted beforehand? I…I must confess I had my suspicions, but in truth I was torn. On one side, Sirius and James were closer than blood brothers. On the other, Sirius did dabble in Dark Arts, and he was sometimes arrogant and impulsive. I did not know what to think, but in the end my concern for you was first priority. I ordered Hagrid to bring you to me, at all costs, when I heard the news...You…you know why I sent you to your relatives. To keep you safe-"
"And to keep me under your control" snapped Harry. Again, Dumbledore winced.
"I only wanted you to be safe, and where better else than a place where you can gain blood protection?" Harry looked away and grimaced, while Kingsley, Moody and the other knowledgeable Aurors present expressed their awe upon hearing that, "Now, Sirius had disappeared after he gave Hagrid his motorbike. We did not see him until the next day, when we saw him in that street with the bodies of those muggles and Pettigrew's finger. The wizarding world lashed out against Sirius. After seeing that, I still had my doubts, but I suppose my belief in fate was the deciding factor. Considering the prophecy (Dumbledore said this in a low voice that only Harry could hear), the defeat of Voldemort, the death of your parents, the disappearance of Sirius and the blood protection that you now possessed, I interpreted that as a sign that Sirius shouldn't have custody over you because he was truly guilty. From that point, I had convinced myself that Sirius was guilty. Now I realise that I was wrong." And with that, Dumbledore raised the sleeve of his stars and moon robes and wiped some tears that slid down his cheek. Silence filled the kitchen while the Order comprehended this.
I still have more to go, Dumb-as-a-door!
Albus…how could you betray all of us like this!
Oh, that poor Sirius, and after all these arguments we had before he died…sob
You idiot Albus, whatever happened to constant vigilance!
You willing condemned Black to Azkaban? Even I wouldn't go that far!
How else have you wronged poor Harry, Professor Dumbledore! Harry was the first to recover from the tense silence.
"Do you want to know why Sirius suddenly disappeared? Moreover, why the wizarding world condemned him so easily!" choked out Harry in a shaky voice. Dumbledore faced Harry with red eyes, but did not make a sound.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that my increased intelligence from awakening is a double edged sword… thought Harry bitterly as he began his second verbal assault.
"It was because you defied my parent's will. It was because you broke wizarding laws to fulfill your own goals. It was because you took away Sirius from me and me from him."
"What does that have to do with anything?" asked Snape harshly. Dumbledore raised his hand, and Snape could only wonder why his headmaster willing accepted more verbal bashing from the spawn of his hated enemy. Harry, who had looked almost broken then, stood up suddenly and slowly advance towards Dumbledore with a feral grace. Molly tried vainly to stand and interrupt Harry, but Bill and Charlie shook their heads, telling her without words that Dumbledore had this coming for a while. Harry cast a momentary look at Snape, but answered his query.
"I will answer, Snivellus." snapped Harry angrily, and no-one bothered to correct him, "It has to do with everything. Consider this: He was outcast from his family, his fellow brothers-in-arms thought him as a traitor," The old crowd of Order members look ashamed, "his close friend thought he had sold them out to Voldemort", Lupin looked down at the mention of his name, "his best friend and his best friend's wife is dead, his other friend had betrayed him, and finally you, Dumbledore, took way the godson that was rightfully his to look after. Tell me, if you were Sirius, what would have you have done, when you have nothing to lose?"
Realisation dawned through the eyes of Dumbledore and the older order members. Never, did they once consider Sirius' feelings during the time leading up to James and Lily's murder. The life in the kitchen had been extinguished so quickly that one could have mistaken that a dementor was in the house.
Meanwhile, Mana was still under the invisibility cloak, dutifully standing where Harry had instructed her to. She observed what was happening, and despite her (lack of) intelligence, had some idea of what was going on. She sighed softly and whispered softly to Aurora, who's grey eyes seemed to be in pain, as if she knew what Harry was feeling right now.
"Ohh…Aurora, Mana does not know what to do. Harry is angry at all those people. Harry is good because he always takes care of Mana and Aurora and Blaise, and those people are making Harry angry. Why are they being mean to Harry? They are bad!" Aurora nodded her head slightly, as if she understood, "What should Mana do? Mana…does not like to see Harry upset. Should Mana get angry at those bad people too?"
Aurora shook her head slightly, but Mana seemed to understand that this was Harry's fight. She sighed again, and tightened her hold on Aurora's cage. She looked at Harry again, who seemed to radiate with pain and despair. Had she looked to the mirror on her right, she would have noticed two red headed boys sneaking up to the kitchen…
The kitchen was a in a pensive silence. The order members sat around the rectangular wooden table, the older ones feeling dejected and ashamed for their treatment of Sirius, while the newer members pitied Harry for all that Dumbledore put him though. Bill and Charlie, sitting together, were whispering urgently and pointing at Dumbledore. Mrs Weasley gave Dumbledore a look that said 'touch my children and you're dead'. Dumbledore himself, looking every bit 150 years old, was supporting himself with one hand on the table, and the other rubbing his face. He might have been the leader of the light, but now he was a frail old man who made one too many mistakes for the sake of all. And standing a few feet away from was Harry, whose accusing eyes cut into Dumbledore time and time again. Harry decided to finish off.
"One last thing headmaster." he said icily, "You know how the wizarding world is so quick to judge people, on image, even on other people's opinions. Take me and my fifth year as an example. Do you think they would have accused Sirius so easily if they saw him raising the child of the people he supposedly betrayed? Hell, do you even think he would have even gone after Pettigrew if I was in his care? You took away Sirius' godson, will to live and last bit of credibility in the eyes of the wizarding world, and you took away my godfather and the chance for a good life."
Mana could almost feel the mournful emotion in the room herself. She wanted to comfort Harry, in the way he had comforted her when she first came to be. Many times, she was about to abandon all caution and run to Harry, but somehow, Aurora disapproved by shaking her head slightly every time. Mana turned, and watched as another redhead boy and girl, and this time, another bushy brown haired girl joined the other two redheads near the entrance to kitchen.
Ohh…so red! What do they do now? Will they hurt Harry? Mana must be sure, she has to be ready!
With that, Mana snuck up quietly to the assembled teenagers and lingered just behind the bushy haired girl, ready to do something, anything, if they tried to hurt her precious Harry. She observed, however, that they were content in just watching the events unfold. She caught some of their conversation,
"…who'd you think that is, Hermione?"
"I don't know. He seems angry at Professor Dumbledore, but he doesn't seem malicious…"
"He does look somewhat familiar…"
"Woah, I've never seen anyone talk back at Dumbledore!"
"Right you are, brother mine. Let's sit back and watch the fireworks…"
Dumbledore was now rapidly wiping his sleeve across his face, desperately trying to dry his tears. He wasn't angry that he had lost control of his 'weapon', he truly cared for Harry. He was angry at himself, for failing one, no, two black haired young men who had looked up to him with so much trust.
"Harry." choked out the aged wizard placating, "Please understand that I only sent you to your relatives for your own safety. I…I was present when Lily gave birth to you. She and James I loved like children of my own, and you as the grandson I never had. I loved you when you were born, and I could not bear to see you in any pain of any kind." Harry had a neutral look on his face, but his eyes were still red from tears, "I loved you, my boy. I sent you to the Dursleys because they could give you the greatest protection from the greatest threat of all, Voldemort. I knew he would return. I wanted you to be protected. I didn't want you to die. I did all of this because I cared for you." Harry could tell that the old man was actually sincere, but his anger that had been released along with the revelations of Sirius, could not be stopped. He wanted to shown his once beloved Headmaster how much pain he had suffered over the years.
"You cared for me, Dumbledore? You didn't want me to die? Think again. You think that getting hit by an Avada Kedavra is the only way one could die? How about starving to death? Beaten to death? How about that, Dumbledore?" asked Harry venomously, malice slipping out of every word. Noticing the confused looks on Dumbledore and the Order's faces, he raised his right hand and decided to reveal all.
"You don't know? Then I'll show you. I'll show you what your care has done for me! Personas Legilimens Visios!" he cried out, uttering the self memory showing spell.
What had transpired would be forever etched in the minds of those who watched. The men were trembling in anger and grief, the women cried, Mrs Weasley in particular let out an 'Oh my God!' and slumped over the table, Remus howled louder than ever before, and even Snape looked aghast. They saw Harry's life under the Dursleys…
A 5 year old Harry was sitting on his tiny cot, eating from a can of baked beans from with his fingers because his relatives didn't give him a spoon. He was quietly eating his food while a loud 'Happy Birthday Dudley' was heard from the other side of his cupboard door, followed up by 'Who wants some cake?' Harry didn't cry or throw a tantrum, he simply ate with a slightly wistful look on his face.
A 7 year old Harry was dutifully mopping the kitchen, while his chubby cousin was being dotted on by his sycophantic parents. Harry looked exhausted and like he hadn't been fed for a while, but did not complain. When Dudley spilled something on the floor, he began to cry and blamed it on Harry. Uncle Vernon strode over to Harry, wrenched the aluminium mop from his hands, and smashed it across Harry's head. Harry fell to the floor, but did not cry. He simply curled up as Vernon continued the assault, while Petunia was shouting at Harry for upsetting her 'Duddykins'
A 9 year old Harry was kneeling by his cot. On his wall, was a calendar that Harry had written using an old crayon. The date was the 25th of December. Voices of 'Open your other presents, Dudley' was heard. Harry was whispering something under his breath, his hands clasped together. He was praying, praying to be loved. Even for a little while, that's all he ever wanted. Tears leaked out his eyes, although he tried to hold it in.
Harry waved his hand and ended the spell with a sharp hand gesture, tears staining his face. He turned to the weeping headmaster of Hogwarts, sorrow and guilt in the old man's eyes. Harry's voice was no louder than a whisper, but everyone heard.
"Tell me that I was ok. Tell me that I was being protected. Tell me that I was wrong, that I wasn't alone for all those years. Tell me that you cared, Albus Dumbledore. Tell me that you cared for me." Dumbledore could not speak, so grief stricken was he upon seeing what he had sentenced the boy he supposedly loved like a grandson to for a decade. His voice, too, was no louder than a whisper.
"Harry…oh Harry, I'm so sorry…"
Harry turned away, not bearing to look at the periwinkle eyes of the man who as good as sentenced him to Azkaban. As he walked out of the doorway to the kitchen leaving behind the sorrowful Order of the Phoenix, he ran into four red heads and a bushy haired girl, all looking at Harry with saddened eyes. The tallest of the red head boys greeting him shakily,
"Harry…mate…is that you?" Despite what Harry was feeling at the moment, he was genuinely glad to see his friends.
"Hey Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George…how have you been?"
"Harry!" cried out Hermione as she ran to him and hugged him fiercely. She knocked the Boy-Who-Lived to the ground, causing the other Weasleys to crowd amongst the fallen young man. They poured out their hearts to this young man who had suffered for so long. However, did this not go unnoticed by one golden eyed girl and ice phoenix. From their point of view, their caretaker/master had been knocked to the ground and the others were going to finish the job.
"Mana will help Harry!" shrieked Mana as she wrenched the invisibility cloak off of her. She ran towards the oblivious group of teenagers in front of her. Aurora trilled in response, flapping her wings as she egged Mana on. Mana broke through the surprised wall of Weasleys and pounced on Hermione, who was still hugging Harry. Aurora squawked loudly as Mana dropped her cage in desperation. She tried to rip the surprised and now frightened Hermione off Harry.
"Leave Mana's Harry alone!" she commanded shrilly, tugging desperately at Hermione. Harry realised what was going on and tried to diffuse the situation. He rolled out of the way and grabbed Mana.
"Mana, stop!" he yelled out, "Stop this now!" Mana let of Hermione promptly and looked at Harry in confusion.
"But bad people try to hurt Harry. Mana won't let bad people hurt Harry!" she replied defiantly, her long brown hair dishevelled in the struggle. Harry sighed as Hermione, the Weasleys and the astounded Order of the Phoenix looked on. He stood up, pulling Mana up and grabbing Aurora's cage, before heading back to the kitchen. He beckoned for the Weasley children and Hermione to follow him. Once they were all present, Harry motioned all to listen. No one did otherwise.
"Bear with me, I have some explaining to do…"
Blaise was walking along with her parents down Privet Drive, on the way to Number 4. She was wearing a pretty blue sundress today with matching red sandals, which accented her stature, pale skin, blue eyes and long, shiny black hair, giving her a look of beauty and elegance, which was accented by her above average height. People passing by couldn't help notice that Blaise was wearing some rudimentary make-up as well. Her parents looked on with some amusement, and whispered among themselves.
"Well Nirvana dear, it seems that our little girl is growing up." remarked Alfredo. His wife nodded and placed her hands on her cheeks.
"Correct as always, dear. Oh my! Do you think she is doing more than just playing around at young Harry's house?" asked the ditzy Zabini matriarch. Alfredo blinked
"Uhh, I don't think so dear." said Alfredo, trying hard not to visualise what Nirvana just said. Blaise turned her head,
"Something wrong, mom, dad?" she asked. Alfredo shook his head frantically. Blaise nodded and the trio continued walking to 4 Privet Drive. Although Harry told her that today would be the day his relatives would return, it had totally slipped her mind. And so, when she rang the doorbell of 4 Privet Drive, she was quite surprised to see Petunia Dursley staring at her. Obviously, Blaise's beauty and clothing had made an impact on the bitter Dursley matriarch.
"Can I help you, my dear?" she asked in an overly sweet voice, "Have you come to see our dear son Dudley?" Blaise blinked as she thought of a response.
This must be Harry's aunt…something tells me that she is as bad as her voice acting…
"No ma'am." replied Blaise politely, "I am here to see Harry." Petunia's face immediately turned sour.
"Why on earth would you want to see that boy!" snapped Petunia. Alfredo and surprisingly, Nirvana frowned. No-one talked to their daughter like this! Blaise stared Petunia down defiantly.
"He's my friend, and he goes to the same school I do." she replied coldly. Petunia glared at the Slytherin beauty with utter loathing.
"You're a freak! Get the hell out of my sight!" she screeched. Blaise stepped back, shaking slightly as Vernon and Dudley joined the fray.
"We don't want your kind here! Move it or I will call the police!" roared Vernon
"Yeah, I hope you get wasted like my stupid cousin's parents!" chorused Dudley. Alfredo could take it any longer. His daughter was under threat for no reason, and from what he had heard for Lily and James Potter, they were good people (and James was a distant relative anyway). He strode forward, gently but firmly pushing Blaise out of the way as he plunged his hands into his pocket, looking for his wand. The Dursleys visibly stiffened at this, and Alfredo Zabini couldn't help but smile somewhat grimly.
"I will forget this whole incident if you apologise to my daughter and if you tell me the whereabouts of young Mr Potter." Alfredo said coldly, letting his aristocratic voice ring through. The Dursleys were awed, but Vernon was too stupid to back down.
"Why should we tell you? Doesn't your kind look into a crystal ball for that kind of stuff?" sneered Vernon. Alfredo shook off the insult.
"Maybe I could, but wouldn't it seem more logical to ask the young man's relatives where he may be." replied Alfredo coolly.
"As if we'd tell you? Why can't you monsters leave us in peace?" growled Vernon, his fat body turning red all over. Alfredo wasn't amused. He levelled his wand towards the (fat) neck of Vernon Dursley.
"Tell me where the boy is, and apologise to my daughter now, muggle," he said viciously, "Or there will be hell to pay." Petunia foolishly tried to take control.
"Never! I'll never help you freaks, or help your freak spawn! For all I know, you just want your blasted girl and the boy to spawn more abominations! Why should we apologise to her! We're doing the world a favour!" screeched Petunia. Blaise blushed slightly but Alfredo was red with anger. Of course, Dudley wasn't smart enough to see through the situation.
"That stupid freak girl can't do anything. Maybe she should hang around me; I'll show her what a real man is like." he said in a vain attempt to be sexy. Alfredo had enough.
"You'll pay for that, you little bastard!" he roared, making some quick gestures with his wand, "Vera Vexus!"
A blinding light burst from Alfredo's wand and struck the frightened Dursleys. When the light had subsided, Blaise turned and looked at the Dursleys. There were human no longer.
They had been transfigured into pigs. Pink and with curly tails. One ridiculously fat one (Vernon), another slightly smaller but no less chubby one (Dudley) and a relatively thin one with a long neck (Petunia). 'Petunia' squealed frantically as she rambled around her husband and son. Alfredo looked haughty as he flourished his wand and returned it into his pocket. Blaise looked at her father.
"Dad…you didn't have to do that…" she whispered as she looked at her father's handiwork. Alfredo smirked.
"They had it coming. Besides, I don't like the thought of anyone insulting you, princess." he said, genuinely smiling slightly, a feat so rare that it ranked one below Voldemort dancing around Diagon Alley, singing about how proud he was to be a half-blood. Blaise smiled and hugged her father.
"Thanks dad." she said sincerely, while making a mental promise to play a larger role in her father's life. Nirvana's face looked uncharacteristically serious as she surveyed the pork-like Dursleys.
"I don't understand…"she said softly, "I would have thought Harry grew up with loving relatives, judging by his personality." Blaise disengaged from her father's embrace and looked at her mother sadly.
"That just proved my theory. During the days I stayed here, I saw Harry's room. It was the smallest in the house, and it had barely any furnishings. On the other hand, his porky cousin's room was filled to the brim with belongings, and he also had a playroom. In their muggle pictures, they didn't have one of Harry at all. Finally, Harry always seems to always flinch whenever I walk by the cupboard under the stairs. Once, when he was away training, I looked inside and I…I saw a cot with Harry's name on it. There was some muggle food stored under the bed, and it all looked the same…" whispered Blaise, wiping her eyes, "He's a neglected child…"
"Impossible." breathed Nirvana, "How…how could a kind young man like him come from such abusive family?"
"I don't know, dear," replied Alfredo softly, "But I won't stand for him to live in this…this…hellhole. He deserves better."
"Can, can he stay at out mansion, dad?" asked Blaise, almost hopefully.
"I would invite him right now, but as it stands, we don't know where he is." said Alfredo.
"But that poor boy! He could be anywhere! His relatives as good as kicked him out of the house!" Nirvana gasped.
"They probably did." said Blaise bleakly. Alfredo shook his head.
"I am sure young Harry is alright. He did, after all, escape from the Dark Lord multiple times. He is resourceful. I am sure he will be fine. You will just have to meet him on September the first, Blaise." Blaise nodded, but didn't look into her father's eyes. Nirvana pointed to the Dursleys, who were now making a mess on Petunia's beloved garden. Alfredo smiled cruelly.
"Well, there is a reason why our incompetent ministry has an 'Accidental' Magic Reversal Squad." he said with some satisfaction, "Let's be off then."
Back at 12 Grimmauld Place
"…And that's my story."
Harry had just finished telling his friends and the Order what had transpired. Taking a leaf from Dumbledore's book, he didn't tell everything, just the truth from a 'certain point of view'. While he did tell them that he emancipated himself, he didn't tell them of his virtual two and half years of training, his awakening, or his newfound magical capabilities, He just told them that he had 'read some stuff and practiced, as well as exercise'. He also stuck with Hagrid's version with how Mana came around, who was squirming under the scrutiny of the Order of the Phoenix. He told them how he got Aurora, but had to tell them the truth as there was no point lying, and a half-giant Care of Magical Creatures teacher turned red when Harry redirected some heat on him. Finally, he finished off with his 'removal' from Four Privet Drive, and wasn't shy about revealing how happy he was because of it.
"Harry, I never thought they would kick you out of the house." said Dumbledore softly when Harry re-counted his freedom from the Dursleys. Harry smiled grimly.
"Of course you wouldn't know. How could I possibly blame you? You never checked on me…" he said, almost mockingly. Once again, Dumbledore winced from Harry's accusation. "Now that you have been updated, and not been kept in the dark about things," Dumbledore winced again, "I would like to talk to my friends, headmaster, or do you care so much that you're going to tell me something better?"
"No Harry, I believe Misters and Miss Weasley and Miss Granger are happy to see you. We will not interfere." Nodding curtly, Harry led his friends out of the kitchen and into the lounge room, before he broke into a warm smile.
"Hey guys…you do realise that I'm happy to see you again…" He said playfully. Immediately, his friends smiled. Ron and the twins went up to Harry and gave him manly one-armed hugs.
"Mate, it's great that you're back. Man, I want to take the hickey out of those blasted muggles." said Ron as he thumped Harry on the back. Ron had grown even taller than when Harry last saw him, reaching the majestic height of 6ft. Although his body wasn't as well toned as Harry's, Ron seemed to have filled out somewhat, so he didn't seem so gangly. He still had his trademark Weasley red hair, although it was trimmed quite neatly. Harry grinned.
"You're looking quite well, Ron. Could it be because a certain Hufflepuff has been keeping you up at night?" he asked coyly. Ron blushed red while the twins cried out 'we didn't need to know that'. Ginny moved in for the kill.
"Yeah, you would think that a girlfriend would put some responsibility into his Quidditch infested brain. But no, he just wants to look good for his beloved Eloise, because they're both such diehard Cannons fans." The youngest Weasley had grown quite pretty over the holidays. Height wise, there was not much change, but her once plain red hair had changed into a shimmering fire, a deeper bright red. Ginny's body had also filled out somewhat, revealing some promising curves. Hermione decided to save Ron's dignity.
"Oh, come now Ginny, at least Ron is trying. Cut him some slack, will you?" the muggle born witch said with an amused voice. Like Ginny, Hermione did not grow much in terms of height but her figure had filled out considerably, giving the know-it-all an almost…sexy appearance. Ron smiled weakly.
"Err…I would have told you Harry, but I got together with Eloise after your break up with Cho, and I thought you…" Harry put up his hand.
"Say no more. Thanks for trying to be considerate, Ron."
"So you're ok with it?" asked Ron.
"Of course." said Harry loyally. The twins sniggered.
"Oh, this is rich, Ronniekin's best mate is backing him up!" chortled George. Harry raised his eyebrow.
"Well, at least he's getting some action, which is more than I can say for you two." said Harry smoothly. That shut the twins up. Hermione stared at Harry again; she was seeing him a new light.
"Harry…you've changed so much…so much has happened this month," Hermione looked at Mana and Aurora, "and your phoenix is so beautiful!" she gushed. Aurora trilled happily from her cage and sang her phoenix song, soothing everyone in the room.
"By the way, Harry, are you going to give us a better introduction to the lovely lady that came with you?" asked Fred coyly. Harry smiled as he beckoned Mana to stand next to him.
"Mana, these are my friends." he said, pointing to each person as he called their names. She frowned slightly when Harry pointed out Hermione, and was utterly confused with Fred and George.
"Harry…?" she asked, totally vexed, "Fred and George are same!" The twins smirked, while Ron, Hermione and Ginny laughed. Harry shook his head.
"Fred and George are twins, Mana."
"Twins?" asked Mana curiously.
"They are siblings who are born at the same time. These two have identical features." said Hermione. Mana nodded but her eyes clearly showed she didn't understand a word.
Harry spent the best part of the rest of the morning telling his friends more details about his 21 days with Mana; how difficult it was to teach her initially (Harry turned red when he recounted Mana's first shower, while Ron and the twins catcalled), how Mana acted like a little toddler experiencing the world, and how Blaise was teaching Mana how to talk.
"Wait, you mean Zabini, our year from Slytherin?" Interrupted Hermione sharply. Harry nodded.
"Yeah. She's quite a nice person, not like your typical Slytherin. Anyways, I owe her quite a bit for all the time she has given up to teach Mana." said Harry. Mana nodded eagerly.
"Mmm hmm, Blaise is very good to Mana." she said enthusiastically. Hermione simply nodded.
The friends were chatting comfortably until around 2:00, when Mrs Weasley called them for lunch. The group of seven (with Aurora and Pigwidgeon in tow) entered the kitchen once more, though many of the Order members had left. Only Mr and Mrs Weasley, Bill, Charlie, Tonks, Kingsley, Moody, Hagrid, Lupin, some Order members Harry did not know the name of and Dumbledore had remained. The rough dinner table, however, was laden with delicious morsels, courtesy of Mrs Weasley. Harry and his posse took their seats, with Mana sitting next to Harry. She was clearly awed at the sight of so much food, much less the cutlery that was magically moving itself towards the plates in front of each person. She nudged Harry softly as a spoon and fork landed on her plate.
"How…?" she asked with fascination. Harry smiled slightly at her wide-eyed innocent look of curiosity.
"Magic." Harry replied simply. Mana's eyes widened.
"Ok…if Mana a witch, and witch do magic, then can Mana do that?" she asked almost hopefully. Harry laughed, his green eyes sparkling and his elegant black hair swaying softly, catching the attention of Tonks, who blushed slightly.
"You will learn, Mana. At Hogwarts." Mana nodded, and looked ravenous when some food was placed into her plate. Mrs Weasley was in her mega-mother mode as she heaped several helpings of chicken, salad and potatoes onto Mana's plate. She smiled kindly at the golden-eyed girl as she poked curiously at her food.
"Eat all you want, dear." she encouraged. Mana blinked, and tilted her head to the side. Harry explained to Mrs Weasley.
"Sorry, Mrs Weasley, but she doesn't understand. I'll teach her what to do." Once again, Harry helped Mana to eat her food. The group at the tables enjoyed the lunch immensely, while engaging in light conversation. Interestingly enough, Dumbledore didn't say much. Only when the meal was mostly over, did real conversations start. While everyone was interested in Harry's change, it was Lupin who started things off.
"So, Harry," he asked gently, "How have you been, considering what has happened…?" Everyone knew that Lupin was referring to Sirius' death, and Ron and Hermione looked anxiously at Harry, fearing he might lose his temper. To everyone's surprise, Harry simply shrugged.
"I've been dealing with it, and I'm over it. I am sad that he's gone, but I won't let it affect me. I won't let his death break me." he said defiantly. Hermione cast Harry a critical eye.
Oh my, he's really changed…in just a month, too! Not only does his personality seem different, but he looks so handsome! Oh my God, did I just think that! Hermione blushed slightly. Lupin looked surprised at Harry's answer, but smiled nonetheless.
"I'm glad, Harry. I know Sirius wouldn't have wanted us to mope around, he would probably have pulled a prank on us if we did…" Everyone chuckled. Moody looked at Harry curiously. He had been most interested in Harry's newfound attitude to constant vigilance.
"So, Potter, it seems that you've grown quite a bit, magic wise." he said flatly. Moody wasn't one to beat around the bush. Harry nodded.
"Well, Voldemort is at large, you know. I'm not going to survive this war by staying ignorant." Moody smiled at this, making him look something akin to Frankenstein's monster.
"Well said, sonny. It's good that the youth these days haven't lost their wits." Kingsley made his move.
"I see. You ever thought of a career as an Auror, Potter?" he asked.
"I've considered it. And I hope I can accomplish it, my OWLs are good enough to take courses require for mandatory Auror subjects."
"Oh, what did you get, Harry?" asked Hermione eagerly. Ron rolled his eyes and muttered, Honestly, some people need to sort out their priorities.
"13 OWLs, Acceptable grades for History of Magic, Astronomy and Divination, Exceeds Expectations for Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures, and Outstanding for Charms, Transfiguration, Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts." he replied, not telling Hermione of his Sensational grade. He didn't want to show off. Everyone exchanged awestruck looks.
"Wow! Those are great results, Harry!" exclaimed Tonks.
"Your parents would have been proud." said Lupin.
"You'll make a fine Auror, just like your father, Potter." said Kingsley approvingly.
"I am proud that you have achieved such fine results, Harry." said Dumbledore, who up to this moment had remained quiet. Harry did not choose to bag out his headmaster, but rather nodded briefly.
"Thanks, headmaster." he said mildly, almost formally. Dumbledore had the look of a deflated balloon because of Harry's answer, but did not say much. Mana had paid no attention whatsoever, she was happily eating fourth and fifth helpings to Mrs Weasley's excellent lunch. She had finished a succulent chicken leg and grinned, not noticing the bit of meat on her lip. Harry did, however, and turned to her.
"Mana, you've got something on your mouth." The owl girl blinked her eyes and tilted her head to the side.
"Here, I'll get it." with that, Harry took the piece of meat from her mouth, and ate it. Mana blushed softly, not noticing the looks of envy from Hermione and Tonks.
Harry spent the rest of the summer at Grimmauld Place with happiness. He was spending a lot of time with his friends, who had taken a liking to Mana. Ron often tried to sway her to his way of thinking, so by the end of Harry's first few days at Grimmauld Place, she knew what the Chudley Cannons were and the names of all their players, reserves and coaches for the last 10 years. Hermione and Ginny had taken it upon themselves to instruct Mana in the ways of the woman; that is, how to act like a modern day witch, and how to interact with others. Harry like this idea, since Blaise had taught Mana only the bare essentials. Thus, Mana learnt how to dress in robes, and even started to understand more of the magical world, although she was, relative to everyone else in terms of intelligence and conversational ability, not the shiniest wand in the shop. The twins often tried to joke around with Mana. Mrs Weasley nearly had a stroke when Mana ate a Canary Cream, and even Harry felt somewhat peeved, but when he saw Mana laughing openly after she transformed back, he relaxed. Seeing as he felt some kind of obligation to keep her entertained, he allowed the twins to joke around with Mana, as long as they didn't go overboard with the pranks. Aurora, Harry's beautiful phoenix, was the subject of many admiring stares. Aurora felt quite good about this, and often sung her song as she glided around the dark halls of Grimmauld Place. Surprisingly, the portraits kept quiet, even Mrs Black. Dumbledore admired Aurora the most.
"She is an extremely beautiful and rare bird, Harry." he said, after catching up to Harry as he walked towards the kitchen for dinner one day.
"She is, isn't she. A tad big headed, though." he replied, but with no anger in his voice this time. Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at this, ever so slightly.
"It is because her master has taken good care of her, which speaks a lot for his character." ventured Dumbledore. Harry caught Dumbledore's blatant hint of goodwill, but decided not to blow up on him…yet.
"What do you want from me, headmaster?" he asked softly. Dumbledore lowered his head.
"I…I know that I have utterly betrayed your trust, Harry. I still cannot forgive myself for the foolish decisions I have made."
"Go on." was Harry's cool reply.
"I want to make amends. I would you like to ask your forgiveness, Harry. I know you will not give it easily, but I want to rebuild the relationship we once had." he began tentatively. Harry's face was impassive, him and Dumbledore not noticing that many of the occupants of 12 Grimmauld Place were filling up the entrances of the corridors, trying to hear what was going on.
"And what makes you think I will trust you, after all that have screwed me over for? I mean, I would understand if you made truly accidental mistakes, but you know that the decisions you made were from your own 'faultless' view of what was best."
"Harry, we discussed this, I am not young anymore…" began Dumbledore.
"Doesn't experience come with age?" shot back Harry, "And besides, for all those years I was in that muggle hell, did you once even check up on me? See if I was eating enough, or that I wasn't being tormented by my relatives. My parents had been killed, and you send me there of all places? You chose not to care for me, Dumbledore, despite the fact it was your own idea to send me there. You were defiant in not fulfilling my parent's will, you were ignorant of the law for not following it, and you were irresponsible for not checking up on me. Now, would any sane person trust a person who screwed them up that badly?"
"Will I ever be able to restore your trust in me, Harry? Is there anyway I can make it up to you?" pleaded Dumbledore. Harry's cold gaze never wavered.
"You are my headmaster, and thus I will listen to any orders from you regarding academic matters. You are my counsel against Voldemort, for obvious reasons. I will help you, you will help me. But apart from that, I wouldn't hold my breath for anymore." Dumbledore lowered his head sorrowfully, and left, not noticing the saddened looks of the people who watched the whole thing. Harry gave Dumbledore's back a final glare, and then stalked off towards his room. The people who had gathered around looked at the broken look on Harry's face, and could only pity poor Harry for all that had happened to him. Ron, being the loyal best friend that he is, followed Harry to his room. The red head found Harry lying on his bed, staring aimlessly at the ceiling. Ron awkwardly made his way to the side of Harry's bed, and sat down.
"You ok, mate?" he asked tentatively. Dull as the youngest son of Weasley clan was, even he knew when his friend was hurting.
"I'm fine, Ron. But thanks for asking." Harry said softly, "It's just that I don't know who to trust anymore. I trusted Dumbledore with my life and he screwed me over royally…" Ron tightened his fist vigorously.
"You know you can trust me, right Harry? I would never betray you like that!" he said firmly. Harry smiled slightly at this.
"I know. Hermione and you have always been with me. How can I not trust the guy whom I consider as the brother I never had?" Harry grinned at Ron, who brushed the back of his fiery hair and blushed. Ron composed himself, and pressed on.
"But I have this feeling you haven't told us everything."
"Why?" Harry sat up and stared Ron in the eye. The red head had rarely ever seen Harry so serious.
"I can't tell you know, Ron, because it relates to a plan I have in mind. It's not that I don't trust you, but I have to say that Dumbledore can read your mind as easily as Hermione can read a book, while Voldemort could probably torture secrets from a rock. It is the third party that I do not trust." Ron looked slightly disappointed, but he nodded.
"I guess I can understand. I don't want your plan, whatever it is, to fail because You-Know-Who gets me-"
"That's not going to happen!" interjected Harry sharply. Ron looked surprised, but continued.
"I know, mate. You gotta save the day, eh?" (It was Harry's turn to blush now), "But you know, you'll never get rid of me and Hermione. We're here to the end, you know."
"Yeah, you two are going to nag me to death one day…"
The two boys shared a hearty laugh. They spent the next 10 minutes talking about meaningless things when Ron mentioned his award/patent he received for Blast-Ended Skrewts.
"…You know, we did quite well considering we kinda slacked off during OWL study," chortled Ron, "I mean, you aced your exams and even got the highest in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and I wasted Fred and George's score as well as getting my little patent." Harry looked thoughtful at this.
"Hermione's not going to like this." he said seriously.
"Why? Wouldn't she be proud of us?" Ron asked, scratching his fiery hair. Harry made a face.
"Listen, she tried her absolute hardest all these years to be number one, and we barely put in any effort and we get all these rewards. Wouldn't she feel, in the shadow or something? I mean, she's considered the bookworm against us two, the Boy-Who-Lived and the Weasley With The Attitude (Ron snorted at this, but knew it to be true). And now, we've taken what she's been working on. I think she might not like that." A rare look of enlightenment crossed Ron's face as he put 2 and 2 together.
"I get it. I know that feeling, it's similar to what I feel when I get compared to my brothers. Being second place to everyone else, trying to make something out of myself." Ron said sagely, briefly feeling a burst of shame as he recalled his fourth year jealousy.
"So you see why we shouldn't tell Hermione yet? I don't want to lose her." urged Harry. Ron stared at Harry for a few moments, than nodded.
"You got it, mate. But she's gonna find out sooner or later…"
The days leading up to September the First proceeded relatively quietly. Of course, Mrs Weasley did have a mini-stroke the morning the trio were due to go to Diagon Alley, because she found Mana sleeping comfortably next to Harry, who was looking embarrassed beyond belief, if not for the fact that a beautiful girl had somehow snuggled up next to him during the night without him knowing, than probably for being discovered by none other than Mrs Weasley. The fact that Ron was catcalling and making lewd comments didn't help much either.
"Wha…WHAT IN MERLIN'S NAME IS GOING ON HERE!" shrieked Mrs Weasley, turning as red as her hair.
"Mrs Weasley, I have a perfectly good reason…" stuttered Harry, turning a sickly crimson colour.
"Harry, you randy devil! Doing the naughty deed while I'm in the room, you exhibitionist, you!" cackled Ron. Mrs Weasley's wrath turned on him.
"RONALD BILLIUS WEASLEY! WHERE IN THE WORLD DID YOU LEARN SUCH VULGAR TERMS! IF YOU DON'T GET YOUR MOUTH CLEANED I'LL DO IT GREAT-AUNT MAGGIE'S WAY!" Ron immediately shut up – the 'Great-Aunt Maggie' incident had scarred him for life. Mana had woken up due to the commotion.
"Hmm? What goes on?" she asked curiously amid Mrs Weasley's verbal bombardment.
"YOUNG LADY YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE!" hollered Mrs Weasley, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HARRY'S BED!" Mana, to her credit, was unfazed by the shouting. She wrapped her arms around Harry and smiled benignly.
"Mana always sleeps with Harry in old house. Mana got lonely so Mana sleeps with Harry." She tilted her head again, "What means, 'randy devil'? Is Mana, 'randy devil'?" she asked innocently.
Mrs Weasley fainted on the spot.
After clearing up and explaining things at breakfast, the Weasley family, Hermione, Harry and Mana headed to Diagon Alley, to buy spellbooks and ingredients needed for the upcoming terms. Harry gave a list of what he and Mana needed for the year (Mana would take the same subjects as he, but she also needed additional books on 'self-learning'. Her books were special edition types for 'special people'. Harry, Mana and Ron went to Olliviander's to buy a wand for Mana.
"You excited, Mana? You're gonna get your own wand!" grinned Ron at Mana. She clapped her hands playfully, her golden eyes sparkling.
"Ooh yeah, Mana's pumped up!" said Mana, stumbling slightly over the words a certain Weasley taught her. Ron's grin widened.
"Excellent! You're learning my words!" Harry sighed as he talked to Mr Olliviander.
"Ah, Harry." greeted Olliviander jovially, "How goes your…wand?" Harry made a slight nod, signalling to Olliviander that all was well and that the subject shouldn't be discussed here. Olliviander caught on, unfortunately so did Ron, who thought to himself, Is there something wrong with Harry's wand?
"Good. Now, I see that this lovely young lady needs a wand, yes?" Harry nodded, pulled Mana over and presented.
"This is Mana, Mr Olliviander." introduced Harry. Mana's smile widened.
"Hidey-ho!" She learnt that off Tonks. Olliviander grinned as he got down to business.
"Well, let's get started. If you'll give me your wand hand please…"
The process took around 10 minutes. The first 5 consisted of Olliviander presenting a dragon heartstring wand to Mana, who promptly tried to devour it. The next 3 consisted of scolding from Harry to an embarrassed Mana, while Ron and Olliviander looked on in amusement. Mana got the right wand on her fifth try.
"Hmm, let me see, Unicorn tail hair, 10 inches, Oak, excellent for transfiguration and runes." muttered Olliviander as Mana waved the wand around energetically, making it release reddish-white sparks. He gently took the wand away from her to pack it in a box, and gave it to Harry (for safekeeping).
"That will be 7 galleons and 10 sickles."
"Here's 8, keep the change." said Harry as he shoved a few gold coins into Olliviander's desk. The eccentric wand maker smiled as he waved the three off.
"Good luck you three, especially to you Miss Mana. I'm sure your wand will help you with your talents."
The trio made their way to Flourish & Blotts, where the rest of the Weasleys were waiting. Harry had a small smile seeing Ron comparing wands with Mana.
"…you see, my wand is also unicorn hair and great with magical creatures…" boasted Ron. Mana simply looked at her wand and poked Ron in the chest.
"Mana likes her wand too." she exclaimed.
Harry, however, did not notice the multitude of teenage and young adult witches casting appraising looks at him. He did not hear them whisper among themselves.
"Black hair…green eyes…scar…that's got to be Harry Potter!" muttered a random girl.
"Wow! He's so sexy! I could just die!" exclaimed another girl, who would soon be Harry Potter's first official fan girl.
"And all the things he did, including last year! He's a hero in my eyes!" shrieked a fourth year Ravenclaw.
"And he's probably a hero in bed, too." replied her older sister as she gazed at the fine male specimen walking by, drool forming around her lips.
"Ooh, I'd like to get to know that hunk." whispered a female Auror as Harry strode past, confidence and power in his steps.
"Hey, don't about Harry like that!" exclaimed her pink-haired companion (Tonks). The ladies around her stopped, stared, before closing in on her like a group of sharks, bombarding the clumsy Auror with questions.
"You know him!"
"Harry Potter? The-Hunk-Who-Captured-My-Heart!"
"How did he get so damn fine!"
"Is he good in the sack?"
Harry, oblivious to the fact that the female magical population just found themselves a new god to worship, entered Flourish and Blotts to meet the others. Mrs Weasley gave Harry, Mana and Ron their books, and when Harry tried to pay for them, Mrs Weasley refused it and pushed to galleons back to Harry.
"No, I won't accept it. Any mother would do the same for her son." she said kindly. Harry, who had rarely ever heard such words, found that tears were about to blur his vision.
"Thank you, Mrs Weasley. A son that calls you his mother is a lucky man, indeed."
As the group were about to Floo their way back home, Harry couldn't help but notice Madame Bones walk past with Susan Bones. He mused quietly to himself. Hmm…if I ever try to go public with Sirius' innocence, it'll be through her. That's odd. Susan wasn't wearing glasses last year…
On the night of August the 31st, when everyone was asleep (including Mana, who was in her own bed this time), Harry was awake, making a mental list of things he wanted to do when he got back to Hogwarts. Aurora, perched on Harry's bedside table, sung a soft phoenix song that cleared Harry's mind…
"Hmm…Firstly, I have to stop this house rivalry. It's good to have competition, but it goes too far sometimes. Blaise is a living example of why Slytherin is a Hogwarts House. We'll never succeed unless we stand together, like how the Sorting Hat said. Secondly, I need to get ready for Voldemort. I'm not strong enough to defeat him alone now, but when the time comes I will be. That means I'll have to continue my studies, alone and unknown if possible. Since Mana is new, I also have to keep a very careful eye around her. Honest to goodness I love and care about her, but I know what's she's like. She'll probably cause more trouble than the Marauders ever did with her 'discoveries'. Speaking of which, I'm also going to find a way to prove Sirius' innocence to the public. Finally, I have to convince the Weasleys' about Percy's true self. He's really a good man, and I plan on letting them know that. Nothing is going to break me this year. From now on, Harry Potter is going to start calling the shots now. It's time I stopped acting like a boy and faced life like a man."
And with that, Harry fell asleep, not dreaming of what could have been, but rather, what will be when he follows what he truly believes.
AN: There you have it, Golden Eyes Chapter 6 after months and months of work, breaks, writer's blocks and revivals. Thanks for the reviews, they really got me going on the story again. Next chapter of course, the trio and Mana will be back in Hogwarts for the sixth year. I'll be using elements from HBP but remember, this was written before HBP was released. Voldemort will also make an appearance, and Harry will find that he has a lot more on his hands that he could have ever dreamed. Stay tuned for Golden Eyes 7, The New Defence Teacher.