A/N: So you all probably hate me by now because it has been forever since I've actually posted a chapter. I am really sorry about that. I really am. My life has been a bit hectic. Even as a freshman in college I've been loaded down with work to do. So forgive me please. I'm hoping to write as much as I can and as often as I can. But that will probably only amount up to only a few hours a week if I don't get too much homework. Well anyways I hope you enjoy this chapter. It tried to make it a decent length. I'm going to start working on the next one tonight.
Harry's arrival was announced by Mrs. Weasley's shriek when she turned around and saw him standing in the kitchen looking around. A bowl of freshly minced tomatoes crashed to the floor, discarded, as she hurried around the table to pull Harry into one of her bone crushing hugs. "Where on earth did you disappear to last night!" she pulled away from him but continued to hold him by the shoulders as she studied him waiting for an answer.
"I-I was as the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione took me there. I had some things to do today in Diagon Alley and I had to get away from the Dursley's as soon as I possibly could so they wouldn't be found out."
"Why couldn't you come here?" she demanded placing her hands on her hips.
"I didn't want to show up in the middle of the night." said Harry truthfully, though that had only been part of it.
Mrs. Weasley scrutinized him for another minute before releasing him just as Hermione came in, she turned her gaze up on the girl, "And why couldn't you tell us where he was?"
Hermione opened her mouth then closed it, after glancing at Harry she responded, "I didn't know you were aware of his leaving his Aunt and Uncles because I was out the whole day."
Harry watched as Mrs. Weasley's jaw tightened, but she didn't say anything more, she only turned away and with a flick of her wand the mess on the floor cleared up instantly. "Of course we were aware, the Order has been watching Harry for the pas few years remember?"
"Don't worry Mrs. Weasley; I won't leave now without your knowing, unless it's very important." Said Harry softly before slipping out the back door. He had spotted Ron and Ginny in the backyard.
Harry took a breath as he left the house and glanced over his shoulder as he waited for Hermione to follow him through the door.
"Now I remember how she can be so scary….Her stares…" Hermione shook her head and looked over at Harry who was smiling.
"Yeah, well…if you and Ron ever-"
"Harry!" exclaimed Ron completely ignoring the fact that Hermione had been yelling at his best friend. "When did you get in?" he asked approaching with Ginny at his side.
"Just now." They gave each other a brotherly like hug, grinning. Harry looked at Ginny, who wasn't going to say no to a hug despite what had happened at the end of the previous year between them. "It's good to see both of you." He looked around the yard, "Getting ready for the wedding already?" The lawn was probably in the best condition that Harry had ever seen it, and the flower beds were looking very colorful.
"Yeah, mum is pretty worked up about everything." Ginny said looking around at the gardens.
"I don't want to pull another weed ever again."
"Ron decided he would try to be funny and play a prank on me." Ginny gave her a brother a look.
"Oh." Harry laughed, "I would have thought you'd learned from your brothers that your mother is ruthless, especially when stressed."
"Yeah well it was George's idea."
"That doesn't mean you should do it!" Hermione shook her head.
"It was pretty good though, have to admit." Ron said looking at Ginny.
"Being pink for a day was not exactly something I had in mind that morning when I woke up." Ginny glared at her brother.
Harry pursed his lips together and tried to keep a neutral expression.
"Well, it's a good prank don't you think Harry?" Ron looked at Harry expectantly, as did both Hermione and Ginny.
"I-well…" without being a chance to recover Harry receive a punch from both Ginny and Hermione simultaneously. "Ow…" he rubbed both arms.
"Serves you right." Hermione retorted, still scowling a little.
"I didn't perform the prank thank you very much."
"But you thought it was funny! Don't lie."
Seeing no way out of this one, Harry looked up at Ron, "So, up for some qudditch before dinner Ron?" he looked over at Ginny, "Ginny?"
"Yeah of course!"
Ginny still looked a little upset, but he knew she couldn't resist qudditch if her life depended on it, "Yeah, whatever." She shook her head as if she were wondering what she was getting herself into.
Hermione just let out a frustrated sigh and said something under her breath that sounded vaguely like 'boys.'
"You're welcome to play too Hermione." Ron offered, knowing that she was going to decline. Hermione had never been much of one to get on a broom, let alone be interested in Qudditch. She'd cheer them on at the matches, that was about it.
"I think I'll go and see if your mum wants help in the kitchen actually." Hermione turned and walked away at a brisk pace.
"I need to get my broom; I'll be back in a minute." Harry trotted after Hermione. "Hey."
"Hey, that was a quick game." She teased.
"Yeah, we've have some good skills, moves the games a bit faster then usual."
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Nah, I just need my broom." Harry opened the door for Hermione but she just stopped and stared at Harry. "What?"
"You know there is a protection spell on the house right?"
Harry opened his mouth and looked down at the door knob that his hand was curled about. He let go quickly and the door closed softly.
"I saw a member of the order get thrown twenty feet because he forgot about the spell. I know its still on the house. We would have been told if it had been taken off." Hermione watched Harry intently, "How can you possibly open the door?"
"I-I don't know…" Harry shook his head and rubbed at his covered right arm absentmindedly.
"If you are lying to me Harry-"
"Hurry up Harry!" Ron's voice cut Hermione's threat short.
They both looked back and saw Ginny and Ron waiting with their brooms. Harry looked back at Hermione, scrambling for an explanation, but he didn't have one. "I don't know what it is Hermione. I swear to you I am being honest." He paused, "Something happened a week ago. Something strange and I'm not sure how to describe it."
"Strange? Harry, you're a wizard and I'm a witch, how strange can you get?"
"I was struck by lightening."
"How the bloody hell did you manage that?"
"Picking up Ron's language now are you?" Harry teased.
"Don't get off track." Hermione growled.
"I can't explain it now, Ron's getting impatient. I'll explain everything after dinner tonight I promise." He knocked on the door.
Harry's, Ron's, and Ginny's game was cut short by dinner an hour later. The Snitch was still floating around somewhere, the quaffle and the Weasley's brooms were back in the shed, while Harry's firebolt had returned to his trunk and finally his bag. The Weasley family, everyone but the three eldest siblings were present, and Hermione and Harry were gathered around the table in the kitchen for Harry's birthday dinner.
As usual Mrs. Wealsey had out done herself; there was so much food on the table that it was a wonder that they could actually fit their plates on the table. But that was a good thing considering the table was made up of mostly still growing boys and men. Even Harry, who hadn't had much of an appetite for the past couple of weeks, couldn't help but fill up his plate and stuff himself so much that he didn't even want to think about moving. By the end of the meal most of the dishes were clear, including the ones that had originally held the food before Ron, Harry, Fred, and George had gotten at them.
Harry couldn't help but smile a little as he sat back in his seat and listened to everyone chat around him. Tonight there was no ill news about who had died most recently and no question of when the next attack would be. Everyone was just relaxed tonight. This was what Harry missed; this is what he fought for. He wanted to experience this every night again. He didn't want these occasional nights of paradise, that wasn't enough for him.
Some down the table mentioned presents making Harry look up, "You guys didn't have to get me anything….really…"
Many at the table spoke up in protest to Harry's statement until he raised his hands, "Ok…ok you guys win." Everyone laughed and several parcels appeared out of no where.
"Some of these are from different members of the Order." Mrs. Weasley said as she passed him a soft package, "This is from us."
A Gryffindor colored cloak was hidden by the paper that Mrs. Weasley had wrapped his gift in. He smiled at he looked it over, at the insistence of the others he got up and tried it on, it was perfect for his height. "Thanks Mrs. Weasley."
Harry received a various assortment of books from Tonks, Hermione, Ginny, and a couple of other Order members. Not that he really needed anymore books after his visit to the vaults earlier that day but he didn't own any of them, so it wasn't so bad. Moody gave him a brand new wand holster that could go around his waist or wrist, Harry figured he had gotten sick of seeing him pull it out of his back pocket the past few years. Remus had sent him a photo album full of pictures from his years a Hogwarts, just flipping through them made him smile. Seeing pictures of his father that young made him understand why everyone said he looked like him, it was almost like looking at a mirror. From Fred, George, and Ron he had gotten pranking items, which was not much of a surprise. Hagrid's gift was perhaps the most noteworthy.
It was the last gift passed down the table towards Harry and probably the heaviest, though the book that Hermione gave him would have given it a run for its money. As Harry set the box down in his lap he felt something shift, he frowned a little. With some caution Harry released the latches on the lid and lifted it off of the box.
A pair of blue eyes blinked up at him and Harry's jaw dropped a little.
"What is it Harry?"
"Uh…" Harry reached into the box and pulled out a cat. It actually looked more like a lion cub really, except it was black and smaller. It had large paws and piercing, icy blue eyes. But what was most extraordinary about the cat was the fact that it had wings. Harry pushed the box to the floor and set it in his lap.
"Only Hagrid would give you something like that…" Ron observed finally breaking the silence.
"Oh Harry that's a griffin, well it's a slightly different kind seeing as it has no bird qualities except for its wings."
"No need to get technical Hermione." Harry teased.
Hermione blushed a little at Harry's statement.
"So are you going to name it?" Fred asked looking around Ron to get a good look at the cat.
"I'll have to work on that." As Harry rub its ears it began to purr deeply in its throat, Harry could feel the vibrations in his hands.
"Ok I think its time for you all to head off to bed." Mrs. Weasley said suddenly breaking the silence that had fallen over the table.
"But mum it's only eleven."
"If I remember correctly you and Harry were talking about getting your apperation licenses tomorrow. They earlier you get to the ministry the better."
Ron groaned audibly and Fred pat his brother on the back, "Don't worry Ron its only a little more difficult when you're tired."
Ron's head dropped to the table in response making the majority of the people at the table laugh.
"Oh Ron it not so bad, I promise."
"Oh and this is coming from the genius."
Harry laid a hand on Hermione's shoulder; he shook his head as she looked back at him. She narrowed her eyes in response but didn't continue; instead she got up with her plate and moved over to the counter to set it down. Ron looked over Harry and gave him a questioning look, Harry just shook his head and watched as Ginny followed Hermione's example and got up.
"Let's go Ron." Harry said prepping to move the cat so he could get up but instead it crawled up to his shoulder and perched itself there. "Well, this works I guess." Everyone around the table laughed lightly at Harry's surprised expression before they set in motion to clear the table.
Harry and Ron carried his gifts up to Ron's room, which was still the same bright orange, and settled down for bed. It seemed that Harry's new pet had a mind of its own, which suited Harry quiet well. As they reached Ron's room it dropped off Harry's arm and floated over to Ron's bed and curled up on his pillow.
"Hey! That's my bed!" Ron argued dropping a few of Harry's things on the floor.
The cat blink at Ron and looked over at Harry as if in question. Harry glanced at Ron before motioning to the cat to come to his side.
It seemed to contemplate Harry's gesture for a moment before launching itself off of Ron's bed and landing neatly on Harry's arm.
"I wonder if he is going to grow any more." Harry said looking over at Ron, "At this size he's kind of easy to handle.
Ron grumbled something incoherently while he rummaged around his room getting stuff for Harry to sleep on. Harry smiled a little as he put his new books in his back pack and pulled out his shrunken trunk, all the while his new pet perched on his shoulder watching his actions curiously.
Five minutes later both Ron and Harry were settled down in their respective beds.
It wasn't long before Harry heard Ron snoring softly, he would have slept as well, but he wasn't tired at all. A few minutes later Harry sat up, pulled a random book out of his bag and left the room quietly.
Hermione was at the bottom of the steps with a glass of water in her hand and in her night clothes. She looked ready for bed, but at the sight of Harry she immediately seemed to wake, "You have some explaining to do."
Harry repressed a sigh and nodded, "Is anyone up still?"
Hermione shook her head before turning away and going into the family room and sitting down on the couch.
Following after her, Harry tried to figure out how to describe what happened to him, it wasn't exactly an easy task considering the magnitude of had been happening to him.
"A Founder's History?" Hermione asked as she read the title of the book Harry had set aside.
"Yeah, got it out of my parents vault this morning." He paused waiting to see if she was going to continue to ask about the book, but she didn't say anything, just waited for him to explain. "At the Dursley's I didn't have much to do, as you can imagine, except for chores so I picked up the habit of running because I couldn't just sit in my room. I know the Order didn't like the fact I was leaving the house, but it wasn't for very long usually, for an hour at the most if I had a lot on my mind.
"A week ago I went out for a run and it began to rain after I had been going for a good while. I don't mind the rain though so I kept going but it started to storm, at the first bout of thunder I turned and began to make my way back." Harry's eyes glazed over a little as the event of that afternoon began to unfold in his mind again. As he told her about the tree being struck he remembered flinching and turning away, and then curiosity as he approached the scarred tree. As he described the feeling of the electricity running through his body when he was struck he fit something inside him stir and his finger tips began to tingle on his right hand. He touched his right arm self consciously, "I woke up in the hospital that night, or the next night I can't remember."
"Wow." Hermione's voice was soft, as if she was in awe. "So how can you open the door without being effected by the magic?"
Harry shrugged, "I have no idea. I mean, ever since I was struck strange things have been happening. The burns, they were fine the next morning after I woke up. They don't even look like burns!" he pulled back his sleeve to show her. "I never hungry and I hardly sleep. I couldn't tell you what's happening to me right now. But it's bizarre."
Hermione took Harry's hand and traced the scar up his forearm in a thoughtful way. "I've never heard of anything like this happening." She admitted.
"Neither have I. Maybe it has something to do with the prophesy."
"Maybe, but it does. But I don't remember it saying anything about this."
Harry pulled his hand away and pushed the sleeve back down his arm, "I hadn't planned on telling anyone about this until I knew what was happening to me. So I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone."
"What about Ron?"
"I'll tell him sometime. I don't know when exactly, but I will."
"Ok." Hermione nodded and didn't say anything more.
"You should get some sleep." Harry said making her look up at him, "No I'm not tired, its one of those nights."
"Yeah, I should." Hermione picked up her glass of water again before getting to her feet, "I'll see you in the morning." She smiled at him a little before turning away and disappearing up the stairs.
Harry picked up the book from the table and set it in his lap. He opened it but couldn't concentrate long enough to read more then a paragraph before he brought up his right hand and looked at it. He pulled back the sleeve and looked at the rest of his arm. What had that been earlier? The tingling sensation and the strange restlessness he had felt suddenly. It was as if something wanted to spring out of him, and it felt good. The warmth in his fingers and the suddenly build up of energy he had had. But it disturbed him. Frowning Harry shut the book in his lap with a snap and went back up to Ron's room.
At some point in the night he must have drifted off because the next thing he knew after reading about Godric Gryffindor was that Mrs. Weasley was in the room waking them up. Harry looked over at the clock; it was six in the morning. He heard Ron groan and roll over in his bed.
"Ronald, get up. You and Harry are going to the Ministry with your father; he needs to be there by seven."
"Ten more minutes…"
"No Ronald!" Mrs. Weasley disappeared through the doorway.
"Come on Ron…" Harry gave his friend a nice shove before getting to his feet beginning to change.
Ron sat up and rubbed his eyes, trying to wake himself up. Harry had just buttoned his trousers when there was a light tapping at the door followed by it opening. Harry froze, shirt in hand and Ron looked over his shoulder from his seat on the bed.
Hermione's head came into the room, "Oh sorry," she blushed a little at the sight of Harry, "Mrs. Weasley told me to make sure you were both up. See you down stairs." She back out of the room and closed the door softly.
Ron looked over at Harry and raised an eyebrow. Harry just shrugged in response and pulled his shirt on over his head. He made sure everything was packed away in his bag before picking up his still drowsy pet and making his way down the stairs to the kitchen.
"Have a name for him yet?" Hermione asked noticing what Harry was carrying as he came down the steps.
"I was thinking Conan." Said Harry looking down at the cat on his arm.
"Where'd you get that from?"
"My aunt was watching something on tele and I heard the name," Harry paused, "It just kind of popped into my head last night."
Hermione nodded and returned to her food, seeming to accept the answer that Harry had given her.
Harry set Conan in his lap as he began to spoon some eggs on his plate.
"Ron is awake, Harry, isn't he?" Mrs. Weasley asked as she set a plate of fresh bacon down on the table.
"Yeah, he'll be down soon."
Harry heard Ron before he saw him, he clomped down the stairs in a very unique way in the morning that it had become his morning signature. He dropped into the seat beside Harry and in robot like movements began to spoon food onto his own plate, gathering it so that every inch of his plate was covered. The other two at the table shared a look as Ron systematically put food in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and repeated the process.
"You two ready for the apperation test?" Mr. Weasley inquired as he took a seat at the end of the table, looking wide awake and ready for the day much unlike his son.
Ron grunted in response and nodded a little.
"Yeah, I think so." Harry responded before taking a bite out of a piece of bacon.
"Good, good. You both will do just fine."
Harry nodded and glanced down at his plate, it was still mostly full. Still not having an appetite, Harry tried to figure out what to do with the food, he knew it wouldn't be acceptable if he didn't eat all or most of it. Conan seemed to answer his prayer when he snatched the piece of bacon out of hand. Looking up to make sure no one was watching Harry scooped up his eggs and offered them to the hungry cat, who cleaned off the spoon with out hesitation.
As Conan lapped up the last spoon full Hermione saw what had happened, "Harry, watch out."
"What?" Harry looked up, "Oh, its ok. I'm full anyways. Though I don't think he is." He grabbed a piece of bacon and offered it to Conan.
As he chewed on the meat Conan's sharp teeth became visible. Each tooth came to a fine and lethal point. Harry couldn't even begin to imagine what kind of cat Conan was going to become when he got older. Harry ran his fingers through Conan's thick coat as he thought about what he was going to do with him in the future. It actually shouldn't become too much of a problem, especially if he doesn't return to Hogwarts this year. But that was still tentative, seeing as its reopening was still up in the air for the time. If it was going to be open, Harry was sure that Hermione would have his hide if he didn't return. He was sure Mrs. Weasley would be worse.
"Ready to go Harry?" Mr. Weasley inquired interrupting his thoughts.
"Yeah." Harry nodded and got up. Lifting Conan up to eye level he gave the cat orders, "Stay here with Mrs. Weasley and don't cause her any trouble."
Harry set Conan down on the floor, when he righted himself everyone was giving him looks that mounted up to mixtures of amusement, question, and worry. Ron was on the verge of laughing, Harry gave him a swift punch in the arm, "He's smarter then the average cat." As if to prove his point, Conan had flown over to Mrs. Weasley and now sat neatly at her feet.
"Whatever Harry." Ron shook his head, still laughing lightly as he rubbed his arm.
"Lets go you two." Said Mr. Weasley from by the fireplace just as Hermione spiraled away in the green flames that now burned in the fireplace.
"See you in a bit." Harry said smiling back at Mrs. Weasley a little.
A much as Harry disliked the sensation of apperation he actually disliked traveling by the floo network even more. Between the soot and dizzy rush afterwards he decided that he'd avoid it once he had acquired his license.