A/N: Welcome to my second piece of fanfiction! First off, let me warn any readers on fanfiction(dot)net that this story will be FILLED with smut/lemons/whatever other words there are for explicit sex, which can't be included on this site. If you want to read the good stuff, I'd recommend getting onto ficwad(dot)com, and reading the story there. The first chapter is no different, the lemons don't come yet, sorry. My account is the same on ficwad as it is on fanfiction(dot)net, but without the spaces. As for the story itself, it's post GoF, but I'm using characters and ideas from OotP, it just won't be the same story. That being said, I hope you enjoy it! The next update will come as soon as I can make it.
Thanks to my betas for this chapter, Patrick and Ben.
Disclaimer: This is the only disclaimer I'll be writing for this story. It applies to every chapter. I claim no ownership of Harry Potter. I am not making any money off of this…I'm just having fun mixing JKR's ideas with my own.
Chapter 1: Voldemort's Mistake
Due to an unexpected heat wave, Privet Drive appeared to be, to a casual observer, nearly empty of its inhabitants. Most, like the Dursleys of Number 4, stayed inside, where they could rely on a steady supply of shade, if nothing else. However, the fourth person living at Number 4, a thin, bespectacled boy named Harry Potter could be seen jogging around the neighborhood, shirtless, every day. At first, all this caused was a rather severe sunburn, but his aunt, Petunia Dursley, put a stop to that. She coldly informed him that the neighbors would be talking about his burn, and would perhaps think that it was a sign that he wasn't being properly cared for. After that, Harry was provided with sun cream, though his relatives took every available opportunity to complain about the 'increased expense.' Harry didn't mind their complaining; he was used to it. He had always hated appearing pale and sickly, and now he no longer did. Enduring a few complaints was a sacrifice he was willing to make.
Every day, Harry followed the same routine. He jogged to the park immediately after breakfast, relaxed in the shade of a few trees, often falling asleep, and then jogged back in time for lunch. He did the same between lunch and dinner. All in all, it was a good schedule for everyone. Harry still had enough time to do a few chores after dinner, and he was always at home to cook the meals. Therefore, the Dursleys had no cause to complain (though it didn't stop them). Harry, who was used to manual labor, now had free time in which he wasn't being bothered by anyone. The fact that his free time included both exercise and time to think was merely an added bonus.
However, time to think wasn't always a good thing. Harry couldn't think of the few good things in his life—Ron, Hermione, the rest of the Weasleys, Sirius, and, of course, Hogwarts—without remembering the blank look on Cedric Diggory's face when he was murdered. Logically, Harry knew that Cedric's death wasn't his fault, but he also knew he'd always have a little voice in the back of his mind that said otherwise. Remembering Cedric fueled his nightmares, and it also forced him to remember the one thing that truly haunted his unconscious, Lord Voldemort. The one who had murdered his parents, the one who had ordered Wormtail to kill Cedric, and the one who seemed to be obsessed with killing Harry.
The Daily Prophet had reached a new low. Harry had initially been tempted to cancel his subscription, but he wisely decided that it was best to know what the enemy was saying about him. Unfortunately, the Prophet really was as much his enemy as Voldemort, though they hadn't tried to kill him…yet. Ever since their article on the first, they had been on a constant smear campaign against both Harry and Dumbledore, which was no doubt inspired by the current Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. Fudge had refused to believe in Voldemort's return, and was now attempting to discredit those who did. Dumbledore had been removed as the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, but Lucius Malfoy had thus far been unsuccessful in forcing Dumbledore out of his headmaster position at Hogwarts, though he showed no sign of giving up. Harry was initially surprised that the public would so readily believe Fudge over someone as well respected as Albus Dumbledore, but he supposed that they didn't want to believe in Voldemort's return either.
Harry was much less surprised, though much angrier, about the general consensus concerning him. It could all be summed up by the same article that had started it all, the cover story of the July 1 edition:
Boy Who Lived Speaks Out:
Voldemort's Return, or Delusions of a Lonely Child?
As many readers may remember, the third task of the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts ended in the most horrible way imaginable. After recovering the unconscious bodies of the champions from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour, respectively, the teachers of Hogwarts thought they had seen the worst. Unfortunately, they were proven wrong some time later when Harry Potter's feet hit the ground outside of the maze as he held two things. The first, of course, was the Triwizard Cup, which had been turned into a Portkey, but the second was a body, the body of Cedric Diggory. He was dead.
Minister Fudge conducted a personal investigation of the matter in which he discovered that Barty Crouch Jr. had somehow escaped from Azkaban and come to Hogwarts under the guise of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody. He placed the Imperius Curse on Mr. Krum, who was forced to attack Ms. Delacour during the task. Mr. Krum then allegedly assaulted the late Mr. Diggory with the Cruciatus Curse, only to be stunned by the fourth champion, Harry Potter. Minister Fudge made the obvious connection: it was Crouch who put the Boy Who Lived's name in the Goblet of Fire. Fudge, concerned with the safety of the students at Hogwarts, immediately brought a Dementor in to administer the Kiss to Crouch.
However, young Harry Potter refused to leave things as they were. He came out with the outlandish claim that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had returned from the dead during the third task, and had had Cedric Diggory killed. The idea that he was insulting the memory of his fellow champion did not seem to register. However, based on earlier facts reported by Rita Skeeter, Harry Potter may not be entirely in control of himself. Raised without parents, he has always had a hard life, a life made that much more difficult when his long-time girlfriend, Hermione Granger, abandoned him for Viktor Krum. It's unclear as to whether or not Krum was under the Imperius Curse at that time. Additionally, an anonymous Healer at St. Mungo's has already reported the possibility of prolonged mental damage from exposure to the Killing Curse. Continued on page 2, Voldemort's Demise, page 3, Albus Dumbledore's Mistakes, page 4, Harry Potter's Troubled Past, page 5.
The letters from both Hermione and Ron had begun to come in immediately after the article. Harry was grateful that both had been told by Dumbledore not to include anything important in their letters, because Harry really didn't feel like going into anything important with them. He found himself comforting both Hermione and Ron, though the majority of the article (as well as those that followed) focused on him. He supposed that Ron's jealousy was part of the problem, but didn't let it concern him.
Voldemort hadn't yet been acknowledged, and he was taking advantage of that. There hadn't been any attacks, except for one, which the ministry had foolishly blamed on Sirius. Voldemort had broken into Azkaban and freed roughly half of the prisoners, including some who hadn't served him in the past. Both the Ministry and the Prophet reported that Sirius was attempting to rally supporters in the hopes of becoming the next Dark Lord. Harry, upon reading that particular article, had felt a curious mixture of fear and anger.
The morning of July ninth found Harry at his usual routine. He had been unable to sleep at the park, but that wasn't surprising, given what was on his mind. While none of the articles that followed the first attacked him directly, he was mentioned somewhere in every article, usually as the butt of a joke. The reporters had apparently decided against sympathizing with him, though the first article had clearly given them an opening to do so. Fighting to stay calm, Harry cut across the street and slowed to a walk in front of Number 4.
Walking up to the front door, Harry absently noted that the curtains were drawn. Ordinarily, Petunia only closed the curtains when he was in a room. She didn't want the neighbors to see him more than they had to. He turned the knob and found that the door was locked. 'Now that's weird,' he thought. 'I thought they'd be afraid to lock me out. Between the possibility of me doing magic and the fact that the neighbors would surely notice…' With that thought in mind, he gently rapped his knuckles against the door. A series of popping noises of varying intensity drew his attention behind him.
"Professor Dumbledore?" he asked incredulously. It was Dumbledore, his long white hair and beard waving around rather dramatically in the wind, but he wasn't alone. Surprisingly enough, Fleur Delacour was standing beside him, her silvery blond hair drawing Harry's eyes briefly before he was able to note anyone else. Next to her stood a pale witch with a heart shaped face and spiked, violently pink hair. Though she was quite beautiful, Harry found it a bit difficult to focus on her instead of Fleur. Behind them stood the tall, black wizard who looked like someone that shouldn't be crossed. As the man turned his head in a vain attempt to see through the curtains, Harry caught the golden glint of a large hoop earring. On Dumbledore's other side stood an extremely twitchy Mad-Eye Moody, along with Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall and a man with straw-colored hair who looked as though his head had been thatched.
"Harry, get away from the door!" Dumbledore called urgently. Harry, comprehension dawning on him, made to leave, but the door had just opened behind him.
"Accio Potter!" A high, cold voice shouted. Harry felt his stomach drop as he was pulled backwards. He knew that voice.
Lord Voldemort had come to Privet Drive.
The people around Dumbledore surged forward until he held out both hands to stop them, though Fleur looked mutinous. The shadows behind Voldemort relaxed. It seemed that he wasn't alone either. Three masked Death Eaters walked in front of the rest to stand just behind their master, who remained on the threshold with Harry.
"Very good, Dumbledore," Voldemort hissed. "Keep your pets at bay if you want the boy returned to you in one piece." Harry knew that Voldemort would never release him, and he also knew that there was nothing that anyone could do about it. 'Doesn't mean I won't fight him when he tries.' Harry thought furiously.
"Come now, Tom, give me a little more credit than that," Dumbledore said, his voice dripping with barely concealed power. "You know as well as I do that should you kill Harry, you'll never make it out of here alive. The wards preventing magical transportation are still working, and no number of Death Eaters will be great enough to get you past us. Just hand Harry to me, and you'll be allowed to leave. You already know that I always keep my word."
"You're certainly confident," Voldemort spat. "As usual, though, you fail to understand my motivation for being here. I'm not here to kill Potter; I have no intention of providing our world with a martyr, make no mistake. You'll get Potter back in a moment, completely unharmed, just as soon as I finish with him."
"Finish with me? Why Tom, I didn't know you cared," Harry mocked. "But I'm afraid you're just not my type." He caught Fleur's eye, who now looked incredulous as well as fearful, though the witch next to her seemed to be suppressing a smile. 'Well, that was one of the stupidest things I've ever said.' Harry mused.
"Crucio!" Was Voldemort's only response. Harry fall to his knees but refused to cry out. Dumbledore and the others could only watch helplessly while the Death Eaters seemed to be laughing. After thirty seconds or so, Voldemort lifted the curse.
"Now that we're done with the entertainment portion of today's events, perhaps we can move on to what I really came here for," Voldemort said to Dumbledore, smiling pointedly at Harry's shaking form.
"I'm afraid I cannot allow that, Tom," Dumbledore said gravely.
"It's either this or death. His death. The only pain he'll be feeling today has faded, unless he is foolish enough to speak out again, of course. There's no need to do anything, it will only take a moment." His eyes suddenly flashed. "Latrocino Veneficus Vox!"
Harry barely had time to see Dumbledore's look of utter horror before he had to shut his eyes in a vain attempt to block out the effects of the spell. It wasn't pain; it wasn't physical at all. It was more like having your very soul ripped in two. He could literally see his strength flowing from his body. 'I don't know what he's doing,' Harry thought. 'but I guess this is the only chance I'll get to fight back.'
Harry focused on the horrible feeling in his mind, completely shutting out the outside world, and endeavored to embrace it. Once he had identified the feeling, he was able to see, with his mind's eye, what was happening. His magical energy, a massive amoebic shape of white light appeared to be spinning around a lightning-shaped drain, his scar. As he watched, hoping to figure out some way to stop, the white light shrank considerably. Within seconds, it was almost completely drained. 'NO!' Harry's mind screamed, knowing instinctively that once his magic was completely gone, he would never be able to recover it.
He watched helplessly as it all went dark. The feeling of losing everything was gone, but it was replaced with a need, an animalistic need to replenish it. Harry suddenly felt like he was inside a vacuum, one that was sucking the air from everything around. At first everything remained dark, but then he saw a white bolt of lightning, his scar again. It glowed gold, and the white light began to flow back in. Mixed in, however, was a dark red that reminded him of blood along with a much more cheerful orange glow.
Then, all at once, there wasn't any more white coming in. The other colors had long since stopped their flow. His scar changed from white to green and began pulling in more magic. This came along with a shout of pain in the back of Harry's mind, though he felt none. This magic was white as well, but it felt different from the rest. It was dirty. Upon reaching the rest of his magic, though, he could feel it being purified. Suddenly, Harry heard another shout, though this one didn't sound like it was expressing pain. It sounded passionate, yet satisfied, and distinctly feminine. With it came, rather than magic through his scar, a glow that surrounded his magical core. It was red, but soft, and it came all at once. Harry felt his magic shift to accommodate it. He knew instinctively that it had nothing to do with power. No, it was something else entirely.
After the glow came, Harry heard a primal shriek, one of pain, frustration and hate. 'Voldemort.' he thought, grimly satisfied that he'd managed to do some damage, somehow. Following the shriek, he heard a magical snap, which caused the light emitting from the image of his scar to vanish, though the image remained, bathed in the glow of his magical core. 'That can't be my physical scar, or my brain wouldn't exist! All of that magic is right where it's supposed to be. I wonder what this place inside of me really is…'
Harry's musings were cut short by a new feeling. This one resembled the Cruciatus Curse, but one with a purpose. The Cruciatus worked by stimulating every nerve in the human body with the message of pain. The pain was low-grade enough to prevent the brain from shutting it out, but it added up to feel like many described it: like having a thousand burning hot knives plunged all over your body at once. This feeling started the same way, but Harry then got the impression that every knife was pulling his flesh and bone in a unique direction, causing his entire body to stretch in the most excruciatingly painful way imaginable. The pain was so intense that Harry didn't notice that he couldn't see his magical core anymore. He didn't feel himself slip into unconsciousness.
"Mr. Potter? Can you hear me?"
"Mm…mwha-what happened?" Harry's eyes fluttered open. He saw the familiar sight of the ceiling of the Hogwarts hospital wing's ceiling, a sight he was far too used to for his own liking. The motherly face of Madam Pomfrey was the last thing to swim into focus. "What am I doing here? Er, don't tell me I slept through the whole summer?"
Madam Pomfrey laughed, "No, Mr. Potter, you haven't. It has been nearly three days, though."
"What in the world happened to me?" he sat up. "Voldemort! He was at Privet Drive! Dumbledore was there! Where are they? Where's everyone that came with? Are they all right?"
"To my knowledge, no one is injured. Now relax, young man," Madam Pomfrey admonished, pushing him back into bed. "I'll sedate you if I must. I'll inform Professor Dumbledore that you're awake just as soon as I can make a quick diagnostic. And don't you even think about fighting me on this," she said, effectively cutting Harry off.
The diagnostic didn't take long. A couple of muttered spells combined with a couple of sweeps over his body with her wand apparently told her all that she needed to know.
"You're healthy enough to go see the headmaster yourself, but your muscles have grown so much that they should be a bit weaker than usual. Your magic compensated for most of it, but you should expect to be a little weaker."
"Grown? I've grown?"
"Yes, and a great deal, at that. I daresay the young ladies won't be able to keep your hands off of you! As a matter of fact, the girl who I've been teaching, Ms. Delacour, has hardly left your bedside. While I admire her dedication, it certainly isn't professional." She trailed off on that tangent for some time, muttering about Healers that get too attached while Harry lay still, absolutely dumbfounded.
"Er, can I have a mirror?" he asked, interrupting what was obviously well on its way to becoming a tirade.
"Use the one on the wall," she advised, pointing at the seven-foot mirror by the door. "But here," she tossed him a handful of clothes. "Change into those first, then you can feel free to go up to the headmaster's office. The password is 'Tootsie Rolls', if I'm not mistaken. I'll be in the other room, I've got a potion simmering."
"Thanks, Madam Pomfrey," Harry said, sitting up again.
"Don't mention it, dear," she replied absently, bustling out of the room and closing the door behind her.
Harry swung his legs around and stood up, stretching his arms over his head as he did. He sorted through the clothes, discovering a great deal more than he would need. He left the robes on the bed, deciding that jeans and a t-shirt would do for seeing the headmaster. Slipping on his trainers, he was about to step in front of the mirror, when the door to the adjacent room burst open. Harry barely had time to register Fleur's silvery blond hair before she hit him like a freight train. Harry was quite surprised that he didn't even stumble backwards when she hit him. He didn't feel any of the weakness that Madam Pomfrey had been expecting. After about a minute, Harry became aware that she was speaking into his shoulder, though it took a while for her to calm down enough to speak English. "'Arry, oh 'Arry, thank you so much for taking it away!"
"Taking what away? Fleur? Fleur?" Before saying her name the second time, he grabbed her upper arms and forced her a few inches away from him. "What did I take away?"
She looked up at him tremulously before answering. "Can you not tell? Ah! But of course, you never were affected by my charms. My veela magic is gone, it is in you now, 'Arry!"
Harry looked at her for quite a while, his mouth agape for nearly half of the time, before he finally organized his thoughts enough to respond. "I was always affected, Fleur, I just managed to beat my urges back. But you're right; I don't feel the same magic coming from you. I don't think I've got your powers, though. I don't feel any different, although I'm loads taller than I was."
"Zere can be no doubt zat you 'ave my veela abilities," Fleur said, her voice suddenly sultry. "In all 'onesty, I am 'aving difficulties keeping my 'ands off of you." She accentuated her point by running a hand absently up and down his arm, causing him to notice, for the first time, that he was a great deal more muscular than he had been before.
"Is…is that why I've got these muscles all of a sudden?" Harry asked, blushing at the contact.
"Well," Fleur said, suddenly thoughtful, "zis 'as never 'appened before, to my knowledge. I suppose my abilities allowed you to transform into an idealized version of yourself, zough I cannot be sure." Her hand was still on his arm, though it had thankfully stopped moving.
"Well," Harry began, suddenly struck by the awkwardness of the moment. A girl had never shown an interest in him before, not like this, and Fleur was gorgeous! "Madam Pomfrey told me I should talk to Professor Dumbledore. She said he'd be able to explain what happened."
"Wait!" Fleur said as he made to get up. Her other hand was suddenly on his thigh, though he wasn't sure if she had noticed. "You cannot trust your 'eadmaster with zis information."
"What? Why not?" Harry asked incredulously.
"'E is not what 'e seems," Fleur insisted. "I know zat 'e cares for you, but 'e seems to manipulate people, and I felt him probe my mind after you 'ad been chosen by ze Goblet."
"Wait, what d'you mean by probed?" Harry asked.
"'E is able to read ze thoughts of uzzers through Legilimency. As a veela, I was immune. I believe I still am, zough I would be reluctant to test zat theory."
"Well, if I'm immune now, and he's been reading my mind all of this time, then how can I stop him knowing that I've suddenly got veela protection?" Harry wondered.
"Well, first you must tell me, in your own words, what you felt happened once you were cursed." Fleur was plainly preparing for a long conversation. She pushed him back onto the bed, keeping at him until his back was against the headboard. Then, smiling mischievously, she climbed up and snuggled up against him, her head on his shoulder and her right arm across his stomach. Harry's lap twitched slightly, and he could have sworn her smile grew. After seeing his reaction to her closeness, she swung her right leg over Harry's, and proceeded to wrap it around his as tightly as possible. Harry couldn't help but notice as the knee-length skirt she wore rode up slightly, revealing most of her thigh. Fighting the sudden urge to tear off her clothes, Harry carefully put one arm on her back, letting the other rest on the bed, though she quickly grabbed that hand with her own and interlocked their fingers. Harry gulped. Fleur's smile widened even more.
"Er, right, what were we talking about?" Harry asked in a strangled voice.
"Yes, yes, let me think," Fleur said, reaching her left arm through the small space between the small of Harry's back and the corner of the bed to begin stroking his side. "I believe," she began rubbing her leg up and down Harry's. "zat we were about to discuss zis curse zat hit you." She stopped her leg, but it was now as high as it could possibly go, with her calf against his inner-thigh and her knee against the considerable bulge in his pants.
"Bloody hell," Harry said, his lust finally getting the better of him. He pulled her to the center of the bed, getting off of it himself in the process, which caused her to groan in a way that made his knees go weak. He immediately hopped back on and crawled on top of her, one leg between hers, and leaned down to kiss her. When their lips touched, Harry suddenly felt completely energized, completely comfortable. This was exactly where he was meant to be. Fleur immediately rose up to meet him, applying a great deal more pressure and nearly forcing him back. Harry pushed against her harder, allowing his body to lie flush on top of hers, forcing her down. Harry lifted himself up slightly, not enough for her to be able to lift herself, but enough so that his weight wouldn't be pressing down on her.
Harry, operating on a level of instinct he didn't know he had, opened his mouth slightly, tasting her lips with his tongue. Before he knew it, she had opened her mouth and her tongue was forcing its way into his mouth. Harry's kissing was every bit as frantic as hers as their tongues battled for a position of dominance. Finally, Harry pulled his head back and, before she could reattach her lips to his, began to kiss his way down her jaw line to her neck. She moaned softly as he started to nip playfully at her skin.
Fleur, with Harry's face out of reach, began to grind her crotch against the bulge in his pants. Slowly at first, but quickly picking up, Fleur was now moaning at such a level that Harry feared that they'd have Madam Pomfrey scolding them soon. With great reluctance, Harry pulled back and rolled over so that he was once again beside her.
"Fleur," Harry said, grabbing her upper arms to stop her kissing him again. "We can't do this, not right now, at least."
Her bottom lip quivered. Had Harry been standing up, he knew his legs would have given out. "But I thought you were enjoying yourself."
"You know I was," Harry said softly, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. "But we're not exactly in the right places for anything like that, and I've still got to talk to Dumbledore." The mention of Dumbledore seemed to break her out of her trance. Before speaking, she snuggled into him again, though she kept her legs mostly to herself, merely leaning one foot against his shin.
"I was not saying zat you shouldn't tell him anything, just avoid bringing up your veela abilities."
"Maybe I'll be able to fool him today, but he's bound to find out sooner or later, especially if he sees you. Though I doubt he's affected any more than I was by your charm, I'm sure he notices it. Also, how will he be able to miss it if all of the girls I meet react so strongly around me?"
"I rarely see him. I 'ave refused to become a full member of ze Order of ze Phoenix until—"
"The Order of the Phoenix?" Harry interrupted.
"It is Dumbledore's resistance. Most members are left over from ze first war, but zere are a couple zat were too young zen. I 'ave a very good friend 'oo falls under zat category. I will introduce you to 'er later."
"Right," Harry said absently, attempting to regain his lost train of thought. "Sorry, you were talking about how you rarely see Dumbledore."
"Yes, thank you. As I said, I am not a full member of ze Order, not until Madam Pomfrey declares me a fully trained Healer. I spend most of my time at ze 'eadquarters, which is where we shall take you after your meeting with Dumbledore, I think."
"Where's the headquarters?" Harry asked.
"I am unable to say, for it is under ze Fidelius Charm. Are you familiar with zat particular charm?"
"Yes," Harry said, unable to keep all of the anger he suddenly felt out of his voice.
"Am I correct in assuming zat zere is some story behind zis reaction?" Fleur enquired. Harry nodded. "I 'ope you trust me enough to tell me one day. Where was I? Ah yes, ze 'eadquarters. Dumbledore is almost never zere, only for ze occasional meeting zat we are all required to attend. Technically, I am not needed 'ere, I only came in order to stay with you."
"Why?" Harry asked. "My veela charm didn't kick in until I woke up, did it?"
"No, it did not," Fleur said carefully, "but I knew zat it would. My veela abilities were gone, and you 'ad suddenly grown into ze most attractive man I 'ave ever seen, so it did not take me long to realize where my powers 'ad ended up. Besides, I 'ave 'eld you in ze 'ighest regards since you rescued Gabrielle, and your actions since zen 'ave been nothing short of exemplary."
"That reminds me, why are you grateful to be rid of your veela powers?" Harry asked, studiously ignoring Fleur's compliments.
"It is very difficult to understand, 'Arry. I fear that even after I explain it, you won't truly understand until you 'ave been out in ze world with your abilities."
"Try me," Harry insisted.
"If only you would let me," Fleur said with a lascivious wink, causing Harry to blush. "I was always a very pretty girl, but it didn't really affect anything until much later. Veela abilities don't come into affect until puberty. When zat 'it, my girlfriends began to disappear. Some couldn't take ze fact zat men almost always looked at me before zem, while uzzers felt that I 'ad changed more zan physically. At ze moment I 'ave but one female friend, and I only met 'er through ze Order." Her voice broke. Harry tightened his grip on her, giving her strength to continue. "One by one, my male friends began to see me as more zan zey did before. I was surprised by 'ow many literally attempted to simply grab me and fulfill zeir desires. Zat is why I hate being a veela. Perhaps it will be better for you. You are physically stronger zan I am, and I doubt zat any woman would be stupid enough to attempt to rape you. Also, I think zat girls may prove 'arder to affect than boys. A veela's abilities tend to stimulate one's sex drive, something zat is generally more sensitive in men zan in women."
Harry was slightly dazed, but regained his composure quickly enough that Fleur took no notice. "We can only hope. All right, we've established why I can't tell Dumbledore the whole truth, would you still like to hear what happened?" At her nod, Harry took a deep breath and began his story. He described the feeling of having his magic drained, and the process he used to see it in his mind's eye. He described the abrupt reversal in flow after everything had gone out; giving particular focus on the different things that flowed into him.
"I suspect zat you absorbed ze wards around ze house," Fleur said. "But I think zat Dumbledore will be able to tell you with much more certainty. Is zere more?"
There was more. Harry told her about the feeling of being stretched (she came to the same conclusion that he had earlier, that it was a part of gaining the veela powers), which brought him to the present. When he finished, Fleur reluctantly disengaged and allowed him to walk over to stand before the mirror. What he saw made his eyes bug out.
Gone was the short, thin boy that Harry had previously identified himself as. He now stood just a shade under six feet. He still had the same mop of messy black hair, though it now steered clear of his face, providing him with an open view of his scar. Looking into his same emerald eyes, Harry realized something.
"Fleur, why don't I need my glasses?"
"If I 'ad to 'azard a guess, I would say zat your magical growth spurt 'as fixed your eyes."
"Brilliant!" he said, smiling brightly. He noticed that his teeth were perfect. They hadn't been bad before, but nowhere near their current state. His body, rather than being unpleasantly skinny was now lean and tightly muscled. Harry experimentally flexed a bicep and saw Fleur bite her lip, an undisguised expression of lust on her face, as he did.
"Fleur, am I still hitting you with my veela powers?" Harry asked, turning to face her.
"Much less zan before," Fleur replied calmly. "Zey are linked to your emotions. Zey are more likely to emerge without you wanting zem to when you're feeling 'ighly emotional. Now zat you are more emotionally stable, your abilities 'ave been dampened accordingly."
"Is there a way to shut them off entirely?" Harry asked.
"I am afraid not," Fleur said sadly. "With practice, you can increase or decrease ze intensity as you please, but zey will still intensify somewhat in stressful situations. Zey can never be fully shut off, but you will eventually be able to reduce zem to a barely noticeable level."
"Can you teach me?" Harry asked.
Fleur blushed and looked down. "I want to teach you, but I am not sure if it is a good idea."
"Why not?" Harry asked.
"Most veela learn to control their abilities from zeir muzzers, because zere will not be any attraction. If I teach you, I will be affected by your veela abilities constantly. You 'ave already seen 'ow much your power affects me; imagine me after a full day of zat, or a week. In order for me to teach you control, you must be willing to 'ave intercourse with me, because uzzerwise I would be unable to function from an excess of pent-up sexual desire."
Harry scratched the back of his head, grinning sheepishly. "Honestly, I hoped we'd be having sex anyway. I was right there with you. You may not be a veela anymore, but you're still easily the most beautiful girl I know."
"I am so 'appy to 'ear you say zat!" Fleur said, a radiant smile on her face. She hopped off the bed and crossed the room in an instant, pulling Harry in for a sizzling kiss. Both of their faces were flushed when they pulled apart.
"So you'll teach me?" Harry asked, his breathing unsteady.
"I will," Fleur promised, much in the same condition as he was.
"I guess I'll go talk to Dumbledore, then," Harry said.
"Very well, I will see you later tonight, no matter where you end up," Fleur replied, kissing him on the cheek before walking out the same door that Madam Pomfrey had earlier.
"So let's see here," Harry muttered to himself, opening the other door and leaving the hospital wing. "I've somehow absorbed Fleur's veela abilities, apparently absorbed the power of the wards and possibly something from Voldemort as well. I wonder what Dumbledore's got to say about all of this."
While walking up to the headmaster's office, Harry kept his focus inward, attempting to see his magic again in his mind's eye. He only managed to walk into a wall, which was about when he realized that even if it were possible to see his magic again, he'd only be able to manage it when doing absolutely nothing else, and walking around Hogwarts seemed to qualify as doing something.
"Tootsie Rolls," Harry said, rolling his eyes at Dumbledore's odd theme for his passwords. 'He must be pretty confident, otherwise he'd never make his passwords something that anyone could guess, if given enough time.' Upon reaching the door at the top of the spiral staircase, Harry heard Dumbledore's "Come in, Harry," before he had time to knock.
Opening the door, Harry saw Dumbledore in his customary pose, sitting on his desk with his elbows up and the tips of his long fingers pressed together.
"Hello, Harry, please have a seat," Dumbledore said with a benign smile.
"Hello, sir," Harry greeted, nervous at the prospect of lying to one of the two most powerful wizards in the world.
"I suppose Madam Pomfrey has cleared you?" Dumbledore asked. "I can't imagine that even you are capable of getting out from under her watchful eye."
"Yes, sir, she cleared me a few minutes ago. She said that my muscles aren't very strong because of this sudden growth spurt, but I've never felt better."
"Yes, I suppose the magic you absorbed kept your muscles from becoming as weak as they would from naturally expanding that much," Dumbledore said, more to himself than to Harry. "My apologies, Harry, I became temporarily distracted. I fear we have a great deal to talk about today. I'm sure you have a great deal of questions, but I ask that you hold them until later. I assure you that we'll address you concerns before the end of this meeting. I must begin by asking you to relive what you remember beginning with the curse that Voldemort used on you. After we briefly discuss that, I'll tell you about what happened around you, for I believe your focus was inward at the time. Are you ready?"
For the second time that day, Harry summarized his experiences while under Voldemort's curse, though this time he left out the part about hearing Fleur and gaining the soft red glow around his magic.
"I'm sorry to force you to relive that, Harry," Dumbledore said quietly, "but I am glad that you were able to remember as much as you have. I will now explain my understanding of what occurred inside of you, then we can move on to what was happening to the rest of us. Voldemort used a brand of ancient magic that I believed to be outside of his knowledge. Using a combination of the ancient blood magic around your home and the connection you have with him through your scar, he attempted to rob you of your magic."
"So he was trying to turn me into a Squib?" Harry asked, having come to that conclusion on his own.
"Indeed," Dumbledore said gravely. "However, he did not realize how your connection with him would react after such an attempt. Your scar allowed you to take your power back from him by force, bringing with it every bit of loose magic around, meaning the wards around Privet Drive. I'm afraid that you will never be able to stay there again. Not only have the blood wards been proven to be worse than useless to us, but also they no longer exist, having been absorbed by you. The other magic you felt came from Voldemort himself. Upon stealing your magic away from you, it automatically bonded with his. When you sucked your power back, you unwittingly brought in a great deal of his along with it. Harry, you are now considerably more powerful than you were before. Given enough training, your power may surpass mine someday, though we will not even know if that's a true possibility for quite some time."
"Does that mean Voldemort's weaker than he was, if I absorbed so much of his power?" Harry asked.
"I'm afraid it's only temporary," Dumbledore said. "Because you only took a portion of his power, what remains will replenish what was lost, though it will take time. Voldemort will not strike out for a few months, and perhaps even longer."
"So I'm loads stronger, and Voldemort is temporarily weakened," Harry said thoughtfully. "What about my appearance, what caused that?"
"Honestly, I am uncertain," Dumbledore said thoughtfully. "It's possible that it was a reaction to the blood wards, or some unfamiliar aspect of Voldemort's magic, but I'm afraid that all I can do is guess. In any case, I don't think you need to concern yourself with it. Just enjoy the effect you will undoubtedly have on the female population at Hogwarts." His eyes were twinkling like mad.
Harry sat back and thought for a moment before bringing up the next question on his mind. "Professor, you said that I wouldn't have to go back to Privet Drive. I thought that was already given…aren't my relatives dead?"
"Dead?" Dumbledore asked. "No, your aunt and uncle had taken your cousin to an athletic tournament, I believe." He studied Harry's neutral expression for a moment. "Were you saddened by the thought that your relatives had died?"
"No," Harry said simply. When Dumbledore's eyes widened in surprise he elaborated. "Ever since learning about what I am, I've always been determined to be a better person than any of them. Since they're all secretly hoping for me to die in a horrible accident, I don't think they deserve any emotion from me, whether positive or negative. Even that's a step up from the way they feel about me."
The headmaster sighed. "I suppose your attitude is understandable. Given their feelings towards you, I should be a bit surprised that you bear them no ill will. As to where you're staying…" Dumbledore trailed off, picking up his wand and waving it at the door. Seeming satisfied, he turned back to Harry. "The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix is located at Number 12, Grimmauld Place, London."
"What's the Order of the Phoenix?" Harry asked, feigning ignorance. "And is the headquarters under the Fidelius Charm, is that why you just told me that?"
"Very good, Harry," Dumbledore said, smiling. "If school was in session, I would reward you with house points. However, since it isn't, I shall have to reward you by answering your questions to the best of my ability. The Order of the Phoenix is the organization, led by myself, that fought Voldemort and his Death Eaters during the previous war. Your parents were in it, as were Sirius, Professor Lupin, Professor McGonagall, Alastor Moody and Molly and Arthur Weasley. Many of our members lost their lives during the war, or worse, in the case of the Longbottoms. However, we have recruited a great deal of new members, including Miss Delacour, who I'm sure you remember from the tournament."
"She was at Privet Drive," Harry said.
"Indeed she was. Even though she is not, technically, a full member yet, she is in training to be the Order's Healer. She insisted on coming to your aid. If you find the time to speak with her at Grimmauld Place, I'm sure you will discover that she has the potential to be a great friend to you."
"What's Grimmauld Place like?" Harry asked, not wanting to discuss Fleur with Dumbledore any more than was absolutely necessary.
The headmaster smiled, thinking that Harry had changed the subject for an altogether different reason. "It's the Black family home. I will leave it to Sirius to explain the details to you."
"Sirius is there?" Harry asked, his eyes lighting up.
"Yes, and he is quite eager to see you." Dumbledore answered, still smiling. "He was quite furious when I told him that he could not come along to save you, I think it only made him angrier when I allowed Fleur to come."
"You did the right thing, sir. He would have been spotted by someone, and then the situation would have been even more complicated."
"I was not worried about his cover being blown," Dumbledore said. "An Auror by the name of Kingsley Shacklebolt has taken over his investigation, and is feeding the Ministry false information that he is in Albania, searching for Voldemort. Mr. Shacklebolt was one of those who came to your aid."
"Was he the tall one? With that massive gold earring?" Harry asked. Dumbledore nodded. "So why didn't you let Sirius come if you weren't worried about his cover?"
"Sirius embodies the best and worst traits of the Gryffindor house. He is one of the bravest people I have ever known, but his bravery often borders on recklessness. When I was forced to hold everyone back after Voldemort grabbed you, Sirius would have ignored me. He would have attacked and gotten himself killed."
"You really think he'd be that reckless?" Harry asked.
"I do, and I fear that it is partly my fault. He cannot leave his home. While I'm not worried about most people recognizing him, I am, on the other hand, concerned that a chance encounter with a Death Eater could spell his end. Anyone who knows the truth about Sirius' loyalties must never be allowed to see Sirius. With most of the Death Eaters with Voldemort, I wasn't worried about it at the time."
"I guess that makes sense," Harry said slowly, obviously deep in thought. "Professor, could you tell me about what was happening while I was being cursed?"
"Of course. When Voldemort began to absorb your powers, he immediately used them to erect a shield around the two of you to prevent any of us from getting to you easily. His Death Eaters were there to prevent any of us from having time to get past the shield. As a result, we were unable to do anything more than watch. When you ran out of power, Voldemort straightened immediately, for he had been crouching. However, a second later he was crouched again, in obvious pain, while you seemed to be gaining strength. You absorbed the shield around you, as well as the wards and blood magic around Privet Drive. I was able to pull you away from Voldemort by that point. He forcibly broke the connection with you later, and was able to apparate away with his Death Eaters because the Anti-Apparation ward had long since been absorbed. After he was gone, your body went through the quickest growth spurt I have ever seen. You grew a full six inches in just under five minutes, and rather than becoming thinner, you bulked up considerably. Miss Tonks seemed quite interested in how tightly your old clothes fit you afterwards."
"Tonks? Was that the woman standing next to Fleur?" Harry asked, not noticing Dumbledore's insinuation.
Dumbledore thought for a moment. "I suppose. There were only three women there, and you already knew both Professor McGonagall and Miss Delacour. Her full name is Nymphadora Tonks, though she insists that everyone call her by her surname. She is quite young, having only completed her Auror training in June. Mr. Shacklebolt recruited her for the Order a few days later."
"Is there anything else I should know about her?" Harry asked.
"She is a metamorphmagus, meaning she can change her appearance at will. Though my knowledge is limited on the subject, I believe that Metamorphmagi can change everything, except for gender. I was told that she has become fast friends with Miss Delacour, so I imagine you will get along with her as well."
'So that's the friend Fleur mentioned earlier.' Harry thought. 'Dumbledore's probably right about us getting along.'
"Is there anything else we need to talk about, Professor?" Harry asked after a long pause. "I've got a one more question, but I think it's better to ask is after we've taken care of everything else."
"Just one thing," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling again. "Voldemort is obviously targeting you, so I feel that you will need training to be prepared to escape from an attack, if nothing else. Unfortunately, the Ministry is stubbornly denying his return, so they will be as stubborn as ever regarding underage magic. Therefore, I hope you will begin a physical training regime for yourself and your friends. I have asked Miss Tonks to help you get started."
"My friends? So Ron and Hermione are there?"
"The entire Weasley family, save Charlie, is currently staying at Grimmauld Place, and Miss Granger will be joining you there in two weeks."
"Right, so we'll all be doing physical training?" Harry asked.
"Assuming they wish to, yes," Dumbledore said. "If you tell them the reasoning behind this training, I doubt they would refuse. Now that my last point has been addressed, I believe you had a question?"
"Er, yes," Harry said, suddenly nervous. He had asked Dumbledore this question before, but hadn't yet received an answer. "Why is Voldemort after me? Why did he kill my parents and try to kill me when I was a baby?"
Dumbledore's face fell. "Harry, the time fast approaches when I will be able to tell you that. I ask that you be patient with me, and in return I promise you that I will tell you everything soon."
Harry sighed. "Yes, sir, I'll try to be patient. I can't say that I expected you to tell me, not really."
"Thank you, Harry, I know how hard it must be for you, but when I finally do tell you you'll understand why I can't just yet. Now, I believe we've covered everything important. Your things have already been moved to headquarters, so you may as well just Floo over there now."
"Sir, what time is it?" Harry asked, grabbing a pinch of Floo powder from the tin on the mantle of Dumbledore's fireplace and tossing it in, causing the flames to rise and turn emerald green.
"Nearly eleven in the morning," Dumbledore answered, looking at his watch. "Does your watch not work, Harry?"
"No, it broke while I was down in the lake during the second task," Harry replied. "I've got to buy a new one at some point."
"Indeed," Dumbledore said. "Well, until we meet again, Harry." He stood up and offered his hand, which Harry shook.
"See you later, sir," Harry said before backing into the fireplace. "Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place!" Harry called. Immediately, Harry was reminded of why he loathed Floo travel. He saw flashes of various fireplaces as he spun violently inside the stone tube ('Bloody hell, can't they install padding?'), traveling at a speed that should not have been possible. Harry was caught by surprise when he emerged, so surprised that he actually managed to remain standing.
Another surprise was where he emerged, though it wasn't a good one. Based on appearances, he was in the home belonging to some long dead dark wizard, not Sirius' family. The walls were stone grey with peeling black paint in some areas. There was a painting of a dreary looking house hanging lopsided on one wall. Harry noticed he was standing on a torn rug that, thanks to a combination of age and dust, was barely distinguishable from the floor on which it lay. Suddenly wishing that his wand wasn't with the rest of his things, Harry resolved himself to doing a bit of exploration.
He crept out of the room, noting that the door had been removed from its hinges and now rested against the wall in the hallway. Before leaving the doorway, Harry noticed a set of curtains in front of one spot on the wall. He was tempted to pull them back, but something seemed wrong about them, or perhaps it was whatever was behind them.
As he walked, a board would creek every now and then as he continued on, causing him to wince. When he neared the stairs, Harry heard muffled voices coming from above him. 'They don't sound evil.' He thought hopefully. 'But then again, they are screaming at each other…if only I could hear what they're saying…'
With that in mind, Harry dashed up the stairs, taking them three at a time. Now that he was on the same floor, he knew he'd be able to eavesdrop, but something else caught his attention first. The upstairs seemed every bit as decrepit as the parts that Harry had already seen, but one wall reached new levels of repulsiveness. House-elves, or more precisely, the heads of house-elves, were mounted on the walls. There were at least twenty, all wrinkled and wearing identical expressions of surprise. The shouting began again from a nearby room, breaking Harry out of his reverie. He slowly approached the door, now no longer worried about not making any noise.
"I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY ON THE MATTER, I WILL NOT LET YOU ANYWHERE NEAR HARRY'S FIREBOLT UNTIL HE GIVES YOU SOME FORM OF PERMISSION!"
'Nice to see someone's looking out for me, I should pay more attention to Ginny this year,' Harry thought, 'unless she starts coming onto me.'
"YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO THAT HE WOULD LET ME USE IT! YOU'RE JUST GETTING READY TO SMARM UP TO HIM WHEN HE GETS HERE, GET HIM TO LIKE YOU!"
"I HAVE A BOYFRIEND YOU INSENSITIVE PRAT!"
Harry decided not to let Ron respond to that, because anything involving Ginny and boys was a surefire way to start a row with him. Before Ron had time to formulate a response, Harry drew back and hammered his palms against the door repeatedly, hoping to get their attention before things could escalate. Without waiting for them to respond, Harry pushed the door open and looked at them, a massive grin on his face. "You don't know how relieved I am to see you two here, I thought for sure we were in some dark wizard's abandoned place." Looking around the room, Harry saw it was somewhat nicer than the others he had seen thus far. The dust was at a more manageable level, and the only furniture, a dresser and two beds, looked useable.
"Good to see you too, mate," Ron said, the argument forgotten. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you don't…look like you."
Harry grinned. "No worries, I'm familiar with the change. Once the twins get in here I'll tell you all about my magic-induced growth spurt." He turned to look at Ginny for the first time and fought the urge to groan. She was staring at him, mouth wide, eyes agape, and she wasn't looking at his face. Harry looked quickly back at Ron, hoping her brother hadn't noticed.
Fortunately, Ron was oblivious. "Fred and George? Why do you need them here?" he asked.
"It's complicated. I'd really rather explain everything with everyone in the room. Hey, Ginny, sorry I didn't say hi right away," Harry said loudly, snapping her out of her trance. Her face immediately turned beet red.
"Oh…hello Harry," she said without looking at him. "Er, I'll just go get Fred and George…be right back." With that, she dashed out the door without looking at him.
"Blimey, what's got into her?" Ron asked.
"No idea," Harry lied. "So what's this I hear about Ginny having a boyfriend?"
It was Ron's turn to blush from a combination of anger and embarrassment. "Dunno, that's the first I've heard of one. Guess we'll have to find out who he is and—how much of that conversation did you hear?"
"Not too much. I'm not sure why you wanted to ride the Firebolt so badly that you couldn't wait for me, though," Harry said, punching him in the arm good-naturedly.
Ron's blush deepened. "Well…I was considering maybe going out for Keeper next year, with Wood gone and all. I thought maybe I could use the practice."
"That's a brilliant idea!" Harry exclaimed. "D'you have much experience?"
"Well, I always play with my brothers over the summer," Ron said, looking hopeful.
"Feel free to borrow the Firebolt any time," Harry said. "Although I don't know where you'd go to fly it around here. We're in London, aren't we?"
"Yeah, but Mum was going to make lunch for us today at the Burrow, since she's off duty today for the Order—you do know what the Order is, right?"
"Yeah, Dumbledore explained it to me," Harry said, deciding to keep his situation with Fleur from Ron for as long as possible.
"Sorry, wasn't sure. Anyway, Mum hates it here; apparently it's nearly impossible to clean. Some kind of magic is keeping it like this. She figured that we could use a bit of a break from this place, so I figured I could bring the Firebolt out if you hadn't gotten here yet."
"Go ahead, I just hope your mum will let me tag along."
"And why wouldn't she?" came a familiar pair of voices from the doorway.
"Apparently Voldemort's not a fan of mine, so I'm a bit of a security risk." Everyone present flinched, except for Harry. He nodded a greeting at Fred and George, who grinned back and pulled a very reluctant Ginny into the room behind them. She was carefully studying her shoes.
"If only you hadn't bulked up so much," George said mournfully.
"Then our little Gin-Gin would be over her ickle crush," Fred simpered.
"Don't make fun of her, you gits," Harry said in exasperation. "She'll get you with that Bat-Bogey spell if you don't give it a rest." Ginny turned even redder.
"He's right," Ron said threateningly.
"Oh, is ickle Ronniekins going to stop us?" George asked, a predatory gleam in his eyes.
"I didn't bring you lot in here to torment your siblings," Harry deadpanned. "It's actually a bit serious, unless you don't want to know why I'm here."
The twins quieted immediately and sat down on one of the beds. "Anything for our chief investor," Fred mouthed with a wink.
"Thanks," Harry said, sitting down on the bed opposite them. Ron immediately sat next to him, while Ginny walked around to the other side of Fred and George to sit where Harry couldn't see her at all. Rolling his eyes, Harry continued. "Three days ago, I was coming back from my morning jog, and Voldemort was waiting for me in my relatives' house." The flinch was even more pronounced this time.
"Wait, he was in your house? I thought that the wards were supposed to stop him getting in," Ron said.
"Hang on, I was just getting to that," Harry replied. "The main ward that was around Number 4 was the same blood protection magic that saved me from Voldemort when I was a baby." Another flinch. "You lot really need to stop doing that when I say his name. Voldemort's not going to go away just because you refuse to say his bloody name! What was I talking about? Oh, right, the blood protection. Well, as part of the ritual to give himself a body, Voldemort used my blood, so goodbye protection. Dumbledore and the Order came to the rescue just as I knocked on the door. I didn't know he was there yet. Right when I figured it out and turn to go to Dumbledore, Voldemort hit me with a summoning charm, and things weren't looking too good." Harry was getting into the story now, having a captive audience didn't hurt.
"He and Dumbledore started arguing, apparently Voldemort couldn't get past the wards to escape with me, so there was a bit of a standoff, that is until Voldemort decided to absorb all of my magic through my scar and turn me into a Squib."
"He can really do that?" Ron asked, his eyes wide.
"I think it was a one-time thing. He used the blood wards and my scar against me, but it didn't go as planned, so I doubt he'd try it again even if he could."
"His plan backfired, eh?" Fred asked, now smiling.
"Yeah," Harry replied, his grin matching Fred's. "After he finished draining me, something inside me snapped and I started sucking all of my power back from him, again through the scar. Thing is, that isn't all I got. I absorbed the power from the wards, and some power from him as well. Dumbledore said he was pretty weak when it was all over. Said he and his Death Eaters apparated out of there as soon as they realized that I'd absorbed the wards. After Voldemort left, my random growth spurt kicked in. According to Dumbledore, I grew around six inches in five minutes, and now I don't even need my glasses anymore."
"So You-Know-Who tries to steal your magic, but you wind up stealing his instead?" Ron asked.
"I didn't get all that much," Harry admitted. "It's enough to weaken him for a while, though. Dumbledore reckons he won't attack until he recovers, which could take months."
"Wicked!" the twins said together.
"Remind me to never try to steal your magic," George said seriously.
Harry laughed, and the tension that had accompanied the story was gone.
"That was brilliant and all, but why are you here?" Ron asked. Fred got up and slapped the back of his head.
"Just how thick are you, Ron? Harry absorbed the protections at his old place, so there's no reason for him to stay there anymore. Looks like he's with us for the duration!"
"You didn't have to hit me!" Ron said furiously.
"Be glad he didn't hex you," George said seriously. "We're allowed to do that now, you know."
"'Course I know," Ron said with a derisive snort. "All you do is apparate around the house. It's bloody annoying." Just then, a familiar voice called them from the hallway.
"Ron, Ginny, Fred, George? Where are you? Molly's going to be worried if you don't go over there soon."
"Sirius!" Harry called.