THE MATHIAS PROPHECY BOOK II
Exams and Farewells
Harry recovered quickly following her ordeal with Voldemort, and was back in class studying hard for her exams. The other students soon forgot the situation with Hermione when they saw that Harry and Ron had rallied around her. Even Ginny realized Voldemort had been controlling her and forgave the young witch. After all, she had endured a similar situation and after considering some of the things Voldemort had made her do, she realized she had been wrong to criticize Hermione. There were mixed feelings about her punishment. While most agreed the suspension was fair, they all felt it was wrong not to make her a Prefect in the fall. Dumbledore was more than aware of this. He decided secretly to have the staff reconsider in view of the fact that the Dark Lord had harmed so many people's lives, and to reconsider her otherwise exemplary scholastic record.
True to his word, Sirius took them all out to dinner, the Friday following Harry's ordeal, at The Three Broomsticks, and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. Even Hermione relaxed when Sirius apologized for behaving so angrily towards her. She had been gracious and told him she understood perfectly and he did not really have anything to be sorry for.
Snape had been a bit fidgety, as Neville Longbottom had been the student given this week's Friday detention, and had to clean the dungeon without him, since Dumbledore had insisted Snape come with them. Harry assured him that Neville would probably do a better job without him there. She also reminded him that Filch was supervising the cleanup and he would be sure Neville did the job correctly. This had done the trick and he seemed to enjoy himself.
Dumbledore was delighted when Harry had Miss Rosmerta bring him out a special treat. She had found out it was his birthday the day before and the group of them sang Happy Birthday over a huge cake with a sparkler on it in lieu of candles. He beamed with happiness at them all, unable to hide the tears in his eyes. After they had all eaten their fill, Ron and Remus got into an animated discussion about who would ultimately win the Quidditch matches between the teachers and students. Dumbledore smiled when Harry said in the end they would all be winners, since the games had gone a long way to boost everyone's school spirit.
Harry and Ron had done their best to stay in touch with Hermione following her departure at Easter. They sent her letters every week by owl post and told her all the Hogwarts gossip. She made Harry promise to write her as soon as she took her Potions Exams, and did her additional final. She told Harry that she just knew she was going to mix Professor Lupin's Wolfbane Potion correctly and win the bet. Neville especially had his fingers crossed for her, since he would be spared Snape's wrath in his final year.
They had also both sent her letters following the Quidditch matches. The games had gone to a full five. The students had won the third match, but the teachers had come back and won the fourth. Snape had tricked Harry and caught the Snitch while flying upside down! Harry was astounded and congratulated him enthusiastically, even though she was disappointed. He was so happy that he had been nice to her in class for the rest of the week. The fifth match had been brutal, and Harry had suffered a broken leg after Remus had hit her with a bludger. She and Snape had dived for the snitch at the same time, and the bludger just came out of nowhere. Still, Harry was stubborn, and Snape's having taught her to fight through painful curses had come in handy. It had allowed her to continue without falling, enabling her to do a three hundred and sixty degree turn, confusing the Potions Master enough so that she was able to grab the snitch right out from in front of him. While Snape had wanted to win, he was more than a little pleased that Harry had done as he had taught her, and ignored the pain in her broken leg. This had taken enough of the sting out of his loss that he had actually carried her up to the infirmary.
Remus had felt awful that she had been injured, even though he knew it was in the nature of the game. He kept telling her he hadn't meant to hit her so hard, but Harry had just smiled and said it wasn't the first time she had suffered a broken bone during a Quidditch match. She then told him about what had happened in her second year when Professor Lockhart had made her bones disappear and Nurse Pomfrey had given her the Skele-Gro to grow them back.
Sirius, of course, had run pell mell up to the infirmary. He always got nervous when she was hurt, and Harry knew it was still due to the guilt he felt about her parents' death. He constantly worried that she would be hurt, and would blame himself for not being more vigilant. Harry would just smile and tell him that he couldn't protect her from life, and that he had no reason to feel guilty.
Her feelings for all of them continued to confuse her, and she wished she would hurry up and come of age. She knew each of them harbored feelings towards her too, and were waiting until she completed her education before approaching her with any romantic notions. In the meantime, she had continued to see George Weasley. He would come to see her at school, or she would get someone to take her into Hogsmeade. This was usually Dumbledore, since she was uncomfortable when one of the others was around. She was careful not to lead George on, but she did like him. However, she had made it perfectly clear that she did not want to get serious. Dumbledore had sensed her feelings, and one day, as they walked back from Hogsmeade, munching on the toffee she had bought for him, he decided to question her about them.
"You like young Weasley a lot don't you?" he asked looking down at her affectionately.
"I suppose so. He is fun to be with. I was worried Ron might be jealous, but when he found out, he was actually very happy. He has visions of me and George getting married some day."
"No, I'm not in love with him. That's why I try not to let it go any further then some casual afternoons together."
"How do you know that won't change?"
"He's not what I'm looking for in a man."
"What are you looking for?"
"Someone like you," Harry grinned up at him, her green eyes twinkling.
"I've had my share of marriages, thank you."
"Marriages, as in more than one?"
"Actually, there were three. They have all passed on now though."
"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to make you feel bad."
"You haven't, Child. My first marriage didn't work out although we remained good friends. The other two passed away after many happy years together."
"Do you have any children?"
"No, I had no children with my first wife, and my second died with our only son in childbirth. My third was past the age when she could bear children," he told her quietly, "so I consider all of my students my children. You can't ask for better than that."
"Even with someone like Tom Riddle?" Harry asked using Voldemort's real name.
"Even with Tom. A person's children do not always turn out how they would like them to."
"And how am I doing?"
"Quite nicely, but you are a bit adventurous, and often disobedient, otherwise I am very happy with you," he laughed, his blue eyes brimming with amusement. "Now tell me what qualities you think I have that you would want in a young man?"
"Who says he has to be young. I don't believe age should make a difference. I know that it doesn't seem to in the Wizarding World; at least not as much as it does for Muggles."
"That's because we live longer and have ways to delay the aging process. We also are able to heal injuries which would be lethal to Muggles."
"How come we don't share our knowledge with them?"
"Fear and ignorance. Many still believe we worship the devil. They fear what they don't understand. Others feel we would take advantage of them and enslave them. So we take care to keep our worlds separate as much as possible."
"But people intermarry all the time," Harry said in confusion.
"Many of us work in the Muggle businesses. Our lives often will intermix in other areas too, such as primary school. We also live side by side in the cities. Remember, Hogsmeade is the only town that is strictly Wizard."
"Is that why some of us are actually Muggle born? Did they have witches or wizards in their family line previously that no one can remember and the genes come out again?"
"Very possibly," Dumbledore looked at her thoughtfully, pleased by her reasoning. "Now you are getting off the subject. What qualities do you think you would like in a future husband?"
"I told you, I want someone like you."
"If I was a few years younger, your suitors just might have had some competition," he winked, making her laugh.
"Okay, I want someone I can talk to. He has to be brave, kind, and able to put up with my temper and moodiness. He also has to love Quidditch."
"Does he have to be handsome?"
"Not ugly, but not handsome either. I'm not too concerned with his looks. I'll know what is on the inside."
"Is there anything else?"
"He has to like animals, but not as much as Hagrid!" Harry rolled her eyes. "I would like him to possess gentleness, but still be masculine, and he should like adventure and be able to embrace life. Accept it as it happens or change it to meet his desires. I want someone who isn't afraid to stand up for what he believes in."
"That could fit any number of young men. It might even be Sirius, Remus, or even Severus; not to mention some of the Weasley boys."
Harry stopped dead in her tracks, staring at the old man. She knew he was aware of her feelings towards the three men whose names he had mentioned. She stood studying him for a moment and then started to walk again, avoiding his blue eyes.
"You're right, it could be any one of them," she answered quietly; "time will tell if any of them are the right man. Meanwhile, I will just have to wait."
"What attracts you to each one? Is it anything specific?"
"George is funny, he makes me laugh. He also has a wonderful family; they make me feel like I belong. The only problem is there are no fireworks with him. I feel like he's more like an old friend, not a lover."
"I wasn't asking about George, and you know it."
Harry looked at the old man sideways, before smiling. Her face felt hot and she knew she was blushing. "You're really determined to know what I think about Sirius and the other two aren't you."
"Only if you want to talk about it. I see how you all look at one another when you think no one else is looking. I know as an empath you have to be aware they have feelings for you. I'm not sure if they realize you feel the same way."
"I hope they don't. It would make them uncomfortable right now. I'm still underage, which is probably why they have kept their distance. You can't ever say they behaved improperly. I can wait. If all goes well, and I survive my final encounter with Voldemort…well…I have time."
"So are you willing to tell me what you see in each of them?"
"Only if you promise never to say anything to them. My biggest fear is that one day two of them will be hurt, and I don't want that to happen."
"Child, if they love you they will want you to be happy above everything else. I firmly believe that if you do end up with one of them the others will still be there for you. However, I won't say anything to them."
"Okay. Sirius is very handsome, and could have any woman he wants. He is brave, and very loyal. His strength of character is amazing. I do not think too many people could have survived in Azkaban as long as he did and then escape. In some ways, he is still like a little boy. If I could do anything for him it would be to help him lose the haunted look in his eyes."
"Child, your love and devotion have helped him enormously. He cares for you very much. James knew what he was doing when he made him your Godfather."
"Sometimes I like to think he did it so that he would fall in love with me because they were so close. He wanted him to be as happy as he was with my mother."
"Interesting theory, except we actually expected a boy, remember?"
"Good point. I care about Remus, and have this overwhelming desire to protect him. He suffers so much. His endurance is unbelievable. He hurts and never complains. He is kind and gentle, and when he smiles it lights up the room."
"Remus has had many difficult times in the past. His lycanthrope has caused him both physical and emotional pain. Yet he never complains. I know he loves to see you laugh, and he too worries about you," Dumbledore told her quietly. "How do you feel about Severus?"
"Intrigued. He is a man of mystery. For years, I swore we hated each other, but then I started to find things out about him. He's a good man, but followed the wrong path. I know he is really smart, and I love it when he teaches me one on one. He's moody, but I think it's more because he's such a private person. There's sadness about him too. He's so different when he lets his guard down, and laughs. He's as courageous as Sirius is strong and Remus is tolerant. It must have taken a lot for him to walk away from Voldemort. He never says so, but I know Voldemort had something to do with the death of his wife and child. Sometimes I think we're opposite sides of the same coin."
Dumbledore looked thoughtful, and then stopped to look at her. "I will not go into Severus private life, but you have been good for him too. It pleases him to see you learn and he wants you to succeed; not just in your battle with Voldemort, but with everything you do. He tries to hide his feelings. He loved his wife very much, and has been avoiding personal relationships for a long time. You have stirred feelings he has thought long dead and sparked them back to life.
"You see, I told you I wanted someone like you, and the three of them are as close as I will ever get," she looked up into his blue eyes, and scanned him. She was aware he knew what she was doing. His feelings for her were parental, and he understood her confusion. She could feel his affection for her, and accepted his guidance.
"You know, maybe I should just take an aging potion, and then I'll elope with you instead,' Harry teased him.
"At least they won't say I'm robbing the cradle," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he squeezed her gently. They walked on in silence for a few minutes before Dumbledore spoke slowly, "Harry, I have been putting off telling you something, but the year is almost ended. You have had so much happen this year and over the past few months that I feel guilty about what I have to do," he told her, his mood turning serious.
"Professor, have I done something wrong?"
"No, Child, you are not in any kind of trouble; not today anyway."
"Then what's wrong. Nothing has happened to someone we know, has it? Voldemort…"
"No, no, Child, Voldemort has not harmed anyone you know. It's about Sirius."
"What about Sirius? He isn't ill is he? Something hasn't happened that they want to send him back to Azkaban?"
"Sirius is not ill, and he has been completely exonerated, so you can lay your fears to rest," Dumbledore reassured her.
"Headmaster what could be so terrible that you are finding it so hard to tell me?"
"Child, you know that Sirius has been having work done on an old house to make it suitable for the two of you."
"I knew he had been putting all his affairs in order over the past few months so that he could make a new life for the two of us."
"He has done a splendid job of it too. The problem is that I need him to do some work for the Order over the summer, which will require him to work undercover and take him away much of the time."
"Please don't tell me what I think you are going to say," Harry begged with a catch in her voice.
"Child, I'm sorry, but you will have to go back to the Dursley's for at least part of the summer."
"Can't I go and stay with Ron's family? I know they would take me."
"No, Child, I have your aunt and uncle's house protected with various charms. I also don't think you would want to endanger the Weasleys. They are currently under guard by the Aurors. Voldemort knows he can get to you through your affection for them."
"He hasn't threatened them has he?"
"He wouldn't, Child. That is not how he works, not with Wizarding families anyway. The Deatheaters strike without warning and they don't leave survivors. Ron and his sister will be spending most of the summer in Romania with their brother. The twins of course live in Hogsmeade, and Voldemort knows better than to attack a total wizarding community so close to Hogwarts. Percy and his parents will be spending the summer in a safe house run by the Order."
"At least my friends will have an interesting and safe summer. Hermione's family is going to America, Ron and Ginny will be dragon watching in Romania, and I'll be locked in my room on Privet Drive," Harry remarked gloomily, trying not to cry. "Why didn't Sirius tell me he wasn't taking me home with him?"
"He wanted to tell you. I asked him not to. I felt it would be better if you heard it from me, since it was my decision."
"He could have said no to working over the summer, especially since I may never see another one. I was actually looking forward to going home this year," Harry said as they reached the lake. She sat down on the bench to watch the giant squid, and Dumbledore could see her lower lip quivering. She was trying desperately not to cry.
"Harry, you will have many happy summers. Sirius is really needed to help with the situation with Voldemort. He could help to save many lives."
"Headmaster, please, just leave me alone. Maybe I'm being selfish, but I have given, and given, and given, when it has come to the Dark Lord. I have never asked for anything in return until now, and it seems even that will be denied to me. As for Sirius being able to save lives…well where was he when my parents were being killed and I was left alone because of his thirst for revenge?"
Harry jumped up angrily, and ran back into the castle, nearly knocking over some first years as she dashed down the stairs to the dungeon. She wanted to be alone in the dark, where no one could find her, for her world was collapsing. She found an unused classroom and burst into mournful sobs, unable to control herself, curling up into a corner. 'Why do I have to go and live with people who hate me? I'm treated worse than a house elf. Sirius promised to take me home, but now I'm not wanted. Mum. Dad, why did you have to go and die? I'm all alone with no real home. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon hate me. Dudley picked on me when he thought I was a boy, what will he do now? I know he didn't know about me. I guess it doesn't matter…in a few…more months we'll…all be …together again.'
Harry was unaware of the tall pale figure who had seen her go into the empty room, and was standing outside of the door, listening. His ability to move with silence and stealth had enabled him to follow without her knowing. He had thought she was up to some sort of mischief, but was shocked when he had heard her start to cry. He wanted to go in and comfort her, but thought better of it. 'Damn, why did she have to come down here to cry? Why the hell did Black ever accept that summer assignment from Albus? Were they both so blind as to think she would just go along and accept going back to the Muggles?' Snape thought furiously. Turning on his heel, he found the nearest hidden passage up to Albus floor and came out opposite the tower. He knew Black would be there with the Headmaster, but it no longer mattered. Black had made a serious mistake, and Snape had to rectify it now!
"Cream Puffs," he angrily gritted his teeth on the password, and mounted the moving stairs two at a time. He didn't bother to knock at the top and burst in on Dumbledore and Black, who were talking over their plans. "Black you bastard, how could you think Harry would just accept going back to those Muggles?" Snape yelled grabbing Sirius by the collar and punching him in the face, catching him unaware.
Sirius fell backwards into Dumbledore's desk, and recovering himself, flung himself at Snape. "You greasy git, how dare you storm in here and tell me what I can and can't do with my goddaughter!" he yelled as he flung Snape back against the wall.
"Immobilius," Dumbledore yelled angrily, freezing the two men before the fight went further. "I expect better behavior from my professors. What is this all about Severus?"
"Headmaster, if you will please release me, I will explain," Snape replied quietly, glaring at Sirius.
"I am going to release the both of you, and I will expect you to act like adults rather than a couple of first years," Dumbledore answered, his blue eyes angry. "Undunio," he waved his wand freeing his two professors. "Well Severus I'm waiting, why did you attack Sirius Black?"
"Because his goddaughter is down in one of the unused classrooms in the dungeon, sobbing hysterically, because he is having her sent back to the Muggles. She believes he doesn't want her. She also still believes that she is going to be killed by Voldemort. I overheard her talking to her dead parents. She deserves better than you, Black. She cares about you, but you don't seem to care about her," Severus stared icily at his boyhood enemy, daring him to refute his statements.
"Albus, what is he talking about?"
"I was just about to tell you when Severus so angrily interrupted our discussion. I spoke with Harry on the way back from Hogsmeade. I told her she would be going back to stay with the Dursley's for at least part of the summer."
"Albus, I thought we were going to talk to her together? Why didn't you wait for me?" Sirius demanded, growing annoyed at the old man.
"I felt it would be prudent to tell her when she was in a good mood. I knew she was upset but I didn't realize she would take it so badly."
"Badly, Headmaster? She is ready to just give up. All she ever wanted was a home to go to, and you have both just let her down. The next few months will be crucial for her, and now all she cares about is being with her parents. She is angry that they died and left her with no one who cared about her," Severus yelled at his mentor. His face was no longer pale, but a bright pink, his dark eyes flashing.
"Oh, Merlin," Sirius groaned, "Where is she Snape? I didn't know Albus was going to tell her today. I don't want her to feel that I don't want her. Damn, I love her so much it hurts." Sirius moved over to the moving stairs at a run, Snape following. "I thought she would understand that it would only be until the end of July. I was going to make sure I was back in time for her birthday," he told the other man as they entered the hidden passage to the dungeons.
"Well she either doesn't know that, or she doesn't care. Lily's family treat her badly, Black. They always have. The question is, what are you going to do about it?"
"I need to do this job for Albus. Maybe if he'll let me tell her what it is she will understand better," Sirius answered as they reached the dungeon to find Dumbledore had gotten there ahead of them. Sirius marveled at how the old man could move around the building without their knowing it.
"She's in the last room on the left," Snape led them through the dungeon, never making a sound as his feet touched the stone floor.
Approaching the classroom, they could hear Harry sobbing and talking to herself. She was talking to her mother and telling her how lonely she had been, her aunt never showing her any kind of affection. Dudley had gotten everything, while she had only been given a bedroom after starting Hogwarts, because they were afraid of what she might do to him. "Mama please, she hates me more than she hated you. She's jealous and cold and I'm treated worse than some of the house elves. Dad, why did you follow your principals instead of your heart? Sirius as good as killed you himself when he had Peter become your secret keeper. God, why did that damn curse have to back fire? I want to go home…"
Sirius was stunned. She was beginning to blame him for James and Lily dying. True, he had always felt responsible, but Harry had always told him otherwise, until now. He felt as if a knife had been stabbed into his heart.
Dumbledore was worried and upset. Harry hadn't been happy with the news that she would have to go back to the Dursley's, but he didn't believe she had been this upset. He was angry at himself for not seeing how much he had hurt her. He had known the Dursley's weren't very loving towards Harry, but she never told him how badly they had really treated her. Now he was faced with a serious dilemma, cancel their plans for Sirius mission, or lose Harry's trust in them.
Severus was so angry at his mentor and Black, he was ready to leave Hogwarts and give up working for the Order. Their one hope to defeat the Dark Lord without a major bloodbath was ready to call it quits and let him win. Severus understood what it was like to grow up feeling alone and unloved. Indeed, if it hadn't been for his older sister, he might very well have been in Azkaban or dead now. She and Albus had seen what James Potter had also seen in him. That it was the anger and loneliness that had been eating him alive and sent him straight to Voldemort in a bid for power and attention. Harry was in a similar situation. She was vulnerable and needed to know others would support her. She had no sense of security, no place other than Hogwarts, which she could call home.
The three men stood outside the door looking at one another, uncertain of what to do. They wanted to comfort her, yet if they burst in, she might become even more angry and distraught. They were suddenly startled by her angry voice, calling out to them.
"I can sense your presence, so either come in or go away."
"Miss Potter," Snape came in with Dumbledore and Sirius behind him, "I was concerned that something had happened. What is troubling you?" he asked in a gentle voice, and Harry just stared open mouthed.
"Child, it is chilly down here. Why don't you come up to my sitting room and we can talk about what is troubling you."
"Dumbledore is right, Miss Wings, you'll catch a cold sitting on the floor like that," Sirius approached her cautiously, his voice showing genuine concern.
"There is nothing to discuss. Apparently, everyone has made their plans and just believed I would go along with them. Go away, Sirius, I never want to see you again. You have a habit of running off when the people you supposedly care about need you the most. You killed my mum and dad, and abandoned me. I hate you!" Harry sobbed angrily.
Sirius felt like a part of him had just died. The one person in the world who he considered his family, no longer cared if he was around. He had hurt her so deeply she did not want anything to do with him.
"Harry, honey, you don't really mean that."
"Child, don't blame Sirius for my decision. You are unaware of many things. Sirius was simply trying to help. The mission I am sending him on is one of major importance. We both genuinely believed you would understand that it was truly a matter of life and death."
"Whose, certainly not mine? I'll be trapped in a bedroom with bared windows and locks on the door. I'll only get the food that is placed in front of me to eat, or pushed through the cat flap on the door, when I get that. Fortunately, Professor Snape was kind enough to buy me some clothes so I won't have to wear my fat cousin's cast offs. I will have no one to talk to, and Hedwig will be confined to her cage. I'm also reasonably sure that Snuffles will not be permitted within ten feet of the house, let alone inside," Harry sobbed, her sides heaving with anger and frustration. "My cousin will torment me because he knows that I don't dare defend myself or his parents will cast me out, and I'm not permitted to use magic outside of school. Everyone always says how much they love me, but it seems I always come last."
Sirius was dumfounded. He had had no idea that Lily's sister had been treating Harry so badly. He wondered how much Dumbledore was aware of; he was really in a bind. This mission was so important and he knew that if Harry knew what he was up to she would at least forgive him. Surprisingly Snape tried to intervene on his behalf.
"Miss Potter, Harry, I have a large house in London. While I too will be working with the Order over the summer, I will not be going out of town. If the Headmaster and your godfather will allow it, would you like to come and stay with me?"
"You?" she questioned, hope creeping into her voice, "can I?" Harry pleaded looking at the other two men.
"Will your sister be present?" Sirius looked at Snape, a surge of protection coursing through him.
"It is a moot point gentlemen," Dumbledore spoke firmly, "Harry will be safest in the home of her aunt and uncle until Sirius is able to come for her. I will have placed the proper charms on Sirius home by then. Your offer is noble, Severus, but it will put the two of you and your sister at a severe risk," It pained the old man to see the hope drain from Harry's eyes.
"I'll never go back, never!" she sobbed, her green eyes filling with anger, "you can't force me. I'll run away so far even you won't be able to find me." Harry's voice had been growing louder, until she was screeching at Dumbledore, "All you care about is getting rid of Voldemort. Did you ever care about my parents or me; or did they die merely to satisfy the whim of an old man? Maybe Voldemort was right, there is no good and evil, only power. What's the matter old man, don't like the competition? Well soon there will be two of us!" Harry screeched, her anger peaking. As it did so, something unexpected happened. A chair sailed across the room at Dumbledore. He was able to deflect it with a brief glance, and it crashed to the wall. Harry had developed the power of telekinesis. She paled, and looked stunned, and a look of panic filled her green eyes.
"It's all right now Child," Dumbledore smiled seeing the look of shock and disbelief on her face. She flew into his open arms, terrified by what she had done. "Severus, let's adjourn to your sitting room and have some tea. It will help to soothe Harry's nerves and calm her down."
The Headmaster gently steered her in the direction of the Potions Master's quarters, and sat her down on the sofa. He then lit a fire in the hearth and sat down across from her. Sirius came to sit beside her, and she instinctively sought the comfort of his arms. He was relieved that she wanted to be near him, and eased her head onto his shoulder.
Snape sat down in his favorite chair, and crossed his legs, studying Harry. 'Her powers are growing stronger, and she doesn't know how to control them. I will need to work on her ability to command her emotions so that she has power over them. She needs to organize her thoughts to be able to direct the objects to move.'
"Sirius, I didn't mean what I said to you," Harry sniffed, "I just wanted to make you hurt like I was hurting. It was a terrible thing to do; I'm sorry." Harry looked up at him, her lip quivering, "I love you very much."
Sirius looked down at her, his brown eyes warm and tender, kissing her gently on the forehead. "Sh…just try and calm down. I love you too. I didn't want to hurt you, and I don't think Albus realized how much you were counting on coming home with me."
"Here Child, have some tea. You need to relax. You're emotionally worn out," Dumbledore beamed.
Harry took a sip of the tea, and noted the Headmaster had added some mint leaves. "Professor Dumbledore, you're smiling like a Cheshire cat. I don't understand what is making you so happy. You should be angry."
"I'm happy because I love you and a wonderful thing has just happened. You have a new power. You possess the skill of telekinesis, as I do."
"Professor Snape, please check his head. I think I must have hit him with that chair. He's gone totally daft."
"Harry, he's always been a bit daft. It's what makes him so special. He should be equally mad at me, but he isn't."
"Mad at you, why?"
"Take a look at your godfather's face a little closer."
"What?" Harry looked confused and turned to study Sirius. "Sirius, you're lip is split and your face is bruised on the left side."
"Snape has a hell of a right cross. He heard you crying in the dungeon and came up to Dumbledore's office to give us both what for. Punched me in the face and balled Albus out good," Sirius grinned wickedly, as he flicked his wand towards his face and muttered a healing spell.
"You heard me?" she eyed Snape with interest.
"Yes, I saw you go into the classroom and went to investigate. I thought at first you were up to some of your tricks. When I heard you crying I went up to find your Godfather and the Headmaster."
were upset with them," Harry face brightened with the knowledge
that Snape had been worried about her.
"I was not. I merely thought they should know you were in an unauthorized location," Snape said stiffly, his face slightly flushed.
"Then why did you haul off and belt Sirius in the face? What's more, you yelled at the Headmaster, and I know how much you respect and care about him."
Professor Snape sat up straighter and the corners of his lips curved into a slight smile.
"He will never admit to it, Child. Severus is a very private person."
"I think what he did was very sweet. It's nice to know that someone agrees with me about going back to my aunt and uncle. You both deserved it," she looked brazenly from Sirius to Dumbledore. "Please don't make me go back there. You don't know what it's like. I wasn't exaggerating when I said they lock me in my room and have bars on my windows," Harry's voice had begun to tremble again in trepidation.
"Child, I want you to listen to what I am going to say, and don't interrupt me."
"All right, I'll listen," she agreed snuggling closer to Sirius. She needed to feel his closeness, and allowed herself to scan him. He was concerned about her, and she could feel how much he cared. She also knew he had been really hurt by her earlier remarks, feeling he had let her down. His arms tightened around her, and she could feel how much he truly loved her. "I'm sorry, I really didn't mean it," she whispered again, her eyes moist.
"I know, honey, I should have known better than not to tell you right away," Sirius whispered back as Dumbledore stared at the fire sipping his tea, giving them a few minutes to talk between themselves.
"Headmaster, if I may, I have to finish preparing the exam for the fourth years. Perhaps it would be prudent to leave the three of you alone?"
"No, Severus, I want you here, this concerns you to," Dumbledore explained, continuing to stare into the fire for another ten minutes. Harry was beginning to think he had begun to doze off when he finally spoke, "First of all, let me say that I did not make this decision lightly. I asked Sirius to do an important service for the Order since his ability as an animagus would provide an excellent cover. I did err however in not considering Harry's feelings. We both assumed that you would understand without question. You must forgive an old man for forgetting you are getting to be quite a young woman now, and deserve an explanation. I am going to go against protocol and tell you what Sirius will be doing. I think then you will feel better. I know he is torn about leaving you, especially after today's events, but once you know, you will agree with his decision. He took on this assignment for you, since it will involve someone you care about. He will be staying in the safe house and guarding Molly Weasley while Arthur and Percy are at work. He will be posing as their pet dog."
Harry was visibly startled, and looked at Sirius ashamedly. He would be protecting the woman who had acted more like a mother to her than her own aunt. Her best friend's mother, someone she loved dearly. "Why couldn't the two of you just tell me?"
"Hush, Child, let me finish," Dumbledore rebuked quietly; "he will be finished by the end of July when Molly goes to Romania to visit with Charlie for a fortnight, before returning home with Ginny and Ron. While she's away, Percy will be on vacation visiting Penelope's family in Wales, and Arthur will be staying with me. Once the whole family is reunited, the Aurors will keep an eye on them and various charms will be placed on the Burrow to aid in their protection. I am trusting you not to say anything about this, especially to Ron and Ginny since they do not know."
"I have a question," Harry looked from one to the other.
"What is it, honey?"
"Do you guys enjoy making me look foolish and feeling guilty for acting like an a...er... jerk?" she said catching her language just in time. Severus arched his brows and Sirius grinned, while Dumbledore looked at her over his glasses.
"Does this mean you're not mad at us anymore?" Sirius squeezed her affectionately.
"No, it means that I'm disappointed you both felt I couldn't be trusted with this kind of information in the first place. Do either of you really believe I would have just gone back to my aunt and uncle willingly and without question. All I've heard for the past few months is that now I'll have a real home to go to. Then you decided to pull the rug out from under me. I have never asked for anything before, but I don't want to go back to Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Besides, my cousin and the neighbors all think I'm a boy."
"The neighbors will have had their memories altered," Dumbledore replied calmly. "Your cousin will be told the truth by his parents."
"Sirius, I can't go back there…you promised…me" Harry was becoming angry and depressed. "Is working for the Order more important than me?"
Sirius had been dreading the fact that, even knowing the circumstances, she might ask him that question. He knew in that moment he was falling in love with her. He only hoped he could give her a satisfactory answer, since her adolescence was causing her to be somewhat selfish. 'James, help me. She needs to understand that I love her, but I also have a job to do,' He mentally spoke to his dead friend, Harry's father, as he formed his words.
"Harry, I love you more than life itself. You're my only family, but you have also got to understand that if I don't do this now, and something happens to Molly, you will never be able to forgive me."
Harry studied Sirius, her green eyes boring into him, as she searched her soul. "And if you do it, and you get yourself killed like my parents did, what will happen to me then?" she whispered fearfully, the words her mother had written haunting her, 'and cry with you, should you ever have a broken heart.'
Sirius scooped Harry into his arms and hugged her tightly, "Honey I intend to keep my promise. I will be back by your birthday and we'll all celebrate together. You will never have to see the Dursley's again if you don't want to. But I have to do this first. I owe the Weasley family that much for helping to keep me safely hidden while Peter was being questioned. Nothing is going to happen to me."
"Child, I promise to give you a message from him every week," Dumbledore came over and patted her gently on the shoulder. "I can also make the time with the Dursley's a little more bearable for you."
"How?" Harry asked holding onto Sirius.
"If Severus is still willing, you may spend the weekends with him in London, as Professor Lupin and myself will be there also, as will his sister. One of us will also take you out one day a week."
"Headmaster, I will be happy to have Harry as an additional house guest on weekends. My sister, Circe, can act as her chaperone. I am sure that should be acceptable to Black."
Sirius nodded, and looked at Harry, "See, you'll be fine, and that git of a cousin had better watch himself or you're liable to send a chair at him."
"Don't say that! They lock me up when I do things by accident. The first night you ever saw me was the night I had blown up my Uncle Vernon's sister."
Harry looked at him remembering the night she had run away, and was startled by a large black dog, prior to boarding the Knight Bus. It had actually been Sirius in his animagus form following his escape from Azkaban. Harry and Sirius stared at each other for a moment and then both began to snicker. While Sirius had not seen the woman floating, he had heard about it, and thought it was hilarious.
"Now that we have come to an agreement, Child, we can discuss your ability to throw chairs."
"We still have another problem. What about Snuffles?"
"I will take the dog with me," Snape offered, "this way she won't be too lonely for you."
"I believe that is an excellent idea, Severus. Harry will be able to see Snuffles three times a week."
"I don't know," Harry hesitated, "Snuffles isn't used to the city."
"Would you rather have her stay with Hagrid, Child?"
"No, let's see how she does with Professor Snape. He has her spoiled anyway, always giving her dog treats."
"Excellent!" Dumbledore beamed. "Now can we get back to the chair throwing?"
"Honestly, Headmaster, I don't know how I did it."
"I know that," Dumbledore laughed, "I had the feeling you would develop the power, just not so soon. I believe it was triggered by your emotional upheaval. You became angry at me and you unconsciously wanted to throw something. You quite simply made it happen."
"Headmaster, Miss Potter needs to learn how to control her emotions. This way she will be able to direct her power to move objects. I should like the opportunity to teach her."
"Snape since when are you telekinetic?"
"He's not Sirius, but he is a telepath. You really have to watch what you do in his class when his back is turned because he usually knows what you're up to," Harry said locking eyes with Snape in one of their usual staring matches.
"Snape can read my mind?"
"No, he's not that strong, but he has an uncanny sense of what people are up to," Harry looked at Sirius, breaking eye contact with Snape. "He also knows how to manipulate people very well by using an authoritative demeanor. He loves to scare the crap out of the first years."
"I seem to remember one first year that didn't scare too easily. In fact, it cost Gryffindor five points when the student had the nerve to talk back to me," Snape responded silkily, his dark eyes alight with amusement.
"Harry why do I get the feeling he is talking about you?"
"Sirius, let's just say it was the start of a very rocky relationship."
"Severus, I believe we would both do well to help Harry over the summer. She needs to be able to control her mind and her emotions. It will be an interesting challenge for her."
"Professor Dumbledore, in case no one has told you summer is for rest and relaxation, not school work," Harry groaned.
"Think of it as extra credit towards your seventh year at Hogwarts," Dumbledore teased, his blue eyes twinkling. "How many other students are allowed to throw chairs at the Headmaster?"
"How many Headmasters can deflect them?"
"Now that you're calm, would you like to try moving something else?"
"Go ahead, Harry, I'm curious to see if you can do it again," Sirius looked at her with fascination.
"But I don't have a clue as to how I did it in the first place."
"What were you thinking, Child, when the chair came at me."
"You were right before when you said I was angry and wanted to throw something. That is exactly how I felt."
"Then pick an object…this teacup will do," Dumbledore set his cup down on the table in front of her, "try to send it over to me."
"How? What should I do?"
"Concentrate on sending me the cup," he instructed casually.
"I feel silly. It won't work."
"Don't be so certain, Miss Potter, do as the Headmaster says."
Harry studied the cup, felt foolish, and then began to concentrate on making it move across the table. The room was silent except for the ticking of Professor Snape's clock for about five minutes. Finally, Harry sighed, and looked up.
"I told you it wouldn't work."
"You give up too easily, Harry," Sirius admonished her, "Try again."
"I'll do it once more, and that's it."
"Try thinking that the cup contains the antidote for a poison I have just drunk and you can't get up to give it to me."
"Professor Dumbledore, that is not funny!" Harry looked at him darkly and then studied the cup. Her brow was furrowed in concentration, and small beads of perspiration had begun to form on her forehead, but she stayed focused on the cup. 'Move, you stupid cup! It will make the Headmaster happy.' Very slowly, the cup began to shake, and then it sped across the table. Dumbledore caught it before it fell to the floor.
"Oh, this is not good. Why do I have all these rare powers?" Harry asked warily.
"Which powers are those, Miss Potter?"
"First I'm a Parsel Mouth, second, I not only become an animagus, but a magical one, third everyone finds out that I'm an empath, and now this. Don't you find that all a bit much?"
"Not really, Harry," Dumbledore looked amused, "there are things you have to work at. You're excellent with Charms, but you still need to study and practice to get them right. You definitely do not like Herbology, and while you have gotten to like doing Potions, you do not have a natural talent for them like Severus does."
"Not to mention that James was a natural flyer and an animagus himself," Sirius winked, " so that runs in your blood. You just have some of the more rare powers. You aren't a telepath and you can't become invisible at will, and forget about divination."
"Good points, now if you all don't mind, I would like to go and have some dinner and then soak in the tub. My back aches, and I have two Potions finals tomorrow."
"Two Potions finals?" Sirius questioned.
"Yes, I have my regular one and then tomorrow evening I have to mix the Wolfbane potion for Remus. Professor Snape scheduled it for the full moon. He has an extra set of ingredients just in case I don't get it right. We'll know tomorrow night who will win our wagers."
"Harry, do you need to go to the infirmary? You said your back was hurting," Dumbledore asked with concern.
"No, Headmaster, there is nothing wrong with me that won't go away by itself in about three or four days; which would explain why I am probably so moody and emotional right now," Harry replied as she stood up and stretched, looking over at him with a grin.
"Hmm…we should have realized it was that time of the month. Even Remus doesn't get that crazed," Sirius chuckled with amusement.
"Then be glad I'm not a werewolf or you would all be in real trouble."
"I think dinner is an excellent idea," Dumbledore smiled, "I understand we are having roast chicken tonight."
"Then let's go, my stomach has been growling for the past half hour," Sirius remarked enthusiastically.
"Black," Snape said rising, "your stomach is always empty. It's amazing how much you can eat and never gain a pound."
"I'm still making up for twelve years in Azkaban. The slop they fed us was worse than dog food, and I should know," Sirius remarked as they all headed from Severus Snape's sitting room towards the Great Hall.
Harry took her seat on the Gryffindor table with Ron, who was bubbling over with enthusiasm. He had just heard from his parents that he would be going to Romania over the summer to visit his brother. Hagrid was to accompany both him and Ginny. Their mother would arrive by the end of July, spending a fortnight, before bringing them home to get ready for the school year ahead.
Harry pretended to be happy for him, and a part of her was, but the other part was still smarting with pain and jealousy. Sirius had chosen to protect Ron's family over her. She understood he felt he owed them for what they had done for him, and she did love the whole Weasley family. Yet her heart was filled with foreboding. She couldn't get it out of her mind that something was going to happen over the summer. She could sense Sirius watching her from across the room, and knew that he was worried.
Excusing herself early on the pretext of needing to take care of Snuffles, and wanting to review the Wolfbane Potion again, she headed up to her room. Nearing her door, she saw a big black shaggy dog waiting for her, sitting up and begging. Sirius had taken one of the secret tunnels to head her off, and transformed to try to cheer her up.
"Sorry, Padfoot, but I'm fresh out of dog treats. You'll have to go and get some from Professor Snape. He keeps a jar of them hidden in his desk. Just make sure he hasn't laced them with some poison," Harry joked flatly, as she opened her door. Turning back to him, she found he had transformed back into human form.
"Harry, I know your still hurting, but I really want you to understand. I know if something were to happen to Molly Weasley you would never forgive yourself."
"It's not Mrs. Weasley I'm worried about. It's you," Harry avoided his eyes, busying herself with pouring Snuffles her dog food. "Sirius I just can't shake this overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen. That's why it's so important to me that we spend the summer together."
"Your scar hasn't been hurting has it?" he asked, immediately alert to the possibility that Voldemort may be going to try something before Harry left school.
"No, and for once I actually wish it was."
Sirius turned Harry to face him and gently pushed her glasses up onto her head, so he could look directly into her eyes. They stood that way for five minutes, neither one of them moving, and Harry knew he wanted to kiss her. She also knew she wanted him to kiss her, and not in a parental kind of way. She pulled back from him, and he gently reached down and kissed her forehead.
"I promise you that I will be very careful and if I even think something is wrong, I will send for help immediately."
"You better; I don't think I could bear it if something happened to you," she hugged him fiercely.
"Now, why don't you go and take that hot bath you were talking about, and get some rest. You have a big day tomorrow. We're all counting on you to mix that potion and win our bets."
"I hope I don't let you all down, especially Neville Longbottom."
"Longbottom, what about my dinner out on the town?"
"Oh, don't worry. If you loose the ladies will just have to suffer," Harry teased her mood brightening. "Now go on and see to our resident werewolf. I saw him with you at dinner and I'm sure he's hurting. If I wasn't so tired I would go and give him some healing energy to make him feel better."
"I'm on my way, Miss Wings. Will there be anything else?"
"Yes, tell Remus I'll do my best for him tomorrow. If I don't get it right this time I'll just have Snape help me some more over the summer," Harry smiled as she walked him to the door.
"I will," Sirius smiled, tweaking her nose before leaving the room.
She watched him go up the hall for a minute and then retired to her room. 'Girl you had better finish growing up fast. You've got it bad for all of them. You're just plain fickle,' Harry said to herself as she went in and took her bath. She then settled down for the night, and fell asleep going over the ingredients for the Wolfbane Potion.
She dreamed she was flying with Fawkes, and they were soaring free over the mountains. She could see Hogwarts in the distance, and down below the people of Hogsmead were laughing and celebrating in the streets. Her parents were there, and they were smiling at her. Her father was telling her he had known all along she was special, and her mother saying never to forget 'Abra Kadabra.' There was also a strange old woman there, and Harry seemed to know her. She was telling Harry that she would really have a charmed and wonderful life, just as her mother had said at her birth.
Harry woke feeling relaxed and refreshed, and while she was still unhappy with having to go back to the Dursley's, she knew Sirius would keep his word and it would not be for the entire summer. She had breakfast with Ron and Neville, and they discussed the upcoming Potions exam. Neville was his usual nervous wreck, so Harry did her best to calm him down. She suggested that he try an old Muggle trick when having to do something like a practical exam or public speaking.
"What do they do?" Neville asked worriedly. "You know that Professor Snape will stare at me just to see me get nervous and fail. He hates me."
"He doesn't hate you Neville; he knows you're capable of doing it. He tries to make you mad so you will succeed to prove him wrong."
"So what do you want me to try?"
"If you start to get nervous while he's watching you mix the potion, picture him in his underwear!"
"What?" Neville and Ron chorused together laughing in disbelief.
"I'm serious. Try to picture him getting dressed and walking around in his shorts, or whatever kind you think he wears."
"Harry that is crazy," Ron shook his head, laughing even harder, "I can just picture him in cartoon shorts, or maybe ones with funny sayings."
"Do you think he might wear black, like his robes?" Neville blushed. "Or maybe he wears men's bikinis. I'll try it Harry, but what do I do if I start laughing out loud?"
"Just politely apologize and tell him you learned a new relaxation technique, and are trying it out."
"And what should he do if Snape asks what it is?"
"Yeah, Harry, what do I do then?"
"Tell him I taught it to you, but I made you give your word not to say what it is. Tell him that you wouldn't feel right telling him without my permission, and that if he is interested I said I would teach it to him."
Neville and Ron burst into waves of laughter again. Ron finally composed himself enough to ask, "You really wouldn't tell him, would you?"
"Sure I would. He could picture Dumbledore as his relaxation technique," Harry giggled, her cheeks red, as they got up, and headed to Charms for Professor Flitwick"s final.
Professor Flitwick had each one of them conjure a moving picture. Harry had to do one of an event from her life. She chose the Triwizard Tournament. Her chosen scene was when she had to retrieve the egg from the dragon. When she had finished, she could tell Professor Flitwick had been pleased with her efforts.
The rest of the day went smoothly, with Potions being her last class. They were paired in teams of two, with each having to mix a batch of Veritaserum. Unfortunately, there were an odd number of students. Snape asked for a volunteer to work alone, so to save time, Harry raised her hand. Snape blatantly ignored her, and smiled at Neville.
"Mr. Longbottom, I'm sure you won't mind taking the front desk and working on your own, will you?"
"No Sir," Neville choked. Harry winked and rubbed her waist as a hint to remind him about the underwear, and he started to smile.
Snape strolled about the room as they worked, and made sure he kept stopping over by Neville's worktable. Neville would look up and smile, but he continued working. When he had finished he turned in his potion, cleaned up his workstation, as per Professor Snape's instructions, and got up to leave the class.
"Mr. Longbottom, if you will wait outside in the hall, I will see you in a few minutes," Snape's sardonic voice called.
"Yes, Professor," Neville answered nervously, as Harry smiled in reassurance.
"Miss Potter, Mr.Weasley, if you would both wait with Mr. Longbottom in the hall. I would like a word with you both," Snape looked at them when they had finished.
"Professor, would you object if I go to the ladies room while we wait?" Harry inquired pleasantly.
"Very well, Miss Potter, but make it quick."
"Make it quick, he says," Ron muttered, "what does he think, that you can just time the whole thing out like mixing one of his potions?"
"You never know," Harry laughed as she headed for the bathroom to relieve herself.
She and Ron had made a good team, and she was confident they had passed. She also knew that Snape was suspicious, and wanted to know why Neville could do so well. They waited for approximately half and hour, until the last student had finished, and then Snape ushered them back into the classroom.
"Sit down, all of you. I want to know how you all managed to mix that potion so well. Mr. Longbottom made only one minor mistake, and you and Mr. Weasley had none."
"Professor, before you go and make any kind of accusation, I will tell you that we did not cheat. You know it is also impossible since there are charms on all the quills and equipment. There was a simple relaxation technique involved, but I won't divulge my secret until after I take my next test with you," Harry said calmly looking Professor Snape in the eye, and gave him a smile.
"Indeed, and you taught this technique to Mr. Longbottom?"
"I suggested it, yes."
"Then you will be happy to know, that in view of his performance this afternoon, he will be passing Potions with an O.W.L."
Harry and Ron both broke into cheers and smacked Neville on the back. Neville just grinned in amazement.
"Harry, you were right, it worked! How can I ever thank you?"
"There is no need to thank me, Neville. Just wish me luck. I have a much harder potion to mix than the Veritaserum in a little while. In the meantime, remember what I taught you in case I don't get it right. It will help you in all your classes by the way."
"Mr. Weasley you also have passed the class. I would also appreciate it if you would refrain from making comments about the need to use the restroom while out in the hallway."
"I will, Professor Snape," Ron swallowed hard, his face beet red with embarrassment. 'How the hell does he always know?' He thought shaking his head as he and Neville bid Harry good luck and headed back to the Gryffindor common room.
"Is Professor Dumbledore coming down to act as an impartial judge?" Harry inquired as soon as they were gone.
"He will be here shortly as per our agreement."
"It's driving you crazy isn't it?"
'I beg your pardon, Miss Potter?"
"How Neville did so well on your final. It is driving you crazy."
"I'm enough of a telepath to know you had something to do with it."
"I would be interested to know myself, Harry. I have never seen Neville so exuberant," Professor Dumbledore's voice came from the door.
"Just a little Muggle relaxation technique. I'm going to use it myself, while I go for broke, and mix the Wolfbane Potion. I will tell you both what it is when I'm done."
"Do you have any questions before we begin, Miss Potter?"
"Just two. Can I have a cold drink? It's warm in here from the cauldrons and my throat is dry."
"Of course, Child," Dumbledore nodded to Snape who moved off to his desk and poured her a glass of iced tea from a pitcher on his desk. "What is your other question?"
"Do I get to find out if I mixed this potion correctly when I'm finished, or do I have to wait?"
"Severus?" Dumbledore looked at the Potions Master over his spectacles, blue eyes twinkling.
"Your grade will be posted with the others by Wednesday."
"Ooohhh…" Harry pouted as Snape assumed his familiar stiff stance, arms crossed.
"Are you ready to begin, Child?" Dumbledore asked as she finished her iced tea.
"Sure, why not," Harry grinned as she looked at Snape, glad he didn't know what exactly it was she was thinking.
Dumbledore and Snape each took a seat facing her worktable, as she began to collect and organize her ingredients. She took her time, and could feel Snape scrutinizing her as she worked. Every now and then, she would look up at the two men, and smile. She worked carefully, checking and rechecking herself as she went along. At one point she stopped, and looked up at Snape. She was not to ask questions, but needed to use his knife sharpener, and had to get permission. Snape saw her study her knife and anticipated her need before she spoke.
"You may use the knife sharpener," Miss Potter. He followed her over to his sharpener, and watched her closely.
She knew he was including her technique as part of the exam, and smiled again, just to whet his curiosity. She then went over to light the cauldron so that it would get hot, and added the necessary amounts of water to boil. The timer rang as soon as she had finished chopping her dry ingredients, and she added the ingredients starting with the liquids, one at a time. The wolf's blood was last to go in, and then the potion was to simmer for ten minutes. She watched the cauldron carefully, and stirred the mixture intermittently. Finally, it was finished, and she swung the cauldron arm away from the flames and put out the fire. She then ladled the mixture into the necessary bottle, and set it aside to cool while she cleaned up her workstation.
"Do I really have to wait until Wednesday to know if I mixed this correctly?"
"Severus said you do, Child, and it is his class," Dumbledore smiled broadly winking at her.
"Headmaster you really shouldn't drop any hints to Miss Potter."
"That's okay, Professor Snape, because I know even if I didn't get it perfect, I came damn close."
"Indeed, Miss Potter. Will you tell us your secret for relaxation now?"
"I could make you wait till Wednesday," Harry laughed blushing.
"Child, what is it that is making you blush so?"
"Well, all I taught them was to use an old Muggle technique that I learned from a teacher in my last year of Primary school."
"Pray Miss Potter, what might that be?"
"Well, when ever you need to get up and speak or someone is watching you do a practical exam and makes you nervous, you just picture them in their underwear," Harry grinned looking from one to the other. Dumbledore laughed uproariously, while Professor Snape raised both brows, his lip twitching in amusement, but there was an odd expression in his eyes. "I find it especially useful since I know what kind of under things most of the teachers wear. It pays to do detention in the laundry," she said as she gathered her books winking at the two of them, and left the classroom. She could have sworn they were both blushing bright pink.
All the exam grades were posted during the night on Tuesday, so that the students would have them available on Wednesday morning. Harry woke early and ran down to the entrance by the Great Hall to check her marks. She was fairly certain she had garnered that N.E.W.T. from Professor Snape, and as she hurried down the stairs she was met with applause from the students who had already gathered there. Professor Lupin was also there, and gave her a warm smile.
"Congratulations, Harry, you eared a N.E.W.T. in Potions," he then bent to whisper in her ear, "I should know, he gave me the potion you mixed on Monday as soon as you had left the dungeon. Sirius is ecstatic and we're all to meet in Dumbledore's office for breakfast, Ron included."
"Harry you did it!" Neville shouted with glee before heading into the Great Hall for breakfast.
"Way to go Harry," Ron hugged her. "What did Sirius say?"
"Professor Lupin tells me he is in his glory. Now, if you don't mind I would like to see my other grades."
"Sure thing, Harry. You did fantastic. Wait till Hermione hears, she'll be thrilled."
"Yeah, she will also tell me that I should pull these kinds of grades all the time," Harry remarked studying the board. She had garnered N.E.W.T.'s in Potions, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms. She had O.W.L.'s in Herbology, Divination, History of Magic, and Care of Magical Creatures. "How did you do, Ron?"
" I got two N.E.W.T.'s. One in Charms and the other in Defense from Professor Lupin," Ron grinned over at the Professor, who was waiting for Harry. All the rest are O.W.L.'s. Mum will be ecstatic."
"How did Neville do?"
"He managed to pass everything, and got O.W.L.'s in three of his classes, including Potions, and a N.E.W.T. in Herbology. His gran will be thrilled," Ron told her as they followed Professor Lupin up to the Headmaster's office.
Breakfast was a happy affair, and true to his word, Snape had made arrangements to keep his part of the bet. Dumbledore already had his lemon drops, and he was taking Sirius out as soon as they arrived in London. Harry made Snape promise to keep Sirius out of trouble, and warned Sirius to behave. Professor Lupin and Snape would determine what day Lupin would have off for a long weekend when they returned in the fall, and Harry reminded him he was to be nice to Neville Longbottom the whole of next year.
They had all been impressed with Harry's technique to relax for an exam, and agreed that it was helping to make the difference with Neville. Professor Dumbledore was glad, because Neville was such a nice boy. When the meal was over, he sat back in his chair, and studied Harry and Ron.
"I have something to say to the two of you, and I have decided not to wait until you get your letters for next year. Hermione will be a Prefect."
"Yes!" Ron raised his arm in a victory salute and Harry hugged the old man.
"I am also going to tell you both that Ron too, been named as a Prefect. Ron you will head Gryffindor, and Harry, in view of all you have done over the last six years you will be Head Girl, overseeing the Prefects of the four houses."
"No, Harry, you are not allowed to decline the position. I know you don't enjoy notoriety but the staff voted unanimously, and that includes Professor Snape, with Sirius abstaining for the obvious reasons," Dumbledore informed them as Sirius grinned like a Halloween jack-o-lantern, and Snape nodded, arching his brows sardonically. "You have also been named Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team."
"Did you know about that?" Harry turned abruptly to Ron.
"Who do you think nominated you?" he laughed happily. "Wait till mum hears Hermione and I both going to be Prefects; and you Head Girl and Quidditch Captain. She'll be on cloud nine."
"You've got that right," Harry grinned but was unable to hide the sadness in her eyes when she looked over at Sirius.
She knew that all too soon he would be standing guard duty over Molly Weasley, while she was sitting alone in her room on Privet Drive.
The end of year feast was held the next night, and the students would be leaving on the Hogwarts Express the next morning. All agreed it had been an interesting year, and the sixth years were looking forward to some rest before starting their last year at Hogwarts. They wished their older friends who were leaving Hogwarts well, and there were the usual tears and good-byes. Harry kept her eyes off Sirius at the staff table, afraid she would start to cry again.
She knew something was coming again as her scar had been hurting during the night, but she didn't say anything, not even to Dumbledore. She had also received a letter from Draco, which had been delivered to her, as promised, by Dobby.
He had told her that the Dark Lord had punished him when he found out she had escaped. He had only hit him twice with the Cruciatus curse, since he should have known better than to let a junior member of his team guard her. The staff that had been guarding the grounds had been treated much more harshly, as none of them saw her leave. He had also said that the Dark Lord was planning something big for during the summer, but he had been unable to find out what it was. As soon as he found out he would try to warn her, as he had heard him drop Harry's name when he thought Draco had left the room. Harry could tell by the handwriting that Draco had written the note in a hurry, his hand shaking. Whatever was going to happen, she would be ready for it.
Friday morning came all too soon and as she got down from the carriage at the Hogsmead Station, she waved to Hagrid, and gave him a hug good-by. She looked around hopefully for any sign of Sirius, but there was none, so she climbed on board with Ron. She had felt certain he would at least come to see her off, and had to bite back the tears, a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Ron had gone up to see Seamus and Neville a few compartments up, and Harry was sitting alone. She stared out the window for a few minutes, and then closed her eyes, a lone tear running down her cheek, as the train slowly pulled out of the station for the long trip back to London and Platform 93/4. The compartment door opened, and she assumed Ron was returning.
"Let me know when the cart gets here. I'll buy us some candy. I could use something to cheer me up," Harry said her voice husky as another tear escaped from the corner of her eye.
"Remus, don't we have a school rule about crying on the Hogwart's Express?"
"Dumbledore absolutely forbids anyone to do it."
Harry's eyes had flown open, and her mouth dropped. Sirius and Remus were sitting opposite her, grinning from ear to ear.
"You really didn't think we would let you go back to the Dursley's without an escort to make sure they know how to treat you, Miss Wings?"
"That's right. Dumbledore is not happy with their behavior and he has let them know it in no uncertain terms."
"Seems the old man paid them a little visit, and made sure they took the locks off the door and the bars off the windows. Old Vernon was petrified and your Aunt Petunia kept falling all over herself trying to say that they were strictly for your safety," Sirius told her with a chuckle. "I'm just going to make sure they know that come the end of July, when I come to fetch my goddaughter home, I had better not hear of any other ill treatment on their part. If I do, then my friend and I will just have to make sure they know who they are trying to play with."
"Dumbledore has also let them know that you will be going out one day each week, and will be away from Friday night till Monday morning," Remus told her casually. "Somehow they got the idea they're behavior is being monitored. I think they will be more than a little subdued."
"After all, you may not be able to do magic away from Hogwarts, but we all can," Sirius looked at her slyly, his brown eyes brimming with laughter.
Harry just hugged them both, and Sirius wiped her tears away. While she was still apprehensive about Voldemort, she knew Sirius would keep his word, and return in time for her birthday. She also knew that Dumbledore must have been furious with them for the way they had been treating her. If nothing else, things were starting to look up. It was going to be an interesting summer.