Harry Potter and the Seventh Serpent

Summary: Follows directly on from the end of book six – the search for the Horcruxes

Fandom: Harry Potter

Pairings: Bill/Fleur, Lupin/Tonks, Ron/Hermione, Hermione/OC, Ginny/OC, Harry/Ginny, Gabrielle/Harry…some surprise pairings I don't want to spoil, and more I've either forgotten about or haven't decided on yet

Warnings: Bad language, violence, character death…and probably slash, knowing me

Disclaimer: I own the plot, and any OCs who appear. Harry and Co belong to JKR

Author's Notes: I'll admit it – I'm only writing this because I'm so damn sick of waiting for the real seventh book to come out. I'm impatient…so sue me.

Chapter 1 – Goodbye

Wherein Tonks is Respectable, Aunt Petunia is Nice, and Harry is thoroughly confused by both of the aforementioned

Harry couldn't have been happier if he'd never had to go back to Privet Drive again. But Dumbledore had said he was supposed to…so he found himself – for the last time; thank Merlin – once more climbing into the back of his uncle's car in the street outside King's Cross Station.

At least it's just for a few weeks, he thought in a vain attempt to cheer himself up. It didn't work.

But as he hauled his trunk upstairs to his bedroom, he found himself newly impervious to the sneering and taunts of his 'family'. Not that the comments were any less offensive – more so, in fact. But so much was happening, so much had to be done, that the disdain of his few remaining family members meant little to him. They no longer figured in his world view.

But even so, the only thing that kept him sane over the following weeks was the correspondence he got from friends and Order members:

Bill and Fleur's wedding won't be at the Burrow, we're too much of a target for Death Eaters now. Mum isn't happy about it but Lupin persuaded her that it'd be safer to hold it at the new headquarters. Course it'd be even safer to have it when the war's over, but no-one even suggested that. I mean, if one of them got killed…

I hope your family aren't being too awful, but even if they are you'll be able to come away with us soon. They've decided that Grimmauld Place isn't safe any more so we're moving to new headquarters. I can't tell you where in case this letter falls into the wrong hands but it's a lot closer to Hogwarts, barely an hour's broom-flight, and apparently very well protected from Muggles and unfriendly wizards…

And then, finally, the owl he'd been waiting for, not so much a letter as a hastily scrawled note;

Harry,

We're coming for you on Tuesday night at eleven o'clock. Be ready.

Remus

So Tuesday night at ten to eleven saw Harry hurriedly stuffing the last of his possessions into his old school trunk. He wasn't sure exactly who would be coming for him, but given his family's hatred of anything magical it probably wouldn't make much difference. After all, he reflected as he forced the lid of the trunk shut, I won't have to see them again.

As he lugged the heavy trunk downstairs, Harry cursed the timing of his birthday. Most of his old classmates were already seventeen, but it was still three more weeks until his birthday, meaning that he was still bound by the Decree for the (allegedly) Reasonable Restriction of Underage Wizardry. It would be so easy to do a levitating charm on his trunk to get it downstairs, but it would also get him in a lot of trouble with the Ministry. And it was unlikely he'd be able to talk his way out of it this time – Scrimgeour was a lot of things, but he wasn't incompetent like Fudge had been.

Panting, he finally set his trunk down by the front door and pulled on a threadbare dark green army jacket that had belonged to his cousin Dudley years before. Slytherin colours, Harry thought, and couldn't help but smirk at the way Hogwarts had coloured his perceptions of the most innocent Muggle objects. Said cousin was – predictably enough – sprawled in front of the television, and his uncle was mostly hidden behind a newspaper. But Aunt Petunia, oddly, was hovering nervously in the doorway to the kitchen…Harry supposed she was worried about more wizards appearing in her well-kept home.

"Harry, come here," she said suddenly. He was inclined to tell her to get stuffed, and the only thing that stopped him was her tone of voice – it was no the peremptory command he was used to, but almost pleading. He hesitated, then cautiously followed her up the stairs. She led the way into her and Uncle Vernon's bedroom. Harry couldn't help but pause at the threshold – never once in all his years at Number Four Privet Drive had he been allowed to enter this room. When he was little it had held an aura of mystery, but as he had grown older he had come to realise that there was probably nothing particularly interesting in the room – it had been fascinating purely due to its forbidden status.

He was brought back to himself by Aunt Petunia kneeling by the bed and taking out a small wooden box from underneath it. It was made of some expensive-looking foreign wood and engraved with flowers on the lid and sides. She thrust it at him as if the touch of the wood pained her. He took it dubiously and slowly opened the lid.

"You might as well take it; it isn't as if I have any use for it…" she muttered, eyes fixed firmly on the floor. He set the box carefully down on the bed and began sorting through its contents.

There were two pressed flowers glued to a yellowing scrap of paper; the first a white lily and the second a petunia. Beneath the sheet lay locks of red and blonde hair woven into a braid. Two gold chains each bore half of a heart reading 'sisters forever'…and finally, wrapped in a purple satin ribbon, old photographs – all of two girls, one red-haired and one blonde.

"I thought…her…she would have wanted you to have them…" Petunia managed, pale eyes brimming with tears. Harry stared at his aunt, speechless.

"What the…?" he said in bewilderment.

"I hated magic for taking my sister away from me…for making her so different I couldn't understand her…and eventually for killing her…" she began outright sobbing now, tears streaming down her pinched cheeks; "…If she had been normal she'd still be here, we would have still been together…"

The doorbell rang. Harry glanced awkwardly down the stairs. "I…think I should go," he said nervously. Petunia nodded, apparently unable to speak. And then suddenly she did something that Harry in all his years living with the Dursleys had never thought she would ever do. She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

"Please be careful," she whispered fiercely and released the thoroughly confused boy as the doorbell rang again; "You…you're all I have left of Lily. Now go!"

"I…"

"Go! And for goodness' sake be careful!"

Harry hurried downstairs, vowing fervently that today had to be one of the strangest days of his life. Forget magic and insane evil wizards – all that was far easier to understand than Aunt Petunia suddenly being nice.

He opened the door and was confronted with a serious-looking woman in a suit. He stared blankly at her for an endless moment; he would swear that he'd never seen her before in his life. She winked at him; "Wotcher, Harry – mind if I come in?"

"Tonks!" he said in relieved understanding and stood aside to let her in. Uncle Vernon glared balefully at them over the top of his newspaper, and Harry could sense his confusion. Tonks was being friendly to Harry and was therefore automatically No Good. However, with her stern appearance and expensively-tailored business suit, she looked the very essence of respectability in the Dursleys' very narrow world. She gave him a cheery little wave and his expression darkened.

"Got everything, Harry?" she asked brightly and grinned when he nodded. A careless wave of her wand shrunk Harry's trunk to the size of a pillbox, and she put it in one of her pockets; "Where's your owl?"

"Uh…still with Ron, I think," he replied. Tonks nodded in satisfaction that everything was taken care of and turned to the Uncle Vernon.

"You no longer have legal guardianship of Harry," she informed him cheerily; "Any protection on this house will vanish in a few weeks time, so I recommend you go elsewhere unless you want dark wizards crawling all over you…say goodbye, eh Harry?"

"Bye," Harry said with a grin, enjoying Uncle Vernon's appalled expression. The thought of never returning to Privet Drive was an extremely happy one.

He followed Tonks outside with barely a backwards glance…although he felt an odd, unfamiliar pang when he noticed the light still on in the master bedroom. His grip tightened slightly on the wooden box he still held.

"Sorry about them…" he said to Tonks, waving a hand in the direction of Number Four.

"Don't worry about it," Tonks said dismissively; "Look at my nearest and dearest. Bellatrix Lestrange…Lucius Malfoy…"

He was slightly surprised that Tonks made no move to Apparate or do anything remotely magical…and he was even more surprised when she unlocked the dark blue car parked at the end of the street. "We're traveling incognito," she shrugged, catching his expression; "Keeping the magic to a minimum."

"Oh," he said and climbed into the passenger seat. She turned the key in the ignition and the engine started.

"Better try and get some kip," she advised, reversing out of the street; "It'll be morning before we get there."

"You can drive?" Harry asked in surprise.

"Course I can," she replied easily; "My dad was Muggle-born – he taught me." She scrunched her face up and her appearance slowly returned to normal; complete with bubblegum-pink hair. Harry fidgeted a little, unable to keep back top flood of questions begging to be asked.

"Why isn't the Order at Grimmauld Place any more?"
"S'not safe, not now that slimy git Snape's changed sides on us," she scowled at the steering wheel; "And now…now we're short a Secret Keeper he can tell You-Know-Who everything."

"Where's the new headquarters?"

"Glasgow."

"…uh…yeah…" Harry's already shaky grasp of geography was failing him. Tonks glanced sideways at him, taking in his bemused expression.

"In Scotland," she elaborated; "Closer to Hogwarts. D'you know Oliver Wood at all?"

"Yeah, he was Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team when I joined."

"Really? Well, the new headquarters belonged to his family. There was an attack, most of the family wiped out…he's joined the Order." Harry nodded silently. He could easily imagine the manic energy Wood had once expended on Quidditch being redirected to fighting Death Eaters.

The stopped for supplies at a truck stop just outside Manchester around three in the morning. A stall was still optimistically selling key-rings advertising 'Scenic Knutsford'. Harry eyed the café longingly, wishing he'd thought to change some of his galleons into Muggle money, while Tonks drank more coffee than could possibly be healthy and ranted intermittently about the fact that most drivers were idiots. Even in the middle of the night, the traffic – particularly around London – had been appalling. When she had finished her spiel about the evils of the M25 London Orbital, she irritably shoved a twenty-pound note at the sullen waitress and led the way back to the car. By the time they had got back onto the motorway the caffeine high had kicked in, and she was back to her cheerful, slightly ditzy self.

"Instant coffee," she said happily; "Best things Muggles ever invented." Just watching her hyper chirpiness made Harry feel tired, and she seemed to notice; "Get some sleep – I'll wake you when we get there."

He was all too happy to follow her advice. The car rocked gently like a cradle, yellow streetlamps casting a sickly light which flashed briefly across them as the car streaked past. Lulled by the whispered roar of the engine, he fell asleep somewhere south of Penrith.

He dreamed of masked and robed figures laying an eerily silent siege to a Quidditch pitch. It was of course a highly disturbing dream…but Harry was so used to disturbing dreams that this particular one merited no special attention.

TO BE CONTINUED

We're never given any real description or background information on Oliver Wood in the books, so I'm going with movie canon – including the fact that he's obviously from central Scotland.