A/N: Standard disclaimers apply. Not mine...JKR's...yada, yada, yada. This is my first foray into posting at this site, so there might be some bumps along the way.
The Saint was back. The residents of Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey had quickly spread the word that Dudley's cousin, Harry Potter, of Saint Brutus School for Incurably Criminal Boys, was again in residence at number four Privet Drive. Harry's presence this year, more than previous years, alarmed them because Harry was no longer timid and small. In fact, the Saint, a code by which they referred to this boy, was becoming a man. His lean wiry frame, which in previous summers had seemed frail, now conveyed an image of strength and resilience. The Saint's ill fitting clothes, along with his habit of strolling about the neighbourhood with his eyes cast downward, only served to emphasize the feeling of quiet menace exuding from the young man.
Harry, for his part, was unaware that he was the source of such unease. He was completely lost in his own thoughts, and had been since his arrival at the Dursleys three days previously. Harry's mind was still reeling over the events of the previous year. Indeed, not just last year, but each year dating back to 1991 when he had first discovered the amazing fact that he was a Wizard. His life since that point was so unlike that of his first eleven years that he sometimes thought that he had lived two distinct lives. The only connection was the time he spent in residence with the Dursleys each summer. This connection would very shortly be severed, as he was leaving the Dursleys for the last time. This consideration served to focus his turbulent mind, and it gave him a moment's peace to savour the realization that he would soon be forever done with this place.
That moment was short lived when many other thoughts came crashing back into his awareness. These thoughts demanded his attention and gave no peace or respite. He saw images of Dumbledore, lifeless, falling from the tower; Snape, cruel and taunting before disapparating at the gates of Hogwarts; red snake-like eyes with a chilling laugh; and Inferi rising from the teeming waters of the cavern. These thoughts focused Harry's mind to the task the late Headmaster had set him. Four Horcruxes had to be found and destroyed. How, in Merlin's name, was he going to accomplish this when Dumbledore, the most accomplished wizard of his age, had only been able find and destroy one? Running his hands through his hair he tried to divert this train of thought and found himself once again dwelling on images of a certain brown-eyed witch. "I am a fool."
"Wotcher, Saint", an indistinct voice called from behind him.
Harry blinked; aware, once again, of his surroundings. He found himself in the park just down the street from his residence. How did I get here? I thought I been walking for longer than an hour. Tensing, he carefully reached to his left cuff where he pulled out his wand. When Harry glanced over his shoulder he saw a heavy set, balding man dressed in overalls and grinning at him. Harry kept his wand hand ready as he slowly turned. Using his peripheral vision he made certain that the park was empty except for him and this strange individual. Harry looked him over and was startled when the man's sparse brown hair changed briefly to vivid pink.
"Tonks?" Harry snorted, chuckling. "Has Remus seen you like this?" The thought of his old professor walking down the street, hand-in-hand with this incarnation of Tonks was more than he could bear and laughter burst through. Harry found himself sitting on the ground, tears streaming down his face, unable to control his laughter. It was several long minutes before Harry was able to bring himself back under control.
Wiping the tears from his eyes he looked up. "It's good to see you, Tonks. Is it your turn to mind me today?"
"Yep, but I might not be the only one. Officially, I am the Ministry's assigned Auror. Not sure if anyone from the Order is around." She paused for a minute and regarded him with a smile. "It's good to see you laughing, but how are you actually doing?"
Harry debated going with his standard, Fine, before he relented and decided on the more honest answer. "Not well," he said as he slid his wand back into its forearm holster. "Feeling a little overwhelmed by everything." He smiled ruefully at Tonks, "I can't imagine that any of us are doing much better these days." Giving Tonks a long look he asked, "How long have you been going around looking like an over-weight sanitation worker? And you still haven't told me whether Remus has seen this new look. I have a feeling it would scar him for life."
"God forbid," she responded, laughing at the thought. "He seems to like the original me. This great lout allows me to move around unobserved. Not that it would have made a difference with you. I could've shown up as Ginny and you wouldn't have noticed." She smirked as Harry's head snapped to attention at the mention of Ginny's name. "Would you care to talk about what is bothering you? Not a great idea to walk the neighbourhood with your head lost in the clouds. I was at the Burrow the other day and I had a chance to talk with her."
Watching him carefully, Tonks could see the inner debate playing across his features. She smiled when he fell to the temptation and he asked, "How is she doing?" She could see his eyes become cloudy with a haunted look.
"She's mad, but otherwise well." Harry flinched. "Harry, I am trying to remain neutral here, but I'm honestly at a loss to understand why you did what you did. Snape and Malfoy both know about your relationship with Ginny. She tells me that the two of you were very public at Hogwarts over the last month. Voldemort is sure to already know about the two of you. Combine that with the fact that she's a 'blood traitor of a Weasley' means that she's already a target."
Harry's shoulders slumped and he crouched down to the ground. He idly played with some pebbles as he thought over her words. Glancing up at Tonks he quietly responded, "I know. But what chance do I have at offering her any of the things she deserves?"
"What do you mean?"
"What chance do I honestly have of reaching the ripe old age of twenty-five? Or even eighteen or nineteen. I am not trying to be fatalistic but I do have an insane Dark wizard who wants my head."
Frowning Tonks said, "Two things, both of which you'd have thought of by now, if you were thinking clearly. First, there are no guarantees in this life of ours, insane Dark wizard or not. And secondly, you're doing Ginny a disservice by not talking to her about it. Just promise me that you'll think about it." She reached out and punched Harry in the arm, startling him. "I swear, you Gryffindor men are more trouble than you're worth."
A slight smile creased Harry's features at that comment. "We are worth it," he stubbornly insisted. "Speaking of noble Gryffindors, can you pass a message to Remus?"
"Sure, what is it?"
"Well, I have been revising with my Occlumency books but still not making progress with it. All the books talk about needing to clear your mind before you can begin. Some of my books have suggestions, but so far I've been unable to do this. I am hoping that he might be able to help me figure this out."
"Sure, Saint, anything for you," she quipped.
"Ok, what is this 'Saint' business? I think that is the second time that you have called me that."
With a look of glee Tonks launched herself into the explanation. "Did you know that the whole neighbourhood's terrified of you?" Laughing at Harry's astonishment she continued, "Well, the Order and the Ministry Aurors have spent a lot of time here undercover. It wasn't difficult to see how all your neighbours react to you. What surprised all of us is that they refer to you in hushed tones as The Saint. Generally saints are well regarded but obviously not in your case. Once again you have managed to break the mould. It was one of my fellow Aurors who finally figured out that you were called that because they think you attend some school called Saint Brutus. Why the Muggles have schools to teach kids to be criminals is beyond me, but there you have it. Needless to say, your minders have taken to referring to you as The Saint."
Harry snorted and shook his head at Tonks' enjoyment of his discomfort. "You know, Malfoy used to call me Saint Potter. I really don't need another nick-name. I hope that it doesn't become widely known."
"Well," Tonks drawled with a smile playing at her lips, "I don't think you have to worry about the Aurors or most of the Order. Certain red-headed twins, on the other hand, did show unnatural glee when they learned the name." She laughed openly as Harry paled at thoughts of the mischief the twins might come up with using that moniker.
"They are going to be a nightmare," Harry sighed.
"Catch you later, Harry." Turning on the spot, she Disapparated away.
Looking around, he realized that the park was deserted and the time was getting late. Harry got up and quickly made his way back to the Dursleys, pointedly ignoring the look that a neighbour gave him as he passed.
A/N: I'd like to thank my alpha, otherwise known as my wife, who puts up with my obsession. Also, I need to thank my beta, Tante, who helped to pull this into shape.