As he pushed open a set of double doors, he continued through a long passage. He was heading to the Soul Chamber. He was so close to his plan coming to fruition. It made him restless. He came down here no fewer than a dozen times each time. Every visit made something akin to joy resound in his dead heart. Soon, very soon, he would practically be invincible.
The hallway opened into a small room with nothing but a pedestal in its middle. He walked up to it and gazed down at the shining, blue gem sitting on it. Ever since he had become aware of the gem and what it truly was, his thoughts had raced. But the idea of lifting his paradise into the air had sadly not been his own. It had come from the miserable, simpering man he kept as a toady. By chance, he had been pondering aloud how best to move a large island about. The little worm had suggested the skies before cowering back into the darkness of his corner.
It had been a stroke of brilliance. He supposed that everyone had to have one in their lifetime. It was perfect timing, as well. It had been months since he had taken command of the prison. In addition to making it airborn, he was planning to completely transform the building itself. It wouldn't do to travel around in a prison, after all. No, he would have a citadel, black as the night and towering over the island it was built upon. And from deep within this citadel, he would send his Death Eaters and Dementors out to cause havoc on the ground below.
The suggestion of flight had brought about a very interesting question: How would the Dementors get by? Obviously, they could not fly. Not as they were, anyway. He had experimented with them, learned of their rotting biology bit by bit, and had devised a way to alter them to suit his needs. Their numbers were growing, but the development was still slow. Only a few dozen had been altered so far. He would spare a number of them the fate of evolution. He still needed the capacity to collect souls. It had been sacrificed when he had decided to change the Dementors. Naturally, things had to change. And, as there was nothing to fix, he destroyed and began from scratch.
He took the very essence of a Dementor - their decayed magical cores, for they had once been wizards themselves - and built a new body around it. One very similar to that of their first incarnations, but oh so very different at the same time. Thin legs, which were so thin that one would think they could not hold their bearer's weight, allowed them to run. And run they did. Five of his Death Eaters had been pitted against the newborns. None of them had escaped alive.
The arms had been an area of irritation. Clearly, they needed to be stronger to hold down their prey. But, at the same time, they needed to remain long and slender so that they could remain as thin as possible. Three of the five Death Eaters met their untimely fates due to not noticing the Altered hiding in spaces that they logically couldn't have fit. He had left the arms mostly the same in the end. The ability to fit into places no one would expect was a great advantage.
Their bodies were the most useless part, as they had been in their original incarnations. But there was little to be done about that. Little more than a skeleton with flesh, it ensured that the Altered would remain slim. The biggest change that he had made were to the Dementors' heads. A glorified device to extract one's soul. It had taken the most time to research how to change the mouths to something more deadly. It took time for a Dementor to remove a man's soul. Time that could allow the victim to be saved. Time that could allow the victim to cast a Patronus, if enough semblance of happiness remained to perform such a maneuver.
Fangs had been the obvious solution, though what to create them out of... that was the real issue. Obviously it couldn't be merely bone. The mouths were not large enough nor strong enough to exert enough force to shatter bone in one bite. He had but to look around him to find the solution. The prison walls, thick and bearing wards so that they were immune to magic, had been taken and re-molded into large, curved fangs. It had gotten the result he had hoped it would. Anything within range of the Altered were unable to cast spells. The prison-made fangs emitted a sort of force field around the Dementor's body that extended out almost three feet.
He had jammed the metallic teeth into each Altered by hand, fusing the creations into their heads from the distance required to do such a thing. Of course, walking killing machines would do little without proper sight. Dementors hunted on emotions almost exclusively. They had no sight as they had no eyes. This just would not do. Luckily, not all of his followers were blithering idiots. A small number had medical knowledge. Medical knowledge, he had felt, was a useless trait. He did not care if his Death Eaters lived or died so long as they carried out their mission.
But it had turned out to be quite useful. He knew, of course, of magical eyes and the powers they could hold. It was simply a matter of getting ahold of the special materials needed to create them. And, as Irma Voxley worked for St. Mungo's, it had been laughably easy to do so. Transforming them into something that could serve his purposes, however, had taken more effort. In the end, he was left with multiple round, glowing red eyes that he put into each of his Altered's empty sockets.
The effect was quite dramatic. Unblinking, glowing red eyes. Gleaming fangs that emitted an anti-magic aura. Legs capable of sprinting. Hands capable of slashing. The only thing that had completely eluded him was flight. But even that was starting to draw closer. Only a few more months, if all went right. Then his Altered would fly down and leave a wave of terror in their wake. And once the prison itself was altered and warded, he would be invincible. He had personally looked over the plans set to take place in a mere week's time. The prison would be completely transformed. It would require his Death Eaters to sacrifice most of their power, but that did not matter. So long as his own was not required. His power was reserved for lifting the island.
The Orb of Daedalus. It had been the first thing he had sent his Death Eaters to retrieve after his less than glorious resurrection. Capable of giving anything flight if enough power was poured into it, he had planned to utilize the artifact long ago to raise the prison island from its waters. That plan had ended when his body had been destroyed all those years ago. But now that he had returned, his plan was set in motion once more.
The Orb was kept in his personal chambers, guarded by almost three dozen different wards and traps. In addition, he had split a small part of his soul off to infuse with the Orb. The only way it could be destroyed was if someone killed him. And he had no plans to die any time soon. Not now that everything was going according to plan.
He smiled darkly, turning from the blue gemstone and walking back out the way he had entered. There were still things in life that surprised even him. What he had witnessed over two months ago had been one of these things. Harry Potter, his power fully focused, devastating and disintegrating one of his strongest, in a fit of hatred and rage. It had been a glorious event to behold. It had put him in such a good mood that he had even disregarded the fact that the prophecy hadn't been found.
The boy couldn't contain that much power for long. Not without help. And when that day arrived, he would be waiting. He would extend an invitation to the boy. He would help ease the pain of Potter's overflowing magical energy in exchange for a life of servitude. And,
perhaps, the thought of seeing his friends eaten alive if he didn't made the idea that much more delicious to him. The boy would bow before him. It was only a matter of time.
Entering the room he had long since changed into his meeting room, he walked over to the tall, thin throne and sat, eyes settling upon the door he had entered from. Yes, it was only matter of time. And if the boy slipped up, even once more, he would be there. And he would strike a deal. If Potter refused, everything he had ever known and everyone he had ever loved would be destroyed in front of him. For how could he and his rogue band of supposed heroes ever beat him? Breaching the future citadel alone would be nigh impossible without intimate knowledge of the place. No... once his plans were set into motion, things would change.
His thoughts were interrupted when the door opened and a black-clad figure stepped in, immediately dropping to one knee and lowering his head.
"Speak." He commanded.
"My Lord, we have found the first part. It was located deep within the suicide forest, as you had said. It is being brought back as we speak." Said the masked man.
"Very good." Purred Lord Voldemort, his snakelike eyes lighting up. One of two magical items he had needed to give his Altered flight had been kept in Japan. In one of the icy caves at the base of Mt. Fuji, in Aokigahara, the so-called suicide forest, was the item that he had sought. The forest was a dangerous place, haunted by the vengeful spirits of those who had gone to the forest to kill themselves. Evidently, the Death Eaters he had tapped to go on this mission were quite skilled if they could repel the darkness lurking within.
"Is there anything you wish for my team to do once the Box is safely within these walls?" Asked the man.
Voldemort was silent for a moment before a grin split his face. "Yes." He said, drawing the word out. "You and your men will leave immediately for the second part. The Box is useless without the Key."
"Direct us and we will retrieve it, My Lord!" Declared the man.
"The Key is kept within a labyrinth under the Popigai crater in Siberia." Voldemort stated. "Legend tells of demons guarding it, to say nothing of the other creatures that stalk through the maze-like corridors. If your team succeeds in retrieving the Key, you will be ensured a higher place by my side."
"Thank you, My Lord." Said the man. "I will inform my men at once."
Voldemort nodded his head slightly and the man stood, turning and leaving the room. The Dark Lord smiled at the door as it closed. One of Philip Lemarchand's lost puzzle boxes, the Box of Black Hearts was locked to all methods save for one. The Key of Neverending Night, kept separate from the Box for hundreds of years, was this method.
He closed his eyes and breathed in the stale, recycled air. It was a very good time to be alive.
Time had passed. Life had returned to normal. Or, at least, what passed for normal for Harry Potter. Tonks and Solieyu remained stubborn in their ways, even when a crowd of nearly twenty girls was following the surly vampire around one day. Harry had pointed out, but Solieyu just snorted and kept on walking. Harry had rolled his eyes and continued on his way.
Aside from that, all was good. O.W.L.s had gone off without a hitch, and Harry was simply riding the rest of his time at Hogwarts out. Only two more years in this place, he had thought. Two more years and he would be independent. It was a pleasant enough thought. He wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to be yet, though. The obvious choice was an Auror. He had read up on Bluewood. He knew what the training process meant. Mostly proving yourself capable of defending and dispatching your enemy. Old hat for Harry. He was sure he could beat the test right then and there, but refrained from commenting on it.
The biggest surprise to Harry was that Malfoy was loosening up considerably. It was to the point where they would linger around the Pit in the evenings, joking around like old friends. Or, more precisely, old rivals. Which was exactly what they were. Harry still hadn't accepted the blonde's challenge for a rematch. He had driven the conversation away from the topic when it came up, much to Malfoy's annoyance. In truth, he worried that old feelings much be dredged up by such an event. The last thing he needed was Malfoy running off now.
He had talked over his plans of guarding the Pit to the Slytherin one evening, when no one else was around. The two had been extremely bored, as nothing had happened that day. It was something Harry was always happy to see, but it did leave a lot to be desired in regards to talking about the day. So Harry had brought up the subject of wanting to summon something to protect the Pit.
"What does it need protection from?" Malfoy had asked. "We're the only ones who know it exists."
"Better safe than sorry." Harry had said. "I know what to do, I just need to gather the items I need. Then I can perform the summoning ritual. Dumbledore said he wants to be here when it happens. Just in case."
Malfoy had given Harry a strange look before asking, "So what do you want to summon?"
Harry had just grinned at that, telling Malfoy he would have to wait and see. He said he would offer to let the blonde sit in on the summoning process, but it was really up to Dumbledore. Malfoy had scowled and said he would just wait until afterwards.
Harry and Pansy continued to sleep together. He still wasn't used to how peppy the dark-haired girl was in the mornings. It was a sharp contrast to how Tonks had always been, so tired and wanting to eat as soon as she realized she couldn't drift back off. As time had passed, Harry had grown closer to Pansy, telling him of his life before learning he was a wizard. She, in turn, told him about what life as the child of two Death Eaters had been like. As it turned out, neither of them had had brilliant home lives.
A few interesting things happened at the end of that school year. For one thing, Ginny and Dean Thomas officially became an item, much to Malfoy's irritation. Ginny always hopped on the couch next to him on the nights the Pit was crowded, and she always started talking about Dean. Malfoy had learned to ignore the redhead's constant ramblings. Hermione and Luna were usually reading in the corners of the room when Ginny's boyfriend speeches occurred, and Harry could have sworn that he saw them hiding grins one time.
On the night before the final day of school rolled around, everyone had gathered in the Pit for dinner. It had been a mostly quiet affair, with everyone's minds occupied with how the summer would be. After the eating was over and people had gotten comfortable in the main room, the talking really started. Mostly because Harry had become curious.
"Pansy. Draco. What are you two going to do?" Harry asked.
"Well," Malfoy began, "Dumbledore's going to take me to wherever mother currently is. So I assume I'll be safe."
"That's good. And if she's where I think she is, we may see each other before the summer ends." Harry said, smirking.
"As for me, I'll probably tag along with Draco. I really have nowhere else to go. I'm sure Dumbledore would understand. I hope he does." Pansy said.
"If he makes you go back to your parents, I'll personally come and break you out." Harry said, scowling. "Maybe I could talk to him."
"I think he knows how you feel." Hermione said, not looking up from her book. "Both of them should be taken to Order headquarters."
"Yeah." Harry said, sliding his hands into his pockets. "Hope everyone plays nice."
Harry had sat both Pansy and Malfoy down awhile back, explaining Grimmauld Place to them. Both seemed somewhat surprised that a place like that could be used for something so important. But now, Harry wondered aloud if the house was safe.
"Sirius is dead. So now what?" He asked.
"It'll probably go to Tonks' mother or Draco's." Hermione said, glancing up. "They are close relatives, right?"
"Yeah. Didn't think about that. Well, that's good, then." Harry said, brow creasing. "Wonder what Kreacher's gonna do..."
"Hang Kreacher." Ginny muttered. "He gives me the creeps."
"Hanging him would make him too happy." Harry said.
"...True." Ginny said, making a face. "Oh well. I can dream."
Everyone had eventually slipped away to go to bed, leaving Harry and Pansy alone on the couch. Harry wished he could get away like Pansy and Malfoy were going to. He wished that he didn't have to return to Privet Drive. Vernon was still probably in a mad cow fury over what had happened to his idiot whale of a son. Harry didn't care. It was Dudley's own fault that he had gotten his soul taken. Harry wasn't his keeper, after all.
Finally, he groaned, running a hand through his hair. "Damn it all, I don't want to go back to Privet Drive. Bloody hate the Dursleys. Voldemort could kill them and string their bodies along the street lights and I wouldn't care!"
"Strong words." Pansy said, raising an eyebrow.
"It's no more than they deserve." Harry stated, staring into the fire. "I'd do it myself if I thought I could get away with it. Revenge for all those years of what basically amounts to torture."
Pansy leaned against Harry, causing him to wrap an arm around her. "Try not to think about it too much. Let's just enjoy this. It'll be the last night we get to spend together for a few months."
"Yeah..." Harry murmured, letting out a sigh. "I wish I could be there at headquarters for you. Can't imagine it'll be easy seeing everyone else with their parents."
"I've long since decided how I feel about my parents." Pansy said. "I'll be fine. Draco will be there, after all."
"True. Be careful around the twins, though. Never lay down in bed without inspecting it first. Oh, hey, you'll like my room there. Password protected door with the password in Parseltongue. ...Bet it's going to be really in need of a clean by the time I get back." Harry said.
"Why do you need a password protected door? Just to keep the Weasleys out?" Asked Pansy.
"Mrs. Weasley." Harry corrected. "Bloody cow of a woman who thinks she owned Sirius' house. Let's just say you'll become a target for her once we're both at the place."
"Mrs. Weasley doesn't think someone 'as young as me' should be sleeping with other people. She burst in on me once. It wasn't pretty. Irritating woman..." Harry muttered.
"Yes, well, I'm sure I can handle her. I've gotten into huge rows with my mother before and I usually won. I think I'll do alright." Pansy said.
"If you're sure." Harry chuckled. "Wanna get an early start on sleep?"
"I'd love to." Pansy said. "Wait here and I'll go change real quick."
Pansy hopped up and headed into the bedroom. Harry leaned his head on the back of the couch, closing his eyes. Summer was almost on them again. It had been a rough year. Moreso than usual. But Harry wasn't happy to see it ending. Panic had been rising in him, despite his Occlumency barriers being stronger than ever, for a week or two now. Being back at Number Four meant sleeping alone. Sleeping alone meant nightmares. It wasn't going to be good. Not in the least.
Harry hoped the next Minister of Magic, who was set to be decided on in mid-July, would allow Harry a bit of leeway in regards to the underaged magic rule. He had been fighting Voldemort longer than most. He deserved a little special treatment, he felt.
He had told Dumbledore about Voldemort's plans months ago. It had been good to get the weight off of his chest. He still worried and thought about his seemingly immortal enemy - he couldn't help it. He was a Ravenclaw. Thinking was what he did - but he knew it was best right now for the Order to be handling things. And besides, Harry had a bad feeling that if Voldemort wanted him to come and play, he would send a message, loud and clear.
"You can come in now!" Pansy called. Harry smiled and got up, heading for the bedroom himself. Pansy had brought down her clothes awhile back. It had made things much simpler for the both of them.
Tonight, she was wearing one of her seemingly endless supply of silk pajamas. Harry had just rolled his eyes the first time he saw a pair of them. He was fine in 'lesser' materials. So long as he slept well, it didn't matter what he was wearing.
"You know the drill." He said, smirking at Pansy, who was sitting on the bed. "Turn."
"Awww." Pansy whined, turning around to face away.
"Boris, if she peeks, tell me." Harry hissed.
"Yes, yes." Boris replied lazily.
Harry changed quickly, poking Pansy before he crawled into bed. When she turned back, she had a wide grin on her face. "...What?"
"You've got a cute butt. That's all." Pansy said.
"Watch her yourself." Boris murmured. "I'm sleepy."
Harry gave a withering glance at the curled-up miniature taipan before flopping back and slipping under the covers. "What am I going to do with the both of you?"
"Well," Pansy said, curling up next to him, "You're going to hold me until we literally can't stay in bed anymore..."
"And you'll forgive me because I'm wiser than you are and you still ask me things." Boris added.
"...Oi." Was all Harry could say. He wrapped his arms around Pansy, who was giggling quietly, and tried to ignore the distinct impression that his snake was grinning at him.
Harry had mixed feelings about the Hogwarts Express this year.
He would be sitting with Ginny, Dean Thomas, Luna, and Hermione this year. It was a very odd group and quite different than the one he normally sat with. Not that he minded the company, it was just another reminder that things weren't fixed yet. Despite locking up all of the relevant emotions, it still bugged him. And the closer they got to King's Cross, the more irritated Harry felt like he was going to get. For one thing, he had no idea how the hell he was going to get home.
He spent most of the trip staring out the window. It had been a weird year on the whole. And things weren't going to be getting any easier as time passed. He was also slightly worried about Malfoy and Pansy. Dumbledore had said they would indeed be taken to Grimmauld Place for the summer. He had also said that Andromeda would be taking control of the place, so to speak, so there was a good chance that Harry would need to relearn of its location.
Luna was quiet for most of the trip, too, gazing down at an old copy of the Quibbler and acting as though she was interested in it. Harry knew she was thinking of Solieyu, just as he was thinking of Tonks. Yes, it would be a very awkward summer if Harry needed to escape from Number Four again.
Hermione and Ginny mostly chatted amongst themselves, with poor Dean looking like he had picked the wrong spot to sit. Eventually, he decided to just nap the trip away. A good plan, Harry thought.
When the train arrived back in London, Harry sighed and got up. "Well, kids, it's been an interesting year. But I have no ruddy idea how I'm going to get back to Number Four. So I'd best hop off early."
"You could always take the Knight Bus." Dean said.
"Leon takes it to get home." Harry said. "Tonks' mum drives us to their place and I always just walked from there."
"Rock and a hard place. Ouch. Good luck, mate." Dean said.
"Gonna need it. Gin, Hermione, Luna - see you lot in a few months. Or less, if my luck gets a bit better." Harry said, nodding to the girls before leaving his compartment.
He slid his hands into his pockets as he slowly made his way through the crowded hall. He toyed with the idea of adopting a gruff voice and yelling for everyone to get the hell out of his way, but with his luck, everyone would panic instead of ducking into compartments or pressing up against the wall. So he merely bided his time until he could get to his trunk.
Platform Nine and Three-Quarters was packed. Harry smiled faintly as he looked around. Even in times as dark as these, people were still capable of seeming so happy. Harry once more had to fight off thoughts on how many of these people wouldn't make it through the summer. He brought a hand up to rub the bridge of his nose as he sighed. He could think about that later. He had more pressing matters to attend to.
He couldn't hail the Knight Bus. He and Solieyu would get into a huge fight before it got anywhere. He knew they would. And he couldn't ask Andromeda for a ride home. Considering the rift between her daughter and Harry, it would be outright rude.
Another sigh and he moved his carted trunk through the barrier to the Muggle side of the station. He had figured it would be too busy to notice someone going through, and he was right. The Muggle side was even more packed than the wizarding side was. And Muggles were very good at simply not seeing things.
He hadn't expected to suddenly get grabbed by the shoulders, and even with his barriers up, he jumped. His wands were nearly drawn before he saw who had grabbed him.
"Fred! George! What the hell?"
The twins stood on either side of Harry, smirking at him.
"It seems we were right." Fred said.
"Indeed we were!" George continued, nodding.
"Ickle Harry needs himself a ride home."
"But the options are not promising."
"So he stands around, looking forlorn..."
"I was not looking forlorn." Harry muttered.
"Until a pair of dashing knights step in to offer their services!" Finished the twins in unison.
"So what, I'm a damsel in distress now?" Harry asked, making a face.
"Something like that!" George said, slapping Harry on the back.
"We've come to give you a ride." Fred added, holding up some keys.
"You two? Driving? Dear Merlin, I'd rather risk the Knight Bus." Harry groaned. "Whose car did you jack?"
"We didn't jack anyone's car!" Fred said, sounding indignant.
"Not our fault if dad just leaves his keys out where anyone can take them." George said.
"How very true, how very true." Fred murmured.
"So, O King Raven, do you accept the offer?" Asked George.
Harry rolled his eyes. "...If you promise to knock it off with the King Raven stuff, then sure. And thank you."
"After all you've done--"
"Both for our family and in general--"
"It's the least we could do."
"C'mon. Follow us."
And Harry did. He didn't pass Solieyu or the Tonks women, which suited him just fine. The last thing he needed was for Andromeda to spot him and wrangle him into her car. He had no idea if the woman even knew what had happened. Surely she did. The rift began long before Christmas rolled around.
"Did Ginny and Ron know you were planning to be here?" Asked Harry.
"Nope." George said.
"Spur o' the moment thing." Fred said. "Right this way, good sir!"
"The Anglia's in tip-top shape." George said, pointing out the tiny car with a sweeping gesture.
"And we promise not to make it fly or anything." Fred added.
But the twins weren't lying. And, as it turned out, Fred was a capable driver. Harry sat in the back seat and the three made small talk most of the way to Privet Drive. Harry had to point out the proper directions a few times, but as a whole, it wasn't a horrible ride. Fred was less reckless than Andromeda, in any case. Not that he would ever admit that to anyone.
"Any idea when we get to come and rescue you from your relatives this year?" Fred asked, turning onto Harry's street.
"No clue. I may be stuck here for the summer this time." Harry said, shrugging.
"Shame. Having Malfoy around is sure to be fun." Fred said.
"I bet Snape sightings will increase." Harry commented, causing the twins to exchange horrified expressions.
"Well!" George exclaimed, looking back at Harry. "It's a good thing we'll be out of the house the next few months!"
"Stocking up the shelves and all." Fred said.
"Must be nice, being able to disjoint yourselves from everything." Harry said.
Pulling into the driveway of Number Four, Fred turned around and replied, "You'd be surprised. We do a fair amount of heavy thinking."
"Dumbledore's asked if we had any ideas for things that could help the Order." George added.
"Yeah. We're still mulling it over. On one hand, it'd be using our powers for the greater good..."
"But they'd still be involved in the war. And we're having a hard time getting past that part."
"Look at it this way." Harry said. "Helping the Order will help keep people alive. If ever you need to think about what you should do, think about the innocent kids out there that've gotten killed by Voldemort and his men. Think about the parents or grandparents. Think about everyone suffering. Think about that and make your move. It won't do to hesitate."
"He raises a good point." Fred said, looking at his twin.
"Indeed he does."
"Well, we'll think about it on the ride home. Bit far away from here."
"But it was worth it."
"Now then, let's get you inside."
Harry and the twins left the car. And, as Fred and Harry went to the back to get Harry's trunk out, George went up and rang the doorbell. Moments later, Petunia answered. Harry sighed as she let out a surprised wail. She hollered for Vernon, who arrived moments later. And, of course, his uncle immediately began ranting (in as quiet a voice as he could muster) about Harry and the twins and Dudley being 'addled' still.
"We'll calm him down." Fred murmured, glancing at his brother, who looked outright bored listening to Vernon Dursley ranting. "Will you be alright?"
"I haven't been alright in months. But I'll survive. I'm good at that." Harry said.
Fred smiled crookedly and patted Harry on the back as they headed up towards the door.
"Another long summer?" Boris hissed quietly from his resting place up Harry's left sleeve.
"Another long summer." Harry confirmed.
Author's Notes: And we are finished, kids! Book five is done and my journey through the canon has officially come to an end. From this point on, it's all original material. I hope I do well. I tend to be awful at that kind of thing. It's why I've never gotten a single original story off the ground. Anyway, there are a few things I wanna say before this is over.
First, thank you all for continuing to read the R-Series. I initially started this to make myself NOT drop a project. Before this, my longest fic was a long since deleted from my account Harry x Draco fic. And the sequel to it died pretty early on. So this is a commitment to myself to not give up. I think I've done good if I'm five-sevenths of the way done, don't you?
Second, I'm not starting Citadel of Azkaban (Which is the full title. It doesn't get an 'R' word with it since it's original.) until after Deathly Hallows comes out, just in case there are any nifty spells or something that I'd like to add. I don't think anyone's going to mind. I'm going to basically cut myself off from the internet from now until then. Like most of you, I read the 'big' book 6 spoiler way before the book was out. Very annoying. So yeah. It's gonna be a long-ass month.
Finally, I just want to send a general warning ahead of time. Book 6 is going to be fairly dark overall. Not in the same way that book 5 has been, though. Harry's still got a lot of personal demons to deal with, to say nothing of his situation with Tonks and Leon. This will all come to a head in book 6 and it won't be an easy journey.
I'll see you in Citadel, kids. Enjoy the rest of the month and let's hope book 7 isn't the giant stinker than Half-Blood Prince was! Check back by the end of the month - chapter 1 should be up before August rolls around!