Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns Harry Potter not me and I make no claims to him or his friends.
A/N: This is a sequel to Time to Live. You should read that first. There are no pairings at this time; there will be no slash. Many thanks to Evan and Ishtar for their wonderful beta work. This is a work in progress updates will be slow and infrequent. Reloaded to try to fix the line break problem.
Harry Potter woke feeling extraordinarily good. He was back at Hogwarts, a place he'd always considered home, for his sixth year. His friends were there, and safe, and Voldemort was dead. He was hoping for a wonderful, stress-free year, but, unfortunately, knew that Dumbledore would probably not cooperate. Dumbledore still seemed to want to control him, even though he'd claimed not to during the summer.
Harry stretched and rolled out of bed. He'd know more after speaking to the Headmaster that evening, but for now he was just going to enjoy Hogwarts and his friends.
Harry noticed the time as he came from the shower. Neville was up and gone, Seamus and Dean both stirring, but Ron was dead to the world. Harry reached over and thumped him with a pillow.
"Time to get up, Ron, or you won't get any breakfast," he said.
Ron groaned, rolled out of bed and staggered toward the bathroom with his eyes still shut.
Dean glanced at the clock and said, "There's plenty of time yet, Harry."
"Oh, my mistake," said Harry with a grin as he pulled on a robe and left the room.
Dean looked over at Seamus with a grin and muttered, "Mean, down right mean, that is."
Harry met Neville coming into the Great Hall and they sat down together at the Gryffindor table, ignoring the whispers, stares, and finger pointing.
"Where've you been this morning, Nev?" questioned Harry loading his plate.
"I was in the greenhouse putting out the samples I brought back from your garden in Greece. Remus's stasis charm worked great. I'm glad he taught me how to do it," said Neville.
"You mean Burke's garden, don't you?" asked Harry looking up in surprise.
Neville smirked a moment and then asked, "Did you see the name plate on the gate as we turned off the road and onto the drive to the villa?"
"Yeah, it had Greek writing on it. What about it?"
"It said Aypos Xurpeus, which translates of House of Potter. Susan and I talked about it and decided not to say anything since Ron and Ginny were there," said Neville.
Harry sat there a moment with his mouth open and then laughed, "Thanks, Nev."
Neville shrugged as he filled his fork, "I know how he gets. I didn't want to hear it either."
Moments later Ron sat down across the table, hair wet, tie askew, and groused, "Thanks a lot, Harry. I could have had another forty-five minutes of sleep."
"Yeah, well, now you can have an extra forty-five minutes of breakfast," responded Harry.
Ron brightened and began to fill his plate.
Hermione sat down on the other side of Harry and asked, "Why didn't you wait for me?"
He shrugged and said with a grin, "I figured you were already down here with a book propped on the milk jug."
She huffed at him but was interrupted by Professor McGonagall passing out class schedules.
"Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Weasley, Professor Timmons has added an extra sixth year Potions class for those with E' and A's on the O.W.L.s. Would either of you like to attempt the class? Those that he finds acceptable will be able to join the N.E.W.T. class in six weeks," she said.
"I'm in, Professor," said Neville immediately.
"I'll give it a shot, I guess," said Ron, after clearing his mouth. "I mean, how bad can it be?"
She frowned at him and briefly touched her wand to the parchment, making the change before handing it over and continuing down the table.
Harry scanned his timetable. He had Basic Healing first in the Infirmary, followed by Transfiguration just before lunch, with Charms after lunch, Elementary Runes after that, and then Introduction to Accounting and Estate Management at 4pm.
Groans sounded from Ron and Neville, who discovered the new Potions class was first thing that morning. Hermione had N.E.W.T. level Arithmancy first, and then they would all be together for Transfiguration and Charms. Neville would be in the Introduction to Accounting and Estate Management too.
Basic Healing was a mixed class; students from all four houses and both sixth and seventh years could be in the same class. Harry wasn't sure what he was expecting, but four students wasn't it. He recognized Hannah Abbot and Megan Jones from Hufflepuff and Tracey Davis from Slytherin, but didn't know the fourth girl, who had a Hufflepuff crest on her robe.
"Ah, Mr. Potter, please join us," said Madam Pomfrey gesturing to the last seat at the round table set in the corner of the infirmary.
He sat down between Hannah and Tracey.
"Now that we're all here, let me tell you what we will be doing. You should have all purchased the book, The Healing Arts, and, I'm hoping, read at least the first few chapters. We will be learning the charms and spells in the first twelve chapters. If you past the first term, you can continue after the Yule Holiday with Intermediate Healing, covering chapters 13-24, and then Spring term will be Advanced Healing, covering the rest of the book. You can only practice these spells on each other, here in the infirmary, under my supervision. Anywhere else and you'll be out of the class," she threatened, making eye contact with each of the students. "Now tell me why you're here and what you hope to get out of this class." She pointed at the girl Harry didn't recognize.
"My betrothed has several siblings who have already begun to have children. I've agreed, as part of the marriage contract, to home school them before they come to Hogwarts. I also hope to have several children of my own. I want to be able to care for my family without the added expense of a Healer," she said. Madam Pomfrey nodded.
Megan said, "I think I want to be a Healer. I'm hoping that this class will help me be sure that's what I want and make it easier to get an apprenticeship after Hogwarts."
Madam Pomfrey smiled and said, "If you do well this year and are still interested, you can apprentice part time during your seventh year to me. That will guarantee you a place at St Mungo's."
"I'm interested in the Potions side of Healing, but grandfather said I'd need this class to build on," said Hannah.
Madam Pomfrey smiled and nodded in agreement and then looked at Harry.
"Er, I get hurt a lot and thought if I knew what I was doing I wouldn't have to bother you as much," said Harry blushing. "I just thought the class sounded interesting."
Madam Pomfrey looked surprised for a moment, then laughed as the girls giggled.
"Well that's as good a reason as any, Mr. Potter," said Madam Pomfrey. Then she looked at Davis.
"I want to go into spell design, specializing in healing spells. I need to know what works, how it works, and how it can be improved," said the Slytherin girl.
"Well, we do have diverse group, then. The first spell we are going to learn is the most common of the diagnostic spells. The wand movement is like this," said Madam Pomfrey showing the movement of her wand.
Harry grinned. This class seemed like it would be a lot of fun.
Ninety grueling minutes later, Harry was having second thoughts; he didn't think he'd ever worked quite so hard in a class before.
They left the infirmary in a clump, with the seventh year, Bertie Rose, splitting off for Herbology and the rest heading for McGonagall's N.E.W.T. Transfiguration class. All of the N.E.W.T. level classes contained students from all four houses.
Harry got a few stares as he entered the room with two Hufflepuffs and a Slytherin, but shrugged them off and plopped down next to Hermione.
"How was Arithmancy?" he asked.
"It was wonderful, we are learning the most wonderful—" she broke off as Professor McGonagall came into the room.
Lunch was noisy, with Neville and Ron both enthusiastic about the new Potions teacher.
The sixth year Gryffindors went en masse to N.E.W.T. Charms, the only class that all of them had together. The walk up to the Charms room had an air of nostalgia about it that made Harry laugh at himself.
Elementary Runes was again a mixed bag of all houses and a prerequisite for both the Warding and Spellcrafting classes the following year. It covered the actual use of runes in active magic and as a basis for advance magic, rather than the runic languages that Ancient Runes covered.
Introduction to Accounting and Estate Management was interesting for who was in the class as much as for the subject itself. Harry and Neville entered together, followed by Blaise Zabini, to find four boys facing off with Susan Bones.
"Girls don't belong in this class," said Stephen Cornfoot.
"It's not prohibited, and if you think I'll let some man squander my family money just because he is a man, then you're as dumb as you look," retorted Susan, taking a seat.
"What's going on?" asked Harry.
"Stay out of this, Potter, it's none of your business," snarled Cornfoot. Then, turning back to Susan, "The Professor won't let you stay. It's not proper – you should leave before you're thrown out."
Harry frowned at the display. The other three boys, Kevin Entwhistle, Theodore Nott, and Ernie MacMillan, who he thought was a friend of Susan's, all took seats as well on the opposite side of the room from Susan. He glanced at Neville and sat down next to the girl. Neville shrugged and sat on Harry's other side.
Harry leaned toward Neville to ask a question just as the Professor, a short, round man by the name of Hancock, came in.
Professor Hancock glanced at Cornfoot and said, "Take your seat so we can get started."
"Professor, I protest her being in this class. This is for the Heirs of old families – male Heirs, not girls," said Cornfoot with a scathing look at Susan.
The Professor arched an eyebrow and asked, "And you are?"
"Stephen Cornfoot, Heir to the Cornfoot and Bremmer Families," said Cornfoot pompously.
"I see. I taught your father. Is he well?" said the Professor a sparkle in his gray eyes.
"Yes, Father's fine," said Cornfoot, sounding slightly confused now.
"And your grandfather and great-grandfather?"
"They are both fine, sir. What about her?" said Cornfoot pointing at Susan..
"Mr. Cornfoot, it really isn't considered polite to point," he turned to Susan, "and you, young lady, who are you?"
Susan lifted her chin and said, "Susan Amelia Bones, Professor, Heir-Regent to the Bones Estate, of which I will gain control of on my next birthday."
The Professor smiled and turned back to Cornfoot. "There is nothing in the rules that says this class is only for boys, Mr. Cornfoot. In fact, I applaud Miss Bones for wanting to protect her legacy. Add to that the fact that she does indeed outrank you, and I believe that she will stay in the class. You, however, may leave if you wish., in which case I will be informing your Patriarch of your appalling bad manners," he said.
Cornfoot looked around the room for support. Not finding any, he said, "I apologize for my outburst, Professor." He then turned slightly toward Susan, saying, "and to you, Miss Bones." He bowed slightly and sat down, an angry red staining his cheeks.
Harry turned toward Neville with a raised eyebrow. Neville sighed and mouthed 'later'.
Harry had half an hour between the end of class and dinner, so he decided to get it over with and headed toward the Headmaster's office, fishing the scrap of parchment out of his pocket. He offered the password to the gargoyle and headed up the stairs with his stomach clenching.
"Come in, Harry, my boy," called out Dumbledore as he reached the top of the stair. "Please have a seat. Would you like a lemon drop?"
"No, thank you, Headmaster. You wanted to see me?" said Harry, taking a chair in front of the desk.
"Yes, Harry. I think perhaps I owe you an apology. I fear that I allowed my concern for you to cloud my judgment. Professor McGonagall has informed me that you declined my offer of tutoring. I do assure you, Harry, that I only have your welfare in mind. I had thought of offering you an Apprenticeship. I'm sure that there is much I could teach you," said Dumbledore, eyes twinkling.
Harry avoided direct eye contact with the old man.
"An Apprenticeship?" Harry said incredulously, "Do you honestly think that I would willingly place myself under your control? No, Headmaster, I need no training from you. I have more than enough money to buy tutors if I want them, I am an adult with my own home, my own money, my own income, and I even have a job. I could leave here today and take the N.E.W.T.'s independently if I wanted. I am here because I want to be, to spend time with my friends, and to have the life and freedom I earned when I killed Voldemort."
The smile faded from Dumbledore's face as Harry spoke and he said, "Harry, you may be a legal adult, but you are still a child with much to learn. You need to be taught politics and the ways of the Wizarding World. You could be a force for growth and change, with the right instruction."
Harry snorted and said, "With you as my puppet master, you mean. You must think I'm stupid to believe I'd ever trust you."
"Harry, you need training. You only killed Voldemort by accident—" He broke off in shock as Harry stood, green eyes blazing behind his glasses, the windows, furniture and ornaments rattling with the sheer untamed power rolling off of him.
"Accident? Do you really think so? That Voldemort could be killed by accident?" he said coldly.
"Harry, my boy, you must calm down and get control," said Dumbledore softly in a soothing voice, eyeing Harry carefully and moving his hand toward his wand.
A cold smile spread across Harry's face, "I am calm and I am certainly in control." The rattle decreased to a small thrumming and then increased again in a pointed display of control, causing several trinkets to fall from the desk and shelves. It then ceased altogether, though Dumbledore could still feel the magic pouring off Harry in waves. Then that ceased too. Only Harry's eyes continued to glow, and this time they met Dumbledore's. The Headmaster exulted and struck with his Legilimency, only to be violently rebuffed.
"I'll thank you to stay out of my mind, Headmaster. Are we finished?" said Harry with the same cold smile.
"You may go, Mr. Potter," said the Headmaster in a defeated voice.
Harry nodded and turned for the door he paused there and spoke over his shoulder, "I noticed that although you said you owed me an apology, you didn't actually apologize," and then he continued out the door and down the stairs.
Harry slung his bag under the bench and sat down next to Hermione in the Great Hall. It was just starting to fill up for dinner. Professor McGonagall eyed him from the High Table and raised an eyebrow; he shrugged and filled his plate. Then he sat there toying with his food.
"Harry, is everything all right?" asked Hermione.
"Yeah, just a rough visit with Dumbledore. He tried to offer me an Apprenticeship, if you can believe that," he said with a snort.
She bit her lip and glanced across the table to Ron and Neville, who were both listening, Ron with his fork suspended in the air.
"That would be a great honor, Harry. What did you tell him?" she asked quietly.
Harry glared at her, "What do you think, Hermione? I told him no. No way am I giving him any control over me."
She smiled in relief, "Well good, I'm glad. I was worried that you went by yourself. You could have had Professor McGonagall with you."
"No, I don't want to make things hard for her with him. I can take care of myself," he said.
"Well, then stop picking at your food and eat something," she huffed, turning back to her own plate.
He grinned at her and did try to eat a bit more, but his stomach was still tied in knots from the confrontation. Harry had won this round, but he didn't think it was over. Dumbledore was nothing if not persistent, and it was obvious to Harry that he wanted something – that he had some sort of plan that he needed Harry for. He shook his head and gazed up at the High Table again. Dumbledore didn't come to dinner.
Up in the common room, Harry sat down with Ron and Hermione. She was already pulling books and parchment out.
"You're not doing homework already, are you?" sputtered Ron.
"Yes, I am, Ronald Weasley, and you should be too, we only have two years until N.E.W.T.'s and—" she broke off at Harry's strangled laugh. "What are you laughing at, Harry Potter?" she demanded.
"You know I love you, don't you Hermione? Don't ever change. I don't think I could stand it if you did," he wheezed.
"What are you on about?" she asked.
"He's gone mental," said Ron
"What's going on?" asked Neville, coming over to their table.
"Harry just told Hermione he loves her," said Ron in a loud whisper.
Hermione blushed and Harry, who'd just started to get his laughter under control, started in again.
"That's not how he meant it and you know it, Ron," hissed Hermione.
Ron had a big grin on his face and Neville was beginning to smile too. Harry was red-faced and gasping. People all over the room were staring.
"Don't you people have things to do?" Hermione said to the room, and people began turning back to their own friends and homework and ignoring the crazy laughing boy.
Harry finally got his breath back. "I needed that," he said.
Then he turned to Neville and asked, "Do you have time to explain what happened in class today?"
"Sure, if you have the time," said Neville.
Ron looked up and asked, "Estate Management? I heard Hancock told Cornfoot off, but no details."
Neville grinned. "Yeah, it was beautiful. Susan's taking the class and Cornfoot objected because, traditionally, it's an all-male class. But since Susan ranks him, and I think she must be planning to continue the Bones name, Hancock shut him down."
"I don't understand," said Hermione.
"I don't either. That's why Neville is going to explain it," said Harry pointedly.
"Okay, don't get your knickers in a twist, Harry. I'm getting there," said Neville good-naturedly. "Susan is the Heir-Regent of the Bones Family, being the only child of the previous Head, Edgar Bones, Amelia Bones's older brother. Amelia Bones has been managing the Estate and acting as Susan's guardian since her parents' death, but didn't inherit. Susan gains control of the Estate on her next birthday, but doesn't became Head because the Boneses are one of Patriarchal Families. Her first-born son will become Head if she marries a younger son, or possibly a half-blood of no rank who is willing to change his name. If she marries a Family Head, then she'd need to have a second son to carry on the Bones Family as a separate Family."
"I think I follow, but what was that about ranking?" said Harry slowly.
"Ah, you know, Harry, your having to ask answers a lot of questions. There are quite a few purebloods that hate you just because you've never played the rank games. I think I understand why, but I can't for the life of me understand why your advisors never told you," said Neville with a bit of frustration.
"What advisors – Dumbledore? I don't think he wanted me to know anything," said Harry with a shrug. "So go ahead."
"Well, you could have, probably should have, shot Cornfoot down yourself when he insulted you. You rank everyone simply because you are already the Head of your Family." He eyed the rings on Harry's hand. "The Head of two of the oldest Families actually. Cornfoot won't be the Head anytime soon unless something bad happens, as his great grandfather is the current Head, the Patriarch, of the Family, and his grandfather and father are next in line," said Neville.
"What about the other Family he mentioned, er, Bremmer?"
"Yeah, that's his mother's family. His Uncle Tiberius is still alive and supposedly thinking about marrying again, so it's not assured he'll stay the Heir of Bremmer."
Harry shook his head and said, "And all this rank stuff is important?"
Neville rolled his eyes and Ron snickered and said, "Not when you don't have it, mate."
"What do you mean, Ron?" asked Hermione.
Ron's eyes shifted away for a moment and then with a sigh he said, "Well, Dad's the youngest of three; Uncle Charlie is the Head and he's got six boys, the youngest of whom is Bill's age, and his Heir is Tommy and he's already got four boys, of whom the oldest starts Hogwarts next year. Add to that that I'm a sixth son, and, well, there you have it, no rank."
"What about your Mum's side?" asked Harry.
"Uncle Fabian had two boys when he died. The oldest, Isaac, is Grandfather Prewett's Heir. He never liked Dad anyway, so…" He shrugged again.
Harry turned to Neville and asked, "So where does that leave you then with your Dad, er, sorry."
"It's alright. I'll become Head on my birthday next year, since for those purposes, Dad is considered ineligible due to incapacitation. It would be more difficult if he'd been the Head when it happened, but Grandfather Longbottom was still living at the time and named me his Heir."
Harry nodded in understanding and sat thinking for a few moments. "So what about the rest of the boys in the class?" he asked.
"Well, Entwhistle's grandfather is the Head of the Family and Kevin is his Heir. They're a relatively new family, only five or six hundred years old. MacMillan's Heir to his father. They're big in import/export, older than Entwhistle and Cornfoot but not as old as Potter or Longbottom," said Neville with a smirk, "Zabini will become Head this year but they are a Matriarchal Family so it's a little different for him. His Aunt, Madam Zabini, will still control the Family but he'll be expected to take over the business end. Then there's Nott. He has an entirely different set of problems. He is the Heir, but since his father's in prison, he can't take control of the family without a very long process to declare the elder Nott unsuitable, which puts his Family in a sort of limbo." Neville spread his hands.
Harry shook his head slowly and said, "That's a lot to take in. Thanks, Neville."
"There's a lot more to it, Harry. When you're ready for more, just ask," he said with a smirk.
"Are there books that cover this, Neville?" asked Hermione, frowning.
"No, it's all stuff that is passed on through word of mouth. Gran has been teaching me forever and Grandfather before that," he answered.
"That doesn't seem fair. Where does that leave Muggle-borns?" she complained.
Neville shrugged and said, "The only thing you can do is start your own line, by being powerful enough or rich enough to make the right connections."
She frowned again and nodded slowly. "I may have some more questions, if you don't mind?"
"I'll answer anything I can," he said, then pulled out parchment. "I need to owl Gran to get me a Potions book."
"Oh, yeah, can I borrow some parchment, Hermione, and a quill?" said Ron.
"No, go get your own, Ron," she said turning back to her books.
Harry reached down into his bag and pulled out his Runes book. He eyed it for a moment and then looked at Hermione.
"Say Hermione, why'd you take Runes for three years when I can take a year and get into the same class as you?" asked Harry.
She looked up at him and frowned. "It's not the same class Harry. Elementary Runes, what you're taking, is a practical study of the use of Runes in spell casting. What I took is Ancient Runes, a comprehensive study of Runic Languages, the history and origins of Runes and their usage in both tradition and modern day spell casting."
Harry blinked, answered, "Oh, okay," and opened his book.
"Say, Harry," said a voice from beside him.
"Hi, Katie, how are you?" Harry said looking up.
"I'm good. When were you planning on getting the team together?" she asked.
"Oh, er, I hadn't thought about it yet. How does this weekend sound?" he asked, waving her to a chair.
"Sounds good. The sooner the better, really," she said.
"Potter, you prat, when were you going to tell me you were made Captain?" shouted Ron, once again attracting attention to their table.
"I just found out last night, Weasley," Harry shouted back.
Ron blinked and in a normal tone said, "Well, that's all right then."
Katie laughed. "You two are a riot. Saturday, then?"
"Yeah, I'll post it on the board before I go to bed tonight and make sure of a spot with Madam Hooch in the morning. McGonagall said to start training someone up for Seeker this year because I won't be able to play next year."
"Yeah, congratulations on the making the English Team. Say, the papers said you were at a Quidditch camp this summer. Will you be sharing what you learned?" she asked.
"Oh, yeah. I've got some team building stuff and I had some one-on-one Seeker practice with Krum. It was great," he said.
"Good. Well, I should go. I just wanted to find out about practices before I made a date for a walk around the lake," she said with a smirk as she rose from the table.
"Er, yeah, okay," Harry mumbled.
He watched as she walked away, feeling flustered for some reason. When he turned back, he caught Hermione watching him, but then she huffed and went back to her book.
He shook his head and pulled out parchment to make up a notice for Quidditch tryouts.
Some time later Ron yawned and said, "Well, I'm for bed."
Hermione glared at the clock and began to gather her homework and books.
Neville stood and stretched, gave an absent good night and headed up the stairs.
"You coming, Harry?" asked Ron.
"Yeah, pretty soon, I'm almost done here," said Harry absently.
Ron nodded and headed up the stairs.
Hermione patted Harry on the arm and said good night.
"'Night," said Harry, not looking up from his work
She smiled, shook her head and headed up the stairs.
Harry finished the Runic pattern he was doing, looked up, and wondered where everyone had gone. Then, realizing the time, he packed up his homework and headed up to bed.
It was too early for breakfast when Harry rolled out of bed, but he noticed that Neville was already gone again. He cleaned up and got dressed, checked his schedule and threw the books for the day into his bag.
He was the only one in the common room, so he took the opportunity to pull out his mobile phone and hit the speed dial for Picklock.
"Good morning, this is Harry Potter. I hope it's not too early?" said Harry.
"Not at all, Harry, how may I help you?" asked Picklock.
"I'm taking the Introduction to Accounting and Estate Management and I've found the Professor wants us to use our own books. I'm not fond of the idea that my personal financial information could be available to the rest of the class, or anyone looking over the Professor's shoulder," said Harry.
"A perfectly understandable sentiment, Harry," said Picklock, "do you have a solution?"
"I was wondering if you could set up a secondary account for me to 'play' with? The entire estate would take too much time and, besides, it's your job to deal with it," said Harry with a chuckle.
"I believe I understand what you wish. Your trust account is readily available. Your current residence is attached to that account, as are several income-producing assets, and it has enough ready cash to provide you with funds for investments. I will attach several more items to give a rounded experience. I can also set the investment titles to masking numbers. For example your share of 3Ws would only be listed as a number, rather than a name, and only you would have the code key."
"Excellent, that is exactly what I want. When will that Estate Book be ready? I have a couple of hours free this afternoon and I could drop by. Is that too soon?" said Harry.
"Not at all. It shall be ready then. I look forward to seeing you, Harry,"
"May your gold flow, Picklock," said Harry.
"Our gold flows together," answered Picklock.
Harry pushed the end button, chuckling. One problem solved.
He grabbed up his bag, hoping that Madam Hooch would be at breakfast, and started toward the exit. The portrait swung open just before he reached it and Neville stepped in – a muddy, bedraggled Neville sporting several purple welts across his face and, showing through a tattered shirt, four long bleeding gouges down his left arm.
"Neville, are you all right? What happened?" asked Harry, concerned.
"Damn, I'd hoped no one would be up yet. Professor Sprout asked my help in Greenhouse Four. Her climbing rose has gone a little wild and she needed help to trim it back," he said with a little shrug. "It didn't want to be trimmed and fought back. I'm just going to get cleaned up and then see Madam Pomfrey."
"So, did you win?" asked Harry.
Neville blushed and shrugged again, then headed up the stairs as Harry tried to keep from laughing.
In the Great Hall, Harry noticed several Ravenclaws, with books propped up as they ate, and half a dozen younger students scattered among the four tables. He walked between the tables to the Ravenclaw table and stopped next to Luna.
"Morning, Luna. How are you today?" he asked.
"Hello Harry. I avoided the pillow mashers and had a good sleep."
He grinned at her and said, "That's good. I need to speak with Madam Hooch. Can I sit with you when I'm finished?"
She inspected the empty bench to either side of her and replied, "There seems to be room if we squeeze."
He dropped his bag onto the bench and headed to the Head Table where Madam Hooch was seated talking with Professor Sinistra, the new Head of Slytherin.
"Excuse me," he said politely.
"Yes, Potter?" asked Hooch.
"I was hoping to reserve the pitch for Saturday morning, if it's available," he said.
She drew a notebook out of her pocket and opened it.
"You're the first to ask, Potter. Nine to noon, is it?"
"Yes, ma'am, that should be fine," he said with a grin.
She smiled back and made a note in the book.
"Are you the new captain then, Mr. Potter?" asked Sinistra.
"Yes, Professor," he answered.
She sighed, "I suppose there is no hope for Slytherin this year. Warrington is the only returning member."
"There, there, Sinistra," said Hooch, "there's always next year. Potter here won't be eligible to play next year." She turned to Harry, "Congratulations, by the way, on making the National Team, Potter."
"Haven't made it yet. I still have to make the cut, you know. It's only a provisional contract," said Harry.
"You'll make it, I can tell. You've a lot of talent," said Hooch gruffly.
"Ma'am, I don't know about the other teams, but, with Slytherin in a rebuilding year, have you considered having a workshop?" asked Harry.
"What do you mean?" asked Hooch.
"Well, I went to a Quidditch camp in the U.S. this summer. They had several workshops where they invited professional players to come, speak, and show some of the standard moves. I attended a seekers workshop, and a team builder. You could have one for each position. Ask several professionals for each position. I'm sure that there are past students who would come. It would give the players some excellent tips and spark more interest in playing, maybe," he said.
Hooch was nodding, Sinistra looked interested and Flitwick, who'd arrived in the middle of the conversation, was smiling.
"Thank you, Potter. I'll look into that. I think that would be an excellent idea," said Madam Hooch.
"Er, Professor?" said Harry catching Sinistra's attention, "I'm sure that Professor McGonagall will scream at me, but I'll be picking someone now to begin training to replace me at Seeker next year. If you'd trust me to be fair, I'd be willing to give your new Slytherin Seeker pointers, too."
Sinistra blinked for a moment and said, "I may take you up on that, Mr. Potter."
Harry grinned and thanked the Professors for their time and went to sit beside Luna at the Ravenclaw table. They chatted and ate as the Hall began to fill up. Harry was finished and watching the students at the Ravenclaw table watch him when Professor McGonagall came in. He excused himself and went over to her before she got to the table.
"Professor, I just wanted to let you know I'll be leaving the grounds this afternoon. I have an appointment at Gringotts. I should be back before dinner," he said.
"Thank you for letting me know, Mr. Potter," she answered with a smile.
Harry grinned and then went to where Hermione and Neville were sitting.
"Hey, you about ready for Defense?" he asked.
"Er, Harry, I'm not taking Defense this year," said Hermione.
Harry frowned and asked, "What? Why not?"
"Well, McGonagall said I had too many classes – there are so many things that I'm interested in and Voldemort is gone, so I don't really need it so much and I thought that you might be willing to share your notes with me, so I signed up for independent study so I can at least take the N.E.W.T.," she said all in one breath.
He stared blankly for a moment and then laughed. Hermione flushed beginning to get angry. He shook his head.
"I'm not laughing at you, Hermione. It's just that you want to copy my notes," he said, laughing again. Neville laughed, too.
"I don't see why that's funny," she huffed.
"Hermione, how many times have Ron and I wanted to copy your notes? What is your standard response?"
She turned redder and said, "This is different, you were just being lazy and –" she broke off shaking her head, "It's not funny!"
Both boys just laughed harder.
Ron appeared at that moment and asked, "What's going on? What did I miss?"
When Harry finally got himself under control he said, "Of course you can use my notes; I'm sure that we'll have some sort of study group, so we can practice."
"Thank you, Harry. We should get going, it's almost time for class," said Hermione, trying not to look at Ron stuffing food in faster than he could swallow.
"So, what are you taking?" asked Harry rising and gathering his bag.
"Oh, well, I have an hour of N.E.W.T. Ancient Runes and then I have Theory of Magic," she said.
Harry raised an eyebrow and glanced at Neville who grimaced and said, "Er, okay, you'll have to let us know how that goes."
Harry, Ron and Neville entered the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom together and sat down near Dean. Harry looked around, seeing a lot of people from the D.A. along with Nott and Greengrass from Slytherin. Daphne Greengrass was sitting with Padma and Lisa Turpin from Ravenclaw, and Nott was sitting by himself.
The new Professor entered, still looking as if she smelled something bad, and glanced around.
"I'm Professor Baxter, and this is N.E.W.T. level Defense Against the Dark Arts. If you aren't supposed to be here, this is the time to leave. This class is for those of you who wish to enter into a career in Law Enforcement," she said. She picked up a pile of parchment and began passing them out. "This is a copy of what we will be studying this year. Topics with a checkmark are on the N.E.W.T.s; topics with a star are on the Auror's entrance exam. Attached is a book list. These books are recommended reading outside of class. I've checked, and there are six to seven copies of each in the library."
Harry scanned the list and decided to pick up his own copies that afternoon.
"Everyone here has at least an E on their O.W.L.s, so I see no reason to review any information covered in previous years. We will begin with wordless casting and advanced spells, hexes, counters and shields. Half of each class will be practical lessons, and I expect you to act like adults. The other half will be theory and you will take notes."
She picked up another stack of parchment to hand out and went on, "This is a list of assignments for the first term. I expect the essays turned in on the due date, no excuses. If you think this is too much work or too hard, feel free to leave."
Then she got them on their feet, paired them up, and told them to cast wordless stingers or shields. She stalked up and down the line of students, correcting a stance here and there and giving pointers on shields.
Harry left the class amazed at how good it had been. He hadn't been singled out or berated. He felt he'd learned something as well. Perhaps they had lucked out and gotten a good Defense teacher for a change.
"Here, Hermione, you can make copies of this stuff. It's what the new Professor gave us. I have a recommended book list. Do you want me to pick you up a set this afternoon?" said Harry as he sat down for lunch.
"This afternoon?" asked Hermione, looking up from the sheaf of parchment.
"Oh, er, yeah. I have an appointment at Gringotts I have to go to since I don't have any classes," he said, hastily clearing his mouth.
"How can you not have class? Let me see your schedule," she demanded.
"Hermione, I have Care after lunch on Thursday but nothing today and my Monday, Wednesday and Fridays are packed. Leave off," he groused.
"Sorry, let me see the list," she said, biting her lip. He handed over the list and looked across the table. "Neville, Ron, Dean, I'm going to buy the texts for myself. Do you want me to pick some up for you or borrow mine?"
Neville and Dean shared a look and then they both looked at Ron.
"ou red 'em an' 'ell me wha' 'ey say," mumbled Ron spraying crumbs.
Harry grimaced and brushed crumbs off while Neville rolled his eyes.
"If you don't mind, Harry, pick me up a set and I'll share with Dean. Ron can borrow yours. Let me know what I owe you and I'll write Gran," said Neville.
"Harry, I can buy my own books. I'll owl order them," said Hermione.
"Hermione, I'll be there anyway and you can pay me back if you want. This way you'll have them today," said Harry dismissively.
Ginny looked up from down the table where she was sitting with her dorm mates and said, "She gave the fifth years a whole long reading list too, and I think the Ravenclaws have checked out all the copies already. Are they the same books?"
"Let me see your list," said Hermione. She compared them briefly. "No, they aren't the same."
Harry grinned down the table at the fifth years and asked, "Can you all share one set? If you can, I'll pick them up today."
They stuck their heads together for a moment and then Ginny nodded at him. "Thank you, Harry. We'll pay you back."
Whispered consultations went up and down the table and, before he knew it, Harry had not only the book list for his year and the fifth years, but all the other years as well. Hermione laughed at him.
As Harry walked down to the gates so he could apparate to the Alley, he waved at Hagrid and the class of seventh years, all three of them, where they appeared to be learning about acromantulas.
He walked down Diagon Alley ignoring the stares, nodded to a patrolling Auror pair, and entered Flourish and Blotts, going directly to the counter.
"How can I help you?" asked the clerk, glancing up from a magazine. Her eyes widened as she realized who was standing in the shop.
Harry grinned at her and said, "Hi, I was hoping to pick up some books. The new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor gave us a recommended reading list, and the Ravenclaws checked them all out already."
She blushed and replied, "I remember they always did that when I was at Hogwarts, too. Can I see the list?"
"Sure." He pulled them out of his pocket. " I need three sets of the sixth years and one each of the rest."
She nodded and scanned the list, then paled slightly and said, "One moment please, Mr. Potter." Then she disappeared into the back room.
Harry was examining a display of biting diaries when a man came out of the back room with his lists.
"Mr. Potter? I'm Tiberius Blott. Miss Witcomb tells me these are all for the Defense class?"
"Yes sir, it's the recommended reading list. Hogwarts has several copies in the library but not really enough for everyone. Since I was coming to the Alley today and wanted my own set of books, I offered to pick some up for some other students. Each of the lower years of Gryffindors is going to share a set," said Harry.
"Mr. Potter, I have all of the books for the lower years in stock but the ones for the sixth and seventh year lists are much rarer and two of them are quite expensive," said Mr. Blott.
Harry frowned, "I see. Well, I'll want the whole set for myself, anyway. I'll take whatever you have for the other two sixth year sets and they can borrow my copy of the expensive ones."
"I suppose I'll have parents in here also, trying to pick up books for their children. I really wish that new teachers would warn me ahead of time," said Mr. Blott with a small frown. Then he continued, "Miss Witcomb is collecting the books now. Did you have other business in the Alley?"
"Yes, I have to run up to Gringotts. Can I pay now and pick them up in a little while?" asked Harry.
"Of course. Do you need separate bills for each set drawn up?" asked Mr. Blott as he began totaling the purchase.
"If it's not too much bother, that would be great," said Harry.
"It's not a problem. I'll have it ready when you come back. Thank you for your business, Mr. Potter."
At Gringotts, Harry met with Picklock and had tea and biscuits while they discussed possible investments Harry might wish to make. Picklock agreed to send Harry investment possibilities once or twice a month.
As Harry left Gringotts, he headed down the Alley and into the cul-de-sac called Coopers Place. At number 6 he stepped inside to find Mrs. Banner behind the counter.
"Mr. Potter, what a surprise. Is everything all right up to Hogwarts?" she asked.
Before he could respond, there was movement from the back room and Severus Snape appeared in the doorway.
"Potter, expelled already? It's only been two days," he said with a slight sneer.
Harry laughed and replied, "No, you couldn't get that lucky. I had business in the alley and a free afternoon. McGonagall knows where I am."
"Come into the back if you wish to speak with me." said Snape turning on his heel and retreating into the back room.
Harry followed and said, "Oh I don't want to interrupt. I just thought I'd stop since I was here. Make sure there weren't any problems. Did you hire Mrs. Banner?"
"Yes. it was too distracting for Sophia to keep running up to cater to customers." He hesitated for a moment and met Harry's eyes. "I am glad for a chance to speak with you, however. Are you planning to let the flat upstairs?"
"Hadn't thought about it. Do you think I should, or did you want to use it? You don't have to stay at Briarwood if you don't want to," said Harry.
"No, actually I thought perhaps you could let it to Mrs. Banner and Sophia," Severus said hesitantly.
"Okay." Harry studied Severus for a moment. "Is there a reason?"
Severus's eyes shifted but he said, "There was an incident. It seems that Jigger is applying pressure to the owner of the building where the Banners currently reside. He has raised their rent."
"I see," said Harry. "Let them move in as soon as they want. Work out whatever is fair and put it into the company. The flat is covered under the company lease after all."
Harry just grinned at Severus' surprised expression.
"I'd forgotten that," said Severus ruefully.
"Yeah, I sort of thought so," said Harry.
They chatted for a few minutes and then Harry asked Severus's opinion of Professor Hancock, the Estate Management professor.
Severus snorted slightly and grimaced, "Hancock is rather rank conscious and will cater to the highest rank students. He isn't dark, as far as I was ever able to tell, but I have wondered about some of his business dealings. He has more money than most Hogwarts Professors. I don't believe he likes goblins much – doesn't trust them."
Harry related the incident in the first class and Severus laughed, "I believe Miss Bones was in the right. I don't like Mr. Cornfoot. he's a pompous spoiled arse, almost as bad as Draco Malfoy. He would have been in that class as well. That class is really designed not so much to teach the skills, as most heirs learn them from their fathers, but to allow the young heirs to meet and form business and political contacts with their peers. You will notice that only the Heirs of the most prominent families take the class."
Harry made a face and then snorted, "Well I suppose I have to learn the game at some point. Neville is trying to educate me. I had no clue about rank and stuff."
Severus looked sad for a moment, "I believe it was left to Albus to tell you of those things. I'm sure the rest of the staff had no idea that he did not do that."
Harry shrugged it off and left a short time later.