AN: 12-15-08 Today I am replacing all the old chapters with the recently re-edited versions. Thank you LovesRickman, and Hubby for the Betas.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money being made, just fun being had.
Chapter One: The Summer Begins
Harry looked around the small room at Number Four Privet Drive. He'd spent the last six summers in this very room, and it had never looked better. Yes, it was a mite crowded, seeing how three people were sharing it. Ron and Hermione had promised to stay with him for his last summer with his "family". It had taken quite a bit of fighting with the Dursleys for them to allow it. Finally he had made Petunia understand what was at stake. It took Harry promising never to darken their doorstep again after his seventeenth birthday, to get her to agree, but agree she did, and that was all that mattered to Harry. He knew the three of them had a lot to do with not much time to get it done in, so he'd do just about anything to make sure he had his two best friends with him to be able to accomplish his goals, even if that meant making deals with his aunt.
Harry had never been happy about putting himself in danger, but the time he and Ron had gone face to face with a Troll in their first year had given them a great friend that would be very helpful now. He knew they would need to be organized and decide when to do what all they needed to do. Hermione was just the person to make sure they were doing it the way they should.
"Hermione, what do you know about becoming an Animagus?" asked Harry.
Looking up from her notes, she looked at Harry with the sparkle her eyes always got when it came to learning new things. "I read what last year's seventh-year Transfiguration text had on it, as well as what I could get my hands on from the library. It wasn't enough that I could go off and teach the three of us how to do it, but it was enough that I'd know where to start looking for what we would need. Why, Harry, you wanting to learn?"
"Well, I was thinking I've got six weeks here before I can leave and move to Grimmauld Place, and there's only so much we can learn about Horcruxes while I'm stuck here. So, why not? It's a handy tool to have, might just save our lives at some point."
Ron looked about as excited as he did after a great Quidditch game. "Wicked idea, Harry. I've always wanted to find out if I could become one. I'd had just about given up on it though, seeing how we won't be going for our seventh year and all."
"I think we should try Sirius' old library first. That library is huge, and we might be able to find some stuff about Horcruxes as well as Animagi," said Harry.
"Ok, we'll head over there and see what we can find. Might take us a while to search the entire library, make sure you stay out of trouble. I don't care what your aunt says, she could kick us all out on our ears. Professor Dumbledore can no longer make her keep her word about letting you stay," replied Hermione.
"I plan on staying out of her way by meditating in here. That book you brought us on Occlumency said it would help." Harry frowned and mumbled, "Might have been nice to know this in fifth year. Stupid traitorous git should have known then he was on Voldemort's side. He didn't teach me right; he didn't even try to teach me correctly. The next time we meet, he won't be able to get anywhere near my memories."
Hermione and Ron exchanged worried looks and went over to Harry and put their arms around him. "Don't worry, mate, Snape will pay. Hermione and me, we're going to help any way we can."
"Ron's right, Harry, we'll help you in both vanquishing Voldemort and getting justice for Professor Dumbledore. We promise." Hermione added.
"I know guys, and thank you. Now go on and get the books so we can start tomorrow." Harry said as he was pushing them out the bedroom door.
Harry watched them walk through the back lawn and Disapparate and then went back to his room where he got comfortable sitting on his bed. Once comfortable, he closed his eyes and started the meditation exercises the book outlined.
Some time later, Harry was aroused from meditation by a very squeaky Hermione. "Harry, Number Twelve…we couldn't get in. What could be wrong? Who could have warded it closed?"
"Calm down, Hermione, now did the house appear, or did it stay hidden like before you were told where it was the first time you visited?"
"It was there, mate, it just wouldn't let us in." Ron replied, giving Hermione a chance to catch her breath. "Well, we should contact Remus or Professor McGonagall. Maybe they warded it so that Snape couldn't get in?" suggested Hermione, after she caught her breath.
"Good idea, Hermione. I'll send Hedwig to Remus seeing if he can come visit us here as soon as possible. It might upset Aunt Petunia, but Dumbledore wanted me here so I plan on only leaving when absolutely necessary. She'll just have to get over it," Harry said with a shrug.
Harry went over to his desk and wrote a simple note explaining to Remus that Harry needed to see him. He made it sound very melancholy so that Remus would hurry to visit as soon as he could, if possible.
"Ok, that's taken care of, so did you get any books that can help us?" asked Harry. Ron rolled his eyes before he answered, "Like I could keep Hermione out of a book store when she has the itch to learn."
Hermione blushed a bit. "Well I didn't hear you complaining when I suggested it. You were more upset that we couldn't get into Number Twelve so we could start tomorrow."
At this Ron blushed. "Well it will be dead handy to know."
Harry was trying not to laugh, he really was. "Ok, guys let's split up. Hedwig won't be back tonight, and we have no time to waste. Hermione can read the Animagus books, and Ron and I can practice meditation and work on Occlumency."
Two days later the trio was interrupted by a very put out Petunia. "Harry, you have a visitor. Hurry up and get rid of him, I don't want anymore of your kind in this house. Poor Vernon and Dudley can't handle much more." With that she stomped back down the stairs.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron rushed to see who was visiting. At the top of the stairs the three of them shouted "Remus!" and raced down to greet him.
"It's so good to see you again, Harry, as well as you Ron and Hermione. Now what's the trouble? Your letter made it seem you three where in very bad spirits, but seeing you it seems the letter was wrong."
"Let's go up to my room and talk Remus. I'd rather not get into it down here." Once in the room, Remus conjured himself a chair, while Ron and Harry sat on the bed. Hermione took the desk chair. "So what's this about, what has the three of you up in arms so badly that you need me here?"
"Well you see Remus, Hermione and Ron went to Grimmauld Place to get some books to help us try to become Animagi, as well as help us in other areas. But they couldn't get in. It seems the house was still there, it just wouldn't open up. We're hoping whomever is in charge of the Order warded it so that Snape couldn't get in."
Remus looked across to Harry with a grim expression. "No Harry, Arthur didn't ward the house. By the time we got there none of us could get in either."
To say Harry was livid was an understatement. "You mean NO one can get into the house? Sirius' House! MY HOUSE! Who could have done, no I know who did it. Snape, that traitorous coward! He better not be holed up in that house, so help me I'll kill him bare-handed."
"Harry, calm down. Since you're the owner of the house no wards can keep you out. By the way, that's how Sirius got in. Even as an escaped convict, the Ministry couldn't keep him out of the house he owned," Remus explained. "It's just not safe for you to go there until we can get a few from the Order to go with you. We were hoping to break the wards before you needed to be there on your birthday, but you seemed to have jumped the gun a bit. I'll see what I can do to arrange an escort for you. I doubt it will happen before the middle of July though. Voldemort has picked up his attacks, and the Order has had a bit of a time with Albus gone." Remus finished, sounding a bit exasperated.
Hermione had gone over to Harry to help Ron comfort him. She looked over to Remus from his shoulder. "Remus, do you think you can help us learn about Animagi? Harry told us all about your help with his Patronus, and we know you where the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we had in six years."
Remus smiled. "I'll help where I can. But James and Sirius did their learning while I was away at the Shack. So I have no idea where they even started to learn while we where in school. What have you gotten to help you?"
Hermione went to get the two books she found and handed them over to Remus. "This was all Flourish & Blotts had, and I had a hard time buying these. He seemed leery about selling them to me."
"I do believe you were lucky, Hermione. I doubt he wanted to sell those books to just anyone. Becoming Animagi is very dangerous. There are many reasons why it is so strictly regulated by the Ministry. Have you read these?"
"Yes, all three of us have read both books cover to cover. Harry and I have read them both three times, and Ron is working on his third time now. We're very serious about wanting to do this, and do it right."
"If you are that serious, and planning to go through with this, it would be best for you to talk to Professor McGonagall. I doubt she will be willing to teach the three of you outside the classroom, but you will never know unless you try. She knows I am here visiting you today, and wanted me to give her an update on how the three of you are doing. Your letter worried us all, you see. I believe only your mother, Ron, was more worried. I'll ask her, and see if she wouldn't mind stopping in for a visit within the next week so you can talk with her. She's a Master in her field, and you'd be safest learning with her."
Harry, feeling that the visit was coming to an end got up and started walking with Remus to the front door. "Thank you, for getting to us so quickly. We're sorry to have scared you. No one bothered telling us how to get a hold of someone in the order, and we didn't want to chance anything we said getting intercepted."
Hermione squeaked and ran back up to the room, mumbling that she should have thought about this before. The three men looked at each other and shrugged, this rashness was part of what made her more Gryffindor than Ravenclaw.
Bouncing down the steps she had something small and shiny in her hand. Holding it out to Remus he could see it was a Galleon. Harry recognized it for what it truly was and was once again happy Hermione was there with him, he never would have thought to give one of the Dumbledore's Army coins to Remus.
"Here, Remus, this is how we communicated with the DA in fifth year. So if we need you we can get a message to you via this coin. It will heat up when a message is sent, just take it out and look at the serial numbers that's where the message will show up."
"Brilliant as always, Hermione, this will be much safer than depending on owl post. I must be off now. I shall talk to Minerva and see if I can get her to visit soon. Goodbye, and try and stay out of trouble." With that Remus left the trio to get back to their studies.
Ron thought it was very weird, that here it was June and not only was he learning something that wasn't homework, he was excited to learn. He wondered how things had changed. Shaking his head, he bounded off after Harry and Hermione.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron figured they wouldn't hear from Professor McGonagall until at least the following week. They knew she would be very busy with trying to get Hogwarts open for the next school year, on top of what she had to do to help the Order. So they were very surprised when just three days later she showed.
"Hello, Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Granger. Remus had a very interesting story for me. I must say it had me very intrigued about the three of you and your plans for some summer studies." Professor McGonagall said as she entered Harry's bedroom.
Harry stood to greet her, "Hello, Professor." He said shaking her extended hand. "We want to try to become Animagi if possible. We've read the information we could get our hands on, which was very little. We where hoping Remus could help us, but he insisted you would be the best tutor."
"I see. Now, tell me why I should help you three attempt this end of the seventh year subject, now, before you even start your seventh year of schooling. It is very dangerous, and there are many reasons why we do not cover this skill until second term of your seventh year."
"Well, um, you see Professor. The three of us won't be going back to school for our seventh year. You already know that Professor Dumbledore gave me a very important task. If we want to get this task completed we need to devote all of our time to it. There will not be any time for school." Harry said very quickly.
Hermione stepped in when Harry looked to her for help. "You see Professor, as Harry said we won't be there next year. This skill could help us in many ways, some we might not be able to predict. It could end up saving our lives and help us succeed all the better." Hermione's eyes where practically begging her Ex-Professor to see their need.
"Hmm, I see. So the three of you think you can accomplish this task Albus set for you without your final year of schooling?" Seeing their nods, she continued. "You are set against coming back to school, and you're going to study to become Animagi whether I help or not, are you not?" She looked over the three of her favorite students with a gleam in her eye. Yes, they were Gryffindor to the bone.
They each nodded. "Fine, I will help you get started. But that is all I can help you with. Arthur needs my help getting the Order back in, well, order. Also with Hogwarts future undecided, that's taken a lot of my time as well. Let me see what you've been studying, and we shall go from there."
They spent the next few hours explaining all they had learnt on their own, and where they got the information from. Professor McGonagall was highly impressed with how far the Trio had gotten on their own.
Pulling out a package and enlarging it she pulled out three identical books and handed one to each of them. "This is what I use during the school year to teach about Animagi. This book will help you learn to transform once we establish whether or not you have it within you to become an Animagus. Now I want each of you to sit down and relax. I will cast a spell on each of your feet to see if you start to change, if you do, then you have it within you; if not, well, I think you get the picture. Now who should go first? Mr. Potter how about you?"
Harry sat himself on his bed and started the first steps in meditation to calm down. Once he was calm he looked up to Professor McGonagall and nodded to show he was ready. She cast her spell on his right foot and they all stared in amazement as it grew smaller and started to sprout a soft patch of scales. Excited over Harry's accomplishment, Hermione and Ron both centered themselves and took their turns. Hermione grew a few white feathers, and Ron grew a patch of reddish fur. With that finished, Professor McGonagall left them, feeling very proud of her students. She had known that each of them had it in them. She wished them the best in learning to transform and the tasks they had ahead of them.