Harry checked the MP5 magazine, smacking the top of it in the palm of his hand a few times. Looking over at Tonks, she was about to do the same. Nearly two dozen magazines sat on the table between them. After that he opened a small box of ammunition, 7.62 x 51, for his long rifle, loading a few magazines of that. Still Tonks continued with the 9mm rounds, instead of the MP5 it was for a pistol.
'I'm not sure which I prefer, date or raid,' Tonks called out, Harry needing a moment to register what she said.
'Yes, it's a date,' Harry replied after another few seconds. 'Who told you?'
'I hear things,' Tonks replied, her faux coy tone making Harry laugh.
'It was obvious,' Harry joked. He looked down to see the box was empty, opening a second to continue. 'Restocking after Burkes?'
'Why did you even ask, you know I'm on medical leave,' Tonks replied, lying openly.
'Yes, you took three classes then were suddenly tired, but all you needed was a break over a double, I knew what going on,' Harry countered.
'Restocking, burned off another of the Inner Circle, unconfirmed on another,' Tonks replied. 'McNair was easy to ID.'
'He was, have some fun while in the store?'
'You mean apart from burning it down and revealing it as a Death Eater supply shop?' Tonks teased. 'Oh a little. This wizard, I think, made a pass at me, I left him with Katya, apparently she knew him. Owed her a few expensive favours.'
'Russian accent, ex-assassin?' Harry asked.
'You know her?' Tonks asked.
'Tunisia, she shot low,' Harry replied. 'Real axe to grind.'
Tonks blinked slowly, processing what Harry had just said, thinking back to the raid. 'Yeah, she shot low.'
'Before you ask the question, the best I kind find, late 80's KGB Sparrow with a side of sniper,' Harry said.
'Even you could only find that much?' Tonks asked, stunned.
'That much, best guess, dark wizard made it personal, she made personal back,' Harry replied. 'The rest of it, unconfirmed hits. Some explosive, most of them shot. Most of them not too clean either.'
'I can't blame her,' Tonks replied. She looked over at the many ammunition boxes on the table. 'Would you mind letting me try that M4 of yours?'
'Not at all,' Harry replied. He pushed a few empty magazines over, with the boxes of 5.56 NATO to Tonks. 'Half and half, I've got a place in the Forbidden Forest,' Harry replied.
'Done,' Tonks replied. She checked the first round out of the box. 'I need your dealer.'
Harry smiled in replied. Secret came too easy in this profession.
Minerva waited at the entrance to the Headmaster's office, Albus having asked to speak to her.
'Minerva, thank you for speaking to me so late,' Albus started.
Minerva bristled at his tone, knowing what he had ordered. 'Yes, I have more than few words for you as well.'
'Perhaps you can give me a chance to speak first?' Albus asked.
'If you actually listen,' Minerva countered.
'I shall, may I ask if you were aware of the activities of Ms Tonks or Auror Potter today?' Albus asked.
'Why may I ask?' Minerva immediately countered.
'There was another raid, this time in Knockturn Alley. It was as I feared, that Borgin and Burkes was a front for the Death Eaters. However the sheer violence of the raid was astounding. Only a few Death Eaters are so violent.'
'How bad?' Minerva asked, having seen such evidence.
'Quite bad, we tried to save them, their wounds just too severe,' Albus continued. 'Ms Tonks and Auror Potter.'
'Ms Tonks was very tired, asked Harry to take the class just after lunch,' Minerva replied. Ms Tonks never left her quarters during the class, she needs more some time to be back at full strength.'
'That is one less worry,' Albus replied. 'What did you want to discuss?'
'Your treatment of Harry, I'm sure you've had his room searched,' Minerva started. 'If he's been given anything that will help him protect himself he should keep. He needs it.'
'It is not that reason I wish those items out of his hands,' Albus said, cutting Minerva off. 'I know he can be quite temperamental, I would not wish that harm on any person here.'
'He's got every right to protect himself, Draco Malfoy has done him great harm, he would not be out of place if he returned it. If he took after his father he would have done that many times over,' Minerva shot back. 'How can you defend what Harry has endured?'
'He's not had the easiest time here,' Albus stated slowly.
'Nor has he had the easiest time anywhere! Why can't you thank whoever has taken him in and given him the training they did?' Minerva again shot back.
'I do not wish him to know such violence,' Albus said. 'I need you to understand that extreme violence is something no-one should endure, or inflict. Even with the best reasons.'
Minerva got up, sighing. 'You really have forgotten, haven't you?'
She left, keeping her frustrations internal, hoping to speak to Harry and tell him what she knew.
Hermione was surprised to see Harry in the library, going through some of the harder to reach shelves. Placing her bag on the table she wanted she went back to find Harry, having disappeared. He returned in a few seconds, resting the ladder against the nearest book case.
'Can I help you?' Harry asked flatly.
'I wanted to help, what are you after?' Hermione asked, hoping that it was the start of a road to repair their friendship.
'I don't think you'll be much help,' Harry replied, in much the same tone, but honestly. 'It's a pretty hard tracking charm.'
'Let me have a look, I'm sure I'll get it,' Hermione replied. She caught a flash of something in Harry's eye, normally that glare reserved for Malfoy.
'Do you think I am stupid? Ignorant?' Harry asked bluntly. Much as his tone was the last time they spoke, it had returned.
'No, I just want to help,' Hermione repeated.
'So you can report on me?' Harry asked. Again, the same flat tone.
'I want things to go back to the way they were,' Hermione said after a few seconds. 'You know that.'
'I suppose I do, if you want to help, clear and safe the weapon,' Harry said, holding his pistol out to her, barrel pointed towards the floor, grip pointed at Hermione.
'I don't know what you mean,' Hermione stuttered. 'What do you want me to do?'
'Clear and safe the weapon,' Harry repeated, then again. He said it a fourth time.
'Harry, please,' Hermione complained. She watched as Harry dropped the magazine, placing it in his left hand, right hand. Then something came out of the pistol, Harry catching it, before a soft click, then it was placed in her hand.
'Hermione, I don't need help anymore,' Harry said softly, standing close to her, taking the pistol back. 'I know if I ask for help I am making targets out of the people who do. You're already enough a target because we were friends. We might be again in a few years if it's possible. Right now the only reason I am safe is that I am the biggest, scariest version of me I could possibly be. I am self reliant, self directed and independent.'
'Professor Dumbledore doesn't like it, I don't like it,' Hermione complained.
'You think I like what I can do?' Harry asked. 'You both seem happy to assume that I do.'
Hermione's head dropped, truly caught in his trap. 'Why?'
'No-one else should have to deal with it, I know what I'll do to end it, damn me for doing it, but I'll still do it,' Harry continued. 'There are no happy endings for me. Just tipping the scales so I might have a life after Voldemort. Long from now it will be a lucky day where I don't have to live with what I've done because my life, the life I could lead will be so good that just for a moment I will forget the monster I am now to have it. You think you can pull people out of darkness and show them light and friendship, they heal. You can't heal from what I went through. Remember that scrunched up parchment you tried to save?'
'Yes, I couldn't ever get it neat again,' Hermione replied.
'People can be like that too,' Harry said, loading and cocking the weapon, if she remembered what others were talking about from Muggle Studies. Relieved when she saw a white dot, instead of a red, she let Harry go, perhaps understanding him better than she had before. Even better than everyone else in the school, except one.
Ginny waited a moment, everyone out of the dorm room. She opened her trunk, choosing an outfit for the date, since according to Harry it was going to be a Gryffindor weekend. She dug through the shirts and skirts, knowing that was far too cold for those garments. She heard the door open and shut quickly.
'Hi Ginny,' Hermione said brightly, trying to act as if nothing had changed between the two. 'I thought you'd be in class now.'
'I've got a break, Tonks said I was ahead and it was a practical class,' Ginny said bluntly.
'So, why going through the clothes? Got a date?' Hermione asked.
'You know I do,' Ginny replied slowly. 'So I want to impress Harry.'
'How is Harry?' Hermione asked, a waver in her tone. Something about Hermione said she needed a friend, if not that at least a friendly set of ears.
'He's well, busy, still teaching in part,' Ginny replied. 'He's great, actually.' She waited a moment, feeling some part of their light friendship return. 'You've heard me complain about guys, I swear he was listening to every one of them. He's helping me learn how to duel too.'
'Yeah, I heard you joined, doing well?' Hermione asked.
'I don't know, still pretty new, but I took down... that seventh year Hufflepuff, one of the prefects,' Ginny said, not sure of his name. 'That was tough.'
'Oh, I know who you mean, he's supposedly already been offered a place as an auror,' Hermione replied. 'How else are you doing?'
'Pretty good, you ?' Ginny asked, hoping she'd be able to do some fishing of her own. She keep it light, sure Hermione wasn't feeling the best emotionally.
'Oh, okay,' Hermione replied. 'It's been quiet this year, I expected to have something to do with... because of Harry. That Umbridge woman was supposed to sent here to take control.'
'Yeah, I know what you mean,' Ginny replied. She adjusted her position, letting Hermione sit down. 'Just how bad was it, last year?'
'Harry always okay, I'm just worried he's still okay, not that he ever was,' Hermione said. 'I saw how he reacted to his family, then we had to say nothing... he's got to let some of it go.'
Frustration boiled over for a moment, Ginny ready to let it go, holding her mood in tight reins. 'He can't Hermione. You can't do that to a person and expect them to be... to adjust to it and be like everyone else. It scars them, breaks them. You can't ask him to forgive, he doesn't know what it is. You can't ask him to forget, he can't.'
'Is it really that bad?' Hermione asked, Ginny nodding her reply. 'I never knew.' A tear started down her cheek. 'He said the same thing too. I was a really terrible friend wasn't I?'
Ginny wasn't sure how to answer that, hugging the older girl gently.