The monster in his chest was roaring. It said stop running you (Expletive deleted by the Department of Proper Education Standards). You've already said you don't own Harry Potter. People have surely gotten the message by now.
Normally, Harry Potter would wake up early on Christmas because Ron wouldn't leave him alone until he got up. However, Ron was home at the Burrow and Harry was the only one currently occupying Gryffindor Tower. That was why Harry's current state of not sleeping, most frustrated him. This one day he had planned to sleep until well past ten and not make an appearance outside the tower until his body started to express its need for food. Harry thought this was a truly brilliant plan and truly almost indescribable in its simplicity. Unfortunately She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Acknowledged-By-Name decided, upon hearing of his brilliant and devious plan, that it would not be sufficient. So here he was, walking down to the Diabolical Taskmaster of the Perky Variety's classroom, on Christmas morning. His well earned day of rest and relaxation now only a vague and excessively mourned dream.
"Harry, I'm impressed you're on time. I was sure you'd sleep an extra fifteen minutes just to spite me." Vector's smile told Harry that she absolutely believed he'd be on time despite what she said.
"Yes Taskmaster. I have arrived as requested." Harry popped a the same salute he had previously saved for Amelia Bones.
"Harry, what would you be doing if you weren't here?"
"I would do nothing. It would be fantastic. I would sleep, and when I was done with that I would sleep some more." Harry put as much sarcasm as he could manage at that hour into every word.
"Ah, that's nice. But in a terribly fortuitous sequence of events, you have me. Come on, let's get to work." Vector was, as usual, not fazed by Harry's attempts at swaying her mood. Harry followed her past her desk and over to a table where he would attempt to identify different materials and objects. Closing his eyes he focused on identifying the objects placed on the table. He first felt the oak table and the chairs around him, but they soon dimmed to the background. Soon enough, he found the first object that had been placed in front of him.
"Iron." No confirmation was given, but Harry was sure that he was correct. After several moments, he felt the object move away and another was placed in front of him. "Lead." Again no confirmation, and the object was replaced after several moments. He continued to name each object in succession until Septima was satisfied.
"I'm impressed Harry. You named eighteen of twenty materials correctly and identified both gold objects." Harry was marginally less annoyed with the professor after she congratulated him, but he had realized something during the test.
"Professor Vector . . ." Whatever Harry was going to say was cut off. Harry would mentally berate himself later for only managing to avoid acknowledging her by name for a whole fifteen minutes.
"Septima. Harry, there are less than a dozen other students in this entire school right now and you still can't say my first name on a regular basis. We've been through this!" Vector was a bit exasperated with Harry.
"Septima." Harry paused and waited for the go ahead to continue. When it was given, he continued his question. "Each time we do this it gets clearer."
"That's what we were hoping would happen, Harry."
"That's not what I mean. The objects are easier to find because everything else fades into the background." Harry tried to explain what he felt during these tests. "The rest is still there, but it isn't clear."
"I assume your mind is learning to filter out what isn't important."
Harry had already realized that, but he was looking for an explanation of why it was happening. "I get that. But why?"
"Harry, we walked within two feet of my desk a few minutes ago. Correct?" Harry wasn't sure where the professor was going with this train of thought.
"Yeah." He drug out the word to imply his confusion with her thinking.
"What was on it?" Harry's eyes widened. He started to turn and look, but was stopped by Vector's voice. "Don't look just tell me what you remember."
He didn't remember much.
"You had the gold, a ball, and . . . er . . . some papers, ink, and quills." Vector laughed a little bit.
"You said paper, ink, and quills because those things are always on my desk. How many stacks of paper?"
"Two." Harry shrugged.
"Now look." Harry turned toward the desk and saw that there weren't two stacks of paper, but four. Not only that, but there were also numerous other objects which he hadn't noticed including a very weird looking cube. Vector lead him over to her desk. "First off, it's a sphere Harry not a ball. Second, all of these things are on my desk and your mind only noticed a few." Harry wasn't totally paying attention, he had picked up the strange looking cube, which upon closer inspection was actually a cube within another cube and appeared to turn and twist and rotate, almost as if it was pulling itself inside out. It was mesmerizing. "It's called a tesseract. A hypercube. My seventh years are beginning to study how time affects magic and I use it to demonstrate that time is a fourth dimension."
"Er . . . right."
"Nevermind Harry. You don't take Arithmancy and we won't need to cover it for our research. What you could remember is much more important. The mind is an amazing thing Harry. Look around. All of these things were on my desk, but you remember only two and based on previous experience you believed that there were several others."
"So your point is that I have bad memory." Vector laughed at Harry's response.
"Not at all. My point is that you passed within a couple feet of my desk and while your eyes would have seen everything, your mind decided only a couple of them were worthy of committing to memory. Or perhaps you only understood the significance of a couple. It isn't really known why certain things are committed to memory and why others aren't."
"But some people remember everything." Harry was still pretty convinced that he had bad memory.
"Eidetic memory. Yes, there are people who demonstrate tremendous ability to recall specific details of memory. An impressive ability, but your memory is no less impressive. Think about it. You went right past my desk, caught a split second glimpse of the objects on it, and your mind subconsciously decided what was important to you and what was not with astounding accuracy, and it did it in a matter of moments. You remember the gold because it is important to the research we are doing. Why did you remember the sphere, or ball as you put it?" Harry shrugged in response to Septima's question. "It isn't all that important, but you might think about it."
"Good. Let's get back to work. You've made good progress with identifying materials and control of your magic, but both still need improvement."
While Harry believed that Vector was unquestionably evil for making him wake up early and work on Christmas, she thankfully did take pity on him and released him after only an hour.
"Alright, I suppose that's good enough for today. I'll let you go for now."
"Thank you!" Vector rolled her eyes.
"Oh, it wasn't that much of burden." Harry had already turned and was walking out the door as Vector spoke. "Harry!" He turned just in time to catch a small projectile. "Happy Christmas Harry."
"Happy Christmas." Harry left, returning to bed to reclaim as much of his lost sleep as he could.
Other places in the Wizarding world were more excited to be awake for Christmas morning than Harry was in Hogwarts. The ancestral home of the Bones family was not one of them. Ordinarily it would be a festive place; this year was anything but ordinary. The somber mood was due to their current guest. Having fun during a holiday about family, while hosting someone who might lose theirs, tends to be a tough proposition.
"Hannah, it's time to get up." Hannah Abbott was understandably less than excited about this on Christmas morning. She decided that it was more than probable that she would be able to squeeze in another ten minutes of sleep before they came in after her. Thinking this, the young Abbott burrowed deeper into the bed. About ten seconds later, she was summarily smashed into the bed by a surprisingly solid best friend. Said best friend, though Hannah was seriously considering adding a former to the phrase at the moment, promptly rendered her immobile by laying down upon said Abbott, thus insuring that Hannah would not be getting anymore sleep that morning.
"I'm gonna shove your face in the punch bowl, Bones." Hannah's voice signaled her semi-surrender. After all, shoving your best friend's head in a punch bowl would require her to get up.
"Ah, you say the nicest things to me. It's too bad you're trapped."
"Wanna bet?" Hannah started to struggle, trying to throw the other girl off of her, but being restricted by several layers of bedding made every attempt futile. "I won't be trapped forever, Bones."
"Ah, that's nice. Too bad you'll have to catch me first." Susan was off and running, and was through the guest room door in a flash with Hannah only a few seconds behind. Susan increased her lead down the hallway and again down the stairs. Reaching the sitting room with a comfortable lead, well ahead of Hannah, Susan stopped to celebrate. Her skin got noticeably whiter when she saw Hannah enter the room at full speed and go airborne. Amelia Bones, alerted by the commotion of the two teens, entered the room just in time to see Hannah complete one of the finest rugby tackles the Director had ever seen. Luckily, the two girls landed on a very well placed couch and a very uncomfortable Jason Bones.
"Oomf," stated a the surprised man. After taking a few moments to reclaim his breath, he asked what he felt was an obvious question. "Sus, what did you do?"
"Me, it was Hannah." The two girls were still fighting it out a little bit on the floor, but Susan stopped for a couple seconds to answer him. Unfortunately, that break allowed Hannah a few seconds to recover.
"Sus, I know it was you. You've been the instigator since you were five years old and you put pink food coloring in my shampoo."
"That wasn't me." Susan's ability to talk was inhibited by her face being shoved not-so-lightly into the floor, but Jason understood her none-the-less.
"Right. Of course, it wasn't. It must have been that other five year old girl with pink food coloring and access to my shampoo."
"It was. Ow, Hannah that's my hair." It appeared that Hannah was now attempting to braid Susan's hair in the most painful way possible.
"Sus, your fingers were pink." Jason began to present his evidence.
"Circumstantial. My fingers were always pink."
"You bragged about it to Aunt Amelia."
"Hearsay. Verbal evidence given while not present." Susan had gotten quite good at this game over the years.
"I was in the room!" So had Jason.
"No, you weren't!"
"Yes, he was." Amelia made her first foray into the conversation. "It was all I could do not to start laughing as you told the story."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Amelia shrugged in response.
Things settled down for a bit while everyone arranged themselves to open the assembled pile of Holiday Cheer. Hannah might have cracked a smile when she unceremoniously shoved Susan's face into the floor, but now her somber mood was back. Presents were opened in a free-for-all until a knock on the door roused Amelia from the melee. Opening the door revealed a slightly disheveled Hogwarts' groundskeeper.
"Hagrid, what brings you to my door on Christmas morning?"
"Mornin' Amelia, Harry asked me to deliver some presents for him." Sure enough, his oversized arm secured several wrapped packages. After handing them to Amelia, Hagrid tipped his hat. "Happy Christmas Madam Bones. I've got to head off to the Weasley's."
"Happy Christmas, Hagrid." Amelia returned with the packages. Entering the sitting room, she was relieved to see that most of the craziness had subsided. "It appears that we have a couple of late arrivals." Handing a package to Susan and one to Hannah, she retook her seat on the couch to wait.
Susan immediately set upon unwrapping hers. After tearing the colored paper into fifteen or twenty small pieces, a book was revealed. Strangely no title or author appeared on the front cover or spine. Curious, Susan opened it to find a message from the giver on the inside of the front cover.
Susan, I thought you might be able to use
this to brighten the moods of others
the way you did for me once.
Every page turned out to be blank. While Susan wasn't what she'd call artistic, she would make sure to thank Harry when she next saw him.
Hannah had moved as quickly and had barely removed the wrapping when Susan had finished. It appeared that she had also received a book. Hers was thicker and square. Unlike Susan's, a card was attached to the cover rather than a message on the inside.
Hannah, I wasn't sure if you would appreciate
a gift from me, but I thought that you might be
able to use this. A friend once gave me one,
and it often helps me to feel closer to my parents.
I hope it will help you feel closer to your dad.
She might have broken out in tears, remembering, but even as she did, the currently empty photo album was clutched to her chest.
Back at Hogwarts, Harry was newly re-awakened by another solid form landing much as Susan had on her friend. He grumpily opened his eyes to view a very particular, large black dog.
"Sirius!" His exclamation brought about a big wet lick from the transformed animagus. "Eww. Did you have to do that?" Sirius didn't answer but another voice rang out in the dim light.
"I thought you might appreciate some time with this stray dog I found during a recent trip of mine." Dumbledore spoke in a light tone.
"You're welcome, Harry. I must warn you though, we seem to be having problems with spooks and I have ordered students to return to their dorms for a few hours. It would be a shame if they ran into a couple of wild animals while roaming the halls."
Harry grinned. What followed would be one of the best afternoons in Harry's memory. Remus, who had tagged along because Sirius needed supervision, served as referee for most of it. Harry did, for a time, act like, and in many ways was, a normal teenager. Unknown to the three people currently tearing up the courtyard, two sets of eyes watched from a walkway above.
"Do you think this will provide the escape you advised?" The old wizard looked to his feline accomplice. The feline was soon replaced by a stately old witch.
"It will suffice for now."
"Much has been placed on his shoulders, but now the burden appears lighter."
"Tomorrow, he will remember. It is good that he forgets today."
"I do hope the next time you have one of these ideas, you'll be a bit less forceful." Minerva chuckled in response.
"Albus, sometimes you need to remember that the business end of my wand does carry a little weight behind it." Now, Albus Dumbledore was the one who let out a laugh.
"I don't believe I have ever forgotten."
The three "children" continued to play, never noticing the presence of the elder watchers.
Amelia Bones was a bit nervous. It wasn't a feeling she was used to having. She had always been a little anxious before a battle, but this was different. The original plan had been to take Hannah to see her mother after dinner, but that plan was modified after the arrival of Hagrid and the delivery of the presents. She and Susan had held a quiet conversation away from the young Abbott and decided that maybe it would be good to begin filling the photo album while at St. Mungo's. While Susan and Hannah had flooed to the hospital with Jason, Amelia had made a quick detour to the Abbott residence to locate some family photos. Luckily, the photographs had not been that hard to locate. However, neither Susan nor Amelia was quite sure how this idea would be received when presented to Hannah. So that was how it came to be that Amelia Bones stood outside the door of a private room, hands full with a box of photos and an album, wondering whether she should enter or not.
"Aunty, aren't you going to come in?" Susan's voice broke Madam Bones from her thoughts.
"Yes, I'm coming." Entering with box in hand, Amelia made her way over to Hannah. "Hannah, you don't have to, but Susan and I thought you might like to fill in a few pages of your album while you were here." For a few moments, it looked like Hannah would rather do anything else, but eventually she nodded silently. The box was placed on the floor, and no one moved. Several silent moments passed before Susan made the first move toward the box. She shuffled photos around before picking one out.
"Hannah remember this? Your dad took us to the football game. He tried to get us to appreciate it, but we kept asking why not just watch a quidditch match." Finally, it seemed that Hannah would participate because she quickly nodded and joined Susan, beginning to look through the photos. Soon enough, both girls were engrossed in looking through photos. Amelia let out a breath she had been partially holding in and took a few photos to look at herself.
The group worked primarily in silence for several hours. Every few minutes, Hannah and Susan would discuss a photo, remembering the day, and Jason would put in a couple words every now and then. Amelia simply took a stack of photos and looked through them and when she was done, passed them back to the girls. The box was being steadily emptied as photos got strewn across the floor, chairs, and any manner of furniture that wasn't occupied. On Amelia's fifth stack of photographs, she came across something strange. The object wasn't strange; it was, after all, a photo and she had been looking at them for several hours and the subject wasn't strange either. It was a family and she had been looking at family photos. The who, however, was strange. The family wasn't Hannah's, rather it was Harry's. A perfectly normal family, Lily standing next to James and holding Harry who was wrapped in a blanket.
"Why would they have this picture?" she muttered, softly enough that it didn't attract the attention of the rooms other occupants. Several conclusions were reached in quick succession. Amelia judged all of them to be wrong, for she knew there must be something more. Every time she thought she had it, it disappeared and her mind began to hurt. Amelia, quickly, became aware of the implications. "Jason, take Susan and Hannah home when they finish." Without another word, Amelia hurried out the door.
It didn't take her long to reach the floo connection for St. Mungo's, and when she did, most of the hospital knew it. "Hogwarts" Amelia Bones was gone.
Albus Dumbledore had long since returned to his office and was currently looking through several reports, but whatever he might have been doing was derailed by an irate Head of the DMLE.
"Dumbledore, I swear to Merlin, if you don't let me in, I will redecorate this hallway until you do." After quickly wondering what he had done to acquire the ire of the formidable Madam Bones this time, he did, indeed, open the way for Amelia's arrival.
"Amelia, to what do I . . ." Whatever he might have said was lost because Amelia was in no mood to trade pleasantries.
"No! Don't speak! I don't know why I didn't think of it before. You didn't obliviate the existence of Harry Potter's godmother away. How could you? There would be no way to insure that everything was taken care of. You'd be almost guaranteed to miss some one along the way. No, you had to do something else. I can't believe I missed it. You somehow put the information under a Fidelius Charm. Somehow, without hiding the person, you managed to hide the knowledge." After finishing her rant, Amelia stood staring at the Headmaster with a look of blatant accusation.
Dumbledore sighed. "You are correct. A curious charm, the Fidelius. I would dare to say that there is no other quite like it. Truly, I doubt that Denton had any idea what he had created."
"It comes down to the wording and the subject, Amelia. Hiding a person or a building is a simple act of trust, but hiding information from the person who owns it is much more complicated. Putting enough trust in someone that you allow them to hold knowledge dear to you is a difficult thing to do."
"But it can be done, obviously, because you did it. Linda is . . ." Amelia fought against the charm.
"Linda Abbott is Harry Potter's godmother." The knowledge unlocked memories that had been hidden from Amelia for more than a decade. Lily Evans and then Linda Price had been friends at Hogwarts. Upon Harry's birth James picked Sirius as Harry's godfather and Lily picked Linda as his godmother.
"Does he know?"
"No, I haven't told him. I had been debating whether I should tell Harry since you first confronted me about his guardianship, but Halloween made the decision for me. Should I tell him now? The blame he still reserves for himself would magnify a dozen times over." Dumbledore appeared to be truly asking Amelia for her opinion. She didn't have an answer.
"I don't know. It is his right, and hers."
"Yes, it is. Yet, I still cannot see a way of revealing the knowledge now would not bring more harm, at least in the the short run, than it would bring good."
"They should still know, even if no one else does." Albus didn't reply.
AN: Another chapter down and the mystery is solved. Dun-dun-Duh! Anyway the chapter moves the story forward. Don't have a whole lot to cover in this Author's Note, but let's get to it. Several (many) people have commented on Harry's struggles with what seem to be fairly simple concepts and that it makes him seem dumb. There are three primary reasons for this. First, Harry hasn't had a math class since he was ten. I'm not from Britain, but that's what . . . fractions? It's really funny how mathematically deficient the magical world would be. Second, if I got out my Physics and Calc books and started going through complex equations, people would hate me. Third, I'm not a chemist or physicist. I'm a computer scientist. It's easy for me to create codes and puzzles to solve, but coming up with magical theory from scratch is a bit beyond what I'm used to.
I do wanna give a shout out to silverlasso. Wrong. But good try. You lost me somewhere around echolocation but I'll take your word for it.