Chapter 6: Close Encounters
Harry returned to Potter Manor with a smile on his face. Not only had he implemented changes in staffing at Hogwarts, but he also implemented changes that would more than likely take care of the problems most students had at the school. The bullying Slytherins. Almost every Slytherin who would come before the board would most likely get expelled, maybe because of house prejudice, but more than that, they would be expelled because they truly deserved it. As Harry stepped into the entrance hall quietly, he began hearing yelling from the three people he knew were there.
"You are such a prat, Ronald Weasley! Harry didn't want all this responsibility thrust upon him! Look what he's been through the past three years, and all of his life! Two years ago there were bars on his window! Now he's finally free from those awful muggles and you're still jealous!"
"He always has everything Hermione! He has fame, fortune, everyone wants to be around him! It's not fair! He gets all the attention, and what happens to us? We get shifted to the sidelines! Who got past the devil's snare first year? You're the one that figured that out! Yeah, he got the key to the locked door, but who got past the chess set? Who sacrificed himself so that he can get to the stone? ME! But do we get any of the credit? No. It's all about him!" Ron yelled.
"You're jealous of Harry? Ronald, how could you be so stupid? Look at Harry's life! He was mistreated by everyone in his life before he came to Hogwarts! YOU have a family who loves you and is always there for you! YOU have your brothers by your side. What does Harry have? US! He doesn't have the family support like you do. Now, he just has Sirius and me, and Hermione!" Ginny yelled. "You need to get your head out of your ass and think about it all! Harry would give up all of this to have a family that loves him! He doesn't care anything about all this money. But you don't see that. All you see is what you don't have and what he does."
"Your sister is right, Ron. Harry would give all this up. You don't realize how happy I was to find out that I have a brother. I'm sure Harry feels the same way. I admit, I was really surprised, and somewhat disappointed, but I wouldn't change it for anything." Hermione said. Harry looked at Hermione from the corner of the room where he entered, hearing how Hermione was disappointed in being his brother. It made Harry feel a bit sad. Ginny, however, also heard this.
"Why are you disappointed?" Ginny asked, as she looked at Hermione. Realization dawned on Ginny a moment later when the darker haired girl looked at her. "No way! You know… I can't believe you Hermione! You knew how I… "
"Ginny, I know you like Harry." Hermione said, while Harry's eyes shot up. Ginny likes me? Harry thought. Why….
"Of course I like Harry. I've always liked Harry. I just started to get to know him really, and not the boy-who-lived. They're not the same." Ginny snapped. This made Harry feel even better, as Ginny finally got past the crush on the boy-who-lived and saw Harry for himself. "You never told me that you …"
"What's going on?" Ron asked, displaying his usual gift for being obtuse.
"Nothing, Ron." Hermione said. "I love Harry… he's my brother. And I will defend him until my dying day. Just like you would defend your brothers and Ginny."
"I guess you're right, Hermione. Everything happens to Harry though. I can't help but feel a bit jealous of him."
"Well maybe you'd like to walk a year in my shoes then, Ron?" Harry said, entering the hall. All pairs of eyes locked on him as he walked towards them. "Maybe you'd like to have a psychotic maniac after you every year. Maybe you'd like to face Voldemort, to know that you can die at any moment." Harry wasn't yelling, but the sharpness in his voice took the trio back a step.
"That's not what I meant, Harry. You have all this money, this huge house… everything."
"That may be true, Ron. But Ginny was right. I would give it all up to have what you have. A family that loves you. I never got to know my mum and dad. Everything you see here? I'd gladly give it up to spend time with my parents. But I don't get that luxury. You need to get over yourself. You of all people should know that. Why do you think you're here? I could care less about the money or the fame. Everything I have, I'd share with Hermione and your family. But you know your parents, and you, won't take it. Hermione may not be able to inherit, but that doesn't mean she can't 'accept' things from the living family. What you fail to realize, is that in many ways, you're much richer than I am. Material possessions aren't what make people rich. Get that through your thick skull, and maybe you'll learn to appreciate what you have." Harry said the last bit with a touch of anger, but calmed down when Ginny put her hand on his arm.
"Harry's right, Ron. He would give up everything. You saw what happened the last three years. Everytime he got hurt on one of his adventures, it was to help others, not himself. Voldemort has something against Harry, and I'm going to stand beside my brother. I'm sure Ginny would too…"
"Of course I'm going to stand beside Harry! Wild hippogriffs couldn't keep me from Harry." Ginny said, then blushed as she realized exactly what she said.
"Why Miss Weasley, I didn't know you cared so much. I am shocked." Harry smiled as he put an arm around Ginny and hugged her close. Ginny smiled back up at Harry and leaned into him.
"Oi! Don't start snogging on me now!" Ron said heatedly. Both Harry and Ginny blushed, but didn't pull away. Instead, they looked into each others eyes and smiled.
"Ron, you have the emotional range of a teaspoon." Hermione quipped. All four of them laughed, although Ron didn't quite understand what was going on.
"I'm sorry, Harry. You're right. I can be a jealous git sometimes. What did McGonagall want?"
"Oh, just to go over some changes to the school. Since technically, I'm the boss, I will have my own office and quarters now. I won't be moving back to Gryffindor Tower. .." Both Hermione and Ginny gasped at this as Ron stood slackjawed.
"But Harry…" Hermione began.
"I must have my own office where I can study and take care of the paperwork for the school, Hermione. Although I intend to allow McGonagall free reign, there's going to be a lot of changes. And this year is going to be totally different from the previous years. You'll just have to wait."
"Where is your office going to be?" Ginny asked, before Hermione could interrupt again.
"I'll be taking over Helga Hufflepuff's office near the Hufflepuff common room. I could have chosen Ravenclaws or Slytherins, but I decided that Hufflepuff's old office would suit me best, as only the Hufflepuffs' go down to that area. And no, I won't be giving anyone the password. It will be strictly in parsletongue."
"Why can't we come to your office too?" Ron asked.
"I'll be doing a lot of training by myself this year, Ron. Not that I don't appreciate you guys helping, but now that I know how it has to be, I must train completely. I've noticed my power is growing substantially, and I can't risk anyone being around in case something goes haywire. I have much more magical power now, and dueling with any of you, I can seriously hurt you without meaning to. I'll be learning to control my power levels, and that's something I won't risk any of you on."
"What do you mean, Harry?" Ginny asked. Harry didn't really want to explain about the magical boost that happened when he put the rings on his fingers, but these were his best friends. Ron, Hermione and Ginny… his best friends.
"When I took over as head of the families, the Potter family ring unblocked a lot of power within me. A block that was placed on me by Dumbledore when I was a baby. Turns out I was levitating Sirius in his dog form all the time into my crib, and using him as a pillow. Mum and Dad would try and keep him out, but the last time…"
"What happened? And how did you find this out? Were there other stories…" Hermione began in her rapid-fire approach to asking questions.
"Hermione! Breath!" Harry said. "If you'd stop interrupting, I would tell you! Geez. Get some Ritalin or something!" Hermione harrumphed and sat down, crossing her arms.
"What's Ritalin?" Ron asked.
"Muggle drug for those who get overexcited." Harry explained. "Anyway… the last time it happened, I had levitated Padfoot into my crib and…"
"James and Lily couldn't get me out because Harry erected a powerful shield." Sirius finished, striding into the room along with another man, who they knew was Remus Lupin.
"Professor Lupin!" Ron, Harry, Ginny and Hermione squealed.
"Just Remus, kids. I'm not your professor anymore. Or you can call me Moony. I hear we have four new Marauders."
"Mr. Firestorm welcomes Mr. Moony to Potter Manor, and bids him to please make himself at home." Harry said.
"Miss Firelfy agrees with Mr. Firestorm, and also adds her welcome." Ginny continued.
"Miss Wings had no clue Mr. Moony would be here so soon, but also welcomes him to Potter Manor, and hopes that he is well." Hermione said.
"And Mr. Gryff is completely lost as usual…" Harry said cheekily, noticing the dumbfounded look on Ron's face.
"Hey!" Ron said indignantly, as the remaining five Marauders laughed.
"Mr. Padfoot loved to be Mr. Firestorm's pillow when he was a wee firestorm. But Mr. Prongs and Miss Bambi didn't appreciate being kept away from their son by their son." Sirius laughed.
"And Mr. Moony remembers it well. Mr. Prongs and Miss Bambi were really frustrated, and Mr. Padfoot couldn't help but cause trouble."
"Mr. Padfoot expresses that it was not his fault a little baby had placed a shield around us so that he could use me as a pillow."
Harry was embarrassed, but in a good way. These were stories from when his parents were alive, and as much as it hurt, it also made him feel comfort that his parents did have normal lives outside of the war. Harry's quiet state was picked up immediately by Ginny, who was looking at Harry intently.
"What's wrong Harry?" Ginny asked.
"Just thinking about my parents." Harry said. "I really don't know much about them. I guess it's just hearing stories about them kind of make me nostalgic." Harry looked into the young redhead's eyes…those pools of dark chocolate that was filled with something Harry couldn't explain. Was it worry? No, he'd seen that before in both Hermione and Ron's. But what was it in Ginny's? He would have to figure that out soon.
"What's going on?" Ron asked, noticing the looks between Harry and Ginny. "Why are you looking at my baby sister like that?"
"RONALD! I AM NOT A BABY!" Ginny snapped. "I WILL LOOK AT WHOEVER I WANT AND IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS SO SOD OFF!"
"Calm down, Ginny." Sirius said.
"Yes, we don't want any fighting here." Remus said.
"Anyway!" Harry interrupted. "Moony, you have your old room back if you want. During full moons, you know the woods is warded for you. I want you to live here too."
"Harry… you don't have to do that. I have my own place…"
"Nonsense, Moony. You're a part of my family too, and this is your home too, for as long as you want. Dasher has told me there's a small cottage on the edge of the property if you prefer to move in there, and it's close to the woods for the full moon, or you can keep your old room."
"Thank you Harry. I mean that."
"It's not a problem, Moony. The only thing I ask is that you assist us with our training. No longer will we have Dumbledore interfering in my life, and I'm going to need all the help I can get when I visit my family vault."
"You haven't been in your family vault yet?" Sirius asked. "Harry, I think you should do that as soon as possible. There are things there that you need to have."
"Like what Padfoot?" Ginny asked.
"Oh, that's a secret. You took over your father's office, right?" Harry nodded. "Well, there are things in your vault that belong there, books and such. There are also portraits of your grandparents, and your family tree there. It was taken from the manor before your parents went into hiding in case Voldemort discovered your manor."
"That would be interesting to see, Harry. I'd like to see our family…" Hermione interjected.
"I'll go to the family vault tomorrow. Until then, let's have lunch, and we'll discuss what kind of training we'll do. I need to learn to control the power levels of my magic, and learn a few potions and such. I know my elves have their own potions stocks, but that won't help me with potions class." Harry said, looking at the group. They headed into the dining room where Dasher and Devine were setting the table for the nine of them. Harry had insisted that the three elves currently there dine with them, much to the happiness of the elves there.