After the meeting with Dumbledore was over, Harry and Fleur were given a portkey directly to a waiting Madam Pomfrey, who immediately had Harry change into hospital garb and began explaining the details of the magical surgeries he'd be undergoing.
"Surgeries?" Harry asked nervously.
"Yes Mr. Potter, surgeries. The first of which will be the bone removal and re-growth, this will cover the first day. During this surgery, at various strategic times, a St. Mungo's healer, that Professor Dumbledore is retrieving as we speak, and I will be casting various charms to allow the bones to re-grow stronger than they were before. Also done during this process is the compacting and tightening of your musculature, this will improve the efficiency of your muscles after words, though only slightly, mostly it's done to insure you don't have moths of recovery time after the surgery, and while it won't be as painful as re-growing all of your bones this will cause a great deal of discomfort for some time to come. Between them, those two tasks plus recovery will take two days.
After that will be some work on your body's natural healing ability. This will mostly be done through nutritional potions that you will need to take every morning after you've had breakfast, and every evening just before you seek your bed. This process will take the next two months to achieve the goal that I've set out for you. Beyond that, we also have a magical surgery for improving your eyesight to what it should be, but be aware that it likely will not remove your need for glasses. We could take it that far, and you can seek that still in the future, but the headmaster believes that unnecessary for now." Fleur and Harry both thought they heard her mumble 'Bloody interfering old git' at this point and they laughed, which felt really good right about now, what with the imminent pain in Harry's future.
Madam Pomfrey blushed a bit, but went on in her brisk, professional manner, "This last process will take a final day to heal and adjust. Since you'll still need glasses we should also be able to alter the prescription on your current pair, but we'll order you a new pair as well once we know your new visual needs. Now do you have any questions?"
Fleur asked, "I mean no offence, but why is this to be done here? Would it not be better for Harry to have the surgery in St. Mungo's?"
Madam Pomfrey bristled slightly and her voice was somewhat colder than usual when she replied, "Mr. Potter has been my patient for…"
But before she could get going, Harry interrupted her, "I trust Madam Pomfrey with this. Frankly, I'm great full for willingness to do this for me as I don't know any other healer I'd feel comfortable trusting my health to."
Madam Pomfrey looked satisfied and nodded to that while bustling off to prepare. Fleur, meanwhile, was making a mental note to never get on this woman's bad side.
Once the healer from St. Mungo's arrived they began and if anything, Harry believed that the amount of pain was far worse than he'd expected. Fleur looked worried though, so he managed to smile occasionally for her, as she refused to leave his side, and he made sure that no more than grunts of pain escaped him.
Three days later, Harry was learning how to walk again, and getting his motor functions where they should be. For that first hour he was sure something had gone wrong, but Madam Pomfrey assured her that it was normal as his muscles were in a slightly different location now. Once he could stand he found himself before a full length mirror and thought he looked wrong, and it was explained that because his muscles were currently more compact than before it was like he had an outer layer of baby fat covering him.
Of course, he hadn't much in the way of fat beforehand so a simple touch showed that the layer was very thin and a little exercise would easily deal with it, either subsume it in new muscle growth or simply burn it off. He was told that he needed to eat more than he normally would, as his metabolism was working overtime to adjust, and reminded once again to take his potions.
Once he could manage it, he and Fleur made their way to the headmaster's office.
"Ah good, up already. Healer Walker bet Madam Pomfrey it would take two more hours for your recovery to this point, I must say, Poppy will be pleased," and he chuckled while Fleur and Harry just shared a look that seemed to say 'I wouldn't of bet against Madam Pomfrey'. "Well then," Dumbledore continued, "on to the next step," and he stood up and quickly marched out of his office at such a pace that Harry struggled to keep up, while Fleur was beginning to look murderously at the aged headmaster. Still, by the time they reached their apparent destination Harry seemed okay, so Fleur would keep her temper and not embarrass Harry for berating an old man for walking too fast for him.
When they'd gotten close he'd seen the look on Fleur's face and had instinctively reached out and taken her hand, and this seemed to ease her memories about her failure to save Gabriel here during the tournament, so he was still holding it when he asked, "Professor, why are we at the lake?"
"Quite simple my boy, quite simple. This will be where you start your physical training," and he pulled a jar from his robes that contained a familiar looking plant.
"Gillyweed," Harry said, cottoning on, but he also looked a little sheepish and quietly said, "I don't really know how to swim though, never learned."
Fleur didn't understand, how could he have saved Gabriel if he couldn't swim? she wondered.
"Yes, I thought that might be the case Harry, which is why Ms. Delacour is here. I thought she could teach you, and, having used gillyweed before, I suspect you'll learn quickly. After you've gotten comfortable with some basic swimming ability, I felt you could use this gillyweed and spend the next hour exploring the lake with Ms. Delacour here. Not only is it good exercise, but a good way to spend time together without it being too awkward." Here he turned to Fleur, "You do feel comfortable teaching Harry to swim I hope?" At her nod, and very slight blush, he said, "Excellent! I also believe you will look much better in a bathing suit than I would."
He stayed facing them just long enough to see them both blush, though Harry was downright crimson, then he turned away and conjured two changing tents with swimwear inside. "Now, I believe I can leave you both to it. The gillyweed I've provided is enough for two hours each, but for full enjoyment, and benefit, I recommend roughly two hours getting Harry up to speed and comfortable in the water, then an elf will bring a picnic lunch, and, after a break to digest and perhaps talk, then the gillyweed for two hours." He turned to leave, but turned around and said, "Ah yes, I'd nearly forgotten," and he drew his wand and conjured two silver necklaces with dolphin charms and handed them to Harry and Fleur. "These will provide three helpful things while underwater; first, a warming charm, as even in summer the lake can be quite cold, second, a means of psychic communication for while under the water, and third, a form of sonar that should assist you in moving through the lake safely."
"Once the gillyweed has run its' course I would like you to make your way to Madam Pomfrey for evaluations on your first day and then back to my office for further instruction." Here his eyes suddenly twinkled merrily as he explained, "To activate the charms on the necklaces you must place them on each other and hold the dolphin charms for a slow count of five. I believe that is all for now, so good day, and enjoy." He kept his laughter inside all the way back to the castle, but the blushes he got for his final instructions were priceless. He supposed he could have made the chains on the necklaces longer, but both teens had clearly recognized that in order for them to clasp those charms they would have to stand very close together. Ah, to be young again.
So that was how Fleur and Harry spent their day. Learning how to swim involved a lot of contact to get started, but the cold water helped deal with any inappropriate thoughts, though the swimsuit Dumbledore had conjured didn't help for Harry's side. Then again, he was beginning to wonder if anything that would have been classified as a 'swimsuit' could have looked bad on Fleur; honestly, he hadn't been thinking clearly back in 4th year during the second task, but he was sure she'd gotten even more beautiful since then. He also didn't remember her being quite so curvy, but back then she hadn't seemed real to him, almost too perfectly beautiful to be human, now though, the ethereal beauty seemed reduced while the more natural beauty had been increased.
Fleur's own thoughts weren't entirely pure as she noticed the lean muscle Harry had, and she noticed that while before the surgery he'd been a few centimeters shorter than her he now seemed to be about a centimeter taller than her. His shoulders also seemed slightly wider, and while the surgery hadn't given him an instantly ripped look, after those first couple hours he seemed tight. Memories of a recent trip to the beach with Bill brought her back to reality though, and it was clear to Harry who decided that he should try a little free swimming. Dumbledore had been right, he had learned fast.
During the picnic they talked more about themselves and learned little details like favorite foods, favorite colors, and several other little things. Harry wanted to talk about what it was like growing up with her family, and she managed to get some greater detail about his adventures since he'd joined the magical world. They also compared their schools and various teachers.
Then they used the gillyweed after finally activating the charms on the necklaces, which again caused an awkward moment, but then they were swimming around beneath the lake surface like a couple of fish and they spent those two hours having fun, and challenging each other to races and games of tag.
Eventually the gillyweed ran out, but both were feeling too energized to go inside so they casually jogged around the lake once and then up to the castle where Madam Pomfrey declared that it was an excellent start. Then they had dinner with the headmaster and the nurse who were the only other human's in the castle as the teachers were either on vacation or Order business for at least the next eleven days, and finally it was up to the headmaster's office.
In Dumbledore's office he waived them to sit down and then went into what appeared to be a small closet, but in fact was a storage chamber that an early Hogwarts headmaster added. Inside was at least one magical item enchanted by each headmaster or headmistress since, each on a shelf or stand with charms on them to always return to that place if ever they were removed and then a time came that they ceased being used for their intended purpose. Each also had plaques that stated what that intended use was.
When Dumbledore emerged from this room he had in his hands a large silver hourglass, which he placed in front of Harry and then explained, "This is a device created some four hundred years ago by a headmistress of Hogwarts. It works like a time turner, but instead of one turn equaling an hour, one turn equals a day. It doesn't have a chain like smaller time turners, so for more than one person to use it they both have to turn it. Also unlike its' smaller cousins, once turned over and released, anyone who had been holding it will go back a day, but the device will remain fixed to the spot it is left until the last grain of sand falls to the other side. For safety sake, I will have you always use the device here in my office. Now do you have any questions?"
"I was wondering how this was supposed to work, I mean, isn't it more likely we'll run into ourselves while using this? It's a lot harder remembering where you've been over several days."
Fleur was grateful to be included and smiled at Harry, to which he smiled back, but quickly turned back to the headmaster when he started blushing. A part of her liked making him blush, it didn't even mind it when she blushed, though in the past she'd always avoided that as she thought it made her skin blotchy, and that it was not at all attractive on her. She instinctively knew that she could trust Harry with her heart, and that it was likely to happen one day due to their circumstances, but they'd both been hurt, and it would take time before either could be ready. Besides, she still had moments when Bill's face would pop up in her head and she'd nearly break down crying; so far, Harry had seemed to know when she was getting to that point and would bring her out of it before she could really fall in.
When Dumbledore responded to Harry's question he sounded like he was trying not to condescend to him as said, "You will, of course, have to stay under your cloak whenever traveling from one point to another, and that wonderful map of yours should prevent you from walking into yourselves. For this early stage I recommend only using it once a day so that each day is only two days, this will allow you the ability to train outside one day, such as you have today, and one day inside. After the will reading, when we begin you on your magical training, it will be more difficult as each day will be six, one with each Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, Babbling, Vector, and myself, and a final day where Ms. Delacour works with you on Potions. Naturally this will require you to have multiple sleeping locations, and arrangements have been made for such. For now, you will use your dorm room for the night before you will be training within the castle, and guest quarters on the grounds for when the next day will primarily be spent outdoors. Also, when you come here to turn back to the previous day, you will have to be exceedingly cautious, as one chance meeting of yourselves would be disastrous."
"What will I be doing while Harry is training magically headmaster?"
"Ah, well, I was hoping you wouldn't mind assisting Professors Babbling and Vector to teach their courses to young Harry as, depending on his natural skill in both, they may need help in preparing such rapid lesson plans. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick mostly intend to help Harry with what he already knows, make it more instinctual, like his Defense Against the Dark Arts has always been, and work on silent casting with him. During these two days you may, of course, choose if you wish to repeat with Harry or not; it will largely be review for you, but it may prove helpful as well, that will have to be your own decision. As to your day teaching Potions, I would recommend you emulate your own learning experience."
"And what are you planning to teach Professor? Harry asked, the gleam in his eye telling that he was looking forward to the answer.
"I am glad you asked Harry, for my syllabus, I intend to start you on spell chaining, which is a useful method whereby casting one spell whose wand movements lead into the next you will be able to cast slightly faster, and the more spells you can rain down upon an opponent, the move you keep them on the defensive, and the longer you can hold them from attacking. I also believe I will start you down the path of becoming an animagus, I might even join you there, as various circumstances prevented me from completing my own training in that re-guard, still, I believe you'll find that I'm up to the challenge of teaching it even without having completed it myself."
Harry was practically salivating when he heard the basic summary of spell chaining. He understood there was likely more to it, but even just as much as he'd been told here suggested so much. Then there was the idea of becoming an animagus, like his father, like Sirius…
Fleur now had to ask, "Is it true that gaining an animagus form sometimes grants additional benefits to the witch or wizard in their human form?"
Eyes twinkling, the headmaster merely smiled and changed the subject, "For now, I will begin teaching you occlumency. Have you learned this art yet Ms. Delacour?" A shake of the head told him that, no she hadn't, "Then I will require you to learn, there are many dangers in being so closely linked to Harry and occlumency training will aid you in several ways. Firstly, it provides defense against the mind invasion arts which include, but are not limited to, legilimency and possession. Secondly, it orders the mind and allows one to sort through one's own memories, which is helpful for dealing with memories that bring emotional distress," here he smiled kindly and Fleur nodded in understanding, but that effect would benefit Harry as well.
Turning back to Harry he asked him to describe the training Professor Snape had provided in this field. Once Harry described his 'training' the headmaster looked troubled as he leaned back in his chair. A few moments of silence passed, in which Harry seethed at the memories of those called lessons and Fleur cried silently at what a Professor had put Harry through. Eventually, Dumbledore said, "What Professor Snape did was, in fact, the best method of learning occlumency," at the startled looks from his audience he quickly explained, "It provides the best results, but is not the only way, nor is it the way I would have taught you Harry, as it is very invasive and potentially damaging. If one succeeds in learning in this way you are granted a permanent barrier that you don't need to think about, it protects from passive scans as a force of habit, and would have protected you in sleep as well, also it becomes nearly impossible to learn once you've learned the easier method. I would ask that you forgive Professor Snape for attempting to teach you this method, Harry, if it had been successful it would have been most beneficial, but one way or another I will not be attempting to teach you this."
Harry was relieved, and nodded his acceptance of Dumbledore's words. He'd never forgive Snape, but it was just one more reason to dislike the greasy git, and he could deal with that.
Looking grateful, Dumbledore continued, "Now, instead of clearing your mind and leaving it blank, I want you to focus on an image, something like a wall is the simplest form, but some choose more ephemeral things such as fire, or darkness, open fields or even complicated buildings such as Hogwarts. I recommend starting with a simple wall though, build it and focus on putting everything you are inside. Once that outer layer is in place we can continue, but for now close your eyes and picture a wall…"
This went on for some time and the headmaster had them both meditating on this for a while. Once they thought they had a basic idea of what they were doing he had them prepare themselves and he lightly cast 'legilimens', just enough to brush against their budding walls, just enough that they could feel it, and almost see as their walls shook slightly. After testing them he said, "Very good. Now, this outer defense won't do much more than let you know someone is attempting to use one of the mind arts against you. You can build your wall only so thick and it's always easier to break through than to defend from this point. Eventually, the wall will serve as an early warning system, allowing you to form up your real defenses before an enemy can even get to them. Also, once you're aware of the attempt you can fight it."
Leaning back in his chair, he said, "Well, it's late and there is much to do on the morrow, so off to bed with you. Ms. Delacour, a bed has been set up for you in the girls' dorms in Gryffindor tower; Harry, you know the way. Don't forget to stop by the hospital wing for the next few days worth of your potion, and tomorrow, which will of course be today, we'll have your second lesson in occlumency in the morning just after your earlier selves went down to the lake and then you can begin the program that I have established for you in the Room of Requirement. There you should be able to get the room to provide all you need. Now, any questions?"
"About a million Professor, but they can wait for now."
"Very good then. Dobby," he called.
With a pop, the oddest looking elf Fleur had ever seen appeared and bowed low to the headmaster, very nearly upsetting the numerous hats he wore before straightening and saying, "What can Dobby do for headmaster?" Then noticing Harry he launched himself at his legs and proclaimed, "Harry Potter sir has come to Hogwarts early to visit Dobby!" This caused Harry and Dumbledore to chuckle, but Fleur was more confused than ever, so Harry explained his relationship with the odd little elf while Dumbledore explained what he wanted to Dobby.
"Dobby, with Harry's permission, I'd like you to retrieve a certain piece of parchment and his invisibility cloak for him." Dobby turned to Harry with a hopeful expression, to which Harry just smiled and nodded and Dobby was off and back within moments with the proper items.
After a few last minute instructions, Dumbledore had the teens turn over the 'day-glass' and they disappeared.
Author's Note – So that gets him started training and gives a bit more detail on what's to come. Now, a word about updates, as long as I remain inspired to write this story I'll try to give it a new chapter every day I'm off from work (twice a week, but on various days), likely this won't last, but as long as I know what I want the next part to say it should. I know where I want this story to go now, but I'm still working on how to get there, so there might be more delay's and I ask for your patience. For people interested in my Naruto stories all I can say is that for now I'm working on this, they aren't abandoned, but it may be some time before I get back to them. Sorry about that, but for now TTFN!