A/N: The rerecorded parts of this chapter are the property of JK Rowling. They are used under the Fair Use doctrine of copyright law. I didn't bold them - but anyone who knows HPB should recognize them.
The rest of the summer was a very pleasant time for the two lovebirds.
Harry, for the first time – ever, really – was able to actually enjoy his life. He and Hermione did spend a bit of time studying. The books they got in the US were very helpful.
But they didn't spend all of their time studying. They also spent time enjoying their relationship. Many nights were spent in the traditional dance that lovers danced. Other nights were given over to just cuddling and spending time increasing their knowledge of each other.
There were a few incidents of note: In the first week of August, Dobby popped in to report a problem at Grimmauld Place.
"Master Harry Potter Sir!"
Harry, who had been reading quietly in the library with Hermione, looked up. "Dobby! How are you? How are things going?"
"Master Harry! Dobby and Winky be having problem. Kreacher prevents us from taking dark locket to cellar! Dobby tells him it be Master's order but Kreacher refuses!"
Harry's face took on a look of anger. Dobby started looking terrified. Hermione said sharply, "Harry!" He looked over. "Be nice to Dobby! It isn't his fault!"
Harry was confused. "How wasn't I nice?"
"You looked angry with him!"
Harry looked over and saw that Dobby was almost cowering, having seen Harry's face. Harry was quick to change his expression. "Dobby! It's okay. You did the right thing in telling me. I don't want something I tell you to do to be harmful or cause a problem."
Dobby looked up hopefully and saw the scary expression gone. "Is okay! Dobby not want to do bad job."
Harry looked at Hermione. "You want to come with me to handle this?"
Hermione thought about it and then nodded. "Yes. It's good to get away from the books once in a while."
Harry looked at her in shock. "Who are you and what have you done with my Hermione?"
Hermione smirked and hit him in the arm. "Prat!"
Harry grinned. His face then became serious. "Dobby, can you take us to Grimmauld Place or should I call Winky to help?"
Dobby nodded enthusiastically. "Dobby can do!"
Dobby took their hands and suddenly, they were in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. They looked around. It was much cleaner and very much more inviting.
Harry called out, "Kreacher!"
Soon, Kreacher shuffled in the room. He looked up and Harry and mumbled. "Half-Blood Master and Mudblood have invaded House of Black again. Mistress would be so ashamed."
Dobby, who heard the insults, became very angry. He raised his hands to cast magic. "Kreacher insults Master Harry Potter Sir! Kreacher must be punished!"
Before he could make a move Harry said loudly, "Wait!"
Dobby looked at Harry in confusion. "House elf that insults Master must be punished!"
Harry looked at Dobby, at Hermione, and back to Dobby. "Well, first let me find out what this is all about. We'll go from there."
Dobby nodded and then turned back to Kreacher. "Kreacher insults Master Harry Potter Sir. Master Harry Potter Sir asks Dobby not to punish Kreacher. But if Kreacher insults Master Harry Potter Sir again, Dobby will get permission to punish him."
Harry shook his head. He almost felt like he was going to get a headache.
"Anyway. Kreacher! I have been told that you have prevented Dobby from getting rid of a Dark item. Tell me about this dark Locket!"
Kreacher suddenly looked terrified – and very emotional. "Kreacher must take care of Locket!" He looked like he was trying to not talk, but the compulsion to obey overrode it. "Master Regulus ordered Kreacher! Kreacher must not say!"
Harry looked at Hermione, who looked just as confused as he felt. He turned back. "Kreacher. As your Master, I am ordering you to tell me about the Locket and Regulus."
He put in as much force as he could without sounding angry.
Kreacher finally broke down and started speaking. As soon as Harry realized what Kreacher was talking about – Harry became much more sympathetic.
When he was done explaining, Harry was surprised when he heard a small hiccup from the side. He looked over and saw that Hermione was in tears having listened to the whole story. Harry moved to comfort her.
"He's been torturing himself for years about this! It's no wonder he hasn't been okay. We have to help him!"
Harry nodded. He noticed that Kreacher suddenly looked more hopeful. Dobby looked less murderous too. "Kreacher. In this case, you were given an impossible order. If the Locket is what I think it is, it will take a special procedure to destroy it. You did right in not telling anyone about this too. Voldemort made several of these. I destroyed one and got Gringotts to destroy two more. I will go to Diagon Alley soon to get my books. If you bring the Locket when I call, I will turn it over to Gringotts to destroy – and I'll ask them to allow you to do what you can to help them."
Kreacher gave Harry a look he was more used to from Dobby. "Master will help Kreacher destroy Locket?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. Until then, keep it safe and tell no one else about it." He turned to Dobby. "You will not try to move the Locket. Tell Winky as well. Everything else that's dark, do as I originally said and put it in the cellar."
Dobby nodded cheerfully.
A few days later, Harry and Hermione received their Hogwarts letters. Hermione was about to grab hers when Harry stopped her. "Wait!"
Hermione looked at Harry with some confusion. "Why? It's out booklists!"
Harry said, "Maybe so – but I'd rather get Remus or Tonks here to check for spells before we touch them."
Hermione nodded. She called out, "Dobby!"
Harry looked at her with amazement. Dobby popped in. "Master Harry Potter Sir's Grangey calls for Dobby?"
"Yes. Can you contact Remus Lupin and ask him to come by?"
Dobby nodded. "Dobby do!"
Harry was looking at her in amazement. When she turned back to Harry she asked, "What?"
Harry grinned. "Oh. It's just amazing how much a couple of years can change someone. I remember a certain brunette beauty who refused to eat at Hogwarts because the elves weren't free."
Hermione gave Harry the gimlet eye. "You're bonded to Dobby and you pay him. This is just part of the service."
Harry shook his head. "Oh, I know. I'm just a little surprised."
Hermione didn't see the humour (or at least she refused to admit it right up front) and so gave him the cold shoulder for a while until Remus showed up.
Remus, when given the situation, did check. "You were right to check it. There are a few compulsion charms."
Harry sighed. "Can you remove them?"
"Certainly." Remus performed a few motions and then said, "Why don't I open them to check again before you make any mistakes?"
The two nodded. Remus carefully opened the enveloped and dumped the parchments out. They were clean. Hermione's prefect badge, however, was also charmed. Harry's Quiddich Captain badge was also charmed. "Just a couple more."
When the magic was all cleared, the two looked at the lists. Harry said, "Can you take us? We can go ourselves, but maybe it's a good idea to give the image that we're being careful." He was really stoked about getting Quiddich Captain.
Remus nodded. "I'll check with Tonks and see if she can come too."
Hermione was looking at her prefect badge with a small frown. Harry finally asked, "What is it, Hermione?"
She sighed and looked up. "I don't know if I want to be prefect if Ron's still the male one. He left it mostly to me last year and I don't really want to give him time where we're together away from you."
Harry thought about it. "Would McGonagall give him the badge with what happened this summer?"
Hermione gave him a look. "Harry, you know Dumbledore. Do you really think that he would take what happened into account?"
Harry briefly considered it. "You're right. Ron's on the quiddich team too. I don't know if it's a good idea to put ourselves in the position where we have to deal with Weasleys."
Hermione nodded in agreement. "I say we send them back with Hedwig. She hasn't gotten enough work anyway. We can explain to Professor McGonagall in a letter."
Remus agreed. "It's probably better to handle it quietly than to make a fuss. Merlin knows Albus will poke his nose in if he can."
The two wrote letters and gave them to Hedwig. After getting her treat, she flew off.
Remus suggested waiting four days to go to Diagon Alley.
"Why four days? Why not today or in a week?" Hermione asked curiously.
Remus smiled. "Because it is so random. It wouldn't be unusual to wait a day or two to go. But if you don't show up then, those who would be looking for you might expect you to wait until the last two or three days. They'll be less likely to be looking for you on a random Tuesday."
Harry turned to Hermione. "Why do we need to go to the Alley anyway, other than going to Gringotts?"
Hermione looked scandalized. "There might be books we don't know about!"
Harry nodded sagely. "Ahh. New books is always a good things." Hermione nodded in satisfied agreement.
The trip went as easily as they hoped. They didn't hide themselves – but they didn't make any effort to announce their presence either. They did make one exception.
When they were in the alley, they could see a new store dominating the landscape. Weasley Wizarding Wheezes was garish, loud, and packed.
Set against the dull, poster-muffled shop Fronts around them, Fred and Georges windows hit the eye like a firework display. Casual passersby were looking back over their shoulders at the windows, and a few rather stunned-looking people had actually come to a halt, transfixed. The left-hand window was dazzlingly full of an assortment of goods that revolved, popped, flashed, bounced, and shrieked; Harry's eyes began to water just looking at it. The right-hand window was covered with a gigantic poster, purple like those of the Ministry wanted posters, but emblazoned with flashing yellow letters:
WHY ARE YOU WORRYING ABOUT YOU-KNOW-WHO?
YOU SHOULD BE WORRYING ABOUT U-NO-POO-
THE CONSTIPATION SENSATION THAT'S GRIPPING THE NATION!
Harry started to laugh. Hermione laughed right along with him.
They couldn't help themselves. They went into the shop. It was packed with customers; Harry could not get near the shelves. He stared around, looking up at the boxes piled to the ceiling: Here were the Skiving Snackboxes that the twins had perfected during their last, unfinished year at Hogwarts; Harry noticed that the Nosebleed Nougat was most popular, with only one battered box left on the shelf. There were bins full of trick wands, the cheapest merely turning into rubber chickens or pairs of briefs when waved, the most expensive beating the unwary user around the head and neck, and boxes of quills, which came in Self-Inking, Spell-Checking, and Smart-Answer varieties. A space cleared in the crowd, and Harry pushed his way toward the counter, where a gaggle of delighted ten-year-olds was watching a tiny little wooden man slowly ascending the steps to a real set of gallows, both perched on a box that read: reusable hangman — spell it or he'll swing!
"'Patented Daydream Charms
Hermione had managed to squeeze through to a large display near the counter and was reading the information on the back of a box bearing a highly colored picture of a handsome youth and a swooning girl who were standing on the deck of a pirate ship.
"'One simple incantation and you will enter a top-quality, highly realistic, thirty-minute daydream, easy to fit into the average school lesson and virtually undetectable (side effects include vacant expression and minor drooling). Not for sale to under-sixteens. You know," said Hermione, looking up at Harry, "that really is extraordinary magic!"
"For that, Hermione," said a voice behind them, "you can have one for free."
A beaming Fred stood before them, wearing a set of magenta robes that clashed magnificently with his flaming hair.
"Fancy seeing you two here!" Fred shook their hands. "Almost shocking in that the other red-heads have been complaining all summer that you can't seem to be found!"
Harry replied, "Well, I just learned a bit of independence. And to stop letting people control my life."
"Well, you're welcome here – and we won't be sending word we've see you." said Fred bracingly. "Come on, I'll give you a tour."
The tricks and products all seemed to be brilliant. Harry had a laugh when he saw a display which said: EDIBLE DARK MARKS -THEY'LL MAKE ANYONE SICK!
The other twin joined them on the tour. Finally, George pushed back a curtain beside the Muggle tricks and Harry saw a darker, less crowded room. The packaging on the products lining these shelves was more subdued.
"We've just developed this more serious line," said Fred. "Funny how it happened . . ."
"You wouldn't believe how many people, even people who work at the Ministry, can't do a decent Shield Charm," said George. "'Course, they didn't have you teaching them, Harry."
"That's right. . . . Well, we thought Shield Hats were a bit of a laugh – you know, challenge your mate to jinx you while wearing it and watch his face when the jinx just bounces off. But the Ministry bought five hundred for all its support staff! And we're still getting massive orders!"
"So we've expanded into a range of Shield Cloaks, Shield Gloves ..."
"... I mean, they wouldn't help much against the Unforgivable Curses, but for minor to moderate hexes or jinxes . . ."
"And then we thought we'd get into the whole area of Defense Against the Dark Arts, because it's such a money spinner," continued George enthusiastically. "This is cool. Look, Instant Darkness Powder, we're importing it from Peru. Handy if you want to make a quick escape."
"And our Decoy Detonators are just walking off the shelves, look," said Fred, pointing at a number of weird-looking black horn-type objects that were indeed attempting to scurry out of sight. "You just drop one surreptitiously and it'll run off and make a nice loud noise out of sight, giving you a diversion if you need one.
"Handy," said Harry, impressed. Hermione nodded in agreement.
"Here," said George, catching a couple and throwing them to Harry.
A young witch with short blonde hair poked her head around the curtain; Harry saw that she too was wearing magenta staff robes.
"There's a customer out here looking for a joke cauldron, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Weasley," she said.
Harry found it very odd to hear Fred and George called "Mr. Weasley," but they took it in their stride.
"Right you are, Verity, I'm coming," said George promptly. "Harry, you help yourself to anything you want, all right? No charge."
"I can't do that!" said Harry, who had already pulled out his money bag to pay for the Decoy Detonators.
"You don't pay here," said Fred firmly, waving away Harry's gold.
"You gave us our start-up loan, we haven't forgotten," said George sternly "Take whatever you like, and just remember to tell people where you got it, if they ask."
George swept off through the curtain to help with the customers, and Fred led the two back into the main part of the shop.
Near the window was an array of violently pink products around which a cluster of excited girls was giggling enthusiastically. Hermione hung back, looking wary. Harry was curious.
Fred said, "Our Wonder Witch product line. Love potions, pimple removal cream, cosmetic products – it's a popular line."
Hermione looked at Fred warily. "Do you really want to be selling Love Potions to every girl who's looking for a quick date?"
Fred smiled, "Well, these are the ones that are temporary – last no longer than a day. Mostly just create infatuation."
Harry interrupted. "Well, you better provide me some antidotes – I can just imagine being targeted by every Boy-Who-Lived fangirl. I've got my witch – I don't need another!"
Hermione gave him a brilliant smile even as she nodded in agreement.
Fred grinned as he reached to a lower shelf. "Just the thing! In case you accidentally give the wrong chap the mickey – a spray bottle that'll counteract most any of these potions. Spray it in the face, breath it in – bam! No more infatuation."
Harry grabbed it. "I'll take six!"
The two had a good time for a while and then made their way out. Harry looked around for a convenient place to call for Dobby. His eyes lit upon a particular store.
Harry looked at his girlfriend. "I need to stop somewhere before we go."
Hermione looked curious but quietly followed Harry. She was surprised at their destination.
"Mr. Harry Potter. 11 inches, Holly with a phoenix feather. Ms. Granger, 10 3/4 inches, Vine with a Dragon heartstring. How can I help you today?"
The two had jumped a little when the voice came from behind unexpectedly. Harry still thought Ollivander was a bit creepy.
"Mr. Ollivander. You once told me that my wand shares a common core with another wand."
Mr. Ollivander looked at Harry intently. "Yes. 13 inches. Yew. Sold in 1937 to a Muggle-raised student."
Harry nodded. "An interesting thing happened about a year ago. I thought I should tell you about it."
Harry went on to describe the duel he had with Voldemort in the graveyard. The odd effect when their spells collided definitely caught Ollivander off guard.
"And you say it was the other wand which was forced to submit?"
Ollivander looked at Harry. "When you first came to my shop, I told you that I expected great things. It is good to see that my wishes have borne fruit."
Harry blushed a bit. "Thanks. But an interesting thing I noticed: He didn't understand exactly what was happening."
Ollivander considered that. "That isn't a surprise. One would have to be greatly familiar with wandlore. And that is a particularly rare phenomenon. Most brother wands are either not identical enough or not opposite enough for the effect to be created."
Hermione was confused and interjected her question. "Opposite enough?" Harry was curious as well.
"Yes. Take Ms. Granger's wand. It contains the heartstring from a hybrid dragon – an Antipodean Opaleye and a Norwegian Ridgeback. The two interbred at a preserve. I purchased the heart after it died in a fight with another dragon. The heart contains hundreds of strings. Would it really be logical that a wand with another heartstring from the same dragon would cause the phenomenon? If that were so, would it be so rare?"
The two teenagers considered that.
"Thus you arrive at the effect of the wood. Another Vine wand of similar length – or one about 13 ¼ inches – might have a similar effect if the two wands dueled. However, I did not create a wand matching such a description. However, the Vine wand uses a wood associated with knowledge and excitement toward learning. It also lends itself to the concept of authority – either to use it or to follow it. Consider if I created a wand from an adjoining heartstring using Lilac wood. Lilac lends itself to passion as well as the intellect – but it also lends itself to freedom from expectation. The opposite of Vine. One could say that it was an opposite wood. If I had made a wand with an adjacent or opposite heartstring with Lilac wood with a length of 13 ¼ - you might see a similar phenomenon if you had encountered someone wielding it against you."
He turned to Harry. "Holly is widely considered to be the wand of the tree of life or the tree of sacrifice. Yew, however, is known as the tree of resurrection – and so by its very nature it is intimately involved with death. Brother cores, opposite lengths, opposite woods. It is not that much of a surprise that you encountered such a phenomenon. A wand of Eldar might have had a similar effect had it contained a brother core."
Harry considered what he was told. He didn't really understand everything, but he wanted to make his point. "Thank you for the lesson. However, the reason I brought it up is: If the man who holds that wand wanted to learn WHY it happened, where would the best source be?"
Ollivander was taken aback. He hadn't considered that.
"I see. Well, if that's all?" Ollivander didn't have an emotional reaction – it wasn't his way. But he understood the message.
Harry nodded in acknowledgement. "Can I call my house elf to take us from here?"
Ollivander nodded in assent.
Once the two disappeared, Ollivander changed his sign to "Closed" and made his way to the back of his shop. He had to raise the war wards. He would not run, but common sense suggested taking SOME preventative measures.
By long-standing tradition, a Wandmaker was completely neutral and without bias. Sacrosanct. An attack on a Wandmaker was considered taboo in Pureblood society – but Tom Riddle was no pureblood. He was not one to allow sacred tradition to stop him.