Sadly, I do not own Harry Potter. I'm only borrowing some of the wonderful characters of JK Rowling for an idea I had.

Chapter 1 - On Their Way

There was a sound of a very clear bell that somehow went through the youngsters. Then the loud whistle of the Hogwarts Express sounded, startling the youngsters. The three friends quickly left the little alcove. Harry went and retrieved a small satchel he had hidden along the platform. Ginny went quickly to stand in line with her brothers to get a hug from her mother. Mrs. Weasley also beckoned the other two over and gave hugs to Harry and Hermione.

Everyone hurried to get on the train as the last boarding whistle sounded. The three waved at Mrs. Weasley from their compartment window as the train left on its trip to deliver the newest class to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

As Kings Cross was rapidly left behind, Harry turned and faced the other occupants of their compartment. Ginny and Hermione had already sat on one of the broad benches with Susan Bones. That left Harry to sit across from them with Ron and Neville Longbottom as seat mates. Neville was still holding on to his toad Trevor and looking through his belongings for something to put him into. Harry climbed on the seat to pull down a spare cardboard box from the overhead bin. Everyone watched as Neville put his pet in it and fastened a string around it.

"I don't know what his problem is", Neville said with a sigh. "He's been nothing but trouble since this morning."

"Maybe he doesn't like traveling", said Ron. "I've got Scabbers here and he's made the trip with my brother Percy a number of times."

Ron reached into one of the pockets of his jacket and pulled out a fat grey rat that was barely awake. Ginny had told Harry that while he was in his coma that Percy had received an owl from his parents so Ron had the pet passed down to him.

Ron waved it at the girls sitting across from him and enjoyed the looks of disgust that passed over their faces. He swung it up so that Harry could have a good look at it but then something strange happened. The sleepy rat opened its eyes, looked directly into Harry's face, squealed loudly and promptly fainted! Ron looked at the limp form in his hand and then back to Harry.

"Guess not everybody likes your looks mate. You scared it silly. Must be the scar." Ron carefully put the unconscious rat back in a small cage he had and then looked at the lunch his mum had packed him.

The girls looked at Harry gratefully as if he had done something exceptional in getting the rat out of their sight. Harry shrugged his shoulders and sat back in his seat looking out the window at the countryside going by.

Ginny was absently rubbing her right shoulder as she looked at the book Hermione was reading. Harry nonchalantly put his left fist on his knee and made a small circle with his index finger.

(HP): 'Not until we're alone for a bit.'

Hermione nodded as she started talking to Susan beside her. There was a rap on the door and the Weasley twins poked their heads in. "Ron, Harry there's a few blokes in the car ahead we think you ought to meet. Come along and we'll introduce you."

Ron got up but Harry stayed seated. "I'm still a little tired from the trip. I'll meet them later maybe."

Harry reached down to the small satchel that was sitting on the floor and pulled out a green colored vial. He offered it to Ron but he just made a face and walked out after his brothers. Neville asked Harry why he was taking potions and Harry responded that he was getting over a touch of dragon fever and it had left him physically and magically weak.

Susan felt a little restless and asked the group if anyone wanted to go out and try meeting some of their new classmates. Harry declined holding up his staff and Ginny and Hermione said they wanted to catch up with each other. Neville followed Susan out the door after getting a promise from Harry to keep an eye on his toad-laden box.

Ginny followed the pair to the door and pulled down the blinds for some privacy. She turned back to look at Harry but immediately started blushing.

"What happened back at the station Ginny?", Hermione asked suspiciously.

Feeling a little responsible for Ginny's embarrassment, Harry told Hermione that it was a private moment between the two but Ginny might tell her later when Harry wasn't around.

Ginny breathed a sigh of relief but then immediately started peppering Harry with questions. "You don't need potions now any more that I do. What's going on? And how did you recover? What happened to your other staff?"

Harry waved his hands rapidly trying to get Ginny to pause for a moment so he could speak. Hermione finally had to pull Ginny back down to sit next to her on the bench. She held onto Ginny's hand until there was quiet in the compartment again.

"To start with, all the staff at Hogwarts know about the condition I was in. I thought it might be safer if everyone continued to think that I was still under the weather. That way I wouldn't be seen as a big threat to anybody. Or it might draw out the people that want to harm me. And I'll surprise them. Hopefully, the best thing that will happen will be nothing."

Hermione looked at Harry with a little concern. "You've spent some time thinking about this. Are you sure you want to do it this way?'

Harry shook his head in the negative. "No, but it's the best solution I could come up with. With the mental link restored, I can warn you to go get help if I need it. If I can call up the bond magic safely, then we can all be safe."

"OK, Harry, that explains that bit. You promised me.. us that you would explain everything else."

"Yes, I did Ginny and I'm getting to that right now. How do you want it - tell you or sift through my memory?"

Hermione and Ginny looked at each other for a second. 'Your memory!'

(HP): 'Ok but save the questions for later. It gets a little complicated.' Harry dropped his mental shield and felt the two girls join him as he recalled what he had gone through the day before.

: Harry had woken up early the morning before at the Burrow. The staff had slipped from its resting place by the sofa and had fallen across Harry's legs. It was the glow that had awakened Harry. All the runes were glowing bright red and the clear crystal at the top was throwing off a bunch of heat. Harry had carefully moved away from the contact and the staff slowly loss its glow and then went back to it's normal condition. Harry had cautiously wrapped up the staff in one of the nearby blankets to keep from touching it until it had cooled down enough to handle.

Alarmed by the display he had just witnessed, Harry started reading the book that Dumbledore had given him the day before on magical wands and staffs. He needed some way to figure out what to do with the staff. A lot of the history in the book dealt with the earliest experiments with learning how to control magic and using different objects to channel it. One small section mentioned that while humans had made the most gains, other magical creatures had created aids of various kinds to help their own magical abilities along. Centaurs, leprechauns and other intelligent creatures were also mentioned. Harry got the idea that since the writing on the staff was gobblygook, he should take the staff back to the goblins. And that meant going to Gringotts!

Harry had a lot on his mind as he sat through breakfast with the rest of the Weasleys and then flooed back to Hogwarts with Ginny. He wasn't sure how the goblins would receive the idea of him having one of their staffs. He might end up in more trouble; especially in his weakened condition! He tried to hide his anxiety from his best friend to keep her from worrying more about him but he really missed her once Ginny had left after lunch.

Sneaking out of the medical wing soon after, Harry made his way slowly to Dumbledore's office and explained his dilemma of the staff to the wizard. The headmaster however congratulated Harry on solving the unexpected problem and asked Harry if he would like some company. Harry nodded and reached into his pocket for the envelope containing the portkey that Griphook had sent him and then… :

Ron suddenly barged back into the compartment asking Harry if he had a spare coin or two to spare as the lunch cart was approaching their spot. The girls groaned and settled back into their seats. Harry smiled ruefully at Ron's always wonderful timing and dug into his pockets looking for change.

Harry surprisingly had enough sickles in his pocket to keep even Ron busy eating for most of the train ride. Harry put the small pile of food on the seat and told everyone to help themselves. Susan and Neville came back in a few minutes later and watched in fascination as Ron continued to talk to Harry and the others as he ate.

The girls could only take so much of that spectacle and Hermione stood up and announced that she was going to go get some 'fresh air'. When Ginny and Susan stood up and left with her, Harry idly asked Neville why girls seemed to travel in packs whenever they were out of their homes. Neville shrugged his shoulders in response but Harry almost choked on a pastry when he received a comment from Ginny.

'So we can talk about boys of course, Harry. A little privacy?'

'I wasn't listening. You should know better!'

Harry went back to listening to Ron's rambling conversation. He said there was a copy of the Daily Prophet up in the compartment where the twins were and everyone was talking about an attack that was aimed at some muggles in Diagon Alley. The report in the paper said that a number of Aurors had appeared suddenly and given chase to three or four persons in black cloaks!

When the girls came back together, Ginny had come to a decision. Stating that she wouldn't watch Ron eat all the way to Hogwarts, Ginny said she would throw away the food unless Ron stored it somewhere. Ron grumbled a bit but put most of it away and said he would take the rest to some of the new boys he had met. Neville went with him after checking on Trevor.

Harry made a pretense of nodding off to sleep after catching the eyes of Ginny and Hermione. Susan was given the seat near the window as she wanted to watch the countryside for a while. Harry made sure everybody was keeping up the pretense of acting normally as he continued his story.

: Harry opened the envelope containing the portkey as Dumbledore came around his desk to stand behind him. When Harry felt the headmaster put his hand on his shoulder, he grabbed the coin.

Immediately Harry felt a strong pulling sensation starting with his stomach and radiating outward. Harry felt like he was being sucked up through a giant straw and closed his eyes.

A few seconds later the sensation faded and Harry opened his eyes to see the small office in Gringotts where he had met Griphook. Dumbledore grabbed Harry to keep him from falling over; he was extremely dizzy from the trip. So far, Harry thought, the only magical way of traveling he liked was on his broom!

It was a number of minutes before the door to the office opened. Harry was startled and a little scared when he saw four goblins in uniform come in holding swords or huge pikes in their hands. When they had stationed themselves behind the desk, Griphook entered the office accompanied by an older goblin dressed in an impressive set of robes. The older goblin came to stand in front of Harry and stared into his eyes for what seemed to be a long time. He turned finally and nodded to Griphook to speak.

"I was surprised to be notified of your arrival. I was startled when my supervisor told me that you had ported in with a staff of power! That is not usual banking procedure. The guards were assembled and sent here after access to this room had been cut off. You cannot leave this room without our permission."

The headmaster spoke up then and addressed the elder goblin. "We are only here to undertake a correction. Mr. Potter wanted to make sure that this artifact was returned to its proper place. How and why he received it is not as important as his intention to come here peacefully."

The senior goblin snorted. "What demands do you have for returning our property?"

Harry looked over his shoulder at Dumbledore and saw the encouragement on his face. Aware of the armed goblin guards, Harry bowed in front of the elder goblin and held the staff up sideways with open hands for the goblin to take. "I have no demands sir, this does not belong to me and I do not want the power it contains."

The goblin reached out and took the staff from Harry. When he touched it all the runes lit up and Harry heard a crash of thunder in the office. The goblin took a step back and gave Harry what he thought was a horrible grimace. When Harry stood back up, Dumbledore whispered that he had seen something rare - a goblin smiling!

"Yes, goblins are not known to be joyful but today is an exception Mr. Potter. My name is Wrotkill and I'm what you would call a goblin wizard. This staff is named Solebiter in your tongue and it has been missing for over two hundred years! You have done a good service for the race of goblins today. This would be a dangerous weapon if it ever ended up in the hands of our enemies."

"Then I am glad it is back where it belongs. May we leave now?" Harry was desperately tired and felt that he might fall over soon.

"You really seek no reward for this act", Wrotkill said in wonder.

Dumbledore came up beside Harry to speak again to Wrotkill. "Mr. Potter would not ask anything for himself but I have a boon to ask for him."

Harry turned to his companion. "I didn't do this for any reward! I just needed a staff to help me walk for a bit. We've come and done that. All I want to do is go back to Hogwarts and rest."

Wrotkill came up to stand in front of Harry. "I have sensed you have been wrongly touched by great magics. Only that cursed scar still has power within you! Please allow me to try and correct this as a means of compensation."

When Harry slowly nodded, Wrotkill held the staff of power with two hands and spoke some gobblygook that Harry didn't understand. Some of the runes and two of the spirals glowed on the staff and the goblin touched it to Harry's chest! Harry eyes were temporarily blinded by a light and his scar ached rather pointedly but he felt a great force of magic enter his body and his fatigue vanished!

Stammering his thanks, Harry watched as Wrotkill left the office accompanied by the goblin escort. Griphook faced Harry and bowed to him. "Are there any other matters I may undertake for you today Mr. Harry?"

Turning to the headmaster, an invigorated Harry asked if there was time to do a little shopping. The headmaster nodded and told Harry that he could return to Hogwarts with his portkey or just floo into the medical wing. Harry smiled and told Dumbledore that he wouldn't be long.

Dumbledore was about to leave when there was a sudden knock on the rear door. Griphook excused himself and left the room. When he returned Harry was surprised to see the small goblin carrying another staff.

"You have pleased Wrotkill. He sent this for you. It is an apprentice staff and should serve you well in aiding you walk. He also passed along the message that you are welcome to come and study goblin magic at any time for the service you have performed."

A surprised Harry bowed and took the staff from Griphook. He asked him to thank Wrotkill for his generosity and if Dumbledore might be allowed to inspect the staff. When Griphook nodded, Harry handed the object to Dumbledore. Dumbledore looked at the staff for a couple of minutes and then returned it to Harry.

"There are some basic protective magics in this staff Harry and it is safe for you to have. This staff may grow in power as you grow in experience. Take good care of it for goblins do not bestow gifts lightly."

Dumbledore handed the staff back to Harry and gave a small bow to Griphook. Griphook bowed in return and Dumbledore left the tiny office. :

'That's basically what happened yesterday. I took some money out of my vault and found a small shop that carried jewelry for, well, you know. I flooed back to the medical wing to find my trunk already had been sent up to the Gryffindor tower! Madame Pomfrey checked me over and congratulated me on my recovery. A note from Dumbledore suggested I make the trip on the Hogwarts Express and surprise my friends. Did I do a good job of that?'

Harry opened his eyes and stretched as if he had woken up from his nap. Ginny and Hermione were both staring at him wide-eyed but turned quickly as the door opened and Ron and Neville entered the room.

'How do you do these things Harry?'

'What things, Hermione?'

'Find a way to balance out your bad luck?'

Harry shrugged his shoulders and joined the conversation with the rest of his friends about what life was going to like at Hogwarts. The talk ranged from classes and professors to free time and boredom.

It was probably about two hours into the train ride when the door to their compartment was suddenly ripped open!