Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Dungeons and Dragons, although I do own copies of the books. By the way, the rules I'm using are from the 1978 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 3 volume hardback set. So if it doesn't match up with the rules you've played, that's probably why.
The end of the School Year
Dumbledore frowned. It was now well into January. Harry hadn't made any more trips into the third floor corridor. He hadn't been playing with his invisibility cloak, either. The Mirror of Erised had arrived two days before Christmas, and no one had even looked into it, especially Harry. He would have to do something about that.
Add to that what Hagrid had told him - there were no more unicorns being attacked. Seems that the herd had moved away from Hogwarts. Dumbledore wasn't sure how this would play out; Voldemort might get desperate and attack the school before the Mirror was in place.
Yes, he would have to encourage Harry to check out the mirror.
Hannah and Susan couldn't believe it. Somehow, Madam Pince had left the library before curfew without closing up, and Hannah and Susan had missed it. Now they had to get back to Hufflepuff house without getting caught.
Easier said than done! It seemed every hallway that would have brought them closer to their dorm was patrolled by Miss Norris, the caretaker's evil cat. How it got around so quickly, they didn't know. But now they were in a corridor not that far from the library, as they had been herded back to it by the cat. Suddenly, they heard footsteps ahead. They ducked into what turned out to be an abandoned classroom. Strangely, there was a large mirror in the middle of the room. They went over to check it out.
Dumbledore was surprised when his alarm rang the next morning. Harry didn't waste any time checking out the Mirror after he, Dumbledore, "encouraged" some of his classmates to look at it. He quickly finished dressing, and went to intercept Harry before he left the Mirror.
Dumbledore soon arrived at the empty classroom that he had used. However he couldn't actually see if Harry was in it, as almost the entire Hufflepuff house was in his way. They were taking turns looking into the mirror and discussing it as they got back in line to wait their turn again. Dumbledore removed the invisibility spell on himself, and approached the crowd.
He soon had most of the 'Puffs outside the room on their way to breakfast. Moving into the room, he finally found Harry and the rest of the seventh years doing crowd control. Dumbledore encouraged them to get to breakfast, too. He stopped Harry.
"Mr. Ranger. Did you figure out the mirror?"
"No. At first we thought it showed the future, as Susan saw herself as head of the magical police force, and Hannah saw herself married to someone with a bunch of children. But then Finch-Fletchley saw his grandfather who passed away last year, we realized that it couldn't be that simple. Then someone figured out the inscription. That certainly explained all the red faces of many of the boys. And girls, now that I think about it."
"And what did you see, Mr. Ranger?"
"Blue Mountain, Dendroginous the Druid with the symbols of the great druid, and a couple of, er, women dressed for very hot weather."
"You didn't see your parents?"
"Oh, yes, Aratin was in the background, waving at me."
"I meant James Potter and Lily Potter."
"As I've never seen them, I don't know how the mirror could show them to me."
"It is a magic mirror, Mr. Ranger."
"I'll grant you that. But not a particularly useful one."
"Perhaps not. But it can be useful to see your heart's desire."
Harry shrugged. "Well, I'm off to breakfast. Headmaster. Have a good day."
Dumbledore would have glared at Potter if he weren't so good at keeping in character. The boy was incredibly frustrating. He had heard the boy exchanging descriptions with other seventh years about what they saw in the mirror. But the boy hadn't even bothered to ask him what he desired. Not that he would have told. But Dumbledore felt that the fact that Harry hadn't asked him meant something. He just didn't know what.
The owls came in, as usual, with mail and the day's newspaper. Dumbledore had all his mail routed to his office, so he was never bothered by the owls during breakfast. It just wouldn't do to have his head stuck in a newspaper or some import mail at the breakfast table. He watched the students as he ate.
Hmmm, there was something that Miss Tonks wanted to show Harry on the front page. Why would he be interested in anything in the paper? Especially given his oft stated desire to return to the dimension from which Dumbledore had rescued him.
Whatever was on the first page made the young man smile. Then he looked up at the head table, for some reason.
"Headmaster? You might want to see this," McGonagall said, as she handed him the paper, folded so he could see the bottom of the front page.
"Ancient Alchemist heading for around the world trip with wife of 600 years" read the headline. The story was about Flamel going for a trip to study and work abroad for the next decade or so.
"When you get my age," the sexacentenian told the Daily Prophet, "you can get set in your ways. For example, I had misplaced my Philosopher's Stone for about half a year. I have it back now. It will be with us on the trip."
The alchemist continued, "And I've had over half a millennium protecting it from people who have tried to take it from me. I would greatly discourage anyone else from trying."
Dumbledore felt himself going pale despite his years of practice avoiding giving away his feelings.
"What does it mean, Albus?"
"Get Potter to my office right away!" was the only answer she got, as the headmaster stalked out of the room.
McGonagall felt she had no choice but to get Potter - Ranger, she reminded herself, up to the headmaster's office.
"I would certainly be willing to meet with the Headmaster, but I would like my head of house, and perhaps you there too, as witnesses."
"Yes. Perhaps a constable, too."
"Why would you need an auror?"
"I don't trust the Headmaster."
"Mr. Ranger, I will give you my personal assurance of your safety."
"I still want my head of house there."
"Very well, we'll get Pamona, and go see the Headmaster."
The group arrived at the door to Dumbledore's office, and received a gruff, "Enter."
Harry and the two teachers came in. Dumbledore then said, "Thank you Minerva, Pamona. Your presence won't be needed."
"I asked them here."
"I wanted to talk to just you, Mr. Ranger."
"If it's about what I think it's about, I want witnesses."
They argued for a few minutes, until Dumbledore acquiesced to Harry.
"Mr. Potter, do you know anything about the article in the Prophet this morning? I know it was pointed out to you."
"I recovered Alchemist Flamel's Philosopher's Stone and returned it to him. I suggested that we publicize the fact that he has it, but I wasn't expecting this. He was quite happy to have it back, by the way. As it says in the newspaper, he didn't know it was missing."
Professor Sprout asked, "I don't understand. How could he not know it was missing?"
"He has a supply of the elixir for himself and his wife to last a few years. He didn't need the Stone very often," Harry explained.
"What I don't understand," McGonagall said, "is why he didn't know the stone was missing? I was told you had his permission to store the stone here."
"He wouldn't give his permission," Dumbledore answered.
Harry responded to that, "So you stole his property."
"I didn't steal it. I was going to give it back to him. It's not as if he was using it."
"Oh, I see. If someone isn't using something, like their money or house, you can just "borrow it" without their permission as long as you return it before they find out; no crime."
Dumbledore glared at him.
McGonagall knew when to give up trying to get information from Dumbledore, so she changed subjects. "You bypassed the traps, Mr. Ranger?"
"It wasn't too hard."
"But how could you do it without alerting me? I knew you got past the Cerberus, but my warning spells never told me that you defeated the chess set; the troll is still alive, so I don't know how you got past him, and you didn't use the potion to get past the final trap." Sprout gasped at the word 'troll.'
Harry answered McGonagall, facing her, "I didn't do what was expected. That's always a good way to keep your enemies off balance." He did turn towards Dumbledore when he said 'enemies.'
"Now that I've fixed your problem, I think I should get to class."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Alright, your problems," he said, emphasizing the 's.' "You were using a school full of students as bait for whatever it was that was attacking unicorns. I also was able to protect the unicorns by moving them to other places."
"You moved the unicorns away from the Forbidden Forest?" Dumbledore seemed more shocked by this than anything else he had heard. Hagrid had attributed the missing unicorns to Harry, but Dumbledore had dismissed him. He was sure, the way he hung around Nymphadora, that Harry was in no condition to approach a unicorn.
"Yes. No one else was protecting them, so I found them some other places to live. Amazing what goblins and the Royal Society for Protection of Magical Beasts can do if you work with them. Oh, yes, Ollivander also contributed to the costs involving in moving all the unicorns off the island of Britain."
"All of them?" Dumbledore didn't seem to be taking this well.
"All the ones in the Forbidden Forest. If there are any others, I don't know about them. I hope they're alright, or at least some place where the people around them try to protect them. Seems no one was trying to do that here. Closest we got to that was Hagrid searching for wounded unicorns and harvesting their bodies when they were killed."
"Well, I can see that you have a lot to think about, so I'll be going.
"Oh, just one thing...what was that black thing that was attacking the unicorns?"
"The spirit of Voldemort. Probably possessing someone to give him form, and using unicorn blood to keep his host alive."
Harry nodded and left the office. Once he was gone, both Minerva and Pamona took their turns giving Dumbledore a piece of their minds.
ADND ADND ADND
No student besides Tonks and Harry knew the significance of the Prophet's article. The Hogwarts population was soon very much concerned with other happenings, so they never even got the chance to contemplate it. The day the Prophet published the Flamels' interview Quirinus Quirrel, the defense instructor, was found dead in his office, his turban on the floor, and a large hole in the back of his head. The discovery by some fourth year 'Claws had disrupted the whole day's classes and the funeral the next day canceled them.
Harry wasn't sure what to make of all of it. He thought Quirrell was a really poor instructor and he learned very little from him. What Harry couldn't understand is why the constables weren't called in to investigate the murder of a teacher.
A few days later classes resumed. The defense instructor was replaced by a constable from the magical government. He wasn't a personable fellow, Auror Baker, but they did learn more in the first week than the months they had had with Quirrell.
Harry kept working on reading and writing, those classes he went to, and long hikes in the Forbidden Forest with Umbriago. When he had been evacuating the unicorns for their own safety, he had used the Druid spell to talk to the unicorn again. The creature had wanted to stay with Harry, so he didn't send him away, and lied about there being no more unicorns in the Forbidden Forest to Dumbledore. The unicorn stopped sleeping in the Thestral stables, but kept close to the area, and liked to accompany Harry on his visits to the Forest.
One disappointment he encountered at school was finding out about apparition lessons after they were held. He realized it was his own fault for not paying attention when the sixth years were invited to the special class. The invitation hadn't included him, as he was technically a first year (although he was concentrating on second year work at this point). But once he found out, he kicked himself for missing the opportunity to learn what sounded like an enhanced Dimension Door spell (as it didn't seem to have the distance limitation like the Magic User spell). He resolved to take the special class next year, if he was still on this plane.
As spring came, he even spent some nights camping out in the woods. Those nights would find Umbriago hanging around Harry's tent, helping keep a watch.
There was some minor excitement at Hogwarts right after Easter break, which Harry spent at Hogwarts (or in the Forbidden Forest) Most of the seventh years stayed, too, spending their time studying for their examinations. Tonks went home.
The Minister of Magic arrived with an entourage of assistants, media people, and Andi and Ted Tonks. They were celebrating the publication of the first volume of Helga Hufflepuff's notebooks, which Andi and Ted had edited and annotated. They got the "discoverer of these important works of magical history" (as Minister Fudge put it) to take them on a tour of Hufflepuff's Hideout. Dumbledore was blindsided, and was reported as "being in a snit about not being the center of attention" (as reported in the Daily Prophet the next day. For Harry, the highlight of the tour was watching Minister Fudge turn as green as his suit when he got a sniff of the mushroom room.
Dumbledore took Harry aside and chided him for not telling the Headmaster about the discovery first, and insisted that Harry do so if he discovered any other hidden rooms.
Harry gave the headmaster agreeable words without actually agreeing.
ADND ADND ADND ADND
Tonks continued to hang around him, but he started getting strange feelings from her as the weeks passed. She seemed to be looking at him expectantly or angrily; he couldn't really decide what she was expecting from him until she confronted him in April.
"Harry? Do you like me?"
"Yes I do."
She had convinced him to show her the Forbidden forest as he knew it, so they were walking through it towards the rocky hills visible from the towers of Hogwarts. Harry had told her it was over a day's walk to get there and that he hadn't been there himself - no opportunity, but someday he'd explore the whole area.
"Then why don't you act like a real boyfriend? You've never even kissed me! Am I that ugly?"
"You're not ugly! I happen to like how you look!"
"Then why haven't you kissed me?"
Harry didn't say anything right away. He sighed and said, "It's not that I don't want to; I do. But it wouldn't be right. You have your whole life ahead of you. You've requested to become a constable, er... auror. You said there was two years of classroom training and another year of apprenticeship. Meanwhile, I want to go back to my own home.
"During Yule time, you took me out in the non-magical world. You fit right in, but I didn't. Not only isn't this my dimension, but there's huge portions of it that don't include me.
"So, pretending that we have a possibility of a relationship isn't realistic, and isn't fair to you."
"But you could stay..."
"I could, but I wouldn't be happy here. They say that when you travel the astral plane you're connected with your body by a silver cord. Should that cord break, you die. I'm connected to my world with a similar mystic cord. I won't be complete until I'm home."
"What if I told you it didn't matter? What if I want you now and to hell with later?"
Harry was confused for a moment until he realized that that she was using 'hell' as a bit of blasphemy to emphasize her feelings rather than one of the planes of existence.
"That would be incredibly shortsighted, and I wouldn't go along with it. Ever see a child stamp he feet and insist that he's grown up enough to have a sword? It doesn't matter how much he wants it, no parent would give in to the child. Just the same, I would have to reject you.
"I value your friendship and how you took me into your life and family, but I will not play with your feelings or jeopardize your future for a fleeting pleasure."
"Oh, Harry!" Tonks exclaimed, and threw herself into him to hug him. Harry put his arms around her, to comfort his friend. Umbriago appeared from wherever he was was and rubbed up against them both, either trying to comfort them or get into the hugging action; Harry wasn't sure.
After that, Harry led Tonks back to the castle. She was distant from him for the next few months. Harry was sad, but realized that it was for the best. He was starting to wonder if the Headmaster was really trying to get him home as he promised.
What was he thinking! Of course the Headmaster wasn't trying to get him home. He had pulled him here from his own world; Harry had figured out early that Dumbledore would do just about anything to keep him here. The whole 'won't take potions with Snape thing' was the result of him, Harry, being more important to Dumbledore's plans than Snape was.
It was the end of May and Tonks came to him, rather contritely.
"Harry? I'm sorry I've been avoiding you. I do like you, a lot, and I felt hurt by your rejection of me."
"It wasn't really you I was rejecting..."
She waved off his objection. "I was wondering if you would do me a favor? I know you camp out in the forest whenever you can. I was wondering if you'd take me out for the weekend? With N.E.W.T.s coming up, I'm just going crazy with studying and worry, and I'd really like to get away for a short time. Actually, I'd still like to study, but just away from the castle. Would you do this for me?"
"All I have is a small tent..."
"That's fine. I trust you. I trust you more than anyone outside my family. Please take me away for a couple of days."
"Tell you what, if the weather is nice, we'll do it. I'll check the weather Friday night, so we can head out Saturday if it's good. How does that sound?" She agreed.
Friday night after dinner, Harry took Tonks for a walk around the castle grounds. They walked close to the Forbidden forest, and Harry cast a Predict Weather Druid spell. The spell gave him a perfect forecast for the next sixteen hours. It gave less accurate information for another seven days, the farther into the future, the less reliable it was.
He smiled at Tonks, "You're in luck! The weather's going to be beautiful tomorrow and probably Sunday, too. We'll go after breakfast, if that's alright with you?"
"Perfect. What should I pack?"
"Jeans and a sturdy blouse. A jacket, as it may get a little chilly tomorrow night. A blanket, we can slip it into my bag," he patted his Bag of Holding. "I'll take care of everything else."
They next day they hiked for several hours into the woods until they reached a spot that Harry had camped at before - it was near a stream and far from the Acromantulas and Centaurs. The rumors of werewolves in the forest had proven to be just rumors. Besides, werewolves were different on this world. Like on his world, they would change into wolves on nights of the full moon, but here they couldn't change at will at other times. And they only changed on the very night of the full moon; on his world they also changed on the night before and after - three nights per lunar month.
Harry pitched his tent, they ate a picnic lunch that the brownies, er...House Elves had fixed them, and Tonks relaxed on a conjured chair in the afternoon sunshine, reviewing for her upcoming exams.
Harry collected wood and built a fire. He had to admit, that a simple ignite spell was a lot easier than using flint and steel to start a fire. They had some more Elf packed food, and Tonks continued to study. Harry scouted the area, mostly to keep in practice. Most intelligent creatures of the forest knew about him and Umbriago and left them alone.
Harry returned to camp when it was nearing full dark. Light escaped the end of the tent, and Harry found that Tonks had started to get chilly, so she moved into the tent, where she was still studying.
Harry built up the fire again, and enticed her out to enjoy it and the clear night. Eventually, he extinguished the fire, and they spent a few minutes reviewing her Astronomy knowledge about the stars that were visible above them through the trees. She stood close to Harry and had put her arm around him as she used the other one to point to various stars and constellations that she identified. After a few minutes, she was getting cold again, and they went to the tent. Harry stayed outside as Tonks got into her pajamas. He went into the tent, and got under his blanket, and took off his outer clothes. They lay down in the dark fairly close, but not touching.
"You know, when you said you had a small tent, I was thinking you just had a one bedroom tent and someone would sleep in the living room. I didn't know you meant that you had a Muggle tent."
Harry shook his head. "I'll have to look into wizarding tents. If they're that fancy, I'm not sure I should use one. I wouldn't want to lose my skills at real camping. And my appreciation of a flea-infested inn would probably diminish if I got used to something like that while camping out."
They talked a bit, about their own worlds, classes, and the future, and finally, Tonks reached over and pulled him into a hug and kissed him.
"Tonks, we shouldn't. When Isolde and Tristan slept together they had a naked sword between them. Do I need to do that to keep us honest?"
He kissed him again, and said, "No. I just wanted you to know that I haven't given up on us. I'll respect your rules, but can we at least sleep close together? Can you at least hold me some?"
Harry nodded. They were holding each other, so she did feel his head move. "Alright, but I still think this is a bad idea."
"If no one ever followed up on bad ideas, I doubt the world would be as interesting or as rich."
She rolled over, and pulled his hand around, so he had his hand on her stomach and he was pressed up against her back. She took a big breath, enlarging her chest magically at the same. Her self-transformation skills had been kept a secret the whole time she was in school, and she wasn't interested in letting the secret out now, but she could use it to her advantage.
"Good night, Harry."
"Good night, Tonks."
ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND
"Harry! Ranger Harry!"
"Huh? What? Dendreg? Is that you?"
"Harry? Who's there?"
"It's alright Tonks. It's just my friend, Druid Dendroginous. Where are you Dendreg?"
"I'm in the Astral Plane, Harry. I got Wizard Cordtup to cast an Astral Spell on me, in the hopes that I could find you. I have your sword here, by the way. It led me to you. Cordtup wasn't sure if you had a strong enough attachment to it for it to work.
"So who is that I heard with you?"
"It's a friend of mine. Tonks, meet Druid Dendroginous. Dendreg, meet Student Witch Tonks."
"Pleased to make your acquaintance. Sorry I can't see you. Maybe some day in the not too distant future."
"Harry's told me about you. Warned might be more correct."
"What sort of tales are you telling about me, Harry!"
"Nothing bad. Or very bad."
"Don't believe him, Student Witch Tonks. I'm pretty much on the outs with the rest of the Druids because I'm too nice. They say I'm not 'balanced' enough."
"So, how are things at home?"
"About the same. Paladin James sent an expeditionary force against the giants. Didn't come back. He's not sure what they're facing. He'd like to send Aratin to scout it out, but he's got Aratin coordinating the defenses and patrols of the old Roman road. We could really use you, Harry."
"I'd love to come back. Any way that Wizard Cordtup could get me back?"
"He's checking. It's just not going to be a high priority for him."
"Thanks for trying. School takes a two month holiday soon and then I think I'll try to contact some foreign wizards; I'm not sure of the competence of the top wizards here."
"Alright. We'll try this again some time. Just don't expect it to be anytime soon. This is costing a large number of gold pieces."
"I'll try to pay you back," Harry said. But there was no reply. He called his friend a number of times, but he was gone. Tonks rolled over and hugged him, and he didn't protest. He was being overwhelmed by homesickness like he had never experienced before.
ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND
Harry woke up in the arms of Tonks, and gently pulled away. She was nice, but she had her own life in her own world; he couldn't offer her t-shirts, cars, or even books. It just wasn't going to work out between them.
They did spend the rest of the day, the first day of June, in the woods. Tonks tried, and mostly succeeded, to concentrate on her studies. She did get a few hugs in during the day. Harry seemed down, and she tried to get his spirits up.
They hiked back to the castle and arrived in time for dinner. After eating, Harry seemed to disappear. Tonks went back to studying, although that evening she was the victim of a pre-gossip attack - her roommates demanded to know what happened, and especially what happened between her and Harry once they found that they had been alone together. Tonks' disappointment that nothing happened was so genuine, that they left her alone soon after that, which was just as well, as they all were soon studying for their upcoming N.E.W.T.s.
The Nastily Exhaustive Wizarding Tests finally arrived the second week of June. They spent days being tested. Harry, who had been scarce the previous two weeks, became very supportive and gave Tonks a back massage after her first day of testing because she was so stressed and tensed. He ended up giving several of the girls massages, which got him some angry glares from boyfriends. He offered to massage the boys, too, but got no takers.
Harry himself took the second year tests. He had found that he picked up the first year material too easily, and spent the time after Christmas break concentrating on the second year curriculum. He still was very slow with his writing, but his reading had greatly improved. He had enjoyed the story books he had read; it was one thing that his world didn't have. Nothing against a good bard, but you can't relax in bed . . . he shook his head when he imagined Tonks as a bard in a green bodice. . . .
He sighed. He had to find a way home.
A few days before school let out, he was summoned by Dumbledore to his office. He contacted his head of house and they both showed up at the meeting.
It seemed that Dumbledore wanted Harry to stay with the Weasley family. Harry had already made arrangements to stay with the Tonks family, so he politely declined, despite Dumbledore's attempt to persuade him that living with a magical family would do him a world of good and let him see what this world had to offer. Harry didn't argue, except to point out that all three of the Tonks were magical. Dumbledore rejoined that they lived in both worlds, and that the Weasleys lived completely in the wizarding world.
When Harry asked for an update on the research to send him home, Dumbledore sadly informed him that it would be virtually impossible to get him back to his own world. Harry's face took on it's neutral look and he nodded, leaving the office after that. Sprout went with him, offering him condolences once they were out of the office.
"Don't worry about, Professor Sprout. All this says is Dumbledore is incapable or unwilling to help me. He's not the only wizard in the world, and oft the teacher will lose track of what's changed in the world since they started teaching. Er, no offense."
She smiled, "None taken."
ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND
Dumbledore frowned. He had listened to Harry and Pamona's conversation. He couldn't figure out why the boy didn't trust him. Or how he was so good at ruining his plans. It was true that Dumbledore wasn't trying to get Harry back to his own world. But that didn't give the boy leave to cast aspersions on his actions.
The feast on the night before they left Hogwarts was as good as any that Paladin James had put on. The house cup was awarded to Slytherin, and there was another moment of silence for the un-missed Quirrell. The student population went to their houses to pack or settled in for the night.
Harry, however, went into the forest to talk to Umbriago and the Centaurs, leaving the unicorn in their care.
"Ranger Harry," the Centaur Firenze called to him as he started back to the castle.
"My herd does not want me to talk to you, but I felt you should know. . . ."
"There is a prophecy; The Centaurs study the skies for knowledge. . . ."
"Yes, Uranus overlaying the Earth, the two sources of all life, the first Father and the all Mother. She feeds us, and he instructs us. I am familiar with the belief."
"You have unexpected knowledge, Ranger. We learn much from the stars, but sometimes we are gifted with prophecy. An ancient one says that eventually the last unicorn will come to our herd, and our fates shall be the same. We will guard this unicorn, for should it die, so shall our herd; and should we restrict it's freedom in the forest, so shall our own freedom be restricted."
"I knew the Centaurs would guard him well. I didn't know about the prophecy, though. I trusted you to do the right thing without the prophecy."
"Thank you for your trust. We do not relate the prophecy to those outside our herd; it is not a happy prediction and it bodes ill for us, since no matter how well we keep the unicorn, all things die. Perhaps it is my people's time."
"If there's one thing I've learned from bards it is that a prophecy is rarely fulfilled the way your expect. Do not give up hope."
"We are the children of Centaurus. He watches us from the sky still. We never give up hope."
ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND ADND
The next day, Hufflepuff house members showed their loyalty and hard work as the whole house packed to go home. Anything that couldn't be identified as to the owner ended up in the common room, where people took frequent breaks to find missing items or spot their friends' possessions.
Harry packed quickly; most of his stuff was already in his bag of holding. He moved through the various years' dorms helping where he could. Finally the entire group marched to breakfast leaving the brownies, or rather house elves, to move the luggage to the train.
Soon they were on the Hogwarts Express heading towards London.
"It's been a strange ten months. Back home it's been over a year and a half since I left."
Tonks, who was the only other person in the compartment at the moment, shrugged. "It's like you're trapped on one of your Adventure's Harry. You could have been killed at the Pillar of the World, or by that wizard, Mycroft, or by gnolls, or ghouls, or . . . anything. You could have been captured, or the adventure could have taken unexpected turns and you might have been very delayed returning home. That's all that this is. . . it's a very long delay in your returning home. You'll get home eventually."
Harry gave her a hug in thanks, which was what they were doing when they were interrupted by a couple of first years. (Former first years, Harry reminded himself.) Miss Granger and Mr. Longbottom looked embarrassed to catch the two teenagers hugging.
"I just wanted to thank you for saving me from the troll, Mr. Ranger."
"Just call me Harry. And you're very welcome. And I want to thank you for the information you gave me about the three headed dog. Did you know it's name was Fluffy, and it is Groundskeeper Hagrid's pet?"
"He keeps that monster as a pet?" Longbottom gasped, eyes wide. Harry smiled as he realized that Longbottom probably was in on the adventure that led to Hermione finding out about the dog.
"Why would he keep it in the castle?" Longbottom wondered.
"Don't you remember, Neville, it was standing on a trap door."
"Oh, yes, that's right. Wonder what it is guarding?"
"Was guarding. It stopped around the time Quirrell died. . . ." Harry's voice trailed off. He looked at Tonks. "That wasn't a coincidence, was it?"
"What was a coincidence?" Hermione wanted to know.
"We removed the reason for Fluffy to be stuck indoors, and the day that becomes known, Quirrell dies. Dumbledore said the thing attacking the unicorns was probably someone possessed by the spirit of Voldemort." Longbottom squeaked at the name. Granger looked fascinated.
"But how does his death, even if he was possessed, relate to the three headed dog?"
"Assuming Voldemort was possessing Quirrell, he was drinking unicorn blood to stay alive, and keep his host alive. I removed the unicorns from the Forbidden Forest. . ."
Granger started at this in a way she hadn't at Voldemort's name. "You removed the unicorns?" Harry nodded. "Where did they go?"
"Turns out I own some land in Wales. Most moved there. Some moved to another magical preserve. Anyway, without unicorn blood, Quirrell probably became weak and sick over the Yule break, and the final straw was finding that Flamel had his Stone back. Voldemort left the professor, killing him."
"Wow!" Was all Longbottom said.
"What did Flamel have to do with all this?" Hermione wanted to know.
Harry explained about the Philosopher's Stone and how Dumbledore had 'borrowed' it without permission.
"Dumbledore wouldn't do that!" Hermione insisted.
"Sorry, but confirmed it with Flamel himself."
"But he's the leader of the Light!" Hermione gasped.
"Everyone says that, as if it means something. 'Light.' 'Dark.' These terms don't have very good definitions. But one thing they don't mean is Good and Evil. Whatever else Dumbledore is, he isn't one of the good guys."
The discussion went on for a while, wandered off topic, was interrupted by the food cart, which Harry sprung for everyone, and eventually got to a topic Harry wanted to know about - what could the two Gryffindors tell him about the Weasley family.
They were still talking when the train pulled into the station.
Harry watched as the Weasleys had a family reunion. The Weasley matriarch found him and repeated the offer to let him stay with the red-headed family for the summer. Harry politely declined. He joined the Tonk family. They left the station and went to Tonks' house. As Harry settled in for the night, he knew he'd need a good sleep.
Harry had plans for the summer.