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Chapter 28

"I don't have time to run for the board of governors Albus," James complained. He puffed out his chest. "I'm an important Auror and the office depends on me to keep everybody on their toes."

"It won't take anything away from your being an Auror," Albus pointed out. "The board only meets once a month and always in the evenings."

"Well, I'll have to talk to Amber and see what she thinks," James said hedging. He didn't really want to sit on the board and listen to a bunch of boring old windbags discussing school policies and procedures.

"Well if you don't and Augusta is appointed; before long we'll have Walburga Black as a Slytherin Governor, Amos Diggory as a Hufflepuff Governor or Merlin forbids even that disaster Xenophilius Lovegood as a Ravenclaw Governor," Dumbledore replied.

"Nah …he's too wrapped up with that ridiculous rag of his," James said sneering. "The Quibbler; he ought to call it The Lunatic instead!"

"It doesn't matter. They'll most likely ask Severus', Filius' or Pomona's advice on whom to ask to run. I have a suspicion it was Minerva who pushed Augusta to run as she no longer has to raise Neville."

James sighed and changed the subject. "Listen Albus, I think Harry may have had a spell cast on him or been given a potion to turn him against me. I know of a few spells we use as Aurors to check people for spells, but I can't get near Harry to cast one."

Dumbledore shook his head. "I cannot either. Every time I move in his direction I have Severus, Lily, Remus, Filius, Pomona, Minerva, Charity, or Aurora trying to stop me even if I am only going down the middle aisle between tables."

"Snape must have them both under the same spell," James concluded. "Because I know damn well Lily loved me when we were in hiding. She comes back through the Veil and then all of a sudden she hates my guts."

"Will you take my suggestion and run for the board then, James?" Dumbledore pressed.

"Alright, but if it interferes with my duties as an Auror I'm out of there," James conceded.

"Fair enough," Albus agreed.

~*~* Page Break ~*~*

Severus went to Gringotts and then bought a paper from the news seller on Charing Cross Road before he flooed back home. He handed the paper to Harry after he stepped out of the floo.

Harry found the section that listed the movies and began to peruse it to see what was showing. "Here's one," he said. "It's called The Secret Garden."

"What's the rating?" Lily asked.

Harry looked at the ad for it again. "It's a 'G', Mum. That means a general audience."

"What time does it start?" Severus asked.

"Seven is the earliest showing," Harry answered.

"If we went to eat at five that would give us two hours before the movie starts," Lily said looking at Severus.

Severus nodded. "That should work. After I talk to Luc, I'll make reservations at the Bear & Staff."

"This will be so much fun!" Harry declared.

~*~* Page Break ~*~*

Professor McGonagall entered her office. She had just come back from three weeks of visiting her family in Inverness. She looked at the first year's Hogwarts Letters piled on her desk waiting to be delivered by Owl or in person to the Muggleborns by some of the professors.

The Sorting Hat still sat on a shelf of her bookcase. It had resolutely refused to go back to the headmaster's office saying it was finished with listening to Dumbledore plotting with the two idiots, Potter and Black.

With a sigh, Minerva called her elf, Rissa, and ordered tea then sat down and began going through the letters on her desk. She checked them against the Hogwarts Register to determine who would need the professors to visit with an orientation packet and whose she could send by Owl Mail. She could always depend on Filius, Pomona, and Charity to help her out with the visits to the Muggleborn students. Filius loved doing it in fact.

There was a knock on the door and Albus came in. He sat down in one of the chairs in front of her desk. "How come Harry is taking Ancient Runes and Arithmancy rather than Divination and Care of Magical Creatures?"

Minerva rolled her eyes. "Because Divination is useless and Care of Magical Creatures has very limited employment possibilities."

"I want Filius to change his schedule. I want Harry to be better friends with Ron Weasley. Those friends he has now with the exception of Mr. Thomas and Miss Granger are a recipe for disaster."

"Mr. Weasley hates Harry's guts to borrow the Muggle expression and I don't believe Harry cares much for his either and there is nothing wrong with his current friends. He has friends in every house and he get along well with older students such as Mr. Diggory, the Weasley twins, and Mr. Flint."

"And why isn't he playing Quidditch? James is so disappointed that Harry refuses to follow in his footsteps."

"Harry's much more like Lily thankfully. You knew the Sorting Hat considered putting her in Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor?"

The Sorting Hat sighed loudly suddenly and spoke up, "One of my biggest regrets."

Albus gave it a disgusted look and turned back to Minerva. "I am going to speak to Filius about changing Harry's schedule."

Minerva rolled her eyes again. "Go ahead, but you're wasting your time and if you make him angry you may regret it," she warned. "I believe you recall what Filius did to Headmaster Dippet that time when he made him angry?" Filius had cast an overall Sticking Charm on Dippet's robe so as he walked into the Great Hall and up to the head table at lunchtime, plates, cups, and cutlery flew off the tables and stuck to his robe.

"Filius and I have always had a good relationship," Albus stated.

"Well, he may not take kindly to your questioning his judgment as head of house as I'm sure Harry talked with him about taking those two subjects and he encouraged him to take them," Minerva replied. "You recall that students do come to their heads of house with questions about electives?"

"Of course," Albus nodded.

"And I'm also sure Lily and Severus would have encouraged Harry to take Arithmancy and Ancient Runes over the other two electives as they both took them," Minerva added.

"Why do they keep trying to make Harry into some ardent little bookworm instead of the adventurous boy he really is?" Albus muttered. "They're going to end up turning him into the next dark lord. Tom Riddle was the same way - too smart for his own good."

Minerva rolled her eyes again. She'd need to warn Severus and Lily, Filius, and Pomona to watch for further interference from Albus.

~*~* Page Break ~*~*

The Snape's and the Malfoy's were enjoying their dinner at The Bear & Staff pub. Harry and Draco had the Macaroni and Cheese while Lily and Narcissa had both decided on the Shrimp Scampi with Triple Cooked Chips. Lucius had opted for the Grilled Sea Bass and Severus was having the Chicken and Leek in Mustard Sauce Pie.

"I wonder if our elves could make this," Lucius remarked. "It certainly is delicious."

"You would probably need to purchase a grill for them to use first," Severus replied.

"You could ask our waiter if you could speak to the chef about your meal and ask him for his recipe," Lily suggested.

"If you flatter him enough he is sure to give it to you," Severus added with a smirk.

When they left the restaurant to go to the theater, Lucius had the recipe safely tucked into his pocket. "Now where do I get one of these grilling instruments? Merlin's Hat! It sounds like some medieval torture device."

"IKEA should carry them," Lily replied. "We can go with you when you're ready to purchase it."

Severus nodded. "Let me know when you would like to go, Luc."

"Excellent!"

After the movie, they decided to stop at Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor where they all enjoyed sundaes, but with different ice cream.

"I must say," Lucius said pausing to dig into his sundae and take a bite of it. "The more I see of these Muggle mov-ees; the more I have to credit the Muggles with a sort of creative brilliance."

"Muggles have figured out long ago ways to make their lives easier," Severus remarked. "Sometime we should arrange a trip to Italy to Rome and Florence so you can see the paintings and sculptures Muggles have done."

"Perhaps we could do it over the Christmas holidays," Cissy suggested.

Lily nodded. "I would love to see Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel."

"Who is Michelangelo?" Cissy asked.

"He's one of the greatest Muggle sculptors who lived during the Renaissance period in the fifteenth century," Lily explained.

"Isn't there a city there where you have to get around by boats?" Draco asked. "I heard some Muggles talking about it one time."

Severus nodded. "Yes Venice and the boats are called gondolas."

"Can we go there and ride one?" Harry asked. "It sounds like fun."

"We'll see," Lily replied.

~*~* Page Break ~*~*

James was slouched in one of the squashy red chairs in the Potter Library relaxing with a cold Butterbeer when pounding on the front door started.

Merlin's beard!" He exclaimed. "Who's that and what do they want?"

Dazzy came into the library. "Master Potter, they is auers at the door."

James grinned. He knew the other Aurors would warm up to him eventually and accept his invitation for drinks and snacks at Potter Manor.

He walked out into the entry way to find Mad-Eye, Kingsley, Knightly, and Crockford waiting.

"Welcome, gentlemen," James said. "Dazzy!" He yelled.

Dazzy popped in. "What can Dazzy do for Master Potter?"

"Bring Butterbeers and snacks into the library.

"Yes Master," she nodded and popped out.

"This way please, gentlemen."

"This isn't a social visit Potter," Moody growled. "We're here on business." He handed James a piece of parchment. "This is a writ signed as you can see signed by Scrimgeour."

James read it over frowning. "Why do you want to search the quarters of my elves? What did they do?"

"It's not the elves we want to check; it's the rats that are living in the elves quarters that interest us," Kingsley explained in his calm, deep voice.

"This is a joke, right?" James replied grinning.

Mad-Eye grabbed the parchment back. "No. Show us the way to your elves quarters."

"But what are you expecting to find there?"

"It isn't a what; it's who as in Peter Pettigrew."

"Peter's dead!" James said. "He was killed by Snivellus before You-Know-Who attacked me at the safe house because Snivellus knew he was going to warn me about You-Know-Who's impending attack."

"The Auror, who died after Pettigrew blew up the street escaping, told us under a Wizard's Oath, before he died that he saw Pettigrew morph into a rat," Kingsley said. "We know that was Pettigrew's Animagus."

James waved his hand and shrugged. "Go ahead and waste your time, but you won't find anything."

"How are we going to catch the rats?" Knightly asked Crockford out of Mad-Eye's hearing range.

Crockford shrugged. "Stun them I suppose and then check them for a missing toe."

Mad-Eyes ducked into the elves quarters. It was hot in there, but their quarters were neat and as clean as they could get them despite having a dirt floor.

"Disgusting!" Kingsley muttered. "I wouldn't treat a dog like this!"

After stunning a number of rats and finding out none of them had any missing toes, Mad-Eye decided to call it quits and go back to the office. "We'll come back tomorrow and lay rat traps along the river and around the house and see what we catch him that way."

"I hate rats!" Knightly muttered.

~*~* Page Break ~*~*

Harry had already gone to bed when the floo sounded. Severus went over to it and knelt down before it. Mad-Eye's head was sitting in the flames. "We checked the elves quarters at Potter Manor, but didn't find Pettigrew among the other rats there. Could be he heard us coming and fled. We're going back tomorrow and lay some traps along the riverbank and around the house and see what we catch."

Severus nodded. "Keep me informed and I will keep a watch for him in case he decides to visit Hogwarts again."

"I take it they didn't find Pettigrew hiding at Potter Manor," Lily said.

Severus shook his head. "No, but they are going back tomorrow and set traps."

"I don't think even Peter is stupid enough to walk into a rat trap."

"Unless he is really hungry and goes for the cheese."

The floo sounded again. "We seem to be really popular tonight," Lily remarked.

This time it was Minerva's head sitting in the flames. "I'm sorry to floo you so late, but I had a disturbing conversation with Albus today and I thought I'd better warn you."

"Warn us about what?" Severus asked as Lily knelt down beside him.

"Albus is determined to force Harry into being a miniature James. He was complaining about Harry taking Arithmancy and Ancient Runes rather than Divination and Care of Magical Creatures. I suspect he intends to change Harry schedule so have Harry check his school letter when he gets it and if he is signed up for courses he didn't want to take, floo me immediately and I will change them for him. Also he is trying to force Ron Weasley and Harry to be friends even though I told him they despise one another."

Severus nodded. "I will let Harry know. As for Ron …I know he has all those brothers to compete with, but the jealousy and contempt he shows towards others is not conducive to him being popular – not even amongst his own house I suspect."

"I'm also going to warn Filius and Pomona that Albus is attempting to manipulate Harry again."

Severus nodded again and Minerva ended the floo call.

Lily stood up, brushing off the knees of her jeans. "I know why Dumbledore was trying to manipulate Harry before because he wanted a sacrificial goat for Voldemort, but he's gone and he's not coming back so why is he still doing it?"

"Because he is convinced that Harry being so smart is going to turn into the next dark wizard and so he wants to try dumbing him down, as the Muggles say, to prevent it."

"Then he needs his head examined!" Lily snapped. "You can't make anybody dumb by forcing them into taking pretty much useless subjects!"

"But you can make them "dumb" by withholding the correct facts from them."

"Harry's a bright boy and he knows how to do his own research so it wouldn't work anyway."

"True enough," Severus agreed. "But I will need to keep an extra eye on Dumbledore's wiles this year."

Severus and Lily rose late the next morning since they had been up late the previous night. Lily smiled at Severus as they dressed and teased, "We should stay up "late" more often."

Severus smiled and winked at Lily. "I quite enjoyed it."

They went downstairs to find Harry just coming in from watering. "Tita said she thinks the Dirigible Plums are just about ready to make into jam."

"Good," Lily replied. "I'm anxious to taste the jam they make."

Lily noticed right away that Harry had cut some of the flowers she'd planted and put them in a vase on the dining room table. She bent and sniffed them. "Thank you, Harry."

Harry smiled. "I figured you deserved them, Mum."

"That is a very nice gesture Harry," Severus agreed.

After breakfast Lucius floo called and said he was ready to go shopping for a new grill. Severus advised him to first stop at Gringotts to exchange some Galleons for Pounds and also transform their clothing so they would not stick out amongst the Muggles.

Lucius, Cissa, and Draco flooed over. They were dressed in jeans and T-shirts. They all proceeded to apparate to the IKEA store and Severus grabbed a shopping cart and led the way to the area of the store where the grills were located. "I would advise buying a charcoal grill. Charcoal is easy to purchase. In fact you can buy it right here. You will also need to purchase lighter fluid in order to light the charcoal.

Looking over the grills, Lucius decided on one that cost £180. After putting its box the cart they proceeded to look around the rest of the store. Harry spotted the bicycles and wanted to go over there. "I never had a bike, but I used to ride the one Uncle Vernon bought for Dud when they were gone. He never rode it and it just sat in the garage."

"We can certainly buy you one if you want it," Severus said.

Lily nodded. "Maybe we ought to buy three of them, Sev. Riding a bike is good exercise."

Severus nodded. "You are of course correct."

Draco looked longingly between his father and the bikes, but Lucius said, "Neither your mother or I knows how to ride one. Who is going to teach you?"

"Uncle Sev can teach me," Draco said.

Severus nodded and explained, "It is no harder than learning how to ride a broom and Draco picked that up quickly as I recall. It is just a matter of learning how to keep your balance."

"It sounds like fun Luc," Cissa said. "We should buy three of them too." She prevailed and Lucius bought three bikes in addition to the grill, charcoal, and lighter fluid.

Severus bought three bikes also. As they were wheeling their bikes out, Harry said to Draco, "If we can bring our bikes to Hogwarts with us and maybe we can start a bike club. I'll bet a lot of the Muggleborn's have bikes."

They returned to Witches Moon and the Malfoys flooed home. Severus flooed with them. Lucius had asked him to instruct the Malfoy elves on how to use the grill.

At dinner that night Harry asked if he would be allowed to bring his bike to Hogwarts. "I do not see any reason why you cannot." Severus frowned. "When you think about it Hogwarts has not paid much attention to the needs of the Muggleborns. We only celebrate Wizarding holidays. We do not celebrate Guy Fawkes Day or Remembrance Day for instance."

"Since Lucius is on the board maybe you could speak to him about it because in spite of his constant claims of being in favor of Muggleborn rights; Dumbledore doesn't care about their rights at Hogwarts," Lily suggested.

"I know. Dean's a really big Soccer fan and he's talked about wanting to start a team," Harry said. "I'll bet Hermione and Dean have bikes too. I'll owl them and tell them to bring their bikes this year. You or mum could shrink them at the station then Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall could resize them once we get to Hogwarts."

"That's a very good idea Harry," Severus complimented him.

"By the way Harry," Lily said. "Professor McGonagall flooed us last night and asked us to tell you if you notice any changes in your list of books for courses you didn't sign up for us to let her know right away and she'll change it."

"Why ..?" Harry started to ask then made a face. "Dumbledore's still thinks I'm going to be the next dark wizard just because I'm smart?"

"Unfortunately, yes." Severus said nodding. "The old barnacle needs something to fight and if he cannot find somebody or something in real life he will make an enemy up."

In a few weeks Harry's Hogwarts letter arrived with his list of textbooks for his classes. He frowned when he saw his book list. "Looks like Professor McGonagall was right," Harry said holding out the booklist to his parents. "I've got textbooks for Divination and Care of Magical Creatures on here."

Severus and Lily looked at the list. Severus frowned. "What we will do is buy the books for Arithmancy and Ancient Runes and then I will floo Minerva when we get home and have her change your classes back to what you signed up for."

"Good," Harry said nodding. He was looking forward to going to Diagon Alley and hopefully seeing all of his friends.

As they stepped out of the fireplace at the Leakey Cauldron, Tom looked at Severus, indicating he should come over to the bar. "I will be a minute," Severus said to Lily and Harry. He went over to the bar and Tom leaned forward. "Albus was here asking if I'd seen you come through yet. I told him no and if he asks again I'll still tell him no."

Severus shook his head and went back over to Lily and Harry. "It seems Dumbledore was in here asking if Tom had seen us yet."

"I swear he's going to be racing towards the lake with his bum on fire again when I get back to Hogwarts!" Lily said clutching her wand in a threatening manner.

"And none of the other professors will stop you either," Severus replied with a grin. They went out into the courtyard and Severus opened the entrance. They were meeting the Malfoys at Gringotts.

As they walked towards Gringotts they ran into Alice, Frank, and Neville who told Harry that he'd seen Vince and Greg in Madam Malkins. Vince was getting fitted for new robes because he'd grown taller over the summer.

"We just got here and we're meeting Draco and his parents at Gringotts," Harry said. "I'll bet we run into Hermione in Flourish & Blotts."

"Why don't we all meet a Fortescue's before we go home," Alice suggested.

"Good idea Alice," Lily agreed.

They agreed to meet at Fortescue's in three hours and the Snape's continued to Gringotts. Lucius, Cissa, and Draco were waiting inside for them. Lucius had already been down to the Malfoy vaults. While Lily and Cissa chatted upstairs, Severus and Harry went down to the Prince vaults. When they returned they all went outside. "Where to first?" Lucius asked.

"Harry doesn't need new robes since I had them put a three-year Growth Charm on them when I bought them for him originally," Severus said.

"Nor does Draco," Cissy said.

"Why don't we start at Flourish & Blotts then," Lily suggested.

They went into the book store that appeared to be very busy. Harry found all of his books easily. He spotted Hermione's parents in the back of the store conversing with Mr. Weasley. He didn't see Fred or George and figured they were probably at Quality Quidditch Supplies. He didn't see Percy, Mrs. Weasley, Ginny or Ron which was fine with Harry. The less he saw of Ron the better. He found Hermione in the aisle of books on Charms. "Hey, Hermione."

Hermione looked up from the book she was reading and smiled. "Hello Harry. Did you buy your books already?"

"My book list was messed up and it looks like somebody changed a couple of classes I decided to take to ones I didn't. Dad said to buy the books for the classes I originally signed up for and he'd straighten it out with Professor McGonagall."

"What classes were changed?"

"As you know I signed up to take Arithmancy and Ancient Ruins, but somebody changed them to Divination and Care of Magical Creatures."

"I'm sure it wasn't Professor McGonagall that did it and the only other one that can change class schedules is Professor …"

"Dumbledore," Harry said. "I think he's trying to prevent me from learning anything interesting because he still thinks I'm going to be the next dark lord."

"That's completely ridiculous," Hermione said. "Believing that just because someone is smart they'll turn evil like You-Know-Who."

"Tell that to Dumbledore," Harry replied.

Hermione nodded. "I'm excited about the bike club you owled me about."

Harry nodded. "I think it would be great fun! If I see Justin, Dean, Terry, or Ernie I'll ask them if they have bikes and if they can bring them along. I'll also tell the rest of our friends too if I see them. I know Neville said he saw Greg and Vince in Madam Malkin's."

"If I see Ginny or Luna I'll tell them about it too."

They walked together out of the Charms aisle and were just about to split up to find their parents when Dumbledore stepped out from the Transfiguration aisle. "Hello Harry. I see you're shopping for your textbooks." He frowned as he noticed Harry had books for Arithmancy and Ancient Runes rather than Care of Magical Creatures and Divination.

"I'm taking the classes I signed up for and not the ones you decided I should take," Harry replied challenging him.

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