Disclaimer: I own nothing. Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. Blah blah blah. should just put a blanket disclaimer on the site for all the idiots that could possibly believe we actually own these stories or make any kind of a profit.

A/N: Glad you guys are enjoying so far. I will explain Harry's unusual behaviour, but just out of curiosity, do any of you have any theories?

An Unconventional Affair

Chapter Three

As soon as the final student disappeared out the door, Hermione quickly packed away her things, storing the box full of buttons in a cupboard behind her desk and shoving her lesson notes into the top drawer of her desk. She was still angry and embarrassed after being showed up by one of her students, and was determined to find out what was going on with Harry Potter. She only just remembered to lock the classroom behind herself with a speedy flick of her wand; she was in such a hurry to get to the staff room. She felt like everyone was staring at her and talking about her as she hurried along the corridor, down three flights of stairs, through the door off the entrance hall, along another corridor (this one mercifully void of stares and whispers), and finally into the staff room.

Hermione found the person she was looking for, already relaxing with her feet up before the fire.

'I just had a very interesting encounter in my seventh year Gryffindor class,' she said, sitting down across from Lily Potter.

Lily looked up from the steaming cup of tea she was nursing. 'Oh.'

'Is your son always so rude? Or was it just me?'

Lily looked apologetic. 'I'm sorry. I should have warned you, I know, but it's not something I'm entirely comfortable bringing up. I was going to tell you. I hoped I'd have a bit more time… but I should have known the world would see fit to bite me in the butt.'

'So?' Hermione pressed.

'What did he do?'

'Well, where do I start?' Hermione felt her voice rising and worked to lower it as she continued. 'First, he ignored me. I thought he might be deaf or something, until one of the other students pointed out to me that he was… how did she put it? In his zone? And that he wouldn't reply. That was odd enough, but then, while I was in the middle of my lecture, he suddenly looks up and starts to argue with me. He said what I was saying was wrong, and then said that I was… not a very powerful witch, I think were his words.'

Lily winced.

'Yeah. And I don't know how he did it, but then he goes and proves me wrong. I've never seen anything like it. He performed differential transfiguration right before my eyes, and for the life of me, I can't wrap my head around it. I have tried for years to perform magic like that, read every book ever written on the subject, and to the best of my knowledge, it's not possible. So please, explain to me exactly what is going on with your son?'

Lily rubbed at her forehead and smiled sheepishly. 'Honestly, I don't have a real satisfactory answer for you. Except to say that, my son is different. He's always been like that. And he wasn't trying to be rude to you. It wasn't personal. That's just how he is. It's like he has no filter. He says what he means. I tried to teach him that it's not polite, that he can hurt people's feelings, but he just doesn't understand. It goes in one ear and out the other.'

'Fine,' Hermione said, 'but what about the differential transfiguration?'

Lily shrugged. 'As I said, I really don't have a satisfactory answer for you. Harry is very smart, and he especially loves Transfiguration. It's his passion. He spends nearly every waking moment studying it, practising it. Maybe he found something other wizards have overlooked?'

'I have studied it extensively, and I've found nothing that would indicate the possibility of differential transfiguration behind possible. That is, until your son shattered my reputation today.'

Lily laughed, and at Hermione's annoyed narrowed eyes, she held up her hands. 'Sorry. I'm not laughing at you. Don't worry about your reputation. Everyone in Hogwarts knows how special Harry is. They won't think any less of you.'

Hermione slumped back in her seat. 'But how did he do it?'

Lily smiled. 'You don't get stumped much, do you?'

'No. I don't.'

'Why don't you ask Harry how he did it? Come to have dinner with us tonight. You can ask him then.'

Hermione shook her head. 'I can't. I have to go for an interview for the Daily Prophet tonight.'

'Tonight?' Lily questioned. 'That's unusual.'

'Yeah,' Hermione replied, 'it was supposed to be on Sunday, but the witch that was going to be doing the interview got sick and couldn't do it. So I'm going to the editors house tonight for a quick interview instead.'

'Ah. Ginny Weasley?'

'You know her?'

'I do, through her parents.'

'What's she like?'

'She's nice. You'll get on. She just has a way with people. One of the reasons she's the youngest female editor of the Daily Prophet, I suspect.'

'I'm not really sure what to expect,' Hermione worried aloud.

'Relax,' Lily said. 'I did one. It's standard protocol with a new addition to Hogwarts. Just basic questions. Nothing to worry about. Anyway, so you can't make it tonight, what about Wednesday?'

'For dinner?'

'Yeah.'

'I dunno…'

'Come on,' Lily coaxed, 'it'll be fun. Harry's a softie really. And you can ask him about differential transfiguration. I know you want to.'

Hermione thought for a moment. She really had no desire to see Harry Potter sooner than she had to, but at the same time, she did want to know how he had done it… maybe one dinner would be worth it?

'Okay,' she said, 'count me in.'

(-)

Seven figures sat around a large round table, under dim lighting that illuminated only the table, talking amongst themselves, when the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, entered the room. Everyone came to attention, standing up until Dumbledore himself had taken his seat.

Around the table sat Albus Dumbledore's closest allies, those he trusted more than anyone else in the wizarding world. They were, in clockwise order around the table, Rubeus Hagrid, Remus Lupin, Lily and James Potter, the tall and raven-haired Sirius Black, and finally the redheaded couple of Arthur and Molly Weasley. There was an empty seat besides Dumbledore, usually filled with the moody form of Severus Snape.

'Is that everyone?' Arthur Weasley asked, looking around the table with a craned neck.

'What about Snape?' His wife Molly questioned, looking to the empty seat beside hers.

'Severus will not be joining us tonight,' Dumbledore replied.

'Off cosying up to Riddle, is he?' Sirius Black commented mistrustfully.

'He's doing what Dumbledore asked him, Sirius,' Lily Potter pointed out. 'That should be enough for you.'

'He is not here. That is all you need to know.' Dumbledore looked around the table, his gaze travelling over everyone, letting them know he wanted no further words on the subject of Severus Snape. 'Good. Now, let us begin this meeting of the Order of the Phoenix.'

'You had some news for us, Albus?' James Potter prompted.

'Indeed. Worrisome news, but not unanticipated. As I feared, Tom Riddle has entered himself into the race for the new Minister for Magic, and he will win, provided we do nothing to stop him.'

'We don't know he will win,' Remus Lupin argued.

'Come now, Remus,' Dumbledore said, shaking his head, 'let us not fool ourselves. Tom Riddle is much loved by the wizarding world. They see him as he intends, as all of you did, before I opened your eyes to the truth. Do not deny it. You loved him… yes, as I did, until he murdered my brother and nearly crippled me. We were all mistaken, but now we know the truth, and have the chance to stop this from happening.'

'What do we do then? How do we stop it?' Sirius Black asked, tucking a strand of his neck-length black hair behind his right ear.

'The wizarding public will never believe us if we come forward,' Dumbledore said. 'We have no proof that Tom is a dark wizard. I know he killed my brother, but I cannot prove it. And if I show them my memories of my battle with Tom, all they will see is Tom being attacked by me, unprovoked. To the unknowing eye, it will appear as if I tried to kill him for no reason, and he was simply defending himself.'

'But yeh must 'ave a plan,' Rubeus Hagrid said, his faith in Dumbledore unshakable.

'I do.'

'And? What is it?' This from James Potter.

'We must kill him,' Dumbledore said gravely.

'You plan to confront him again?' Lily asked, concerned.

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. 'No. I cannot defeat him. I tried and he nearly killed me. I am, unfortunately, no match for Tom Riddle.'

'Then who?

Dumbledore looked at Lily, and then at James. Lily's face fell. 'No,' she said. 'Absolutely not.'

'What?' Sirius looked confused.

'Harry,' James said, stony faced.

'Oh.'

'He's still just a boy, Albus,' Remus pointed out, trying to be diplomatic.

'A boy far more powerful and skilled at magic than all of us in this room,' Dumbledore said.

Arthur and Molly Weasley remained silent, watching on with a parents understanding. Hagrid looked uncomfortable with the turn the meeting had taken. Lily glared at Dumbledore.

'It is our only hope, Lily,' Dumbledore said sorrowfully.

'I forbid it,' she said fiercely, getting to her feet, knocking her chair over backwards in the process. James stood up and went to grab her hand, but she batted him away. 'Don't, James! I will not have my son used as a tool for murder.'

'Lily,' James said soothingly, grabbing for her hand again and holding it tightly, making her look at him. 'I agree. It's out of the question.' James looked at Dumbledore. 'I'm sorry, Albus, but no. Not Harry. I agree, we need to take down Riddle, but surely there is another way?'

Dumbledore rubbed at the bridge of his nose, pushing his spectacles up onto his forehead. 'There is not. James. Lily. I know this is hard, but Tom must be eliminated, and Harry is the only one who can do it.'

'There has to be another way,' Remus said, again trying to be the peacekeeper.

'There is no other way,' Dumbledore snapped. The lights flickered as he rose to his feet. 'My brother sacrificed his life to reveal Tom Riddles darkness to us. We cannot allow it to go to waste. We cannot just sit here and do nothing. Sacrifices must be made.'

'He's our son!' Lily shouted.

'And Aberforth was my brother.'

'Enough,' Remus said, not raising his voice, but commanding authority. 'Arguing between ourselves will do no good. You both have an emotional investment in this situation that is clouding your judgement. I'm not agreeing with either of you, yet. We have time to assess things, and at least try and come up with another plan. Another solution. The election isn't for another six months. I suggest we try and come up with another plan.'

'And if we can't?' Sirius asked.

Remus looked at James and Lily. 'If we can't, we ask Harry what he wants to do.'

Lily looked at her friend long and hard, and then nodded, relaxing into her husbands embrace. James met Remus' eyes over the head of his wife, his eyes conveying thanks.

Remus turned to look at Dumbledore. 'Albus?'

The old wizard sighed and dropped into his seat. 'I agree.'

'Good,' Remus said with relief, although he sensed a silent amendment to Dumledore's last words.

I agree… for now.