Note: The small poem is taken from 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard'. Also, the concept of wands having 'memories' comes from there.
After the commotion with Umbridge, September passed calmly, with only Dumbledore trying to corner Harry a few times, and Harry managing to slip away by a hair's breadth. In these instances he was always very thankful for his new abilities: seeing magical flows wasn't something very useful in a place as highly saturated with magic as Hogwarts, but he had quickly learnt to distinguish Dumbledore's particular aura and now, even without the help of the Marauder's Map, he had gotten quite good at avoiding the old man.
It was a day at the beginning of December that found Harry in the Forbidden Forest with Luna, feeding the Thestrals. He had just had a huge row with Weasley, again. This time, the jerk had been pissed off because Gryffindor had lost the Quidditch match against Slytherin last weekend. So, obviously, it was Harry's fault, since he had refused to play for 'a bunch of backstabbing traitors' as he had called them when he dropped out of the team. Of course Ronald, who had let every single Quaffle thrown by the Slytherins get through the hoops, was absolutely blameless. And to think, that that song, 'Weasley is our King', was such a catching tune. Really, Malfoy had found his calling as a songwriter.
Harry sighed, and hoped at least that Hermione would lay off soon. Really, when she defended her sweetheart from perceived wrongs she was even worse than when she went in 'bossy know-it-all' mode.
Hearing Luna giggle, Harry looked up, and eyebrow raised in question.
"You're cute when you're pouting, Harry."
"I'm not pouting!"
And no, he wasn't whining either!
Luna just giggled some more, and Harry smiled despite himself. There was just something about the girl that calmed and relaxed him. Neville was a nice bloke and a good friend, and Blaise -that wonderful, sultry flirt- was fast becoming his best friend, despite the unresolved sexual tension between them. But Luna, little sweet Luna, she was always there, happy to spend a few hours in comfortable silence with Harry when those bloody Gryffindors he was surrounded with became too much.
Harry looked at her better: she had long blond hair, uncombed and with a few twigs and leaves tangled in it. Her big eyes had a perpetual dreamy look about them, and she was adorned with weird necklaces and earrings, her wand kept behind her ear for safekeeping. Harry wondered yet again what weird type of creature blood the girl had.
Sensing his scrutiny, Luna looked up, and they both froze for a moment, finding themselves at only a few inches of distance. They stared in each other's eyes, and Harry didn't know if it was him who moved first or her, but next second Luna was in his arms, and he was kissing those soft, pink lips.
It was a nice kiss, sweet and slow, and the two teens' tongues twirled lazily around and explored the other's mouth. A few minutes later they drew apart, their foreheads still touching, and they looked at each other, panting slightly.
Luna suddenly smiled hugely and took a step back:
"Thank you, it was a really nice first kiss, but you really are silly…"
"Silly? What do you mean?"
Luna giggled, and her eyes dropped to Harry's crotch:
"Obviously, I'm not the right gender for you…"
Harry flushed scarlet at her forwardness, and wondered how Luna actually managed to make him feel guilty about the fact that he didn't have a hard on! And the girl simply laughed outright at his mortification, and pushed him back towards the castle, reminding him that he was almost late for his weekly study group with the Slytherins!
Harry shook his head, willing his blush to recede, and pondered on Luna's words as he hurried inside: Merlin, why hadn't he given this any thought before? He had been sexually active since his birthday, and yet he had never actually stood back and reflected on his preferences. Yes, he had thought about Blaise, and Jean and the other men he had kissed and flirted with, but it had been more of a one-on-one basis. How had he missed the fact that they were all, you know, men? Really, he felt like a complete moron! How had he never noticed that he had never looked at a girl that way? Kissing Luna had been an impulse, more stemmed out of the fact the he liked her as a friend than of a real sexual attraction… He felt a bit silly about doing this now after so much time, but just because he subconsciously knew that he wasn't interested in girls, didn't mean he had ever realized it before.
Sighing, Harry tried to push the whole event out of his mind: he certainly wasn't going to think about his sexual preferences when Blaise was around!
He finally arrived to the unused classroom they used to study together, and noticed that Blaise, Tracey and Daphne were already there, practicing Charms. Harry smiled and greeted them, before bending down and retrieving his second wand from the holster in his boot. Daphne noticed the action and asked curiously:
"Hey Harry! Why do you use that wand sometimes instead of your first wand?"
The other two Slytherins stopped their casting and turned around, curious about his answer.
"Well, this was my mother's wand, and she was really good at Charms. Cassandra, my current guardian, told me that wands have a memory of sorts, and so I found out that if I practice a new Charm with this wand, the spell comes easier and quicker than with my own wand."
"Oh, that's smart! You're lucky to have such a good match for you second wand though… my second works much worse than my first one, even though it was my father's and he was a genius in Defence…" Blaise remarked thoughtfully.
"Was he now? And here I was, thinking that your mother managed to off him real easy and undetectably…" Daphne said pompously.
Blaise smirked –making Harry wonder if such a sinful expression was illegal- and drawled:
"Well, my mother is one of a kind… poor woman, all her husbands dropped mysteriously dead and left her with all their riches… Though to be fair," Blaise continued in a more serious voice, "my father was only the second, so he wasn't really expecting to get killed. The last ones though… well, let's just say that I'm thankful that stupidity isn't contagious."
Everyone laughed at that, and Tracey suddenly asked Harry, a mischievous gleam in her eye:
"What type of wood is your wand? Is it hazel? Because you know how the saying goes:
Rowan gossips, chestnut drones,
Ash is stubborn, hazel moans."
"W-what! No, it's not hazel! It's walnut!"
Blaise was suddenly behind the embarrassed boy, his toned body pressed against his back, and whispered in Harry's ear:
"Too bad… I would have liked to hear you moan Harry…"
The girls giggled as Harry's blush darkened. Scowling, the boy playfully pushed Blaise away, while digging in his pocket and finding a small sweet. Unwrapping it swiftly behind his back, Harry leaned closer to the dark eyed boy, almost as if to kiss him and, catching Blaise by surprise, pushed the candy inside Blaise's mouth.
The Slytherin's eyes widened comically, and suddenly, he was transformed into a big yellow canary with an indignant squack. The three kids started laughing again, as the normally very poised boy puffed his feathers in annoyance, and Harry made a mental note to ask the Weasley twins for a few more joke products.
Harry was sitting in the Hogwarts Express, thinking back on the events of the last week, and ignoring Blaise, Daphne, Tracey, Neville and Luna as they chatted between themselves.
Dumbledore had finally managed to catch him, and they had had a very intense discussion in a thankfully empty corridor. Or rather, Harry had spouted a bunch of angry accusations and Dumbledore had barely managed to get a word in. Harry had to restrain his sniggers at the thought of Dumbledore's face when he told him about the Horcrux. Flabbergasted was to put it mildly… though Harry had the strong feeling that Old Bumblebee had known about it, and was only surprised that Harry had discovered it.
Harry sighed, and tried not to be too disappointed about the fact that Dumbledore hadn't put him under another Compulsion: he could have had him arrested for it! His golden fang earring would have neutralised it immediately, so there wouldn't have been any consequences for Harry… ah well, too bad. Anyway, his parting shot had been epic:
"If you don't leave me alone Professor, I'm going to join the people who say that Voldemort isn't really back, and it's only your senility that's talking…"
The threat had hung in the air and Harry, smugly watching Dumbledore's shocked expression, had turned around and swept away.
He really had put on a fantastic performance, if Harry said so himself.
Watching the scenery change outside the train window and lost in thought, Harry smiled when he remembered his last conversation with Madam Johnson: he had recounted his meeting the Basilisk, and the woman had made him explain his feelings about those terrifying events, and especially the reasons why he had been so proud of being a 'true Gryffindor' and scared of being in any way associated with the house of snakes. Obviously, a big part of his thoughts had been influenced by the Compulsions, but there was still a part of Harry that was prejudiced against Slytherin, despite his best friend Blaise being one. Really, Harry hadn't even known that he needed to re-examine his feelings on the Hogwarts Houses, and Madam Johnson had solved the issue in the space of an hour!
Maybe he should get her a Christmas present? He'd have to ask Cassy for some advice…
Luna gently touched his arm and, looking around, Harry realized that they had arrived at King's Cross. Smiling sheepishly, he stood up, checking that his trunk was still in his pocket, thankful that his multi-compartment trunk had a shrinking feature included.
Grinning, Harry jumped down the train, and turned around to help the girls down. Daphne giggled and kissed his cheek and Tracey sent him a roguish grin. The group then exchanged 'Merry Christmases' and pleasantries and they all promised each other to write, and then Harry went looking for Sirius.
When Sirius had first asked him to spend Christmas with him, Harry had immediately written Cassandra, worried about her reaction. He had been completely torn, wanting to spend the holidays with his new family, but also eager to finally get to know his godfather. Cassy had quickly found the best solution: Harry was going to spend the first week of holidays with Sirius and then on Boxing Day or the 27th, he would Portkey to Greyback Camp. Harry was a bit sad about missing Christmas, but Cassy had assured him that they had stopped celebrating the holiday properly when Joshua had grown up. They usually tried to be together, but more often then not they simply sent the others small trinkets from wherever they were at the moment. So, they had decided to exchange gifts on New Year's this time, and Harry was privately thrilled about the fact that the three of them moved Christmas only for him, no matter how much they insisted that it really wasn't an exceptional occurrence.
Looking around the Platform, Harry finally spotted his escort, and almost activated his Portkey to Greyback Camp there and then. Unfortunately, Lupin spotted him at the same moment, and actually had the gall to smile and wave at him! He jogged up to Harry, and was about to hug him when Harry stepped back with a snarl, his fangs elongating with his anger. Remus' face fell, and Harry almost felt guilty about his extreme reaction, before remembering that Lupin had tried to kidnap him the last time they had seen each other, and had caused Harry to have a panic attack. So no, he wasn't the one who had to apologize! As Madam Johnson would say: 'Don't bottle up your emotions, kid! And stop feeling guilty for other people's actions! You're not responsible for them!'
I mean really, come on, Lupin had almost killed him in third year, and he had never even apologized for that… he knew that he was going to become a man-eating monster and he forgot his medicine? And the man was a Professor at the time!
Breathing deeply to calm himself and trying to stop his mental rant, Harry snapped:
"Let's go," and led the way out of the Platform, a forlorn Lupin following behind, along with a clumsy girl with pink hair, who introduced herself as Tonks. Harry was thankful that she was there, because the rest of the journey to Sirius' house would have passed in awkward silence if not for her chattering.
Harry stepped inside the house, Grimmauld Place, which had appeared after he read the address on a small piece of paper. Aghast, he stared at the décor, which seemed to come straight out of a Muggle second-rate horror film. Shaking his head at the house-elf stuffed heads, Harry tried to make as little noise as possible, mindful of Tonks' weird advice, and only grinned hugely when he saw Sirius. His godfather beckoned him closer, and the two of them walked inside the kitchen, finally able to hug and speak out loud.
"Merlin, Harry! Don't you look smashing, kid! I bet the girls are all falling at your feet!"
Sirius waggled his eyebrows exaggeratedly, and Harry snorted with mirth. He was about to make a lewd comment about how it was the boys that he wanted at his feet, when he noticed the other occupants of the kitchen. Half the Weasley family was sitting in silence at the table, and they were all sporting red, puffy eyes and miserable expressions. Raising an eyebrow at Sirius, his godfather immediately sobered, and steered Harry upstairs to his bedroom.
"Here, this is your bedroom. You're sharing with Ron."
Harry chocked, and stared at Sirius in dismay.
"No? I thought you where best friends…"
"We're not. We haven't talked to each other since last June. Well, to be fair, sometimes Weasley remembers my existence and yells and insults me, but I wouldn't count that as talking…"
"Oh. Well, we'll find another room then. Regulus' room hasn't been used yet."
They walked upstairs, and Sirius grimaced at the Slytherin theme when he opened the door:
"Sorry kid, it's the only free one we've got."
"It's all right… better than sleeping with Weasley anyways…"
"Yes… well…" Sirius fidgeted a bit, before sitting down on the bed next to Harry.
"Harry… you saw the Weasley family?"
"Yeah, they looked pretty forlorn. What happened?"
Sirius sighed heavily and dragged a hand through his hair:
"Arthur died last night. They found him this morning real early, and the kids managed to Floo here from Dumbledore's office before the Express left."
"W-wait, what? He died? But how? I mean, was it a stroke, or something?"
Sirius grimaced, "No, he was bitten by something real poisonous. Dumbledore reckons it was probably Voldemort's snake…"
"What!? Fucking Nagini broke into the Burrow?"
"No, Merlin, no! Arthur was at the Ministry, guarding the p-… something…"
Sirius finished lamely, and Harry stared at him in shock:
"Are you telling me, that Voldemort's giant man-eating poisonous snake was loose in the Ministry and no one even noticed?"
"W-well, it was the middle of the night…"
"The middle of the night? And what in the world was the man doing there at that hour?"
Sirius grimaced again, and looked to be struggling to find the words, when something finally clicked for Harry:
"Wait, you said he was guarding something?" Harry asked with narrowed eyes, "so does it have something to do with this 'Order of the Phoenix' this place is the Headquarters of?"
Sirius nodded glumly, resigned to going against Dumbledore's orders and telling Harry everything, when his godson's next words shocked him to the core:
"Ok, then I really don't want to know. It has nothing to do with me."
Sirius stared at Harry, wide-eyed from the cold and bitter tone the kid had used, and for the first time in his life he realized, really really realized, that Harry wasn't a younger copy of James, but was his own person. And, from what Sirius had seen in the last half an hour, Harry was much darker than anyone in this house had ever imagined.
In the next four days, Harry found out that Siruis was quite knowledgeable, and they had a bunch of interesting discussions about types of magic not included in Hogwarts' curriculum. Sirius actually gave Harry permission to use the library, which only Blacks or someone invited by Head of House could enter, and Harry reciprocated by loaning him some of his books that couldn't be found in England, the one on the most famous Magical Weapons becoming immediately a new favourite for Sirius'.
Hermione had actually time to be jealous that Harry had been given free rein of the whole library, despite being occupied the whole time with comforting Ronald. Harry guessed that she had finally opened her legs for him: Weasley hadn't kept his displeasure at his girlfriend not putting out secret in the past months. Harry, on his part, really couldn't care less about their sexual life (because, really? Ewww…), and didn't let Hermione's poisonous glances make him feel guilty. Actually, the hours spent in the huge library at Grimmauld were the only things worth the holiday… yeah, the long chats with Sirius were nice and all, but Harry thought the man was immature and the two of them had very different opinions on just about everything, so they still hadn't become completely comfortable with each other, and there were quite a lot of awkward pauses in their talks.
As for the rest of the holiday… well, when Sirius had asked Harry to spend Christmas with him, Harry had naively thought that he would get to spend, you know, Christmas with Sirius. And instead, he found himself in the middle of a bloody circus: a bunch of grieving Weasleys, a clumsy Metamorphmagus that lusted after a clueless Werewolf, a heavily scarred paranoid ex-Aurors, a crook that had stopped stealing Sirius' heirlooms only after Harry had cursed him…
So, Harry had found himself yearning for Greyback Camp from day one, and regretting his decision to spend a whole week here: why in the world couldn't he have come visit Sirius simply for a few hours one day? And today was only the 24th… how was he going to survive two more days? Merlin, he was going to Portkey out of here the moment he woke up on Boxing Day.
Sighing heavily, Harry made his way to dinner, hoping that Mrs. Weasley wasn't going to insult Sirius or anyone else tonight, because he was pretty sure that he wouldn't be able to control his temper.
Harry arrived in the entrance hall just as Shacklebolt and Tonks were coming in and, as usual, the clumsy girl tripped on the umbrella stand, waking up Mrs. Black. Harry stared at the portrait curiously: he had heard her yell plenty of times, but he had never been nearby when it happened.
Sirius and Lupin ran out of the kitchen, wanting to help close the curtain, when Mrs. Black suddenly fell silent. Everyone stared in shock, wondering what had happened, when the harpy spoke in a normal tone of voice:
"Child, come closer."
Bemused, Harry realised she was talking to him, and exchanged an incredulous glance with Sirius.
"What's your name, child?"
Walburga Black smiled, and for the first time you could glimpse the good looks she must have possessed in her youth.
"Well, Bloodsinger Harry, it is a pleasure to have you here, in the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black."
Harry's eyebrows climbed to his hairline, impressed that the portrait had guessed his creature status with only a quick glance. Grinning, Harry thanked her, and turned around: the other four people that had been in the hall at the time were staring at Harry in utter shock, and the silence was deafening.
"H-Harry? D-did she say Bloodsinger?"
Harry smirked at Sirius, and made one of his fangs peek out. Sirius visibly recoiled, and Remus flinched.
"W-what! Harry! Are you insane! You're a Dark Creature! Why didn't you tell Dumbledore? I'm going to kill the bastard who dared turn you!"
Harry frowned at Sirius and snapped:
"Why in the world would I trust that asshole Dumbledore?", a gasp from the kitchen caught Harry's attention, and he realised that they had attracted a crowd, "And anyway, it was my decision to be turned!"
Sirius blanched with rage, and began screaming at the same time as Mrs. Weasley. Hearing her son's words, Mrs. Black started insulting him and the 'bloodtraitors and filth', adding to the ruckus. Harry for his own part snarled at Lupin, who was trying to convince him to trust the Headmaster and that 'everything will be alright' or some such rot. Thankfully, Shacklebolt pushed Lupin away before Harry tore his throat out in anger and, grabbing Harry's arm, dragged the Bloodsinger upstairs.
Closing his eyes, Harry leant against the wall, and tried to calm himself down, shutting out the screams that were still coming from downstairs.
Shacklebolt's deep voice rolled over Harry, and he opened his eyes to look at the serious man.
"Yeah, thanks Shacklebolt. I really wasn't expecting a reaction like that. I mean, it's pretty obvious that I'm a Bloodsinger, you know? It's not like I keep it hidden or something."
"You may call me Kingsley, no need to be formal, kid," the Auror quirked his lips, and Harry was surprised to note that he was quite good looking… very macho and virile… fuck, he was really sex-starved if he was checking Shacklebolt out! The man reminded him of Fenrir a bit, though the Werewolf was much more easy-going and irascible and wild… ok maybe the only thing they had in common was the stature and the muscles… big, powerful muscles…
Harry ducked his head to hide the blush staining his cheeks, mentally berating himself for the direction his thoughts had taken, and deciding to go clubbing with Cassandra the moment he was back home.
"Kid… you know right, that it's now going to be hell for you here?"
Harry groaned, having forgotten his predicament as his mind wandered in la-la-land. Gritting his teeth at the flood of anger that came back as soon as he noticed that people were still shouting downstairs, Harry finally decided that he had had enough.
"Fine. They want to rant and rave about my life when they never even cared before? Fuck them, I'm going back home. Like hell that I'm spending Christmas with that bunch of cretins."
Kingsley smiled sadly, and didn't stop Harry from packing all his things, and pocketing the shrunken trunk. He simply laid a hand on the teen's shoulder and wished him a Merry Christmas and happy New Year. Harry smiled at the man and hugged him impulsively. Smirking at his surprised expression, Harry ran out the door with a whoop of joy and, clutching the Thestral pendant that his Mother had made for him, whispered the Parseltongue activation phrase, disappearing in a whirlwind of colours.