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Disclaimer: J K Rowling owns the rights and likenesses of all the characters in the Harry Potter series. This story is meant to add to the world she created. Any conflicts are accidental and they yield to her reality (canon).

This is a post-OOTP story during the summer before Harry’s Sixth Year. Very few items of HBP will be used.

Harry Potter And The Summer Of Change

18. Aftermath

                      Harry helped Tonks out of the car and into the house carefully. He had one arm holding her waist, pulling her to him, and the other grasping her near hand tightly. As the energy of the night faded, Harry couldn’t help but reflect on what had occurred. The fact that he had taken a life began to bare its teeth in his mind and the reality of it started to weigh on him. As a result, he held Tonks closer in the hope that she wouldn’t see him as a killer and run off. The dark feelings he had been fighting against throughout the training and the missions as an Unspeakable emerged slowly creeping into his senses.

The only thing that kept his focus planted in the real world was the soft woman next to him. As asked and promised earlier, Harry escorted Tonks up the staircase and into the master bath. He handed her the vial Horace had slipped him. She downed it without a second thought while Harry drew a bath and helped Tonks disrobe. Once the outer layer was removed and the black dress after it, Harry saw a bit of something that sparked his more primal urges eliciting a hungry twinkle in his eyes.

The feathery thin fabric of light blue lace and silk beneath the dress stopped Harry cold. He searched her body and found an exquisite creature standing before him ever watchful of his quivering hands poised over the barely-there straps. Harry unconsciously released a breath and stilled all movement.

"I was hoping for it to be a surprise when we got back, Harry," Tonks said softly while she ran her hands slowly over her flat stomach coming to rest on her hips. "I see that it is still a surprise just not quite the one I was hoping for. The circumstances may be less joyous than expected, but I am alive and more than pleased that you are too. If you will help me out of this and into the hot bath perhaps I can model it for you a bit later."

Harry merely nodded and averted his eyes away from Tonks’ penetrating gaze. She rotated so Harry could pull free the lace bow in the small of her back and begin the process of loosening the wondrously sexy underwear. He couldn’t help himself from running his hands over her shoulders and down her back as he tugged and pulled while she writhed her way free. When the top slid down her shapely firm legs and settled at her feet, Harry allowed himself a quick caress of her bum before she spun to face him.

The soft brown eyes tried to catch his elusive green ones but failed. Tonks ran her hands down her sides, catching the edges of the panties, and letting them join the top on the floor. Tonks stepped forward and relaxed into Harry for a couple seconds before she drifted back to the now full bath. She placed each leg into the water slowly and let her body follow them into the bath. When her breasts disappeared under the surface of the bubble coated water, Tonks watched Harry carefully. He kept his head lowered and his eyes elsewhere. "Harry, care to tell me why you have found the tile so interesting in the last few minutes?"

Harry knew he had to tell her, knew she deserved to hear what he was thinking. He formulated his thoughts as well as he could before speaking them aloud. "I…I…I am a killer. I took a life and that makes me no better than them. I feel the darkness inside of me trying to take over. I replay it in my head over and over again. You accepting your own death and looking at me while you did it. I just couldn’t let you do that. I couldn’t let someone I love, die. Not again. I could save you. So I did." Harry drifted off and Tonks let him be. She let him speak without hinting at an attempt to interrupt. As his eyes shifted to the darkened window on the other side of the room, Harry spoke again. "As evil as I feel right now, if I had to save you again I would do it exactly the same way. I wouldn’t change a thing because you lived when she died. I may feel dirty and tainted now, but I am so happy that you are still here. I love you," Harry said the last in a whisper.

Tonks looked him over and cooed softly while she ran her damp hand over his as it rested on the edge of the bath. "You knew what was going to happen. She was going to kill me to hurt you. I accepted death when I knew you would try to sacrifice yourself to save me. I knew you would; it is in your nature to be selfless. All those years of abuse didn’t turn you evil, it turned you good. Better than any I have met and that is one reason I fell in love with you. How could I not? In all honesty the minute you asked me to just be myself, I was sunk. And I haven’t regretted it for a minute since."

"Even though I am a killer?" Harry asked the floor looking disgusted.

Tonks reached out and raised his head until she locked onto his pained eyes. The torrent of emotions in them went straight to her soul. She felt his pain and conflict as if it was her own. "Harry, I have killed before. Do you see me as a killer?" Tonks watched Harry shake his head furiously but stopped his comment with her finger. "How could I see you as a killer when it was my life you were protecting? I would be dead if you hadn’t saved me."

"But I feel so filthy," Harry said forcefully while keeping eye contact. "I feel Voldemort itching inside to get out. I have felt his evil before. He tried to possess me in the atrium. My bloody scar links our emotions, well, at least it did until you came around. Not sure how that worked, but there it is. It is a constant fight not to become like him. I don’t know if I can do it."

Tonks shifted and placed both of her hands on either side of Harry’s face running her thumbs against his cheekbones. "Harry, Harry, shush," Tonks cooed. "The fight gets easier as you win each battle, but it never goes away. It will always tempt you and that is a good thing. When it stops tempting you, you will know that you have succumbed to it. Keep fighting my lovely man and you will always be free of it." Tonks smiled the same smile Harry had been trying to figure out for days and even weeks.

Feeling confident enough to ask, "What is that look you are giving me?"

Tonks laughed loudly as she pulled Harry closer. "What do you think it is?"

"I wasn’t sure for the longest time, but I think I figured it out tonight." Harry examined her face intently looking for any signs of fear or disgust. He found none.

"And what do you think it means then?"

Harry ventured his guess out loud. "I would have to say love since nothing else made sense. Am I right?"

Tonks smiled the same smile again and asked, "Care to join me? Seems such a waste of warm water to keep it all to myself." She raised her chest out of the water a little letting her breasts push the bubbles off to the sides.

Harry returned the smile with his own causing Tonks to sigh happily. He felt safe and loved just by the look in her eyes. With a quick thought, he Vanished his clothes and climbed into the bath with Tonks. He blew the bubbles away from his mouth as they rose up to greet him. With a few clusters of them sent airborne, Tonks followed up the attack on Harry’s mouth with her own.

 The soft, warm kisses quickly gave way to hungry and forceful ones. Tonks moved Harry under her as she shifted farther around until she was on top of him. Her hands fisted into his hair and held his mouth in place as she attacked him ferociously. He did his best to prevent her movements from sinking them both but only just succeeded in his efforts. She drove on devouring his lips, mouth, and tongue ignoring his attempts to keep them above the water. Tonks growled her finest tone as she slid her lower region over him while continuing her aggression.

"I plan to show you just how much I love you, Harry, even if it kills you in the end."

Between kisses, Harry asked, "What about your soreness?"

With a throaty laugh, Tonks answered while sliding further onto Harry. "When I am done, I will be sore in a completely different manner and loving every minute of it."

His fears of Tonks seeing him differently were misdirected. She did see him differently but in a far more positive light than he had expected. She proved time and again that she wanted Harry with her and as close as possible. She never got around to modeling her underwear for him as they passed out from exhaustion in the early hours of the morning.


Tonks snuggled her head into Harry’s chest purring all the way. Consciousness found her enough that she realized that Harry was awake and most likely fretting judging by his rigid posture. Tonks ventured a hand from under the covers up his chest before stopping on the other side of his neck. Leveraging her body up, Tonks found his mouth and kissed him soundly. "What you thinking about?"

"Last night a bit," Harry admitted. "But before you flog me, I have spent most of my time thinking about today and all the questions people are going to ask me not to mention how I am going to explain everything to the Weasleys. Oh shit, they will be able to see the Thestrals because of me."

"I hate to say it, but it was bound to happen, Harry," Tonks said softly. "With so much happening, death will be a companion to many. At least they got to see some good come out of a death instead of it being a loved one. Those are the hardest to deal with."

"But they saw it because of me."

Tonks tutted at Harry while shaking her head and flicking her hair around Harry’s face. "Hermione will analyze the event like a muggle scientist and figure it all out before you make it out of this bed. Ron will chalk it up as you beating the bad guys and smack you on the back like any other male would after a superb Quidditch match. Ginny will most likely worry about you as much as Molly and have a good cry over it. As I see it, you are going to have the worst time of them all and thankfully I am here to help you along. Any questions?"

Harry sputtered a bit before he really thought about what she had said. Hermione was spot on aside from her worry for him which normally included irritated gestures and exasperated breaths. Ron was simple and rarely differed from his common reaction to everything. Tonks’ prediction about Ginny gave him the most pause. ‘Would she really cry over what had happened? Would she have nightmares about it like her first year?’

"Not to ruin your brooding, but your friends are made of much stronger stuff than other people’s friends. Whether they come that way or you help make them that way, they will be just fine. Give them the credit that is due." Tonks smirked as she looked up and into Harry’s unobstructed eyes. "They have put up with you this long; they aren’t going to fall apart now."

Harry knew what she meant and played off of it. "Put up with me?"

"Yes, I hear you were rather a bother this last year with all your moping about and yelling for no reason."

"No reason!" Harry yelled before he caught on that Tonks was baiting him. "Oh you are a bad little minx aren’t you?"

Tonks bowed as best she could while still lying on her side and against Harry. "I aim to please, dear sir."

Harry let his laugh become a dirty smirk. "Oh you did that alright." Harry kissed Tonks a few times before his urge to hug her took over. He pulled her into a warm but firm embrace. After a few minutes Harry told her, "I have never told someone I loved them before. In all honesty, I never really knew what it felt like. Sure I dreamed about my parents loving me like the other children’s parents loved them, but I couldn’t remember it. The closest I came to it were a few times Petunia seemed to come over all odd and she touched me like other parents before returning to normal and jumping back as if she was burned. Those times only happened when I was younger though.

"A couple times the parents of classmates would show concern for me, but it only lasted until Dudley would threaten their kids to stay away from me. Looking back I could say that I loved Sirius and Hermione and Ron are close behind, but it isn’t the same. I love you differently from the rest of them. When I look at you I see the last several weeks. More over, I see tomorrow and the next day. For the first time in my life, I see tomorrow as something more than one more day to survive or outlast. Sure they are part of it since it is me and all, but it is so much more."

Tonks curled into him and hugged him with all her heart. "In your own way, you captured it pretty well, Harry. Don’t ever change, please."


When they finally reached the kitchen, Dobby made quick work of the breakfast preparations while Harry relieved Hedwig of her numerous burdens. A corner of bacon and three minutes of petting later, Harry opened the first envelope. The Ministry crest shown at the top of the official piece of parchment as Harry read it. Next he opened the letter from Dumbledore before setting it aside only to see it snatched up by Tonks.

The last letter was shorter, much shorter, and it read like any order from Horace.

Gringotts, eleven o’clock.

"Well, at least they all agreed on a time and place," Harry quipped. "The pages of worthless stuff really show against Horace’s brevity. I kind of like that the more I think of it."

"We have a convert in our midst!" Tonks exclaimed drawing the attention of Dobby and Tiki away from their ongoing rivalry over the kitchen. "Sooner or later, everyone likes the way Horace does things; simplicity at its finest leaving no room for error or confusion. Usually people fight it longer than you have just out of spite though."

"I would like to think I am more practical than that, but you never know." Harry and Tonks ate their breakfast and finished with enough time left to relax for a few minutes in the living room before leaving. As they sat discussing various questions that might come up, Harry wondered if the press was going to find out about what had happened. Images of the possible cover story nearly made him ill.

Breakfast eaten and cloaks donned, Harry and Tonks Apparated to Diagon Alley. They found the streets rather empty considering the hustle and bustle they had been met with the week before. Harry saw a few aurors walking the streets and could feel the tension in the air. He scanned the area for anything that might tell him why everything felt the way it did; he found nothing.

With a hand in hers, Harry and Tonks walked the length of the Alley together. He paid no mind to the aurors watching them intently nor did he hesitate when a few camera flashes went off. They stayed the course and reached Gringotts without stopping. Once they entered the grand entrance and were bowed in by a pair of goblins, Harry saw that he was a few minutes early. In the rear of the bank, Horace stood alone and was ever watchful of those who passed by. With a subtle incline of his head, Horace signaled to Harry that he wanted to speak with him.

Seeing a chance to get their stories straight before the others arrived, Tonks pulled Harry over to Horace as smoothly as possible. When they drew even with him, Horace lowered his head and spoke quietly. "Answer their questions if you can, safely. If they are too close for comfort, refuse to answer. They have nothing on you to leverage what they want out of you."

"I killed her," Harry said hurriedly. "Isn’t that leverage enough?"

Horace smiled evilly. "If they could dictate the situation, we would be in the Ministry right now. You killed Lestrange to save Tonks. How do you think that would play in the papers? Harry Potter kills Death Eater to save girlfriend and protect the Minister. Even you are better at politics than that, Harry."

Harry thought about the point Horace was making. Even twisted as much as the Prophet could manage, Harry stopped Bellatrix from killing an auror and most likely others.

"Self defence, Harry," Horace told him firmly. "If you feel pressure from either of them, just say that. People can do amazing things when their own lives are threatened. If they ask about me, play dumb. Better yet, act annoyed that the Ministry has another person here. I can handle the rest."

"What about everyone who saw Harry using magic and quite spectacularly I might add?" Tonks asked while leaning into Harry with her warm body.

Horace snorted at her actions before answering. "None of their business as I see it. Otherwise, you have access to any number of people and books to learn from. You are Harry Bleeding Potter after all; use it to your advantage. Helps that you have an auror on your arm too," Horace offered pointing at Tonks and scanning the room quickly. He stepped back quickly and grew stern before whispering, "Any who figure it out and aren’t under the proper secrecy spells must be freed of the information. Also, stop by the Department today before five. Cal has figured it out."

Harry saw the abrupt change in attitude and fixed an annoyed scowl on his face before turning around. Entering the double doors at the front of the bank were Dumbledore and the Minister. A contingent of four aurors followed behind her before taking up positions just inside the doors. As the pair came even with Harry, Albus smiled keeping a watchful eye on Horace while Amelia offered her hand graciously to Harry.

"Mr. Potter, a pleasure as always," Amelia said formally giving Tonks a nod. "I received your note this morning suggesting we meet here."

Harry didn’t want to let on that he had no idea what she was talking about so he simply nodded his acceptance of what she said. Greetings were made all around except for Horace who stayed back from the conversing group. Harry looked around and saw Griphook walking towards him. "Griphook," Harry called. "Do you have that meeting room available that I asked about?"

Always perceptive, Griphook smiled his toothy smile and bowed his head. "I reserved a conference room that would befit you, Harry. If you will excuse me for a few moments to assure everything is prepared to receive you."

Griphook slid between the gilded doors leaving Harry flatfooted as how to proceed. Dumbledore presented the perfect opportunity. "I didn’t catch your name the other night," Dumbledore asked Horace extending his hand.

"That you didn’t, Professor," Horace spoke firmly. "I see little reason to change that now, with all due respect of course. Minister," Horace nodded at Amelia getting the same in return.

Tonks tapped Harry on the side trying to tell him something. Doing his best at interpreting it, Harry spoke up. "Speaking of, who are you and why are you here?" Harry asked trying to look annoyed and suspicious at the same time.

Stepping into her role as diplomat, Amelia interceded. "Harry, if you would allow this man to remain things will be easier. I can’t tell you who he is, but sufficed to say he is a concerned party in this matter."

The doors opened at that very moment providing a chance for Harry to dodge a touchy situation again. "What ever just so long as we get this over with soon. If my guess is right, I have many people waiting for answers."

"Harry," Griphook announced, "the room is ready for you. Please follow me." The goblin led the group deep into the recesses of the bank. They twisted and turned so many times that Harry hoped an escort would be available to lead them back out when they were finished. After one final turn, they came to a pair of doors. They looked to be made of polished black granite with gold inlays. If Harry hadn’t already been in Ragnok’s office, he would have sworn that it could be found behind the doors before him.

Harry heard Amelia breathe rather loudly as Griphook pushed open the door on the right. "After you, Harry." With thanks, Harry entered the room with his hand still firmly in Tonks’. Once inside, a funny sight presented itself in the form of Ragnok carrying a stack of files in his aged hands.

"Ragnok," Harry said hurrying to take the burden from the elderly goblin. "Let me help you."

"You are too kind, Harry," Ragnok said smiling at the young man and watching the others out of the corner of his eyes. "It is fortunate that I happened to be using this very room before you arrived since all of this goes to you anyway."

"To me?" Harry asked puzzled as he set the pile of files on the black granite table in the center of the room. It matched the doors beautifully and was a nice contrast to the numerous lighter wood chairs that surrounded it.

"Why yes, Harry," Ragnok said softly. "Between Griphook and I, we have spent the better part of the last week handling your accounts with us. I can say with all honesty that I haven’t worked this hard in decades and I am loving every minute of it too." Ragnok looked over the others and nodded once to show he had seen them. "If I may monopolize an additional minute of your time, Harry, an emergency meeting of the board of directors of one of your primary companies has been called. We were about to send out the notice, but since you are here I can tell you in person. The meeting is scheduled for noon here at the bank. I can redirect them here if you would like."

Not sure what to say, Harry tried to be accommodating. "What ever is easiest, Ragnok."

"It would be most beneficial for you if it was held in here, Harry," Ragnok offered. "I shall make the arrangements then." The aged Goblin left the room with the assistance of Griphook. When the doors opened everyone saw a gathering of goblin security guards standing outside of the room looking as surly as any goblin could.

Harry looked at the pile of numerous files and papers stacked on top of each other. The top file had some paper in it and a quick glance told Harry that his next meeting was going to be with a potion supply company that he had a fifty-three percent share in. The second file contained nothing but black sheets and was the same as the third. Harry put the pieces together about what had happened and smiled to himself. ‘Always thinking ahead they are.’

"Shall we get started?" Harry asked before sitting down at the head of the table. Tonks slid into the seat next to him worming her hand into his and giving it a squeeze. "Apparently my time is limited this morning so let’s get this over with."

"Harry," Amelia began formally, "I need to ask you some questions concerning last night. No one here is looking to get you in trouble, but I am sure you can understand our concern when a sixth year commands magic in the way you did not to mention the use of an Unforgivable on another."

"I thought no one was here to get me in trouble," Harry replied with a slightly challenging tone.

"Obviously," Amelia relented her formal tenor, "the use of certain spells is understandable considering the victim, if you could call her that, and those threatened."

"Forgive me, but what was your question?" Harry asked feigning ignorance.

"First off," Amelia said, "how did you learn to use magic in the way you did?"

Harry shrugged and shook his head. "I am not sure. I just did what I needed to do to survive. That happens a lot to me." Harry inclined his head at Dumbledore expecting a response from the older wizard.

"Minister," Albus prefaced, "Harry has always been exceptionally gifted in his magical strength. Both of his parents had similar gifts but nothing on the level we saw last night. Granted, I was unaware that Harry had learned to harness his magic as adeptly as we witnessed, but I can say that it was never unexpected only a little premature."

Harry eyed Dumbledore carefully as he heard the play with words that was all too familiar. He was rewarded with a sigh and a guilty look away by the professor as he was held under the penetrating gaze of a student. "Is that so?" Harry asked rhetorically.

Amelia missed the look Harry was giving Albus and pressed forward. "How did you become so fast and fluid in your magic, Harry?"

Harry laughed to cover up his nervousness. "When a Death Eater is trying to kill you, you go faster and never let up. The same applies to when Voldemort is trying to kill you, and I am well acquainted with that scenario as well." At the mention of the Dark Lord’s name, Amelia stilled and shuddered slightly but never made a sound. "You are doing better, Minister," Harry offered in a friendly mood.

"If a sixteen-year-old can say it," Amelia added, "the bloody Minister of Magic should at least be able to hear it without squealing like a little girl. Lead by example, right?"

"My thoughts exactly," Harry smiled warmly seeing that he had made his point and shifted her attention away from his magic for the moment.

The questions continued as they seemed to dance around the big point of the entire meeting. Dumbledore interjected from time to time but stayed quiet most of the time. He seemed to be holding most of his urges to press for information. Horace was so quiet that Harry almost believed that he had fallen asleep ten minutes into the interview. If it weren’t for the turning of his head, Horace might as well have been asleep since he offered no comments or questions of his own.

As their time wound down, Amelia was forced to ask the tough questions. "How did you learn such advanced spells, Harry?"

"What do you mean by advanced?" Harry countered trying to buy himself some time.

"The bone spells you used," Amelia ticked off her fingers, "the Severing Ribbon, the shields. Superb work by the way, but still how did you learn them?"

Harry scanned those in the room before answering. "I choose not to answer that question if you will forgive me."

"Harry it is a valid question and I really must have an answer on it," Amelia pressed.

"Fine," Harry responded curtly. "I came across a book that contained them in excellent detail."

"Where Harry?" Albus asked one of his few direct questions. His eyebrows were knitted with uncertainty as he awaited clarification.

"I moved into my family’s home this summer," Harry admitted. "I found a rather comprehensive library and started with the spells that made the most sense considering we are at war and I always seem to be in the middle of it no matter what I do."

"Surely you must have had to practice these spells," Amelia queried. "One does not produce effects similar to yours without significant practice no matter how powerful you are. Which brings me to your ability to avoid our detection instruments. None of the spells performed that night, by you, were recorded. How is that possible?"

"As an emancipated minor and head of an ancient magical family, my use of magic detected or otherwise is of no consequence," Harry said leaving no room for interpretation. "Next question." Harry let his impatience show trying to force them along as the time ticked by.

"Did Tonks teach you those spells?" Albus probed.

"Next question," Harry stated again staring Albus down the entire time.

"How did you learn the Killing Curse?" She had asked the biggest question of them all. Harry found Tonks’ hand in his to be a lifeline that never lessened. She held his hand tightly and her warmth calmed him. For the first time since it started, Horace actually sat up and leaned forward. This was the question that he knew was coming and the answer to it would make all the difference in the world.

Harry took a deep breath and blew it out before answering slowly. "Who says it was the Killing Curse?"

"Harry," Amelia spoke softly, "I saw it. It was the Killing Curse."

"I never said the words," Harry offered another excuse.

"As you proved," Albus countered, "you do not need to say the words to initiate magic, Harry. You showed that you had learned some wandless and wordless magic recently. Granted, you will learn about it this year to some degree, but no where near the way you performed. It takes people years to master even the most basic of wandless spells."

"Perhaps if I wasn’t kept in the dark about everything that has to do with magic," Harry argued, "I wouldn’t break so many of the accepted rules pertaining to it. You have only yourself to thank for that, Professor." Albus sighed and accepted his responsibility. In a gracious move, the wizard gestured for Amelia to continue on.

"What were you thinking when you fired that spell at Lestrange?" Amelia asked simply trying to get some level of understanding.

"I thought about Tonks dying," Harry gripped her hand tightly. "I thought about Sirius dying at her hand and I wasn’t going to let her take Tonks too. I wanted it to stop. I wanted her to stop. The only thought that came to mind was Death. I thought that and willed it to happen to save Tonks. I am sorry that someone died, but I am not sorry it was that woman. The right people lived, and I can live with that." Harry felt his heart swell as he spoke the words. He knew they were true and felt the reality in his hand. Nymphadora’s warm hand in his proved to him that he had done the right thing.

"Harry, I am concerned that you will suffer the effects of taking a life in the near future," Albus spoke kindly. "You had a terrible time after you saw Cedric murdered. So soon after Sirius’s death gives me great pause concerning your mental and emotional health. Perhaps we can discuss it later today?"

"Thanks, but no thanks," Harry declined. "Tonks has helped me in dealing with Sirius’s death. I came to terms with it earlier in the summer. Last night happened because a person threatened someone I care about. She left me two choices; Tonks dies or she dies. I know I made the right decision. I had all the information I needed to make the choice and it turned out as well as I could have hoped. Next question and time is running out."

Amelia set her quill down and shook her head relinquishing the floor to others. Albus seized the opportunity and addressed his question to Horace. "How did the Department of Mysteries become involved in the events of last night?"

Trying to play up his role, Harry jumped in. "Is that who you are with?" Harry saw Albus smile and Amelia look away. Deciding he wasn’t going to get another chance to say it, Harry took advantage of the spectators. "By the way, shoddy security on your department. A bunch of kids got in without any trouble."

Horace gave Harry a biting stare before answering the proposed question. "We, along with the department of Magical Law Enforcement, have been tasked with the retrieval and apprehension of the Death Eaters. Last night provided the magical community a tremendous victory against those who are trying to destroy it. One dead and four captured makes for a positive in my book." He leaned in and eyed Dumbledore carefully, "I suggest you keep your spy away from me. I will not be so lenient with him next time."

"You didn’t answer my question?" Albus pointed out pointedly ignoring the threat against Snape.

"Didn’t I?" Horace retorted smiling all the while. "Image that."

Horace went silent and took on a bored look as he waited for the meeting to end. The doors opening proved to be the signal of the end of the meeting as Ragnok and Griphook entered together. They walked over to Harry and handed him a sheet of parchment listing the people on the board. "They will be here in a few minutes, Harry."

Harry smiled and nodded. "As much fun as this is, we must move on. I hope you got everything you needed, Minister."

"No, not everything, Harry," Amelia admitted looking disappointed, "but it will have to do. I don’t suppose you will give me better answers will you?"

"No, I think those given were good enough. I am sorry to rush you along, but it seems that some other people want to pressure me on some things." Harry shook everyone’s hand except for Horace’s and wished them well.

Albus asked Harry to stop by Hogwarts later if he had the time. "Professor Snape wishes to speak with you, Harry. I have no idea what it is about, but he seemed rather troubled by it. A most entertaining look he has been wearing."

"I might just stop by since I need you to show Tonks something," was Harry’s reply. Albus looked at Harry as if he was afraid to confirm his assumption. "Yes, that is what I want you to show her. If you are not willing, I will do my best to tell her but I will mess it up for sure if I try. It is your choice."

Albus sighed again and let his shoulders fall. The act did not escape anyone’s notice. "I will be ready, Harry. I leave it to you to decide on those matters." Getting some colour back, Albus continued, "You leave me little choice anyway. You always were good at getting what you want when it really counted."

"I learned from the best," Harry hinted before turning his attention to the doorway. He saw the original four goblin guards stationed on either side of the doors. Another group of men had queued up and were nervously huddled near one wall. Behind them were additional guards who looked as surly as the first set. A man wearing a dark green cloak stood as tall as he could among the intimidated assembly. He was a stout fellow who looked like he would challenge a goblin to a fight if he could win some money in the process. Harry instantly disliked the man.

He watched Albus and Amelia leave the room and took note of how the men in the hallway reacted to seeing the Minister of Magic and Albus Dumbledore. All of them took notice and showed the proper respect afforded to people of their stature except for the obvious leader of the group. When Horace left, he put extra effort into looking intimidating and unapproachable.

 Two of the goblins escorted the trio into the labyrinth of hallways and back to the lobby. Harry looked at Ragnok to see him patiently waiting for something. Harry gave him a puzzled look but kept quiet. When the group began funneling into the meeting room, Ragnok spoke out.

"Harry, I hope this room is acceptable to you for your next meeting. It is our finest meeting room." Ragnok spoke louder than was necessary while keeping an eye on the advancing board members.

"Everything has been wonderful, Ragnok. Thank you for fitting me at the last moment." Harry caught on to what the old goblin was doing and was grateful.

"What ever you need, Harry, you know that." Ragnok nodded and turned to leave the room. Griphook remained in a corner nearby with a quill and parchment ready. Harry remained standing as the men filtered around the table. The leader of the group eyed Harry carefully before sliding his eyes to Tonks and her pink hair.

"Mr. Potter," the man spoke formally but slightly down to him, "I am the Chairman of the Board for Arnot’s Potions and Supplies. It is good you could attend this meeting on such short notice." His words said he was happy, but his body language and facial expressions told a different story.

Harry watched the man carefully before letting a false smile show. "Not a problem since I was already here for a previous meeting with a few people." Harry saw that Dumbledore and Amelia had left a decisive impression on most members. "Your timing was perfect since the meeting was beginning to drag on. The Ministry and I have never seen eye-to-eye on certain things, but I have high hopes of improvement on that now that Amelia is Minister."

"We share the same opinion…" one skinny man said before the Chairman stared him down ending the comment.

Harry inclined his head a little before extending his arms to all the open chairs. "Please be seated so we can begin. I have other things that need my attention today so my time is limited." Harry sat down in the same chair at the head of the table that he used previously. Tonks returned to the seat she had used before as well.

The Chairman looked unhappy and scowled. "Since you have obviously never been part of a board meeting, I must educate you on the finer points." The man puffed out his chest taking on an air of self-importance before continuing. "The Chairman sits at the head of the table for one. Secondly, visitors are not permitted," he said eying Tonks with distaste.

Harry accepted the challenge and replied as if he didn’t hear the condescending tone. "There are two ends to this table, feel free to sit over there. And Tonks is here as an advisor not a visitor." Harry watched the others take their seats quickly trying to stay out of the power struggle. He figured they should all have had a stick-on nameplate reading "Yes Men."

Harry pulled the file on the company out of the box Ragnok had given him. He scanned it quickly and found out the Chairman’s name was Aras Buquet. "Advisor or not, she has no place here," Aras complained.

Harry closed his eyes and took a breath during the man’s objection. The file had a note scribbled in the margins, ‘You own a controlling share. They work for you.’ "Aras, sit down," Harry said in a weary tone before opening his eyes again. He fixed the man with a stare that told him there was little room for debate on the matter.

Aras made a show of making it look like it was his idea to sit down in the first place. He tried to take control of the meeting but Harry was having none of it. "I will cut to the quick here. Your attempt to hold this meeting at the last minute without me, failed. Now, why have you called a meeting like this only days after I bought into it?"

"I can call a meeting anytime I want, young man," Aras spoke up.

"It is Mr. Potter to you, Aras Buquet," Harry replied. "Now, why am I here?"

Aras’s scowl grew even deeper. "We have a new ownership directive to approve and a few financial deals to brief you on." Harry looked around the table and saw that only a few people looked eager to discuss the points of business. "The ownership directive says that no one member may own more than forty-nine percent of the company. As such, you must divest yourself of four percent of your ownership immediately." Aras slid two sheets of parchment towards Harry. Various members of the board passed the sheets down the line to him.

When Harry looked them over, he saw that the ownership directive had been drafted the previous day and needed a majority approval before being enacted. "If I read this correctly, that directive hasn’t been approved yet. A majority is needed and it seems that I hold the majority vote personally."

"Just sign the thing, kid, and nothing bad will happen." Aras leaned back in his chair looking confident that his threat was received.

Harry laughed before leaning forward. "And just what do you think a hollow threat like that means to me? I have been threatened by people far worse than you."

Aras matched Harry’s posture before answering. "Perhaps they are one of the same." Aras leaned back smiling in apparent victory.

Harry looked to Tonks and Griphook before smiling in response. "If you think a threat from you carries the same weight as a threat from Voldemort, you are sorely mistaken." Harry ignored the gasps from the others, but reveled in the abject fear that shone on Aras’s face. "I see that you are far more scared of him than I am, that should tell you something about me. Since my ownership came mostly from Death Eaters and the Blacks, I will take a leap of faith and surmise that the Dark Tosser has his fingers into this company."

Harry watched the members react to his comment. Some looked scared; some looked downright petrified. Others appeared pleased at how things were going. "If any money is being funneled to Voldemort, it ends now. I will have the goblins go through the entire company if I must to see that it stops. Anyone approving or involved in the transfers will be sacked and the Ministry will be notified."

"The majority shareholder doesn’t have that ability, Potter," Aras growled.

"Maybe not," Harry relented. "But I have the voting power to remove the President of the company and he does have that power. I am sure I could find someone to see that my wishes are carried out. My biggest problem now is you. Anyone who relays threats from Voldemort is either a follower of his or just some berk toying with death."

"Sounds like you are describing yourself there," Aras pointed out with less confidence than before.

"I have played Voldemort’s games before and survived," Harry offered with a smirk. "I am not worried about the next one. Are you?" Many of the members looked at each other before slumping into their chairs. Harry tried Occlumency on a few of them and they all said the same thing. They had no part of Aras’s power struggle or his connection with Voldemort. They only wanted to run the business and live their lives.

"Griphook," Harry turned to the goblin as he took notes, "I believe the Ministry would be interested in the threats made here today by Mr. Buquet."

"I agree, Harry," Griphook smiled a toothy smile.

"If there is a connection," Harry continued, "I think a few shares will be up for sale in the near future. In the best interest of the company, I am sure we don’t want a Chairman with such tainted links to criminals. Perhaps we should elect a new Chair with a less questionable past."

"You can’t do this," Aras barked while looking around the room and finding his normally supportive and fearful following looking elsewhere. "And I suppose you want the job then?" Aras yelled as he saw his maneuver explode in his face.

"Me?" Harry asked. "Heavens no. I can’t run a business from Hogwarts. I am sure we can find someone capable of doing the job who isn’t threatening everyone. I will not be bullied by you or anyone." Harry watched the members before clapping his hands together and standing up.

"As much fun as this is, I have things to do today and they do not involve sitting here with all of you." Harry helped Tonks up and thanked Griphook before walking towards the door. When he reached the door, he turned to one of the men he had tested with his limited Legilimency experience. "Would you contact the Weasley business here in Diagon Alley? From what I hear they need potion supplies all the time. Might make good business sense to extend them a reduced rate since they know how to run a proper business."

"I can do that, Mr. Potter," the man said.

"Excellent, and Aras, don’t look so depressed. Fudge tried the same tactic and look what happened to him. Do not make threats you can not enforce. Good day." Harry and Tonks left the room and one of the guards showed them the way to the lobby. "That was tiring. Give me a snitch any day."

"You love confrontation and you know it, Harry." Tonks rubbed his hand softly.

"No, I just like making sure people are treated fairly. Aras might not be a Death Eater, but he is friends with those who are. I tried to read four of the board members and three of them were good people stuck in a bad situation. That arse has all of them scared of what could happen. Like Voldy would waste his energy on a few suits to keep a man like Aras in a power position."

"I have unleashed a monster in you, Harry," Tonks said laughing. "The Harry from the start of summer never would have done what you did today. I like it."

Harry had become hesitant on the monster comment but eased quickly when Tonks continued. "It is all learning how to manage my life. Everything is much more complicated now than two months ago. So, where to first? Hogwarts, the Ministry, the Weasleys?"

"The twins are right here if you wanted to try them out first?" Tonks offered as they left the bank hand-in-hand.

"Alright, sounds good to me," Harry replied eyeing a small pocket of people who had cameras and notepads waiting to attack. "Bloody hell, the reporters are all over the place now."

"Like you didn’t see the cameras going off when we entered the Alley," Tonks quipped. "You knew that by holding my hand in public everyone was going to find out. You did that on purpose and you loved every minute of it."

"You are damn right I did, and I am still loving it. Let them find out. I am not going to let the press force me into hiding. Besides, according to the list Ragnok made for me I own a modest share in the Prophet. Let’s see if they figure that one out sooner rather than later." Harry put an arm around Tonks and hugged her. The snap of flashes went off in a dizzying fury.

"Am I just a trophy to you then?" Tonks asked smirking while Harry thought quickly. "I had you there, Harry. I am glad to see you learning to overcome the expectations others put on your head. You shouldn’t hide from the world any more. Let them see you enjoying life."

In response, Harry placed a kiss on Tonks cheek mid-stride as they reached the Weasley’s shop. Always the gentleman, Harry opened the door and motioned Tonks in first before following closely behind. He heard the people outside the door starting to bicker with each other while trying to get the best position at the windows and door. "Might not be able to leave the same way. I hope they still have that back door or we will be fighting our way out."

The patrons in the store heard the noise coming from outside and all turned to see Harry and Tonks enter the building. They got quite the memory by seeing Harry standing in the doorway looking happy and slightly defiant as he scanned the very busy room for one of the owners. They saw the intent swimming in his bright green eyes as his line of sight swept over them. Once he spotted his target, a smile flitted across his face.

Everyone watched Harry wrap an arm around the woman with him and whisper to her. A few women in the shop sighed as others shot hateful stares at Tonks. They all watched the pair walk across the room and stop near one of the Weasley twins. Every female noticed Harry take Tonks’ hand in his and hold it while they conversed with the Weasley.

"Fred," Harry called out as he and Tonks walked over, "I need a minute."

"Harry," Fred answered as he checked the store windows. "Looks like you need more than a minute judging by all the people staring at you from outside."

"Well, an escape route would help too, but I will take what I can get," Harry said as he held Tonks closer to him. "Hey, Lee."

"Hi, Harry," Lee answered when he exited the back room and joined the small Gryffindor reunion. "Who’s the friend, Harry?"

"Nym…" Harry was stopped from answering by a sharp elbow to his side. "Ow."

"Tonks," Tonks told Lee extending her newly released hand. "Don’t mind Harry, he has issues to work out right now."

"Yeah like how to get my ribs fixed before school." Harry cocked his eyebrow waiting to see what Tonks would do next.

"You are the only one, other than my parents, who can say my full name without getting in real trouble," Tonks lectured. "Your privilege does not extend to introductions though."

"Thanks for telling me earlier then," Harry eyed her closely.

Tonks took pity on him and pulled him into a hug and kissed him lightly on the lips. "I will make it up to you later, okay, Harry?"

Harry smiled eagerly before realizing that others were present. "Oh, sorry about that. She is a handful sometimes."

Lee managed to mumble out a confused, "I missed something," as Fred joked, "She looks to be more than a handful to me, Harry." Fred was rewarded by Tonks wand appearing in her hand and pointing at him. "Just kidding, Tonks, just kidding."

"Is George around?" Harry asked looking at the back of the shop. "I would like to apologize about last night among other things if you catch my meaning."

"Yeah, Harry, he’s around." Fred motioned them back telling Lee to mind the store while they were busy with important business stuff. "No need to apologize though. You did what you had to. A bit scary, but then you never were all that balanced to begin with." Fred joked to lighten the heavy atmosphere that had descended on Harry as they searched for and found George in the workshop.

George looked to Fred and saw the serious look on his face. He held his comment until he figured out what was going on. Harry eyed both of them before speaking. "I am sorry that you guys got caught up in what happened last night. I never wanted either of you or your family to see what happened. I can’t tell you how badly I feel about that."

As one the twins rejected his apology. "No need, mate. She had it coming and we are glad no one else was hurt."

"You were incredible," George said.

Fred continued, "It was the only thing to do really."

"I wanted to keep your family out of this," Harry spoke out.

"Never happen, Harry," Fred shook his head.

"The Weasleys are in this until the end," George finished.

"We never know when to quit," Fred added.

"We blame mum for that," George slipped in. "She’s the stubborn one you know."

Tonks placed her hand on Harry’s arm to quiet him. "They understand the reality of it, Harry. You know better than to try and argue that point. You can’t save everyone from the evils of the world. There is only one of you and so many of them. Be happy with what you accomplished and never forget what we talked about last night."

Harry saw the twins nodding their heads slowly as they tried to guess at what Tonks had told him the night before. Harry let out a breath and found Tonks watching him. "You aren’t going to let me wallow are you?"

"Not a chance, luv." Tonks hugged him tightly as Harry slowly accepted the fact that she would never let him slip back into how he used to handle his problems. Harry looked at the twins again before asking them if they had any questions.

The troublesome pair looked at each other and seemed to have a conversation that only they could hear. After a few minutes they turned as one. Fred spoke for the pair, "How did you Summon Ron’s wand away from him and could you teach us? That would be wicked fun to do to others. Think of the mayhem we could cause." Both got whimsical looks on their faces as they drifted off into their own land of mischief.

Tonks answered. "Willpower and intent. Magical ability can help but you must have the other two to stand a chance."

"Well, Harry has all three and then some," Fred said sadly. "Poor bloke is destined to be the next Dumbledore."

"Nice knowing you mate," George consoled. "Alas, you were so young and had such a bright future ahead."

"Gits," Harry quipped jokingly as the tension faded. He was about to leave via the backdoor when the other reason he was there came to mind. "You guys need potion supplies pretty often, right?"

"You bet your arse we do," both intoned.

"Someone from Arnot’s Potions and Supplies should be meeting with you soon," Harry told them. "If he doesn’t show in the next week, let me know as soon as you can."

"No problem, Harry."

The couple bid the twins goodbye and snuck out the back into an empty alley. Tonks told him that they should probably go to the Ministry now and then Hogwarts last. Together, they Apparated to the team room to find one person waiting for them. He sat in the corner with his hands folded in his lap in deep thought.

Harry felt the man’s presence and drew his wand instantly. They hadn’t bothered to put their hoods up since Harry had decided to tell Cal who he really was anyway after Horace told he had figured it out. The man in the corner of the room watched the wand with interest before clearing his throat.

"It all makes sense you know," Cal said calmly. He looked from Tonks to Harry before leaning out of the shadows and revealing his unhooded face. "I never would have guessed you were Harry Potter, but who else could have had Horace all giddy like he was. The only person ever to have survived the Killing Curse. The only one to have seen You-Know-Who, fought him, and lived to fight him again as many times as you have. I knew Ceps was good from the first day, but I always thought you were lucky."

Harry swallowed before asking, "And what did you decide I was? Good or lucky."

Cal laughed heartily. "Oh you are both, Ceps. You are both and then some. You have proven your skill here faster than anyone else I have seen before. You have earned everything you have by showing us what you are made of. I may be twice your age and then some, but I could never hold that against you. You might be use to your fame getting you things whether you like it or not, but here we earn them. And you have done that on your own merits."

"Well, you know who I am, but I don’t know who you are," Harry posed.

"Harold Fenwick," Cal said. "My brother was killed by the Death Eaters the first time around. I had no family left after he died so I offered to move from the Research side to ours. I was just getting into it when you took that bastard down the first time. After that, I learned to relax and enjoy my life and work in equal parts. I may not have your intensity, but I hope I offer enough to hold up my end. I do have one question for you though. How do you stand up to that thing so easily?"

"Voldemort?" Harry asked receiving confirmation. "Who else would bother if I don’t? They all look to me to show them how so I do it. I really don’t have a choice in the matter anyway."

Cal took in Harry’s words nodding as he processed them. "If that is how you get through the day then who am I to say different. Well done last night. She deserved worse than she got you know."

Harry bowed his head once before looking into Cal’s eyes. "I know, but I still killed a person."

"Never give up on your humanity, Harry," Cal spoke softly. "Without compassion, you will become like him. It is an honour to be on your team." Cal smiled at Tonks and clasped his hands together. "I am glad you finally found one who treats you well, Tonks. You have never looked so happy in all the years I have known you."

"There is a good reason for that, Fen,’ Tonks smiled and leaned against Harry. "He makes me happy."

"Glad to hear it. We have the rest of the week off while information is extracted from our new or reoccurring guests," Cal said before smiling and Apparating away with a soft crack.

"That went well," Harry said to the empty space where Cal had been standing seconds before.

"He is a great man who has listened to me whine about my problems more than a few times," Tonks admitted. "I knew he would take things well. Kind of hard to work him up really. So, we only have Hogwarts left and it is getting late in the afternoon."

Harry dreaded the trip to Hogwarts. He knew that Tonks was going to learn something that might scare her away, but he hoped that it wouldn’t. He also knew that the necessary meeting with Snape wasn’t going to end well since nothing ever did when the snarky Professor was involved.

"Do we need to see Horace before we leave?" Harry asked Tonks hoping they didn’t. He had to deal with far too many people in one day and he wasn’t close to being done yet. Tonks answered by sliding against him and giving him a soft, wet kiss on the lips before letting it linger longer than was needed. "I’ll take that as a no then?"

"Exactly, Harry dear. To Hogwarts and then home for some fun. I still owe you for saving my life."

"Uh, didn’t you thank me last night?" Harry asked as Tonks kissed him again.

"That, oh no," she said seductively lightly playing with his hair. "That was just me warming you up. It should take me all week to properly thank you for it."

Harry went all fuzzy and vague as he thought about all the things Tonks hinted at by her statement. A few soft kisses on his neck brought him back to the present. "Let’s get this day over with so we can go home."

In a flurry of magic, both Apparated to an area just outside of Hogwarts’ grounds. With his judgment properly derailed, Harry hurried along the winding path to Hogwarts and two of the worst meetings of the day. As the couple, hand in hand, passed the gates and started up the hill to the entrance, Hagrid saw them. He walked over to them at a faster pace than he usually walked to catch up and keep even with them.

"In a ‘urry, ‘Arry?"

"Um, yes, Hagrid, actually we are in a hurry," Harry forced out while he fought off images of Tonks in silk things and bubbles.

"What Harry is trying to say in his unique way is that we have a few things to take care of here before we go home," Tonks explained as she laughed at Harry who pulled her along. "I have to thank him for saving me last night. If you understand my meaning, Hagrid?"

"Oh," Hagrid chuckled. "Don’ let me slow you down then. I was young once."

"Thanks, Hagrid," Harry called over his shoulder. "I will stop by the first chance I get when school starts."

Tonks laughed the whole way to the school and through the doors before Harry came to a halt in the entrance way. The lightness that Tonks had fostered died immediately. She noticed Harry still as he squeezed her hand tighter. She managed to rub his back for a little while before he spoke.

"We should see Dumbledore first," Harry said in monotone. "You might change your mind about me after that and there is no reason delaying it at this point."

Tonks couldn’t believe how defeated Harry had become in such a short time. "Nothing he could tell me would change my mind about you. Now stop being like this. You really let the small things get to you, Harry."

"Small things, yeah," Harry mumbled as they walked towards the office entrance. They had made it half way when they were spotted by Peeves. He cackled in preparation for his attack before remembering Tonks threat from earlier in the summer. He almost overcame his hesitation when he caught site of Harry. The amount of determination that shone on the young man’s face told the poltergeist that it wasn’t the time to press his luck. Knowing of another target who was far more limited in his ability to get revenge, Peeves soared off in the direction of his next victim.

As they reached the gargoyle, Harry started listing off sweets. As that list was exhausted, Harry switched to Weasley Products. Tonks watched Harry become more frustrated as item after item got them no where. With a disgruntled growl, Harry stared the statue down. "Oh for Merlin’s sake open already. I don’t have all day to keep guessing things."

"Mr. Potter," Minerva said from behind them.

"Professor," Harry replied without turning around.

"Did you know she was there?" Tonks asked Harry.

"Yeah," Harry replied waving his hand around as if it was nothing to speak of. "She has been there for a few minutes listening to our guesses."

Minerva inclined her eyebrow as she heard what Harry had said. "How did you know I was here, Mr. Potter? I made a special effort to remain quiet."

"It’s a gift, Professor," Harry said losing patience and drawing his wand. "If it won’t open on its own then I will open it the hard way."

"Potter," McGonagall scolded, "put that away before you get into trouble. Conundrum." At Minerva’s words, the statue began to swing away to reveal the ascending staircase.

"Not a sweet for once?" Harry asked as he pulled Tonks onto the fifth step in the series as they ascended upwards.

"It is a reflection of his current mood, Potter," Minerva told him with a worried look. "Please do what you can to alleviate that problem."

"That depends on him, Professor," Harry said before they disappeared up the tower climbing ever closer to the Headmaster’s office. Harry turned to Tonks and kissed her on the mouth before running his hand along the side of her face. "I know what you said before, but no matter what happens after you see it know that I do love you. That is all I can ask." Harry stifled her comment with his finger by lightly laying it on her lips.

Any further discussion was held as they reached the top of the tower and the solid door swung open of its own accord. Inside the office, Harry saw Dumbledore sitting at his desk looking very weary and as old as his years. Fawkes sat on his perch crooning as if it was the wind making the noise and not a phoenix. Harry held Tonks’ hand as they entered the office before stopping in front of the ancient desk holding a few destroyed silver trinkets and a pile of parchment on the opposite corner.

They remained silent as Albus rubbed his face and adjusted his glasses. "Harry, Tonks, always a pleasure. The memory you spoke of is in the Pensieve, Harry. I believe you can show Tonks how it works if she isn’t already familiar with one. I would like to speak with you both before you view the memory," Albus paused before adding, "if you would be so kind."

Harry took a breath and nodded his affirmation before sitting in a rather wide and comfortable chair that was behind him. A second chair was next to his and Tonks ended up settling herself in it after pushing it against Harry’s. All seated and mildly comfortable, Albus looked out the window as he formulated his questions. Harry found that his recent frustration with the old man’s constant delays wasn’t present. He read the Headmaster’s face and movements and could tell that he was really thinking and not stalling as usual.

Breaking the silence, Albus posed his first question, "Are you truly safe where ever you have been living?"

Harry heard the desperation in the question asked and felt compelled to be confident in his response. "I am perfectly safe, Professor. I have Tonks, Jules, Tiki," Harry laughed slightly before continuing, "Dobby and Paul to look out for me. I have never felt safer in my life as far as I can remember."

Albus inclined his head obviously in thought again. "Who are Jules, Tiki, and Paul?"

Seeing no danger in answering, Harry offered the truth. "Griffin, elf, elf. Tiki and Paul served my family before they went into hiding." Albus laughed after a few seconds. "What?" Harry asked with interest.

"Something your father always told me privately when your family’s safety was brought up. He always told me that I may have Gryffindor House, but he had a griffin at his house. After puzzling for a few months on that, I chalked it up to his mischievous ways having one over on me. Little did I know then. How I miss him. He was always good for a mental puzzle. Once I finished figuring out one of his riddles or stories, he would give me another. Not to discount him or his abilities, but I am confident that your mother thought them up in the first place. She was the crafty one in that relationship. She had a flare for style too. Minerva misses her greatly. I know they worked on projects together from her forth year on. A mind like Ms. Granger she had."

Harry absorbed the information like a sponge. He reveled in the stories that included his parents and how they were from day-to-day. Harry gripped Tonks’ hand tightly willing her to help him keep his emotions in check.

"I am truly sorry for keeping so many things from you, Harry," Albus said painfully. "I only wanted to save you from the pain of learning how wonderful they were to end up knowing only their memory. I know that you wanted to know, everything, but I felt it was too harmful for you. My concern for you overshadowed my objectivity. Painful or not, you deserved to know them in whatever way I could provide you. I promise to change that this year. I will be available to you in my free time and if that isn’t good enough, I will make time."

Harry could see the honesty in Dumbledore’s words and on his face as he smiled sadly at him. With a nearly broken voice Harry thanked him for the offer with a promise to hold him to it. The entire time, Tonks held his hand and rubbed it lightly.

"If I may be so bold," Albus prefaced carefully, "how close are you and Ms. Tonks?"

Harry looked at Tonks and smiled a heartfelt smile. "Close enough, Professor. I took a life to save hers and I would do it again without hesitation. I hope you understand that."

Tonks matched his smile and leaned against him as well as she could. "I see that you have both found someone that you care about. I am happy for each of you. I know Ms. Tonks’ life has not been easy finding someone who wanted to know the real person beneath the surface. I also have an idea of how bad it has been for you, Harry," Albus raised his hand halting Tonks’ objection. "But I will not claim to know it well or in detail. So much of your past has been kept concealed from me. You did some of that yourself, but most of it falls on my head for not being more watchful. Again, I apologize for that as much as you will let me."

"It has been difficult," Harry admitted while watching Albus carefully. He saw the man look down and wither slightly before his eyes.

"So much to repair from my mistakes," Albus hung his head in shame. "I can only hope you will allow me to try and repair those mistakes. I know I can never fix them completely, but I wish for the opportunity to try."

Harry felt the sincerity in his words and looked to find Tonks frowning. She patted Harry’s hand lightly as she looked at him. Looking up. hope for so many things shone in her eyes. "Professor," Harry began slowly as Albus met his eyes. "I am still here aren’t I?"

The wise wizard smiled a wide smile in answer. "You have grown into the best possible person you could have, Harry. Let no one tell you different." Albus shared his smile with Tonks before folding his hands and becoming more like his old self. "With a good base to build from, I hope you will honour me with additional answers. Feel free to refuse if you must, but the more information I have the better."

Harry nodded but added one caveat. "That works both ways, Professor." He received a nod in answer.

"How much magic have you done over the last few weeks?"

Harry smirked before answering. "Enough to hold my own, Sir."

"How have you done so undetected?"

Another smirk and a smarter remark. "I believe Amelia asked the same question and my answer hasn’t changed since this morning."

"The Potter in you comes out," Albus quipped. "How many spells are you proficient in?"

"Enough to get by in everyday life and probably more to fight a few battles should the need arise," Harry said evenly finding some enjoyment in the banter.

"And there is the spark that Lily always brought into a conversation." Albus looked at Fawkes before turning back to Harry. "The fight last night wasn’t the first one of the summer, was it?"

Harry’s smile deepened as he formulated his response. "I had to protect myself from the Dursleys once or twice, so, no it wasn’t."

"Have you fought with any Death Eaters this summer other than last night?"

"Why of course I have," Harry offered. "I have fought with Snape on multiple occasions. We never had an Order meeting without one."

Albus returned Harry’s smirk. "Is Professor Snape the only Death Eater you have fought with?"

"Asked and answered, Professor. Please move on to something else."

"How many spells can you cast wandlessly?"

Harry began counting but stopped after he reached six. "I will say that I know enough to get by. I have to keep some surprises don’t I?"

Albus laughed outright on Harry’s answer. "You have done nothing but, Harry. It is one surprise after another and they just keep getting bigger. The Ministry, your financial situation not to mention your activity involving the purchase of companies out from under the Death Eaters, your unwavering determination in everything you have attempted this summer, and Ms. Tonks as well just to name a few. I know there are more and you are greedily holding them back."

"I do what I can, Professor," Harry said simply causing Tonks to laugh.

"That you do Harry," Albus rubbed his hands together like an eager child awaiting a present. "How have you increased your use of magic to the degree you have achieved?"

Harry weighed his choices before giving away some of the truth. "Tonks took the time to explain magic to me. The whole thing about willpower, intent, and Magical ability made sense after I thought about it for awhile. She used my past experiences to explain the different parts to me."

"A personalized lesson in magic," Albus queried in an off-handed way. "Things make more sense now, but let me see if I have some of it figured out. Obviously, the place you are living has ancient wards preventing the detection of magic use. Tonks has used that opportunity to teach you to harness your magical potential. As such, you are afforded the chance to practice said magic and learn how it all works in relation to everything else. It is obvious that you have been practicing because there is no way you could have done what you did last night without knowing your own limits with all of those spells. Many are beyond Hogwarts completely and we are not likely to teach the Bone Exploding Curse to sixth years. The students are far too emotionally driven for that to be safe."

Harry looked at the Headmaster and smiled in a childlike way. "And then what happens?" The glee was contagious and Tonks soon joined him in fits of laughter.

"And there is your godfather showing his influence," Albus hung his head and couldn’t help but shake it from side to side in a defeated way. "I told your parents that you were impressionable from a young age, and they should keep an eye on you. Sirius always did make promises of corrupting you when they weren’t looking. He would be happy to know it worked."

Harry regained control of himself and pulled Tonks into his lap where she happily found a comfortable spot to sit. "You are forgetting what this wonderful creature has done in the last few weeks. She is the real corruption, Professor."

Tonks smiled impishly and shrugged not even bothering to deny her role. "And I would do it again in a heartbeat, Harry. You were always too serious and didn’t laugh enough. I am proud of what I accomplished."

Harry hugged her and couldn’t resist giving her a kiss. "Sorry, Professor, but you can see how she has messed with my mind. She is nothing but trouble."

"And you love every second," Tonks challenged. "Go ahead and try to deny it."

"Why would I?" Harry asked staring her down playfully. "This has been the best summer yet."

Albus sat back and watched the two banter back and forth as if he wasn’t there. "It warms my heart to see you happy, Harry. It really does. Now on to school related items, I received your class selection and I was rather surprised by the fact that you didn’t take Minerva up on her offer to get you into Potions. Could you explain to me why?"

"My career choices have changed, Professor. Thanks to a little prodding from someone, I am looking at Quidditch as a real option instead of only a dream. Otherwise, I have my holdings to manage hence the Business class I selected. And the only way Snape would let me into his class would be if he got something really big and the last thing I want is to give him anything he wants. Professor McGonagall deserves better than to deal with him for me. Besides, I loath to spend another minute in a classroom with that man. He hates me more than anyone else in the world and I can’t take the high road on this one. I hate him as well. Avoiding him makes the best option as far as I see it. "

"That makes sense to me but politics? You have always seemed resistant to dirtying your hands with politicians."

"I blame Tonks; she made me do it!" Harry pointed at her as she kept her place in his lap.

"You put up such a fight over it too," Tonks mocked. "If you have done anything this summer it is proving you have a gift for politics. If you still don’t believe me, what has happened this summer that you haven’t had a hand in? Name me one thing, Mister."

Harry tried hard to think of any. Minister, Gringotts, the Order, being an Unspeakable all came to mind but he couldn’t say anything about the last one. Harry looked at her, almost consenting, before looking at Dumbledore for help. He received none.

"Don’t look at me, Harry," Albus threw his hands up. "As you have shown to me, I know very little about your summer and their goings on. And of what I do know, I would have to side with Ms. Tonks on this one." Harry grimaced at him and his lack of help. "A word to the wise, Harry, I found that agreeing with determined women is usually easier than fighting them. You have used that skill many times in your friendship with Hermione I believe."

Harry looked to Tonks and saw her wearing a triumphant look. "Bollocks."

Tonks held her hands up in victory and did a little dance proclaiming her win. Harry responded by tickling her until she collapsed into him. "Ah, youth," Albus smiled fondly before checking his watch. "I feel that our meeting has pretty much come to an end. As a frequent visitor to the hospital wing, I am sure you know how stringent Poppy can be with visiting hours. I believe your primary reason for coming here has yet to be resolved and the hour is growing late. I urge you to see Professor Snape before you leave, Harry. He looked rather preoccupied the last time I saw him."

Harry sighed and hugged Tonks tightly before standing up and bringing her with him over to the Pensieve. "Do you know how they work, Nymph?"

"Yes, I have used one before," Tonks said watching Harry the whole time. "What is such a big deal about this memory?"

"It is the Prophecy that everyone was protecting last year," Harry told her. "It has to do with me and Voldemort. You deserve to know the truth about it."

Tonks rubbed Harry’s arm and cheek. "It won’t change anything, Harry. You will still be the same person."

"Watch it and then tell me that," Harry said sadly and motioned to the basin. With a smile, Tonks stuck her head in the basin and fell into the memory. Harry watched her body for movements or tension. He saw her clench her hand so he reached out and held on to it. She clamped her hand tightly onto his but never left the memory. As the minutes ticketed by, Harry waited very impatiently.

When Tonks pulled her head from the magical device, she wiped a tear away from her eye with her free hand before turning around and asking Dumbledore, "Is that an accurate Prophecy?"

"Yes, it is," came the saddened reply.

Tonks turned to Harry who hoped she wouldn’t leave him out of fear. Tonks took a step towards Harry and took a deep breath before pulling her hand free. Harry feared the worst, but it never came. She placed her hands on either side of his fretful face and made him look her directly in the eyes. With a strong voice, Tonks said, "Nothing changed, Harry. I still love you." She gave him a passionate kiss before looking in his eyes again. "All it means is that you have to beat him. I always thought you could do it and now I know you can. You can be such a silly man about things sometimes."

Harry pulled her into a searching embrace. He felt her words in his soul and knew she meant them. He knew she believed in him, but for the first time he believed it too. The challenge before him didn’t seem so insurmountable anymore. "Things look easier when you aren’t alone."

Tonks kissed him while Albus sighed. "They always look easier when you have your friends and family around to help." He waited until the couple separated from each other at their own pace. "As such, Harry, I will not interfere with any, how should I say this, liaisons you may involve yourself in this coming year." When Harry eyed him skeptically, Albus elucidated. "I know about most things that happen in this castle, Harry. Not all I will grant you, but most. I have always taken a wait-and-see approach on most matters and this will be no different."

With a boyish smirk that belied his true age, Albus finished. "I have teachers for a reason. Let them chase the students around the castle trying to catch them out-of-bounds. I am far too old to be doing that any longer." In nearly a whisper the Headmaster expelled, "The Weasley twins were the best show around since your parents and their friends." Harry couldn’t help but laugh and Tonks happily joined him. "Now, I believe a rather surly instructor is hoping for a visit, Harry. Please try to be accommodating."

Harry let the mirthful feelings he had fade into his memories before putting up his mental shields. "I promise nothing, but I will go down there to hear what he has to say."

"That is all I can ask of you," the old man said. "I fear that his hate will never completely leave him in this lifetime. It has been a wonderful time with you both. Thank you for giving a chance to make amends, Harry. I will use everyday to show you that I am trying to help."

Harry offered his hand and accepted Dumbledore’s in a shake. "I look forward to seeing that, Sir. Good evening." Tonks and Harry left the tower and walked to the Hospital wing. Once they arrived, Harry prepared for every kind of battle Snape had waged in the past. "Here goes nothing then."

Harry led the way into the wing with Tonks at his side. They found only one bed occupied at the far end opposite from Harry’s normal location when he found himself under Pomfrey’s care. The dark, greasy hair of the Potion’s teacher stood out among the stark white sheets of the bed. The man seemed to be resting and didn’t move when Harry drew near. The hospital top Snape wore had a thin red line wrapping around his mid-section. A noise at the end of the room caught Harry’s attention.

He turned to see Poppy coming out of her room holding a gauze pad and a wash basin with a bottle of reddish-green potion in it. "Mr. Potter, Ms. Tonks," Poppy said. "I understand that my patient has been asking to see you. I advised against it, but the Headmaster overruled me as long as the Professor still wishes to see you. You will have to wait while I dress his wound though. It won’t heal properly and the cut was so very deep. I still haven’t heard who or what did this."

Harry remained quiet as did Tonks while Poppy pushed the gown up and cleaned it before Vanishing the soiled gauze already in place. She poured the potion into the basin, removed an unseen cloth, and began to clean the wound methodically. A hiss and pop from the razor thin cut sounded in the room. Harry watched as his most hated teacher remain perfectly still during the process.

"Enjoying yourself, Potter," Snape bit out between clenched teeth.

Harry caught his eyes and held them while showing no emotion to what was going on around them. "Not particularly, Snape."

"That is Professor Snape, Potter. Ten points from Gryffindor," Snape growled.

"It is Mr. Potter to you," Harry countered. "Ten points from Slytherin. See I can do that too. It is summer, Snape, or did you hit your head too?"

"I should…"

"You should what?" Harry challenged.

"That is it," Poppy said forcefully. "I will not have you disturbing my patient, Mr. Potter."

"Leave me be, Poppy," Snape barked. "This has been a long time coming and I am not going to miss the opportunity. Remain silent!"

Poppy huffed but let the nasty man have his say. She knew he wouldn’t listen to her anyway since he had yet to do so in all his years.

"Come to finish me off, Potter?"

"Would you like me too, Snivellus?" Harry inclined his eyebrow. "I see that your shield blocked most of the effects. Lucky for you it was there or you might have ended up in two pieces."

"So you admit to trying to kill me, Boy?"

"I admit to trying to save myself and everyone else from a Death Eater attack. It is not my fault you happen to be wearing your cloak at the time. You did attack us and you were, therefore, my enemy. You got what happens to those who threaten my friends. All things considered, you got off rather easy." Harry pointed at the long cut across Snape’s stomach as proof. "Bellatrix didn’t make it in case you forgot certain parts on last night."

"Oh no, Potter. I remember you killing Lestrange. By the way, how are you doing with that? You know, being a killer and all."

Tonks ran her hand over Harry’s back before he answered. "I am doing rather well with it actually. Tonks lived, she died. A fair trade if I must say. In the future, you would do well to stay away from those I care about. I might just finish what I started. Would be a shame to leave things unfinished now wouldn’t it?" The threat hung in the air like the odor of the potion still working away on Snape’s abdomen.

Poppy gasped as she heard Harry words and felt the air drop in temperature. She was about to stop everything until she saw Snape. He was actually scared. The man who worked with the most evil person in the entire Magical world looked frightened.

"You would like that, wouldn’t you, Potter?"

"Not in the least, but no one threatens my friends," Harry spoke with a deathly calm to his voice. "Tonks is much more than a friend and you would do well to remember that. Hurt her, and Voldemort will look like a picnic compared to what I will do. That is a promise. I am done losing loved ones to Him or his followers. Never forget that."

Snape fought to regain his composure but he had a terrible time doing it. The fire in Harry’s eyes and his voice struck right to the core of the Potion’s Master. Playing the only card he had left, Snape used it. "I know who you are, Potter. All the trouble you have caused this summer. The people you have been hanging out with. Particularly at night or in the woods or maybe even in alleyways."

Snape had hoped to rattle Harry some, but it failed miserably. "Madam Pomfrey, I believe that Snape is experiencing some pain. Maybe you should go and get him a potion for it." Snape saw Harry tuck his wand away as Poppy stood and moved back to her office without a word.

Once they were alone, Harry became even more terrifying. "It was you. Every time, it was you who got away at the end. How…" Harry let his word hang before finishing, "annoying. Think what you want, Snape. You won’t remember a word of it in the next few minutes."

Snape strained to pull his wand from its place next to his leg. When he began raising it to strike at Harry, the wand flew from his hand and landed neatly in Harry’s before being tossed over his shoulder carelessly. "Only Dumbledore saved you from suffering at the hands of the Unspeakables. They would love to get certain information out of you, but you were protected. Thing is, I am at the end of my tolerance for you, Severus, and I will not allow you to be protected next time."

Snape looked from Harry, as he stepped back from the bed, to Tonks who had her wand trained on him. The last thing he saw was a white flash and the last thing he heard was, "Obliviate!"

"You will forget everything about the Unspeakables and how it pertains to Harry Potter," Tonks ordered. "You will remember the battles but not know who it was you were fighting. You will remember Harry cursing you in the alley last night and every time you see him, you will remember that he is not someone to fuck with. I saved your life that night by asking Harry to spare you, but he should have finished it."

Tonks put her wand away as Snape’s eyes regained their focus. He scowled when he saw both of them but his face faltered when he looked at Harry and his arm moved to protect his stomach. "Good evening, Snape. I guess I will see you on the first then," Harry said formally before wrapping an arm around Tonks and pulling her towards the exit.

Tonks gave Snape an evil stare before melting into Harry as they left the room. Poppy returned at that moment with a vial of pain reliever. She watched Harry and Tonks leave while holding the potion out for her patient. "I suggest you steer clear of Mr. Potter this year, Severus. For some reason, I get the feeling that he is a different person now."

Severus grabbed the vial and downed it without hesitation. His arm moved back to protect his stomach unconsciously. "I hate to agree with you, but I get the same impression." Snape went to sleep that night slightly confused and trying to figure out what had happened. Every time his thoughts turned to Potter, he wrapped his arm a little tighter around himself.

The couple walked out of the Hospital wing hallway and headed back to the main doors. As they descended the stairs, Dumbledore was hurrying up them. When he saw the pair, he slowed to a stop. "What happened?" He was worried and tense as he looked over Harry intently.

"We had a discussion," Harry told him as a slight scowl appeared on his face. "Snape was as pleasant as ever, but I didn’t do anything to him. Last I saw, Madam Pomfrey was giving him a potion for the pain."

"Is that so?" Albus asked looking confused. "Remember that I know about most things that happen in this school, Harry. And with all the students gone, I can focus my attention from the many onto the few. Would you like to try that again?" The Headmaster role Albus had filled for years was shining brightly as he interrogated Harry about the events of only minutes ago.

Knowing what was happening and not really caring, Harry smiled. "Nothing bad happened, Professor. If you think something happened, just ask me what it is you really want to know. You will never know until you ask."

Albus watched Harry’s posture and knew he was going to get nothing out of the young man. Harry had proven he was capable of withholding information if he wanted and no one was going to pull it out of him against his will. A glance at Tonks showed the same thing even though extracting the information would be easier than with Harry, the retribution that would follow would destroy any chance of a peaceful alliance. Knowing the objective was lost, Albus submitted. "He is well at least?"

"As well as when we showed up," Harry provided. "He still hates me and that is fine. I will say that we should be kept separate this year though. I get the feeling that our hatred of each other has reached new levels that even you will find too hard to overcome. Keep him on a short leash and I will stay away."

"I will do my best, Harry," Albus said, "but he is his own person. I can not control him completely."

Harry tilted his head away from Tonks who remained attached to him in an embrace. "As am I, only I will fight back this year whether you want me to or not. I will stand up to him no matter what will happen to me. I am not afraid of him and he knows that now."

Albus sighed. "I will try, Harry. That is all I can promise you."

"I am glad to see you aren’t overreaching on this," Harry pointed out. "I don’t expect everything, just an effort." Harry nodded before squeezing Tonks. "We really should get home. I know a few elves who will yell at me for not eating a proper dinner on time."

Harry, with Tonks, resumed their course down the stairs and out the door. They followed the path off Hogwarts’ grounds and Apparated home. As predicted, Harry was met with one stern elf holding a plate of food for Tonks and a bouncy elf trying to keep the food from hitting the floor. Once the meal was eaten, Harry and Tonks retired to their room after a long, stressful day.

Harry rubbed his head trying to release the tension that had built as the day progressed. "Knut for your thoughts, Harry?"

"Just wondering how much worse tomorrow will be than today?"

"Oh, I wouldn’t worry about tomorrow," Tonks said before a smirk grew on her face. "Think of what you have to look forward to on the train ride back to Hogwarts. That should be what you are worrying about."

Harry answered with a groan and put both of his hands over his eyes and rubbed them hard. The weight on the bed shifted, but Harry didn’t look to see why Tonks moved. When he finished rubbing, Harry pulled his hands away and opened his eyes. As the stars faded and the colours returned to normal, He saw Tonks removing her shirt and tossing it onto her cloak which was already piled on the floor.

"Do you need something to take your mind off of things?" She asked in a seductive tone.

Harry smiled with a hint of primal urge to it. "Yes, please."

"So easy to distract." Tonks unfastened her pants and moved to Harry. She put her hands on either of his shoulders and forced him back on the bed while devouring his mouth with hers. She kissed him forcefully and drove her tongue into his mouth. Harry responded instantly, all weariness forgotten, and brought his hands up to her sides before sliding them lower to push her pants over her bum and down her thighs.

She wiggled them off and worked on freeing Harry from his clothing as well. Her bra ended up across the room and her knickers crumpled into a small pile after they landed near the foot of the bed. Harry’s clothes flew off of him as fast as ever and soon the two were throwing the covers off the bed in their frantic attempts to reach the soft sheets underneath.

Harry and Nymphadora, exhausted and satisfied, collapsed into a heap gasping for breath. Once their heart rates had slowed enough, they curled up together and went to sleep dreaming of endless hours doing the same things over and over.

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