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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

14. Company

                      As Tonks and the Grangers portkeyed away and landed just outside the gates to Potter Estate, Tonks checked them over for spell damage or any other injuries. Finding none, Tonks sent a message to Marcus with as much speed as she could. ‘Harry at the Grangers; multiple death eaters trying to kill him; Help!’

As the spell left her wand, Tonks turned to see Hermione glaring at her with a look worse than any Jules had ever given her. "Not now, Hermione, we must get inside the grounds right away in case they found the house’s location." In a none-to-gentle push, Tonks herded Hermione through the gates with her shocked parents trying their best to keep up.

As they breeched the grounds and the gates closed, Tonks pulled them to the side and stood between them and the house. "This is as far as we dare go without Harry. Keep your voices down and wait."

"Tonks," Hermione said with a nearly cutting tone. "Why did you leave Harry to be killed by those people?"

"Hermione, Harry can take care of himself in situations like those. He has faced Voldemort and lived. I think he can handle a few Death Eaters." As Tonks spoke, her confident front failed and her true concern bled through.

"You don’t even believe that rubbish, yet you expect me to believe it?" Hermione fumed and gripped her wand even tighter. She mustered the look of calm rage before speaking as deathly as she ever had in her life. "If Harry dies because you took me away, I will never let you forget it. We should have taken him with us. We could have Stunned him and brought him with."

Tonks shook her head. "Hermione, you and I together couldn’t breech Harry’s Imprimis Shield if we had twenty minutes let alone the twenty seconds we really had. Not to mention he would have Stunned all of us and portkeyed us away as he threatened." Tonks took a deep breath to calm her mind and body. The stress of her worry for Harry was weighing her down so much that she nearly collapsed. "You heard those three fall before we left. Harry beat three of them immediately. There couldn’t have been that many more. He knows to leave when things get to be too much."

"He never has before," Hermione yelled. "Why would this time be any different? He doesn’t know when to run away; he never has. The only way he could leave would be to actually run away. He can’t even use the floo without landing on his face." Hermione was flushed red with worry and anger. She was quivering and her wand leaked a few coloured sparks as she worked herself up.

"Harry can create a portkey or he could Apparate," Tonks informed Hermione without thinking. "He is very skilled in transportation. Granted, we haven’t worked on floo travel yet, but he has the others down pat."

Hermione prepared to argue the point, but a screech from the far side of the property sounded the impending arrival of Jules and she was not happy. Hermione jumped and leveled her wand at the approaching beast that was at a flat out run towards them. The Grangers moved behind Tonks even further and pulled a resisting Hermione to them to shield her from the attack.

Tonks gasped and raised her wand in case she couldn’t stop Jules any other way than yelling at her to stop. "Jules, stop! Harry will be here soon. We aren’t going anywhere. We will stay right here until Harry gets here. Remember you have to be nice to me. Harry told you to."

The giant red figure kept her pace until she was nearly on the group. She unfurled her wings stalling her speed and skidded to a stop with her mouth ready to bite Tonks in half.

Much to everyone’s relief, Jules didn’t attack, but the clearly angry animal kept the group from advancing even one step towards the house. "Jules, we aren’t going to move until Harry gets here. You stay there and we will stay here, agreed?"

"Tonks," Hermione shrieked. "Is that a griffin?"

"Yes," Tonks confirmed. "This is Jules and she protects Harry’s house worse than any goblin and their money. Do not move. Harry has to let us in. Jules doesn’t like me one bit, and he stopped her from killing me recently. It seems we have weak truce right now."

"Griffins are only extremely violent if they feel threatened or if whatever they are protecting is threatened," Hermione answered as only she could. "They are really rare and amazing creatures too."

"One point for accuracy, Hermione, but she guards the house and Harry. Amazing or not, she will kill us if we try to move."

The group huddled together with Tonks facing Jules and Hermione in the middle. It was Jane’s sharp intake of breath and pointing that alerted them to a new arrival. Everyone saw a figure move towards them at a laboured stride. "Tonks?"

"Only Harry can Apparate onto the grounds like that," Tonks explained. "Others can as well but he has to be touching you. The wards prevent it otherwise and they are not fun to run into."

"When did Harry learn to Apparate?"

Tonks sighed as the figure continued approaching. "Recently. He is really good at it. He is silent if he wants to be."

Hermione looked at Tonks as she had an idea what that meant. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am completely sure Harry can Apparate silently." As Tonks finished, Harry called Jules away. The beast screeched once before running to Harry and verifying his identity. When he neared them, Tonks couldn’t believe the damage he had suffered and still remained on his feet.


When they entered the house, Harry felt the pain rear up. He grabbed for Tonks’ arm to prevent from falling. Harry watched Hermione’s face as she restrained herself from rushing to his side and helping him however she could. The Grangers looked on in sympathy as Harry faltered in his steps again and stumbled just inside the front door.

"Tiki!" Tonks yelled into the house. "Harry has been burned. He needs your help!"

Tiki popped into the entryway carrying her medical kit. She looked at him and her face fell. "Harry can’t be helped by Tiki. Tiki not good enough to help Harry." The elf started to cry as Dobby came running into the entryway. He only saw his favorite master and ignored the others.

"Harry Potter!" Dobby continued to run to him and looked ready to hug Harry.

Tonks stopped Dobby with her hand. "I had hoped that you had something to heal the burns, Tiki, but since you don’t I have little choice. Harry we are going to have to take you to a healer. I need you to create a portkey to them."

Tonks held out the pillow for Harry to enchant. He raised his wand and tapped the pillow. It glowed blue for a second before returning to normal. Hermione’s mouth hung wide open as she watched Harry perform a spell she hadn’t been able to find in any of her many books.

"Dobby, Tiki," Harry said while fighting the pain. "This is Hermione, Jane, and David Granger. They are guests until further notice. Please take care of them while we are gone." Harry was met with agreement by the elves.

"Tiki," Tonks asked, "I need you to get our grey cloaks immediately, please." Without hesitation, Tiki popped away and returned with two grey cloaks. "Thank you. I am not sure when we will return so make yourselves at home until we get back."

"Where are you taking him?" Hermione demanded as she raised her wand.

"Hermione," Harry said calmly. "I guess I need to go to hospital for this little burn." As he chuckled, he stretched his skin causing a new wave a pain that rippled through his body. The others cringed as they saw the agony he was in.

"No more questions," Tonks ended all debate. "We are going right now." She grabbed the pillow and waited until Harry touched it. As soon as the two people were in contact with the pillow, they disappeared.

"Harry!" Hermione yelled at the bare spot of floor where they had fallen. "You better come back so I can kill you."

Her parents watched as their daughter yelled at the empty space. "Honey, perhaps we can sit down and wait for them." Jane assisted her daughter down the hallway and into the living room. Once they were seated, Dobby and Tiki made themselves known.

"Do friends of Master Harry need anything?" Tiki asked.

The Grangers jumped as they hadn’t processed the presence of the beings earlier due to the shock of the evening’s events. "Ah, hello. I am David."

"Dobby knows you are David. Harry Potter told Dobby. Can Dobby get you something?"

"How about some water, Dobby," Hermione said as she fought against all the information she had learned. "It might help, I…Dobby? What are you doing here?"

"Dobby is serving Harry Potter. Harry Potter came to Hogwarts and asked Dobby to help. Dobby most happy about helping Harry Potter." The excitable elf bounced on his feet as he clapped happily.

Tiki pushed Dobby towards the kitchen to get the water and moved into his vacated place in front of the Grangers. "Can Tiki get Master Harry’s friends anything?"


Harry and Tonks appeared on the floor of the team room in the same position they had left the house. Tonks put on her cloak and helped Harry into his before opening the door and yelling for a healer to come to the room. When she turned around, she saw Harry trying to get his feet under him to stand.

"The hell you are," Tonks rushed to his side and ‘helped’ him stay where he was. "You are not to move until the healer gets here. Do you understand me?"

Harry fought against her tentative resistance and tried to stand again. "I never was very good at listening. Just ask Hermione." Harry managed to get to his feet but they were wobbly. He hissed in pain as Tonks held him in place.

"You stubborn man," Tonks scolded. "You know better than this."

"Maybe, but I don’t care right now. I will not be on the floor when they come in here. I will not look weak in front of them."

Tonks wanted to comment but couldn’t as two healers appeared in the doorway followed by a worried Marcus and a very angry Horace. She was afraid Horace was going to yell at Harry right then, but she was pleased when he saw the damage that had been done and said nothing.

"What spell was it?" The healer asked without waiting.

"No idea," Harry gritted out. "It was a Fire spell of some sort. It was red with some yellow and orange. I was more worried about the Killing Curse at that moment."

"Stretcher," commanded the lead healer.

"No," Harry refused. "I will walk there. So let’s go."

Tonks held his right arm as they began the slow and painful trip to the medical room. Marcus sighed and smiled as Harry shuffled passed him. Horace held his tongue until only Marcus remained in the room.

As the group entered the medical room, Harry saw a few people in beds along one wall. Each had an Unspeakable standing next to their bed with a wand trained on their chest ready to fire if given a reason. Harry saw a slight shimmer in the middle of the room that seemed to encircle that side of beds. Every Unspeakable looked at Harry as he continued on to the next available bed.

Tonks helped him into the bed only to be shoved away by a force of three healers that moved to care for him. Tonks noticed that the Death Eaters were unattended by medical staff and couldn’t stop the urge to advance on them. She drew her wand and rushed at the nearest person in a bed with a black cloak at the foot of it.

The guard moved to the side giving her a clear shot. She saw a man in his early twenties with his left arm completely destroyed. He was unconscious and blood slowly oozed from the wound. As she fought with her emotions, she let out a yell, lowered her wand, and moved it to her left hand. She took the last few steps and punched the man in the face. The resultant snap told her that she had broken his nose as blood began running from the fractured body part. "Fucker!"

"Chamel," Marcus spoke softly but clearly. "I believe Ceps did enough damage the first time around, but who am I to stop you. I will say that he is the most likely to live of those injured. So whatever that information does for you…"

"How many were there?" Tonks demanded.

"We have five," Marcus said with all the calm of a statue. "I am not sure how many got away, but what I would like to know is why he was there and where you were?"

Tonks tried to control her anger before answering. "We need to be alone for that conversation, Marcus."

"I agree," Marcus said. "Let’s go to my office and discuss it. Ceps will be treated well. It looks like they are about to give him some Dreamless Sleep potion while they repair the burns."

Harry watched Tonks and Marcus leave the room while Horace took up a position near the door. Through the gritted teeth and set jaw, Harry thought he saw a twinkle in his eyes. Once the potion had been poured down his throat, Harry started feeling the effects. As his eyes started feeling heavy and his focus drifted, he heard a few voices in the room.

"Was he alone?

"Five is pretty good even if they are newbies."

"Not sure if my guy is going to make it. A lot of damage to his chest."

"Let them all die. Attack one of our own, even the new guy, and you deserve death."

"I wonder how many there were in total."

As Harry drifted off to sleep, he managed to say one word, "Seven." Everyone in the room heard the answer and perked up a little. Horace left his place against the wall intending to join Marcus and Chamel.


The sterile smell assaulted his senses as Harry awoke. Once his eyes opened, he looked to the side of the room where the Death Eaters had been. Only one person remained in bed and he had two Unspeakables guarding him.

"Nearly healed the damage to his ribs," a healer said out loud.

"Too bad," a large grey-cloaked man said. "I was hoping he was going to die. One less shite to worry about."

The healer ignored the comment and moved her wand over the patient. With a soft flash of white, the Death Eater moved and his eyes snapped opened. In a blink of his eyes, Harry watched the Death Eater grab the healer’s wand and wrestle it out of her hand. She fought with him for a few seconds before one of the guards pulled her free.

"Avada Kedavra," said the large Unspeakable. The sickly green light leapt from his wand and struck the Death Eater in the chest ending his life instantly. "Well, that is that then. Didn’t know when to stop I guess."

"Thank you, Thor," the healer thanked. "I shouldn’t have gotten so close. I know better."

"Don’t worry about it, Mimi," Thor waved off the thanks. "It was my pleasure."

Harry looked at the dead young man and felt a sick weight in his stomach. It wasn’t the fact that he saw someone killed that bothered him; it was the fact that it didn’t affect him like the other deaths he had been witness to. He saw the purpose in killing the man. He knew why it happened and the reasons behind it. It hurt him to think it, but Harry looked at the still body and sighed in relief. Another enemy left the ranks of Voldemort for good.

The rear door swung open striking the wall opposite of it as another woman walked in at a hurried pace. "What in the bloody hell is going on in here?"

"Unbunch your knickers, Speers," Thor said. "Bastard got a hold of Mimi’s wand. I had no choice."

"Of all the stupid things," Speers yelled. "Mimi you know better than to get that close. Now I have a dead patient and an Operative going on Administrative Leave pending an investigation. What a buggered evening this is turning out to be."

"Speers," Horace said from the main entrance. "I saw the whole thing. There is no need for an investigation as it was justified. Wouldn’t you agree, Ceps?" Horace turned on his feet to look right at Harry.

Seeing him awake, Mimi grabbed her wand out the dead Death Eater’s hand and rushed to him to check him over. Once the exam was done, the healer stepped back and handed Harry a light yellow potion. "It is for the lingering pain from the burn. You will be tender for a day or so. Get a lot of rest and keep the new skin exposed so it can acclimate to the air. There is no risk of infection now but stay clean all the same. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Harry answered. "And yes, Horace, it was justified. He was going to kill anyone he could."

Horace smirked and returned his wand to its hiding place. "Glad to see you are coming around to our thinking, Ceps. Come, Marcus needs a few words with you before you leave."

Harry sighed and swung his feet off of the bed. He sat up and steadied himself before standing. He swayed and Mimi reached to help him, but Harry waved it off. He fought against the vertigo and forced his mind on the task at hand. As the dizzy feeling passed, Harry took a few tentative steps towards Horace. Once he felt more confident, Harry increased his strides and aimed for the door.

He held his head high as he passed Thor and the other Unspeakable. They nodded to him as he continued by. When he neared Horace, Harry checked for his wand and found it missing. He slowed and looked at the table near his bedside. Seeing the wand he Summoned it into his hand and stowed it in his cloak in one smooth action. "Lead the way, Horace."

"This way, Ceps," Horace spoke calmly but with a slight edge. Once in the hallway, Horace spoke again. "A little theatrical, don’t you think?"

"I am the new guy," Harry reasoned. "I need all I can get to earn their respect. If I need to be a little flashy, so be it. I am sure you can understand that."

Horace snorted once, "That I do, Ceps. Now you had better keep up. If you fall behind, I will have medical take you for another two hours."

Harry quickened his steps to match Horace to avoid learning if the threat was real or not. "I was only in there for two hours?"

"It’s magic for a reason, Ceps. Are you a wizard or a muggle?"

"Depends on the day, Horace. What is going on? Where is Chamel?"

"Waiting for us. You have some questions to answer. I will tell you that the five new…ah, four new prisoners will help your position. Just answer the questions and you can get back home."

Harry tried to settle his mind as they approached Marcus’s office. When the door swung open, Harry entered to find Cal standing in the corner near Marcus and Tonks sitting in a chair. She looked up at Harry and he saw the relief wash over her. She took a deep breath and let it out in a cleansing way.

"I am so glad you are healthy, Ceps," Marcus said as he took his seat motioning for Harry to sit next to Tonks. "We are all here to debrief after the events of tonight. Since Cal has come in at the end, I feel he should be caught up. Would you care to do that, Ceps?"

"Ah, not really."

"I will," Tonks jumped in. "We were at a location, socially, and it was attacked by a group of Death Eaters. I was ordered by Ceps to take those present to a safe location. I did as I was ordered. Shortly after, Ceps arrived at the safe location and I brought him here for treatment."

"Wonderful summation of the events as you know them, Chamel," Marcus gestured to Harry prompting him to fill in the details.

Sighing, Harry gathered his thoughts. "After Chamel left, the wards fell on the place we were at. I attacked three from the start and continued fighting. I beat two more before the last two started using only Unforgivables. I had to defend to stay alive. I heard people arrive and the Death Eaters fired two final spells at me. I stopped the Killing Curse, but a Fire spell made it through. I was injured and left the area. That is what happened."

"The chest guy was killed in an attempt to escape just now," Horace said. "Thor added another to his list, but it was unavoidable. I suggest he be cleared to continue his work."

Marcus put some thought into the matter. "Agreed. We have so few with his skills in the first place. To avoid future situations, such as these, full stasis is to be maintained on all prisoners in the medical room. As for my part, those who arrived at the end were a rather assorted group of people. I believe you know who they were, Ceps?"

"Yes, I know who they were and why they were there," Harry looked to Tonks before returning his gaze to Marcus. "I assume they asked a lot of questions."

"You would be correct. They were the most interesting questions since their answers mattered little to the one asking them." Marcus smiled at Harry as he paused. "I believe he is putting certain things together, Ceps. Damage control may be required in the near future."

"I will see what happens." Harry looked at the floor trying to figure a way out of his current situation. "How did you guys get the Death Eaters with the others there first?"

"I can be quite persuasive, Ceps." Marcus smiled a brightly fake smile. "It was our presence that got the wheels turning if you understand my meaning. My suggestion, use the known facts to your advantage. You are well connected publicly, use that to shield us."

"Yes, Marcus, I will if I have to." Harry looked to Cal who was watching the scene before him. As he looked back to Marcus wearing an anxious expression, Marcus spoke up.

"Everything spoken of here is to be kept here," Marcus gave Cal a pointed look which was understood. "Certain people can put together details to learn things they aren’t meant to know."

Cal spoke for the first time. "I know what you are saying, all of you. I can keep my wonderings private. I will say that I am missing out on the fun though. This makes it two times I wasn’t allowed to play. A lesser man would think that I am being left out for a reason."

"I can tell you that isn’t how it is, Cal," Harry clarified. "This is just my luck at its finest."

"Ten Death Eaters," Cal offered. "Rotten luck at best unless you want them around."

"And I don’t, but there they are all the time." Harry felt his strength waver as the potions he had taken began to fade. Horace had stared at Harry the whole time they had been in the office. Harry felt that he deserved an explanation and gave it directly to Horace. "I wasn’t going to let them destroy that place. I wasn’t going to run. I fought as I have been taught too. I held my own until the end. My focus wavered and I got hurt. I left the instant that I could ensure it wasn’t for nothing. If I had left any sooner, they would have taken their injured and nothing would have been gained for all the risk."

Horace held Harry’s stare before responding. "All things considered, you did an acceptable job tonight. Only next time, do not get hurt and get the last two. An Anti-Apparition ward would have been enough to stop them from escaping."

"I don’t know that spell," Harry replied.

"Something to add to the never-ending list then, Ceps," Horace gritted out. "Perhaps you should apply yourself a little more so you aren’t so helpless in future situations."

Harry pushed down on his anger as it flared. He knew it showed in his eyes as Cal took notice and reacted to it but Horace held his ground. Tonks stood and placed a hand on his shoulder urging him to calm down. With a grunt, Harry stood and left the room with Tonks on his uninjured side.


"Ever the thorn," Marcus said to Horace. "I think he did admirably tonight. You needn’t press him further. Five out of seven, alone, is a wonderful accomplishment."

"He could have done better," Horace defended his comments. "He can be the best if he is pushed to it. I will not let him achieve less than his best. It would be my failure if that happens."

"What of our mission later today?" Cal asked.

"Delayed due to Medical’s orders," Marcus informed Cal. "So far, Ceps has been proving himself in real life situations without the need for a simulated mission."

"Then give us a real mission," Cal suggested. "Ceps seems to hold his own well enough. I am sure we will get some good intel from the four new prisoners."

"We will see, Cal," Marcus offered. "We might be able to give you something good to look into."

"Sounds like something to look forward to." Cal turned and left the room closing the door behind him.

"Held his own against seven Death Eaters. I am most pleased with our selection my dear friend."

"Jump up and down on your own, Marcus. You have always been too easy to please. He nearly died though. That is what worries me the most. He should have been able to stop both spells easily enough."

"Perhaps he overcompensated," Marcus offered. "The Killing Curse is a most intimidating spell to face. He has seen it at work and knows of its abilities. You might need to teach him how to feather his magic when doing two separate spells. You never showed him how to balance the Conjuring and his shields."

"It isn’t like he has limited power and I have to teach him to balance it," Horace defended his teachings. "He can throw magic at both spells and still have some left over. Maybe he was too focused and lost sight of the big picture. Maybe he focused on the Killing Curse and ignored the Fire spell. Either way, he has a long way to go before he is safe out there."

"Oh my paranoid friend," Marcus said with a laugh. "None of us are safe out there, him especially. The fact that he is still with us tells me that he has that ‘something special’ to him. Tell Chamel that they have today off from training. He needs his rest so the skin will heal properly. And you mentioned something about Team Two."

"They heard and saw everything in Medical. Thor wanted to kill all of the Death Eaters for attacking one of our own."

"One group has accepted him already." At Horace’s scowl, Marcus clarified. "One group has showed some acceptance to him being a member of our family. I am quite hopeful for the future."

"You being the optimist, forgive me for not dancing around like an idiot at your prediction."


Harry and Tonks arrived in the entryway, holding their cloaks, and set them on an empty chair before walking to the living room. When they entered, Harry saw Dobby talking with Hermione and Tiki conversing with the elder Grangers.

"Harry," Hermione said happily before her face changed to one of frustration similar to the looks she would give when she wanted to know something and wasn’t getting it. "You have a lot of explaining to do."

"Good to see you too, Hermione," Harry answered before moving into a place across from the Grangers. Tonks took up a spot next to him and smiled at the amazed looks David and Jane gave when they looked for the burns.

"Magic is quite handy when it comes to healing," Tonks offered. "Wouldn’t you agree?" She rubbed Harry’s right arm in a caring way and caught his eye. She sighed when she realized how close he had come to really getting hurt and managed to survive it.

"Harry Potter is better?" Dobby asked as he rushed to Harry’s side pulling up right before he hit him.

"I am better, Dobby," Harry said with a smile. "Thank you for helping me out and everything."

"That is what Dobby does, Harry Potter."

"Harry," Hermione prompted in an impatient way. "How are you? What is going on? Where did you learn all that magic? How are you not expelled? Is my home still there?" Her parents hugged her as she deflated.

"I am fine, but the house is a little banged up," Harry admitted hanging his head. "I am sorry about that but don’t worry. I will get it repaired and have new wards put up. Everything will be as good as new when I am done." His serious smile and contrite manner told them he was determined to carry out his promise. "The Death Eaters attacked you because you are my friend. If you want to distance yourself from me I will understand."

"Harry," Hermione snapped at him. "Shut up. I am not going to distance myself from you for any reason. In case you haven’t figured it out, I would still be on Voldemort’s list even if you weren’t my best friend. I am muggle-born and he hates me for it. Enough of that kind of talk. Now answer my other questions."

"I learned the magic because I have little choice in the matter," Harry explained. "I am fighting for my life here and every spell counts. I wasn’t expelled because the Ministry can’t track me any more. That problem was remedied recently and I am taking advantage of it. I think we are protected here, but I am not positive on that."

"Master James did magic all the time during summers," Tiki said. "Most was mischief magic. Paul tell me about the worst times."

Harry laughed at the images he got in his head of his father causing trouble around the house. "See, you are just like him," Tonks hugged Harry and laughed. "One other thing you got from him besides your hair and good looks."

"We have company, Tonks," Harry chided as he returned the hug happily. "I am really sorry about everything that has happened Mr. and Mrs. Granger."

"Harry," David spoke calmly while holding Jane’s hand in Hermione’s lap. "We talked while you were away. Our daughter was more worried about you than any of the other things. She did go off on some tangent about elf rights or something or other, but I am not sure what that is about."

"Didn’t you listen, dad?" Hermione asked. "I told you all about it one summer."

"Honestly, honey," David tried to smooth things over, "I wasn’t sure what it was about. I have never seen a house elf before. It is kind of hard to understand what is going on without seeing what you are talking about. The elves here seem happy." David pointed to Tiki and Dobby who smiled happily as they moved about the room straightening things or cleaning.

"Well," Hermione backtracked, "Harry treats them like family. Don’t you Harry?"

"I try Hermione, but they resist my every effort." Harry sighed and felt his body weaken even more. Tonks felt his exhaustion and cleared her throat.

"Harry is really tired and needs rest." Tonks stood and helped Harry to his feet. "I need to get him to bed now or he will never go if he gets a second wind."

"You need places to stay," Harry perked up as he thought about his guests. "We have some rooms upstairs. We can show you to them so just follow us if you will."

Harry walked up the stairs with Tonks’ help and found the hallway much longer than it had been. A doorway was where the window used to be. Another complete hallway had materialized in the house and he could see multiple doors leading away from the main corridor. "Tiki?" Harry hesitated in front of the door to his room. "Um, this is our room in case you need us for anything. Unless it has changed too."

"What do you mean, Harry?" Hermione asked.

Tonks answered, "This wasn’t here before. We don’t know where it came from."

Tiki popped into existence before them. "Yes, Harry."

"Tiki, where did this hallway come from?" Harry asked as he visibly leaned on Tonks for support.

"It is the guest wing," Tiki said as if it was common sense. "Harry has guests, Tiki open the guest wing. Did Tiki do something wrong?"

"Oh, no, nothing like that, Tiki," Harry said. "I just didn’t know it was there. Was there a spell or something hiding it?"

"Tiki not sure, Harry. Tiki just allow it to be seen. Rooms all clean and ready for Grangers to choose. Tiki and Dobby clean them tonight."

"Thank you for thinking ahead, Tiki," Harry offered with a smile. "What would I do without you?" Tiki smiled and lowered her head as she mumbled something quietly. Harry was going to ask what she said, but Tonks moved him forward. "Um, right, well pick out what ever rooms you want."

Hermione chose the first one on the left, and her parents chose the first one on the right. The rooms were identical except for their colour scheme and furniture design. There were four rooms on each side of the hallway and a loo was shared between two rooms. Hermione’s room looked like it had been taken right out of Hogwarts. The Granger’s room looked to be more classic and updated with modern touches.

Harry leaned into Tonks both out of weariness and to ask her a question. "Why couldn’t they have just stayed in the two guest rooms near us?"

"Ask Tiki," Tonks suggested since she didn’t know the answer.

Harry asked Tiki and the elf dropped her head and turned red. "Tiki not sure Harry wants answer." At his insisting, Tiki gave him the reason. "Harry and Tonks are noisy at night and the morning. Tiki not sure Harry and Tonks want guests to hear them."

Harry went red from the very honest answer he had received. "Ah, I guess we haven’t been discrete, Nymph. Perhaps we should work on being quieter."

"I think not, Harry," Tonks said with conviction. "We will just have to use Silencing spells on our room. I am not about to stop having fun with you."

Harry was going to correct his point, but Hermione left her room and joined them in the hallway. "Harry, I am not sure if I said this, but thank you for saving us. I don’t think I could have protected my parents for very long. You saved our lives. Thank you." She moved forward and hugged him tightly. Harry returned the hug and ignored the irritated stretching of his skin from the contact.

"I will do what I can to keep you all safe." Harry sighed as Hermione let go. "I am just glad I was there to help. I am the reason you were targeted in the first place." He held up his hand stalling her objection. "You know I am right so don’t bother denying it. I understand how it is and I am not getting down on myself. Tonks has helped me get past that. I accept what is going on and my role in it. Now, get some sleep. We might be gone when you get up, but we will be back."

"We are going to be here," Tonks corrected. "We have all day to rest and relax. You getting hurt changed our plans."

Harry understood Tonks’ meaning and let the subject go. He smiled at Hermione and to her parents who stood in their doorway looking confused. When he turned to go to his room, his legs gave out enough that Tonks had to catch him.

"You’re almost like I normally am, Harry," Tonks joked as she helped Harry into their room. She pulled his ratted shirt off and eyed the new and shiny skin. "A bit fresh but I think I can put up with it for a day or so." She removed the remainder of his street clothes and put him into bed. When she snuggled into his right shoulder, Harry sighed and hugged her to him.

"Thank you for helping out, Nymph." Harry closed his eyes and took in the sensations of her against him after a long and trying day. "I know you didn’t want to leave but if you hadn’t they could have been killed. I can’t let them get hurt because of me. That is one of the promises I made at the beginning of the summer. You allowed me to keep it tonight. I don’t know what I would do without you."

"You would be boring, dull, stuck in at Privet Drive, terrible with women, scared of kissing…"

"I was never scared of kissing," Harry argued weakly. "I was always willing to give it a shot. Then you came along and proved it was as much fun as everyone said it was."

"See, without me you would be completely lost. I am the best thing that has ever happened to you." Tonks smirked as she kissed Harry lightly before putting more into it. As she slowly slid down his body, Tonks smiled her most sexy smile. "Don’t forget to Silence the room, Harry."

Harry enjoyed every second of her attention as he reacted immediately to it. "I thought I would be too tired and hurt for this."

"Who said we were going to shag?" Tonks disappeared under the covers as she offered Harry a little of what to expect.

"Oh, I like that," Harry said before casting a Silencing spell on the room.

Tonks made quick work of Harry as she knew he desperately needed to get some rest. Afterwards, they cuddled up and went to sleep peacefully.


Hermione awoke as her parents entered her room. They tried to be quiet, but they hadn’t been successful in many years. Hermione opened her eyes just enough to see them holding each other and watching her intently. She wondered what they were on about, but as a tear rolled down her mother’s face she knew it was something big.

"Mum?" Hermione asked as she sat up looking worried. She watched both of them as they tried to hide their emotions but failed.

"Oh, don’t mind me, honey," Jane dismissed what Hermione had seen by quickly wiping at her eyes. "It is nothing."

"It is not nothing, mum," Hermione told her defiantly. "You only cry when it is something. What is it? Is Harry alright?" Sudden panic raced through her body as she looked around the room for some indication to her parent’s sadness.

"Oh, Hermione," Jane prefaced. "It is just that we came so close to losing you last night. We came so close to losing our family. It really hit me when I woke up and your father thought it would do me some good seeing that you were fine. Obviously, it didn’t have the intended affect."

"Oh, mum," Hermione said while fighting her own fears from the night before. "I am fine. I am always fine when you are around."

"You give us too much credit, sweetie," David said. "It was Harry who did the most last night. Without him, I don’t know what would have happened."

Hermione took a breath and let it out as she thought about the events of the night before. "I do. We would have been killed as a message to all muggleborns and to Harry especially. It would have crushed him. He may look tough, but he is very fragile emotionally. He has had such a terrible life. He doesn’t know how to deal with some things when they happen."

"He seemed pretty tough last night, dear," Jane reminded. "He took charge of things and saved us. I didn’t see any weakness in him."

"Oh, mum, it was there," Hermione corrected her loving mother as she sat on the bed. "He is really good at hiding it, though. I saw how worried he was about us. I saw how scared he was inside. You have always told me that he seemed reckless with his life when I told you stories. Well, he seems reckless because he has never had someone to worry about him. I was the first person to make him look at things before he jumped in. I may seem like a nag, but I do it to keep him safe. I think he appreciates it not that he will ever admit to it. He is a boy after all and that would be unmanly."

Her father had the decency to nod in agreement with her statement. "Like I said before, almost too smart for your own good."

"Ha," Hermione laughed. "You two are responsible for that." With another deep breath, Hermione focused on the present. "We need to concentrate on the here and now. Don’t worry about what could have happened. We are safe and Harry made that happen. If I worried about every time Harry could have died, I would do nothing else. Being his friend teaches you to think past the dangers and onto the good things in life. Now, I should get up. There is still a lot he hasn’t told me that I want to know."

Seeing the determined look on their daughter’s face, Jane and David stepped back and allowed her to hurry into her attached bathroom. When she returned, Jane told her that they hadn’t seen Harry yet.

Hermione scoured the house looking at everything she could find. She forced herself out of the library using all of her will power to achieve it. She found a happy Hedwig at the top of the tower and gave her an owl treat she had found in the school cloak she was wearing. Her adventures led her to stand before Harry’s door. She knocked and waited for a response. Receiving none, Hermione tried the handle and it turned smoothly unlatching the door.

Ignoring her inner voice cautioning her against entering, Hermione slipped into the room. She found it warm and inviting and quite comfortable. Her eyes looked out of the window and fell on Jules who was trotting around the grounds chasing a small animal in what looked like a game.

When she spied the bed, she drew her wand and aimed it at the woman in it. Hermione had never seen her before and wondered what happened to Tonks. As those thoughts appeared, Hermione put the pieces together. She saw Harry, a rather well put together Harry, sleeping soundly with his arm around the unknown woman.

As her mind worked, Hermione figured that the woman had to be Tonks. For some reason, Tonks looked the way she did. Not knowing what to do, Hermione stood where she was and watched the pair sleep. She felt the heat increase in her face as she noticed the sheet slide down as the couple moved together. Tonks’ shoulder was completely uncovered and Hermione could see that she wasn’t wearing a top. ‘Close my arse, Harry.’


Tonks felt a tickle in her nose and twitched it trying to end the annoyance. Only succeeding in making matters worse, Tonks opened her eyes and rubbed at the offending hair from her head that was disturbing her sleep. She caught sight of Hermione standing perfectly still and wearing a look of amazement. Deciding on having some fun, she acted.

"I do the same thing when he is without a shirt, Hermione," Tonks joked softly hearing a sharp intake of breath in response. "Quite a sight isn’t he?"

"Tonks?" Hermione questioned.

"Yes, who else do you think would be in his bed?" Tonks saw Hermione point at her hair in answer. "Oh, sorry, Harry likes me in my normal form. He says I am pretty even though I don’t see it. I think he is a bit touched in the head if you know what I mean."

With a thought, Tonks reverted back to her normal disguise. Harry held her tightly before groaning and waking up. "Something wrong Harry?"

"Something isn’t right, Nymph,’ Harry said opening his eyes. He looked in Tonks’ face seeing the hair change, and then he looked under the sheets. "Why did you change?"

Tonks tilted her head in Hermione’s direction. Following it, Harry looked to see a familiar blur standing in his room. "Oh, hi Hermione. I guess I didn’t lock the door last night. This is the first time we have had guests so I am sure you can understand." Harry Summoned his glasses into his hand and put them on. When Hermione gasped, Harry scanned the room quickly. "What is it?"

"You did magic without a wand," Hermione pointed out both eager and shocked.

"Oh," Harry acknowledged. "Yeah, I do that sometimes now. Really handy when I don’t have my wand around." Harry saw Hermione working through her surprise and focusing on him and Tonks as a knowing look graced her visage. "Um, Hermione, could you give us a minute to get dressed?"

Hermione smirked as Harry asked for her to leave. While he was talking, Tonks had begun to pull on the sheet exposing his chest as he spoke. "Nymph, stop it. You are incorrigible you know that."

"That wasn’t what you said last night, Harry," Tonks joked as she squinted hungrily at him. "I believe your exact words were…"

"We have company, Nymph," Harry interrupted as he put his hand over her mouth. He looked at Hermione and blushed. "If you could excuse us please. She is dreadful in the morning." Harry made a face as Tonks licked his hand. He wiped it on the sheets giving her a warning look that said he was annoyed and enjoyed every second of her teasing.

"It looks to me that she is rather frisky, not dreadful, in the morning, Harry," Hermione chided before she left the room in a fit of giggles.

"Between the both of you," Harry complained, "I don’t stand a chance. Do I?"

"Not even an inkling, Harry," Tonks said as she slid on top of him and began kissing him passionately. "You are doomed and it is best to accept that fact. Besides, you know that you have to keep that skin exposed today so it heals properly. We are in for a show today I tell you." Harry groaned before flipping Tonks on her back and showing her that even beaten, he still had some fight left in him.


As they walked into the kitchen, the elves hurried about getting brunch step up. The Grangers sat at the table talking about how they were going to fix the house and keep their business running. Hermione watched Harry closely as he held Tonks’ hand until they had to sit down. Tonks and Hermione shared a smile that made Harry wary of their thoughts.

"I will take care of all repairs, David," Harry offered without showing any willingness to accept help or assistance. "It is the least I can do. We can go to Gringotts and arrange it. I have a few other matters to attend to as well."

"We have insurance, Harry," David said. "It is our house in the first place."

"No need," Harry waved off the offer as he took his share of the pancakes and eggs Dobby presented to him. "I have more than enough money to handle the costs. I plan to secure your business as well as you two spend so much time there. I do not want our problems to disrupt your life more than they already have."

Harry paused as he saw Dobby directing his knife and fork to cut up the pancakes in his normal way. The bacon had found a place away from the syrup that poured itself generously onto his plate. Harry made a face that got Tonks laughing.

"Dobby started doing that the second he got here, didn’t you Dobby?" Tonks asked with a smile. Dobby nodded and moved back to the cooker. "Always wanted to do that for Harry at school."

"Odd sort he is," Harry said while looking at Dobby out of the corner of his eye. "Between you and him I will be carted off in months. Mark my words."

Hermione laughed and pointed out that if it hadn’t happened by now it was never going to happen. Her parents joined in the humour while trying to refuse his goodwill, but Harry wasn’t having any of it.

Breakfast finished, Harry gave everyone a tour of the grounds spending a particularly long amount time on the Quidditch pitch. Tonks convinced Harry to fly around on his broom and show the Grangers what he could do. Tonks had fun commenting on his form as he flew without a shirt. His new skin shone in the sun as he exerted himself testing his limits on the broom after his recent medical treatment.

Hermione had to avert her eyes a few times, which Tonks caught, to keep from going bright red. David and Jane were amazed by Harry’s skill and talent. Harry flew by a few times to try and coax Hermione to fly with him, but she was adamantly against the idea. Tonks deferred as well citing her last flight as reason enough to stay on the ground.

As Harry practiced with the snitch, Tonks moved next to Hermione. "So, Hermione, are you having fun?"

"I am enjoying myself," Hermione commented. "You know he is doing this to avoid answering my questions. He is entertaining my parents and hoping I will forget what I want to know."

"Is he really?" Tonks asked while trying too hard to act surprised. "He does have a way about him doesn’t he? Do not press him for answers he may not be able to give you."

"Harry can tell me anything," Hermione said with force. "He can trust me. He has always been able to trust me."

"It has nothing to do with trust, Hermione," Tonks explained. "Some things he can’t tell you or anyone else."

"Can he tell you?" Hermione challenged while staring Tonks down.

"Only the things I already know about. Please, if Harry tells you he can’t say leave it at that. There are some things best left unknown. You have to trust me on that and him when he tells you."

"I will keep it in mind, Tonks," Hermione relented before attacking. "So, what is going on with you and Harry?"

"Harry has been a gentleman since I got to the Dursley’s," Tonks said with a slight smile and a faraway look. "He is the first guy I have been with that has wanted me to be me and not someone else."

"Is that why you looked the way you did this morning?"

"Yes, that is how I really look without any morphing. Harry asked me to show him once and it was the way he reacted that got me. He was so sincere and honest that I started doing it more often. As you could tell, he is used to me being me when we are here."

Hermione thought about what Tonks had said and compared it to the Harry she knew. "That sounds like Harry. Can I assume that you and Harry have been intimate then?"

Tonks smiled widely at her. "You can think whatever you want, Hermione. I am not going to tell you our bedroom secrets." Tonks smirked and cocked her eyebrow at the irritated look Hermione gave her.

"Oh, now I know you have spent too much time with Harry. He can infuriate you and endear himself all at the same time." Hermione sighed and lowered her voice. "I am being serious, how close are you two. I care about him and if he gets hurts because of you…"

Tonks patted her shoulder while answering in complete seriousness. "With my life, I will keep him safe, Hermione. All you need to know is that I care about him more than you can see. In all honesty, how could I not?"

"That is the Harry I know," Hermione said with superiority. "That is his real magic." They laughed together knowing exactly what they were talking about. As Harry made a dangerously fast dive and pulled up right before hitting the ground, Dave and Jane applauded. "And I see that he has entranced my parents as well."

Tonks watched Harry move around the pitch fighting against gravity and the air to reach the snitch. "Looking like that, it is hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t fall under his spell." She watched Hermione look away purposefully from Harry’s body as he flew around. "Enough about my feelings for Harry, what about your feelings for him?"

Hermione shook her head and looked into Tonks’ eyes. "He is my best friend. You could say he is like my brother."

"Ha, you do not look at your brother like that."

Hermione calmed herself before answering as if she was in class. "I am merely observing a person who has many attributes that I find appealing. There is nothing more to it than that. And, I would appreciate it if you left it at that, Tonks. Harry doesn’t need to worry about my intentions towards him. I am the most reliable part of his life and he needs that."

Tonks weighed what Hermione had said before answering. "Actually, Hedwig is the most reliable part of his life. I will give you second place though. I hope to be third, but we both know I like a little chaos now and then. And getting Harry frustrated really gets him going where it counts if you know what I mean."

Before she had a chance to respond, Hermione found Harry landing in front of them. He smiled at her before giving Tonks a longing look that expressed his affection for her. "I am tired now. I guess I’m not one hundred percent yet."

"They told you one to two days at least, Harry." Tonks smiled while messing his hair and hugging his slightly sweaty form. "We should take it easy the rest of the day so you can finish healing."

"Tonks," Harry waved off her concern. "I am fine. Besides, I need to go to Gringotts and arrange things for the Grangers. Your lives don’t need to be disrupted any more than they already have been. The sooner we get it taken care of the sooner you can get back to a normal life. We can leave in half an hour or so?"

"When do you plan to send us back home?" Hermione asked looking at her worried parents.

"After the house has been fixed, the wards repaired and new ones added," Harry said. "Dumbledore will do his thing, but I plan to have the goblins add more protections. I have to keep my friends safe."

Harry led the way back to the house with Tonks keeping the Grangers occupied so Hermione could speak with him. "Harry, I want to know how you can use magic and not get caught. You couldn’t even cast accidental magic and get away with it before."

"They can’t monitor me anymore, Hermione. Like I said before, you might be able to cast magic here and not get into trouble. Go ahead and try if you want to."

Hermione kept asking questions as they walked and received more and more refusals to answer them. Her patience depleted about the same time they entered the house. Harry cleaned up and put on the lightest shirt he had before donning his grey cloak and changing the colour to a deep blue.

When he walked back into the living room, Harry saw Tonks giving Hermione pointers on casting the Fortis Aegis shield. Hermione hadn’t cast the spell yet, but she looked close to trying it. Tonks had overcome Hermione’s normally reserved nature and fear of trouble to get her practicing magic.

As Harry watched, Hermione mimicked Tonks’ wand movements and words exactly. When Hermione had it down, Tonks urged her to try the spell. With David asking to see some real magic again, his daughter did the spell. A light and cloudy grey shield formed quickly but faded almost as fast.

When Harry saw the determined scowl stretch across his best friend’s face, he knew she was going to practice until she got the spell right. He watched her try repeatedly until the shield appeared with a clear grey hue to it. Hermione smiled a satisfied smile as she accepted a hug from her mother in congratulations.

"Well done, Hermione," Harry acknowledged her effort.

"Oh, Harry, you have to teach me the other spells you have learned this summer. I want to know those other shields."

Her joy at learning was exposed for everyone to see. "I might think about it, Hermione," Harry teased. "But you are such a slow learner it might take all summer to teach you the other three shields." Harry’s joking was returned by Hermione in the form of a Stinging hex. Harry reacted with a wandless casting of the Fortis shield stopping the Stinger instantly.

"You know better than to challenge me in learning stuff," Hermione replied. "And how can you do that? It takes years to learn wandless magic even for the most basic spells. I have a book on it at home that I ordered last year."

"Um," Harry thought, "Maybe I don’t read about what I can’t do. I just do it and find out later that I wasn’t supposed to. Sound about right, Tonks?"

"That sounds about right all things considered," Tonks admitted while giving Harry a one-armed hug. "Are you sure you want to go to Gringotts today? Things can wait until tomorrow you know."

"It needs done now so the Grangers can get back to their lives," Harry said. "Before we go I need to make a few things understood. I was not at your house yesterday and neither was Tonks. Let’s say that someone stopped by and warned you. Then you were transported somewhere, don’t give a place, and then you were sent to me. I don’t want people to know I can do magic and I especially don’t want certain people to know I was the one fighting at your house. Any other questions refer them to me or Tonks. Dumbledore will want to know who and what, but he can’t know the answers."

"Harry," Hermione switched into her normal tone. "Dumbledore can help us. He can take care of things like this."

"Like he has done thus far?" Harry asked evenly letting her think about the answer. "I do not have faith that Albus can fix things anymore. Too much has fallen through the cracks and people have died because of it. I will do what I will do, and he can do the same. I can’t afford to rely on him moving forward. I have lost too much by trusting him completely."

"Harry," Hermione tried to reason with him, but Tonks stalled her objections.

"Harry has every right to his opinions about Dumbledore, Hermione," Tonks spoke firmly. "A lot has happened this summer that you don’t know yet and it might be best if you left it that way. I used to trust him like you do, but now I know that he is just a man doing his best. Sometimes, his best isn’t enough considering who we are up against."

"Hermione," Harry interrupted her before she could argue her points. "I learned that I have to do things on my own. I may accept help from others, but it really all comes down to me. I am the one Voldemort wants. It is up to me to survive. Dumbledore can’t be there all the time. Last night should be proof enough of that."

"He is still the Headmaster, Harry. He can do things others can’t. We need to trust him now more than ever."

"Hermione," Harry said sadly. "You have always had authority figures to look up to and trust." Harry smiled at David and Jane. "Your parents are great people and I understand why you trust the Professors too. I have never had someone to believe in like you have. I have always been on my own. Maybe there was a reason I have had to fight for myself since I can remember or maybe it was just my bad luck. Either way, I know I have to do it now to live through this war. I honestly hope you never see things the way I see them. It is a sad way to see the world."

"Harry," Hermione said before her confusion and frustration took over. "What has happened to change you like this?"

"Sirius dying showed me what happens when I leave things for other people to handle. I didn’t know things that I should have known. Everything would have been different if Dumbledore had told me what he should have years ago. I could have lived here my entire life. I could have had a happy childhood."

"Could have had a childhood," Tonks mumbled loud enough to be heard.

"Hermione," Harry faltered and looked at the floor. "I am happy here. For the first time I enjoy summer. I could have had this since they died. I didn’t have to go through everything I did at the Dursleys. One man is responsible for that and I can’t trust him to make the best decisions anymore. How could I?"

With tears in her eyes, Hermione looked away from Harry and saw Tonks crying as well. She saw the hurt in Tonks’ eyes and understood that the woman knew things about Harry’s past that he hadn’t told her. Her parents wore lost looks but they seemed to grasp the meaning of the situation. "I know enough that I guess I have to trust your judgment, Harry. Always know that I will be there for you. I always have."

Harry sighed and smiled at everyone. "I know, ‘Mione, and thank you for that. You have always been the voice of reason trying to stop me from getting into trouble. Been a big failure on the last part, but nobody’s perfect." Harry laughed at the face Hermione made.

Her parents chuckled at their daughter who always strived to be perfect in everything she did. "I am only one woman and you are Ron can be too much some times. My perfection can’t fix the lack of it in you two all the time. I only do my best." Hermione smirked at Harry as he bowed accepting her insult.

"Even knowing our failures you still hang out with us. At some point, it is no longer our fault for being defective." Harry smiled in a childish way as he poked fun at her earning him a smile and a nod of agreement.

"They are such a team," Tonks said clapping her hands together.

"Yes we are," Harry commented. "So, what happened yesterday needs to be kept quiet for now. The result is all that matters at this point. You are safe and I will make sure you are safe when you go back. We are ready to go when you are. David, Jane, would you like to get cloaks to wear so you won’t look out of place quite so much? Don’t worry about the cost," Harry told them as David patted his pockets searching for his wallet.

"You do not need to pay for things we need, Harry," Jane told him as a mother would. "We are fortunate enough to handle our own expenses quite well."

"After today," Harry negotiated, "if you still feel that way, I will accept your money. Now, let’s go." Harry pulled out the ring and tapped it setting their destination for Diagon Alley.

"I have to know how you can do that," Hermione stated giving no chance to avoid it. "You must teach me how."

"All in good time, Hermione, all in good time." Harry smirked and held out the ring for everyone to grab on to. When five people were touching the ring, they disappeared from Potter Estate and reappeared in Diagon Alley where most people would Apparate.

"Alright," Harry prompted as he stowed the ring away. "Madam Malkin’s first, then Gringotts." They hurried to the clothiers with Tonks bringing up the rear. Once inside, Hermione saw the tension in Tonks’ face and hurried her parents along.

Madam Malkin assisted the Grangers in selecting two cloaks made of the finest material in the shop. Harry had insisted that they spare no expense since he was buying. Their protests fell on deaf ears as he busied himself with trying to make Tonks laugh.

Once the robes were fitted and the bill paid with a signature, Harry led them to Gringotts. Only a few people in the Alley had noticed Harry and they let him be since he looked determined to get where he was going. Entering the bank, Harry walked to the nearest station and before he could say anything the goblin signaled the rear door guard.

Harry and his entourage followed the goblin to the doors and they were immediately met by Griphook. "Harry, a pleasure to see you again. The Director wishes to offer his thanks to you for your assistance in the past few weeks. He is in a meeting abroad and that is why he can not give you his thanks personally."

"He is most welcome, Griphook," Harry replied. "I need to arrange a few things and I believe Gringotts is the best place to help me. Is there somewhere we can talk privately?"

Griphook waved them forward and led them down a long hallway and into an elegant meeting room. "What can Gringotts do for you today?"

"I need security added to a house for my friends. They were recently attacked by some Death Eaters and the wards were destroyed. I would like the wards repaired and additional ones added. I am willing to pay for what needs done. The home is the Granger’s residence. They can give you the exact location. Is what I want possible?"

"Harry," Griphook said with a toothy smile. "Anything is possible as long as one is willing to see it done."

"I am determined to see it done, Griphook. What choices are available? Oh, and they have a business that needs the same protections."

Griphook called in a warding expert and they outlined the possibilities for Harry to choose from. Hermione got into the discussion and wanted to know how everything worked. David and Jane simply watched and listened as different safety wards were described and planned. As the list of selected wards grew, David began to add up the costs and convert the figures into pounds.

When a plan had been decided upon, David nearly fell out of his chair at the total he estimated. "Harry, we can not accept this level of charity. If my numbers are correct, the house is barely worth that much. Do all Wizarding people have wards put on their homes?"

Griphook smiled again and answered the question. "Most have basic ones that they attempt to erect themselves. Some have family or friends do them. We have the finest ward experts in the world at our disposal. We have a comprehensive plan and integration strategy for your home and business. Your residence will be as well protected as many old family homes when we are done. It will take about a week for us to finish the work since we have to bring people in to complete the project and to hide our activities from the muggles. We also have to accommodate existing wards that may or may not be in place."

"Then it is settled," Harry announced without concern. "You will begin tomorrow and I only need to know where to sign."

"That is too much," David said and Hermione mirrored him.

"Will I notice the cost considering my finances, Griphook?" Harry asked.

"I doubt that you would, Harry," Griphook answered. "Mr. Potter is quite wealthy. I suggest you accept his kindness as I have yet to see anyone win an argument with him inside these walls."

"Ha, see," Harry said pointing to Griphook. "Listen to the wonderful goblin. He is a very smart person." Harry looked away quickly to avoid seeing the questioning looks the elder Grangers gave him and the contemptuous one from Hermione. "Griphook, can I take care of something else today?"

"What do you need handled, Harry?" Griphook asked.

Harry pulled Griphook over to the side of the room out of hearing range of everyone else. "I need to have my will drawn up. I am not the safest person in the world and I have things that should go to certain people."

Griphook nodded his head and smiled. "Harry, I will draw up the proper documents immediately. Do you know how you want things divided up?"

"Um," Harry thought tapping his head with his right hand. "How much would be a comfortable amount to live a hundred years on?"

"A comfortable amount," Griphook explained, "would be fifteen thousand galleons a year. Five hundred thousand galleons should be enough to live on if it is invested and not be spent frivolously."

Harry debated the situation for a few moments. "Seven hundred thousand for Arthur and Molly Weasley, two hundred thousand for Fred and George Weasley and the percent of their business they gave me, five hundred thousand for Remus Lupin, and split the rest three ways between Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Nymphadora Tonks." Harry thought about the summer and knew that he wanted Tonks taken care of if something would happen. ‘She has helped me so much in the last few weeks. Besides, it is not as if I don’t have enough to go around.’

"What of your property, Harry?" Griphook asked as he finished noting Harry’s requests.

"Oh, yeah," Harry thought. "If they can get onto the property, then they can share it or whatever. I don’t know if they could get back onto the property if I died. I got the impression that those who my parents told couldn’t find it after they died. Something to do with the wards or rather."

"That would not surprise me, Harry," Griphook offered. "An old family like yours would have protections like that on their home. It was quite popular in the fourteen hundreds."

"Oh," Harry added, "and all the books should go to Hermione and Ron should get my brooms. Tonks can have the vehicles and Hagrid can have the griffins if they will take him. The elves can do whatever they want. I am sure Hermione will take care of them no matter what. I can’t think of anything else that needs spelled out."

"Very good, Harry," Griphook said finishing his notes. Business concluded, Harry shook Griphook’s hand and thanked him leaving instructions to notify him when the document was finished. After the two rejoined the group, Harry watched Tonks finish her animated story complete with actions and impersonations.

"Tonks, shall we pay a visit to our friendly troublemakers before leaving. I am sure certain people are looking for Hermione and her family after yesterday. I would hate to leave them wondering for too long."

"Excellent idea, Harry," Tonks said with a warm smile stretching across her face that Hermione saw quite clearly. Griphook escorted the group back to the front of the building. Hermione held back and walked with Harry as they followed Griphook.

"You love her, don’t you?" Hermione asked with her normal all-knowing tone.

"What do you mean?" Harry questioned while looking at Tonks who was talking with Griphook and the Grangers.

"Exactly what I mean," Hermione commented with a smirk. "I didn’t say who, but you looked at her right away. I see how you two are. I know you better than most, Harry. You can’t fool me and you know it."

Harry sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I don’t know what love feels like, Hermione. I never really felt it so I can’t say."

"You have felt it," Hermione told him sternly. "Mrs. Weasley shows you what it feels like. She loves you like her own. Sirius loved you and I know you felt what that was like. That night we saved him from the tower, you knew exactly what it felt like. The more you love someone the more it hurts when that person is taken away. Ginny, me, Ron, and the rest of the Weasleys all love you even if most of them won’t admit it openly. So, back to my question, do you love her?"

"I don’t know, Hermione," Harry answered. "I just don’t know. I like her and I care about her. I want her safe and happy. I have a lot of fun with her and she makes me feel good about a lot of things. What do you think that means?"

"I am not going to tell you, Harry," Hermione shook her head. "This is something you have to figure out for yourself. It will mean more when you do."

Hermione smirked the rest of the way out of Gringotts and down the alley to the Weasley’s store. Harry opened the door and led the way in giving the Grangers a warning not to touch anything for their own safety. The place was busy with kids running around the oddly shaped shelves and displays with their parents chasing after them futilely.

One girl, who was about five years old, came around a display nearly up-ending it and came to a halt in front of Harry. She looked up with her bright smiling face showing the two missing teeth. As she recognized who Harry was, her mouth dropped open and she raised her arm to point at Harry mutely.

Becoming concerned, Harry looked around and asked, "What?" Tonks started laughing as did Hermione and they mimicked the little girl by pointing at Harry with their mouths open. "Nutters, the lot of you."

"You’re…Harry…Potter," the girl stammered barely able to speak.

"Last time I checked, yeah," Harry said feeling overly exposed in the active store. "You know me, but I don’t know you. What’s your name?"

The girl looked around quickly and found her mother running over to her with a wary look on her face. "Krystal, I have told you to stop running off like that. Now, quit bothering these people and stay with me."

"But, mum, it is Harry Potter," Krystal said with the last being whispered in her mother’s ear as she was picked up and held.

"Oh, honey, surely it is just someone who looks…like…him," the mother said drifting off as she looked closer at Harry.

"At least now I know your name, Krystal," Harry commented as he smiled at the mother and daughter. "Good morning," Harry offered his hand to Krystal, who accepted it shyly, and to the mother. "Brilliant store to aid in trouble making, wouldn’t you agree?" Harry watched Krystal smile brightly as her surprise faded, but the mother still seemed shocked at meeting Harry.

"Mr. Potter," the woman said properly. "I would like to thank you for everything you have done. It means a lot to those of us who didn’t agree with the Ministry when Fudge was in charge. It means even more to those who suffered the first time around. I lost much of my family to You-Know-Who."

"Voldemort," Harry said causing the woman to stifle a shriek. "Is nothing but a murderer. Do not fear his name. It only gives him more power over you if you do. He is a man like anyone else only he kills for fun." Harry relaxed his face when he saw the little girl looking scared. "Dragons are scarier than Voldemort, Krystal. I really know they are."

Krystal’s fear seemed to fade as she looked at Harry. "That’s ‘cus you have seen both, right?"

"Yup, and dragons are way more scary." Harry laughed with the little girl as she believed him. "Have a good day, Krystal."

Harry walked deeper into the store leaving a shocked mother and a happy kid behind. Tonks followed Harry closely as did the Grangers, but Hermione stayed behind.

"Make your own choices about what you are going to be afraid of, Krystal," Hermione told her. "That is what Harry has done his entire life. Enjoy your summer." Hermione hurried to catch up to Harry leaving the mother to wander out of the store both confused and thoughtful.

Harry moved through the people catching sight of a few he knew by face from school. They waved and watched him as he searched for the twins. When Harry found Fred emerging from the rear storeroom carrying a box of Canary Crèmes, he waved only to be greeted in a much different way.

"Harry!" Fred yelled drawing the attention of many of the patrons. Fred ignored the people staring at him and Harry and searched out for the people he had been told to look for. He saw Tonks with her wand out scanning the crowd, two adults who looked familiar, and finally Hermione pushing her way through some customers. "Thank Merlin."

George hurried out of the backroom and saw the group everyone was looking at. "Harry, Hermione, and you others," he said waving at them. "Join us in the back for a moment."

Fred took up damage control and made an announcement. "Yes, it is The Harry Potter. Now, we have business to discuss with him. Maybe a few more Ministries to topple or another Dark Lord to insult. Please continue with your buying ways and maybe he will give a kiss to the female who buys the most stuff."

Harry’s scowl was interrupted when Tonks pushed him forward and into George who yanked him behind the curtain and motioned for the others to follow. Once the group had reassembled in the rather empty office the twins shared, Harry voiced his question. "What in the bloody hell was that all about?"

Fred answered the question. "He puts the Ministry on its head and he asks what is going on. Harry, you might be a hero, but you sure are thick. I have a better question, what happened last night?" Fred looked at Hermione when he asked the question.

"We were at home when someone told us to leave," Hermione explained. "We got what we could and left. We were taken somewhere, and then Harry came to get us. I can’t tell you who helped us or where we were taken, but I can tell you that we are safe and staying with Harry now." Her ending tone stopped the twins from pressing her further. "Is the house alright?"

Fred sighed before answering. "Bill said the house looks a little rough, but they are fixing that today. They should be done with the repairs soon and then start on the wards. Dumbledore has been looking for all of you. ‘People’ are worried."

"Good for them," Harry said with a smirk. "Everyone is fine and we are all perfectly safe. Tell Dumbledore to hurry up with his wards. I have Gringotts scheduled to begin work as soon as they have the people ready."

"What do you mean," George asked.

"Gringotts is putting up wards on the Granger’s house and business," Harry said. "I don’t want Dumbledore messing about while the goblins are securing the home. This has nothing to do with him so he should stay out of it."

The twins watched as they saw the same Harry who came to the Order meetings telling them what to do. "I will relay the message, Harry," Fred offered. "It is good to see you again, and we are all happy to see our favorite bookworm safe and sound."

Hermione stared at Fred until George made his comment. "Yes, Ron will be most happy to know you are still in one piece." The twins reveled in watching Hermione close her eyes and fight down whatever emotion she was battling. "And you must be Hermione’s parents; pleasure to meet you."

Fred shook their hands after George and inclined his head towards Hermione. "Want to have fun with your perfect daughter, mention our git of a brother, Ron. She is most expressive when you do."

Hermione grabbed a wand off the lone worktable in the room and threw it at George. It hit him in the forehead and green boils popped into existence and gave off a nasty hissing sound accompanied by a rather disgusting odor.

"Fred, we need to add another warning on this new version of the wand," George said through gritted teeth. "It burns if it is thrown at someone. Could you counter it, please?"

Fred noted the warning in a notebook he pulled from his pocket. "In a moment, brother. We will let others know that you are in good health, Hermione. We will also forward your suggestion to Dumbledore, Harry."

"Thank you," Harry said as Hermione whispered something in Fred’s ear.

"Also," Fred added, "you are invited to the Burrow on Sunday for lunch. Please bring whoever you would like to. It is a family dinner that mum wanted to have last week. She threatened everyone to invite you next time we see you or she wouldn’t feed us for a month."

Harry watched as Fred imitated his mother. "She never mentioned it to me?"

"A bit dodgy, her mind is," Fred explained shaking his head. "I think Ginny has finally broken her shaky grasp on reality."

"More likely," Harry commented, "that you guys went too far and she snapped."

"That hurts, Harry," George said after reversing the boils on his head. "You think so little of us by saying that. We always thought you were on our side, an ally in the fight against rules, but now we see where your loyalties lie."

"Sad, very sad," Fred shook his head dismally. "So young too. Oh well, we have a shop full of people to corrupt so we best get back to it."

Fred left the room for the shop area as George motioned to the rear of the store. "We have a door in the back in case the authorities come for us."

When everyone moved towards the door, Harry asked for some Extendable Ears. He received a small box full of them without a hesitation from George. Once in the rear alley, Harry held out the portkey and took the group back to Potter Estate.


Saturday was spent with Harry teaching Hermione how to cast the other shields. She couldn’t master the Imprimis or Patrocinor shields, but she became more consistent with the Fortis Aegis. She also had the beginnings of a solid Absolvo shield much to Harry’s happiness. He showed her how to do the Bone Shattering and Breaking spells, and Harry told her how he thought about magic and casting it.

Hermione spent most of the evening assimilating Harry’s views of magic with her own in an attempt to improve her abilities. She stated her summer goal was to perform one wandless spell before returning to Hogwarts.

Night fell with Hermione mumbling in her sleep about magic and will power. The Grangers slept soundly with the thought of being safe at home in the near future. Harry and Tonks drifted off after touching and kissing each other long into the night.


Sunday dawned bright before the clouds moved in around nine ending the sunny day and leaving it overcast. Harry, again, worked with Hermione trying to teach her how to perform the spells she was working on and channeling her magic into them. They discovered that anger wasn’t a good focus for her magic. Her spells became unpredictable and didn’t work right when she used anger to cast them.

After two hours of trying different things, they found that she got the best results when she focused on her care for others. Harry jokingly dubbed it her "Saving People" thing or her "S.P.E.W." focus. To his surprise, Hermione accepted his opinion about it and worked even harder at using it to improve her magic.

Hermione accepted the fact that she couldn’t compete with Harry’s raw power or intent within a few demonstrations of the spells. She knew that knowledge and precision would be her strengths, and she should focus on those as much as she could. As the afternoon approached, Harry watched Hermione successfully cast the Absolvo shield for the first time. It held up against two of Harry’s Stunners before collapsing under the third.

"Great job, Hermione," Harry congratulated her and gave her a quick hug.

Her parents and Tonks did the same and she beamed with pride. When they left the training room, Hermione moved close to Harry.

"Thanks for holding back, Harry," Hermione said. "I know it helps get my confidence up so I will do better. You are a great teacher."

"What ever do you mean?" Harry asked acting as if he didn’t know what she was saying.

"Please, Harry," Hermione chided him. "I have felt the amount of magic you can put into a spell. I was there Thursday night when you attacked those first three. We all felt it. Besides, you did the same thing in the D.A. when you were helping the younger students or those who weren’t very good. I know how you think, Harry. You can’t pull one over on me."

Harry only smirked in response. "I know how you think too, Hermione. You can’t pull one over on me either."

Much to the elves disappointment, Harry told them that they were going away for lunch and maybe dinner as well. Harry tapped the ring and created a portkey to the Burrow and held it out for everyone to grab onto. Yet again everyone was transported, as one, to their destination.

They appeared in the backyard of the Burrow to find it patiently waiting for them in the silence of the country. Harry looked around while the group still circled the ring but wasn’t touching it. He tapped the ring creating a return trip, before they needed it, and tucked it away in his cloak. "Shall we see if anyone is home?"

Harry led the way to the house with Hermione next to him, the Grangers behind them, and Tonks bringing up the rear as usual. Harry knocked on the back door and waited. He heard nothing inside until the door swung open to reveal Molly smiling at him.

"Harry," she said louder than necessary and wrapped him in a fierce hug which he returned. Harry took as deep a breath as he could taking in the smell of the Burrow and the cooking meal. "Hermione!" Harry moved back and watched as Hermione got the same treatment but it lasted a little longer as he saw Molly sigh a few times before releasing her. The Grangers were greeted pleasantly before Tonks was met with a firm look.

"Tonks," Molly said. "Everything alright then?"

"Everything is smashing, Molly," Tonks replied brightly giving her a smirk and nodded in Harry’s direction.

"Everything is fine, Molly," Harry said patting the small of Tonks’ back. "I am great, actually."

"If you are sure, Harry, dear?" Molly asked before motioning them inside. "We were so happy to hear that you were safe after such a frightening experience, Hermione. Who warned you?"

"Someone, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione answered giving away nothing. "Let us leave it at that, please. It all worked out in the end."

"Quite," Molly relented regrettably. "Well, lunch isn’t ready yet so let’s move into the living room until then."

When they entered the living room, Harry jumped as many people shouted "Surprise" and "Happy Birthday" to him. The Weasley’s minus Percy, Remus, Luna and Odd, Hagrid, Minerva, and Dumbledore were arranged around the room in various ways. As he came to understand the situation, Harry slid his partially exposed wand back into its holster.

"What is this?" Harry asked.

"Can’t pull one over on you, huh?" Hermione sung in his ear before moving off to join the others.

"This is for me?" Harry asked not sure how to handle the attention.

"Who else’s birthday is it today?" Ron asked.

"Neville’s," Harry answered quickly buying himself more time to figure out what was going on.

"Yeah, well," Ron replied waving his hand. "You are here and Neville isn’t. So happy birthday all the same, Harry."

Everyone moved around offering Harry their well wishes and handing him presents in varying sizes. Hagrid’s moved on its own giving Harry pause before asking if it would hurt anyone.

"Nah, it ain’t gonna hurt no one," Hagrid explained. "It’s a book you need this ‘ear. We movin’ on ter more interestin’ creatures. It’s your NEWT ‘ear an all you know."

"Thanks, Hagrid," Harry said moving the book away from the rest of the presents out of fear it would eat them or something similar. Ginny gave Harry a kiss on the cheek when she handed him her present. The uproar from the Weasley brothers gave her a chance to ask him how Tonks was.

"Brilliant," Harry returned with a wide smile. As he was jumped on by the twins and Ron, Dumbledore pulled Tonks to the side and away from the bulk of the noise. Harry fought his way out of the Weasley pile in time to join the pair before Tonks had answered. "Something you wanted to ask me, Professor?"

"I merely wanted to know how the Grangers came into your company, Harry," Albus asked.

"Then," Harry prompted moving in front of Tonks, "Ask me." Albus inclined his ghostly white eyebrows implying the question. "I was alerted to what happened at their home and I met them where they were moved to. They joined me at home that very night. I will not explain it further."

Albus slowly nodded his head once accepting the answer before asking another question. "Harry, we were at the Grangers repairing the damage and putting up wards yesterday evening when a rather determined group of people and goblins showed up. I won’t bore you with the details but sufficed to say we were told to leave. Did you have anything to do with that?"

Harry smiled and put on a look of confused thought moving his head side-to-side for a few moments. "I might remember something. Oh, yeah, I hired them to secure the residence. I will not have my friends in any greater risk than they already are. I was told that it would take a week or so to complete the work."

Albus couldn’t help but show his surprise. "A week for wards on a home. My dear boy, what wards are they putting on the house?"

"I left off the Muggle-Repelling and Obscuring wards, but I think I selected the rest that were offered," Harry watched as the room reacted to his statements. Bill and Albus were the most reactive.

"Is that why I was notified yesterday that my security improvement work at Gringotts was being delayed?" Bill asked. "My whole team was told to be at work at seven tomorrow evening for night work. We are going to be at the Grangers?"

"It would be my guess," Harry offered. "Do a good job. Three lives depend on it." Harry looked at Albus before turning back to Remus and Minerva whose presents hung limply in their hands.

"Harry," Albus interjected. "Perhaps we can speak later tonight about some things I need your assistance with."

Without looking back, Harry answered. "Maybe, if there is time."

Remus hugged Harry and slipped the present into his hand. "Open it when you are alone, Harry. Do not let Molly see it."

"Okay," Harry whispered back. "If you want, you can come back with us tonight. You said you wanted to talk about something."

"If you will have me, I would love to," Remus accepted.

"Harry," Minerva held out his present. It was a finely wrapped item in the shape of a book. "Not to discourage your hopes at something else, but I think you should give this some serious thought." Minerva moved to the side and gave Tonks a penetrating stare.

"Minerva," Tonks said brightly, "been planning on enjoying yourself today?"

"Yes, I have, Tonks," Minerva answered sliding her eyes to Harry for a second.

"I believe Molly could help you with that," Tonks hinted before moving back to Harry and his friends as they settled on the couch and began talking about many things.

Molly saw the interaction and pulled Minerva into the kitchen for a chat. Jane followed the women for the simple fact that she knew they had insight into what was going on in their world that Hermione and Harry might not. Arthur accosted David as soon as it was possible and led him into the back shed for explanations about muggle things and how they worked.

Harry and his friends talked about anything that came up. The twins grilled him on who his girlfriend was and pressed Tonks and Ginny for the information. They tried to get Hermione to tell them, but she quickly ended their hopes at learning anything from her with threats of repeating things Angelina, Alicia, and Katie might have told her.

Luna and Odd left before lunch saying that they had plans to search for some unknown creature in the highlands later that day and needed to get ready. Hagrid wished Harry a good birthday and left, via a portkey Dumbledore had created, to feed his variety of animals.

Molly announced lunch and they found a table loaded with food waiting for them. Harry was placed at the head as the honoured guest and his friends filled in around him. The meal was very filling and left Harry feeling way too full to do much more than settle back into his place on the couch.

When the food had been digested enough to allow movement, Ron suggested a game of Quidditch. Having planned on it, Harry pulled out his shrunken broom and remembered just in time to let Tonks enlarge it back to normal. The younger players decided to take on the older ones splitting up the twins as Remus joined the older side. With the game in full swing, Harry flew against Charlie for the snitch.

Due to his recent increase in mass, Harry was able to try different moves that he never could before. When Charlie saw the snitch and went after it, Harry would block him or physically fly him off course. Charlie was instructing Harry how to use his body from the Seeker position as the game progressed. Ginny scored enough goals against Bill to keep her team in the game as Remus and Fred attacked Ron with joy.

It was nearing dinner time when Harry had enough teaching and went after the snitch wearing a serious look on his face that surprised even Charlie. They both saw the golden ball flitting on the far side of the pitch and flew after it. Charlie knew he couldn’t out fly Harry on a Firebolt so he used every non-lethal trick he knew to keep even with Harry. As the battle soared across the pitch, everyone watched eagerly.

Charlie would grab Harry’s arm and he would fight it off. Charlie would kick at his broom and Harry would fly through it. As they came even with the slightly battered snitch, Charlie reached for it as it turned in his favour. Harry knew he was out of position and had little choice but to fight it out. He brought his left elbow down on the inside of Charlie’s right arm and tucked it in holding Charlie away from the snitch.

Removing Charlie’s advantage of positioning, Harry reached out with his right hand and fought against Charlie’s left. The tug-of-war continued until Harry leaned as far forward as he could and grasped the golden ball tightly in his hand. Charlie’s free hand came around Harry’s a second later. Ending the game, Harry untangled his left arm and pumped his right in the air showing off the snitch.

Cheers went up and the teams landed nursing their wounds from the hard-fought game. "You cheated, Harry," Hermione scolded him.

"No, he didn’t, Hermione," Charlie corrected. "He won. It is only cheating if you get caught and I would have done the same thing. It is fair if both players play the same way. Any professional game would have been worse than that." Harry smiled and accepted the victory. Charlie took a lot of ribbing at the hands of his brothers for losing to someone years younger than him.

"Harry is just a better player than I am," Charlie admitted after letting his siblings get their shots at him. "He will make a challenging threat this year and next at Hogwarts. If he can use his size and speed to their fullest, he should make a pro team after he graduates."

"There you go, Harry," Ron yelled, "a pro team. Maybe you could get on the Cannons and give them a winning season."

"Or he could take any other team to the Quidditch Cup and win it," The twins chimed in unison.

"I would be lucky to make the tryouts," Harry said getting a reproachful stare from Hermione, Ginny, Tonks, and the males Weasleys.

Minerva cleared her throat. "You had better do better than that, Mr. Potter. I expect more from my Gryffindors." She moved back to the house with Jane and Molly at her sides.

Dinner was served and consumed in standard Weasley-fashion. As the meal ended, Dumbledore held Harry back and asked him about what happened at the Grangers and with the goblins.

"You couldn’t keep me safe let alone my friends," Harry fumed. "You bet your arse I asked the goblins for help. Their whole job is based on keeping things safe. If I have to have them ward all of my friends’ homes, then so be it. I have the money to do so and keeping them safe is more important than some gold."

"I do not disagree, Harry," Albus spoke quietly. "But bringing in people we do not know if we can trust is not the best option. We could have managed the same level of protections."

"Yeah," Harry snapped. "In how many months? You had all year to arrange for her safety and you did what? A couple wards or something. I want the whole thing done soon. Gringotts can do that and I trust Ragnok and Griphook to get it done. They have yet to fail me, which is something I can’t say about you."

"I know I have failed you, Harry," Albus conceded. "I was hoping I could prove myself to you. We need to work together to beat Voldemort. This animosity between us only helps him toward victory."

"Your idleness has helped him to victory," Harry challenged. "Not my desire to protect me and those I care about. You want to prove yourself to me, start reducing the number of Death Eaters out there. Show them that Voldemort leads them to prison or worse. You can’t have a clean war and your hope of it should have died the first time around. I can’t, I won’t let another child become like me just to chase some pipe dream you have."

"Do you suggest we kill his followers, Harry?"

"I suggest we fight fire with fire, Albus." Harry stared down his headmaster. "Only because I got Fudge out is the Ministry doing anything positive in this war. Why is that? Why must I be the one to do this?"

Albus sighed, removed his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. "Harry, I am an old man. I won’t be here forever, quite the contrary. You have so many abilities that you haven’t even begun to tap into. You need all of your faculties to win this war and I have tried to help you develop them."

"Has all this been just one long lesson?" Harry demanded loud enough that the noise in the living room died away instantly.

"At times," Albus said holding his head high, "I have left clues for you and your friends to find and follow. It was the end of your first year when you did something I didn’t plan on. Your second year was more of the same with you getting too involved. Third year was one thing after another. Forth year was out of my hands for the most part and last year was one bad decision after another. In short, I am here with my hat in my hands asking for you to work with me."

"Why should I?" Harry asked.

"You can make things happen just like I can," Albus offered. "Together, we can make them happen with little effort or chance for failure. Fudge, Amelia, Gringotts, and the Grangers are things you have done with little or no help from me. We might be able to really disrupt Voldemort’s plans if we work together."

"If you remove his financial support and those willing to follow him you can disrupt his plans." Harry glared at Albus only with less intensity than before. "If you want my help, then start working at ending his chances for success. We both know Azkaban has to be on his list as are the Weasleys and my other friends. Once Griphook is done with Hermione’s house, they are coming here if the Weasleys will let them."

"We have strengthened the wards here for a long time, Harry," Albus said with all honesty. "It is a known fact that the Weasleys support you and you visit them. This was the biggest target aside from you and Hogwarts that we could determine. I am confident that they are safe here as are the Weasleys."

"I am sure Bill spent a lot of time on the wards here," Harry spoke in a slightly questioning way.

"I believe he did, Harry," Albus confirmed. "I spent many hours here as well. The fact that you are here should be proof enough that we are content with your safety."

Harry waved off Dumbledore’s suggestion. "I am safe because I think I am safe. Safety is an illusion if you are living in fear, Albus. I do not live in fear therefore I am safe." Harry sighed and felt tired. "Enough of this discussion. I am going back to my friends and enjoy their company."

"Before you go, Harry," Albus stalled. "How did the Grangers end up in your care?"

"I was notified that they had been attacked and were being protected somewhere," Harry stated. He saw Albus show he wanted more of an answer, but he resisted.

"Harry, there were people at their house that normally do not involve themselves in things like this. Could you explain that?" Albus asked.

"I have friends and allies outside of Hogwarts, Professor," Harry said with a knowing smirk. He left the room leaving a contemplative man to his musings and found the occupants of the living room speaking in hushed tones. Soon the conversation picked up and the joyous mood returned. Albus left shortly after his conversation with Harry. Minerva followed half an hour later citing the time.

As the night grew late, Harry looked at the clock in the room. Most of the arms pointed to "Home." Percy’s was pointing at "Lost" leaving an empty feeling in Harry. He settled into a more observant role and watched everyone talking and playing around. The twins never let up in their quest to have fun. Anyone could be a victim at any time although Molly was always the safest person in the room.

Tonks checked the time and sighed while giving Harry a look. "It is getting late and we should get back."

Harry nodded and found Remus looking at him hopefully. Harry smiled and waved him over. "I guess we should be going then. Thank you, all, for such a great day. It is the first birthday party I can remember having." Harry saw the saddened looks on everyone’s faces. "I will never forget today."

"You going to stop by soon, mate," Ron asked.

"Sure," Harry offered before adding, "or you could come to me. Maybe we will try that next time."

Hugs all around led to Harry, Tonks, the Grangers, and Remus walking into the field behind the Burrow. Once they were away from the house, Harry gestured to Tonks. She waved her wand over everyone and found a Tracking charm on Hermione and Jane.

"Determined old codger, isn’t he?" Tonks quipped as she countered the charms. "Much better, Harry."

"Wonderful," Harry commented. "Remus, can I trust you?"

"What?" Remus asked shocked that Harry would question his loyalty. "Of course you can trust me."

"Nothing you see, hear, and learn can be told to another person without my express permission. Do you understand?"

"Of course, but I am not sure what I will see, hear, or learn that would cause you to act like this."

Harry pulled out his wand and moved it over Remus giving him the location of his home. Remus held his tongue before commenting on Harry’s use of magic. As the information flooded into his mind, Remus’s eyes widened. "Well, now I know some of what I wanted to tell you. Every time I was near you I felt something itching to get out, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was. Now, I know or rather remember again."

Harry smiled at Remus and pulled out the portkey. He smirked and tapped it causing it to glow blue for a second. Remus’s shocked look was what Harry was waiting for. "That is nothing, Remus. Grab on, next stop Potter Estate."

The group of six touched the ring and were whisked away in the blink of an eye.


My thanks to fanfic_lover38 for answering a question I had about something dealt with in this chapter. He allowed this to be written faster than it would have been otherwise.

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