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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

9. Friction

                      The morning dawned and the sun from the previous day was no where to be seen. Clouds had formed overnight and the day looked to be dreary and very London-like. Moody eyed the blur as he picked up movement. Tonks left the room first and went to the loo. Moody averted his eye back to the blur knowing that if Harry was to sneak out, it would be when others were occupied elsewhere.

He watched and waited and saw nothing. Tonks returned to the room and shortly afterwards, Harry left for the loo. Moody was becoming confused as he witnessed normal activities for people getting ready for a normal day. He knew that Harry was supposed to stay in the house unless Dumbledore expressly authorized otherwise. "Pretty much guarantees that the boy will be out and about all day just to spite Albus. It has been too long since he was young to understand the mind of a teenager. And this one is far from being just a teenager."

Shortly after Harry returned to the room, both left the room and made their way down to the kitchen. The only unusual thing Moody could see was that they were both wearing cloaks. He knew from overhearing past discussions that the Dursleys would not approve of that clothing choice. He watched the muggles take notice of the wizards and refuse to speak to them. He watched Harry serve Tonks and himself food from the cooker.

At ten of the hour, Moody moved to the back garden of the property while keeping his eye firmly on Harry and Tonks. He stood, covered by his invisibility cloak, and waited. They cleared away their plates and exited the house through the back door. Moody was about to remove the cloak when Harry shouted ‘danger’ causing Tonks to dive for cover and draw her wand.

Moody pulled the cloak off trying to avoid a mess of magic in a muggle neighborhood while raising his wand just in case spells flew. He turned to Tonks who had crouched in a defensive position and was about to cast a spell at him when a wand point stabbed him in the neck.

"Drop it or you lose your head!" Growled a fierce voice.

"Potter?" Moody queried not liking a wand planted firmly in his carotid artery.

"Moody," Harry replied not lowering his wand. "Drop it or you will lose your head."

Moody’s magical eye turned and fixated on Harry. Moody was surprised to see grim determination on the face of the teenager who was ready to kill him. "I am on your side, Potter."

"Excuse me if I don’t blindly believe that," Harry spoke evenly not budging an inch. "Drop your wand. I will not ask you again."

"Alastor, please drop your wand," Tonks requested. "Harry is not joking around here."

"As if one could mistake the wand in my neck as a joke," Moody commented gruffly. "Fine." Moody dropped his wand and kept his eye on Harry.

"Tonks, pick it up and move away," Harry spoke like he had been in this situation before. Tonks carried out his request and stood near the house with her wand held at her side. "Prove you are you."

Moody’s mouth curled into a smile. "Now you are talking my language, Potter. Never trust anyone until you know who they are. Even then, don’t trust them much."

"Prove you are you," Harry said increasing the pressure on Moody’s neck.

Moody saw the intent in Harry’s eyes. The young man was serious and he was preparing to cast a spell. Any doubt in his mind was wiped away as Harry’s wand started to glow with a faint pinkish hue. "Crouch Junior had me locked up in my own bloody trunk for an entire year. Most embarrassed I have ever been in my life."

The hue remained, but Moody saw Harry’s mood shift slightly. The wand was pulled away slowly and Harry took a few steps back to join Tonks at a safe distance. Only then did Harry lower his wand to a safe but ready position.

"You use those kinds of instincts and you will make it out of this war, Potter."

"Do that again and you won’t, Moody." Harry had maintained eye contact from the beginning of the exchange until after his warning to Moody.

"That was an impressive display, Potter," Moody complimented. "Where did you learn all that?"

Harry seemed to think something over before answering. "Not from Dumbledore or the Order. After awhile, you pick up a few things. Now, why are you here? Checking up on me?"

Moody eyed Harry closely and read the body language. ‘Ready for a fight and willing to get into one, I like it.’

"He is checking up on me I believe," Tonks said. "You are aren’t you?"

"Yes, Tonks, I am," Moody admitted. "I have a few questions and I need them answered to my satisfaction or I will have to go back to Albus with my concerns."

"I won’t promise answers, but I will try to give them," Tonks relented.

"What is that Obscuring spell?" Alastor began. "Where are you going when you shouldn’t be? What are you doing in his room?"

"Do not speak of me in the third person while I am standing here," Harry stated forcefully earning him a look from both of Moody’s eyes.

"First off, it is an Obscuring spell that has been tweaked a little. Secondly, we are going where Harry wants to go and that is not for you to concern yourself with as I am the one guarding him. Lastly, none of your business."

"You know that isn’t good enough, Tonks," Moody chastised the young woman. "You know Dumbledore’s standing orders in regards to Harry’s movements and it is my business. What is going on?"

"If Dumbledore has a problem with ‘my’ movements, then he can come down here and talk to ‘me’ about it." Harry took a breath and calmed himself before continuing. "And it isn’t your business. I am safe, aren’t I? That is the scope of your business, period."

"It doesn’t work like that and you know it, Potter," Moody said slowly in a teacher-like way. "If you won’t tell me, then I will have to speak to Albus about this. He needs to know when things out of the ordinary happen."

Harry sighed and forced more calm through his body. "Tonks stays in my room during the night. She has since nearly the start of summer. It is the only way to protect me from the Dursleys and the Death Eaters."

Moody watched both Tonks and Harry and neither moved nor spoke. "Getting a little too close, Tonks?"

"Like I said, it is none of your business, Alastor," Tonks said.

Moody wasn’t positive about his theories, but he had a good idea what was going on. "And if I mention this to Albus…?"

"Nothing good would come from it," Harry answered the open statement with firm resolve keeping his wand in a ready position.

Moody looked at both of them again and nodded curtly knowing this wasn’t the place to press for answers. "I believe that to be true, Potter. Off the record, I think Albus needs to reassess his stance on your protection for everyone’s sake. If Sunday was any indication of the future, I hope he learns quickly."

"Then you are more optimistic than I," Harry replied.

"Alastor," Tonks spoke up. "We are going where we are going and that is that. If you are going to tell Albus, then tell him. Harry is going to live his life on his own terms."

"I can see that," Moody said while looking at Harry who still remained prepared for a fight. "If you will?" Moody held his hand out for his wand.

Tonks returned the wand and waited for Alastor to leave. With a curt nod, a smirk, and a swirl of his invisibility cloak, Alastor Disapparated with a soft pop.


"Well, that went smashingly," Harry said dryly. "Now if Voldemort stops by the day will be complete."

"Re-center yourself then we can leave. Do not let this bother you today. It is minor and nothing concrete was said or done."

Harry did as Tonks asked. He spent a few minutes working through the frustration of having Moody hint at certain things. His anger at Dumbledore was more generalized in reference to his situation than anything specific. Once Harry was done, they Apparated to the team room and prepared for another day.


Thursday was more intensive teamwork training and Harry’s new found confidence had made improvements in every attempt he made on each mission. Gone was the confusion and worry of the previous days of training. Harry took things as they came and did his best. Sometimes he failed and his team was killed off in a flurry of spells, but more often than not Team 3 held their own and accomplished the mission.

A few times, Horace had to add new challenges to the preset missions to increase the risks and dangers. Harry’s mood seemed lighter and more stable to everyone who dealt with him that day.

When a mission could be thought out, Harry tried to do it. He would ask for advice and suggestions, but ultimately he made a decision and the team worked it out. A few times Harry changed his plan when things didn’t work out. Of those times, only one failed in defeat.


"What in the bloody hell happened to you, Ceps?" Horace growled.

"What do you mean?" Harry returned in kind.

"I mean," Horace began an animated reply, "what happened? You aren’t the same person who was here yesterday. Something big changed. You are making tough choices and getting the job done. You are looking like you do when you are fighting alone. Right now, you aren’t looking like a big waste of my time. Imagine my surprise."

"An important question was answered yesterday," Harry said. "That is all."

"Any more important questions needing answered?" Horace asked hopefully.

"Not right now."

"If there are any," Horace offered, "let me know. This kind of improvement is impressive, especially at this level."

"If I didn’t know any better, I would say that you just complimented me," Harry spoke evenly.

"Ha, you know me better than that, Ceps," Horace said while walking away.

"Yes, I do."


                      When Harry got home that night, he had many owls waiting for him. Hedwig was not impressed with the situation at all. The four owls were jockeying for first position in line. Harry chose the smallest owl, Pig, who he had to grab out of the air.

"Pig, stop it," Harry yelled as he managed to grab the bird firmly but soft enough not to hurt it." Harry opened the attachment and found two letters inside.

What is going on? Why is Loony asking me questions about last year?
You have got to tell me, mate.
Hope you are okay.

"Well, Ron is confused," Harry said tossing the letter to Tonks.

"You could have given him notice, you know."

"That wouldn’t be as much fun, now would it?"

I hope you are doing well. How is Tonks?
What have you gotten yourself into? Luna is asking us some pretty interesting questions. You wouldn’t be behind them, would you?
I hope you know what you are doing. I can read between the lines unlike others.

"Ginny has it figured out at least."

"She is a smart girl you know," Tonks replied.

"Ginny is a mix of the Twins, her mum, and Bill. She isn’t someone I want on my bad side."

"Smart plan," Tonks added. "Who are the others from?"

"Dean, Neville, and another kid who had the some of the same problems I had with a certain person."

"What do they want from you?"

"To know whether or not this is for real," Harry said. "They want to know if it is okay to talk about these things. I just need to tell them it is fine."


Harry wrote responses for each letter giving them the okay and sent them out via the owls the originals were sent with. In the morning, the post had a letter from Hermione asking the same questions only much more detailed.

Harry picked up the telephone and dialed Hermione’s number which she had included in her letter.

"Boy, what in the bloody hell do you think you are doing?" Yelled Vernon.

"Cursing you if you don’t shut up," Harry replied calmly. "Hermione please."

The seconds ticked by as Vernon stilled when a wand was directed at him by Tonks. Harry eyed Tonks happily as he waited for Hermione to pick up the phone.

"Hello?" called a sleepy witch.

"Good morning, Hermione," Harry said.

"Harry!" Hermione squealed forcing Harry to hold the phone out at arm’s length. "Harry, how are you? How has your summer been? Are you taking care of yourself? Are those people treating you better?" The questions continued as Harry slowly moved the phone back to his ear and waited for Hermione to take a breath.

"Hermione," Harry said forcefully causing the woman to stop questioning him. "There, now I can answer you. I am doing better every day. My summer has been busy, as you have probably figured out by now. Being the smartest witch has that perk. I am taking care of myself smashingly. They are treating me better one way or another."

"What do you mean by that, Harry?" Asked Hermione.

"Well, Vernon is quiet right now because Tonks has her wand pointed at him."

"Oh, Harry, she could get into trouble doing that."

"Not likely, Hermione," Harry replied. "I think she could use it and get away with it." Harry said the last while smirking at his uncle who had the decency to look worried.

"Oh, you are going to get into so much trouble," Hermione whined.

"Nothing new there, so at least I am familiar with that sort of thing."

"At least you are in good spirits, Harry. What is going on with Luna?"

"I asked her to help me out with a few things. She is asking some questions about certain things and I hope you will answer them."

"Do you really want me to answer them, Harry? These are serious questions that could cause some problems for a few people."

"I am not worried about those people, Hermione. I am worried about us and our friends. Those people aren’t our friends."

"I know that, but they are our leaders…"

"Not for long, Hermione. Just answer what you will and leave it at that."

"Oh, Harry, are you sure this is a good thing to do right now? What does Dumbledore have to say about this?"

"Nothing, since he doesn’t know and I want it kept that way, Hermione. Do you understand me?"

"Harry, this isn’t a good idea. Dumbledore probably has things already worked out. Doing this could mess up his plans. You really should talk to him about this before you do this."

"It is happening, Hermione. You can help me and see that it happens right, or you can refuse and watch it spin out of control."

"That is not fair, Harry. This shouldn’t all fall on my head."

"You were there for the big stuff. You know too much not to be a part of this. Are you going to help me?"

"Of course I am going to help you. What gave you the idea I wasn’t?" Harry could picture Hermione’s hand on her hip as she said the words.

"I knew I could count on you. Just answer the questions and let me do the rest."

"You know what this will look like, don’t you?"

"Yes, and I hope it does," Harry smiled a rather evil smile at his own words. Tonks laughed as she saw the pure enjoyment Harry displayed at that moment. "I should go now, Vernon looks like he is about to burst and you wouldn’t want that to happen. Bye, Hermione."

"Bye, Harry. Take care of yourself and visit if you get the chance."

"Hermione is in and that makes everyone. I need to make that appointment before things get going."

"I can set that up for you today around lunch time," Tonks offered receiving a nod in reply. "Good, then let’s get going."

"Good morning, uncle," Harry said to a very angry Vernon as he passed him leaving the house.


Lunchtime came very soon for Harry. He was led, by Tonks, to the team room where he took off his cloak and they Apparated outside of the Ministry. Harry entered the Ministry like any visitor would and found himself being escorted by Tonks to the second floor, Magical Law Enforcement offices. When the doors opened, Harry exited the lift and followed Tonks to Madam Bones’ office. The assistant outside the office door addressed Tonks warmly and eyed Harry carefully.

The assistant wore form fitting robes and had her hair up in a twist. Harry thought she was rather attractive in a formal looking sense. She had very light brown hair bordering on blonde. Her lips were pert and complimenting for her face.

"Harry Potter to meet with Madam Bones," Tonks announced ignoring the warmth from the slightly built woman behind the desk. "He has an appointment."

The woman stopped herself before asking the question that had already been answered and checked the schedule. Finding that an appointment was listed, the woman became all business. "Auror Tonks, you are correct that a meeting is scheduled. I will check with Madam Bones and see if she is able to keep the appointment."

With a curt head nod, the woman left the room through a rear door adorned with a plaque stating it was Amelia’s office. Harry looked at Tonks and waited for her to look at him in return.

"Am I missing something, Tonks?"

"No, I dare say you picked up on it just fine, Harry."

"Um, could you make sure I got it right then?"

"She has expressed an interest in me from the first day I came here. She would like to be friends, and close ones at that."

"And you aren’t interested?"

"Right now, I have someone I like and that is enough for now. Why?"

"As protective as I should be, I find the situation intriguing nonetheless."

"Merlin," Tonks said under her breath. "Wasn’t last night enough for awhile?"

"That was yesterday, Tonks. Today is a whole different day."

"Teenagers, insatiable," Tonks muttered.

"Haven’t complained yet."

"I wasn’t complaining, Harry. Far from it."

The woman returning ended all teasing and flirting immediately. "Madam Bones will see you, Mr. Potter." She eyed Tonks in a hungry fashion ignoring Harry’s perceptive eye.

Returning to the new and confident Harry, he thanked the woman and strode into Madam Bones’ office with Tonks following him closely to avoid being left in the same room with the assistant. They entered a comfortable office. Harry thought it was a nice office with its whole purpose being functionality.

A couple pictures in the room were all that showed Amelia had a softer side. Everything else screamed of business and getting it done. The desk was organized and as orderly as possible. Papers and files were lined up and waiting to be reviewed. In the chair behind the desk sat an imposing witch. Her square jaw and monocle presented an impressive look to visitors.

Harry focused on his purpose and drove towards it. "Madam Bones, thank you for seeing me."

"Mr. Potter," said Madam Bones, "my pleasure. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I have a few questions and I would appreciate candor in your answers."

Amelia’s monocle dropped into her lap as she listened to the direct answer she received. "I am impressed already, Mr. Potter. Please, you have my attention, do continue."

"It is just, Harry, if you will." Amelia nodded her understanding. "What is your opinion of Fudge?"

Amelia laughed forcefully. "I can understand your desire for candor prior to asking. That is a loaded question, you know. In government, you can rarely voice your true opinion without suffering for it."

"Nothing you say will leave this office, Madam Bones," Harry offered. "You have my word on that."

"I do not doubt your word, Harry. My niece has had good things to say about you and she is a good judge of character. Okay, I will answer your question. Fudge is the Minister of Magic and my boss. He is what we have."

"Madam Bones, I wanted your true opinion of him not some political response. If you are going to answer that way, then I will leave now and save us both our time." Harry let his frustration show earning him exactly what he wanted to hear.

"Fudge was barely acceptable during peacetime," Amelia admitted. "Now, he is buggering up everything he touches. Is that more what you were looking for, Harry?"

"Yes, that is exactly what I was looking for. Who would you like to see replace him?"

"On the off chance that he resigns or becomes ‘unable to lead,’ I would hope that someone like your grandfather could be found to replace him."

"My grandfather?" Harry asked completely thrown from his plans. "What does he have to do with this?"

"Your grandfather was an active member of the magical community. He wasn’t in the Ministry, per se, but he carried a lot of sway among the favourable purebloods and the general populous. He guided many Ministers and others into the positions they held or hold now. I, myself, am one of them. He said he liked my attitude."

"And," Harry paused trying to think of why he didn’t read more of his grandfather’s file while knowing it was because his father’s was right there as well. "What attitude is that exactly?"

"Oh, this is the good part, Harry," Amelia said while her face softened. "I would tell him off when he needed it. He always liked strong women. I think that is why he welcomed your mum into the family so fast. She had spirit, she did."

Harry took the information in stride as best as he could. He wanted to follow that vain of discovery until it gave out, but he couldn’t. He forced, with all his might, to continue on with the plan. "Who would you like to see replace him?"

"I can’t really think of anyone offhand, Harry. Too many of them have been tainted by Fudge or are puppets of either You-Know-Who or Dumbledore."

"Voldemort," Harry corrected simply. "Not a fan of Dumbledore?"

"You wanted honest answers, right?" Getting a nod, she continued. "Dumbledore is a great man and a wonderful teacher. He is involved in everything in the Wizarding world. Some of it he can handle well, others he doesn’t seem up to the task. I dare say, you were one of the things he didn’t handle well. Wouldn’t you agree?"

"With all due respect, what do you know about it?"

"I was not a really close friend of your family, but I knew that you shouldn’t have been placed under your relatives care. From what my niece has told me, I am confident that you would agree. Am I wrong?"

"No, you aren’t wrong," Harry paused again thinking how to proceed. "So you can’t think of anyone you would like to see replace Fudge?"

"Since this is purely an academic exercise, I could name a few people who could be at that point in five to ten years but not right now. It would take too much political maneuvering to get a vote of no confidence on Fudge even with his shaky position. Afterwards, the person who got him out would have nothing left to ensure the right person replaced him. That is the risk of getting rid of Fudge. He has friends and allies all over the Ministry. Removing him would make a lot of enemies and to get your enemies to support you would be very costly both financially and politically."

"I see," Harry said barely following the conversation. "So you couldn’t think of anyone then?"

"Not really, Harry. Sorry I can’t be of more help there. Now, our time is coming to a close. Do you have anything else to ask before my very efficient assistant comes in and hurries you off?"

"If Dumbledore told you to do something and he asked you to trust him on it, what would you say?"

"Explain it to me or I can’t help you, Albus."

"Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, asked you to bend a few laws so he could do what he wanted without worrying about them getting in the way. What would you say?"

"If I have to follow the rules, then so do you," answered Amelia with a surprised look on her face.

"Thank you very much, Madam Bones. You answered my questions honestly and in a way that I respect. Thank you, again." Harry turned and started walking towards the door and reached it the moment that the assistant opened it. Harry strode out the door with Tonks following him closely again.

On the lift ride to the atrium, Tonks asked Harry what he was planning. He responded with a smirk and a squeeze of her shoulder. They left the Ministry and Apparated back into the Department of Mysteries. They ate a little from the kitchen and continued with the remainder of their training for the day. Harry was upbeat and his confidence levels kept Horace on his toes when running the training mission scenarios.


After the training, Harry took Tonks back to Diagon Alley and to the offices of The Quibbler. Harry spoke with Odd, alone, and when he finished he led Tonks out of the business and to the Apparition point. When they arrived at Number Four, Harry led Tonks to his room and closed the door.

"Tonks, how much stuff do you have at your place?"

"Um, why do you ask, Harry?"

"Just how much stuff do you have and how long would it take for you to pack it?"

"I have clothes, some pictures, and a few other things. I could pack it all in about thirty minutes, fifteen if I had to move quickly. Why?"

"I just wanted to know. Things are going to happen fast and I need to know you aren’t going to lose anything important when it does."

"Harry, I think I know what you have planned so why would I be caught off guard on this? I am helping you do this, aren’t I?"

"You are, but there are a few extra things I have going. I don’t want to be caught off guard is all."

Tonks responded to his worries by kissing him and more. They kept each other busy for hours by repeating what they did the night before with a few extra things added in. Tonks collapsed into Harry and fell asleep without a second thought. Harry remained awake for a little while longer creating a portkey he intended to use soon enough.


Friday dawned too early for Harry’s tastes. He was very comfortable holding Tonks while wrapped in the blankets. He sighed and held Tonks close thinking about the last many days. ‘So much has changed. I actually have a chance, I think.’

Tonks shifted into Harry more and her hair fell into her face which was resting on Harry’s shoulder. He smiled and carefully moved the hair away revealing Tonks’ real face. She responded in a positive fashion to the attention so Harry lightly touched her face smiling at how smooth her skin felt. He was completely captivated by the action and how Tonks moved in response to it. His smile grew when Tonks’ eyes opened and focused on him.

"Morning, Harry," Tonks yawned then smiled. She curled into him even more while taking a deep breath. "Is it time to get up already?"

"I am afraid so, Nymph. We can’t skip today, can we?"

"Not the wisest suggestion, Harry. Horace would make us suffer for it."

Under his breath, Harry said, "Yeah, not like that would be a change."

"Soon enough, you will understand what he is doing and why he is doing it. You will thank him when that time comes. We all have."

"Maybe so, but that time isn’t right now." Harry slid away from Tonks and made to get ready for the day.


When they arrived in the training room, Harry saw many new cloaked people. They were grouped into three-person teams just like Harry, Tonks, and Cal. Horace appeared and Marcus was with him wearing a serious look on his face.

"Good morning everyone," Marcus announced. "Team two, you have a briefing in ten minutes in the conference room. Team three, you are still with Horace today. The rest of you will carry out your usual efforts when you are here." Marcus left the room and any who saw him noticed his clouded mood.

"Chamel, what is wrong with Marcus?" Harry asked.

"Team two is the interrogation team, Praeceps," Tonks answered. "I guess the Ministry finally gave up on getting information out of the Death Eaters the nice way. Marcus hates using them for that purpose, but he will when it is necessary. I will tell you they aren’t nice about it. Robeen, Joslin, and Thor are very efficient at getting information. You do not want to know how they do it."

Very softly, Harry whispered into Tonks’ ear, "I will not pity the people who tried to kill my friends. They are getting what they deserve. They could tell the Ministry what they wanted to know, but they chose not to say."

"That is true, but I wouldn’t wish it on them. Team two is very good at their job." Tonks shook her head slowly as she thought of stories she had heard about past interrogations.

"Team three, on me," Horace barked. The team grouped around him and he gave them their mission for the day. "I am trying a loose mission here. No preset goal or objective. You are supposed to get from your starting point to the other side of the valley. What you meet, what you see, should be treated as hostile. Begin!"

The room faded and a forest appeared around them. The old looking trees and leaf-covered ground replaced the familiar room. Once the image stopped changing, a slight shimmer appeared in a rectangular shape.

Tonks looked to Cal who did the same to Tonks. Harry watched Tonks’ face harden and the emotion fade. "What, Chamel?"

"Ceps," Tonks hesitated from continuing. "No matter what happens, remember your training. Stick to the mission and accomplish it. Do NOT worry about us."

"What in the bloody hell is going on, Chamel?"

"Keep your head about you, okay?"

"What is going on?" Harry never got an answer as spells erupted from the trees. Light flashed as bark was torn from the majestic trees. All Harry thought was that things couldn’t get any worse. As they moved forward, Harry realized that he was wrong.

Team three fought as they retreated to a safer location. Harry tried to make a portkey to get his team out but every time he tried they were attacked. Left with little choice, Harry directed the team onward in the direction a stream flowed.

"What is going on?" Harry asked while he forced his way through a clearing populated with tall grass. "This is nothing like any of the other missions. Why is it so different?"

"No mission is going to be the same, Ceps," Cal answered. "They have to see if you can adapt to completely different situations."

"We need to make it to the end of the valley that we seem to be in right now," Tonks observed, pointing to the ground and how it sloped up on both sides of them.

"Makes a great funnel, don’t you think, Chamel?" Cal commented as he swiveled on his heels when a noise sounded to their left.

Harry aimed his wand in the general location of the noise and waited for an attack. The team waited for a few seconds before advancing cautiously. Harry kept his eyes on the area where the noise most likely came from as he moved. A small jab in his back broke his concentration first. As he turned to look behind him, something hit him in the side of the head knocking him to the ground forcefully.

Completely dazed and confused, Harry rolled to the cover of a fallen tree as spells lit the underside of the overhanging trees above him. Shouts and yells echoed in the forest as Harry pulled himself into a crouch. With his left hand, he brushed the area where the jab had been and found a small trace of blood on his hand when he inspected it. The battle raged on in front of him, but Harry couldn’t get his feet under him.

‘I have to have a concussion. Why else would everything be so confusing.’ The confusion subsided as Harry fired curses when he was sure he wouldn’t hit his own team members. The fight slowed and Tonks found Harry secluded in his cover.

"Ceps, we need to keep moving. Can you walk?"

"I don’t know. I can’t get to my feet. I hit my head and everything is a little off now."

Tonks nodded and helped Harry to his feet. A few missteps later, Harry was walking on his own and leading his team deeper into the trees. They had been moving for nearly ten minutes when they walked into another fight. Harry threw up an Imprimis and an Absolvo Shield before driving off the path they had been on.

From his position on the ground, Harry watched Cal get hit in the chest by a dark green curse. He dropped to his knees and tried to fight on. A Severing Charm struck his left arm and it was separated from his body. A third jet of light tore a hole in his side exposing his ribs and muscle.

Harry yelled his name as Cal fell backwards. His eyes were completely devoid of life. Feeling his anger erupt, Harry jumped up and shot curses as fast as he could. He was trading off between wandlessly and wanded as he launched his attack at the area where the curses had come from. The forest suffered a terrible beating. Trees were knocked down in a way only seen by a tornado or hurricane.

Fire licked up the trees catching dead ones on fire and setting the ground cover ablaze. The yellow and orange glow gave Harry an ominous appearance as he battled the unseen adversaries. Tonks called to him from her position and told him to continue on.

"I am not going to leave you! We both go or we both stay!"

"Fine, you go first and I will follow," she answered.

The attack had ceased and Harry drove forward towards the objective. He was having problems focusing on anything but the immediate future. Everything seemed a little skewed from his point of view. As his steps took him deeper into the forest, Harry found he couldn’t concentrate and it was getting worse.

"Chamel, I don’t feel right. Something is wrong."

"Ceps, it is okay. Just keep going and don’t worry about it. We have to keep going no matter what."

When they reached a stream that crossed their path, Tonks gave Harry a plan to make it to the other side. Harry recited the plan in his head so he could remember it and started crawling over a tree bridging the stream. A flash of light drew his attention to Tonks position on the original bank.

He saw Tonks get hit in the leg and fall to her side. She returned fire and leveled a small area of forest but the attack continued. Harry aimed his wand and fired a curse in the general direction of the attack. After his third spell, the tree he was on was hit by a forceful spell knocking him completely off his already very unstable center of balance. He grabbed onto the tree as tightly as possible, but he slid to the side. He found himself upside down hugging the tree with every ounce of strength. Another spell shook the tree violently causing Harry’s grip to lessen and he fell into the stream.

Confused and disoriented, Harry resurfaced and watched the battle rage. Tonks was firing spell after spell so fast that her movements were nearly a blur. Harry aimed his wand and started firing spells to assist Tonks. He shouted at her to fall back, but she turned in Harry’s direction and yelled for him to escape.

Harry swam to the far side not really knowing what he was doing. Once he got to his feet, he yelled for Tonks to come to him. He tried to draw fire from the attackers, but Tonks was struck down with a sickly, green curse stilling her body instantly. Harry yelled her name and forced as much magic into his spells as he could.

He had stopped avoiding any spells that weren’t the Killing or Cruciatus Curse. His shields sung as spells struck them and ricocheted in wild directions. Harry moved backwards to more trees behind him keeping his rate of fire up. A deflected spell hit a thick tree sending wood in all directions including Harry’s. He was knocked off his feet, again, into a muddy patch near the stream.

When he regained his footing, he saw Hermione fighting Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. Harry immediately launched himself into the fight. Three Death Eaters fell from his spells before Hermione was struck down by the same purple curse as before. Harry yelled in frustration and fired Reductor Curses in all directions destroying the room they were in.

When the dust cleared, Harry saw the acromantulas surrounding Ron. Harry began casting Rumpere Lemniscus, a severing charm that forms a pink ribbon of magic, and directed it at any spider that neared Ron. The numbers of spiders kept increasing until both friends were surrounded and had no hope of escape.

Ron dropped his wand and fell to his knees in defeat. Harry moved in front of Ron and continued slicing the aggressive spiders in half. Body parts were everywhere when Ron was pulled away from Harry’s side. He saw pinchers imbedded deep in Ron’s leg as he was dragged, screaming, into the fray of moving creatures. Not knowing what else to do, Harry continued fighting.

His wand moved from side to side keeping the advancing wave of spiders away. He was knocked down when a spider jumped on him. His glasses were knocked askew and his breath was forced out of his lungs for a few seconds. His wand went dark before he could push more magic through it starting up his defense again.

A tree maze populated with cloaked and masked Death Eaters replaced the spiders. Harry didn’t notice this until his Severing Charm removed the head of a Death Eater. When one of their comrades fell, the others leapt into action firing spells in all directions.

As he moved and returned fire, Harry watched as friend after friend appeared amidst the fight and was cut down. Confused, tired, and abused, Harry fell into a numb pattern of cursing and moving. Nothing was making sense, but he continued on since he had no idea what else to do.

The battle lasted for an unknown amount of time until Harry was overpowered by the sheer numbers of Death Eaters. A few Cruciatus Curses breached his shields bringing him to his knees in pain. A frustrated yell was the lasting thing Harry did as a blast of green led to darkness.


Harry rolled over and felt a sharp pain in his arm and the rest of his body was screaming which woke him up fully. He opened his eyes and found the room was in focus and the smell of hospital flooded his senses. ‘Bloody hell, what happened?’ Harry scanned the room and saw Tonks sitting in a chair near his bed talking to Cal. Horace and Marcus were standing next to them listening and chatting with each other.

Harry watched them for a few minutes listening to their conversations trying to understand the words. Nothing made sense and the words were confusing. Harry shook his head trying to clear a light fog that seemed to surround him. The movement caught Horace’s attention.

"Healer, he is awake," Horace barked. "Antidote, now."

A healer walked over the Harry’s side and forced a potion down his throat. Harry scowled and tried to fend off the healer but found his arms were held down by straps. "What the fuck is this?"

"Ceps, calm down," Tonks said softly. "Everything will be explained. Please relax and let the potion work."

Harry stared into her eyes and found that they were pleading for him to relent. He settled down and waited for something to happen. The fog lifted quickly and the world seemed to right itself as Harry felt his body reconnect with all its parts.

"Ceps," Marcus began, "you took a test that every member takes. It was a test that was un-winnable. No matter how many spells you cast nor how many people you had, you were going to lose. We wanted to see what would happen should that event occur during a mission."

"What he is trying to say," Horace interrupted, "is that we need to know when you will break. At what point will you give up and die. Before you get all worried, only Marcus, Chamel, and I saw the events. I know some personal stuff was brought into the testing and those things stayed with only those who know your true identity. If you didn’t hate me before, you do now. Am I right?"

Harry stared into Horace’s eyes and willed himself to see his thoughts. He forced his mind into the other’s and found an odd scene playing out.


Horace was watching the battle with Harry, Tonks, and various groups of people. Harry saw Horace move his wand in different directions as if directing an orchestra. "Come on, boy, you can do it. Fight, damn it, fight. You handled losing Cal just fine now how about Chamel?" Harry saw Tonks fall under the force of spells. A ghost image showed Tonks walking away from the main battle and leaving through the training room door. Moments later, Tonks joined Horace.

"How is he doing, you think?"

"As well as I expected, Chamel. He is going to replace me when the time comes."


"You heard me. He has the ability to out fight anyone here. His only problem right now, letting go of his goody-goody ideals. He is slowly learning that every fight he gets into is a fight for life. The minute he fights to survive, it is over. You watched him on that first day. Tell me he can’t beat anyone."

"I know as well as you do, Horace, that Harry can make it where we would die. His new attitude will let him show us that now."

"What happened anyway? It is like night and day."

"I can’t tell you. I am pretty sure it is a private moment and he would want it kept that way."

"Good for him. Now let’s see if he can handle seeing his friends die, too. We know that he would die for them, but what about killing for them?"

Harry saw Hermione appear followed by Ron. Horace directed their deaths like it was a game. Then Harry watched more friends and the Weasleys appear only to be killed off as well.

The vision gained a reddish hue and Horace reacted quickly. "Shite, the kid’s starting to overload the room."

"What do you mean," Tonks asked as she looked around the room.

"The room can only take so much magic at one time. It has to bleed off the spell magic used inside or the walls will get damaged. It happens when we get a few groups running missions together. You know that sometimes the training missions seem like they come in waves? Well, we have to do that otherwise the room could be damaged. The gaps are us allowing the room to bleed off the magic."

"And Harry did that?"

"It happens some times, but you know as well as I do that the kid packs a punch when he needs to. I can still remember his Crucio Curse from last time. Still gives me the shivers thinking about it."


"Things seemed a little off didn’t they, Ceps?"

"Yes, what happened?" Harry asked confused and still processing what he saw and heard.

"Early on, we hit you with a potion that is kind of like a hallucinogen in its effects. How else would you accept the sudden shifts in scenery and new people appearing all the time? After Cal went through it, he asked for some of it for personal use." Horace shook his head. "Touched in the head he is."

"So you drugged me?"

"Yes. We drugged you and it worked like it has worked every time before. I will give you the secret to our methods; we get results one way or another. Don’t like it, there is the door." Horace held up a finger pointing to the door leading to the hallway. "I will not apologize for making my people the best they can be. If you have any anger from this, use it to better yourself or just hate me. I am used to it."

Harry watched Horace lean back in his chair as if he was waiting for an argument. Harry thought about the experience and could only think about what Horace had said in the vision. Coming to a decision about many things, Harry folded his hands and looked Horace in the eyes.

"How can I be better than I am?"

Horace nodded and smiled a true smile. Tonks gave Harry a warm smile and winked. Marcus stood from his chair and pulled out a long roll of parchment. He looked it over quickly and handed it to Horace. Horace repeated the action and looked to Marcus for confirmation and received it.

"Ceps," Horace said standing up and drawing his wand slowly, "you did well today. As much of a bastard as I seem, I am only trying to teach you to stay alive longer. I think you understand that now." Horace tapped Harry’s badge and made the adjustment. Harry watched and saw the green bar increase to a level of seven. Once the final bar filled in, the green column shimmered faintly and became a solid shape without any level markings. "You were in the 80’s or higher with every spell. Your wandless ability has improved and you are faster with it. I dare say many will respect you for this accomplishment.  

"Next week, I think we will spend a few days together working on expanding your knowledge of spells. I will focus on offensive and defensive spells. I plan to teach you the Imperius Curse as well. It is a waste for you not to have that one down since you know the rest." Horace turned to leave but stopped near the door. Speaking low but firmly, Horace said, "Keep your goal in mind at all times, Ceps. Always have a goal in mind otherwise you are just a waste of magic."

"Wise words to remember, Ceps," Marcus said. "I will leave you to the medical staff now. When they say you can leave, then you can leave. One other thing, Ceps, during the battle Horace saw that your glasses were knocked off. He didn’t like that since your aim fell dramatically because of it. We have charmed them with one of the charms we put on the cloaks. You can take them off, but no one else can unless they are keyed in just like the cloak. They can not be Summoned or knocked off. It isn’t much, but it should help you a little. Have a good weekend you two."


Saturday came with little fanfare as Harry awoke to pain and soreness again. Hedwig was watching him intently in the way that said she wanted attention or there would be trouble.

"Yes, girl, we can go out today but don’t be mad if another owl delivers something today. It is just a paper anyway so it isn’t like it is that important."

Hedwig puffed out her chest and stared Harry down as if he was a mouse about to be eaten. "Honestly, it isn’t that big of deal. You know you are the only girl for me."

At that moment the door opened and Tonks sauntered in, still wrapped in a towel, with water dripping from the ends of her hair. Hedwig looked at Tonks and back at Harry. She tilted her head and gave him a piercing gaze.

"Well," Harry began looking sideways at the floor, "um, well, the only owl for me?" Harry asked hopefully. Hedwig closed her eyes and deflated while on her perch. "It is different, girl."

"Problems, Harry?" Tonks asked knowing something was going on since Harry was looking flustered and quite uncomfortable.

"Nothing you can help me with, Nymph." Harry got out of bed and walked over to Hedwig and started petting her. It took a little while before she stopped resisting the affectionate gesture.

"You are whipped, Harry," Tonks commented. She saw Hedwig give her a nasty look. "Not that it is a bad thing, Hedwig. You have put a lot of work into Harry so I can understand your frustration, but I love you too."

Hedwig seemed moderately satisfied with Tonks’ answer and gave into Harry’s efforts fully. "Bloody bird has me whipped too," Tonks mumbled quietly. "Go figure on that."

Crisis averted and no blood shed, Harry took Hedwig outside immediately followed by Tonks. The snowy owl took flight and Tonks watched her takeoff very closely. After a few minutes of silent study, Tonks spoke. "Is she going to circle around you and land?"

"Yeah, that is what she is going to do. Should be back in a few minutes."

"So, it is supposed to come today?"

"Yeah, it should be here soon. I wish I could see their faces when it does." Harry looked eager and excited.

"Something tells me that you will, Harry. I can almost guarantee you that one."


Hedwig flew around a few more times keeping Harry’s attention on her and not on Tonks. The quiet Saturday morning in Little Whining was starting to become active when another owl flew down to Harry with something tied to its leg.

Hedwig eyed the owl venomously nearly scaring the young bird away. Only persistent calls from Harry assured the barn owl it was expected. "Hedwig please let the poor thing do its job. I told you about this earlier. Now, be good."

The event was highly comical to Tonks. She had to fight back her laughs as Harry tried to get the mail while protecting the owl from Hedwig. Once relieved of its burden, the barn owl flew off as fast as possible. It never looked back as it pumped its wings as hard as it could.

"That wasn’t very nice, Hedwig," Harry scolded. "You should be ashamed of yourself."

Hedwig puffed out her feathers making herself look important and proud. "That is not how you look apologetic, Hedwig." Harry shook his head knowing he was not going to win the argument even though he was the only one talking.

"Talk about ineffective, Harry," Tonks joked. She knew that Harry could out fight many people, but he couldn’t control his own owl if he had to.

Harry opened the mail and found a copy of the Quibbler inside of the wrapping. A small smile grew until Harry was openly beaming. "Perfect."

The picture on the cover showed Fudge in the Ministry atrium looking completely confused. The title read, "Confused, Lacking, And A Liar." The story went from page two all the way to page six. It detailed the attempts Fudge had made to take over Gringotts. It listed a few comments made by high ranking goblins concerning the Ministry’s overt behavior over the years. The article recounted Fudge’s position the previous year and the lies he made against Dumbledore and Harry. It continued on to list the activities of Dolores Umbridge while she usurped the Hogwarts staff. The use of the blood quill was written in great detail. The actions of the Inquisitorial Squad were also included.

Her admittance of sending Dementors after Harry was printed in larger text than most of the article as was her threat of the use of the Cruciatus Curse. Hermione’s account of events was printed, but it seemed that Harry’s words were foremost. Witness accounts’ of Fudge accepting money from Lucius Malfoy were printed above the closing interview.

"What is your honest opinion of Minister Fudge, Harry?
"I think that Fudge is a danger to us all. He has ignored evidence in the past that could have saved lives. He has allowed crimes to be committed inside and outside of the Ministry. He has tried to takeover Gringotts and we all know what would come of that. He allowed (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) to regain his body while he ignored the facts. Fudge has no idea what to do as Minister. We need someone else in that office that can do the job properly.
"And who would that be?
"I think Madam Bones would do a good job. She is above the corruption that has been rampant in Fudge’s administration.
"What makes you think she is the person for the job?
"I asked her who would do well in the position. She couldn’t think of anyone who was ready for it. She knew of a few people who would be ready in a decade or so, but no one right now. I am sure she will be sending me a howler for even suggesting her to replace Fudge, but if I can stare into (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named)’s eyes and live, again, then I think I can survive her howler. It is for the good of our society.
Mr. Potter said You-Know-Who’s name. It was changed to limit our reader’s shock."

When Tonks finished reading the whole story, she was quite surprised to find it an honest and balanced account of the last few years. "Most people will think this is a joke, since it is in the Quibbler, but you may convince a few of the more opened-minded ones."

"Odd thought as much," Harry explained. "That is why he changed the general format of this edition. He is thinking of running a more mainstream edition once a month. He said that they sell better and he likes seeing his articles in other papers around the world. As crazy as that nut is, he knows a lot about public opinion and how to use it."

"Do you think this is enough to get rid of Fudge?"

"If it isn’t enough, then nothing will be," Harry said shaking his head. "All I have is listed in there. I played my cards and watching is all that I have left."

"Well, that is all you can do…incoming," Tonks announced as Hedwig swooped down and Harry casually presented her a perch to land on.

"You need to relax, Nymph," Harry said offhandedly. "Hedwig and I have done this for years. We know what to do."

"Sorry, Harry, but I am new to owls like Hedwig. She is not like any other owl I know."

Harry scowled a little. "Fits me then, doesn’t it?"

"Now, Harry, enjoy being you. I know many people who would love to be you."

"Right, and they would just love to have no parents and a psychopath after them. I doubt anyone would last more than a few days being me. They would quit after the first attempt on their life. As sad as it is, I think I have gotten used to it."

"Harry," Tonks said moving to him and giving him an affectionate kiss and holding it for a few seconds. "I think you are right, but for different reasons. You are the only one who could be you. No one else has survived enough things to be Harry Potter. It takes a strong person to be you."

She kissed him again and kept it up until a Message spell hit her ruining the mood. "Well, Dumbledore has read the paper. He is ordering a meeting today and you are to attend. He was very insistent on that part."

"How bad do you think it is going to be, Nymph? Will I need to leave here or just defend myself?"

"I am sure a few might want to yell at you. One might want to hurt you, but I doubt that will be anything new. Most are probably going to support you anyway they can since it is the truth after all. I would stand up for yourself, but don’t do anything rash. We should wait as long as we can before we leave. I am not sure where we would go, but it is your call since it is your life. I still don’t know how you lasted as long as you have with these people."

"No other option, Nymph. I never had another place to go or people to stay with before. Now, I have all of those. Besides, I deserve better than this place. I don’t care about the other things I just want some peace in my life for a few weeks. How long should I wait?"

"As long as you can, but it really depends on others right now doesn’t it?"

"Yes, Nymph, it does."


Hedwig flew around a few more times before they went in and prepared for the meeting. Harry altered the color of his cloak to a deep red and included his portkey ring in case he needed it. His knife was stowed comfortably in its place in his cloak. His wand was holstered and Harry practiced a few times retrieving it. Hedwig was in her cage and Harry asked her to stay there until he came back in case they needed to leave quickly.

Tonks prepared herself for another rough meeting. She knew Harry was going to take the brunt of it, but she hoped things worked out for the better. One thing she was confident about was that Harry’s new-found confidence would be a major friction point for the Order. Independence always caused friction no matter where or when it occurs.

Before they left, Harry got another owl. It was from Amelia Bones and at the beginning she nicely, but firmly, yelled at Harry for bringing her name into the mess he created. As the letter continued, she became more understanding and supportive of his article. She promised an investigation into his claims of abuse and threats. At the end, she thanked him for believing in her abilities and wished him well.

"I am glad she didn’t send a howler," Harry commented. "They can be very loud and annoying." Tonks simply laughed at his comments.

With a dangerous smirk and a firm kiss, Harry Apparated to the park near Grimmauld Place. He smiled at Tonks when she arrived seconds later. "Let’s go ruffle a few feathers, eh?"

"You want to cause problems tonight, don’t you?"

"Yes, Nymph, I do. It is about time they understand who I am and what I am willing to do. If it is possible, please try to keep them back so I only have to deal with one person at a time. I wonder how long it will take certain people to figure out I am not their pawn."

As they walked up the steps and entered the house, Harry knew what his answer was but Tonks voiced it. "Too long, Harry, too long."

The sea of eyes watching Harry walk into the living room was nearly laughable, but the silence wasn’t. Harry found friendly faces in those he knew would be supportive; Ron, Ginny, Fred, George, Remus, and even Arthur. Moody seemed almost appreciative with his look as was Dung. McGonagall and Molly looked severely disapproving as expected and Kingsley seemed watchful. Snape wore a vicious look not at all out of place. Dumbledore stood near the fireplace appearing worn and tired.

"Harry, I see that you have been busy lately," Dumbledore said scrutinizing Harry carefully. "Could you not have waited until the Ministry was more stable internally?"

"Time would not have made the Ministry more stable, Professor," Harry answered evenly. "You of all people should know that better than the rest of us. Fudge made them unstable. You left him in there for your own reasons. I had enough of him so I let a few select people know that."

"You have turned the Ministry and our society on its head, Potter," snapped McGonagall. "Honestly, I expect better sense from one of my students."

Harry turned and met her eyes not flinching from their penetrating gaze. "Everyone has a point where they have had enough, Professor. I hit mine and decided it was enough."

"And who are you to decide such a thing, Potter?" Said Snape icily.

"Ask Dumbledore who I am, Snape," Harry responded. "He knows better than most."

"This has nothing to do with the Headmaster, Potter," Snape replied moving towards Harry in a very snake-like manner. "It has to do with you getting to big for your head. Too much of your arrogant father and foolish mother shinning through."

Harry’s friends took deep, mouthy breaths at those words knowing they were the wrong things to say. Harry reacted instantly knowing what was coming before Snape finished.

In a blur of movement, Harry had his wand firmly planted in Snape’s neck while his body was held against the wall. Harry’s holly wand glowed a nasty shade of pink as a slight trickle of blood descended from the contact point. Albus had managed to draw his wand, but didn’t get any farther as Tonks stepped between Snape and the rest of the room.

"You have been warned about voicing your opinion of my parents around me, Snivellus. Must I hurt you to make my point?" Snape’s attitude seemed to deflate as he became aware of the fact that he was bleeding. "I wonder if Voldemort will leave me alone if I turn you over to him as the spy that you are. Do you think he would be interested in that deal? I am not sure."

"Harry, put down your wand this instant!" Commanded Albus.

Ignoring the order, Harry asked Snape another question. "Care to test my resolve on this, Snivellus?"

What little pompous superiority Snape had vanished when he stared into Harry’s eyes. They were cold and sharp. Snape identified eagerness in the midst of the visible anger that burned in them. Swallowing his shattered pride, Snape answered. "No, Potter, I do not wish to test your resolve on this issue. I would also like you to never mention my current situation aloud ever again."

"I would like you to never talk to me again, but we don’t always get what we want now do we?" Harry held Snape’s eyes for a few more seconds before grabbing Snape’s wand from his hand. Snape had been slowly drawing his wand during the discourse. "I will hold on to this until I leave. I wouldn’t want to have to hurt you."

Harry took the wand and dropped it into his left pocket and stepped away from Snape. The trickling blood flowed more freely from his neck once the wand was removed. Snape checked the injury and found it to be quite acute for no spell having been spoken. The greasy spy applied pressure to the wound but held his tongue.

"Harry, how could you do that?" Albus asked roughly.

"He had been warned," Harry answered calmly. "Next time, I will not stop myself from hurting him severely. I will not be abused by anyone anymore. Surely you were able to figure that out from the paper."

"Cornelius is a simple man with simple ideas," Albus offered.

"He is a fool and fools can be made into the tools of determined people," Harry stated. "Is that why you wanted him to remain? Was he going to be your tool?"

"That is not fair, Mr. Potter," McGonagall snipped.

"It is a very fair question, Professor," Harry returned. "I haven’t heard an answer to my question, Professor. Do you intend to answer it?"

"No answer I give will satisfy you, Harry," Albus relented.

"Because you can not answer the question honestly and still maintain your austere of the moral high ground," Harry retorted. "You know that as well as I do. I have learned well, haven’t I?"

"Yes, Harry, you seem to have picked up quite a bit as of late," Dumbledore admitted. "Anymore surprises?"

"Many, actually," Harry smiled while speaking.

Tonks took the non-verbal truce literally and moved to the side so Harry was again fully visible to the room. Snape had found a corner to nurse his wounds and remained silent. Molly wore a shocked look about her and Arthur seemed to be holding her up slightly.

"Now, the article couldn’t have been that big of a deal," Harry said. "It was just one article in the Quibbler after all."

"An article that has been picked up by most of the real papers in the Wizarding world," Fred began happily.

"And been talked about by everyone I have met," George continued smiling.

"And had the Ministry in an uproar since," Arthur finished meekly.

"Really?" Harry asked innocently with a look to match. "I never would have guessed."

Ron barked out a laugh, Ginny stifled hers, but Bill let his escape fully. "That explains all the time you have spent at Gringotts then."

"Gringotts?" Albus said looking at Tonks angrily.

"I went where I needed to go, Professor," Harry admitted. "You will leave Tonks alone. If you want to be mad at someone, then be mad at me."

"Tonks, you are removed from Harry’s detail effective immediately," Albus ordered.

"Fine," Tonks said nonchalantly. "Now, I am free to spend my free time how I see fit. Harry, I don’t think I will change my current plans if that is okay with you."

"Sounds good to me, Tonks," Harry said staring Albus down.

"Tonks, you are not to visit Harry," Albus commanded more forcefully. "You have been a bad influence thus far this summer."

"She has been a great influence, Albus," Harry spoke with sharpness to his voice. "She has helped me get through many things you failed to even pay attention to. She has made this summer one I can live through."

"This is for your own good, Harry," Albus said but realized too late that he had said the wrong thing.

"My own, fucking good, eh, old man?" Harry challenged. "I will give you for my own good. Getting locked in a cupboard for years. Getting starved for years. Getting hit, beaten, ridiculed, and ignored for years. Having my life put in danger more times than I can count."

"Twenty-two," Ginny offered earning her a nasty look from her mum and thumbs up from her brothers.

"There you have it, twenty-two times," Harry added. "All for my own good. I think I would like to try what is bad for me. Maybe that is a little safer. I doubt it could be more dangerous considering my past. Care to explain to the Order how you can ignore me being knocked unconscious when I got to the Dursley’s at the beginning of summer?" Receiving no answer, Harry nodded. "I didn’t think so. Kind of hard to explain that one, isn’t it. If anyone wants to hear about it, ask Tonks. She saw most of it and stopped my uncle from killing me most likely."

McGonagall’s head snapped to look at Albus before anyone else. She wore her sternest appearance at that moment. Any student would have crumbled under it. Albus simply closed his eyes before meeting Harry’s accusatory gaze. "Nothing is easy when it applies to you, Harry."

"Pathetic excuse, Albus," Harry shot back. "My life has never been easy, but it could have been better if you hadn’t been involved in it. I was supposed to go to Sirius when they died. If not him, then Remus. If not him, there were many others. I have the list in case you want to read it. They made special note that I was never to go to the Dursleys. You ignored their wishes to carry out your own plan. My life has been one disaster after another because of it. You are responsible for that. I will never forget that."

The Order members were looking amongst themselves trying to find out if the others knew the truth. Everyone wore the same lost, shocked expressions except for Tonks. "Tonks, did you know this?" Kingsley asked.

"I learned all of it in the last two weeks, Kingsley," Tonks said. "That should explain why I am on Harry’s side and not Dumbledore’s.

"Did you tell Albus of this when you learned about it?" Moody asked.

"I told him about the assault at the beginning of the summer, but the rest of it I kept in the same confidence I received it."

"How could you not tell us?" Molly demanded looking like the mother bear she could be.

"Albus ordered me not to tell anyone," Tonks defended. "He said the matter had been handled by my actions at the time."

"How could you not tell me, Tonks," Molly accused her.

"Leave Nymphadora alone," Harry yelled. "She left it as it was at my request. Nothing was going to come of it in the first place so why drag it out?"

Many noticed the familiar name Harry used and the lack of Tonks’ normal response to it. No one said anything about it as Harry’s stance was becoming more threatening as time went on. Moody and Snape held their comments because they had seen the same look up close. Harry was serious and he was going to get what he wanted one way or another.

The tense mood hung in the air for what seemed like hours. The sound of the oil lamps hissed and sputtered as the air moved about the room. Harry was the first one to break the silence.

"Why must you make this so fucking difficult?" Harry asked Albus. "Why couldn’t you have obeyed my parent’s wishes? I would have been happy then and not how I was."

"You would have been in danger, Harry," Albus replied with the decency to sound like he regretted his choice then.

"If you haven’t been listening, Albus, I was in danger," Harry spoke dangerously. "I was in danger every minute I was in that house. You never bothered to check up on me did you? Just lock me away until you had to bring me back. You have no idea how hard it was and still is. You know about Voldemort’s past. How different are our pasts? Is there much difference at all?"

Albus looked to the floor and sighed looking very weak and frail. "No, Harry, your pasts are quite similar. The real difference is that you chose to do what is right not what is easy."

"Things can change, Albus," Harry said holding the old man’s eyes when he looked up. "But not today. I suggest you stop the lies and start helping to fix the problems. Fudge is a problem and I am trying to fix it. If you want him to remain, then you will have to fight me to do it. I want him and all of his people out."

"I understand your position, Harry, and I respect the effort you have put forth, but I could have offered a few good choices to replace him."

Harry scoffed at the comment earning him a few reproachful looks and many more questioning ones. "You want a puppet in the minister’s office. I want someone who will do the right thing not because you want it, but because it is the right thing. Amelia couldn’t name me one person who could do the job properly. She was too honorable to name herself so there you go. That meant a lot to me. What sold me completely was the fact that she told me I had to follow the rules too. She already sent me a letter telling me off for suggesting her to replace Fudge."

"She did, but that letter ended with her thanking you," Tonks added with a cheeky smile.

"All the more reason to hope she replaces him," Harry returned.

"Ah," Arthur spoke up from the sidelines, "it is looking like she will get the job. The Ministry heads are backpedaling from Fudge faster than they flocked to him. Associating with Death Eaters really hurt him there. Most of them have lost family to the Death Eaters so they want nothing to do with them or their supporters. In a few days, Fudge could be ousted and even jailed. I know I saw Dolores go into Amelia’s office today. Never saw her leave though."

"May she rot in Azkaban," Harry said with conviction.

"Not to draw more attention to you, Harry," Arthur said softly, "but most of the people I have talked to are not willing to stand against you. They know what happened at the Ministry. They know you have faced You-Know-Who a few times and what has happened to Fudge has proven that you are not someone to stand against. You offered Amelia’s name and most of the voting group aren’t willing to fight it. They do not want the appearance of siding with the wrong side."

"And what side is that?"

"The side that isn’t yours. The older ones remember what your grandfather did for the Ministry and they miss that help."

"Funny, no one has ever been on my side before except for a few people who happen to be in this room." Harry looked at Hagrid, Ginny, Ron, the twins, and the other Weasleys. Remus and McGonagall received longer looks as they seemed to make their choices based on the facts and not solely affection. "I just want a good person to be Minister. Someone who will protect the weak and help the strong to win this war. My grandfather is another thing I never knew about and I wish someone had bothered to tell me about him."

"I didn’t want to give you more people to mourn, Harry," Albus said sadly.

"I would like to make those decisions now," Harry said with resolve. "It is my life and my family. You kept too much from me and now I want to know it all. Now, on that note what is this meeting about?"

Albus scanned the room for anyone else with a topic. Finding none, he answered the question. "I wanted to find out what your plans are with the Ministry, Harry. What are you going to do when Amelia replaces Fudge?"

"What am I going to do?" Harry asked with confusion. "Nothing. She will be the Minister and I can live my life without worrying about the Minister of Magic trying to kill me or get me arrested. I think that is enough to hope for don’t you? That is why I asked her what she would do if I broke the law. I have a fair shot at being normal, well, as normal as I can be I guess."

"Yeah, normal," Fred began.

"So normal you can topple," George continued.

"The bloody Minister with a newspaper article," Fred finished.

"You two are really twisted, you know that, right?" Harry asked.

"We know, but its fun," both said.

"I guess," Harry relented. "So this was the only reason for this meeting? If that is all, I think I would like to talk with friends then."

"I would like to revisit one thing, Harry," Albus admitted. "I believe that Ms. Tonks has gotten too close to you. That is a dangerous thing to do when you are protecting someone. I don’t believe she will be as effective as before. I would like to replace her with Emmeline."

Harry took a deep breath, calming himself, before responding. Many in the room leaned back as they had witnessed what happens when Harry had to calm himself before speaking. He met Tonks’ eyes as he spoke. "With all due respect to you, Ms. Vance, Tonks will be staying on my guard detail. You can not remove one of the few people who are willing to tell me the truth, Professor. She has helped me this summer and I am not willing to give that up. I thought we had settled this earlier."

"Harry this is for the best," Albus pleaded.

"I told you I will make decisions about my life and what is best for it," Harry spoke forcefully leaving no doubt or room for error. "Tonks stays as long as she wants to."

Albus turned to Tonks immediately wearing a firm look on his face. He stared her down as he inclined his head silently requesting an answer but making it clear which answer he wanted.

"I will stay on Harry’s detail, Albus," was Tonks’ reply. She never looked away from Albus while speaking and the room knew she meant what she said.

"Nymphadora," Albus queried in a slightly scolding tone.

"Never call me that, Professor," Tonks snapped back. "Respect my wishes."

"It seems," Harry offered, "that he has problems respecting others’ wishes or concerns." The living room fell into silence again as no one wanted to be the first to speak and draw the attention of everyone. Minutes ticked by before Harry’s frustration got the better of him. "Where is Kreacher?"

"Ah, Harry," Remus said looking sideways. "That was something I wanted to talk to you about. Um, well, you see, I kind of had a rough time of the last full moon. Well, Kreacher kind of broke into the room I was in and, well, he didn’t survive the encounter." Remus dropped his head as he finished. The shame was obvious and he honestly looked sorry. "I can pay to replace him. Touched in the head or not, he did belong to you."

"Kreacher is dead?" Harry asked, amazement shining on his face. "Well, that saves me from dealing with him myself. Thank you, Remus."

"Harry, I killed Kreacher," Remus wanted to be yelled at for letting the werewolf beat him.

"And good riddance too," Harry replied. "I had been worried about having to kill him myself for what part he played in getting Sirius killed. Thank you for helping me, Remus."

"But I didn’t know, I didn’t mean to, I…"

"Like I said, good riddance," Harry smiled. "Did you toss him in the bin or what?"

"There wasn’t that much left, Harry," Remus looked even guiltier. "It wasn’t pleasant."

"No worries, Remus. Thank you for doing that. Now, is there anything else?" Harry avoided looking at Albus until last. What he found was confusion and deep thought when he did look at the old man. Harry held his gaze ignoring the slight itch in his head when Albus tried to penetrate his thoughts.

Harry stopped the attempt by narrowing his eyes and fingering his wand discretely. Most people started side conversations as they waited for someone to make a decision.

Albus sighed and rubbed his aged face slowly. "Ms. Tonks, you shall remain on Harry’s detail until he can be moved safely. Harry, please work with us and not against us. If you want to do something, ask one of us. I only want to keep you safe. That is all I want."

"I will look at every situation and decide then," Harry offered. "I am making my own choices and I accept what comes of them. It is my life after all."

"That is what I am trying to protect, Harry."

"But I have to live it, Professor," Harry said softly. "I have to live it. I only want it to be worth living. Is that asking too much?"

Albus stopped his immediate answer before sincerely responding. "No, Harry, it isn’t too much to ask. I will try to do better by you in the future."

Harry nodded to Albus in understanding before turning to his friends and smiling. They quickly moved out of the room and up the stairs leaving many surprised people behind. Tonks knew that she had to stay and hear what was said to her and about Harry.


"Albus," McGonagall snapped as only a professional teacher could. "What have you done to Harry to make him like this? He has never acted like this nor spoke to people like he did to you just now."

"I am afraid that all of my failings concerning Harry are showing themselves," Albus closed his eyes and sighed again. "Could things have been that bad? Were they that horrible to him?"

"Yes, they were," Tonks added. "And then some."

Albus appeared to want to ask Tonks a question, but he was interrupted by Minerva.

"What were my words to you all those years ago, Albus?"

"‘They are the worst sort of muggles imaginable,’ I believe," Albus recited.

"You were right, Minerva," Tonks said. "I have never been so close to cursing muggles as I have been in the last two weeks. And I would have enjoyed it too."

Minerva stayed quiet and looked very pensive. Molly, who had watched and listened to everything that had been said, seemed ready to voice her opinions.

"I want that poor boy removed from those evil people, Albus." Molly had her hands on her hips and her piercing eyes were boring holes into the Headmaster.

"Soon enough, Molly," Albus gave in. "I will need to get this place presentable or secure your home more than it is before that can happen. Harry must be kept safe."

"Either way, Albus," Molly demanded. "You have a week or I will remove him myself. There are enough of us to keep him safe."

"I do not doubt your abilities, Molly, but you would be putting your whole family in danger for Harry." Albus waited a few seconds before continuing. "As willing as you and your family are to do that, Harry is not. He would fight you on that. He doesn’t need anymore lives put at risk for his. I fear that another death could shatter him. I am surprised at how well he has handled the loss of Sirius to be honest. He took Cedric’s death much harder."

"He has grown up, Albus," Moody suggested. "He has been through more since Cedric. It appears he will only get stronger too." Moody’s normal eye turned to Snape who still held a hand over his wound. The blood had stopped flowing, but the potion master had remained silent after Harry released him. Moody recognized that look well having worn it only days before.

Finally seeing a break in the conversation, Albus voiced his question. "Tonks, how close have you and Harry become in the past weeks?"

"What are you trying to ask, Albus?" Tonks retorted evenly.

"How close are you and Harry?"

"I know things he hasn’t told others," Tonks admitted giving little ground. "He trusts me because I promised I wouldn’t lie to him. I have kept my promise. How about you?"

"What promise are you referring to?" Albus asked.

"That answers my question." Tonks’ dismissing response drew quite a few raised eyebrows. "What? I know about things that you lot would be shocked to learn. Albus, Harry has told me a lot. Would you care to guess exactly what he has told me?"

"No, I do not think I would."

"Wise choice," Tonks said. "And on where Harry goes, I would suggest you let him decide. You have been here. You have seen how he is reacting to being handled. Harry can make his own choices. Does a pretty good job of it too."

"He is still a boy," Snape spoke up.

"I would not call him that, Snivellus," Tonks said firmly. "Next time, you might just lose your head. If you couldn’t tell, Harry was about to cast the Ribbon Severing Charm. I think that would have been enough to remove your greasy head. Don’t you?"

Molly gasped as did a few of the other members. Minerva shook her head in disbelief. Moody smirked and spoke, "That was what he was about to do to me, wasn’t it?"

Tonks looked to Moody and smiled. "Yep, only he held back more that time. He had a good idea that it was you. But he isn’t taking any chances."

"Alastor, you have withheld something," Albus said.

"I have," Moody raised his head a smiled appreciatively. "I didn’t think it was anything to mention. I made a poor tactical choice and nearly lost my head for it. He is quick."

"Alastor?" Albus commanded.

Speaking to the room, Moody gave the warning. "If Harry tells you to drop your wand or anything else for that matter, I would do it. He had me in the same position as Snape earlier this week. At least I was smart enough not to push him to the point where he almost killed me."

Snape looked from Albus to Moody and scowled. "He didn’t ask me to do anything."

"You had been warned not to insult his family," Tonks offered gleefully. "I suggest you remember that. Harry is not going to stand for you insulting his parents. If you do it again, I doubt he will stop the spell. You know you will die if he casts that spell at that range."

"He can’t kill," Snape said forcefully. "He is too weak, too good to kill."

"Things change, Snape," Tonks said. She looked around the room finding many surprised expressions. "Harry had faith that we could protect him before. Now, he knows that we can’t. He is fighting for his life and he will do what he has to do to live. I believe that the goody-goody Harry died in the Ministry along with Sirius. Now, the survivor Harry is what is left. I am sure Moody and Snape can explain what that Harry looks like and what he is capable of."

"What happened to Harry?" Albus asked aloud.

"Look at his life and ask what you would be like, Albus," Tonks said. "Now, I have had enough fun down here. I had better go upstairs and check on the others. Evening all."

Tonks bounced up the stairs and searched out Harry. She chose the Point Me spell and found Harry in Sirius’s old room. His friends were laughing and joking with him. More than once, Ron replayed Snape’s response to Harry earning him laughs and cheers.

"Tonks," Harry announced buoyantly. "Come, sit down."

Tonks saw a small place between Harry and Ginny on the bed. Ginny smiled and moved over a little more while smirking devilishly. Tonks beamed to all in the room and made her way over to the bed. As she sat down, Ginny shifted towards Harry knocking Tonks into Harry and nearly off the bed in the process.

The twins hooted and Ron laughed as Tonks slowly got off of Harry and settled into the newly wider spot Ginny had offered in the beginning. Ginny was laughing at the situation she had created.

"I am sure Harry doesn’t need you to throw yourself at him like that, Tonks," Ron said with a lopsided smirk.

"Nah," Fred began. "I think our Harry."

"Really likes the women," George continued, "on top of him."

"He was never that smooth with the ladies," Fred finished.

Smiling, Tonks replied, "I think Harry can handle the women just fine. He has those Quidditch hands so you know…" Tonks left the statement open. The men laughed giving Tonks a chance to discretely elbow Ginny in the side earning an ‘oof’ from the sneaky girl. Tonks smiled widely when Ginny looked at her innocently.

"So, what did they say down there?" Harry asked Tonks.

"More of the same," Tonks said. "But Moody agreed that they should let you do what you want or they would get more of what happened to Snape."

"That was brilliant, Harry," Ron complimented. "Could you do it again before you leave?"

"That depends on him, Ron," Harry replied. "Now how are things with you guys?"


The night continued with Harry hearing about the Burrow and the normal things that occurred there. He was happy and relaxed when Tonks tapped him on the shoulder showing him the time.

"I guess it is time to leave," Harry said. He wished them goodnight shaking hands with the twins, smacking Ron on the back, and hugging Ginny. Tonks waved to everyone and gave Ginny a fake scowl before following Harry down the stairs. Most of the Order members had already left, but a few remained. Snape was still in the same corner he had retreated to when Harry released him.

"Evening," Harry told the room. Most of the people in the room smiled and waved, but Snape walked towards Harry. His lips were tight and set as he held out his hand. Confused and not sure what he wanted, Harry waited until Snape spoke.

"My wand, Potter."

"Oh," Harry said. He had forgotten that he still had Snape’s wand in his pocket. He pulled it out and handed it to the potion’s master tip first. Snape snatched it out of his hand quickly, but kept the point away from Harry.

The over-grown bat made a hasty retreat from the House of Black. Harry watched him go while waiting for an attack until the door closed. "Well, that was uncomfortable."

"Ya need ta work on your understatements, ‘Arry," Hagrid said smiling like he had found a baby dragon recently.

"I do not care what he thinks or wants as long as he doesn’t do or say anything around me." Harry nodded his head to confirm his position as he spoke. "Well, shall we leave then, Tonks?"

"Sure, Harry," Tonks answered. They left the house and once the door was closed they Apparated to the back garden of Number Four.

"Eventful night, wouldn’t you agree, Nymph?"

"Quite, Harry."

"Sorry about the name slip. I messed up."

"No problem, Harry. You said what you said and you meant it. Now, I just need to reward you for standing up for me. What would you like?"

They entered the kitchen and walked up the stairs. They never noticed Vernon sitting in his chair in the living room. He followed them with fierce eyes noting every motion.

"I am not sure," Harry said looking like a confused fifteen-year-old. "Maybe we could kiss or something."

Once Harry closed his door and put up a Silencing Charm, Tonks grabbed him and threw him on the bed. "Or I can snog the life out of you among other things." Tonks kissed him deeply and passionately. She explored his mouth as if her own life depended on it.

When they finally came up for air, Harry managed to squeak out, "Or we could do that," before Tonks pounced on him again. Their clothes were tossed off as they became more and more involved. Hedwig had left the room when Tonks’ bra nearly hit her in the head. She squawked once as she took fight out of the window.

Tonks tested Harry’s stamina a few times that night earning her the same treatment in return. The sheets were firmly wrapped around them when sleep took them after a very tiring and stressful day.


Thanks to cj_cold for giving me the idea of the summon-proof glasses and the un-winnable test.

Thanks to fanfic_lover38 for making sure I deal with Umbridge. She may or may not return.

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