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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

17. I Would Do It Again

                      Monday was a busy day filled with training designed to further improve the teamwork within Team Three and their interaction with Team Two. Harry thought things were going really well, but Horace had a sense of tension about him that made Harry uneasy. The relaxed feel of the lessons the week before were gone and replaced by a tautness that weighed on everyone present.

Tonks felt it and told Harry it happened every time things looked really bad for the Wizarding world. "The Ministry comes to Marcus and Horace to try and fix things. We don’t understand the pressures placed on them from above, but they are most likely tasked to find the escaped Death Eaters and bring them in. The aurors have the same job, but speaking from experience on both sides it is worse here. We always deliver and that is a formidable record to work with."

"I can certainly understand being weighed down by your past," Harry offered.

Tonks smiled and rubbed Harry shoulders as she leaned towards him. "I know that you do, sweetie. Teach us all how to handle it as well as you do since you are the expert."

"Well," Harry started talking in his best impersonation of McGonagall. "First you put all the expectations in the bin where they belong."

Harry and Tonks were enjoying their break in the corner of the training room and never noticed Team Five enter for a pre-arranged meeting with Horace in the classroom area. They didn’t see the shrouded glare from Jones when he walked in, and they didn’t feel his growing anger as he watched them the entire time Horace spoke to his team.

When the briefing was over, Horace called Team Three over to him. Jones watched and waited for the opportunity to insult Ceps as they walked closer. Horace simply looked on and waited for the confrontation to happen as he knew it needed to occur or things would never be resolved.

As Harry and Tonks walked closer to Horace, Jones spoke out. "Better watch your bitch, Ceps, or someone might come along and prove to her what a real man is like."

Harry tried to let the comment slide but couldn’t get beyond the insult to Tonks. "I suggest you watch yourself, Jones, or I might show you what a real man does when his friends are insulted."

"Friends my arse," Jones challenged. "You are just another in a list of people she gets close to and casts off when she gets bored."

Harry never had the chance to respond when Tonks got in Jones’ face and threatened him. "You know nothing of it you pathetic yob. You are just mad that I refused to date you all those times you threw yourself at me. Sad sack you are."

Jones reacted to the slight against his manhood by backhanding Tonks across the face. The smack and resulting snap of Tonks head triggered a series of events that left most in the room flatfooted. Tonks reeled from the impact of Jones’ rather solid hand against her cheek. She did manage to stay on her feet and was able to witness Harry’s retribution.

Jones almost got out a laugh before he saw Harry’s wand appear and strike unmercilessly. "Crucio," was Harry’s simple reply to Jones striking Tonks. Harry watched Jones fall to the floor and writhe around in pain. He howled in agony as Harry held him under the Torture Curse. Horace had winced when he saw Harry lash out. He remembered the sting of that spell from Harry’s wand and he never wished it on another even if they deserved it.

Members of both teams watched as one of their own shuddered on the floor of the training room. They did nothing but watch since no one wanted to interrupt the only person they had ever seen fight the Dark Lord and live. No more than a minute after it began, Tonks placed her hand on Harry’s and asked him to stop.

Harry released the spell and felt his mind regain control of his actions. The sick feeling that he had fought with weeks before as he learned the dark magic came back with a vengeance. He was swimming in darkness again and somehow it freed him from his worries. As he looked at the still squirming man on the floor, he felt oddly detached and invigorated at the same time.

Only when Harry looked in Tonks’ soft and understanding eyes did he completely return to the world. The first sight of blood on the corner of her lips renewed his anger at Jones and almost led to a repeat of the curse.

"Thank you," Tonks told him. "Thank you and I consider it finished. You do not need to do anything more on this, Ceps."

Harry nodded but felt he needed to do something more even if she thought he didn’t. Harry took a few steps and closed the distance with Jones who was finally taking gasping breaths to refill his lungs. Harry looked down and saw a pathetic man trying to be more than he could accomplish and not the more experienced Operative that Jones had been. Bending down to look at Jones under his hood Harry said with quiet force, "Strike Chamel again or insult her like that once more, and you won’t make it another day."

Harry stood up and stepped back catching a glimpse of the spectators. Most were surprised but none looked hostile. Horace moved next to Jones’ recovering form and stared at the man for a few seconds before posing his question. "Is this conflict settled? And I mean the one between you and Ceps."

Jones scanned the room and saw the reaction he had received. He was in the wrong and no one looked ready to support him. Taking a few deep breaths and fixating on Harry’s still exposed wand, Jones replied. "It is done. I know my place."

Horace waited for Harry to accept the answer before doing the same to Tonks. Receiving a positive nod from both, Horace addressed the room. "Ceps is the leader of Team Three and that is that. As I would expect, the leader of a team defends his people when necessary. This matter is closed and no mention of it need be made moving forward. Is that understood?"

Everyone voiced their understanding and moved off to their appointed locations. Horace helped Jones up by offering his hand. Pulling him close, Horace said, "Hurts like hell, doesn’t it? I learned early on to leave Chamel alone. If you try this shite again, Ceps will most likely kill you and I will Obliviate what is left and dump it in the nearest gutter. Do not pull something like this again. I promise you will not survive it. Now, see Medical before returning. You will hurt for a few days after this, trust me."

Jones mustered his strength and worked his way to Medical taking a lot of time and numerous breaks to regain his composure. The bite of Harry’s spell had firmly set a rule in his mind. ‘There is a reason Ceps could attack the Dark Lord and survive.’

Harry and Tonks worked the remainder of the day with Cal and Horace. Harry found a letter waiting for him in the team room from Gringotts. A quick discussion between Harry and Tonks led them to making plans for a visit at Gringotts after work. Harry guessed that it had to do with all the activity on Friday and how much it cost him.

As the day wound down, Harry finished leading his team on individual missions similar to the one in Knockturn Alley or grouped with Team Two and Robeen leading the overall mission. Harry found Robeen to be agreeable and willing to let Harry handle his part of the mission his own way without telling him how to do it step-by-step. Team Two’s leader also accepted Harry’s ideas willingly and only turned them down after explaining how the goals could be accomplished in another way that was easier or safer.

Harry, along with Tonks, left for Gringotts having learned a lot about leading and his team’s abilities. The pair arrived in Diagon Alley at the normal Apparition point and began the trek to the bank in the end-of-work crowds. Harry felt Tonks holding on to him as they were buffeted by witches and wizards hurrying about. Many looked over their shoulders as if the escaped Death Eaters were going to pop up and kill them on the spot.

Everything seemed stupid and ludicrous to Harry as they traveled half way up the alley. A loud crash at one end of the alley sent many to the street covering their heads while others fumbled with their wands trying to draw them and find a target. A frightened shopkeeper holding an empty tray and staring at the remains of her shattered glassware on the stone street caused Harry to laugh.

His laugh was the only one as many put their wands away in a shaky fashion. One person seemed annoyed at Harry’s laugh and grabbed him by the collar. "Something funny?" The man said as he spun Harry around to look at him.

The unsuspecting man found two wands pressed firmly in his throat and chest. After his eyes traveled from the wand tips to Harry’s face, his expression grew even more scared. He almost trembled as recognition of who he held on to dawned on him.

Harry stopped laughing the second his was grabbed by the man. All too often Harry had been grabbed, pulled, shoved, or struck for no reason and it wasn’t going to happen again. "I suggest you release me, Sir," Harry spoke quietly as Tonks pressed her wand into the man’s chest even harder. "I am not the one jumping at my own shadow."

The man swallowed hard and released Harry instantly trying to smooth out Harry’s freshly rumpled robes. He saw the unspoken threat in Harry’s eyes. In that instant he knew what it took to look death in the face and he knew he didn’t have it in him. The young man never trembled or blinked from fear like he was having trouble preventing as he tried to move away. "Most of us still remember the first time, Mr. Potter."

Harry snorted brushing the comment aside. "Learn from the mistakes of the first time so we aren’t repeating them. Otherwise, Voldemort is that much closer to victory than us."

The collective gasps and screams around the alley caused Harry to close his eyes and shake his head. When he opened his eyes he saw many looking around as if the devil was after them. "If mention of his name reduces all of you to this state, then we truly are lost." Harry returned his wand to its place and led Tonks to Gringotts ignoring the stares and whispers that grew around him.

They entered the bank with two goblins bowing him in and another inside the bank waving him back allowing Harry to avoid the lines completely. A few people inside the bank watched as Harry move passed them. They seemed captivated by his presence far more than ever before for some reason.

"What are they on about?" Harry asked Tonks and Griphook who joined them just inside the gilded doors.

"I believe that you have missed the Daily Prophet today, Harry?" Griphook asked.

"Yeah, I missed that one," Harry answered. "Anything good in there for a change?"

"Only if you follow stocks and business," Griphook said as he grinned the evil smile that all goblins seemed to possess. On Harry’s visible confusion, he elaborated. "Aside from the rumours about mass killings and other Death Eater activity, your recent acquisitions have made news. The reasoning behind your actions has been printed but the information did not come from us, I assure you."

"It wouldn’t be that hard to figure out would it?" Tonks asked. "If you really looked at what was going on you could figure it out, right?"

"If you had a keen mind for business and its inner workings," Griphook pondered out loud, "maybe." They were directed passed two guards and goblin security on the double doors to find an impressive office. It had a large table in rich wood surrounded by chairs with a matching desk and high-backed chair behind it. On the table were piles of papers and other documents.

"Griphook?" Harry asked not sure what was going on.

"Harry, you are here to affirm our activity on your behalf," Griphook said before being cut off by the doors opening again allowing Ragnok access the room.

"Ragnok," Harry spoke warmly. "Pleasure to see you again." Harry shook the goblin’s hand and assisted him into one of the seats at the large table.

"As I have grown accustomed," Ragnok greeted, "I look forward to our meetings, Harry. I need you to authorize our purchases of the last few days. We only have one week to approve them before they are statutorily rejected. It is a carry over of old times, but it is merely a formality. I can explain each and every transaction if you want or I can give you the highlights. Which would you prefer?"

Harry didn’t need to think about it before giving his answer, "Highlights please."

"Excellent," Ragnok replied as he pushed the largest pile of papers away and pulled the smaller stack closer. "In summation, the entire Black Family inheritance was depleted to acquire what you asked us to carry out. We also made noticeable inroads into the Potter Family account as well. The stocks took an initial hit from the aggressive purchasing pattern we initiated, but many bounced back once news of your involvement became public knowledge.

"The boards of the affected companies are notified when a purchase of more than one percent of the total corporate shares are made by one person." Ragnok smiled as he hesitated for a few seconds. "I have never received more owls in one day than I did on any of the days between Friday and today. Most executives saw their controlling five to ten percent of ownership disappear into nothingness as you added thousands of shares to your portfolio. I have a list of the companies where you own a controlling stake and are required to attend their board meetings or select a designate in your stead." Ragnok slid the list across the table to Harry smiling the entire time.

"I also have a list of those companies where you own more than fifty percent of the shares." Ragnok laughed an evil laugh after telling Harry that. "Since you most likely are unsure what that means, I will tell you. Having that many shares makes you not only a controlling owner, but the majority owner. Even if every other shareholder disagreed with you on a vote, you would still win. Essentially, you can direct the company in whatever direction you wish.

"Many of these companies are in questionable industries with equally questionable products or practices. I will tell you that they tend to have some of the highest rates of return though. Financially, it would be best to leave them as is until you earn back enough money to become as stable as you once were. Don’t get me wrong by thinking that you aren’t stable now, but you are a distance from being as secure as you were before this spending spree.

"In five to ten years you should have regained about thirty percent of your expenditures. Patience is the key to investing, Harry. The complete list is here," Ragnok slid another list towards Harry smiling the whole time as well. "I can tell you that after the darker holdings, you have many perfectly legitimate companies firmly in your portfolio. The International Broom Company, makers of the Firebolt line and other specialized brooms, and the Cleansweep Broom Company are two of the more famous and profitable ones considering the cost to profit ratio involved in production. You have considerable stakes in a potion supply company, a Wizarding publisher, a muggle book seller, three muggle petroleum companies, an auto manufacturer, and a series of shops scattered about the world."

"What do you mean by a considerable stake?" Harry asked while looking over the list. His eyes popped out as he saw a few of the names printed on the sheet.

Ragnok folded his hands before answering. "Considerable means a respectable voting share. Nothing as arrogant as forty percent or more but nothing as weak as one percent. You seem to be at five to twenty percent ownership for at least twenty different companies."

Harry continued through the magical list before scanning the muggle one. He stopped dead when he saw a name that he had figured was long behind him. "Grunnings?"

Ragnok tapped his fingers together in thought. "Yes, Grunnings. If I remember correctly, a muggle company of some sort involving drills. Your fifteen percent share of the business came from the Potter side of things. It was purchased during a market downturn years ago. I believe the infusion of money propped up the company enough so it could survive the lull in business. I have no idea why the purchase was made nor why it has been kept for so long. The company has a lower rate of return than most of the others in the portfolio too. There is, however, a sealed document attached to the purchase agreement. Only a family member can break the seal on our side and the muggles haven’t been forthcoming on the terms despite our requests for clarification."

"My uncle works there," Harry said not knowing why his father or maybe his mum would have helped the company Vernon worked at. ‘Maybe this is why they took care of me? No, Vernon would have tried to get to the shares years ago if he knew about them.’ "I have no idea why they did that, but there must have been a good reason."

"Of the Potter history of investments, that purchase makes the least sense," Ragnok explained while shaking his head. "If you wish to dissolve your involvement in the company, tell me and it will be taken care of immediately. The papers will find out who made these purchases, Harry. Once the fervor over the escape dies down, they will check their backlog of stories and this massive financial shift will not go unnoticed even by those fools at the Prophet. Please be aware that it will happen sooner or later."

"Will they know about all of them?" Harry asked while he slid his hand into Tonks’ under the table.

"Some were hidden to all but the board members, but enough of them were publicly handled as usual." Ragnok shook his head, "You know the Prophet only needs a few examples before printing that you did all of them. Fact has always been of the lowest priority to them. Shopkeepers will treat you differently when they find out. They will give you free items as fast as you can take them. They will hope for a snapshot of you holding their product to be printed." Ragnok laughed before adding, "As if it wasn’t bad enough before, you will be the businessman’s best friend now."

"Why?" Harry asked looking rather sick.

Ragnok waved his aged hand at the lists of companies Harry owned. "You have access to nearly every stage of production here. From the raw materials coming out of your mines or mills, to the design or invention stage from some of your firms, to the finished product and distribution of the items your companies make. Any business would have an edge over the others if you were to help them out. You are effectively a conglomerate of your own with links to most industries. I am very interested in learning how to leverage your influence on these businesses to maximize your income. In the last few days, I have been helping Griphook learn the delicacies of this kind of venture. If this is done correctly, you could make your investment back in a few years should the market keep improving."

"Um," Harry stalled as he turned to Tonks wearing a lost look. "What do you need from me? You can do what ever you think is best at this point as long as the money doesn’t get into Voldemort’s hands."

Ragnok chuckled before signaling to Griphook. The younger goblin leaned over and placed a box on the table. Ragnok opened a bottle of ink and produced a normal looking quill before sliding them towards Harry. "I simply need you to sign these documents affirming our work over the last few days. I know it is a tedious task, but only you can do it. I will leave you to it then."

Ragnok and Griphook left the room to Harry and Tonks as they stared at the box. Tonks removed the lid and laughed. "What?" Harry asked knowing he wasn’t going to like answer.

"It is full, Harry," Tonks smirked. "Hope your hand is well rested, dear."

With a sigh, Harry grabbed the quill and dipped it in the ink well. "Bloody hell."


On Tuesday Harry and Tonks worked with Team Two some more and more often than not they were combined missions. Harry’s team took up the support role while Harry and Thor usually made entry into the buildings or structures they were assaulting. Harry learned a lot of spells designed to force enemies to seek cover and a few new offensive ones.

As warned, Thor seemed eager to take Ceps under his wing and teach him all he knew about attacking and winning. The day was filled with aggressive magic and debris flying all over the training room. Harry spent two short stints in Medical to repair a cracked rib and a gash on his right leg, but he always hurried back to learn more from Horace and Team Two. Horace told them near the end of the day that they would be required to come in on Wednesday, early in the evening, for a mission they had been assigned. No details were given other than an order to resume their training.

As the lessons ended, Harry and Tonks Apparated back to Potter Estate to plan for the next day. Harry had yet to open his Hogwarts’ letter and Tonks couldn’t help but bounce in place in expectation of him opening it.

"Come on," Tonks whined. "Open it already. Troll or not, I will still kiss you." Tonks proved her word by snogging Harry until he fell over the arm of the couch causing them to land in a pile on top of each other. "Open it or you won’t get to play with my breasts tonight. It is that simple."

"Are you threatening me?" Harry asked while cocking his eyebrow in challenge. Tonks met his eyes and never wavered. "You know that if you won’t let me play with them I most likely won’t do anything else with you." Harry watched as Tonks’ expression cracked for a second before she tried to recover from it.

"Umm," Tonks bit her lower lip slightly. "That is a terrible thing to say, Harry. How can you be so cruel to me? I am hopelessly cute and endlessly playful. I can do that thing with my tongue that you like so much." Putting on her best pout, Tonks gazed into Harry’s eyes. "You wouldn’t do that to me, would you?"

Harry held his position and looked into her eyes for a few seconds. "I can and I will, Nymphadora." Harry slipped into Tonks willing mind and let her essence creep into his. "You aren’t serious, Nymph. I know you aren’t just like you haven’t been all the other times." Harry desperately hoped his interpretation was correct and Tonks was just kidding again like she had been the many times before.

"You know me too well, Harry. I can’t get enough of you and that, good sir, is my only weakness."

"Except for stairs," Harry added playfully counting off his fingers. "Runners, curbs, cloaks some of the time, the covers after a really good…"

"Hush you," Tonks scolded him before planting a warm kiss on his lips. She held it for a few minutes allowing her tongue to explore his wanting mouth. "Now, open that letter so we can plan for tomorrow. I have a few things I might want to get." Tonks’ wink and flutter of a laugh sent Harry into a mental spin as his mind tried to figure out what she meant and how that could affect him.

Harry was distracted from his increasingly wild thoughts by Tonks flipping the letter onto his chest. He kept seeing the same thing in her eyes when she was relaxed or being playful. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew he liked it all the same. "Fine, I will open it just to make you happy."

Tonks quickly slid off of his chest and into a sitting position. She beamed at him and watched the letter intently. Harry sat up and picked up the letter. Next to the first letter that he had ever received, the letter in his hands meant the most. His entire future at Hogwarts depended on the grades he got on his OWLs. He hesitated before opening the envelope and Tonks gave him a muffled whimper to urge him on.

With a painfully slow motion, Harry drug out the letter opening process earning himself a few more whimpers from Tonks and a couple of pouts. "Why are you so anxious?"

"It is not every day that I get to see an OWL letter opened," Tonks answered trying to look into the envelope. "Oh hurry up."

Harry couldn’t help but slow down. "I will get to it when I get to it, Nymph." Harry relished in how Tonks fretted and pouted at him. She really wanted to see the results and her hair began changing colours without her consciously doing it. "Your hair is visiting a carnival, Nymph."

Tonks looked up and saw the colours rotating wildly. She looked back at Harry and smirked. "It will go back to normal when you finally open that bloody letter."

Harry laughed and finished breaking the seal on the letter. He discarded the outer cover and held the contents in his hand waiting for Tonks to return to normal. She closed her eyes and her hair changed back. "Now, read it off and no dragging it out or you will get it."

Harry chuckled at the serious look Tonks gave him. He laughed even more when her lips twitched fighting her own laughter. The contest lasted until Tonks gave in and kissed Harry firmly. In a throaty growl, she told him to open the letter so they could make plans and then run upstairs to have fun. Swallowing deeply, Harry flipped open the letter and read the scores without wasting an extra second.


OWL Results: Harry J. Potter

Astronomy — A

Care of Magical Creatures — E

Charms — E

Defence Against the Dark Arts — O

Divination — P

Herbology — E

History of Magic — D

Potions — E

Transfiguration — E

Total OWLs — 7 of 9, Congratulations

The following classes are available to you during the upcoming year:

NEWT level — Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Transfiguration

Standard level — Astronomy, Potions

Electives — Ancient Runes, Apparition, Arithmancy, Business, Healing, Magical Languages, Muggle Studies, Politics

You are required to carry a minimum of five classes at the beginning of the year and must maintain no less than four classes at all times.


"Professor McGonagall added in that not getting into Potions complicates my hope of becoming an auror, but she would be willing file a protest on my behalf if I want her to."

"Do you want her to do that?" Tonks asked congratulating Harry with a kiss and rubbing her breasts against his arm. "Do you want to become a stuffy old auror when you kind of have the best of it as an Unspeakable? Besides, you can live off of your holdings unless everything goes downside-up."

Harry thought about his choices. ‘Auror is a long shot at best considering Snape is a lying berk and I can’t learn anything from him in the first place. I should probably learn more about business since I guess I am into that whether I like it or not.’ "There is always Quidditch if I live long enough."

Harry took a sound rapping on the head for his comment as Tonks struck him with her hand. "Don’t you ever talk like that, Harry." Her eyes glistened as she stared him down. "Don’t even joke about it. You are going to live through this and that is the attitude you have to have. Do you hear me?"

Harry was completely shocked by how Tonks reacted to his flippant comment. "I was only trying to be honest, Nymph."

"If you were honest," Tonks corrected wagging her finger at him, "you would say that you are going to become the best Quidditch player this country has ever had. You are going to take England to the World Cup and win it a few times. I never want to hear you talk about your death like that again. Do you hear me?" The last was whispered so softly Harry found himself leaning forward to hear her.

He pulled Tonks into a hug and kissed her head. "I hear you and I am sorry. I won’t joke about it again. I have never really had much of a future to consider before now. This is all new to me and I am a little scared. Of course I will deny that if you ever bring it up. I am Harry Potter after all and I am scared of nothing." Harry puffed out his chest trying to get a laugh out of Tonks.

It worked as she laughed into his neck and ran her hand down his chest. Harry followed up the pleasant action by trailing kisses down her forehead and temple to her neck and the hollow of her collarbone. Harry kept kissing for a few minutes until Tonks cooed softly and relaxed into his efforts. Deciding to be mean, Harry pulled back and brightly asked, "So what classes should I take?"

Tonks groaned and smacked him on the arm. "You will suffer for that one, Potter. I promise you that." She stared him down before looking over the list of classes to choose from. "Potions, Divination, and History of Magic should do you well along with Healing, Herbology, and Politics. There, that makes six classes and a solid year for you."

Harry looked at Tonks like she had turned into Voldemort himself. "You have got to be daft. I hate most of those classes and am no good in the others. Are you joking?"

Harry watched as Tonks’ serious appearance slowly cracked under the pressure. Before she outright laughed, she said, "Stop when I am getting going will you? This is only a taste of what you can expect, Harry."

Harry shook his head and laughed. "I was only teasing. You know I will make good on my promises later, but this is important. A lot depends on this. I don’t want to stuff it up before I even get going."

"Oh, Harry this is so easy," Tonks chided. She scanned the list quickly before offering her real opinion. "Defence, Charms, Transfiguration, Magical Creatures, Apparition since you can test out of it now, Business, and Politics would be the best ones to sign up for."

"But," Harry whined, "I hate Politics. I am no good at it, not even close."

"You have been doing it all summer long, Harry. Amelia, Ragnok, Horace, Jones for that matter, Dumbledore, and Fudge; are all examples of your political savvy."

"You have got to be touched in the head to think that! I hurt Jones and Horace. I argued with Dumbledore and befriended Ragnok. Amelia was just being in the right place at the right time. Fudge was just telling people what they needed to hear. There wasn’t an ounce of politics to it."

Tonks simply looked at Harry as if he was little child that couldn’t figure out how to put on his own shoes. "Right place right time, befriending, use of force, talking or arguing…sounds like politics to me, Harry. You really don’t know what you can accomplish do you? My you need a lot of work. Good thing you have an amazing girlfriend like me to mold you into something otherwise you could end up being some dodgy git with a complex."

Harry sighed as Tonks leaned in closer. She moved to sit on his lap as he looked over the form. Tonks unbuttoned his top button and walked her fingers around his chest before repeating the action to the second button. Harry Summoned a quill and marked the ones he decided to take. With a careless flick, Harry chucked the quill and the form over his shoulder and buried his mouth into Tonks’ neck resuming his activities from before.

Her shrieks of enjoyment sounded through the house as Harry lifted her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. By the time the bedroom door closed, Tonks shirt was falling down her arms to the floor and Harry’s mouth was firmly ensconced in her mounds. Harry closed the door with a kick of his foot.


Wednesday dawned as Harry pulled his head out of the spot between Tonks’ head and shoulder. A deep breath awoke her enough that she reached out and pulled Harry back into place. A hug followed that had Harry feeling safe and secure in her arms. He didn’t know how she managed it with such a simple act, but time and time again Tonks made Harry feel safe and very welcome.

"You were the one wanting to go shopping so bad," Harry quipped.

"We have a mission tonight and it could be a long one. There is no reason to get up so early. Now, we are having a lie in and that is that."

Harry placed a kiss on the back of Tonks’ shoulder allowing his hand to roam under the sheets and over her naked body. "If you insist, Nymphadora Tonks."

In a soft but throaty sigh, Tonks breathed, "I insist, Harry."


Harry awoke from a relaxed sleep that had been aided by the enjoyable exhaustion that Tonks helped him achieve. He felt soft fingers trailing along his chest and heard an equally soft hum coming from the woman sharing his bed. "How long have you been up?"

Tonks giggled and kissed his chest. "Not as long as you, but that wasn’t what you were really asking was it?" Harry felt the heat wash over him as Tonks laughed causing her nipples to brush his side. "I can still make you blush, Harry. Never forget I will always have that over you."

"Need I mention what I can do to you?" Harry asked hinting at a few things he had found that drove her crazy.

"No need, Harry," Tonks submitted easily. "It is nearly noon so we should be going so we can get everything taken care of before Horace expects us in."

Tonks tried to slide out of the bed, but Harry held her to him tightly. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. He focused on the scent and the feel of her before letting his arms relax. "Alright, I guess we should go."

After two quick showers, Harry found his completed form in the living room. He sealed it with wax and sent it off with Hedwig who soared out of the open window in the kitchen. He deposited his school letter in his cloak pocket before grasping Tonks’ hand. With a smile and a wink, Harry Apparated them to the alley next to the Leaky Cauldron. With a few fun-filled steps, Tonks and Harry stumbled into the pub on their way to the back and the entrance for the alley.

Harry found himself to be quite the spectacle as he moved through the bustling pub. There were kids scattered about along with their parents in addition to the normal patrons. What struck Harry odd was that even some of the people he knew from school followed his movements as if he was a first year again. "What are they on about now?" Harry saw Ernie Macmillan in the corner of the pub eating lunch with an averaged sized woman and a little boy that looked frighteningly like Ernie. "Hey, Ernie," Harry called out ignoring those who quieted to hear what he had to say.

Harry and Tonks walked over to Ernie and most likely his mum and brother. "Ernie, what is going on around here?" Harry asked gesturing to the room who still watched Harry intently.

"Oh, hi Harry," Ernie said as if he hadn’t been watching Harry as well. "Great seeing you again. Had a good summer?"

Harry eyed him carefully wondering if he was ill or something. When he saw the little boy almost wetting himself as he quivered in his seat and tugging on Ernie’s sleeve, Harry took a guess. "You must be Ernie’s brother. Pleasure to meet you."

"Jimmy," the titchy boy mumbled as he shook Harry’s hand like it was made of very fragile glass. "You’re Harry Potter?"

"Right in one," Harry humoured him. "So, care to tell me why everyone is acting like they are? It is not like they haven’t seen me before."

"Um, well Harry, it’s like this…" Ernie paused. "Haven’t read the Prophet today, have you?"

"No," Harry responded knowing he wasn’t going to like the answer. "I gave it up for summer. What rubbish have they been writing about me this time? Haven’t checked into the mental ward at Mungo’s, have I? That would be a shock to more than a few I can tell you."

Ernie laughed nervously and checked over his shoulder before leaning in close and speaking just loud enough for his table to hear him. "They said you went off and bought up most the Wizarding world. I always figured you had some money, but…" Ernie stopped when Harry sighed and looked to Tonks.

"I guess the escape news wasn’t captivating enough," Harry rubbed his face in frustration. "What else have they been saying?" Harry looked up to see Ernie openly gaping at him as if he was a spectacle on some low-budget sideshow. "What now?"

"You mean it is true?" Ernie gasped.

"I made a few purchases," Harry defended. "But it was only to get the Death Eaters out of the companies so their money would be out in the open again. I asked Amelia to seize it, but I haven’t heard what happened with that idea."

"You mean Minister Bones?" Ernie asked and received a simple nod in return. "So did you threaten Fudge at the Ministry and toss him out too?"

"I wouldn’t go that far," Harry tried to put the picture into perspective. "I did challenge his abilities and question his motives. I guess I insulted him too, but I couldn’t help myself on that one. He makes it so easy sometimes." Harry looked up to see Tonks smiling at him and Ernie still imitating a fish. His mum had the presence of mind to fight her urge to gawk, but she did a poor job on it while Jimmy merely stared with open awe.

"That was true too?" Ernie looked to his mum for some help and found none. "They also had an article about you challenging all of Diagon Alley and You-Know-Who."

"At least they have gotten most of the high points accurate enough even for them," Harry commented to Tonks. "It wasn’t like I called Voldemort out for a duel or anything." Harry jumped at the sharp gasp of breath Ernie’s mum took in and the stifled shriek from Jimmy. "Oh, it is just a made up name. Quit being scared of only a name. Now the real thing is kind of frightening, but the name is just a name."

With a revered gaze, Ernie spoke. "Says the man who slays dragons, fights Dementors, and breaks into the Ministry while managing to avoid every teacher in the process."

"There was only one dragon," Harry said firmly while quietly slipping in, "a couple different times. I will give you the Dementors though, but I never broke into the Ministry. I simply walked in. The door was open I tell you and there were no guards."

"Only a dozen Death Eaters and Him," Tonks added nudging Harry in the shoulder. She glowed as Harry nodded to the truth she mentioned.

"I just get lucky, Ernie, nothing more," Harry said and was rewarded with a smack to the head. "Some would disagree with me on that though."

"As much as I wish I could be as strong as you, Harry, I think I would do better just being me." Ernie looked to his mum and found her smiling at him like most mums would when they heard their child was satisfied with who they were.

Harry stood and Tonks followed. "Being me isn’t all it is cracked up to be. See you on the train." Harry and Tonks made their way through the crowds with quite a bit of ease since most people moved aside for Harry if they saw him coming and everyone did.

The last thing Harry heard as he opened the door to the rear alley was Jimmy shouting, "You really do know him. You weren’t lying to me." Harry drew his wand and tapped the proper bricks revealing the entrance to Diagon Alley. What Harry saw was an alley filled to the brim with people bumping into each other at every turn. Children ran in and out of adults whose arms were laden with bags and books and animals.

"Is it Hogwarts’ letter day or something?" Harry asked Tonks.

"No idea, Harry. Remember I spend all my time with you. I am not all that connected to the real world right now what with living in Potter Fantasy Land and all."

"Hey that is my home you are besmirching. You would do well to remember that Jules sleeps all alone in the stable. I am sure she would love to have company."

Tonks shuddered with images of the griffin and her making ‘nice’. "You wouldn’t dare do that to me. You aren’t evil enough for that kind of treatment."

Harry laughed and led the way to Flourish & Blotts. He received the same kind of treatment from the alley patrons as the ones in the Leaky Cauldron. Many moved out of his way as if he was some celebrity who was better than them or a leper that couldn’t be touched for fear of life and limb. Harry did his best to ignore both kinds.

He waved to his friends from school and kept an eye out for potential threats. Tonks did the same and counted the number of aurors in the crowd. She was surprised by the number of them patrolling the alley. "Harry, we are surrounded by aurors. If anything happens, the crossfire situation would be atrocious."

"Let us hope nothing happens then," Harry sighed as he looked over the crowd too. He spotted the auror cloaks easily enough and the wandering eyes of normally dressed people scanning for threats. "Bit of everything here today, huh?"

They entered the book seller with a very specific list of books they needed to get before they could leave. Harry found the next book for NEWT level Defence. In the same section, Harry saw a few books that normally would have peaked his interest, but they failed to appeal to him in the same way. He knew many of them wouldn’t have the right spells to use against groups of people or an enemy willing to do anything.

As those thoughts swam in his mind, Harry wondered if he was becoming like those he fought against. Did they think what spells would kill the most people? Did they ponder the effects of a well placed Reductor Curse as opposed to a Cutting spell? Harry grew more confused as he stood in the isle holding the book for another year of Defence at Hogwarts. "What criminal element are we going to be exposed to this time? Vampire maybe? How about a banshee, we haven’t had one of those yet."

"Don’t you want someone that you can learn from and not worry about them trying to kill you?" Tonks asked appalled at Harry’s attitude.

"With the exception of Remus, they have all tried to kill me at one point or another and learning from them is second to that. Either way I guess I could do Dumbledore’s Army again, but I think I will have to change the name first. I am not his solider any longer."

They moved around the shop picking out the books Harry needed for Charms, Transfiguration, Business, and Politics. Harry skipped the Apparition text since it was redundant and Care of Magical Creatures used the two books from fourth and fifth year for the NEWT level class. With Harry’s arms nicely weighed down with books, they made their way to the teller stand. They stood in the long line and crept forward as people paid and left.

When Harry reached the front, one of the clerks saw him and went quiet before calling a manager over. Harry watched as the man stumbled over himself apologizing for making Harry wait in line. Harry just shook his head in response trying to end the scene playing out in front of him. Fed up with the fuss, Harry asked, "How much?"

Harry’s frustration grew as the manager refused to take Harry’s money. "You are a partner in our business. Your money is no good here."

Harry attempted to keep his calm but he was failing as fast as the seconds ticked by. Reaching his limit, Harry dumped his books into a provided bag and set a handful of galleons on the counter. "For the next person since you won’t take my money." Harry turned and left the store grumbling about arse-kissing sales people and managers grabbing at those who might be able to help them out in life.

"Bad taste in your mouth, Harry?" Tonks asked watching Harry deal with his frustration at being who he was in public.

"Yes." Harry kept his desire to return to the store and curse the manager in check as Tonks led him to Florean Fortescue’s. She sat him down in a seat looking out on the busy alley before she went inside for ice cream. Harry settled his angry thoughts as he watched parents and children hurry about. The noise was a welcomed distraction from his surreal life. The hustle and bustle of people moving around him allowed Harry a rare moment to be himself and go relatively unnoticed by most people.

He happily watched the world pass him by with no shouts of death threats or curses against him. A small smile spread across his face as he thought about the last few weeks and how much better it had been than all the others combined. He thought about Tonks and how important she had been in the summer being so pleasant.

"Dreaming about your near-future death, Potter," called a familiar voice.

Harry sighed and let his memories slide back behind his mental barrier just in case. "Actually I am patiently waiting for the day that your Death Eater father receives the Dementor’s Kiss right before Voldemort gets his." Harry smiled evilly as he turned his head to spy Draco and his friends cringing from the easy mention of the Dark Lord’s name. "Even you are afraid of the name. Tut tut, Malfoy. I expected better from you at least."

"Joke while you can Potter," Malfoy eased out with practiced intimidation. "You know things are only going to be worse now that the Ministry has misplaced a few people. They might even show up at your house or maybe your friends’ houses."

"You are far too weak at intimidation to scare me, Malfoy," Harry drolled on as if he was bored. "And you are showing exactly how out-of-touch you really are. Voldemort has already tried to get quite a few of my friends this summer and he has failed each and every time. Sad really, but what could you expect from a half-blood like him. His father was a muggle through and through. Seems like misplaced hatred from his childhood to me, but I am not a psychologist so I can’t be sure."

"It is bad enough you speak His name as if He isn’t the strongest person to ever live, but you further insult Him with your lies," Malfoy seethed glaring at Harry as he casually watched the Slytherin and the two goons behind him.

"I can and will insult the Dark Tosser whenever it seems prudent. Please take your insults and your threats and leave me in peace," Harry dismissed Malfoy with a wave. "You have monopolized enough of my Wednesday so be off with you."

"Or you will what, Potter?" Malfoy challenged. "Attack me in front of an alley full of people who think you walk on water? Might damage your golden-boy appearance."

"I have no concern for what they think of me, Malfoy," Harry kept his casual appearance but readied for something to go wrong. "Now, please leave. Your puttering about has interrupted an otherwise superb day."

"Problems, Harry?" Tonks asked as she set the ice cream down on their table.

"Nothing that I haven’t dealt with many times before, Tonks."

"Well well if it isn’t my disowned slut of a cousin," Malfoy said never noticing how close he came to losing his head.

Harry had drawn his wand and been half way through casting the Severing Ribbon spell when Tonks placed her hand on his wand hand to stop Harry from bringing it into view out from underneath the table.

"You could only wish to know all the things you think you know, Draco," Tonks said as silkily as any Malfoy could have accomplished. "How is your father these days? I heard he has gone rather feral and got himself hurt during his last escapade."

Draco eyed her carefully. "What do you know of it?"

"I am an auror after all," Tonks explained. "I have access to all of the reports filed by the department."

"My father is fine and I haven’t seen him since before he was wrongly accused of being a Death Eater." Malfoy looked around as he said the words. Either hoping the right people were listening or the wrong ones weren’t.

"Keep trying to convince yourself of that, Malfoy," Harry added. "Now, again, please leave. I would hate to see you make a scene in the middle of Diagon Alley."

"And how would I do that, Potter?"

"Why, by getting your arse kicked by me of course," Harry said slowly without hesitation before taking a large bite of ice cream. "This is excellent, Tonks, thank you."

Malfoy watched how calm Harry was and how effortless the comments were spoken. He felt his own body nearing failure as his heart raced and his vision shrunk into tight focal points. Trying to get in the last word, Malfoy said, "He is going to come for you, Potter."

"And when he does, Malfoy, I will be sure to let you know how it ends up." Harry smirked before looking back to Tonks and striking up a conversation while completely ignoring Malfoy as he fumed in place from being soundly dismissed.

Harry looked at Tonks but kept his true focus on Malfoy the entire time. He watched the furious teen storm off with his goons trailing behind him. "Thank Merlin he left finally. I was beginning to wonder if I would have to curse him to get my point across or not."

"And you were the better man for not resorting to that," Tonks complimented.

"Still would have been a smashing good time though."

Harry and Tonks ate their ice cream in a surprising amount of anonymity. Harry still felt the eyes of passersby, but they didn’t linger long enough to raise the alert. When they were finished, Harry led Tonks away from Diagon Alley and into the same small off shoot that led to the fancy restaurant they had eaten at weeks prior. Harry asked Tonks to wait for him at the door while he slipped inside for a few seconds.

When he returned, they wondered back to the Alley and Harry couldn’t help but drift into Quality Quidditch Supplies with Tonks following close behind. Harry wandered the moderately busy shop looking at everything that was Quidditch. He saw new pads that he figured he would need for his seventh year since his current ones were starting to show their wear. A few new brooms hung in the front window like the Comet 320, Nimbus 3000, and the same display model Firebolt.

"Bugger, I thought they would have a new Firebolt out," Harry complained.

"Want a new one?" Tonks asked looking thoughtful.

"I would hate to keep using mine in case it gets destroyed like my Nimbus did. Sirius got me that broom and I think I should try to keep it safe or something."

"Getting sentimental in your old age, Harry?" Tonks asked laughing at his reaction which was trying to hide his head.

Harry recovered quickly and held his head high. "Speaking of old…" Harry slid his eyes from the 320 to Tonks and smirked.

"Life in your own hands, Harry, in your own hands," Tonks said as she patted the pocket she kept her wand in. In response, Harry lifted his eyebrows accepting her threat happily.

They continued perusing until Harry was cornered by the shopkeeper. "You seem to have an eye for brooms, Mr.?" The man looked closely at Harry for a second before realizing who it was. Harry held his hand out in a quick attempt to still the man’s imminent outcry.

"Pleasure," Harry hurried on trying to distract the man. "I was looking for something to replace my Firebolt. I wish to protect it from damage. It has sentimental value." Harry said the last giving Tonks a glare.

"I am sorry, Mr.…" Harry stopped the man from saying his name out loud. "The Firebolt is the fastest broom out right now. It is rare that anyone can afford a top-of-the-range broom that isn’t being sponsored by a professional Quidditch team. Why I still remember the day I sold that very Firebolt you speak of. It was the only one I sold to a private citizen albeit anonymously."

"Nothing better, huh," Harry said looking discouraged. "I guess I will just have to keep using it then. Well, we should be going. Thank you for your help, sir."

Harry and Tonks left the store and traveled to Eeylops Owl Emporium to pick up a package of owl treats for Hedwig. Harry had been running low and knew that she would be quite cross with him if he ran out. "Can’t forget these or I will be hated for weeks."

"Still wrapped around Hedwig’s talon I see," Tonks chided in good humour.

When they left the Emporium, Tonks led Harry to Madam Malkin’s. "Um, I have enough clothes, thanks."

"Who said I am looking for you, Harry." Tonks stated depositing Harry into a chair near the back of the store before disappearing for a few minutes. Harry spent his time working on his Occlumency skills since he had time to kill. Tonks returned with a moderate bulge in her cloak and a coy smile on her face.

When they left the clothiers, Tonks got a weird feeling and hurried Harry through the fading crowd and back to the Leaky Cauldron. She urged him forward and out into muggle London so they could Apparate away safely.

"Care to explain all that, Nymph?" Harry asked.

"Bad feeling is all, nothing for sure. Did you feel anything that was off?"

Harry thought about it but shook his head. "Nothing stands out. Maybe you were overacting?"

"Maybe," Tonks relented but didn’t look all too confident.


After a nice meal prepared by Tiki with Dobby’s help, whether it was wanted or not, Harry and Tonks arrived at the Ministry in their cloaks and ready to carry out whatever they were asked to do.

They entered the training room and were quickly rounded up into the briefing being led by Horace who looked more relaxed than normal when an assignment was given. "Team One has been on scene for a couple days rotating out with Team Six as needed. We have chosen our target based on its significance, visibility, and for the sheer fact that we know the sodding owner is a fucking Death Eater who has, until recently, stayed out of our grasps.

"With the Ministry protective circle broken, we will be traveling to Wiltshire tonight to execute what I hope is a thoroughly destructive investigation and apprehension. The coordinates are listed on the board behind me so memorize them. We will have to travel the remaining distance on foot since the wards protecting the target are quite strong and have triggers built in to them to alert the occupants should an attempt to temper with them fails.

"As is common with most aristocratic nobs, they have layered their wards in the most arrogant way. They left the Repelling wards on the outside of the triggers so those wards have been down for days already. Merlin, I live for this kind of thing. We will strike on two fronts. Team Two from the front and Team Three from the rear. Team One will monitor the perimeter for any escaping targets and they will try to escape. We have reports of hidden tunnels leading away from the target and that is where One comes into play.

"They will attack and subdue who they can. If the enemy resist, they will be struck down. Two and Three, be aware that there is most likely a couple of non-targets inside the objective and may fight back in due course. Your goal is to subdue them but not kill them unless they act on it first. We are hoping to reacquire a few lost souls who were going to be founts of intel for the war effort. As such, we want prisoners, Thor. I know your life is important to you, but perhaps your tolerance for danger can be elevated for one night.

"Watch your wand tip since the other team will be coming in from the other side. I do not want to receive a message stating that we offed one of our own. I will be extremely cross towards all of you if that happens. Now, prepare a working strategy then Apparate in and let’s get a few of our Death Eaters back. They have been on holiday long enough." Horace clapped his hands together before walking off looking very buoyant.

"Did he get knocked in the head recently?" Harry asked Tonks but loud enough that Thor heard him.

"Nah, he just loves this sort of thing," Thor explained. "Horace loves sticking it to the better-than-you crowd. If I am not mistaken, this should be a wonderful mission even if we come up blank. Nothing like trashing another’s home and not having to fix it up afterwards."

"Remind me never to have you over for a party," Harry quipped jokingly thinking of the scolding he would get at the hands of Tiki and Paul not to mention what Jules would do to the guests if she had the chance.

Harry and Robeen gathered together for a few minutes to figure out a simple plan of timing and coverage areas when they breeched the target’s defenses. Both teams traveled to the coordinates in Wiltshire and walked the remaining way to meet up with Gillian. They gathered near the border of the property line and well away from the last wards protecting the building which was an old estate home sporting firm stone blocks and ivy dangling from every surface. A couple of towers loomed over the squarish structure adding more height to everything. Stained glass cast an almost soft glow to the home that accommodated killers.

Harry watched the ancient trees surrounding the home move with the light breeze that also teased the grass beneath them. The house was nice but there was a feeling filth that seemed to exude from it tainting everything that it came in contact with. Harry forced himself to focus on the matter at hand and participated in the briefing.

The assault seemed simple enough with Two hitting the front and Three hitting the rear simultaneously. One would put up wards to stop the targets from escaping and keep them inside the house for the other two teams to finish them off. Harry and his team knew what they had to do and they seemed ready to accomplish it as they snuck around to the rear of the property.

Harry looked around the property and saw a small shed near the tree line on the edge of the manicured lawn, a stone bench near a small fountain, and rows of flowerbeds. Team Three moved together and took up a triangle formation waiting for the appointed time. Harry knew Gillian and her team would take down the last of the wards and put up their own in quick succession. He also knew Cal would lag behind to cover them as he and Tonks entered the rear door while at the same time Robeen and his people stormed the front.

Harry knew he had to sweep through the ground floor quickly because Robeen was taking the upper floors. He had to prevent anyone from escaping while keeping the innocents from getting hurt. The thing was, Harry had no idea who he was going up against or who the innocents were. Finally, the time came and Harry saw a faint flicker of a ward being taken down.

He readied his spells and the approach they were going to take. He visualized sneaking up to the house and entering the rear door quietly and undetected. Harry was startled out of his mental preparation by a loud gonging sound. A message spell struck him seconds later as he hurried his team forward. ‘Stuffed it. Go!’

Harry broke into a run as he pulled ahead of his team. He raised his wand and launched two Reductor Curses at the door one wanded, one wandless. The force of the spells obliterated the door and most the frame holding it in place. Bits and pieces erupted into the home as Harry sprinted through the unobstructed doorway. Once inside, Harry scanned the kitchen and dining room finding nothing.

Tonks took a hallway to the left and cleared the cupboards and a loo before they both advanced down parallel hallways leading to the foyer. Harry caught movement out of the corner of his eye and fired a Stunner at the moving form. When Harry hurried towards it, he saw a small house elf, unconscious, who had been cowering under a chair. Following procedure, Harry bound the poor thing and moved on ignoring the guilt that flooded his mind.

He and Tonks teamed up again and swept into the drawing room. They met opposition in the form of a wand wielding Narcissa Malfoy. She got off a nasty looking pinkish spell before Harry started returning fire. He alternated between Stunners, Blasting Curses, and Expelliarmus. He destroyed most of the furniture and parts of the walls as Narcissa dove for cover behind a large statue off to the side of the room.

"Surrender or we will continue leveling this room," Harry shouted as Tonks circled to the left in an attempt to flank the woman.

"Fucking Ministry can’t leave us alone," Narcissa yelled back following it with a Cutting Curse and the Entrail-Expelling Curse. "Get out now! You have no right to be here!"

Harry threw up an Imprimis shield and moved closer to Narcissa’s position but further away from where Tonks was coming from. "Throw out your wand and you will not be harmed. Keep attacking us and you may. We have been authorized to enter your home to search for..." Harry was cut off by another series of dangerous spells being launched at him by the only female Malfoy.

The curses were cut short when a flash of light struck the woman in the chest and laid her out. Harry moved ahead and swept the corners of the room searching for other targets as Tonks bound her relative with glee making the binds extra tight. "Clear," Harry called as he focused on the door and waited for Tonks to rejoin him before moving on to check an empty sitting room.

Harry saw the front door or what was left of it imbedded in the wall opposite of the doorway. Harry Levitated the elf into the drawing room and set her next to Narcissa while waiting for Team Two to finish with the upstairs. No yells or screams were heard, no spell work lit the hallways as far as could be seen from the first floor. When the three members appeared at the top of the stairs looking disappointed, Harry swore.

"Where is Draco? I know he is here somewhere?" Harry looked around for anything they could have missed during their search as the others descended the ornate and curving stairs. "The drawing room floor," Harry called out and hurried into the room.

He had just finished Levitating the elf out of the way and Banishing Narcissa into a corner when the others joined him. "What are you doing, Ceps?" Robeen asked.

"There is a hidden compartment under the floor in here."

"How do you know?" Joslin asked casting Revealing Charms around the room. "The aurors have been through the place and found nothing of the like."

"They aren’t Malfoys for no reason," Harry replied giving up on the soft approach. He began firing Reductors into the floor starting underneath the couch first. The thing was, Harry didn’t bother to move the couch before the first spell erupted from his wand. The lone, untouched item of furniture in the room exploded into unrecognizable remnants as Harry systematically repeated the action around the room.

Thor laughed as he watched Harry thrash the room. "Never invite me to a party, eh?" Thor had his laugh and joined in the fun.

It was Tonks who hit the hidden door in the floor revealing a tunnel below the room that was encased in stone. Harry was about to jump down when a series of Cutting Curses shot up from below.

"Bugger, that was close," Harry said as he pulled himself up off the floor. "Surrender now or we will attack!"

"Fuck off blood-traders," yelled back a familiar voice.

‘Found Draco at least,’ Harry thought. He watched as the spells continued to be fired from under the floor. They weren’t aimed at anything so they traveled up to the ceiling tearing chunks from the stone and wood beams holding it up. "Enough of this," Harry yelled before acting.

"Accio Draco," Harry commanded and launched repeated Stunners at the mouth of the hole. When the shrill scream of Draco broke the plain of the floor, he was hit instantly by two in-flight Stunners from Harry. Harry bound the boy as he still flew through the air before crashing to the floor across the room. "Settled that."

"Thor, Joslin," Robeen commanded. "Clear that room."

Both Unspeakables moved to the edge of the hidden door when Harry yelped and sprinted to the doorway. "Cal!" Harry yelled as he left the room running as if his life was in danger and he was a normal person who ran from that sort of thing. Chamel chased after him with Robeen following them both.

Robeen saw Harry Banish a bench out of his way and completely through an adjacent wall to clear a path to the kitchen and ultimately outside. When Robeen caught up, he saw Harry attacking a group of three men in black robes who had pinned Cal behind the stone bench from the garden that had been overturned. Robeen fired a series of spells that seemed to get lost in the flood of magic Ceps was raining down upon them. Chamel had moved away from Ceps and into a position to cover any kind of retreat Cal would attempt. ‘They have teamwork,’ Robeen thought.

Harry fired Reductors, Bone spells, and was lashing the Severing Ribbon around as if it was an extension of his own body. He attacked the two slower enemies first trying to worsen the odds for the last person. Harry dropped one with a Bone Breaking Curse to the shoulder who was bound by Robeen immediately.

Tonks attacked the quicker Death Eater trying to draw his focus away from Cal so he could retreat to a safer position. The maneuver worked and Cal was able to fall back to join Robeen and support Ceps’ and Chamel’s attack on the last two enemies that had been found.

Harry saw that Tonks was more than a match for the quicker opponent as she felled the man with a series of moderate spells that changed his visual orientation, increased the affect of gravity on him, and finally rendered him unconscious with a Bludgeoning Hex.

Harry continued his assault on his man by trying to move him into a place where the remaining Unspeakables could join in safely. When the man started retreating to the tree line, Harry let loose with repeated Bone spells followed by the Cruciatus Curse just long enough to land a Stunner. The scream was silenced in a wash of red light that gave Harry a chance to take a deep breath to ease his racing heartbeat.

"Cal, Chamel," Harry yelled out. "Alright?"

"I am fine, Ceps," Chamel answered binding all three again.

"Fine thanks to you, Ceps," Cal answered holding his left arm.

Harry saw how Cal was nursing his arm and moved to confront him. "What happened to your arm?"

"Less than what would have happened," Cal responded. "I am fine for now. Nothing a quick visit to Medical couldn’t cure."

Harry was about to argue his point, but a noise behind him forced him into action again. Harry spun and localized the noise to be coming from the shed near the trees. He fired two Reductor Curses at it. Harry heard a yell and saw two figures dive to either side away from the shed right before the spells connected. The sturdy looking shed exploded under the oppressive forces from the spells. Debris scattered in all directions and a few yelps could be heard from the taller grass surrounding the area where the shed had been.

"Ow." "Shite that is going to leave a mark." "Hold your fire, Ceps!"

"Thor, Joslin?" Robeen yelled as he lowered his wand from the perceived threat.

"Yeah," Thor called out holding his wand above his head signaling his position. "That was our mistake. Should have announced our position prior to appearing." Thor and Joslin stood up brushing dirt, grass, and bits of shed off their clothes. "The tunnel led us here after a small detour in a very interesting room filled with many illegal things."

"I am sorry," Harry apologized as he moved to help the two people he almost killed.

"No problem," Joslin said. "We knew better, but when we heard all the excitement up here we kind of got ahead of ourselves. The bruises I am going to have are entirely my fault. At least it wasn’t one of your Crucios. That would have been downright vicious."

Robeen, Tonks, and Harry Levitated the three enemies inside the home and deposited them in the drawing room next to the others. Harry looked over the collection of prisoners and didn’t see any innocents among them except for the house elf. When Gillian arrived, she took charge of the situation.

"These three will be sent to our holding cells and kept there," Gillian said pointing her wand at Lucius, Crabbe senior, and Goyle senior. The wife and boy will be Obliviated and released once the Aurors and other Ministry personnel arrive and fix things up."

"What about the house elf?" Harry asked.

"What would you liked done, Ceps?" Gillian queried with interest.

"Let’s free her so the Malfoys can’t keep abusing her."

"How do you know they abuse her?" Thor asked with interest.

"Educated guess," Harry said firmly.

"Do what you think is best, but remember the Imperius Curse can not be used to void a magical contract like the binding of a house elf to a family."

Harry nodded his understanding before reviving the elf. He crouched down and watched the elf wake up. She shrieked and cowered away from the people in the grey cloaks all who had their wands out. "What is your name?" Harry asked kindly.

"Mora," the elf managed to shuddered out more frightened than Dobby had ever been.

"Would you like to be free of the Malfoys?"

After much encouragement, the elf answered. "Master would never free Mora. Master needs Mora too much to stay hidden."

"Well, Master, won’t be back again," Harry informed her. "He is going with us and this is the only chance you have of getting away from him."

"Where would Mora go then? Mora be lost and a free house elf."

"Go to Hogwarts and speak to Dumbledore. He could help you. So, are you interested in my offer?"

Mora looked at her unconscious master and family. "Mora stolen from family and made to serve Master. Mora want out."

Harry turned to Lucius and bound him again with ropes that cut deeply into his skin nearly drawing blood. He revived the Death Eater and waited for him to regain the ability to think. "The Dark Lord will kill you all."

"Good to hear Voldemort hasn’t forgotten about us," Harry said ignoring the gasps from his allies and the sneer from his enemy. "I have a deal for you, Malfoy." Harry offered tapping his wand against his hand in a way he had seen Voldemort do in the past. "Free Mora and I will allow Draco to remain intact."

Thor laughed out loud as Tonks looked on waiting to see what he meant. "What do you mean by that, Ministry stooge?"

Harry walked over to Draco and pointed his wand at his crotch. "Free her or I will end the Malfoy line here and now. I think it is a very beneficial deal for you actually."

Malfoy had the decency to look shocked as he strained against the tight ropes binding him. "You can’t do that. You work for your precious Ministry. You would end up in Azkaban for it."

"Maybe, but the Malfoys will die with this pathetic excuse for an heir," Harry countered twitching his wand slightly.

"Actually," Gillian chimed in, "he wouldn’t go to Azkaban. We are given greater latitude in our dealings with criminals. Besides, I am sure all of us will be busy doing something else when it happens so we will see nothing."

"Decide now," Harry ordered the blonde haired man.

After some thought, Lucius dropped his head in defeat to the idea of his family line ending on the ravaged floor of his drawing room. "Fuck you."

"At least we agree that she goes free?" Harry asked leaving little choice in the matter.

"Fine," Lucius barked. "Worthless servant anyway."

Harry removed Lucius’ shoe and placed it in his hand. "Make it good, Lucius. I can always end your line if I am unsatisfied."

Lucius snarled at Harry and barked out Mora’s name. "You are free you pathetic elf. Be gone from my home and never return." Mora took the shoe and hugged it.

"Thank you, sir," Mora said before disappearing with a snap of her fingers.

"Excellent," Harry said raising his wand and Stunning Lucius again. "I hate talking to that man."

Gillian ordered Team Two to collect the three prisoners and take them to the holding cells. Before leaving, Thor clapped Harry on the back and laughed again. "Damn fine work, Ceps. Everyday I see more of myself in you, brilliant."

With the numbers lessened by six, Gillian released Team Three from the scene and waited for the Ministry personnel to arrive.


Thursday and Friday was more training with Team Two. Horace was pleased with the outcome of the mission and pushed the two teams harder in an attempt to improve their functionality together. Improvements were made and Harry gained a lot of confidence in his abilities to manage his team and at the same time interact with another. Harry disappeared for an hour on Friday night up the tower stairs and refused to tell Tonks what he was up to.

On Saturday, Harry flew around on his broom during the morning. He chased the Snitch for hours keeping an eye on Tonks who had stayed on the ground to watch. Tonks on the other hand, kept an eye on Jules who had settled near the edge of the Quidditch Pitch. Harry flew down to Tonks every so often to kiss her or make her laugh.

When lunchtime arrived, they settled onto a thick blanket Dobby had provided for the picnic Harry had requested without Tonks knowing about it. They ate slowly and spent much of the time playing around. After they finished, they snogged for awhile before resting and watching the clouds drift by overhead.

"What is that one?" Harry asked.

"Um, a plimpy and a fish swimming together," Tonks answered while slowly rubbing her hand up and down his chest "What is that one?"

"A beater getting ready to hit that Bludger at me," Harry told her.

"That is the fifth Quidditch related cloud you have seen today. I think you are in a rut, Harry."

"Hey, I like my clouds and, rut, I guess."

"Yes, you do." Tonks said softly as she looked into Harry’s eyes with that same weird look he had been seeing for days maybe even weeks. They spent until late in the afternoon kissing and just being together enjoying each other’s company.


Sunday morning came along with breakfast and a host of correspondence arriving via Hedwig. Harry made sure to keep the letters away from Tonks while he read and destroyed them once he was finished. Tonks watched him carefully, but let him have is fun for the time being. After breakfast, Harry wanted to fly around a little more, but Tonks begged off tempting the fate that was Jules.

Once Harry was outside of the house, Tonks raced upstairs to confront Hedwig. When she found the owl, she was preening her feathers and looking to settle down for a nap. "Hedwig," Tonks called out trying to be friendly. In an effort to appease the bird, Tonks held her hand out containing treats.

The snowy owl eyed her carefully before nicking the treats one after the other in quick succession. "There, that is a good owl. Now, can you tell me where all those letters came from?" Tonks only got a blank look in return. "Oh, come on, Hedwig. I know you can answer questions. You do it for Harry all the time."

Not to be discouraged, Tonks tried to get ingenious. "How about you make a noise when I say the name of the person who sent them? Okay, ready, the Weasleys any of them?" Hedwig merely stared at the hopeful woman revealing nothing. "Oh come on now. Remus?"

The owl closed her eyes and tried to go to sleep. "Oh no you don’t," Tonks told her. "I expect something for my effort here. Dumbledore?" Hedwig continued to ignore Tonks to the best of her ability. "Harry gets whole conversations and I get a stare and closed eyes. What a crock."

"And you give me a hard time for losing arguments with her," Harry’s voice sounded in the room. Tonks spun around trying to hide her guilty look. She saw the man belonging to the voice hovering just outside the window. "Trying to ruin my surprise, Nymph?"

Tonks folded her arms and pouted as well as she could. "Please tell me?"

"That would ruin everything then," Harry told her hovering in through the window stopping in front of his girlfriend. "I can’t have you ruining my plans. I spent a lot of time on this. Now, you leave Hedwig be so she can get a good night’s sleep."

"It is the day, Harry," Tonks pointed out smirking.

"To owls it is night," Harry countered while pulling Tonks to him. They kissed lightly before things progressed as they usually did. Harry ended up carrying his broom down the stairs before setting it outside his bedroom door. Seconds later, Tiki appeared and returned the broom to where it belonged shaking her head the whole time.


Harry woke to Dobby nudging his shoulder. "Harry asked Dobby to tell him when it was five. It is five Harry."

"Thank you Dobby," Harry said making sure the sheet covered Tonks enough. When the elf left the room, Harry turned so he could lightly nibble on Tonks’ ear. She purred at him until she woke up enough to remember her driving question for the day.

"What do you have planned, Harry?"

"Get dressed and you will find out, Nymphadora. And wear your nice robes, too." Harry slid out of the bed and pulled open the wardrobe trying to find the best robe to fit with his plans. Deciding on the deep red cloak with a nice shirt and pants that Tonks had picked out at the beginning of the summer seemed to fit perfectly for his plans.

When he was dressed and ready, Harry found Tonks still trying to choose between two robes to go with her black muggle dress. "Which one, Harry?"

"The left one," Harry answered knowing that things could go terribly wrong in the blink of an eye.

"Why not the right one?" Tonks asked holding both up trying to decide.

"Um, are you going to keep this up until I tell you where we are going?"

Tonks deflated some before blowing a breath out of her mouth. "Was I that transparent?" Harry tapped his head lightly but said nothing. "You didn’t use it to figure me out, did you?"

Harry pointed to the left one and helped her into it. When they were ready, Harry led Tonks down the stairs and into the garage. He helped Tonks into the Jaguar before getting in himself. "Where are we going in a car, Harry?"

"Where ever we want, actually. Any ideas?"

"You are enjoying this aren’t you?"

Harry smirked and leaned over to kiss Tonks. "Every second of it." Harry started the engine and revved it a few times before pulling out of the garage and leaving the grounds after the normal inspection from Jules. Harry drove beyond the wards before pulling over and stopping. Tonks eyed him closely when he pulled out a scrap of paper and read it. Harry thought for a minute before pulling his wand and tapping the steering wheel turning it blue for a second.

"Care to touch the wheel, Nymph?" Harry asked politely. Tonks touched the wheel after caressing his hand first. When both had touched the wheel, they and the car disappeared only to reappear in a darkened industrial center. Harry gave Tonks another kiss before accelerating away and following a series of road signs.

"Need some help finding where you are going?" Tonks asked playfully.

"I think I got it," Harry admitted. "Like I said, I planned this out."

Tonks started to recognize a few landmarks and guessed where they were going. "You planned this?"

"Well," Harry faltered, "I had the idea and made the arrangements, but someone else made the technical plans. As I have been taught, I know my limitations and how to overcome them."

"Usually, we work on getting better in the areas we aren’t good at not by using others to pick up the slack."

"Some make three lefts when one right would work just fine, Nymphadora."

Tonks couldn’t help but laugh as she learned she had been correct in her guess. They bantered back and forth until Harry came to a stop in front of the Granger’s. "I will be back in a second. Keep the car warm."

Tonks watched Harry run up the steps and knock on the door. Minutes later, Hermione, David, and Jane filed out of the house following Harry back to the car. Both parents were dressed in the Wizarding clothes Harry had bought them, and Hermione wore a long, flowing, light blue robe that seemed to float after her.

Ever the gentleman, Harry opened the rear door for Hermione and Jane to slide into the car while David circled around to the other side. Harry made sure everyone was in before closing the door and getting behind the wheel and pulling away from the house.

"I didn’t know you could drive this well, Harry," Jane commented looking over the interior.

"Tonks taught me this summer and I seem to be a quick learner," Harry told them as he came to a roundabout. He seemed slightly confused until Hermione reached up and discretely tapped him on the shoulder causing him to make the next left and take that road.

Tonks watched Hermione slide back into her seat as if she hadn’t done anything. "Put a lot of effort into this, Hermione?"

The young woman smiled and shook her head. "Harry did everything he could have been expected to do. Anything that needed an extra level of attention, I offered my assistance when necessary." Hermione leaned forward and across her mother to tap Harry’s left shoulder.

When the next turn came up, Harry turned left and merged into traffic. "I see," Tonks said truly amazed at how the teens worked together. "Harry refused to tell me where we were going tonight no matter how much I tried to get him to."

Harry smiled as he pulled away from a light. "I only know the first stop," Hermione said. "And my parents only know as much as you do."

The journey continued as they made their way deeper into London. After a few things went by the window, Tonks figured out where they were going and she nearly squealed with joy. She couldn’t stop herself from leaning over and kissing Harry’s cheek for all the effort he had put into the evening. "You sweet man,"

Harry smiled wide and happily as he navigated the city streets with minimal direction from Hermione. When they pulled up outside the big book shop, Tonks’ guesses came true. Harry hopped out of the car and opened the door for Hermione and her mum before doing the same for Tonks. Harry leaned in and whispered in Tonks’ ear as he took a hold of her arm like any proper gentleman would. "I don’t care anymore. If you do, let me know."

Baffled by what he said, Tonks allowed Harry to lead her into the Leaky Cauldron. She found out quite quickly what he meant when she went to pull away but he held on tightly for a few seconds before slackening his grip. Tonks looked into eyes and paused before leaning into him gratefully.

She looked over her shoulder and saw David with both of his women hanging on either of his arms. When they got into the pub, Tonks saw that they weren’t the only ones attending whatever Harry had planned for the evening. She saw the Weasleys, the entire group except for Bill, Charlie, and obviously Percy who hadn’t taken Fudge’s removal well. Remus stood next to the group of redheads while talking to Hagrid, Minerva, and Moody. The biggest surprise was the pair who looked like they were in a very deep conversation, Albus and Amelia.

Tonks checked Harry again, catching his eyes, and looking at their entwined arms and hands before gazing into his eyes again. She saw life behind his glasses. He was nearly bursting with eagerness to show her off. She knew he had been thinking about a lot lately, but this subject had never been brought up outside of the bedroom before. The more she watched him, the more she knew that Harry was ready to take on the world if he had to. Tonks ignored the possibility of being seen and placed a soft kiss on Harry’s lips before turning to face their companions for the evening.

They hadn’t been seen by most of the waiting group yet, but Tonks saw a disapproving look on Minerva’s face. She returned it with a glorious smile and leaned against Harry with purpose. Tonks saw a slight smile form on the Professor’s lips before it was gone as fast as it appeared.

"Ready?" Harry whispered in Tonks’ ear before taking a decisive step towards the group.

Tonks allowed herself to be led by Harry as her heart raced with excitement. Ginny was the second person to catch sight of them. She gave them thumbs up before nudging her mum and tilting her head towards Harry. Molly frowned at first but relaxed when she saw the look on Tonks’ face and how happy Harry was.

"Everybody here?" Harry asked in a deep voice watching everyone turn around. Harry released Tonks’ hand so he could shake hands with everyone who had come. He received hugs from Ginny and Molly and an affectionate handshake from Minerva if that was possible. Amelia and Albus watched Harry return to Tonks’ side as soon as he was able without making a scene.

Ron was fumbling about until Ginny kicked him in the leg and pushed him over to Hermione. With quite a lot of effort, the Gryffindor in Ron showed itself and he offered his arm for her take as the other men had done. Ginny slid in behind Harry and on Hermione’s other side before slipping into girl talk.

Harry motioned everyone forward and led the way into Diagon Alley with Tonks firmly in place on his arm. Even with the festive nature to the evening, Harry and Tonks still scanned the Alley for threats as they traveled up the sparsely populated road. A few aurors nodded to Amelia while others watched one of their own in the company of Harry Potter. The trip to the restaurant, whose name Harry still couldn’t pronounce, was rather quick. When they arrived, Molly looked worried.

"Harry, dear, I know that we have some money now, but this is a very expensive place for all of us to eat at."

"It is my treat," Harry offered waving them forward. "When we were here before, it didn’t seem too expensive."

"Says the man," George began.

"Who probably owns it," Fred finished.

Molly was about to tell them off when Harry went quiet. "I don’t know if I do or not, actually. I would have to check with Ragnok or Griphook to be sure. Too bad they couldn’t make it."

Amelia looked to Albus and eyed him carefully. When she saw surprise on his face as well, she sighed and chuckled. "Something funny, Minister?" Albus asked privately.

"Only Harry would invite goblins to dinner with his friends and whatever he considers me," Amelia said shaking her head.

"If you asked him," Albus clarified with a smile, "I believe he would call you a friend."

They entered the restaurant and gathered near the stand. A prim and proper man strolled over to them. He eyed the Weasleys and Hagrid cautiously until he saw the Minister and Dumbledore. "Minister, what a pleasure to have you in our establishment. How many in your party?"

"I am only a guest," Amelia told him looking to Harry and Tonks who moved forward.

"We are all together," Harry told the man who snapped to attention once he saw Harry and Tonks again.

"Yes, Sir," the man said clearly and formally. "We arranged the VIP room for you, Sir."

"Um, thank you," Harry muttered as he and Tonks followed the man to the private dining room. When they entered, everything in the room sparkled. The crystal ware refracted the candle light. The plates on the long table nearly glowed and the silverware was polished to a mirror finish. Harry pulled out Tonks’ chair and helped her pull it in. Harry gave Ron a look that told him to do the same.

Harry settled in to his seat and looked over those he had invited. His goal was to enjoy himself with those he considered family, friends, or in Dumbledore’s case allies in progress. Once the man had led them to the room, he slipped out the side door. Seconds later, three servers entered the same door and staged themselves around the room. One walked up to Harry and provided him a wine list along with the menu.

"Is this your list or mine?" Harry asked earning a few stares from around the table.

"It is a complete list of your wine, Mr. Potter," the server told him. "After your last visit, we inventoried your stock. That is an accurate list."

"We will take the same as last time," Harry gestured to Tonks earning himself more looks. "Go ahead and pick out what you want," Harry offered to everyone passing the list to Arthur who nearly swallowed his tongue. The Grangers were soaking up everything they saw and David made an odd sound when the list made its way around to him.

In total, five bottles of wine were ordered. The families each selected one, Harry and Tonks had another, the twins picked one out when their mum was intentionally distracted by Harry, and Amelia, Albus, and Minerva shared one. Moody broke his own rule and chose a bottle of forty-year-old scotch. Hagrid elected to go with the house ale to save poor Harry’s stock.

Molly chided Harry about having an entire bottle for just Tonks and himself, but her heart wasn’t in it. She couldn’t help but smile at Harry when he looked so happy. Ron and Hermione each had a full glass of wine with their parents’ approval and Ginny was poured a half glass. The twins kept it at a half glass through the entire meal managing to avoid capture.

Harry and Tonks ordered the same thing as before and enjoyed the conversation around the table. The twins poked fun at people around the room. Harry was a favourite target of theirs. "Wouldn’t tell us who," Fred began.

"And it was Tonks all along," George finished.

"A true Weasley at heart," they chimed in together.

"Rotten sister though," Fred quipped.

"Wouldn’t tell us," George added.

Ginny responded by smirking and giving a slight bow. Harry told them about the possibility of helping them get better prices on their supplies. "Talk to Griphook tomorrow and see what he can do for you."

Albus spent much of the night simply watching Harry and how he interacted with each person. The most surprising to him was the genuine honesty and cooperation the young man had cultivated with the Minister. Albus knew that the Minister got to where she was because of Harry, but he also knew she didn’t play favourites because it was expected. Confirming his worries, Albus saw first hand how close Tonks and Harry had become. Visions of the meeting where he asked for a volunteer to help Harry swam to his mind.

Albus saw the entire thing replay in his head. The eagerness Tonks had displayed then had been misinterpreted as a simple desire to contribute. Now, he knew that she had feelings for Harry at the time and most likely wanted the chance to explore them. Comparing the past to the present, Albus knew that her feelings had grown tremendously and Harry was right there with her.

When he was done reflecting, Albus found himself staring into the piercing green eyes of Harry. He was taken aback by the sheer intent behind the once innocent orbs. Memories of those eyes peeking out from under shuttered lids wrapped in a blanket and left on a doorstep came to mind unbidden. It was then that Albus realized what was going on. His bespectacled bright blue eyes widened as he figured out why those specific memories were coming forward.

His suspicions were confirmed when Harry smirked and leaned back in his chair raising his glass in a toast. Albus shook his head in confusion increasing Harry’s smirk. Only when Harry tilted his glass and took a drink did Albus figure it out. ‘My boy you have been busy this summer, haven’t you? So much for laying about like most students on holiday.’ Albus conceded to Harry and toasted him and took a drink from his own glass. ‘To you, Harry Potter.’

Minerva and Molly both watched Harry carefully as he joined in conversations in a way he never would have before. He gave his opinion where it fit and held back when it didn’t. They were acutely aware of how close Tonks and Harry sat to each other. They also noticed that their hands were only on the table when necessary.

Molly looked to her only daughter and wondered how she was taking it. She found Ginny watching them too, but the sadness she expected was absent. What she found was an honest smile filled with hope for them. When her daughter caught her eye, she glanced at Harry and gave her a knowing smirk that she had learned from her mum. ‘She knew all along and she is happy for him. Bless her heart.’

"Reckon that’s a good thing?" Moody asked Remus as the meal wound down.

Remus followed Moody’s good eye and couldn’t help but see the joy in Harry. "I think it is the best thing for him, Alastor. He has earned it and then some." Remus nearly choked on his food when Mad Eye responded.

"That it is, for both of them," Moody said before taking another drink of scotch. "No wonder Tonks defended him so. She can’t help herself. Just look at her all happy and fawning over him. She’s got it bad alright."

Harry finished his second glass of wine and enjoyed the slight lightheaded feeling he had. Dinner had lasted for hours and most of the older people were beginning to tire. Hermione and Ron were arguing about something which was no surprise to anyone since no one paid it any notice. Harry signaled the server to bring the bill. When she returned with it, Harry quickly signed for it and provided the vault number.

When people realized that it was time to leave, Harry had to refuse multiple offers to help cover the expense. The Weasleys were the most vocal, but Harry refused every offer. As they gathered their belongings, Harry shook hands, hugged, and kissed the cheeks of the appropriate people. Each of the twins tried to get a snog from Harry, but Tonks was able to fend them off without cursing them with her wand.

As they filtered out of the restaurant and into the smaller alley, Harry got the feeling that they were in danger. The whole night had gone so well, but he knew something was bound to ruin it. Cloaked figures emerging from the shadows signaled the end of the warm and happy feeling Harry had been working on. "Death Eaters!" Harry yelled as he drew his wand and sent a Stunner at the nearest target.

In a flash, Harry’s spell was accompanied by many others. Moody was the second to fire since he saw them about the same time as Harry felt them. Harry’s spell was blocked forcing him to let go of all hesitation at showing off his magical skills. Tonks’ first spell was a message to Horace followed by a Reductor Curse at a shape trying to level their wand at the Weasleys.

"Apparate away!" Harry commanded before launching a furious attack at the two Death Eaters advancing on their position. With the narrow alley working against them, Harry, Tonks, Moody, and Remus were at the front of the group preventing those behind them from aiding in the fight. The rest had to retreat down the alley and erect shields to stop any spells that came their way.

Harry’s quick count put the number of Death Eaters at six. Five were on the ground with one on a nearby roof. When a spell came from above and nearly hit Tonks, Harry let his magic take over. "Accio Death Eater!" Harry yelled Summoning the man off the roof. Harry paid him no mind as he moved on to another who was trying to hex Remus. Harry fell into his rhythm and repeatedly fired the Bone spells at the man attacking Remus.

In a series cracks and screams, the man collapsed under the sheer force of Harry’s assault. Remus managed to Stun and Bind the man before he finished tearing at his clothes possibly searching for something. Tonks used Reductors, Bludgeoning spells, and Stunners to overwhelm a second enemy. Moody bound and Stunned the man before his friends could help.

Moody was going to attack another person, but Harry had advanced ahead of the group taking the fight to the opposition and preventing others from helping. When Tonks followed Harry’s actions, Remus and Moody found themselves in the second line. Albus had moved to join them but even he couldn’t risk shooting a spell anywhere near Harry who never stopped moving and firing spells with enough power to amaze those in the alley watching.

The man who fell from the roof had been injured, but he trained his wand on Tonks. Before Harry could stop him, the Death Eater shot the Cruciatus Curse at Tonks. Harry threw up the Patrocinor Fidelis shield on Tonks to try and block the effects. When the dull grey shield erupted into existence around Tonks right before the Unforgivable hit her, she looked to Harry. Harry saw her weak smile instantly fade when she fell with a whimper from the effects of the curse.

Harry reacted by Banishing the man down the alley and into the corner of a building. The crunching sound of his back followed by the dull thud of the man’s broken body hitting the ground would prove testament that magic couldn’t fix everything. The man who hurt Tonks never walked again.

Harry moved to protect Tonks with his body and continued a ceaseless barrage of spells at the three remaining Death Eaters. Harry heard Tonks cry out behind him and he snapped. Harry felt his magic surge forward from inside of him. The spells were leaping from his wand with barely a thought. Harry had gone silent, but the spells kept coming.

Harry dropped another Death Eater under repeated Reductors. The man landed in a smoking heap down the alley crying out in pain. Albus moved ahead of Remus and attacked one of the two remaining enemies. With a complicated series of charms, transfiguration, and hexes, Albus got the best of the fifth Death Eater.

Harry turned his anger on the last man who had threatened his family and friends. Harry leapt forward lashing out with the Severing Ribbon. It flicked against the man’s shield rocking him backwards. Harry swung it low, then high, then at the middle. The man in the black cloak held his shield as well as he could, but after the high shot from Harry’s flaring Ribbon, the shield fell.

Harry seized his chance and whipped it back on the third pass aiming at the man’s midsection. He connected and dropped the man with a scream and a light spray of blood. Harry moved in for the kill as Thor and Horace had shown him. ‘Never stop until it was truly over.’ When Harry rushed to the man, wand ready to send a Bone Exploding Curse to his head, the Death Eater torn his hood off.

"Potter, no!" The man cried while staring into the same eyes he had seen so many times before. Only this time those eyes spoke of imminent death and not the usual anger, fear, and hatred. Albus moved as quickly as he could to stay Harry’s wand and spare his spy’s life.

"Harry!" Albus yelled pulling against the young man’s wand and having little luck. "It’s Severus. He needs medical attention immediately."

"He needs a fucking caretaker," Harry snapped leveling his wand at Snape’s head against Albus’ every effort.

"Harry, I will be okay," Tonks called from her spot on the street. "Just a little sore but I will be fine. He is on our side."

"He has yet to prove that," Harry ground out boring holes into Snape’s head with his fierce gaze.

"I am asking you to leave him alive, Harry." Tonks hoped her plea would save Snape’s life. She knew Harry would never be able to live with himself if he killed Snape. She knew their history was so intertwined that nothing between them was going to be easy. "Please, Harry."

Harry heard Tonks’ words and couldn’t stop himself from listening to them. He knew she was right. He knew that it wasn’t the time or place for ending the man’s life. Harry took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "You owe your life to Nymphadora, Snape. She saved it tonight. Remember that."

Harry pulled his hand free from Dumbledore’s grasp and turned to see Tonks trying to sit up on her own near the right edge of the alley. Harry looked at his friends. "You lot okay?"

Most were in shock at both the battle and the amount of magic Harry had cast in only a few minutes. Hermione was the first to speak up. "We are fine, Harry. Thank you for protecting us."

Harry waved off the comment at the same time he felt the sick feeling in his gut. "There are more!"

Harry turned to run for Tonks’ location when a crack of Apparition signaled an arrival. When Harry looked at Tonks, he saw Bellatrix Lestrange standing behind her. Her mask was gone and she leered at him as she pulled Tonks to her feet by the neck. "Nothing funny, Potter, or I will remove the head of my darling cousin with only a word."

Harry froze as he took in the situation before him. Tonks was shakily standing on her feet with Bellatrix directly behind her. The woman’s wand was nestled in the side of Tonks’ neck right where Harry would kiss her to make her squirm with pleasure. Harry looked into Tonks’ eyes and saw so many things in them. He saw a little bit of fear and anger swirling in them. He also saw the look he had been trying to figure out for a few weeks.

In that moment, Harry figured it out. He knew what it was. The pieces fell into place and everything made sense. Sadly, everything began to fall apart in the same instant. Harry felt his very soul break. He had spent a lifetime trying to figure it all out. Most of the summer had been spent piecing his life together and figuring it out. All of it was in thanks to Tonks. And now Harry stared into her eyes as she came to terms with the reality that seemed to be unfolding.

Harry felt his world crumble as Tonks looked defiant, then sad, and finally resolute. Harry shook his head slowly as Tonks seemed to accept her fate. She swallowed deeply before blinking her eyes. A couple tears had escaped the corners as she stared at Harry. He felt her emotions. He heard her voice repeating the same words over and over again. Every moment, every laugh, every touch replayed in his head. He knew Tonks had accepted the fact that she was going to die in that alley staring at him.

"I love you, Harry." Tonks spoke so softly that the words were felt more than heard.

Harry felt his heart swell and crumble in the same moment. "I love you, Nymphadora." Harry knew what it meant. The puzzle was solved and the beautiful creature in front of him had showed him the way. He knew that he was the only person who could save her life. He was the only person who was more valuable than her to Voldemort.

"How touching," Bellatrix crowed. "My pathetic relative falls in love with Golden Boy Potter and then he gets to watch her die at his feet. Oh this is too precious for words."

A series of pops sounded at the end of the alley alerting Bellatrix to more arrivals. A group of five grey cloaked people moved down the alley and surrounded Bellatrix in a crescent shape. Their wands were trained on the woman without flinching. Harry looked over a saw Horace angrier than he had ever seen him. Judging by the size and shape, Harry guessed that Horace had brought Team Two with him. Cal had accompanied them as well and his wand was trained on the Death Eater too.

"Get the fuck back or the bitch gets it!" Bellatrix screamed pressing her wand deeper into Tonks’ neck.

Harry bristled and felt his magic surge up again. He felt his limits being reached before his aura started to show. Harry heard Horace cast the wards preventing Apparition and portkeys from working. Harry knew this was where things would be decided. "Me for Nymph," Harry offered without hesitation. "Voldemort would praise you forever for bringing me to him."

"No, Harry!" Albus yelled. Everyone else behind him had said the same thing.

"Shut up," Harry spoke calmly. "Me for her."

"You will give you life for this worthless half blood?" Bellatrix asked seeing the huge upside to taking Harry to her master.

"In a second," Harry answered without thought.

Seizing the opportunity, Bellatrix jumped at the chance to trade. "Throw your wand on the ground and come here. You," Bellatrix ordered Horace, "remove the wards you put up. Now!"

Horace looked at Harry and saw him nod his head discretely. Harry turned his body slightly and slipped his wand back into its holster. With his right hand blocked from Bellatrix’s view, Harry Summoned Ron’s wand into his hand. As luck would have it, the group was still in a state of shock from before so they didn’t really react when Harry wandlessly Summoned something.

Albus watched Harry’s every move carefully. He was beginning to understand things and chose not to interfere. Harry brought his hand into view and dropped the wand on the ground. He turned his body again and drew his real wand instantly. "I am unarmed, now you let her go and you get me."

"Even you aren’t this stupid, Potter," Bellatrix said. "You know that death awaits you, but you are still willing to trade your life for hers?"

"Death awaits us all. I am not afraid to face it when I can save the life of someone I love. My mum did that once. I completely understand it now."

"Good for you, Potter," Bellatrix said snidely. "Enough of this shite, get over here so we can go see my master."

Harry nodded his head and looked at everyone briefly. He smiled at all of them before letting his repressed magic swell up again. When Harry took his first step forward, Bellatrix pulled her wand back a little in preparation for the exchange. He gave Tonks a loving smile and nodded once.

From Harry’s point of view, everything happened in slow motion as if he was playing Quidditch and closing in on the Snitch. Tonks twisted her body to lessen the grip Bellatrix had on her and pushed her wand further away. Harry wandlessly Summoned Tonks to him and put his wand on target. Bellatrix fired a Severing Charm harmlessly into the air while Harry let his magic loose. He said no words, but he felt every bit of the spell as his thoughts drove the magic forth, ‘Death’.

The sickly green jet of light shot from his wand while Tonks flew passed it in the opposite direction. Harry dove to the left, grabbing Tonks, and pulling her to the side. The flare of green light lit the alley and nearly seared the eyes of all who were witnesses. Bellatrix Lestrange was hit in the head by Harry’s Killing Curse. Her lungs released one last breath as her body slumped to the ground with a soft thud. Her eyes were wide and showed the shock of being killed by a sixteen-year-old kid with no real gift for magic or so she was told.

Harry held Tonks to him. Tears leaked from his eyes as he hugged her to him. He couldn’t, wouldn’t let go. "Nymph, please be alive. Please, for me, say something." He hoped for the best. The more he thought about it, the more he knew that losing Tonks would break him. She had helped him overcome too much to leave him now. He had never known what love had felt like until Tonks showed him. Every kind thing she had said or done during the summer proved what it was to him.

Harry held his breath too afraid to look in case she was gone. "You owe me a long bath, Harry," Tonks mumbled against his chest.

Harry held her at arms length before kissing her as if his very existence relied on it. "What ever you want it is yours, love." Harry pulled Tonks to him and held on tightly as he fought against the emotions ravaging his body. Fear, elation, despair, and what he now knew as love all vied for prominence as images of what could have been kept popping into his mind.

Tonks allowed herself to be held and reveled in the sensation. Harry’s hugs had always warmed her heart before, but she knew Harry now understood what she had been feeling for weeks. She had always been quick to express her love for others in the past, but Tonks knew from the beginning that Harry wasn’t ready for everything that came with it. Any fear she had of just being Harry’s passing interest for the summer evaporated when he told her he loved her. She may have heard the words, but she felt his intent to her very core. He meant what he said and he proved that to her.

The Unspeakables stood amazed at seeing Harry Potter strike down Voldemort’s favourite. The stories they had heard made him out to be larger than life when in truth he was just a young man. A young man who negotiated a deal that meant certain death for himself to save another and ended up killing a very lethal woman by the end. They were pressed into action by Horace barking orders.

"Death Eaters go with us," Horace commanded. "Stun and Bind them before transport. Kill all who resist if they are conscious."

After a second’s debate, Dumbledore moved to block their access to Snape. "He is one of ours leave him to us to take care of."

"He is a Death Eater to me," Horace spoke forcefully to the old wizard. "I think you have enough to take care here without messing about with a murderer like him."

"I will not give him up to you." Albus did his best to look as impressive as he could be, but his wand remained at his side pointed in a safe direction. "He is the only spy inside Voldemort’s inner circle. We need to keep him out of the Ministry’s hands."

Horace laughed once. "Do you know for a fact that he is the only one in the fold?" Horace looked over at Harry who still held on to Tonks as if she would fly away. He checked his people and found most of them carrying out his orders as given except for Cal. The only hidden member of Team Three kept his eyes fixed on the pair. ‘Seems to be figuring it out.’  "I will leave it to the Minister to decide his fate then?" Horace prompted graciously.

Minister Bones stepped from her spot near the front of the group. She had moved to protect Ginny when the fight broke out. The parental nature she had earned by caring for Susan had forced her actions without conscious thought. "Albus, are you sure that Snape is one of yours?"

"Yes, Minister, I am sure of it."

"Leave Snape with us then," Amelia ordered Horace not sure if he would follow her directive. Surprisingly, Horace nodded and moved the two Unspeakables away from the bleeding man with a hand wave.

When the issue of the spy seemed resolved, almost everyone seemed to focus on the fate of the young man holding onto an auror. They watched as Harry stood up lifting Tonks with him. He cradled her close and kept whispering things to her. She responded back and seemed to test her legs a bit before Harry forced himself to let go. He kept one arm around her for the simple fact that he couldn’t let go and didn’t want to. As a pair, they started walking to the group who remained in shock from the events of the evening.

"What of Potter?" Horace asked hoping he could arrange a debrief before Albus or Amelia got a hold of him.

"I will take him," Albus offered strongly while directing Hagrid to pick up Snape and handing him a portkey to the Hospital wing.

"A death has occurred and he must be interviewed by Ministry officials," Amelia spoke in a slightly uncertain way.

Harry and Tonks maintained their slow pace to rejoin their group and continued their private conversation. Knowing the best way to resolve the issue, Horace made the most diplomatic gesture he had made in years. "All things considered, I suggest we ask Mr. Potter what he wants. It is not like he will go to Azkaban for killing Lestrange. She is after all an enemy of the Ministry and an escaped prisoner. Rather positive outcome as I see it."

Harry heard the words and formulated a response to everyone. He knew Horace would treat him well. He knew Amelia would ask questions he couldn’t answer. He knew Albus would ask questions that didn’t matter all the while trying to figure everything out on his own. "Tonks and I are going to return our guests to their home. Then, she is going to be treated for Cruciatus exposure. Finally, we are going home for the evening." Harry looked into Tonks’ eyes and saw her agreement. "Tomorrow, we can meet with who ever need us to. Pick a place, one place, and we can all hash it out at one time. If you can’t decide on a place, then I choose Gringotts since it is a neutral place and none of you will have more clout than the others."

Horace figured that the compromise offered by Harry was acceptable and agreed while the last of the Death Eaters were portkeyed away. Amelia frowned at the loss of leverage of the Ministry, but she knew that nothing bad was going to happen to Harry especially considering the ultimate victim of the night.

Albus, on the other hand, chuckled. "It is not us who have the advantage of Gringotts, Harry." Harry ignored the apt comment and kept moving Tonks closer to his friends. He also ignored the looks he received from Hermione, Ginny, and especially Molly when he reached them.

"You lot okay?" Harry asked worried that they would always see him as a killer.

"Fine, Harry," Hermione offered first. "Are you sure you want to take us home? We can take the Tube instead."

Harry waved off the offer and urged them toward Diagon Alley and ultimately the car. "Tonks is just sore from the curse. Let’s go." As the Grangers broke from the group, Hermione showed her parents how their daughter became who she was. She proudly led them away hoping she wouldn’t breakdown as the crumpled form of a human slid passed the edge of her eyesight.

Harry read the expressions on his friends’ faces and sighed. He saw Ron wearing his normally confused look but there was a touch of fear and awe added in to it. Ginny still had tears in her eyes from the emotional shock of what had happened. Molly only just managed to hold her own daughter in an attempt to protect her. Remus watched him with a large amount concern and worry.

Hugging Tonks to him he spoke. "I am sorry we all had to see that, but…" Harry paused and looked from Moody to Minerva and finally resting on Albus. "But I lived, you lived, and Nymph lived. That is what matters at the end of the day and I am not going to feel sorry for that woman. Not now, not ever. She stole Sirius from me and I would be damned if she was going to take Nymphadora from me too. I will talk to you tomorrow after the meeting at Gringotts. Thank you for coming tonight. It was great until they showed up." Harry said the last looking over at the crumpled body of Bellatrix. He felt saddened by the fact that it ended the way it did, but he saw no other option then or now.

‘You made your choice when you took Nymph hostage. Your last, worst choice.’ Harry looked down at Tonks and hugged her to his chest. He felt the sadness vanish as if a spell had been cast on him. He breathed in her scent and let his mind drift back to all the mornings of waking up next to her. ‘I would do it again if I had to.’

As Harry walked passed Horace, he found a vial being slid into his hand. The fluid had the same colour as what Harry had taken when he was recovering from the same kind of exposure in Medical. They followed the Grangers back to Diagon Alley, through the pub, and to the car. With a tap of his wand, Harry portkeyed the car and its occupants to Hermione’s neighborhood. He dropped them off, accepting a hug and a kiss on the cheek from Hermione, before he portkeyed the car and Tonks home. Once inside the garage, Harry looked at Tonks who had laid her head in his lap. He watched her breathing and heard the click of the clock in the dash. He saw the hands swing passed midnight and closed his eyes.

‘I know what love feels like and it is Nymph.’ "Time to go to bed, Nymphadora"

Tonks opened her eyes and looked up at him. She smiled the same smile she had been giving him for weeks only he felt the meaning behind it now. "After I take that potion and you give me a nice hot bath, I hope we do more than sleep, Mr. Potter. You did after all save my life tonight. I have a lot to payback after something like that."

Harry smiled and leaned down to kiss her. He opened the door planning out how to nurse Tonks’ injuries away.

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