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Author Notes:

This is the final betad version. The next two parts are in advanced stages of being betad.

From: The one in the window

To: He with Velcro gloves

Subject: Back to work

Moony, ol’ boy, ol’ pal, ol’ friend, ol’ buddy.  The weekend was fun – more fun than I’ve had in dog years, but now I’m back to work, and it feels wonderful!

I’m in Cornwall at the moment (great scenery) chasing down a lead (no pun).

Siri.

--
Woof


From: I’m not Welsh

To: The one with the waggle-y tail

Subject: Re: Back to work

I understand the general gist of your message, even if your grasp of English is slipping.

Actually, is it even possible to have something that you don’t have a hold on slip?

One for the scholars, I think.

I’m in Kent. I spotted someone who might be a DE (we need to talk to Harry about a scanning charm so we can be sure from a distance).

Remus.


From: Not for sale

To: Grumpy Gus

Subject: Re: Re: Back to work

So, someone obviously got up the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Oh, wait; it’s nearly full moon again isn’t it?  And it’s going to take Harry and the rest a while to find this damn cure.

Okay, I’ll stop Mmailing now, things to do, etc.

I’ll come and find you on Wednesday.  We’ll go into the Forbidden Forest as we used to.

Sirius.


From: Remus

To: Sirius

Cc: Harry

Subject: Full Moon.

Thank you.  I’m going to be staying at the Shrieking Shack tonight if you need me.

Remus.


From: Harry’s chief person in the Ministry

To: Harry’s chief person in the Aurors

Cc: Dragon Man and Curse Man

Subject: Inspection

Just to let you know that I’m going to want you both on Wednesday around lunch time.  I’ve got a Portkey that will drop us straight in. 

Kingsley, bring Tonks and any other Auror you trust implicitly.

Bill, Charlie, I need you to recall your rougher days, and walk over anyone who gets in our way.

We need to hit them hard, fast, and apologise later if we’ve made a mistake.

I’ll bet my hind teeth that they’re hiding something.

Percy

--
The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.  It is intended solely for the addressee.  Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.


From: Brothers Two

To: His High-nosed-ness

Cc: Kingsley

Subject: Re: Inspection

We’ll be ready.  Charlie’s gonna break out some of his dragon gear for added affect.

Doesn’t your neck hurt?

B&C

--
Draconis dominium


From: Auror-Man

To: Political-Man

Cc: Dragon and Curse Man

Subject: Re: Re: Inspection

Nah – his neck doesn’t hurt like that anymore – with enough practice you can put up with anything.

I’ve got a list of Aurors and I’ve cleared it with Amelia.  As long as we don’t actually kill anyone who is innocent, we’ll have no troubles.

Kingsley

--
Aurors do it right, first time and every time


From: Percy

To: The others

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Inspection

Hah-bloody-hah-hah.

You try dealing with these vipers on a day to day business.  Some of them make me want to check my fingers after shaking hands.

Politics is an adult’s game, children; you all solve problems with curses and fists, I have to use words and intimidation – and I’m very good at it.

P.

--
The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.  It is intended solely for the addressee.  Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.


From: “The Others”

To: Percival

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Inspection

We know, we love you, too.

C&B

--
Draconis dominium


Harry’s immediate response to the Mmail from Fred and George and Bellatrix was short, sharp and had Hermione frowning at him in displeasure.

He jumped to his feet.  “We’ve got a bloody spy here,” he said with a scowl.  “Severus, when I get back, we’re going to need to put our heads together and see what we can come up with.  Someone’s passed my plans for today over to the Dark Tosser.”

Severus nodded.  “Anything I can help with now?”

Harry paused for a second.  “Stick by your Mmail.  I’ll shout if I need help – I’d rather not give away our strengths at the moment if I don’t need to.”

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked.

“Until this place has anti-listening charms, I can’t say,” Harry replied.  “I trust nearly everyone in this school, so I’m guessing there is an external spy – I could be wrong.  Anyway, I’ll try and be back for lunch.”

He almost smiled at the peeved expression on his friend’s face as he Disapparated.  He appeared in Professor McGonagall’s classroom.

“Sorry, Professor,” he apologised.  “I’ve got an emergency and I need Ginny’s help.”

McGonagall raised her eyebrows inquiringly.

“Talk to Severus when you can.  He’ll explain,” he said as he walked over to his future wife and put his hands on her shoulders.  A second later, they were in the Void.

“Where are we?” Ginny asked.

“The only safe place to talk,” Harry said with a sigh.  “This is the place you travel through when you Apparate.  We’re here because there’s a spy in Hogwarts – Bellatrix told me a few minutes ago.  Fred and George are in trouble.  They’re currently battling some Death Eaters with the Goblin Guards.  We’re going to land in the middle of a battle.  Keep your head down; remember to duck, and fight hard!”

She looked at him, tilting her head.  “Why did you come and get me?” she asked softly.

“Because I promised I wouldn’t run off without you again, after last time.”

She smiled brightly at him, before reaching up and kissing him softly.  “I love you,” she whispered, and released him.  She took off her robes, showing that she, too, had decided not to wear the school uniform.

Harry took it and cast a spell, sending it back to her room in the Gryffindor Tower.

“Ready?”

“Always,” she said, nodding her head.

Harry took her hand once more and they reappeared outside a large warehouse.  Harry raised his wand and created a shield, then looked around.  They had missed the fight by about twenty yards, as masked Death Eaters were throwing curses at a group of Goblins off to Harry’s left.  In the centre of the group were two tufts of red hair, signifying Fred and George’s location.

Ginny started to move toward them, but Harry reached out and put his hand on her shoulder.  “They’re not expecting us,” he said quietly, and cast another spell.  “We’re now invisible, so why don’t we go behind the Death Eaters?”

Ginny turned and smirked at him.  “I love it when you get sneaky,” she whispered back, and started to jog forward, moving in a strange crouch to keep the noise down.

He watched her for a second; taking a moment he probably shouldn’t, before he started to copy her.

The Death Eaters seemed surprised by the curses that the Goblins were throwing at them, and had resorted to throwing Killing Curses as they held a conversation about what to do next.

“Ready?” Harry asked, as quietly as he could.

Ginny nodded.

He took a deep breath, hoped that he knew what he was doing, and cancelled the invisibility spell.

They were about fifteen yards from the back of the Death Eaters.  “Now,” he whispered, and started to launch as many curses as he could.

The curses slammed into the backs of the Death Eaters before they even knew that someone was behind them.

“Behind us,” one of the Death Eaters shouted, and showing an intelligence that would make a dog snigger, all of them turned to face the new threat – which left them completely open to a volley of spells from the Goblins, and the Weasley Twins.

“Retreat,” one of the Death Eaters shouted.  They activated their Portkeys and everyone was gone a second later.

Harry turned, running his eyes over Ginny to make sure she was all right.  She smirked at him and raised her arms and turned slowly.

He grinned at her as the Goblins walked over to them.

“Interesting start to the job,” one of the Goblins grunted.  “I think we managed to kill a few of them.”

“Harry,” Fred said cheerfully.  “You seem to have forgotten to mention that the guards you have happened to be one of the elite Goblin divisions.”

“Yeah,” George agreed.  “We were covered before they had finished Apparating in and their shields are brilliant.”

Harry turned back to the Goblin that had spoken to him.  “Thank you,” he said simply.

“We’re paid to do a job,” the Goblin grunted, before his face twitched slightly, “and besides, most of us have wanted to kill Death Eaters for a while.  My sister gets very upset when the money stops pouring in and they’re really bad for business.”

Harry grinned at the Goblin.  “Good to know.  Voldemort will probably torture the ones that left.  He dislikes cowardice.  If you could let Mackrack know that he’ll be receiving a visit from Malfoy soon, I’d appreciate it – they will mention that we had Goblin guards first, to try and save their skins.  It won’t work, which is a good thing.”

Ginny elbowed Harry in the stomach gently.

Harry shrugged at her.  “Fred, George, we’ve got a spy problem at Hogwarts, so make sure that you don’t say anything you shouldn’t in Mmails, and address them to me personally.”

“Any idea who it is?”

Harry shook his head.  “I trust everybody that was at the table with me this morning, so I’m thinking that someone used a listening charm.”

Fred nodded.  “Make a note, my dear brother.”

“Note made,” George said, as he whipped out a pad and scribbled something.  “When we’ve got a moment we’ll come up with something that’ll stop that.  We can do something with the spells we used for the Extendable Ears, only have it do the opposite.”

“Good plan,” Harry said in praise.  “Now, I think we have some documents to deliver?”

The lead Goblin smirked and walked over to the door of the warehouse.  He took out his axe, and slammed it into the door.  The door collapsed.  “Knock-knock,” he called.

Harry laughed under his breath.

“What do you want?” a tall man demanded as he appeared in the hole created by the Goblin.

“On behalf of the true owners of Butterbeer, we hereby demand that you cease and desist all production of this infringing product immediately.”

“You can’t do this!” he sputtered.

Fred walked over and handed over some parchment.

The man stared at it, sniffed once, and tore it up.  “Do you have any idea who you’re playing with?” he sneered.

“Why yes,” Harry said as he stepped forward.  “And if Lucius wants to play, he knows where I am.”

The Goblin made some obscure hand gestures and the others shouted – a harsh guttural cry that raised the hairs on the back of Harry’s neck.  Then, the Goblins started to move.

In perfect synchronisation, they charged the door, axes in hand.  The man made a small eep!-ing noise and dived out of the way.

Harry followed the Goblins in and watched as they started to smash up all the machinery, ignoring the shouts and screams of the workers.

“Did you know that tearing up official Goblin parchments like that is against the Goblin Accord of 1872?” Harry asked the fallen man.  “They were kinda hoping that you’d do that.”

“Stop them,” he cried.

“Why?” Harry asked.  “You’re making an illegal drink for a Death Eater, and as you know who you are working for, I have absolutely no sympathy for you.  Fred, be a dear.”

“Of course, sweetie,” Fred said and jumped on the man on the floor.  “Sorry,” he apologised with an insincere smile as his knee landed on the man’s stomach.  He grabbed the man’s arm and examined it.  “Damn, no Dark Mark.”

Harry pouted.  “Sadly, we can’t arrest you for associating with known Death Eaters.”

“How about we stop him from reporting to them?” Ginny asked.

“How?”

“Make him into a bomb.  If he contacts a Death Eater, he explodes, taking them with him.”

The man on the ground turned completely white.

“Ohh, good idea,” Harry said, pointing his wand at the man.  Fred jumped out of the way as a bright blue light covered the man for a second.  “Okay, you can go now,” Harry said dismissively.

“You can’t do this to me!” he protested.

“I just did,” Harry pointed out and wrapped an arm around Ginny.

The man stumbled to his feet and glared at them, before he Disapparated.

“Bluff?” George asked.

“Yep,” Harry agreed.  “It’s amazing what a simple light spell can do.  If you two can handle it from here, we’ll get back to school.”


Ryan Crys growled to himself as he Apparated to his nearest contact’s house.  If the stupid kid thought that a silly light spell was going to stop him making a report, he dumber than he looked.  Still, at least his acting skills had allowed him to escape to make his report.

He hadn’t had a bad day like this in years.  Not since Lucius had hired him to run the Butterbeer plant.  It was a licence to mint money, and he’d been raking it in.  He’d even been honest, for a change, and not skimmed off the top.  Admittedly, Lucius had pointed out that the Dark Lord disliked people who tried to defraud him, and tended to deal with it personally.  Being cursed to death wasn’t high on his list of things to do.

He’d been a little surprised when his main door had been blown open; it was one of the downsides of the silencing charms that were all over the building.  Making Butterbeer on an industrial scale was a very loud and smelly business.

“Mr Crys?” his contact, Matthew Viridian, asked.  “What are you doing here?”

“I need to talk to Lucius, Matt,” he replied.  “It’s urgent.”

Matt nodded and turned to the Floo, throwing in the powder and calling out Lucius’ name.

“Matt, Ryan, what’s going on?” Lucius asked.

“Just had a run in with bloody Potter,” Ryan said.  “Damn kid tried to stop me reporting what happened by using a cheap light show and telling me that I would explode if I contacted a Death Eater.”

Sadly, those were his last words, as an explosion rocked through his body, killing him and Matthew in the blink of an eye.  The Floo connection absorbed most of the blast before it shut down, leaving a stunned and slightly blinded and deafened Lucius Malfoy a few hundred miles away.


Harry Apparated them both back to Hogwarts, dropping them near the lake.  “I figured we’d have a nice walk back,” he said.

Ginny nodded and slid her hand into his.  “Why was the fight so easy?”

“I suspect because Voldemort didn’t expect the Goblins, and he didn’t have many important people to hand.  Most of his senior Death Munchers are still part of society, so they have to show their faces from time to time.”

“So we were lucky.”

“Yeah,” Harry sighed.  “We’re going to have to do something about that.  Relying on luck is a little foolhardy.”

“Good thing to have though.”

“Absolutely!”

They walked in silence back into Hogwarts, neither seeing the need to fill the air with pointless chatter.  They just enjoyed some of the simple pleasures in life – holding hands and walking alongside a scenic lake.

Inside, they separated again, with a quick kiss, as Harry went to rejoin his Potions class.

“Crisis averted?” Snape asked as he re-took his seat.

“For now.  The Goblins killed a few Death Eaters,” Harry said, “and I’m sure a few more are currently experiencing what happens when you fail the Dark Tosser.”

“I’d feel sorry for them,” Snape said with a slight smile, “if they didn’t deserve it.”

Harry grinned at him.  “So, where were we?”

“Healing potions, Harry.  Instructions are on the board.”

Harry nodded and squinted at the board, before he grumbled and cast a spell.  The instructions on the board seemed to fly apart, before reforming in a more legible script.

“Did you have to use that handwriting?” Snape protested.

“It’s the best I’ve seen yet.  I’m hardly going to use my mother’s; she had worse handwriting than you.”

“It’s against my principles to use James’ handwriting for anything,” Snape muttered darkly.

Harry grinned at him.  “Perhaps you could take some lessons.”

“Silence, you,” Snape ordered.

“Yes, Professor.”

Now that he could actually read what he was supposed to be doing, Harry followed the instructions precisely, and it wasn’t long before he was at the simmering stage.  He looked around; Draco was at the back, a lack of expression on his face, as he worked silently and alone.

The blond looked up and met his eyes for a moment, before he blushed slightly and looked down.

Harry prayed to every deity he could think of that the blush was not one of attraction.  With a slight shudder, he got back to work.


From: Regal Beauty

To: Dark and Dangerous

Subject: My son

This is what I get?

I let Lucius take the lead in raising my son, and he turns him into a… a… a… one of those!

I suppose that sort of thing runs in the family; it certainly explains why Lucius needs magical help in the bedroom.

I should be grateful that he has never asked me to dress like a man.

What on earth am I going to do now, Belle?  Despite this perversion, he is still my son, and we both know that LV isn’t exactly the most tolerant of people.

Narcissa

--
More than just an anything


From: Black Rose

To: White Rose

Subject: Male Malfoy Man-eaters

What is wrong with that bloodline?  Why can’t they do things traditionally, a few affairs here and there, visiting brothels and the like?  No, they just have to be different.

I suppose it’s the hair.  They are both far too proud of it.

I told you, Cis, that a blonde should never marry another blonde.  He probably only liked you because you had nicer hair than he did.

So, judging by the tone of your email, you wouldn’t be shocked if I was to intimate that I might have a way out of this mess?

B.


From: Ivory

To: Ebony

Subject: Oh?

Do tell.

N.

--
More than just an anything


From: Dark Queen

To: Blonde Princess

Subject: Re: Oh?

I might have made a deal with someone who can remove the Dark Mark, and I might have negotiated your freedom as well.

Price isn’t cheap, but what is?

B


From: Pale Rider

To: Dark Eagle

Subject: Re: Re: Oh?

I love you, Belle; did I ever tell you that?

What does Potter want from me?

Narci

--
More than just an anything


From: The cunning one

To: The Smart one

Subject: Spy Games

At the moment, it’s just a little bit of spying that I can take care of.  However, he is going to ask us to make sure that we influence LV/LM to do what he wants.  We do that, I get the Mark removed, and to live afterward – you get to live as well.

Belle – I love you, too


From: The pure one

To: The tainted one

Subject: And after that?

Not to be a downer or anything, but well, you’ve been a little enthusiastic in your support of LV over the years.  What happens when this is over?

N.

--
More than just an anything


From: The blind one

To: The seeing one

Subject: Re: And after that?

I should have followed your advice.

I didn’t. 

To be honest, I don’t know.  I’ll bet Galleons to Knuts that Potter’s already decided.  And the worst thing?  It’s probably going to be honourable and just, and I’ll have no reason to hate it.

Bloody Gryffindors.

B


From: The reflective one

To: The impulsive one

Subject: I hate to say I told you so

But I did.

I’ll Mmail Potter and tell him I’m in.  I’ll see what I can find out about you. 

Gryffindors might have numerous problems, but at least they are (generally) honourable.

N.

--
More than just an anything


From: Draco’s Mum

To: Lily’s Boy

Subject: Offer.

Mr Potter,

It has come to my attention that I might be able to offer you some assistance.

Perhaps we could discuss terms?

Narcissa Malfoy

--
More than just an anything


From: HJP

To: Mrs Malfoy

Subject: Re: Agreement

Can you dance?

H.

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


From: The polite Mrs Malfoy

To: The abrupt Mr Potter

Subject: Brevity is not always the soul of wit

Mr Potter, a few more words would not have killed you. 

Of course I can dance, I am a Pureblood.

Narcissa Malfoy

--
More than just an anything


From: Rather too busy to play with people who are in a bad situation

To: The person in a bad situation

Subject: A pureblood that knows Shakespeare?

1) Contact Lucius, tell him that you’ve found a way to infiltrate the school – one of your friends mentioned that someone at Hogwarts was looking for a private dance tutor, and your friend found out that it was me.

2) Come to Hogwarts at 3:15.  I’ll meet you at the door.  We can spend an hour with you teaching me how to dance, while we discuss things in person.

3) Tell no one at Hogwarts what you are here for.

H.

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


From: Slightly stunned

To: The stunner (no pun intended)

Subject: Oh.

Are you sure you shouldn’t be a Slytherin?

Narcissa Malfoy

--
More than just an anything


From: Narcissa

To: My husband

Subject: Infiltrating Hogwarts

Lucius, it has come to my attention that there is an opportunity for me to infiltrate Hogwarts if I act quickly.  One of my contacts was asked to place an advert for a Dance Instructor to give private lessons at Hogwarts.  My contact did a bit of sneaking, and found out that it was for a certain Gryffindor who has been in your way a time or two in the past.

If I work quickly, I should be able to get the ‘job’ before anyone else knows that it is available.

I await your direction.

Narcissa


From: Lucius

To: My Lord

Subject: Potter

Attachment: mml.mml

My Lord, please find attached a message I just received from my wife.

Your servant,

Lucius


From: The Dark Lord Voldemort

To: Narcissa Malfoy

Cc: Lucius

Subject: Opportunity

Narcissa, infiltrate Hogwarts immediately. 

I am pleased with your initiative.  It is good to see that at least someone in your family has a brain.

L.V.

--
Victory or Death


Fred and George looked at each other.  “Ready?”

“Absolutely,” Fred replied.

They stood outside the Three Broomsticks, almost unwilling to open the door.  The pub looked packed with people enjoying lunch.

“No time like the present,” Fred said and threw the door open, inviting George to step through with a flourish.

There was an absolute silence as they walked in, although that could have been due to the Goblins that were accompanying them.

“Madam Rosmerta,” Fred said loudly, “On behalf of the owners of the Butterbeer trademark, we must insist that you stop selling that polluted rubbish immediately.”

“Stop selling butterbeer?” someone from the crowd demanded.  “You can’t do that.”

George jumped up onto the bar and surveyed the patrons.

“Of course we can, and it’s for your own good!  For far too long the Death Eaters have been controlling what you drink and forcing you to drink that pig’s swill so that you could help fund their terrorism.  They had a lock on the market, and you had no choice but to drink their poison.

“Well, no more.  With the help of our good friend Harry Potter, and with the recipe for Butterbeer, as created by the original inventor, we’ve decided to do something about it.”  He nodded to one of the Goblins, who stepped outside, and then rolled in a barrel, heaving it on to the bar with a grunt and a stretch.

“You, good sir,” Fred said, as he grabbed the first person who had complained.  “Why don’t you be the first outside of Hogwarts to try the liquid ambrosia that you should have been drinking all the time?”

The man sniffed and walked over to the bar; he took a tankard George offered and sniffed it a few times.  With a shrug, he raised it to his lips and took several deep swallows.

“Well?” one of the crowd demanded.

“You say that Potter’s involved with this?” the man demanded.

George nodded.  “He found the man with the recipe and bankrolled the operation.”

“I think,” the man said firmly, “that Potter is a bloody hero!  This stuff is brilliant!”

“Free drinks all around,” George shouted.

Fred walked over to Madam Rosmerta.  “To talk business for a second, we’re the legal holders of the Butterbeer trademark.  We’ll supply you for the first six months at your current contract, and then we’ll negotiate for continued supply.  To make things easier for you, we’ll also compensate you for the loss of some of your old butterbeer stock.”

“No need, Fred,” Rosmerta said, a slight smile on her face.  “If Harry’s involved, we’ll make a fortune with this stuff, and I was due a delivery, anyway.”  She reached behind the bar and pulled out an old green bottle.  “Give this to your Goblin friends. They’ll appreciate it.”

“You’re a lady of rare talent,” Fred said with a slight bow.

She grinned at him.  “A good barmaid ensures that she has drinks for all customers.”

Fred nodded.  “How many barrels do you want?”

“Thirty a week to start with, but you better reserve me double that. I can see an upswing in business as everyone will want to try out the new stuff.”

“We’ve already got the product into Hogwarts, and the kids love it.”

She smiled.  “This is going to be the start of a very profitable relationship.”

“We certainly hope so,” Fred agreed.

“Excuse me; can I have a few quotes for the Quibbler?”

“Mr Lovegood, I presume?” Fred asked.

“Horatio Lovegood, at your service,” he said, bowing deeply.  “May I ask who your other partner in this venture is?  The chap who concocted this commendable, copasetic comprehensively captivating consumable concoction?”

“Aberforth Dumbledore.  Back when he invented this stuff, a member of the Malfoy family got a hold of an early recipe, and trademarked it, so that Abe couldn’t sell it himself – it was the main reason that Abe went away from the Wizarding World.”

“And Mr Potter found out about these vilified venal vermin and has vowed to vanquish them on behalf of the vox populi?” Horatio prodded.

Fred blinked for a second.  “He did indeed.  Harry investigated the link between the pig swill that is the fake butterbeer and the Death Eaters.  Upon finding one, he embarked on a quest to save us from the slime and stumbled across Aberforth Dumbledore. 

“Harry tasted this Butterbeer while he was there and instantly recognised its potential as a drink that Wizarding World would adore, so he introduced us and gave us the financial backing we needed to launch this exciting new product.

“Honest Abe’s Original Butterbeer will soon be available in all local outlets, and while you will be able to buy the old swill again soon, it will not be under the Butterbeer brand name.”

Horatio nodded and put away the Quill he had been using to take notes down.  “You’ve dealt with the press before,” he said, dropping the alliteration.

“Actually, I haven’t,” Fred admitted.  “But I’ve been taught by Abe, who has.”

“Ahh, yes,” Horatio said with a laugh.  “I remember the time I last interviewed Abe.   That was just after he had been arrested with Albus – something to do with the Brazilian Women’s Soccer team, 30 gallons of hot mud and a gambling syndicate.”

“What did Abe say?” Fred asked, his eyes going wide.

“I believe his exact words to me, when I asked what had happened, were, ‘My brother, both brilliant and bizarre, beguiled the beautiful Brazilian ball barnstormers to banish all banal bitterness, and in doing so breached buttresses and barricades, leaving bewilderment behind and benefiting a beloved brother.”

“He said that?” Fred asked doubtfully.

“Indubitably,” Horatio replied solemnly.  “I then asked him how he and Albus had been caught, and he had only this to say: ‘In my defence, I was very, very drunk.’”

 ---

“Come in, Harry,” Minerva called as he knocked on her door.

Harry smiled as he walked in and sat down on her couch.  “How come your couch is so comfortable?” he asked.  “The only one I’ve sat in that’s nicer is Abe’s, and he raided China for it.”

Minerva smirked.  “This couch used to belong to Albus, but he was under the impression that his full house was going to top my four jacks.  He sulked for a week over it.”

“A poker game among the professors at school?”

“What do you think teachers do over the summer holidays?”

“Get very drunk, go on wild holidays and generally celebrate freedom?”

“Well,” Minerva said after a pause.  “We do that, too.”

Harry grinned. 

“Have you changed into your wolf again?”

“A time or two,” Harry admitted.  “It’s becoming easier.”

“So it should.  Well, let’s see it.”

Harry nodded and stood, before falling forward in one movement.  By the time he reached the floor, he was changed.

“Bravo, Harry,” Minerva applauded.  “Now change back.”

Deciding to show off a bit, Harry turned and jumped back toward the couch, changing halfway.  He landed awkwardly and overbalanced the couch, ending up on his back, staring at the ceiling.

Minerva laughed as he blushed and quickly righted himself.  “It took me a week of practice to get the jump on to my desk right,” she admitted cheerfully.  “So, are you ready to try for your hawk?”

He nodded eagerly.

“Well, you know what to do, this should be no different.  You call forward the animal and merge.”

He nodded again and closed his eyes.  The hawk seemed to fly into his consciousness, as if it had been jealous of the wolf, and wanted its own turn.

The pain as he changed was very different, and much more intense.  The hawk was a smaller animal, and it meant that a lot more of his bones got crushed.  He let out a shrill cry as the change finished.

“Oh, Harry,” Minerva said softly.  “You’re a Harris hawk, with some quite unusual colours.  Here.”  She pulled out her wand and transfigured a piece of paper into a mirror for him.

He looked at himself.  He was almost completely black around the head and shoulders, and his wings and legs had an emerald green cast to them.  He frowned as he noticed a feather out of place and bent, nipping with his beak to get it back in to place.

“Do you feel all right?”

He looked at her and let out another cry, this one of happiness.

“Why not see if you can take off?  Don’t go far, or try to fly properly.  Let’s keep it simple for now.”

He stretched his wings slowly, trying to feel how they worked, and what muscles he was going to have to use.  He brought his wings down and stumbled backward at the unexpected response.

He leaned forward a bit more and flapped again, bracing himself against the expected pressure.  He moved forward and tried hard not to panic as he fell toward the floor.  He flapped again and his descent stopped.  He folded his wings in and landed, a little heavily, before nodding to himself.

As with the wolf, the less he thought about it, the better he functioned. His body knew what it wanted to do, and would do it if he’d let it.  He spread his wings again and flapped several times, as hard as he could.

He squawked in embarrassment as he had to swerve violently to avoid the ceiling, then again to avoid a large clock.  He reached out with his claws and settled down on the top of Minerva’s wardrobe.

“If I’d thought this through, I’d have done this somewhere with a little more room,” Minerva admitted.

He nodded at her, spread his wings, and drifted back down to the couch, where he turned back into his human form.  “Ouch.”

“Painful?” she asked.

He nodded.  “Brilliant, though.  I find it funny that my eyes are better in both animal forms than in my human, although…” he paused as he tried to get his thoughts in order.  “I don’t think these forms are lesser than my human one, if that makes sense?  It’s more like they are just a different part of me.  I’m not explaining myself very well here.”

“Actually Harry, you are indeed.  I’ve often given thought to staying in my cat form a lot more than I do, and one day, when I’m old, I might just do that.  People who aren’t Animagi can’t understand it the same way.  When you find your animal, it’s like finding a part of yourself that was missing and you never knew it.”

He smiled at her.  “Yeah, that’s it exactly.  I hope Gin’s going to be able to do this.  I would hate not being able to share it with her.”

“Well, when you’ve had a bit more experience, you could always try and teach her.”


From: Cat-girl

To: Gnome-boy

Subject: Oh yeah, I’m the daddy

One hawk successfully changed.  The boy also understands what it is to be an Animagus.

I also gave him a challenge – teach Miss Weasley how to become one.  I’ll bet you that she is at least a wolf, if not both.

Min

--
Puuuuurrrrrrr


From: Fili

To: Minnie

Subject: Re: slang

I’m not even going to attempt to make sense of that subject line.

I suppose I have no need to point out that the chances of Miss Weasley being either is about as likely as Voldemort becoming a dentist?

F.


From: Minx

To: Felix

Subject: Re[2]: Slang

Just because you’re not “with it” (whatever “it” is) doesn’t mean that all of us aren’t.

Of course the very idea is preposterous.  There is no way that Miss Weasley should even be an Animagus; after all, there hasn’t been a Weasley or Prewett Animagus for centuries.

Or there shouldn’t be.  However, as we’ve learnt, as soon as Harry is involved, the rule book gets burnt, and he gets what he wants.

And he wants to share this with her.

And frankly, if he can somehow get her giving out bursts of pure magic, then he can find a way to make her an Animagus.

It’s that simple.

Min

--
Puuuurrrrr


From: David (the Gnome)

To: Minnie the Minx

Subject:  I can just see you in a striped jumper

You’re probably right. 

F.


From: Min

To: Filius

Subject: Pop culture references

Why Filius, all these years and you didn’t tell me that you read the Beano?

Min


It was with a degree of trepidation that Narcissa Malfoy strolled up the legendary steps toward Hogwarts.

It had been a long time since she had walked this path, since leaving all those years ago.  She found that she had missed the old school more than she had realised.

Things were much simpler then.  She was in love with her boyfriend, had a mischievous sister that she adored, and her boyfriend’s mentor, Voldemort, was going to stop all the nonsense about Mudbloods attending Hogwarts – after all, there were other, lesser, schools they could go to.

Twenty years later, her only son was gay, her husband spent a suspicious amount of time on his knees in front of Voldemort, stopping the nonsense about Mudbloods involved a lot of bloodshed she didn’t really approve of and the loss of a lot of her money that she definitely didn’t approve of, and her sister seemed to treat sanity as something that she could take or leave – and frequently left.

She paused as a house elf appeared in front of her.  “This way,” the elf said abruptly.

“Dobby?” she asked in surprise.

Dobby tilted his head and looked her up and down, before sniffing dismissively and silently leading her up a series of stairs.

“Thank you, Dobby,” Harry said, as she was escorted into a large classroom.  The room had a wireless to one side, and all the furniture had been pushed against the walls.

“Dobby is being happy to serve,” the elf said solemnly, before vanishing.

“You should have words with your elf,” Narcissa said icily.  “That sort of behaviour sets a very bad impression.”

“On the contrary, Mrs Malfoy, I believe that Dobby was remarkably restrained.  He didn’t once curse you.”

“That filthy creature, curse me?”

Harry took a long look at her.  “You really are a distasteful person, aren’t you?”

“Excuse me?”

“No, I don’t think I will.  Arrogance is not an attractive trait, nor is living on the accumulated wealth of your ancestors.”

Narcissa opened her mouth.

“Don’t bother,” Harry advised.  “We’re about to see how you survive in the real world.  I’m sure it will be educational.”

“What do you mean?” Narcissa demanded, her stomach suddenly tying itself into knots as she looked at the dark-haired young man in front of her.

“Your dear husband forgot to renew his ownership of the Butterbeer trademark and, well, let’s just say that it’s now owned by me, and we have a superior product in the marketplace. Your income has just been slashed, if not eliminated completely.

“Additionally, I’m afraid that while I was serving some documents to your primary Butterbeer plant there was a little altercation, and all your equipment was smashed by overeager Goblins.  It was truly unfortunate, but then, your manager did tear up some very important documents.  It will probably take a bit of time and money to replace everything.”

Narcissa stared at him in absolute horror as she stumbled back against the door.

“All that support of Voldemort is expensive, isn’t it?  And without a steady cash flow, just how will you pay all your bribes?”

Harry walked over to the wireless and turned it on.  Soft music with a classical air filled the room.

“What do you want?” Narcissa asked as she took a deep breath.  She moved to the left and perched on the edge of a table, unconsciously moving her shoulders back and looking at him through her lashes.  It was a look that used to get her out of trouble all the time, and was still useful when dealing with underlings.  She used to use it on Lucius, but he had been far more interested in Voldemort recently and not paying attention where it was due – and losing their money like that was almost criminal. 

“I’ll kill him,” she muttered to herself as the broader implications of what she’d just been told started to become apparent.  “He’s abroad until tomorrow.  Careless idiot.”

“Oh my God,” Harry whispered.

“Pardon?” Narcissa asked.

“Oh no, Mrs Malfoy.  Oh no.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Mrs Malfoy, you didn’t… I mean, you didn’t expect…”

“What?” Narcissa asked, starting to get really confused.

“I mean,” Harry stuttered, “you didn’t really think something like that.”

“Like what?”

“What do you think?”

“Well, I don’t know,” she replied, now convinced that Harry was going insane.

“For God’s sake, Mrs Malfoy.  Here we are.  You insult my house-elf.  You don’t ask for a drink.  I’ve… put on music.  Now you start opening up your personal life to me and tell me your husband won’t be home for hours.”

“So?”

“I think you’re trying to seduce me.”

Narcissa gaped at Harry, unable to think of a single thing to say to him.  She opened her mouth, but couldn’t think of the words that she needed to put him in his place.

Harry suddenly burst out laughing as he sank into a chair.  He pulled out a drink.  “Here’s to you, Mrs Malfoy,” he toasted. “Jesus loves you more than you will know.”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“That’s the problem with you Purebloods,” Harry sighed.  “You’re so insular it makes my teeth hurt.  Muggles have wonderful entertainment, and this whole thing struck me as a scene straight out of one of their movies.”

“A movie?” she asked, her voice rising.

“Yep.  Fun, wasn’t it?”

“I do not find this in any way amusing.”

“No,” Harry agreed.  “You wouldn’t.  Don’t get the wrong impression though.  While you’re still quite attractive, you don’t hold a candle to Ginny.”

Narcissa sneered and opened her mouth.

“Say it, and I’ll make sure that you spend the night in Azkaban,” Harry interrupted her calmly.

Narcissa growled under her breath.  She pulled out her wand and conjured herself a drink.  She took a deep swallow of the Firewhisky and looked at the boy in front of her with grudging respect.  He had her off balance, had teased her, and stopped her from insulting the blood-traitor’s daughter. 

“Bravo, Mr Potter,” she commended him as she put her glass down.  She was going to get the upper hand in this conversation, even if it killed her.

“Harry, please,” he invited, dipping his head in a mocking half-bow.

“Harry,” she agreed, inclining her head.  “You have me at a disadvantage.”

“Me, Mrs Malfoy?” he asked, feigning shock.

She didn’t like the way he said her name, he made it sound so insolent.  “You know things that influence me that I do not.”

“Ahh, that,” he said slowly.  “You see, the problem, Mrs Malfoy, is that I don’t particularly like you, until recently I wanted to kill your sister, I detest your husband, and I only tolerate Draco’s existence.  Unfortunately, I need you.  Well, I need Bellatrix, and she begged me to include you in the deal. 

“So, why don’t you tell me what you want, considering the facts I’ve just sprung on you, and we’ll take it from there.”

Narcissa slowly stood and walked over to him. She picked up a chair and sat in front of him, her back straight.  “This is not what I expected,” she admitted.

“No,” he agreed.  “But this bloody war is interfering with my love life, and I’m getting pretty irritated with it, and I’ve just had a painful lesson, and I found this morning that there is a spy in Hogwarts, so I’m not in the best of moods at the moment.”

“That’s a little too much information,” Narcissa murmured.  “Let me preface my statement by pointing out that while I might have supported some of Voldemort’s goals originally, I have never personally killed or injured anyone physically, nor have I taken the Dark Mark.”

“Support through inaction is a different matter,” Harry noted, “but hardly relevant at this moment.”

“Thank you,” Narcissa said.  “Despite my son’s curious peculiarities, he is still my son, and I do love him.  He will never take the Dark Mark now.  He would not be accepted if he tried, as Voldemort frowns on alternate lifestyles.”

“Voldemort frowns on pretty much everything,” Harry pointed out.

“Indeed,” she flicked him a slight smile.  “I want Malfoy Manor, my son, and my inheritance from the Black family.  Sirius denied it to me, to stop Lucius getting his hands on it.  At the time, I was quite perturbed at that.  However, I am now grateful.  Lucius has proven his incompetence at handling money.

“In return, I will do as you ask, and will divorce him, if he survives.”

Harry looked at her thoughtfully.  “You didn’t mention Bellatrix.”

“My sister, as much as I love her, has only a passing friendship with sanity.  She has also killed numerous people.  I have no wish to be tied to her fate.  I will do what I can for her, but not at the risk of my own freedom.”

“A wise course of action,” Harry allowed.  “I wouldn’t give you any guarantees for her future, anyway.  I have a few ideas, but to be honest, dancing with the devil is not an enjoyable hobby.  I believe, Mrs Malfoy, that you have a deal.”

Narcissa smiled slowly.  “Thank you.  You are not what I expected.”

“I rarely am,” Harry said with a careless shrug.  “Lucius doesn’t think much of me, does he?”

“I believe he has called you a naive brat a time or two,” Narcissa replied.

Harry slowly smiled at her.  “Of course, he knows about Ginny?” he continued.

She nodded once.  “And he knows that you two are not, shall we say, intimate yet?”

Harry raised his eyebrows at her.

“During her altercation with Cho Chang, Miss Weasley made a very public statement of your current status.”

“Indeed,” Harry muttered.  “Would you feel comfortable in shorter skirts?”

For the second time, Narcissa felt like the conversation was going in a direction she wasn’t prepared for.  “Mr Potter, I would appreciate it if we could end this subterfuge, and you would get to the point.”

Harry smiled at her.  “You’re going to seduce me, Mrs Malfoy.”

She gaped at him again, completely gobsmacked at the very idea.  “I’m going to what!?”

“While you have been teaching me to dance, you couldn’t help but notice a reaction to the closeness that dancing induces, and as you don’t have a Dark Mark, and bad-mouthed Lucius as well, I actually trust you – a little.  At the same time, you know my hatred of your son and husband, and can guess that I would be willing to get ‘one over’ on them.  And of course, you know that I am frustrated.

“I’ll give you some decent information that you can pass on to Voldemort and your husband, stuff that I wouldn’t normally tell anyone, unless of course, it was my partner.”

“Very clever,” she said slowly.  “Lucius would believe that, because it would, of course, be what he would do.”

“Quite,” Harry agreed.  “You will, of course, reassure your husband that you would never let it get that far, but you will try and get all the information out of me that you can.

“I’ll want to keep it a secret on my end, so we’ll sneak you in and out, but if you dress correctly – to seduce a naive boy – you should have the perfect alibi to feed Voldemort the garbage I want.”

“Bravo,” she whispered.  She was highly impressed; the plan he had concocted played on the minds of Voldemort and Lucius, and would ensure her safety.  “And my sister?”

“Bellatrix will be safer because she won’t have to pass on any disinformation.”

“Thank you, Mr Potter.”

“Oh please,” Harry drawled, “you can definitely call me Harry now.”  He paused.  “Tell Voldemort that I’m a wolf Animagus.”

“Are you?”

He nodded.  “Yeah.  I’ll make it publicly known this evening.  It should cement everything for you.”

She laughed under her breath.  “This has been a most stimulating conversation,” she said.  “But I think it’s time that we did what I came here for.”

Harry looked at her, a puzzled expression on his face.

“Dancing, Harry. I am going to teach you to dance.  Every person in society should be able to navigate the dance floor, and I suspect that you are going to be very important to society.”

She stood gracefully and walked to the middle of the room.  She raised her left arm.  “We shall start with a basic waltz,” she said firmly.  “Come, stand in front of me and put your right arm around me.”

She was very relieved that, for the briefest of seconds, he blushed slightly.


“How the hell do I get myself into these situations?” Harry demanded of the air around him.

“What situations?” Blaise asked as she walked around a corner.

Harry looked at her and sighed.  “You don’t want to know,” he muttered.

“Obviously, I do,” she pointed out.  “I’d hardly be a Slytherin if I didn’t.”

“At least I don’t have to check my fingers after dealing with you,” Harry pointed out.  “But let’s just say that a bit of grumpiness, a movie that I watched a few years ago, and an overactive imagination taken together are not necessarily a good thing.”

“I’d be delighted to listen.”

“Thanks, Blaise,” Harry said softly.  “But I think that there is only one way to handle this properly – the Gryffindor way.  But, let’s change the subject.  How’s everything going?”

“Pretty well, actually,” she said cheerfully.  “I’m ruling Slytherin, Parkinson’s scared to move, and Draco’s, well, a bit more flamboyant, but quite innocuous, version of his former self.”

Harry nodded.  “I’m glad you’re on my side,” he said simply.

She smiled at him.

“I’ll catch you later. I need to go and grovel now.”

“Cast a charm on your knees, it makes it easier,” Blaise advised.  “And tell Ginny, ‘Hi’.”

“Thanks,” he said dryly, and moved on.

Ginny was in the Gryffindor Common Room, he could feel her presence and the fact that she was relaxed.  He walked in and over to her.  “Can I have a few moments?”

“You can have more than that,” she said with a smile as she bounced to her feet. 

“Your room?”

She nodded and jumped up the steps cheerfully.  He laughed softly and floated up after her, thinking that it would be easier when he could turn into his hawk.

He shut the door behind him, and charmed it shut. 

“You’re nervous,” Ginny said as she sat on the edge of her bed.

“I kinda let a good idea get the better of me earlier,” he confessed.  “You know I talked to Bellatrix yesterday?”

Ginny nodded.

“Well, I talked to Narcissa today.”

“Good.”

“And I needed a way to give her information that she can pass to Voldemort.”

“What did you come up with?” Ginny encouraged.

Harry looked down at his feet.  “She’s going to seduce me,” he whispered, waiting for the explosion.

The explosion came, but not as he expected it, as Ginny roared with laughter and fell back onto her bed.  “That’s brilliant,” she choked through her laughter.

Harry looked at her in surprise.

She raised herself onto one elbow.  “Harry, she’s old enough to be your mother, she’s a de facto Death Eater, she’s Draco’s mother, and I hardly think that you’re likely to be even slightly attracted to her under any circumstances.”

“True,” he agreed.

“But,” she said archly.  “A little reassurance wouldn’t go amiss.”

“Oh?”

“We’ve got at least half an hour before dinner,” she said suggestively.  “And you could spend that time persuading me that you’re only interested in one girl.”

He was about to verbally reassure her, when he stopped.  “Perhaps you’re right,” he agreed, moving over to the bed and placing one knee next to her legs.

She grinned up at him and raised her arms invitingly.  “I normally am,” she pointed out cheerfully.


From: Narcissa

To: Lord Voldemort

Cc: Lucius

Subject: Report

My Lord,

I met the Gryffindor as requested, and he was a little surprised to see exactly who his dance teacher was.

He was a little upset, but I soon managed to soothe his ruffled feathers.

He was, at first, unwilling to dance with me, and while I thought that it was natural reluctance, I soon found it was far more amusing than that.

It seems that our little Gryffindor is a tad frustrated in his relationship with the blood-traitor’s daughter, and his passion, if not his emotions, could be pointed elsewhere.

If I were, perhaps, to wear a slightly more adventurous wardrobe, and continue the lessons, I have no doubt in my ability to win his trust.

I did manage to worm one nugget of information out of him – he’s become a wolf Animagus.

Narcissa


From: LV

To: NM

Cc: LM

Subject: Re: Report

Narcissa, you shall expect an extremely grateful husband when he arrives home.  Your actions have almost made up for his incompetence this morning. 

I see that my doubts about you were misplaced.

Move as fast as you can, although don’t make it obvious.  The sooner the boy trusts you, the better.  Tell the boy that you’ve had a change of heart, and that you wish to join the other blood traitors. Perhaps you could use your husband’s financial incompetence to further validate your story.

LV

--
Victory or Death


From: Narcissa

To: Lord Voldemort

Subject: Re[2]: Report

Thank you, My Lord.  I live to serve.

Narcissa


From: Mrs Robinson

To: Benjamin

Subject: Even a pureblood can look things up

Potter, your plan worked as expected.

Voldemort is pleased with me.

Narcissa

--
More than just an anything


“Harry?” Hermione asked.

“Hmm?” he replied, looking up.

“You’re as distracted as an ant in a room full of anteaters.”

Harry looked around slowly.  The Professors’ table had been expanded, giving the Weasleys and other guests somewhere to sit.

“I’ve got a feeling,” he admitted.

“Quick,” Ron teased, “everyone duck, our fearless leader has a feeling.”

“I’m staying under the table until it goes away,” Cho called from the Ravenclaw table.

“Me too,” Blaise added.

“Comedians,” Harry muttered with an amused look.  “We’re missing something,” he stated.

“What?” Hermione asked.

“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be missing it,” he grumbled.  “Things have gone too well today, not perfectly, but about as well as they could have.”

“That’s a good thing, right?” Ron asked.

“Harry dislikes relying on Providence,” Ginny said with a fond look.

“Don’t we all?” Hermione asked.

“I don’t mind,” Ron mumbled.  “But I’m probably outvoted.”

“A little,” Harry agreed.  “I’ve just got the feeling that I’m missing something important.”

“Like what?” Hermione asked.

“I don’t know,” Harry said, sounding frustrated even to himself.  “I’ve been feeling it all day.”

“If I might make a suggestion,” Dumbledore suggested from the Head Table.  “Go with your feelings, Harry, and see what happens.”

Harry nodded.  “It’s like a memory that’s just out of my mind, or a smell that isn’t quite there, but should be.”

“Your food is being here, Harry Potter sir,” Dobby said, placing a plate in front of him.

“Thanks, Dobby,” Harry said absently and turned to eat.

“Harry?”

“Hmmm,” he asked, as he took a bite.

“It’s customary to have food cooked before it is brought to the table,” Hermione pointed out gently.

“It is cooked,” Harry said, looking at his plate.  “It’s just blue.”

“No,” Hermione corrected, “blue is still cooked. That steak is raw.”

Harry waved his wand over it.  “Better?”

“What did you just do?” Hermione demanded.

“Made it look more socially acceptable,” Harry said as he dug in.

“Okay, we need to talk, Harry,” Hermione said firmly.

“Actually,” Ginny interjected, “you don’t.”

“Why not?” Hermione asked her. “Something is wrong.”

“Think about it for a few moments,” Ginny suggested.  “And take my word that it is completely natural.”

“What do you…” Hermione started, before looking at Harry.  “You’re kidding me?”

“Would I do that, Hermione?” Ginny asked.

“I want details,” Hermione pouted.

“Excuse me,” Ron said, “but would one of you two be really nice and let the rest of us know just what the hell you’re talking about?”

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Harry said.

“You could try thinking it through,” Ginny offered.

“Ginny,” Ron said firmly, “I have a specific amount of brain power that can be used throughout the day.  If I thought about this, I’d forget something else, and I’m far too scared that I’d forget something important, like what broom cupboards are free this evening, or what charm frightens off cats, or just how to kiss Hermione the way that makes her pulse race.”

“Ron!”

Ron grinned unrepentantly at his girlfriend.


From: Snuffles

To: Ought to become an Animagus

Subject: Progress

No luck so far, the lead I was chasing turned up blank.

I’ve got a plan to infiltrate the Death Eaters, though.  I’ll talk about it when I next see you.

S.

--
Woof woof


From: The Boy Who Surprises

To: The Snuffly one

Subject: Re: Progress

No need, I’ve got that covered. 

Try Devon.

H

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


From: Free of cold

To: Germy

Subject: Re: Re: Progress

You’ve got that covered?  You can’t be serious (because I am).

S.

--
Woofy woof


From: Groaning

To: Groan maker

Subject: Re[3]: Progress

Attachment: map.pmt

I shall ignore that. 

You might want to look at the map provided – one of my sources tells me that it is important.

HJP

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


“That’s it!” Harry shouted.  “I’ve warned him and warned him, now he’s going to pay!”

“Harry?” Albus asked, a slightly concerned expression wrinkling his forehead.

Harry shot a wide smile.  “Of course, this is just what I need to lift my spirits,” he continued cheerfully.  “Ginny, Hermione, Parvati, Susan, Blaise, Luna, Padma, Lavender, I need you in the library studying with the Weasleys and future Weasleys.

“Ron, Dean, Seamus,” he paused, “and Professor Snape, you’re with me.  And remember,” he turned to face Ginny, “when asked, you haven’t seen me!”

Ginny’s eyes twinkled at him merrily.  “Should I ask?”

“You’ll see,” he promised.  “Come on, guys.”

He jogged out of the Great Hall and headed straight toward an abandoned classroom, followed by the male contingent from the Dining Hall.

“Gentlemen,” Harry said, “we need ideas and we need them quickly.”

“For what?” Snape asked.

“Payback, of course,” Harry grinned.  “I’ve warned Sirius time and time again to stop the Sirius/Serious jokes, but he refuses, so we’re going to do something about it now.  I’ve sent him a time-delay Portkey.”

Snape smiled eagerly.  “How about we make him write lines?” he suggested.  “He can’t leave the room until he writes something a hundred times.”

“Good one,” Harry approved.  “Get to work.”

Seamus and Dean looked at each other.  “Purple hair?” they suggested.  “And maybe green skin.”

Harry nodded.  “Attach it to the doorway on exit – so once he’s written the lines, he thinks it’s over and then gets hit while his defences are down.”

“Well,” Ron said after a few moments thought, “Sirius will just change into his Animagus form to avoid embarrassment, right?”

“Probably.”

“So we do something to that as well,” he suggested.  “Maybe make the charms work that way?”

Harry summoned a charms book and passed it to Ron.  “Get to work,” he grinned.  “And I’ll do the other obvious thing.”

“Which is?” Snape asked from where he was charming a wall into a blackboard.

“Photographs, of course,” Harry said with a wide smile.  “We need pictures of all of this stuff!”

Snape just laughed.


Sirius looked at the map thoughtfully.  He’d already looked at this area and found nothing.  It was only as he felt the familiar tug of a Portkey that he realised he’d been had.

He appeared in an old classroom.  On the wall in front of him was a blackboard; on the blackboard was an inscription in James Potter’s handwriting.

I will not make any more Sirius/Serious jokes!

Write this a hundred times, and you can leave.

Sirius rolled his eyes and pulled out his wand, moving toward the door. 

Expelliarmus, Accio Sirius, Finite Incantatem,” Harry’s voice shouted from the side, and before he could act, his wand was yanked out of his hand and he went flying toward a wall, before the second spell kicked in and pulled him toward Harry, and the last spell left him standing where he had been.

“Blimey,” Ron said.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed.  “That worked far better than I expected.”

“I’ll get you for this, Potter,” Sirius promised.

Harry grinned at him and took Ron’s shoulder.  “Not until you’ve done your lines,” he smirked as he Apparated the two of them away.

“Goddamn son of a Marauder,” Sirius muttered.  He thought about trying to escape, but recognised that his godson would have covered that eventuality.

He picked up a piece of chalk and started to write.

When he had finished, the letters pulsed for a second, before they all vanished, and a new inscription appeared.  “You may now leave.  Your wand is outside the door.”

Sirius grumbled to himself.  His hand ached and he was sick of writing both his name and Serious. 

He opened the door and was confronted with a mirror.  As he looked at himself, admiring the fact that he was still a handsome man, even after the years in Azkaban, he was hit with several curses.

He looked about and then shouted, “I’m going to kill you, Potter!”

“You’ll have to catch me first,” Harry’s voice echoed through the door.

He picked up his wand.  He could see Harry running in the distance and changed into his Animagus form.

He’d catch him and teach him not to mess with a Marauder!

As he ran, he didn’t even notice the last curse as it hit.


Harry ran through the corridors of Hogwarts.  He could feel Sirius catching up with him, so he jumped forward, transforming as he ran.

He landed on all four paws and sniffed the air.  The game was afoot.  He sprinted as fast as he could, heading toward the Library.

He jumped up the stairs in almost a single bound, revelling in the freedom he had, his claws making a clicking sound as he scrambled for grip along the smooth stone floors.

Approaching one corner, he jumped and rotated in the air, used the side of the wall to cushion his turn, and sprang away at high speed.

He could hear Sirius behind him and slowed a little.  It wouldn’t do to lose his prey at this stage.

He sped up again as Sirius picked up his scent, and barrelled through the doors to the Library.  He paused and looked around with interest – it seemed like most of the school had chosen to study in the library that night.

Harry caught his mate’s scent and sprinted over to her – there were a few shrieks as people watched the large wolf approach – before he bounded onto the table in front of Ginny.

Hermione calmly lifted her book out of his way as he skidded past, not lifting her eyes from the page she was reading as she did so.

Harry jumped over Ginny’s head and crouched behind her as Sirius bounded in.

Sirius shifted back to his human form.  “Where is he?”

“Where is who?” Blaise asked politely.

“Potter.  Where is he?”

“I’ve not seen Harry since dinner,” Padma said politely and with complete honesty, although her face started to twitch.

There was a giggle from behind Sirius, and he turned dramatically, only to freeze as he remembered what he looked like.

He turned back into his dog form, and looked surprised as everyone started to laugh.

Harry decided to do something very nice for Ron the next time he saw him, as he’d outdone himself.  He couldn’t decide if it was the bow on the tail that was the nicest touch, or the lime green and purple colour combination.

With a straight face, Ginny stood up and conjured a mirror, allowing Sirius to see himself for the first time.  Harry almost laughed out loud at Sirius’ bug-eyed reaction.

Most of his body had been closely shaved, and his stomach seemed to have expanded, and his head was reshaped, so that he resembled a giant pot-bellied pig, only a pig in psychedelic colours.

Sirius whined and slunk backward.

“Padfoot!”

Sirius looked up as Colin took a picture of him.  He growled at the boy and took a step forward.

Harry barked sharply and jumped from behind Ginny and in front of Colin.

Sirius blinked at him a few times, before placing his snout on the ground and covering it with his paws.

Harry padded over to him and sniffed him a few times, before nudging him gently.

Sirius woofed softly, asking if the prank was over.

Harry looked at him for a long moment, while Sirius whined plaintively.  Eventually, he looked at Ron and nodded once.

Ron – whose eyes were huge as he looked at Harry – cancelled the spells on Sirius.

Sirius turned back into his normal form and cracked a slow smile.  “You do, of course, realise,” he said, “that this means war!”

Harry barked at him once and turned his back, heading toward his mate.

“Oh, Harry,” Hermione said as she moved in front of Ginny and dropped to her knees “You’re gorgeous.”

“Hey,” Ron protested mildly.

“That’s what I said,” Ginny agreed as she moved next to Hermione and hugged him, burying her face into his ruff.

Harry leant forward a little and sniffed Hermione.  She smelled a little of Ron, a little of books, and a lot of the light perfume she wore, combined with her natural scent.  She smiled at him and lightly petted his head.

He nodded at her, gently disengaged himself from Ginny and turned to Ron.  He padded over silently and sniffed him as well.  Ron smelled a little of Hermione, and a little of sweat and leather over his own scent.

He walked around, committing all his friends’ scents to memory.  He paused at Padma and sneezed before moving on, finishing with Blaise.

“Do you mind?” she asked Ginny, who shook her head.

Blaise knelt down as Ginny had, and hugged him.

Harry gently licked her nose when she had finished, causing her to giggle.

He stepped back a few times and reared up onto his hind legs, changing as he did.

“Since when have you been an Animagus?” Sirius demanded.  He paused and swore under his breath. “That’s why your scent changed when I was chasing you!”

Harry grinned at him.  “A while,” he said vaguely.  “And I was hoping you wouldn’t realise that until later.”

“We need a new nickname for you,” Sirius said eagerly, his earlier declaration of war obviously put to one side.

“No, he doesn’t,” Ginny said firmly.  “He’s far too macho for a silly nickname.”

Sirius pouted at her.  “All the Marauders had nicknames.”

“Harry’s not a Marauder,” Ginny replied.

“But he should be.”

“The Marauders were your generation, Padfoot,” Harry said.  “This is mine.  I have to follow my own path.”  He looked around and smiled as most of the school trailed out the library, smiles on their faces as they discussed the prank.  Minerva was standing with Albus, Severus and Filius, all of whom had slightly awed looks on their faces.

“Nice prank,” Albus said jovially, “and I am quite impressed by your control of your form.”

“Wait,” Ron said, “this is why you’ve taken a liking to meat that’s barely been introduced to fire?”

Harry laughed, “Yeah.  Minerva said I should get out of that eventually, when I get used to it.”

“How on earth did you work it out?” Ron demanded of his girlfriend.

“Ginny’s words, actually,” Hermione confessed.  “She said it was natural.  Well, the only way it could be natural for Harry to eat raw meat was if he was an animal – it wasn’t much of a jump to work out what she meant from there.”

“For a genius, perhaps,” Ron muttered.

“Excuse me for a moment,” Harry said, and walked up to Padma.  He leaned in and whispered into her ear, “Can I suggest a new perfume?”

“What? Why?”

“A perfume is supposed to compliment your natural scent, and yours is currently fighting it.”

He pulled back, as Padma blushed for a second, before nodding.  She gave him a quick hug and whispered, “Thanks, and thanks for not making a scene.”

He smiled at her and walked back over to Ginny.

“Well,” Albus said, “as we are all here, I think it might be a good idea to show you your room now, Professor Potter.”

Harry grinned.  “Lead the way,” he said with a flourishing bow.  He looked curiously as more people than expected followed the Headmaster through the school.

Dumbledore stopped in front of a large statue of a knight in full armour and looked at Harry.  “The password is currently Hogwarts, but you should change it now.”

Harry looked at the group and raised his wand; he cast a silencing spell on each end of the corridor.  “The new password is Beowulf.”

“An interesting password,” Hermione said.  “What made you come up with that?”

Harry shrugged. “I liked the story when I was younger.”

Hermione nodded.  “Me, too.”

Harry spoke the new password and the section of wall next to the statue swung inward.

“One second, Harry,” Luna said, stopping him just as he was about to enter.  “Dobby!”

The house-elf appeared.  “Mistress Loony is calling Dobby?”

Luna smiled.  “I told you that you should be here,” she said to the elf, indicating Harry.

“Oh,” Dobby said and nodded fiercely.  “Dobby thanks you, Mistress Loony.”

“Go ahead, Harry,” Luna said with a bright smile.

Harry pushed the wall portal open the rest of the way and stepped in.  He paused and blinked.  “Crikey.”

“You can say that again,” Ron agreed. 

“Crikey,” Harry obliged.

Ginny groaned and pushed his arm.  “Have a look around.”

Harry looked up at the ceiling first and smiled.  The representation of the late autumn setting sun shone down on him, with deep clouds all around. 

“It’s not as good as the Great Hall,” Padma said quietly, “but it’s the best we can do.”

“It’s amazing,” Harry said honestly, as he slowly dragged his eyes away from the ceiling and into the room itself.

The room was separated into two distinct areas. To his left was a large fireplace, with two comfy looking couches arranged in front of it.  To the right was a series of bookshelves and a reading corner with two arm chairs.

The floor was covered in brown oak parquet flooring, and the chairs and bookshelves matched it perfectly.  The walls were done in a light cream.

He moved forward first, through the double doors, and stepped out onto the huge balcony overlooking the Quidditch pitch.  He didn’t say anything; he just shot a grateful look at the others.  He could see himself spending a lot of time out here, and it gave him the perfect place to practice his flying when he changed into his hawk form.

He moved back in, running his fingers over the back of the couch as he entered a study.  The floor was the same dark wood, but most of it was covered in a thick pile deep red patterned rug.

“There’s a filing cabinet hidden in the wall,” Hermione pointed out, “and everything you need to be able to run your classes.”

He nodded and turned, walking to his left and into the small kitchenette.  Everything that he could need was here.  “Dobby,” he called.

“Yes, Harry Potter, sir?”

“You do know that you’re going to have to teach me how to cook properly now, don’t you?”

Dobby gasped.  “Dobby would be honoured,” the elf said seriously, dabbing at the corner of his eyes.

Harry smiled and moved back into the living room, and through it, into the bathroom.

He blinked; it looked more luxurious than the Prefects’ Bathroom he’d used in the second task during the Triwizard Tournament, only smaller.  The bath looked big enough for a party of six, and had several overhanging showerheads, along with a series of gold taps that controlled it.

A large mirror dominated half of the room, with a marble top that had an inbuilt sink.

He turned toward his bedroom and swept the connecting door open.  The brown theme continued into here, with another thick carpet, and a huge four poster bed.  Three wardrobes stood next to each over on the far wall, as well as a dressing table.  He knew, without a doubt, that this room was meant for dual-occupancy.

He turned again and walked back out to the balcony, perching on the edge as he looked at his friends and family.

“Thank you,” he said simply.  “It’s perfect.”

“I’m afraid that we can’t take the credit, Harry,” Albus said cheerfully.  “Dobby and the other house elves did all the work changing the size of your quarters, and Miss Patil, Miss Zabini, Miss Patil, Miss Brown, Miss Bones and Miss Lovegood did the rest.”

Ginny nodded in agreement.

“If there’s ever anything you need, just ask,” Harry said to them, “and that goes for you as well, Dobby.”

Dobby nodded and pulled out another handkerchief, too overwhelmed to actually say anything.

“There are two things,” Lavender said with a hopeful look.

“Name them.”

“The first,” Blaise took over, “is that you let us hang out here as well.  We’ve kinda been using this balcony for the last few days, and we love it.”

“Of course,” Harry agreed.  “Up to curfew, naturally.”

Minerva and Albus both smiled at this statement.

“And the second thing?”

“We’ll ask later,” Parvati said, “when there aren’t any other boys around.”

“Sirius,” Harry said, before his godfather could open his mouth.  “Just remember what happened last time you made an off colour joke about this sort of thing.”

Sirius pouted. “You’re taking all the fun out of life,” he protested.

Harry laughed and shook his head.  “On the contrary,” he said, “I’m enjoying life immensely.”  He looked at Hermione for a second and smiled at her.  “Yes,” he said, “you can use the study.”

“Thank you,” Hermione exhaled.  “There are some books in there I’ve not read.”

“Come on,” Ron said, wrapping his arm around his girlfriend.  “You can look at the books and I’ll do my potions homework.”

“You’ve not done it yet?” Hermione scolded as they walked off.

Harry laughed under his breath. 

“I think,” Minerva said, “that it’s time for Albus and me to leave you in peace.”

“Thank you, both, for everything,” Harry said.

“Oh, you’ll earn it, Harry, you’ll earn it,” Dumbledore said as he offered his arm to Minerva and they both walked out.  Dobby gave a deep bow and popped out as well.

There was a silence for a few moments, before Sirius said, “What?”

Harry looked at the faces of the girls, who were all frowning at Sirius.  “I think they’d like you to leave,” he said in a stage whisper.

“But it’s not fair, that would just leave you and all these hot witches,” Sirius said back in the same whisper.

“You’re far too old,” Harry pointed out, “and I only need one of them.”

“We should talk,” Sirius replied, shaking his head in a disappointed manner.

“Sirius!” Ginny shouted.

“Yes, Ginny?”

“Leave, now!”

“Can I at least have a Portkey out of here?”

Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin.  He concentrated for a second, and then gave it to his godfather.  “It will take you to your own hot partner.”

“But…” what ever Sirius was going to say was lost as the Portkey activated and whisked him away.

“So,” Harry said, “what’s the other thing?”

Parvati reached into her bag and pulled out Ginny’s nightgown from the previous evening.  “This,” she said, handing it to him.

Harry blushed.  “What about it?”

“Feel it,” Lavender said.

He did, it was smooth and slightly warm.  It felt quite nice, actually.

“Now try and tear it,” Blaise told him.

He did, and frowned, before biting it and seeing if he could do it that way.

“What is this stuff?” he asked.

“That’s what we wanted to ask you,” Lavender said.  “It’s a strong as denim, as soft as cotton, as smooth as silk, and it shouldn’t exist.”

“Ginny, we put some identical clothes that you were wearing on Saturday in the first wardrobe,” Blaise said, “go and get changed.”

Ginny smiled and nodded.

Blaise followed her out and stuck her head into the study.  “We’re trying some stuff out,” she said to Ron and Hermione.  “Ron, you won’t want to come out until we tell you – unless you want to risk the chance of seeing your sister naked.”

“I’ll not be moving from this spot, then,” Ron replied.

Ginny returned a few minutes later in the same outfit, and Harry couldn’t help smiling at her.  “You are beautiful,” he whispered as she approached him.  He raised his fingers up and lightly touched her cheek.

As she smiled at him, everything faded into the background, everything changed, so that all he could see was the brown of her eyes, the pale freckles across her nose, the red of her lips, and the way they were slightly open, inviting him in.

He leaned forward and kissed her gently, before pulling away regretfully. 

“We’re going to try and scan your magic as you do it,” Padma said.

Harry nodded.  “Ready?”

“Always,” Ginny whispered.

He closed his eyes again and reached out to her clothes, trying to get them to change as he had before, and merging the layers into place.

“Got it,” Lavender said.

“Now what?” Harry asked.

“Well, now we’ve got the process,” Padma said, “so we work from this point and come up with a spell that normal people can cast.”

Harry laughed.

“We were afraid that you’d leave Gin naked if it went wrong.”

“Damn,” Ginny pouted.  “That would have been more fun!”

Harry just laughed.


From: Sirius the confused

To:  Remus the unconfuser

Subject: Harry (How many times have I used this subject?)

First, Harry’s an Animagus!  The little bugger’s only a wolf!  And how did he tell me this?  By making me, his own godfather, back down!

The problem is, Ginny wouldn’t let me give him a nickname, said he was too noble.  Just how can we have an Animagus in the family without a nickname?

Siri

--
Woof


From: The protector of the English language

To: The butcher of the English Language

Subject: 117 by my count

Harry’s a wolf Animagus?  That’s wonderful news.  What does he look like?

Tell me, Sirius; just what were you doing that made Harry make you back down?

R.


From: The baker of the English Language

To: The proctor of the English Language

Subject: Re: 117 by my count

I’m sure that Harry is planning on showing you the pictures *sigh*.   I don’t know; a godfather makes one Sirius/Serious joke and everyone acts like I was Voldemort or something.

And then Ginny made me leave Harry’s new den when things were getting interesting!

S


From: The guardian of the English Language

To: The candlestick maker of the English Language

Subject: Re: Re: 117 by my count

Sirius, why don’t we meet up tomorrow for breakfast, and you can tell me all about it, in great detail!

R.


From: Spy-der girl

To: Wolf boy

Subject: What the F&*&?

First.  Wolf Animagus?  Nice – a lot more practical than most animals people get.

Second: What the hell did you do today?  Lucius is half-deafened and muttering about you turning someone into a bomb that would go off when they talked to a Death Eater?

Two idiots were killed when they ignored you.  I’m impressed, Potter.  I didn’t even know that was possible, or that you had it in you.  You’re no longer an ickle boy, Potty.

B


Harry looked at the Mmail in disbelief.  He turned and looked at Ginny.  “I… I… I didn’t,” he stuttered, transferring it to some parchment he created and passing it to her.

He turned, leant over the balcony, and lost his lunch.

“Shit!” Ginny swore as she scrunched up the Mmail and chucked it through the doorway into one of the fires.  “Hermione,” she yelled, “Ron, get out here, quick.”

Hermione and Ron ran out onto the balcony.  “What’s going on?” Hermione demanded.

He could feel Ginny rubbing his back, as Padma replied, “We have no idea. He got a Mmail, read it, and then his face lost all colour, and he lost his lunch.  I hope no one was underneath the balcony.”

Harry turned and collapsed onto the floor.  “I didn’t mean to do it,” he said to Ginny desperately.  “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“I know, my love,” she replied, hugging him tightly.

“It was just a light spell,” he told her, almost begging.  “That’s all.”

“I know,” Ginny repeated.  “It was my suggestion, Harry, not yours.”

“But…”

“Shhh,” Ginny said gently.  “Let me explain what’s going on to the others, and then we’ll talk about it.”

He nodded, as she wormed her way into his arms and sat firmly in his lap, wrapping his arms around her.

“This morning, after we dealt with the Death Eaters, we were dealing with a piece of scum who was an associate of Lucius Malfoy, but wasn’t actually a marked Death Eater.  To stop him from reporting to a Death Eater, I thought we’d do one of our standard psychological tricks, and make a pretend spell so that if he went near a Death Eater, he would explode.

“Harry cast a light spell on him, and that was it.  We’ve just found from one of our contacts that it kinda, well, worked,” she shrugged her shoulders in reluctant acknowledgement.  “Two people died and Lucius Malfoy was injured when the man contacted him.”

“Bugger,” Hermione said, and moved over to sit next to Harry, hugging him tightly.

A second later, Harry found himself surrounded by girls who were hugging him and Ginny.

“But it’s not possible,” Harry eventually said.  “I only cast a light spell!”

Ginny moved out of his arms, and turned, kneeling in front of him.  Hermione joined her a second later.  Blaise moved so that she was hugging him from the left, Padma from the right.  Ginny swallowed hard, and Harry felt something tense up in his stomach as he saw the expression on her face. 

“What?” he asked her softly.

“We’ve been keeping something from you,” she said softly. 

Those six words seemed to freeze his insides like they had been dipped in liquid nitrogen.

“What?” he croaked again, hardly recognising his own voice.

“Harry,” Hermione said, “it is impossible to attach a spell to a Mmail, just as it is impossible for you to Apparate into Hogwarts.”

“But I do that,” he pointed out.

“That’s because you don’t know it was impossible.”

“That makes very little sense.”

“Harry, we’ve all been raised with strict rules on what is and what isn’t possible,” Ginny said, “even Hermione, who knew exactly what was possible because she read Hogwarts: a History, and because she grew up in a culture that placed limits on her imagination. You didn’t, despite everything you went through, growing up. You believe that anything is possible with magic, unless told without a doubt that it can’t be done.”

“I don’t understand,” Harry whispered.

“We’ve known since you made the first Portkey for the Mmail attachment,” Ginny continued, her eyes locked on his.  “We didn’t know there were any down sides to this, until you and Severus tried to battle Voldemort, and Voldemort told you that you couldn’t escape from his mind-trap, and you believed him.  That was when we knew we had to be careful. 

“Harry, your belief in what you can and can’t do is greater than the so-called laws of magic,” she told him solemnly.

“So what happened this morning?” he asked.

“You listened to me, and did as I suggested without thinking. You took the idea and your magic responded.”

“So why didn’t you tell me this before I accidentally killed two innocent people?”

Ginny paled, as did Hermione. “Because,” Ginny said as she swallowed nervously, “because you were doing so much for the good side, we didn’t want to stop it.”

“So you used me?” Harry asked, focusing completely on the girl in front of him.

“Yes and no,” Ginny whispered, her eyes tortured.  “It allowed you to become an Animagus, to Apparate around the country, to change the fate of the world for the better, and all we had to do was watch what we said.  And we didn’t. 

“I didn’t,” she added sadly.

“Who knew about this?”

“The senior teachers, Ron, Hermione and me, and a few others.  I was the one that identified it. We took it to Albus and the others immediately, and we decided to try and guide you.”

Harry reached up and touched his necklace as he looked at her.  She touched her own and opened herself to him, completely and without reservation, letting him see her soul.

He closed his eyes and exhaled in relief; there was no sign at all that she was using his love for her, or that her love was anything other than what she had said each time.

“I need some time,” he whispered.

She nodded. 

He stood abruptly, took a couple of steps to the left and vaulted over the balcony.  He changed into his wolf form half way down, and used the wall to slow his descent.

A second later, he was running as fast as he could toward the Forbidden Forest.


Ginny leaned back against her heels and sighed.

“What’s going on?” Blaise asked in a confused voice.

“He’ll be fine,” she whispered, her voice sounding tortured.  “He was afraid that I didn’t really love him.  The rest he’s upset about, but he’ll deal with it.”

“The necklaces?” Ron asked.

“Yeah, I let him see whatever he wanted, whatever he needed inside me.  I think it worked.  He’s confused, upset, and still doesn’t really understand, but he’ll run off his anger and he’ll allow himself to think.”

Ron sighed.  “Nothing’s ever easy for him, is it?”

“It’s got to be a nightmare to realise that you’ve killed two people by accident,” Hermione added sadly.

“I don’t think that anyone else needs to know this,” Ginny said softly.

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“At least they deserved it,” Blaise added.

“And tomorrow,” Luna added, “he’ll be distracted by Daddy’s report on the new Butterbeer, and he’ll have the time to get over it.”

“Okay, guys, I think it’s time for you to all leave,” Ginny said.  “I’m going to crawl into his bed and try to sleep while I wait for him.”

“You’re worried, still?” Parvati asked.

“Terrified,” Ginny whispered, “because despite all the logic, despite all the good intentions, I kept something really important from him, and he tells me everything as soon as he can.  I’m the only person who knows what he was doing today, and who he was dealing with.  I know his hopes and his dreams, his love and his fear, I know how scared he is about what he has to do, and the decisions he has to take. 

“And how do I deal with that?” she asked, as tears ran down her face.  “I hid something from him, something that if he had known, he wouldn’t have come close to death with Snape, he wouldn’t have done so much that he has.”

“But it’s been for the best,” Blaise pointed out.

“The best for whom?” Ginny asked.

“Everyone else,” Blaise answered for everyone, a stricken look on her face, her voice barely audible.

“I’m supposed to look after him first, and everyone else second,” Ginny pointed out.

Blaise crawled forward and took Ginny in her arms, hugging the smaller girl tightly.

Ginny closed her eyes and cried on Blaise’s shoulder.  She felt Blaise pick her up and carry her, and a few seconds later she was placed in Harry’s bed.

She tried to stop crying, but the bed didn’t smell like him, and that made it worse.


Harry ghosted silently through the Forbidden Forest.  This was his first real excursion as a wolf, and everything seemed so much simpler.

He had killed to protect his pack.  That was right.  That was good.  That was what the pack leader was required to do.  Honour dictated that he do everything he could to secure his pack’s future.

What was not as simple was his Mate’s actions.  She was supposed to be there for him, to be his strength.  And it hurt that she had been keeping the truth from him, when he had been telling her practically everything he was doing.

The one exception was that he was actually learning to dance, but that was a surprise, for her.

He looked up as the air seemed to turn silver and sniffed silently.  The moon was almost full and he’d be spending some time with Moony and Padfoot soon, replacing his father in their pledge to their friend.  It was a pity that they didn’t have anyone to replace Wormtail. He was just a shell of a man now, his soul sucked out by Death Eaters, which wasn’t exactly a big loss.

He jumped up onto some rocks and sniffed again.  There was a scent present that raised the hackles on the back of his neck.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” a voice demanded. 

Harry looked up and saw a large man with matted grey hair and whiskers standing a short distance away, staring at him.  He growled softly in warning, but the man disregarded it.

“You’re not a real wolf,” the man rasped, as he lightly licked his long yellow nails.  “You’re a little too big and a little too uneasy.  You’re an Animagus.”

Harry contemplated transforming, but decided not to for now.  His instincts were urging him to stay as he was. 

“I wonder,” the man said, “what would happen if a wolf Animagus was bitten by a werewolf.”

Harry blinked at him.

The man looked up at the moon.  “It’s a bit early,” he said thoughtfully, “but I think that, with enough of my own magic, I can pull it off.”  He leaned back and roared, and Harry could almost feel the magic pouring off him as his jaw started to elongate.

It was the second time he’d seen a werewolf transform, and it looked just as painful as before.  He wondered if it was the wizard’s body fighting the transformation, rather than embracing it as he did when he changed.

The werewolf had grey fur and bright yellow eyes that spoke eloquently of madness and obsession.  It stared at him for a few seconds as it stood there and then growled.  The growl was a challenge, and a slur on his honour. 

Any thought of changing back to a human vanished in that instant.  He could not let this cur insult him like that, this was his range, and Hogwarts and its surroundings was his pack’s home.  He would not back down, he would not lose.  As long as there was breath in his body, he would fight for what he believed in and the people he loved.

Harry stood erect, holding his tail aloft and his ears up and forward.  He bared his teeth and growled at the interloper. 

Without warning, the werewolf jumped at him.  He skipped to one side easily, just enough to avoid the beast and its flying claws.

Harry threw his head back and howled his own challenge – this was his territory and he was ready to fight for it.  He crouched, bunching his muscles, and then jumped at the werewolf.

He might not have been a wolf for long, but he wasn’t an artificial curse in a vaguely wolf form.  He was a wolf.  It was deep inside him and always had been, and now was his chance to show this impostor what a real wolf could do.

The werewolf stood his ground, an almost human-like expression on his face -- an expression of contempt.

Harry touched his paws to the ground and used them to subtly change his direction.  He might be a wolf, but he had the experience of a year of hard duelling and teaching his pack-mates to duel, and he could call on that experience now.

The touch ensured that he avoided the outstretched claws of the werewolf, and was able to swipe his own out, raking down the left flank of the werewolf who was ether too slow or too clumsy to dodge away in time.

The werewolf howled in pain, but Harry didn’t stop.  He’d stop when his enemy was forever vanquished, and not before.  He touched down and dug his claws in, throwing himself back against the werewolf.

The werewolf jumped, narrowly avoiding Harry’s snapping jaws this time.  He twirled faster than Harry expected, and tried to swipe him with his claws.

Harry jerked out of the way and skidded across the tops of the rocks.

The werewolf and the wolf stared at each other, both panting softly, steam coming from their mouths as they both took dominant positions.

Only the werewolf’s pose wasn’t truly dominant, Harry noticed.  It was a fake, a mockery, how a human would view the pose, but his body language was wrong.

It was an insult to him, that this ignorant savage would invade his home and challenge him, with such disregard for a wolf’s customs. 

They launched themselves at each other at the same moment.  The werewolf had the size advantage, but Harry had the strength.  His muscles were not those of a human forced into a werewolf’s shape; his muscles were his own, created by willing the mixture of his magic and will, and he was stronger.

They met with the sound of flesh on flesh, and he could sense the werewolf’s surprise as the werewolf changed direction and bounced painfully onto the stones.  He jumped on top of the werewolf, raking his claws along the werewolf’s stomach and was rewarded with a scream of pain.

The werewolf kicked at him, throwing him against a tree.  He shook himself as he bounced off and dived back into the fight without hesitation.  The werewolf scrambled away, turning slightly.

Harry charged him again, barely noticing as the werewolf’s claws raked his chest.  He was too busy using his own.

He bounced away and circled the werewolf, darting in and out, testing his opponent’s reactions.  Harry already knew he was going to win.  The werewolf was fighting as a human, as an enhanced and powerful human in the shape of a wolf, but still as a human, whereas he was fighting as a wolf truly would.

He faked to the left and jumped right.  The werewolf turned toward his fake, exposing his rear, and in the manner of wolves throughout time, Harry opened his jaw, bit hard against the exposed tendons of the werewolf’s rear leg, and ripped sharply.

Harry jumped away, avoiding the retaliating attack, and spat the flesh from his mouth.  The taste made him almost sick; it was polluted and tainted flesh.  His hatred of his enemy grew as he detected other tastes, tastes no real wolf would infect his body with.

The werewolf was whimpering, unable to move as he had.  Harry moved closer, dancing in and out of range, waiting for the right moment.

It came soon enough.  The werewolf overextended, and Harry moved without hesitation, aiming for the werewolf’s throat.

He didn’t miss.

Harry howled into the darkness, a howl of triumph and warning to anyone else who might dare enter his domain. 

He looked down at the werewolf’s corpse and watched as it slowly changed back into the man it had once been.  He turned away slowly and started to run.  He was pretty sure that he was going to need some help dealing with this dead werewolf, and there was only one person he knew nearby who might be able to help him.

He sprinted, a part of him marvelling at the stamina he had, and quickly covered the distance to the Great Lake, where he dipped his head in, washing the blood from his fur and rinsing the foul taste from his mouth.  He shook himself and then sprinted toward the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade.

He barked, a soft, almost sub-vocal whuff, and scratched at the door until it opened.

Remus opened the door.  He was wearing pyjamas and looked bone tired.  He stared down at Harry for a long second.

“Harry?” Remus guessed.

Harry nodded once and turned, bouncing away, before he stopped and looked at Remus.  He barked again.

“Let me get my shoes,” Remus said, and disappeared.

Harry sat down and waited patiently for him.

Remus returned after just a moment or two, now fully dressed.

Harry started to trot back toward the forest, waiting every few seconds to make sure Remus was following.

Remus started to jog as well, a distance-eating stride that allowed Harry to run alongside him.

As soon as they entered the forest, Harry took the lead, and guided Remus through the trees to the moonlit clearing.

“Sweet Merlin,” Remus whispered.  “Fenrir Greyback!”

Harry looked up at his pack mate.

Remus smiled slowly and looked at Harry.  “This is the werewolf that turned me when I was young,” he explained.

Harry nodded, even more pleased that he had defeated this false wolf that had harmed one of his pack.

Remus knelt in front of him and met his eyes.  “Harry, of all the things you could have done for me, this is undoubtedly the best.  Fenrir felt it was his mission in life to infect everyone with the curse.”

Harry growled very softly at Remus - his pack mate’s posture wasn’t quite as submissive as he wanted.

Remus blinked slowly, and then backed away, making his body smaller.  “The Ministry is looking for him,” he said quietly.  “So I’m going to cast a charm to keep him as he is overnight, and we can deal with him in the morning.”

Harry settled back and watched as Remus did what he had said.  He yawned; the fight had taken more out of him than he had expected.  He padded softly in front of Remus, leading him back to the Shrieking Shack. 

Inside, Harry found the fire that Remus had lit earlier.  He moved over to the prime position in front of it and settled down, placing his head on his paws after licking his wound.  It wasn’t long before he was asleep.


From: Ginny

To: Friends, Family, and Sirius

Subject: Harry

Has anyone seen him this morning?  He didn’t come back last night.

A worried Ginny.

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


From: Blaise

To: Ginny’s family, friends, acquaintances, and everyone else involved in Harry’s wellbeing

Subject: Re: Harry

No one here’s seen him since last night.

B


From: Molly

To: Ginny

Cc: Ginny’s distribution list

Subject: Re: Harry

I’ve not seen him here, what’s happened?

Molly


From: Dragon Master Flash

To: Snapdragon

Cc: Everyone else

Subject: Re: Re: Harry

No sign of him here – do you need a search party?

C.

--
Draconis dominium


From: Remus

To: Ginny and Sirius

Cc: The extended family

Subject: That’s 118

I’ve got him.  Or is that he’s got me?

Sirius, I need you at Hogwarts immediately.  Apparate to Hogsmeade, then sprint to the school. 

Ginny, I’m bringing Harry in now.  Find Minerva, we’re going to need her help as well.

And before you ask, Harry met Fenrir Greyback (the werewolf that infected me) last night, and Fenrir found out what happens when a werewolf meets a real wolf.

R.


From: Percy

To: Remus

Cc: Weasley clan + others

Subject: Re: That’s 118

So I’m inferring that a) Greyback is dead, and b) Harry’s a wolf Animagus.

You do like to put me against my duty to the Ministry, don’t you?  Don’t worry, I won’t report him.

I will say how pleased I am that Greyback is deceased.  That man was a complete menace to society, and gave all werewolves a bad name.

Percy

--
The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.  It is intended solely for the addressee.  Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.


From: Bill and Fleur

To: Munchkin, Remus

Cc: You lot

Subject: Re: That’s 118

Fleur and I are already in Hogwarts - if there is a curse involved, we’re here to help.  And if not, well, we’re bloody curious.

B & F


Ginny burst into the Great Hall, her eyes flashing, slightly out of breath.

“Miss Weasley?” Albus asked.

“Professor,” Ginny said, looking straight at Minerva.  “Remus and Harry need your help.  Something happened last night, Harry got into a fight with some werewolf called Fenrir Greyback, and now Remus is bringing Harry here and has ordered Sirius to help as well,” she said in one breath.

“Oh my,” Minerva said.

“Who’s this Greyback character?” Blaise asked.

“He’s a Malfoy family friend,” Draco answered, to the surprise of most people.  “He gets his kicks out of turning people into werewolves.  He is the Dark Tosser’s link to the werewolves.”

“Not any more,” Ginny said.  “He found out the hard way not to mess with Harry.”

There was the sound of paws hitting the ground, and Padfoot entered the Great Hall at full sprint.  He changed back into Sirius as he slowed to the stop.  “What’s going on?” he demanded.

“A question I expect we’ll find the answer to shortly,” Albus said.  “Harry and Remus have just entered Hogwarts.”

Harry padded silently into the Great Hall, followed closely by Remus.

“Harry,” Ginny called, and ran over to him.  She stopped abruptly as she saw the wounds on his chest.

He sniffed her and then nuzzled into her.

“Remus?” Ginny asked, as Harry sat down on his haunches next to her.

Remus looked up at Minerva.  “Did you know he was becoming an Animagus?”

Minerva nodded.  “I helped him.”

“You did warn him about overexposure?”

Minerva looked back steadily.  “As with everything else concerned with Harry,” she said, moving down from the Professor’s table, “he had an unusual introduction, and I’m afraid that I was a little too taken with the natural talent he showed.  I honestly didn’t think, with his schedule, that it would be an issue.”

Remus sighed softly.  “He fought Fenrir last night, wolf to werewolf, and he won, as a wolf.”

“Bugger,” Sirius muttered.  “Okay, let’s try it the hard way first.”

“The hard way?” Ginny asked, moving protectively in front of Harry.

“Yeah, talking him out of it.  There’s a spell we can use that would force him out of his Animagus form, but Merlin only knows what would happen if we used it on him.”

Minerva moved toward Harry, but stopped as he growled.

“Your body language is all wrong,” Remus snapped.  “You’re threatening his dominance.”

“He is Alpha then?” Minerva asked.

“Was there ever any doubt?” Sirius replied irritably.  “You think I back up for just anyone?”

“He is,” Remus agreed, ignoring Sirius’ comment.  “He makes the werewolf part of me feel very submissive.”

Minerva nodded and adapted her body language.  She moved slowly, hunching herself over until she could kneel in front of Harry.

Harry gently nudged Ginny to one side, and bared his teeth as he moved slightly in front of her.

“Harry,” Minerva called.  “Listen to me, Harry.  It’s time to turn back into your other state.”

Sirius moved next to her.  “Harry, I know how easy it is to stay, how natural it is to be in your other form, but we need to be able to speak to you properly.”

“Your mate needs to speak to you as well,” Minerva added.

Ginny reached down and lightly stroked Harry’s fur.  Her eyes widened as she saw the claw marks on the side of his chest.  “Harry,” she called, alarm clear in her voice.

He looked up at her, and she could see the confusion in her eyes.

“I need to apologise to you, Harry, and I need to see you as you so I can do it properly.”

His eyes changed slightly, and he looked torn.

“Please Harry,” she whispered, not looking away, “for me.”

Harry slowly reared back and stood, changing as he did.  As he turned into a full human, the wounds on his chest seemed to grow, the skin split and he started to bleed. 

Ginny was already moving as he fainted, and she caught him and placed him on the ground.  “Get him to the infirmary,” she ordered Minerva, as she turned and started to sprint.

Minerva grabbed Harry and popped out, just missing the stampede of Harry’s friends following Ginny.


“Stand back,” Poppy Pomfrey demanded as she got to work.  “What caused these wounds?”

“A werewolf.”

Poppy shook her head and started to cast a series of charms.  “We need to get the poison out first. Werewolf claws have an anti-coagulant that stops them from healing properly.  The good news is that these are claw marks, and it doesn’t look like he was actually bitten.”

“What would happen if a wolf Animagus was bitten?” Hermione asked breathlessly as she arrived a few minutes later.

“Do I look psychic?” Poppy demanded irritably.  “Now be quiet and let me get these wounds closed.”

Everyone went deadly silent.

Eventually the nurse stepped backward and sighed softly.  “Do I want to know who he was fighting?”

“Fenrir Greyback,” Ginny answered.

“How is he?”

“Dead.”

Poppy nodded slowly, a faint smile on her lips.  “Good. I’ve had to deal with too many families he’s ruined.”  She lightly stroked Harry’s hair back from his forehead.  “Harry will be fine,” she announced.  “He’s in great shape, especially for a wizard, and that will help him.”

“When will he wake up?” Ginny asked.

“Should be before lunch.  I’ll suggest that you all finish breakfast and get to lessons.”

“A capital idea,” Albus said from the back.

“You too, Ginny,” Poppy said with a soft smile.  “I’ll stay with him, I promise.”

Ginny took one long look at her unconscious boyfriend and nodded slowly.  She kissed him gently and turned away.

She was followed by all of their friends.


Percy walked through the Forbidden Forest, Kingsley close by him.

“I still find this place creepy,” Kingsley muttered.

“As do I,” Percy agreed calmly.  “But we need to get to the scene first, before someone else might stumble across it, and then we can decide what we’re going to do.  Remus said it should just be up here.”

Kingsley nodded, keeping his wand at the ready.

“Through here,” Percy said and smiled.  “Care to cast the spell, oh Auror?”

Kingsley nodded and concentrated.  “Tempus Acclaro!

Percy moved back out of the clearing so he could watch what happened without interfering with it.  He shook his head in admiration at the fight.

“Well?” Kingsley asked when it was over.

Percy walked over to Fenrir.  He looked down at him and pointed his wand.  “Diffindo,” he said as he aimed at the werewolf’s neck.  He then aimed a bit further down, at the leg, and cast the same charm.

“I think,” Percy said cheerfully, “that Harry battled Fenrir Greyback, the wanted werewolf, and through judicious use of the Cutting Charm, managed to defeat him.  He will, of course, receive a hefty reward for his actions.”

“And his Animagus form?” Kingsley asked.

“I see no credible evidence of such a thing,” said Percy, blithely ignoring the preponderance of paw prints.  “Besides, it’s preposterous to think that a boy his age could become an Animagus, wouldn’t you say?”

“Preposterous,” Kingsley agreed.  “No sign at all.”  He also didn’t bother to look at the prints in the disturbed earth.

Percy grinned.  “Then might I suggest that you levitate his body and we’ll get back to the Ministry.  I know several families that will be celebrating now that he’s dead.”

“Why do I have to do it?” Kingsley whined.

“Because I’m the brains and you’re the brawn,” Percy replied simply.

“Git,” Kingsley muttered.

“I heard that,” Percy responded.  “And you can thank my family for that, too.”

“There’s too many of you,” Kingsley grunted as he cast the spell and they started to walk out of the forest.

“Comforting, isn’t it.”

Kingsley just grunted again.


Harry groaned as he opened his eyes.  “This feels worse than normal,” he muttered.

“I thought you were just going to stop by for a cuppa next time?” a voice he recognised as the school nurse said dryly.

“Tell that to arrogant werewolves who challenge me on my territory,” Harry replied.  “I didn’t really want to come back,” he admitted. “Everything was much easier as a wolf.”

“In what way?” she asked.

“Killing people is easier.  Doing what I have to do is easier.  Wolves don’t feel regret.  If something is necessary, it is done, and you move on.”

“Minerva should have told you to go easy on your transformation,” Poppy said.  “At least to start with, as nearly all Animagi feel like that.  It’s like you’ve not been whole for all your life, and you suddenly found yourself.”

“Yeah, that’s it exactly,” Harry agreed.

“The problem is,” Poppy continued, “that until you have a balance, it can get harder and harder to come back to the other form.  Everything needs to be balanced.  If you stayed as a wolf, you’d eventually forget how to be a human, and you’d spend the rest of your life like that.”

“The strange thing is,” Harry said slowly, “that is quite attractive.”

She laughed softly.  “I think, Harry, that you need to try and merge the personality of the wolf into your human personality.  When you do, you will be happy, no matter what form you are in.”

“Are you an Animagus?”

“I’m afraid not.  I always wanted to be, though.  I didn’t have an animal come to me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I got over the disappointment a long time ago,” she said quietly.  “I did all the research and found out everything I could.  When I failed, I decided to go into medicine.”

“Have I ever really thanked you for the care that you give me?” he asked, slowly opening his eyes again so that he could look at her.

She smiled at him.  “There’s no need, Harry.”

“When this is all over,” Harry said slowly, “it might be nice to spend some time with you and learn a bit about healing people.  I think I’d like that more than killing people.”

“I think that you would as well,” Poppy replied with a smile.  “Do you want to try standing?”

Harry nodded and swung his feet over the edge of the bed.  He stood and swayed, grabbing the edge of the mattress.  “It feels a little strange only using two legs,” he explained with a laugh.

“I think you’ll find that kissing is a lot easier in this form, and you have a very worried girlfriend in class at the moment.”

Harry smiled.  “That’s true.  I think I’ll head on down to lunch.”  He frowned.  “I’m going to have to spend the night as a wolf tonight.”

“Why?”

“Because I need to help Remus. It’s the full moon.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Poppy said softly.

“Would it help if I spent the afternoon meditating and trying to do this merge you suggested?”

“Classes?”

He grinned at her.  “This is more important.  I suspect that this year is going to be a bust for me, anyway. I’ll just do it again when Voldemort is dead.”

“In that case, it’s probably a very good idea.”

Harry smiled and reached for his shirt.  He held it up and looked at the bloodstained and ripped garment.  “I think I really need to buy my clothes in bulk,” he said offhandedly.

Poppy just laughed and reached into a cupboard.  “Here. Your spare set.”

“Thanks. I’ll get Dobby to replace it later.”

He slowly got dressed and walked down to the Great Hall.  It was nearly lunchtime, and that was the best place to meet up with everyone.

He sniffed, getting the same feeling that he was remembering something that he had forgotten a long time ago.

He shook his head and tried to dismiss it.  He stretched and smiled slightly. He was starting to remember what it was like to be human again, and that it wasn’t nearly as bad as he had thought when he woke up this morning as his Animagus form.

He entered the Great Hall and sat down at his place and smiled slightly.


From: P Weasley, Ministry for Magic

To: Harry James Potter

Cc: The Wizengamot, Cornelius Fudge

Subject: Fenrir Greyback

Dear Mr Potter:

On behalf of the Ministry for Magic, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your defeat of Fenrir Greyback.

According to the official report, our investigators found that your use of the Cutting Curse caused his death.  We congratulate you on avoiding the use of the Unforgivable curses.

With regard to your ongoing confrontation with Lord Voldemort, the Minister for Magic convened the Wizengamot this morning, and has granted you a temporary licence to use the Cruciatus curse, the Imperius curse, and the Killing Curse against the Dark Lord and his associates.  This licence is normally reserved for Aurors, but it is recognised that you are a leader in the fight for justice, and as such, should not be concerned with repercussions over your use of magic while protecting yourself from our enemy.

Once again, the Wizengamot and the Minister for Magic would like to congratulate you on your defeat of the seventh most wanted man in England.

Sincerely,

Percy Weasley.

--
The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.  It is intended solely for the addressee.  Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.


From: Percy

To: Harry

Subject: Official letter

Harry,

By now you should have seen my official letter.  Kingsley and I decided that we’d not mention your Animagus form yet, and keep things nice and legal.

We’ve also got another thousand galleons for you.  Might I suggest donating it to the Werewolf Fund?  It’s a charity that helps families deal with the effects of a member being bitten, and also tries to support werewolves with Wolfsbane.

P.

--
The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.  It is intended solely for the addressee.  Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.


From: Harry

To: The manipulative one

Subject: Re: Official Letter

Do I want to know how you managed to get me that permission?

Good idea on the charity.  Keep it quiet, but I’ll start giving them a regular donation until we can do something about werewolves.

H

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


From: He who fights with words

To: He who fights with everything

Subject: Re[2]: Official Letter

I might have mentioned to the Wizengamot that it was unlikely that you’d be able to kill Voldemort (although I had to use that stupid You-Know-Who pseudonym) with a smile and a hug.

They saw sense after that.

Percy

--
The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.  It is intended solely for the addressee.  Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.


From: Harry

To: The Girl Who Knows All

Attachment: List.pmt

Subject: Mmails

Hermione, sweetie, dahr-ling, do you happen to have the Mmail addresses for the attached?

HJP

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


From: The Girl Who Admires

To: Sneaky Git

Attachment: List-completed.pmt

Subject: Re: Mmails

But of course.  I would hardly be the Girl-Who-Knows-All otherwise, would I?

I had wondered who you were going to have on your team.

Of course, I got my bet in when the odds were still good.

Hermione


From: Sneaky, but not really a git

To: Oracle

Subject: Re[1]: Mmails

Hermione, gambling?

What ever next?

H.

--
Audaces fortuna juvat


Harry looked up as the doors to the Great Hall opened, and the students started to stream in.  Most of them dropped him a smile or a little wave, before Ginny came in.

She paused, hesitating for the smallest moment, before she shot him a hopeful look.

He smiled warmly at her, and a smile lit up her face and she ran over to him and embraced him, burying her face in his neck.

“It’s okay,” he whispered.  “We’re okay – we do need to talk later, but I’m fine.”

“About everything?” she asked.

“Yeah, everything.”

Ginny sniffled softly, and then squirmed around so that she was as close to him as possible.  Hermione and Ron joined them soon afterward.

“Recovered, then?”

“I’m a little sore,” Harry confessed, “and I’m going to have to do some meditating this afternoon so that I don’t get the urge to stay as a wolf again.”

“What’s it like?” Ron asked.

“Being a wolf?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Natural, more than anything else.”  He looked at Hermione. “You know that werewolves are not wolves?”

“What do you mean?”

“When I was fighting Fenrir last night, I knew that he wasn’t a real wolf the moment I saw him.  He was a human in a wolf’s form.  He didn’t understand the subtle things that you know if you are a real wolf.  Body language, posture, facial expressions, and everything else.  They can mimic it to a degree, but it’s not natural for them.”

“Fascinating,” she said slowly.  “That might open up a different avenue for research if we can’t find anything on the charm.”

He turned back to Ron.  “When I’m a wolf, I think differently, more directly.  Things that I don’t like as a human, the wolf doesn’t mind.  Killing, for example – when I’m a wolf, it’s a natural thing for me to do to protect my pack and my range. As a human, I have a lot more moral objections to it.  That’s why I’m going to meditate, to try and merge the two.

“There’s also my senses.  As a wolf they’re much more acute.  I could smell Hermione on you, and vice versa, I can see so much further, and my hearing is unbelievable.”  He smiled. “In short, it’s brilliant.”

Ron laughed.  “When are you going to teach us?”

“I’ve already promised Minerva that I’m going to teach Ginny, so I don’t think it will be a problem if I extend that a little.  Of course, getting time when we’re all free might be a bit of an issue.”

“As always,” Hermione sighed.  “You’ve not managed much in classes recently.”

“I think I might have to repeat a year,” Harry said.  “Voldemort takes precedence over my education.”

Harry wondered exactly why Ron and Hermione chose that moment to exchange a pointed look and a small smile.


“I’m not hanging up ‘til you hang up,” Dudley said.

“Dudley Dursley,” Sheryl Thomas said with a sigh.  “You’re more of a girl than I am at times.”

“Hey,” Dudley protested.  “I’m a modern man. I’m just showing my emotions.”

“Modern man, my arse.”

“Is that an invitation?” Dudley asked.

Sheryl laughed.  “Maybe,” she said.  “You’ll have to wait and…”

“Sheryl?”

“Dudley,” her voice was suddenly full of fear, “I’m looking out the window, and a bunch of Death Eaters have just appeared.”

“Get the hell out of there,” Dudley screamed into the phone.  “Use the Portkey.”

“Mum, Dad, Jenny,” Sheryl screamed.  “I’ll be safe,” she promised as she hung up.

Dudley hung up as well, and immediately ran to the front window.

“Dudley?” Vernon, who was home for lunch, asked.  “What’s the problem?”

“Fuck.”

“Dudley Dursley,” Petunia yelled.  “I will not have that language in my house.”

“So what would you say when you see a bunch of Death Eaters walking toward your house?”

Petunia paled.

“Freaks,” Vernon said as he got to his feet.  “I’ll show them,” he promised, his moustache quivering.

“Dad, you’re an idiot.” Dudley groaned.

Petunia screamed as the front door exploded open, the splinters driving into the opposite wall like shrapnel.

Dudley groaned again and grabbed his mother, pulling her close, then grabbed his father’s hand, and as he grabbed the necklace, was glad that he had lost enough weight that he could contort himself like this.

“Hogwarts!”

“Dudley!” Petunia and Vernon screamed as they fell through space.


Harry looked up from his meal and frowned.  He pulled out his wand and hopped over the Gryffindor table.  “Incoming Portkey,” he called back to Albus.

Four people appeared, one of them clutching a bleeding arm.

“Mum! Dad! Sheryl! Jenny!” Dean Thomas shouted as he leaped up and dashed over to them.

“Someone go and fetch Madam Pomfrey,” Harry ordered, as he took a look at the man’s arm.  “Nice to meet you, Mr Thomas,” Harry said.  “I’m Harry Potter.”

“The person we have to thank for our safety?”

“Nah,” Harry said absently.  “We should be able to get this cleaned up pretty easily.”

Sheryl took a step over and hugged him as he stood up.  “Thanks.”

“It was nothing,” Harry said.  “I’m just glad you’re all alright.”  He paused.  “Bugger.”

“What?” Sheryl asked.

“The other Portkey has just activated.”

“Dudley?” Sheryl asked.

Harry nodded and took a few steps back.  A second later three individuals appeared and  Harry fought a smile.

Dudley had his arm and head around Petunia’s waist, and was clutching his necklace, while he was holding his father with his right hand.

Dudley let his parents go with a mild expression of distaste.

“Sheryl,” he said with a look of relief upon seeing her, and hugged her.

“What is going on?” Vernon demanded loudly and angrily, glaring at Dudley.  “How dare you bring me to this freak house? 

“And you,” he yelled, turning on Harry.  “We should have stamped the freakishness out of you when we had a chance.  This is your fault, you useless, good for nothing idiot!  I was happily enjoying my lunch when a bunch of you dirty freaks destroyed our door and then our son kidnapped us before I could do anything.  I thought we were rid of you for good, and that you and your disgusting unnatural ways were forever out of our lives.”  He took a deep breath, his face purple.  “And…”

Before he could continue his tirade, Dudley took three quick steps forward and launched a vicious punch that started somewhere near his knees and continued through Vernon’s chin.

Vernon rose up onto tiptoe, before he fell backward like a large tree, producing a loud thump as he hit the floor.

“Dudley!” Petunia shrieked.  “What are you doing?”

“Saving the moron’s life,” Dudley snapped irritably.  “Again.”

“What do you mean?” Petunia demanded.

“Take a good, long look around you,” Dudley suggested, “and pay attention to the red-haired girl to the left of Harry.”

Harry looked around as Petunia did.  Practically every student had their wand out and most of those wands were pointed at one of the Dursleys.  Without exception, there were furious expressions on all their faces.  Ginny looked particularly incensed – her hand was glowing and she was practically shaking in anger.  Ron and Hermione, on the other hand, were looking implacable as they pointed their wands at the Dursleys.

“You wouldn’t dare…” Petunia stuttered.  “You’d be expelled.”

I wouldn’t be,” Snape pointed out silkily, “but then, cursing vermin like you would be considered a public service.”

“Are you calling me vermin?” Petunia demanded, outrage in her voice.

“Without any doubt, whatsoever.”

Silencio, Petrificus Totalus, Incarcerous.”  The three spells rocketed from the Hufflepuff table before Petunia could say anything in reply.

Harry looked up in surprise.

Susan shrugged.  “I figured that someone who hadn’t lost their temper should do something to protect them.”  She wandered over to the stationary Petunia.  “I’m a Hufflepuff,” she announced proudly.  “We try and treat everyone fairly, and I’ve done so now.  But if I ever hear you talking to Harry like that again, you won’t have to worry about everyone else, because I will make what’s left of your life a living hell.”

“Twenty points to Hufflepuff,” Snape said quietly.

“Well,” Harry said with a sigh.  “This was a little unexpected.  It’s good to see you, Dudley.”

“Yeah,” Dudley agreed.  “Erm, why is the ceiling moving?”

Harry grinned.  “Magic.”

“Right,” Dudley laughed.  “Sorry, stupid question.  Okay, a not so stupid question.  Considering that dear old dad is a racist bully, just why did you come home every summer, when you could have stayed here?”

“I had to. The charms that protected your house were keyed to me.  It’s what gave you the time to get here,” Harry explained.

“You mean that you put up with us for our benefit?”

“It wasn’t totally altruistic, but it wasn’t my idea, either.”

“Well, that’s more that I owe you,” Dudley said earnestly.

“Actually,” Harry said slowly, “you’re alive because of your own actions, not because of me.  If you hadn’t sent me that apologetic email, I’d have never found out that you’d changed and would never have given you the Portkey.”  He paused, “Tell me something; how long have you been waiting to hit him?”

“About from the time that he called Sheryl a wog,” he replied with a fierce scowl.  “She wouldn’t let me hit him, there and then.”

Harry looked at his relatives and shrugged; he pointed at them and levitated them into a corner.

“That is going to take some getting used to,” Mr Thomas muttered.  “Don’t you have to use a wand?”

“Dad,” Sheryl said with a teenager’s roll of her eyes audible in her voice.  “He’s Harry Potter, he can do anything.”

“Oh, right, yeah,” he said.  “Graeme Thomas,” he introduced himself, offering Harry his now fixed arm. 

Harry shook his hand solemnly.

“This is my wife, Mary. You know Sheryl, and my youngest daughter, Jenny.”

Jenny was a small girl with huge brown eyes.  She looked to be around five or six.  She squirmed out of her mother’s arms and walked over to him. She looked scared at everything that had happened to her.

“Hello,” he said.

“You’re magic?”

He nodded.  “So people tell me,” he said dryly.

“Like Dean?”

Dean snorted from next to his parents.  “Yeah,” he muttered, “just like Dad’s job as a taxi driver makes him like a race car driver.”

Harry nodded.

“Are you better than Dean?”

Harry shook his head.  “Dean’s a very good wizard.”

She frowned and looked up at him and sighed.

“What’s the matter?”

“Dean couldn’t fix my teddy,” she said sadly, holding out a bedraggled, limp teddy, missing half of its stuffing and an arm.

“Ahh,” Harry said as he sat down on the floor in front of her.  “It wasn’t that Dean couldn’t fix your teddy, he wasn’t allowed to.  All wizards have to follow rules.”

He ignored the simultaneous sniff of disbelief from the crowd.

“However,” he continued, “I happen to be a teddy-specialist.  Does he have a name?”

She,” the girl said with a glare, “is named Matilda.”  She had a look on her face that announced that she doubted his claim that he was a real teddy-specialist.

“Jenny!” Mary scolded.

“It’s okay,” Harry said to her, before looking back at the girl.  “You see, I bet there are things about Matilda that you didn’t know.”

Jenny shook her head firmly.

“May I?” he asked, holding out his hand.

She reluctantly passed the teddy to him.  “You see, you don’t need me or Dean to fix Matilda.”

“Huh?”

“Look,” Harry said.  “This is my wand. I use it to do magic.”  He showed it to her, and then threw it at Ginny, who caught it neatly.

“Now, the problem is that you’ve never tried to fix Matilda in Hogwarts, this wonderful castle.”

She shook her head, her eyes started to grow wider.  “So why don’t you try it?”

“Matilda,” Jenny said, her voice wavering.  “Do you want to be fixed?”  There was a pause, and then she shrieked as the teddy’s eyes slowly started to move, before finally fixing on her.

“Don’t be afraid. Tell her you love her,” Harry suggested.  “Everyone needs love.”

“Matilda,” Jenny’s voice was a little firmer. “I love you, and I need you fixed.”

“Hogwarts is a wonderful place,” Harry said softly.  “Some even say this castle is alive, and that she can help others. But look,” he pointed at the teddy, who started to sway.

“She’s moving,” Jenny whispered in awe. 

“She loves you,” Harry said solemnly.  “Now, I need you to concentrate hard on her.  What are you going to fix first?”

“Her arm, her arm,” Jenny said, as she dropped to her knees.

“Look,” Harry whispered.  From the stump a small brown bud appeared that slowly grew into a full arm.

“It’s happening,” Jenny said in excitement.  “Come on, Matilda,” she cheered.

Matilda turned her head and watched the new arm grow.  When it was in place, she waved it around a few times.

“Her body,” Jenny said next, and clapped her hands as the teddy started to fill out until she looked like a miniature cuddly bear again.

“I think she could do with a bath,” Harry suggested.

“Can that happen?” Jenny asked.

“If you believe enough, anything can happen.”

“I believe,” Jenny stated.  “Come on, Matilda, clean yourself up.”

Matilda’s toes started to change colour, from a dirty dark brown to a soft honey brown.  When she was fully changed, the teddy looked at herself, and then at her owner, and opened her arms wide.

“Matilda!” Jenny screamed and hugged the teddy hard, crying with delight.

Harry smiled softly, “You see,” he told her gently, “I do know about teddies.”

Jenny nodded fervently.

“I also know that as long as you are in Hogwarts, Matilda will be able to show you how much she loves you, but when you leave, she’ll fall into a deep sleep.”

Jenny nodded again.

“But Matilda will always love you, and if nasty men ever come and try and get you again, all you have to do is hug Matilda and they will never, ever, be able to hurt you.”

She gasped and looked at her teddy.  She then leant forward and gently kissed the floor.  “Thank you, Hogwarts,” she whispered.

A bright light illuminated them both, and they floated into the air.

“What’s happening?” Jenny asked, clutching Matilda.

“Hogwarts is saying ‘You’re welcome,’” Harry explained as they floated up.

Jenny looked at him closely.  “You’re not like Dean,” she said eventually, as they started to float back down.

“I am,” Harry protested. 

“Hogwarts loves you more than Dean,” she said firmly.  “That’s what she was telling me.  Hogwarts likes Matilda as well.”  She frowned and her eyes crossed.  “She says that she trusts you.”

Harry blinked.  He reached out with his hand and lightly stroked her hair.  “I think your brother would like a hug.”

“All right,” Jenny said and climbed to her feet.  She hugged Harry tightly for a second, before she ran over to her brother.  “Hug?” she asked.

“Come on,” Dean said, as he picked her up, “you can sit with us.”

Harry climbed to his feet, a thoughtful expression on his face.  He looked around, “What?” he asked.

Most of the girls were looking at him with smiles that he didn’t understand.

“Ron?” Harry asked, “What’s going on?”

Ron laughed softly.  “Sorry, mate, I can’t tell you.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

“Won’t,” he grinned.  “You just made the biggest mistake a boy can make.”

“Huh?”

“Quiet, Ron,” Hermione barked.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Ron said with a smirk, clearly enjoying Harry’s discomfort.

“Ginny?” Harry tried.  She took a few steps forward and hugged him tightly.

He hugged her back, and looked, bewildered, over her head at the Professors.  Severus and Albus were smirking at him, while Minerva had a smile similar to the other females’ on her face.

“What?” he asked.

Ginny just smiled and pulled him back over to the table, where Hermione hugged him.

“Please?”

Ginny gently kissed him on the cheek and rested her head on his side, wrapping his arm around her.

Harry gave up trying to work out what he had done when a thought struck him.

“Dobby?”

“Harry Potter is calling Dobby, sir?”

“Can you get a couple of rooms ready, one for Dean’s family and one for them?”

Dobby nodded and turned, before he stopped suddenly.

Them is being Dursleys,” he pointed out, staring at the two one the floor.

Harry nodded.

“Dursleys are not being worthy of living in rooms,” Dobby snapped.  “Dursleys need to be in cupboards.” and before Harry could act, the elf popped over to Vernon and Petunia and grabbed them both, and popped out.

“Hey, Harry,” Seamus said, “can you award points to house elves?”

Harry grinned at him.

Seamus grinned back.  “And as no one else has the balls to say this, you were great with Jenny. She normally doesn’t like strangers.”

Harry met Dean’s eyes for a moment, and then waved his hand.  Jenny leant against her mother and closed her eyes.

“In case you don’t already know, she’s a witch,” Harry said.

“Cool,” Dean cheered.

“But I’m a little concerned about the Hogwarts remark she made.”

“Why?” Ginny asked.

“Well, it was all my magic,” Harry said, “all but the last part when she was floating in the air.” 

“Harry,” Albus called.

Harry looked up, and Albus smirked at him.  “‘Some even say this castle is alive,’” he quoted, “and if she’s alive, why can’t she have favourites?”

Harry wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that, so he turned back the Thomases.  “You’re going to have to stay here for a bit. The Ministry will turn up to fix your house and mind-wipe your neighbours. An unsavoury element here at Hogwarts mentioned Dudley’s burgeoning relationship with Sheryl, which is why Voldemort targeted you – well, that and because you’re Muggles.

“You’ll find the quarters are very nice here, and you will, of course, be compensated for the time you’ll have to take away from your jobs.  Will there be any problems with that?”

“I’m a taxi driver,” Graeme replied.  “I can set my own working hours.  My wife looks after the kids.”

“That makes it easier,” Harry admitted. “Why don’t you look at this as a chance to see how Dean spends his life away from home, and have a bit of a fully catered holiday?  Dean, take the afternoon off to get your family settled.”

“Yes, Professor Potter,” Dean teased.

Harry rolled his eyes at him.  “Right, people, it’s time for class.  And let’s hope that we’ll be able to have a less exciting meal this evening.”


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Author Notes:

A huge thank you to my betas: Kokopelli, OhGinnyFan, GardenGirl, Ishtar (and Kinsfire), Grey Wizard and Musings.

The Beano is the UKs second longest running comic, behind the Dandy, and features characters such as Dennis the Menace (Not the blonde American version with Mr Wilson) and Minnie the Minx - both characters wore red and black striped jumpers.

A Blue - or Blue Rare - steak is one up from rare.  It's been cooked very quickly; the outside is seared, but the inside is usually cool and not warm and definitely not cooked. The steak will be red on the inside.

Mrs Robinson and Benjamin both come from The Graduate, of which I shamelessly stole some dialogue.  And the V - based alliteration comes from the wonderful V for Vendetta (which I originally forgot to put in these notes)

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