Note: Whatever happens in this chapter, Remus deserves it. I’m not killing him or anything, but he just deserves a good kick in the shin.
Chapter Six – Time to Train ~ The Bribe
The next morning, after Harry gave him his condolences (No matter how much Harry hated them himself, Kreacher had never received them to hate them), Harry asked Kreacher to hunt down one Mundungus Fletcher and to bring him back to headquarters. It did take some persuasion for Kreacher to bring Mundungus back alive, however. When asked how long it might take to find him, Kreacher replied, “As soon as possible, Mr. Potter.” When Harry asked for an estimate time, Kreacher grudgingly explained that it would take, at the least, a week. Harry didn’t really like that, but he was happy that he had a lead, at least. Remembering Dobby’s devotion, he told Kreacher that he could eat and sleep whenever he felt hungry or tired, no exceptions. He also ordered Kreacher (politely, of course) to report back every other night for dinner. Kreacher popped away, planning on what state Mundungus should return to Grimmauld Place. Harry felt that he didn’t need to mention that he was going to cook dinner himself and not Kreacher.
Harry then proceeded to trot up the stairs for a quick view through the short memories that they hadn’t seen the day before. Harry realized when he jumped into the pensieve, that they were the memories of Kreacher trying to destroy the locket Horcrux. Kreacher and the locket were in a giant metal box-room. Harry had no idea where that was, and was certain that it wasn’t in Grimmauld Place. It looked like the place that Remus might go to during his ‘furry little problem’. He would have to ask Kreacher later.
Harry watched, astounded, as Kreacher cast a wide spectrum of colours at the locket. He seemed to only use his fingers. As time moved on, Harry realized that he had seen pretty much every colour except for the sickly green colour that he was very familiar with. He wondered if House-elves had to be given permission to use Unforgivables. He would have something else to ask Kreacher.
After about an hour, Harry decided to skip to the last one. The others were basically repeats. Every scene, Kreacher glares at it as he tries to shoot all of his magic at the locket on the ground, trying to drain his magical core itself. Harry wished he could perform magic like that, even if he still needed his wand to do it. He wondered if Kreacher would give him a few lessons.
Harry groaned. It seems that he had a lot of stuff to do and ask. He needed to make a schedule, a daily one. He hoped Hermione could help him organize.
Hermione. She was on Harry’s mind a lot lately, although it would be terrible if she hadn’t been. It was by a mutual agreement that they could not be together at the time. Not only would it make Ron uncomfortable and left out, but extremely jealous. Sometimes, Harry really didn’t care. He just wanted to kiss her until they both lost the feeling in their knees. His legs wouldn’t be okay at that moment, but his heart would. They pretended that what happened the morning before never happened while Ron was downstairs apologizing to Kreacher. They both knew that it just wouldn’t be right if they just went against Ron like that. While Harry suggested that Hermione drop a few hints that she was not interested in Ron or tell him outright, Hermione countered by asking him to remember what happened when she went to the Yule Ball with Viktor. This left a very upset and dreadfully unofficial couple.
Harry was still surprised that Hermione liked him. He was sure that it didn’t have anything to do with being the Boy Who Lived… so what was it? Girls were confusing, Harry finally decided. He would update P. ‘Mione soon. He felt a little ashamed that he hadn’t even spoken to her in a while. Granted, he had the real thing to talk to, but it was almost as if P. ‘Mione was another person. He would talk to her when Ron was not around. He guessed that Hermione would want to talk to P. ‘Mione, too, if not to gossip.
Shaking his head out of those thoughts for later, Harry watched the last of the memories. He noticed that Kreacher seemed to be looking older and more tired each time he had faced the locket. As he watched the last memory, Harry wondered how recent it was. He guessed it was most likely right before Mundungus took it. When Harry thought that Kreacher couldn’t get any more impressive as he watched Kreacher give it his all, he saw something that almost made him wish he was a house-elf. He saw Kreacher, with all of his fingers, cast large bright white curses at the locket, bombarding it with what seemed to be sword slashes. If Harry wasn’t mistaken, and he was almost sure he wasn’t, he had just seen ten wandless and nonverbal Sectumsempra curses aimed perfectly at the locket, full-power. Kreacher stumbled and fell, exhausted, not even having enough energy to look at the locket. Harry looked at the locket. It had a few scratches and a few new dents, but it was otherwise unharmed and intact. Harry wondered what it took to destroy a Horcrux, but more importantly, a locket. He thought about that as he left the pensieve.
Basilisk Venom? That was confirmed already. Harry had wondered if the venom was still in the chamber. He didn’t know if the chamber room was sealed, however. If it was, he should’ve been notified, but he was sure Dumbledore would do it without telling the one who discovered the chamber.
Gryffindor’s sword? That would explain why it was in the will. It had to be powerful, since Godric Gryffindor made it himself.
Chemicals? It would certainly be possible, since Voldemort didn’t know much about Muggle technology and sciences. There were acids that could melt even the hardest metals.
The Killing Curse? It would be valid, but Harry was not going to take any chances. Harry wondered, when faced with a Death Eater, could it be a shield against the Avada Kedavra? Could anything be a shield to the Avada Kedavra, for that matter?
And then Harry realized… the inside of a locket was more vulnerable than the outside. But they never were able to open the locket. But if it was Salazar’s…
Harry smiled at this possible theory as he reached the bottom of the stairs. He saw Hermione, curled up on the couch and reading a book, as she usually did at Hogwarts. At closer inspection, Harry noticed that the book was ‘The Tales of Beadle the Bard‘. Harry silently skulked over to look over Hermione’s shoulder to read how much she had translated on the paper beside the book. Before he could read, however, he noticed something that looked very familiar to him. It was a triangle with a circle inside it. There was also a line of symmetry in the circle. It was a weird kind of symbol, but Harry could’ve sworn that he had seen it before…
“Good morning, Harry,” Hermione said, not looking up from her book.
Harry almost jumped back in shock. He used to always be able to sneak up on her when she read a book. “Morning, Hermione. How did you know I was behind you? You should be absorbed in that book by now.”
She blushed. That had happened many times in the past. “You groaned,” she explained a second later. “It was a depressing groan. Something on your mind?”
Harry nodded and pointed at the symbol drawn on the page. “I’ve seen it before,” he explained. “I’m not sure, but it was recently. It wasn’t here, I’m sure of it…”
“Was it at the wedding?” Hermione inquired. She had been wondering what that scribble was. It was on a lot of pages, mostly hidden.
“I don’t know… It could’ve been anywhere at the Burrow.”
“Let’s ask Ron,” she suggested as she stood up and bookmarked the kids’ story.
“Erm…okay,” Harry said uneasily.
“Something else on your mind?” she asked him as she put a hand on his arm.
“Other than the obvious,” he said with a grin, which made Hermione blush slightly, “yeah. I was thinking of different stuff that can destroy a Horcrux. So far, I’ve thought of the Killing Curse, Gryffindor’s Sword, basilisk venom, of course, and Muggle chemicals. Can you think of anything else?”
Hermione stayed quiet for a long second before she replied, “I’ll get back to you on that. We won’t be able to get chemicals easily, and the basilisk venom is at Hogwarts, along with Gryffindor’s sword. I’m not going to even try the Killing Curse, and I don’t want you to, either!” She said it as if daring Harry to argue.
“And I agree with you,” Harry said hastily, “but if that was the only option left—”
“We’ll have an Auror do it who had a lot of experience.”
“What are we supposed to say to him?”
“Oh, I don’t know, but I don’t want to use that spell!”
“Why not? We’re not killing someone, and now it’s not illegal.”
“Well, I-I know that, but—”
“And I certainly hate Voldemort enough to use it.”
“Harry!” Hermione instinctually yelled. However, once she began to think about it, she would certainly hate Voldemort enough to use the curse, so Harry could do it plenty of anger to spare. But it felt so…wrong…and dirty…but if that was the last option…
Harry saw the wheels in Hermione’s head turn. He knew her too well. She was thinking of the advances and disadvantages of using the killing curse. There weren’t many disadvantages at the moment, and the advantage is a step closer to killing Voldemort, so Harry was fairly sure which side Hermione would choose. He wanted to see what Hermione would do if there were no laws or rules to follow. She would probably loosen up a little, he hoped. It’s been a week since the Order broke him out of the Dursleys already and she had done so much for him.
Harry snapped out his thoughts as Hermione finally came to a decision. “Okay…” she said slowly, not completely convinced, “but who is going to do it?”
“Me,” Harry easily volunteered. “I’m the one with the most hate towards him.”
“I really hope we find another way,” Hermione said silently.
But Harry still heard her. “Think we can get McGonagall to smuggle out Gryffindor’s sword?” He asked her.
Hermione smirked at him, then she sobered. “That wouldn’t work,” she said seriously. “They would suspect her if Gryffindor’s sword went missing. They would suspect she gave it to you, since you inherited it.”
“But I thought only Scrimgeour knew,” Harry said, perplexed.
“The people who handle the wills and testimonies knew,” Hermione explained, “and they work for the ministry, who now works for Voldemort. I’m sure that they are paying a lot of attention to Dumbledore’s will, mainly what they left you, me, and Ron. I bet they’re just as perplexed as us.”
“I hate riddles,” Harry said with a sigh.
“There’s a double meaning in that statement, Harry,” Hermione said with a smile.
Harry smiled back as he figured it out. “I still do.”
They spent the rest of that morning and half of the afternoon thinking about an alternative to destroying a Horcrux, completely forgetting about the symbol. They talked about everything from Muggle weaponry, such as machine Guns or powerful rifles. Harry briefly thought about a bomb, but remembered the Sectumsempra barrage that he had seen earlier that day. When he showed Hermione the last (and in Harry’s opinion, the best) memory, Hermione was speechless. Harry found this terribly amusing. After that short moment passed, she immediately wondered why house-elves were slaves if they could easily overpower their masters. Harry guessed it was because they were bonded and/or not allowed to escape or retaliate. Hermione gave a resigned sigh, then suggested that they ask Kreacher to train them, but Harry wondered if they could learn it, since they were humans. House-elves could even have different magical cores. They would ask Kreacher at dinner the next night.
When reminded of dinner, Harry’s stomach grumbled. He hadn’t eaten since the night before, and it was three in the afternoon. They both went back downstairs and found Ron already in the kitchen, working on a piece of steak. They were shocked for a brief moment – they had only found scraps of food in the kitchen and some cans of baked beans and spinach. Harry wasn’t complaining – after all, he had seen Popeye once or twice in his life – but Ron on the other hand, refused outright and attacked the baked beans, saying that the spinach even smelled funny.
“Where did you find that?” Hermione asked Ron.
“Fond if,” Ron said, his mouth full.
“I know you found it, Ron,” Hermione said, pinching the bridge of her nose. So many years of teaching him table manners, all gone to waste, apparently. “Where did you find it?”
Ron took a deep gulp water to swallow his food before he said, “It was in a part of the basement, under a really powerful cooling charm. There’s a load of steaks in there, for some reason.”
Harry and Hermione spared a glance before Harry asked Ron, “Where is the basement?”
Ron wordlessly pointed at a door in a darkened corner of the kitchen that looked too small to lead to a basement in Harry’s opinion. Harry walked over to it and opened the door to see a completely dark room. He instinctually pulled his wand out. “Lumos.”
The first thing he noticed was a dresser at the bottom of the stairs with the bottom drawer open. There was a tattered, but warm-looking blanket inside of the drawer. Harry noticed with disgust that it was Kreacher’s sleeping place. He wouldn’t dare call it a bed. Harry slowly crept down the stairs as he tried to brighten the lumos, becoming successful. He realized a moment later that Hermione was following, according to the hand on his arm. When he reached the bottom, she lit up her wand.
“Your light is much brighter,” she commented.
Harry had noticed; it looked like a Christmas tree bulb compared to a low-powered household bulb. “Are you trying to brighten it? That’s what I did.”
Hermione seemed to concentrate then the wand tip began to glow brighter. It was still not as bright as Harry’s, but bright enough to light up a small room. She then appeared to be in deep thought again. Harry led her to a metal door that wasn’t very hard to find with the ignited tip of Harry’s wand. Harry knew he had seen that door before. And it was just that morning…
He immediately opened the door and gasped, Hermione following a short moment later. There was frosty raw meat scattered around in a giant metallic room. There wasn’t an enormous pile, but it would certainly last a while. But Harry noticed the room, even with the frost covering it.
“This was the battle room Kreacher used,” Hermione whispered.
“Yeah,” he said, “it is.” Harry walked into the room and cast a warming charm on himself and Hermione. She went straight to the steaks to pick them up, while Harry walked around the perimeter. It was a small room, but it would be perfect for a training room, Harry finally decided. They could move all the steaks into a bag – using Hermione’s expansion charm, of course – and place the bag in the freezer.
As they walked out of the giant icebox, Harry finally realized that this was the place Remus took care of his furry little problem. They must have heated the place on those nights, leaving Moony to a buffet of steaks to avoid biting himself. Then they would freeze the steaks in the room to save them for later. Harry shared this with Hermione, and she said that she had already figured that out and agreed with him. They went back up the stairs and found a durable grocery bag. While Hermione was muttering a long string of spells for an expansion charm, Ron had finished eating and asked what they were doing. When Harry told them that they were going to put all of the steaks in the freezer and use the room to train, he grudgingly agreed that they did have to train, but begged Hermione not to make a schedule. He claimed that he didn’t skip school to learn.
As Hermione was about to yell at him the real reason they left, Harry stepped in and grabbed the bag. “Come on,” he said to them as he walked down the stairs, not waiting for an answer. He was going to change their arguing constantly. He didn’t want to deal with it for who knows how long.
Soon, all of them were picking up frozen steaks and placing them in the bag. Harry had put an impervious charm on the bag, hoping it would work. It did. They had, in total, one hundred and thirty-two steaks in the bag. Some quick math from Hermione revealed that each could have forty-three steaks in total. After they placed them in the freezer, Harry placed warming charms around the room, getting rid of the frost and eventual water and grease. After the place was a little bit slippery, but warm enough, Harry cast fire spells around the room. One time, Harry could’ve sworn that he saw some bright blue rings.
After the room was warm enough, Harry went back upstairs to find Ron and Hermione arguing…again.
“But he is still a living thing!” Hermione yelled, exasperated.
“Has everyone seemed to forget that he was still a ruddy traitor?” Ron retorted.
“Ron, he’s useful now, isn’t he? He is loyal to Harry now!”
“I didn’t see him take an Unbreakable oath, did you?”
“He told us about the locket!”
“And Harry sent him after it. He could be with Bellatrix, planning on how to kill us right now!”
Hermione’s eyes showed a tear about to form. She seemed to not have a reply. Harry almost wanted to curse Ron when he saw the growing smirk, as if he had won something. It was time to end it.
“What is the problem?” Harry yelled. In all honesty, he thought they would’ve started arguing sooner than two days after they left.
Hermione turned to him, her tone considerately softer. “Ron was arguing about how Kreacher doesn’t deserve any steaks because he still isn’t trustworthy enough.” Her voice may have softened, but the venom in her voice was unmistakable.
“Well, you can’t blame me,” Ron retorted, this time towards Harry. “You know what Kreacher did! Why should we trust him? Why shouldn’t we just give him clothes right now?”
“Because we saw what Kreacher has been through,” Harry explained to him as if he were a very small and incredibly stupid child. “The way I see it, the only person who was nice to him was Regulus, and since he died, he became bitter and hated everyone. Bellatrix and Narcissa were probably nice to him. So, the way to understand it is: Be nice to him, and he’ll be nice back.”
Ron was speechless; this didn’t surprise him as much when he saw Hermione speechless. Ron then seemed to think about what Harry said.
“Fine,” he said after a few long seconds, “but I’ll still be suspicious.”
“And you have every right to be,” Harry said as he pulled out his wand. “But he’ll still get a steak for dinner the nights he gets here. Anyone up for a duel?”
Hermione smiled a mischievous, playful, and revengeful smile at Ron. Ron gulped. Harry smiled at the two. It looked like he had found a new way for them to argue at each other. Ron would probably be the one crying in the end, though.
They spent the rest of the day, not actually dueling, but practicing spells. They agreed that they should train first, duel later. Harry used one of Hermione’s books on defense and spellcasting.
The next day, Harry was engrossed in the book, forgetting to eat, until Hermione slammed the book shut and handed him a grilled steak.
“Thanks,” Harry said, finally noticing his stomach growling as if it wanted Harry to swallow the steak whole.
“Harry,” Hermione started, “you need to eat more. While I love the fact that you’ve developed muscles,” she said with a small blush, “you’re still impossibly skinny. I think you should eat at least twice a day. No excuses.”
“But what if I want to read my book all day?” Harry asked innocently.
“No excuses,” she repeated, and blushed a moment later. Harry had just reminded her of the many times he pulled her from the library to eat. Harry smirked and ate as he flipped to the page he was on and continued reading the book.
“You know we can’t live on steaks,” Harry said after a few minutes.
Hermione looked at him curiously. Since when has Harry worried about eating the proper food groups?
“What?” Harry said, noticing Hermione’s gaze.
“Who are you?”
“Come again?” Now he was incredibly confused.
“You’re a completely different person, Harry. I hope you realize that.”
“I’m not that much different, am I? I think I’m just more… determined.”
“What do you mean? To kill Voldemort?”
Harry shook his head. “No. That’s not all. I’m more determined to finish this whole thing. This is a war. I’m destined to kill the general of the opposing side. Voldemort is the general, of course. But I realized that Voldemort isn’t my only target. There’s the rest of the Death Eaters. Voldemort may have been the one who caused me the most pain and everyone else, but he has lackeys that helped accomplish most of it, while causing pain to others, also. I’m going to seriously harm, possibly kill, all of them, next time I get the chance. They show no mercy when killing others; why should I show them any mercy? This time, when I kill Voldemort, there will be no leftovers.” He said all of this with a grim look.
Hermione blinked at the man before her. He seemed to finally understand the weight on his shoulders, and what surprised her most was that he was handling it well, excellently even. This was not the Harry she had known before. This was a new Harry. A Harry that was ready for war and the actions that came with the word. She could see it in his eyes. Those deep emerald eyes that spoke of pain, power, courage, strength, and determination. She could see that in the forefront. It shone brightly. Hermione wanted to share all of it. And that was when she realized that when that time came, when the moment of life and death finally approached…Harry would give it his all against Voldemort, and she would make sure that she was beside him, making sure that his lackeys were writhing in pain for all they had caused him.
For the first time ever, Hermione almost felt sorry for Tom Riddle.
“You won’t be alone,” she said firmly. Harry looked up at her in mild shock. He had thought that she would not do anything of the sort. “You’re right, Harry. This is war. We need to act like it is war. No second chances; at least Snape taught us something. No mercy. If they are on Voldemort’s side, we either kill or disable them…permanently.”
Now Harry was in complete shock. He hadn’t noticed that he dropped his fork on the plate, letting it clatter along with the knife. “Hermione…” he started.
“No, Harry,” she said, knowing what he was abut to say. “I am in this war as much as you are. I chose you at my own will. I will keep following you at my own will. The only way you can get rid of me is death, and I don’t plan on that happening in about a century or two. This was the reason I sent my parents to Australia. To fight and live. If anyone tries to do harm to us, we will harm back. I sometimes forget that we are not little kids anymore. That we just look around for Horcruxes and find some way to kill Voldemort. It’s much more complicated, and we mustn’t forget that again.”
Harry felt ashamed that he had brought Hermione into all of this. He felt ashamed that she didn’t go hiding with her parents. He felt ashamed that she had befriended him in the first place, being in constant trouble with him ever since she had.
But he needed her.
And that would be his weakness, should anything happen to her.
He just had to accept it.
“We won’t,” he finally said after a few seconds of silence. “Finding the Horcruxes and killing Voldemort is our main goal. There are…” He fished around for a word, “…sub-goals to accomplish, too. We have to make ourselves strong enough to compete with his Inner Circle, at the least. We need to learn dark spells, too. Lupin said that George’s ear was cursed off, so he couldn’t re-grow it. We will only use stunning spells, disarming spells, and other jinxes and hexes in training duels. When we are faced with lethal spells, we fight back with lethal spells. No exceptions. We can’t hold back, no matter their gender, strength…” He looked straight at Hermione with a serious expression that she didn’t know he had. “…or age.”
That slightly faltered Hermione, but she knew that Harry was right. If they were faced with Draco, Pansy, Millicent, or anyone who was on Voldemort’s side, they would die.
“Do you know how to become an Animagus?” Harry said out of nowhere.
Hermione heard his pleading voice and couldn’t bear to turn around to see his sparkling eyes she knew were there, pleading with her. “I-I c-can read on it,” she stuttered, her resolve broken down. One of these days, she wouldn’t be able to fight herself to snog him senseless. She had fought it down for years, but now that she knew that he would allow it, the urge was getting stronger by leaps and bounds every day.
“Good,” he whispered, “’cause that might be helpful in the future, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I agree. Should we tell Ron about the offer?”
“You want to become one, too?” Harry said with a grin.
“Yes, why?” Hermione asked, grinning back.
“Because you’d be an illegal animagus.”
“We don’t have laws anymore; remember, Harry?”
“I still think it’s amusing,” Harry muttered as he turned back to his now slightly warm steak.
“Do you have the book in the bag?” Harry said in between bites.
“I have a book on human transfiguration,” she told him after a second of mentally checking her inventory. “I’ll check if there is a section on becoming an animagus.”
“I hope I have a powerful form,” Harry muttered, more to himself.
“I know you’ll have a powerful form, Harry,” she said reassuringly.
“But how do you—”
Harry shot up and ran toward the stairs, thinking Ron was in danger, Hermione shortly following.
“How could anyone have gotten in without us noticing?” Hermione said urgently, hot on his heels.
“I don’t know,” Harry said as they reached the top of the steps. “Ron!” he shouted for him.
“Over here!” Ron shouted back from Harry’s side. Harry looked over so fast and saw Ron looking out of the window.
“What?” Harry asked urgently as he ran over to the window.
Ron silently pointed out of the window to two men who were standing across the street, smoking and taking glances at the place they couldn’t see.
“Death Eaters,” Ron explained, calming Harry down.
“You scared me,” Harry said, trying to catch his breath. “They’ve been there since yesterday!”
“Oh,” Ron said sheepishly, “I didn’t know that.”
“Now you do,” said an irritated Hermione, wheezing for breath. “Harry,” she said as Harry held her up by putting her arm around his shoulders, “tell him.”
Harry sighed and told Ron about their discovery of not letting Death Eaters go easy next time they meet up with them. He also told them of their need to become an animagus, and the topic of Horcruxes he and Hermione had the day before. To say that Ron was shocked would be quite the understatement.
“We have to kill?” Ron screamed, still stuck on the first topic. He had waited until Harry was finished, but now he was exploding with questions. “Have you gone off the deep end, Harry? Unforgivable Curses?”
As long as we don’t accidentally make a Horcrux, I don’t see what the problem is,” Harry said with a shrug. “It’s not like it’s illegal. And if they tried to kill us, then—”
“Then we’ll knock ’em out and send them to Azkaban!” Ron reasoned in a loud voice.
“And they’ll just get out again,” Hermione countered. “The Ministry owns Azkaban, remember. In this new Wizarding world, there are only two rules you can choose to follow: One is to kill, and two…”
“Is to be killed,” Harry finished. “No rules, no boundaries. There’s also that sacred unwritten law that says, ‘Obey Lord Voldemort at all times’,although I’m sure we broke that law. I’m surprised, Ron; you don’t want to break the rules and Hermione couldn’t care less.”
“But these are laws,” he shouted.
“Which are obsolete until we take down Voldemort,” Hermione reminded him once again. “When I’m faced with a Death Eater, I won’t hesitate to kill. I’m not saying we should use the Killing Curse, but at least a powerful ‘reducto‘ or a very powerful stunning spell to the chest. I’m not going to just stun him and give him the chance to be re-enervated by his pals and get me while I wasn’t paying attention.” Hermione had still never forgiven herself for when that happened. Thinking back on it, she was almost happy that Harry took out Dolohov.
“If you don’t want to use the AK, then I’ll use it on the Horcrux. You should work on some dark curses. I wish I had that book with me. It had a few useful curses in there.”
He didn’t notice Hermione stiffen for a short second.
“I’m not using that curse on anyone or anything!” Harry groaned at Ron’s defiance, but accepted. There were only six Horcruxes, anyway (if it worked, of course.)
“Fine,” Harry agreed, “but are you gonna at least stop using weak spells like a disarming spell?”
“I’ll think about it,” Ron promised after a few seconds of mulling it over.
“Alright,” Harry said after a tense silence, “Anybody want to actually start dueling?”
Hermione sighed as she leaned off of Harry. “I need to exercise,” she said, more to herself. “I think I should jog around the room before I join you guys.”
They all left the room, Hermione to get towels for all three, and Harry and Ron to the room to duel. Harry and Ron immediately took their stance and started casting spells. Ron was excellent in the beginning, thanks to his DA training, but soon faltered; Harry guessed that it was because he was in better shape himself, proving his theory of being in shape to be better in a duel.
Hermione was taking a short jog around the room, watching the two duel with interest. She had noticed how Harry was in a crouched position and kept is eyes trained on Ron’s. He was taking slow steps and shallow breaths, according to the rise and fall of his chest. She noticed that he was barely muttering the spells, while Ron was practically screaming them, yet their spells seemed to match intensity and power, if not Harry’s were stronger. She finally saw Ron’s wand flick out of his hand towards Harry, who deftly caught it, sweating lightly.
Ron, on the other hand, was sweating profusely, and seemed to be happy that the duel was over. This confirmed Hermione’s thoughts as Ron promptly passed out.
“Is he alright?” Hermione asked with alarm as she ran over.
“Yeah, he’s alright,” Harry said as he levitated Ron’s prone body before Hermione conjured a simple folding chair for him to sit in.
“Conjurations won’t last a long time, Harry,” she said in a warning tone as Harry sat Ron’s limp form down, his head lolling over the edge of the chair.
“That’s gonna leave a crook later,” Harry said as he conjured a large pillow to cushion Ron’s back and head. “That’s better…I guess.”
“Congratulations, Harry. You want to duel again?” Hermione asked with a challenging smirk towards Harry.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Harry stuttered.
“Why?” she questioned innocently. “Are you afraid that I might beat you?”
“That’s exactly why,” Harry said, raising his hands as if he was already giving up.
Hermione made a small humming noise before she slowly walked away from him. Harry was mesmerized by the swaying of her hips before he ducked a red light. He looked up to see Hermione smirking, her wand raised. He smirked back at her sneakiness.
“I need to learn nonverbal magic,” he whispered to himself as he took his stance.
Two days later, Hermione was reading a big book of Human Transfigurations that Harry teasingly called ‘light reading’. She had found the chapter on becoming an Animagus. It seemed that it started with making a potion that had simple ingredients to make, but Hermione was not sure where to get the ingredients. She figured she should find out how to get the ingredients before she could continue. She really didn’t want to ‘harvest’ them herself, so she wondered if there were any cabinets in Grimmauld Place for Potion ingredients. The Wolfsbane potion had to have come from somewhere. She should’ve read the beginning before Kreacher arrived for dinner.
She smiled as she remembered the previous night. Harry was the most amazing cook she had ever seen. The things that man could do with just steaks were simply unbelievable! When Kreacher arrived, he was quite taken aback when he noticed the scent of Harry’s cooking, but didn’t complain. Ron was taken aback by Kreacher being there. He was never told of Harry’s deal with Kreacher. When told, Ron just shook his head, mumbling something that sounded a lot like ‘mental’ and went back to his steak.
Kreacher looked like he was ready to faint when Harry told them to join him for dinner, but once again, didn’t complain. He seemed to be in bliss when he tasted the steak. Well, so was everyone except Harry, but Kreacher seemed to be on Cloud Nine, if he knew what that meant.
When eating was over and conversations went around, Harry broke the iceberg by asking Kreacher to be his teacher. Kreacher was shocked, to say the least. He was stuttering at Harry, who was trying to explain that he wanted to have a better control of his magic and learn how to use nonverbal and (possibly) wandless magic.
He then asked a calmed down Kreacher if there was a major difference between magical cores of house-elves and humans. Kreacher replied that he didn’t know, but he said that he would try to teach his master after he had found Mundungus. He then proceeded to beg Harry to not let him return for dinner every other night. It seemed that Kreacher was desperate to spend every bit of time to look for Mundungus and get that locket back. Harry reluctantly gave in.
Hermione was still smiling when the lights started blinking on and off. She looked to the left to see Ron click the Deluminator on and off. She really began to believe that Dumbledore gave him that thing to turn off the lights. “Would you mind?” she asked after a few minutes of frustration.
“Sorry,” Ron mumbled, “I don’t know I’m doing it.”
“There are other things to do around the house, such as exercising.”
“Will I feel the same as when I dueled Harry yesterday?”
“More or less.”
“No pain, no gain.”
“That was a lot of pain, and I don’t think I gained anything.”
“It takes time, Ron.”
“And I’ll have plenty of time to do that…later.”
Hermione groaned with a smile as Harry walked in the room.
“If Snape shows up here with a dozen Death Eaters, you’re in trouble, Ron.”
Before Ron could reply, there was a small knock at the door, followed by metallic clicks.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron pulled out their wands as Harry ran to the shadows behind the elf heads, Hermione following. Ron hid on the other side. Harry had a particularly lethal curse on his lips – Sectumsempra – before the door opened. The three waited silently as a cloaked figure entered the house and stepped forward. Harry realized that it was not a Death Eater; the cloak was brown, not the usual black. Before Harry could concentrate on the stranger’s features, Moody’s voice rang out.
The familiar dust figure rose from the end of the hall and rushed towards the stranger, who calmly and quietly said, “It was not I who killed you, Albus.” The dust exploded once more and the stranger became hidden behind the smoke. Harry had realized that whoever the man was had been there before, as he knew exactly what to say. His voice was too soft to hear him well. Harry pointed towards the middle of the dust closet.
“State your name and business or die, your choice,” Harry said with authority.
“Remus Lupin,” said the voice, slightly hitched.
Ron blew a breath of relief and lowered his wand. Harry and Hermione, however, kept the wands trained in the smoke that was not clearing.
“Reveal yourself,” Harry said, reaching the bottom of the stairs to get better aim. He knew he couldn’t take any chances.
Lupin moved forward into the lamplight, showing his graying hair and unkempt features. “I am Remus John Lupin, werewolf, sometimes known as Moony, one of the fur creators of the Marauder’s Map, married to Nymphodora, usually known as Tonks, and I taught you how to produce a Patronus, Harry, which takes the form of a stag.”
Harry tilted his head at Remus. “That’s common knowledge, isn’t it? I mean, Mundungus and Pettigrew could’ve provided all of that. If you don’t mind, I’ll ask you a question.”
“Fire away,” the man who claimed to be Remus said, grinning with pride.
Harry seemed to consider his question before he smiled and tilted his head the other way. “What did we eat for breakfast?”
“Brilliant,” Hermione whispered. She never would’ve thought of a question that sneaky.
“That is a very good question, Harry,” the man said, awe identifiable in his voice. His nose seemed to twitch for a few seconds before he finally answered. “I see you’ve found my steak vault, then?”
Harry and Hermione smiled as they lowered their wands and ran down the stairs, Ron following, to hug the no-longer imposter. “Good to see you, Remus,” Harry said to him.
“It’s good to see you, too, Harry, Hermione, Ron. Ron, you shouldn’t lower your defenses so easily.”
Ron grinned sheepishly and muttered a ‘Sorry’ before he asked, “How did you know we ate steaks?”
“Heightened senses,” Remus replied before ruffling Harry’s head while Harry groaned good-heartedly. “So, how are you doing? I figured you guys will be here.”
“You were right,” Harry said, “but what happened on your end?”
“We are all alright, but we’re all being watched. There are a couple of Death Eaters in the square outside. I had to apparate precisely onto the top step outside the front door to be sure that they would not see me. They can’t know you’re in here or I’m sure they’d have more people out there; they’re staking out everywhere that’s got any connection with you, Harry. Let’s go downstairs, there’s a lot to tell you, and I want to know what happened after you left the Burrow.”
Harry nodded before they walked into the kitchen, where Lupin pulled a few butterbeers from his cloak. Hermione grabbed a grilled steak from the stove and conjured a plate. She then handed it to Remus.
“Someone is quite the chef,” Remus noted as he took a small sniff of the steak.
“It was Harry,” Hermione and Ron said at the same time, causing Harry to duck his head in embarrassment.
“So, what brings you here?” Harry asked Remus before he got any more compliments.
“I wanted to check on you three since the attack, but I had a Death Eater tailing me.” Remus took a bite of his steak as Hermione served the rest. “Harry, this is really good! Too bad the Dursleys gave you cooking skills; I would have to make their death quicker to thank them.”
This brought a chuckle out of Harry before Remus continued. “Did you come straight here after the wedding?”
“No, we went to Tottenham Court Road,” Hermione explained as she sat down next to Harry, “but we ran into a couple of Death Eaters.”
Remus dropped the steak onto the plate.
Harry gave a quick re-cap. “Went to a café, deciding on where to go, Death Eaters came in and took a table across from us, but we didn’t notice yet until Hermione recognized one of them; Dolohov.” Harry spat that name like a particularly nasty curse word. So I killed him and Hermione gave his partner a memory charm. Stupid, now that I think about it. I should’ve killed them both.”
Remus was gobsmacked and aghast, to name a few. “Harry…did you just s-say…you killed someone?”
“Yeah,” Harry said with a nod and an unreadable expression, “And he won’t be the last.”
“Remus,” Harry politely interrupted the man, “could you please tell me how they found us? I’ll answer your questions about my actions later.”
Remus studied the man before him. He could definitely tell that Harry had changed. Harry seemed to finally understand the difference between ‘disarm’ and ‘disable’. He still thought it too much to kill, but he did not fault Harry for it. “Alright, Harry,” he finally said, “but only because you make a mean steak.
“I don’t know how they could’ve found you,” Lupin continued. “It’s impossible to track anyone who Apparates, unless you grab hold of them as they disappear.”
“Are you sure there is no other way to find someone?” Harry pleaded. He had almost forgotten the danger of what they had faced then, that every time they went out of the protection of a Fidelius Charm, Death eaters, possibly even Voldemort, are immediately alerted to where they are.
“I wouldn’t know,” Remus said tiredly. “You don’t have the trace, so they couldn’t have found you that way.”
Before Harry could ask another question, Ron asked, “What’s up at the Burrow? Did anything happen?”
Remus sighed as he put down the steak once again. He longingly looked at the steak and looked at Ron. “I’ll give you a summary.
“The Death Eaters searched the Burrow thoroughly for you and interrogated us for a few hours, but nobody but the Order knew you were there. The Burrow wasn’t the only place searched; it was all of the other members’ houses, too, but thankfully, no one was killed. Dedalus Diggle’s house was burned, but you knew he wasn’t there. They used the Cruciatus on Tonks’s family. They’re both okay, thankfully.” He then proceeded to eat as much steak as he could before they could ask another question.
When he finished, he noticed Harry had a thoughtful expression on his face. “Something on your mind, Harry?”
Harry nodded. “I’m a wanted criminal, aren’t I?”
Remus shook his head with a dry chuckle. “No, but you are very close. You’re wanted.”
“For what? Hermione asked curiously.
Lupin gave yet another tired sigh. Harry could tell that it wasn’t good news. “Dumbledore’s death. You’re wanted because they want answers, since you… saw it.”
“What?” Ron and Hermione yelled at the same, and Hermione continued. That’s outrageous! That’s preposterous! That’s—”
“—Not so unbelievable, though,” Harry finished for her. They turned to see Harry with a thoughtful expression on his face. “So, if the Daily Prophet is working for the Ministry, now – I’m guessing the Ministry threatened to take their jobs or take out the newspaper company itself – then, according to the reactions from fourth year, I can’t even leave the house…without Glamour Charms, of course.”
Lupin nodded. “I suppose so. I have a copy of the Prophet with me, if you want it.”
“That would be something to hang on my wall,” Harry jokingly said. “Tell me, if I stay out long enough, will they have an old edited picture of me foaming at the mouth and laughing hysterically? It would mean a lot to Sirius.”
That broke the ice, as Remus gave out a full laugh that would’ve passed for a howl, while Hermione and Ron laughed along with him.
“I don’t remember how long ago I laughed like that, Harry,” Remus said, still chuckling. After a few moments, he slowly began to grow serious. I think I should tell you about Scrimgeour, as well. The official news was that he resigned, and was replaced by Pius Thickness, who’s under theImperius.”
“Figures,” Harry mumbled. “He still doesn’t want to get out in the open. He’s still running behind the scenes. I thought he would’ve made himself known by now. I can’t believe no one’s figured it out. No one’s suspicious about Voldemort taking over the world?”
“They do know,” Remus stated, “but they don’t know who to trust and who not to trust. Remember, most that have figured it out are parents that would do anything to protect their children. The best thing to do right now is to keep quiet and lay low.”
“Wimps,” Harry muttered, “but I guess it can’t be helped if you have children. Directing people to attack me and not Tom. Controlling everything in the background while everyone remains oblivious. This is a clever game he’s playing, I have to admit. I’m sure I’m not the only target, though. Is there someone else to look out for and bring in handcuffs? The Order, maybe?”
“No,” Remus said, pulling out the Daily Prophet, “Muggle-borns.”
“Clever, but predictable,” Harry said somberly. Remus handed the paper to Harry. He saw the headline, ‘WANTED FOR QUESTIONING ABOUT THE DEATH OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE’, before he chuckled lightly and turned the page. He read quickly through the paper, paled and handed it to Hermione next to him.
“No one better fall for this,” he muttered darkly to her. Hermione gave him a confused look before she looked at the newspaper. While she was reading, Harry explained to Ron, “They think that Muggle-borns stole their magic from Purebloods, turning them into a squib. That’s what they said, anyways. They said that they need to be interviewed and have their family history to prove that they had a relative or ancestor who does magic. Personally, I think he overdid it a bit, but seeing as how everyone that reads the Prophet doesn’t have a lot of common sense, everyone’sgonna either start turning people in or turn themselves in, if they’re stupid enough.”
“This is outrageous,” Hermione half-screamed, causing Harry to almost fall off of his chair, given that he was only a foot away from her mouth. “Oh…sorry, Harry…. But who in their right mind would fall for this?”
“The wizarding world,” Harry answered, before he looked back at Remus. “Anything else? Like Hogwarts? Will everyone there be safe?”
“No, I’m afraid not. Not completely, anyway. Attendance is now mandatory for every young witch and Wizard. That was announced yesterday. That’s never happened before. Almost every witch and Wizard has been educated at Hogwarts, but it was at their own discretion, and their parents’.”
“Pathetic,” Harry spat. “He has access to all of the children. Next thing you know, Death Eaters will be allowed in the school. No Muggle-borns are allowed to go to school either, right?”
Remus shakily nodded. It seemed to Harry that Remus wanted to say something that was uneasy for him.
“Out with it, Moony. Something wrong?”
Lupin looked up at the name, then cleared his throat. “I-I’ll understand if you can’t confirm this Harry—”
“I’ll answer all of your questions, Remus. Most of them, anyway.”
Remus nodded, still uneasy, Harry noticed. “The Order is under the impression that Dumbledore left you a mission.”
Harry nodded, slightly understanding where this was going. “He did. Ron and Hermione are going to help me complete that job.”
“Can you confide in me what the mission is?”
“I have to kill Voldemort.”
Remus went paler than he was before.
“You didn’t know?” Harry asked curiously.
“I did, but I don’t like hearing it,” Remus said, shaking his head, trying to get the colour back to his face. “But I know that’s not what Dumbledore told you. There’s something else. Can you tell me what it is?”
“No, Remus… I’m sorry, but I can’t. Dumbledore told me not to tell anyone but Hermione and Ron. Although I really don’t care anymore, I don’t think I should tell you. I just can’t.”
“What do you mean you don’t care anymore?” Remus asked him.
“Dumbledore sent me to the Dursleys and got me in danger every single year, seemingly without knowing. Now I got this on my shoulders. Excuse me for being a little pissed off at him. I can tell someone who I really trust, but only when there is no way that person will ever be near a Death Eater… or the ministry…or near any kind of danger from people who want information from me.”
Remus seemed perplexed that Harry would say that, but continued with his ‘offer’, Harry knew.
“Although I wouldn’t say that about Dumbledore, I mean he tried his best,” he heard a light snort in Harry’s direction, but didn’t question it, “but I still might be able to help you. You know what I am and what I can do. I could come with you to provide protection. There would be no need to tell me exactly what you were up to.”
“No,” Harry said immediately.
“Why not?” Remus said, an air of anger surrounding him. “Could you at least hear me out first?”
“I did. No.”
“But why?” Remus asked again, this time with pleading in his voice.
Harry looked at him, his eyes searching for something on Remus for a full fifteen seconds. “What about Tonks?”
Hermione seemed to perk up when she heard Tonks’s name. Harry guessed that she was going to ask that question, also. However, Remus seemed to pale once again.
“She’s alright,” he said. “She’ll be at her parents’ house.”
“Because she’ll be safe there.”
“Didn’t you just say that the Ministry could get through anything… except the Fidelius? She should be here, shouldn’t she?”
“No, she shouldn’t. I—” Remus started, his throat suddenly gone dry. Harry got up and made a glass of water. He immediately handed it to Remus, who looked at it with guilt. He took a sip. Before he could try to drink the whole glass, the water disappeared. He looked at Harry. His arms were folded and he was looking at Remus as if he wanted answers. He was demanding answers. Remus was so worried that he didn’t notice that none of the people in the room were holding a wand. Remus took a long sigh.
“Tonks is having a baby.”
“How wonderful!” Hermione squealed.
“Excellent!” Ron said at the same time.
“What!” Harry yelled in shock, surprising the other occupants. “Why did you do that?”
“Do what?” Remus asked him, his ‘protect cub’ instinct emerging.
Harry was about to give him a good screaming, but stopped himself. He didn’t want Remus to feel any guiltier than he probably was at the moment. He went back to the original conversation, wondering why the hell Remus would have a kid with Tonks in the beginning of a war, especially if they were active soldiers.
“Remus, he started, “that had absolutely nothing to do with my question. Although it did strengthen it. It gives me more reason why she should be here. So, why not, and this time, don’t avoid the question.” Harry had a serious expression that made even Remus gulp.
“I…I made a grave mistake in marrying Tonks. I—”
“Hold it,” Harry interrupted in an icy tone. The temperature in the kitchen seemed to have dropped dramatically. “Are you saying that you don’tlove Tonks?”
“Of course I love her,” Remus said, insulted.
“It seemed to me that Tonks loves you. You two are having a child together, and now you’re leaving her?”
Lupin sprang to his feet, toppling the chair over. Harry seemed to have hit a nerve. “Don’t you understand what I’ve done to my wife and my unborn child? I should never have married her, I’ve made her an outcast!”
Harry shook his head at Remus in disgust. “Continue,” Harry simply said.
“You have only ever seen me amongst the Order, or under Dumbledore’s protection at Hogwarts! You don’t know how most of the wizarding world sees creatures like me! When they know of my affliction, they can barely talk to me! Don’t you see what I’ve done? Even her own family is disgusted by our marriage, what parents want their only daughter to marry a werewolf? And the child – the child—”
Lupin actually seized handfuls of his own hair; he looked quite deranged. Harry was still glaring at Remus, not hindered.
“My kind don’t usually breed! It will be like me, I am convinced of it – how can I forgive myself, when I knowingly risked passing on my own condition to an innocent child? And if, by some miracle, it is not like me, then it will be better off, a hundred times so, without a father of whom it must always be ashamed!”
“You know what would make a kid ashamed of their father?” Harry asked him, not waiting for an answer. “Their dad leaving them and not raising them like a dad should do.”
“Harry,” Hermione said in a warning tone.
“He needs to hear this,” Harry said as he turned away to acknowledge her. When Hermione didn’t argue, he turned back to Remus. “Here’s the way that I see it.
“You love Tonks. She loves you. You two marry. You two have a kid together. I guess you would feel better if the baby wasn’t yours so you’re sure he wouldn’t get lycanthropy.” He noticed the narrowed eyes of his former professor, but continued. Someone had to tell him. “Yet she loves you so much, she wouldn’t even think along those lines, so I’m sure that the baby is yours. You finally have a family. You finally have a chance to live a life, even in the midst of war. You finally get the chance to raise your child and nurture him along with your wife.
“Instead you want to leave your wife and unborn child to enter the war. Your wife will miss you. Your son was never given the chance to decide if he wanted you for a father. I don’t understand how you could be so selfish. You think that you are the only one in danger? You seem to have forgotten her relatives. She is related to Bellatrix and Malfoy. Voldemort most likely knows that you two are married. He’ll kill her and the baby without a second thought.
“I don’t want your help. I don’t need your help. Hermione and Ron are all the help I want and need. James and Sirius would be sickened…although Peter would be quite proud.”
Lupin had finally had enough. He reached his wand faster than Harry ever did in his life.
But Harry didn’t reach for his wand.
He made no move to grab the wand in his front pocket.
Actually, he had forgotten the wand.
Who needed magic when you were a mere two feet away?
He forgot the wand, because he punched him in the nose.
Shocked by Harry’s action and the overwhelming raw energy in Harry’s punch, Remus staggered back and his wand slipped from his he could attempt to reach the wand again, another blow got to his cheek, with even more strength. Remus tried to block his face, but that only exposed his stomach…then chest…then both shoulders at the same time…to Harry. Finally submitting to and shouting out in pain, Remus fell against the wall he didn’t know he backed up against. His lip was bleeding. He felt blood arise in his throat, but fought it down. His eyes were blurry, unfocused.
And it just hit him. Remus Lupin, former Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, werewolf, and one of the best duelists in the Order, had just been beaten by a seventeen-year-old.
Hermione and Ron were in a stunned silence. They watched as Harry simply walked over to Lupin’s dropped wand and picked it up. Hermione read his expression. She saw a disturbing calmness in his physical appearance, but Hermione saw the pain in eyes. He didn’t want to do that, she knew, but Remus would’ve just left after Harry was hit. She almost wanted to curse Remus for what he tried to do. Harry walked back over to Remus and crouched over him before he looked at him for a long second. Remus’s eyes were unfocused. Harry pointed Remus’s wand at his throat. That seemed to awaken him out of his semi-unconsciousness.
“Try that again,” Harry growled, “and you’ll figure out why Voldemort could never beat me. And I didn’t even need my wand this time.”
“Get…get off…” Remus said, also growling, and Harry could almost see the ferocity of a wolf in him.
Harry pressed on, unperturbed. “Are you going to hex me if I do? You know, you can’t really get out your anger with a stick and words. I need my fists. Could be because I’m Muggle-raised. Could be because my hands and feet were the only protection from Dudley and his gang. Or it could just be because I hadn’t done it in a while. Either you’re going to listen to me, or I risk my life to go over to Tonks and bring her here. Your choice; go to her or you both stay with me. No loopholes, no exceptions. What’s it gonna be?”
Remus was breathing raggedly, his mind trying to process the information given to him. How did Harry’s punching get so bloody…bloody?
“He’s right, you know,” Hermione commented steadily. “You shouldn’t just up and leave her like that, especially after getting her pregnant.”
“Look, Remus,” Harry said once he realized that Hermione was done, “if there is one thing I ever learned from Dumbledore, it’s this; you have to choose between what’s right and what’s easy. The easy thing for me to do is to run away to the Muggle world and live happily as a Muggle for the rest of my life. The right thing is to kill Voldemort, or try, at least. Which one did I choose?”
“Go to your wife,” Hermione said calmly. “Help her. Endure through her mood swings. Be there when the baby is born. Be there to take care of him or her. Most importantly; be there to love them both, no matter what condition the baby will be in. You told me that your kind doesn’t usually breed. Then how do you know that your child will get lycanthropy one hundred percent? Even so, if Harry was born with…” She searched for an appropriate word, “…AIDS…or cancer, would James or Lily love him any less? I, for one, wouldn’t think so. I would have to agree with Harry that James would be very upset at you. I am. Harry is. And you say that he is just like his father.”
Remus could just not stop paling after each an every sentence. He feared that he had gone whiter than Tonks ever could with her metamorphmagus abilities. He knew that what Harry and Hermione were saying was absolutely right…but it was too hard.
“It may be hard,” Harry said, as if hearing his thoughts, “but it’s right. Nothing in life is easy, so I’ve heard. According to my life I think I have proved that theory correct.”
Remus opened his mouth, swallowing down the bile in his throat. “What ab-bout you?”
“What about me?” Harry asked warily.
“Your g-girlfriend…you left her…”
“I don’t have one,” Harry said.
“Ginny…was bragging about it…”
“Ginny’s not my girlfriend. Sure, she was for a short while, but I realized that she didn’t like me for me. She liked the Boy Who Lived, just like everyone else. But Tonks loves you. Go to her.” Harry finally stood up and backed away to give Remus a little space, but still kept Lupin’s wand trained on him.
Lupin steadily stood up. He needed the wall for support as he pulled himself up. Remus didn’t think that Harry was that strong. He had taken more punches than this, but…this was too much. He could’ve sworn that at least one of his bones was broken.
“Harry…” Remus said slowly, clutching at his stomach, “…I know what you are saying…I,” he made a small grunt of pain, “understand what you’re saying. You’re right; James and Sirius must be disappointed in me right now. Although I bet that they’re beaming with pride at you now. Not a lot of people could stand up to a werewolf, much less knock one out.”
Remus let a stuttering breath and sucked in quickly, as if he was trying to suck up the pain. “You win, Harry. I’ll go to Tonks. And our baby. And Hermione was right; you are just like your father…although he would’ve reached for his wand.”
The young Wizard gave a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry for attacking you, Remus, but you were sort of asking for it, taking your wand out and trying to curse me and everything.”
The werewolf hung his head in shame. Yes, I guess I did deserve that…even if I didn’t attack you, for that matter. I don’t think Tonks is going to be happy to see me when I go home.”
“You left your pregnant hormonal auror wife – who would kill anyone who called her by her first name – at home,” Hermione said, amused. “Use a strong shield charm when you enter the house.”
“Good call,” Remus grunted. “But…before I go, the offer still stands. I want to help you. Any questions that you have, anything that you need assistance.”
“There is,” Hermione and Harry said at the same time. They grinned at each other before Harry nodded for Hermione to speak. “Well, I’ve been reading this book on how to become an Animagus, and I need a few ingredients for the beginning potion.”
Remus gave a nod of understanding, but he was smiling as if he wasn’t in any pain at all. “You want to become an Animagus? That would be very helpful. James and Sirius would definitely be proud of you. I’ll have the potion in a few days. Anything else?”
“Yeah, there is…except I might need Tonks’ help for this.”
“What?” Remus asked curiously.
“Well… okay, well, how does a Wizard grow his hair?”
“If someone wants to grow their hair, he or she just needs to use a simple potion. The growing process does hurt a bit, which is why few people use it, but the results are usually worth it. Do you want to grow your hair out for better camouflage? I can get the potion if you want. Why do you need Tonks?”
“Well, when I was younger, and I had no knowledge about magic, Petunia used to give me unwanted haircuts. By the time we got home, my hair grew to the same length it was before. I didn’t know that it even grew until Petunia…told me. I know that it was accidental magic, but I wanted to ask Tonks – if it’s not any trouble – exactly how rare are Metamorphmages.”
There was silence for a short moment from Remus, and Harry felt a little uncomfortable, if not incredibly stupid. It was then that he realized that Remus was in deep thought. He looked around to see Ron look at him like he was barmy, no doubt, and Hermione looking at him with an unreadable expression – Harry didn’t think he had seen that before. Before he could question her, Remus spoke.
“That doesn’t sound like normal accidental magic,” he muttered. “Harry,” he said aloud, “I don’t want you to get your hopes up; I’ll talk to Dora before I jump to any conclusions.”
“Thanks,” Harry said. He really wondered if he could be an Animagus. It would be incredibly helpful, he figured, if the form was useful. He handed Remus his wand as he shook his hand. Remus pulled Harry into a hug before Harry could let go.
“Keep the one you love most close to you,” Remus whispered in Harry’s ear, so softly that Harry had to strain. “My nose can smell a lot more than food, Harry. Such as fear… courage… lust… can’t smell love, but I can see that plainly. Lily must be proud of you, too.” Before Harry could comprehend what Remus said, Remus broke apart and walked towards the door. “If you need any help, I’ll be back soon. Best of luck.” And with that, he opened the door and immediately closed it once he stepped out.
There was a short silence that followed, and Harry felt that he was tired. For some reason, he had felt weak since he had punched Remus but put up a strong face. He walked to the stairs, intent on catching some sleep.
Ten minutes later, he groggily opened his eyes to a stern Hermione Granger and gulped. He didn’t know what he did wrong, but he really wished he didn’t do it. She seemed to support Harry when he beat up Remus. He couldn’t remember what else he did wrong, though.
“Explain,” she said rather calmly.
“Explain what?” Harry said. “I did a lot of stuff that needs explaining.”
“Explain why you didn’t talk to me about you possibly being a metamorphmagus. First.” It was the same calm tone that had Harry suppressing shudders.
“I wasn’t sure I was right.”
“And that explains the entire situation?”
“I didn’t want to look like a fool.”
“Have I ever made you look like a fool before?”
“No. But I really wanted reassurance that I might be one. Your hopes might have been up.”
“They certainly would have been. And they are now. It just would’ve happened sooner than now. Remember when we used to tell each other everything?”
Harry stayed silent, but nodded sleepily. It was the incident in sixth year that made Harry almost lose his faith in Hermione.
Hermione’s glare immediately changed into a frown directed towards herself. She too remembered when Harry had stopped confiding in her. She swore that it would never happen again. “Harry, please don’t try to keep secrets from me again. We’re in this together. I told you that before. Ron and I tell you everything, so you have to tell us everything.”
“She’s right, mate,” A voice said from the door. Hermione turned to see Ron standing in the doorway approaching them. “I don’t want to be kept in the dark. Sure, I might not agree with it at all, but I still want to know.”
They both nodded in Ron’s direction and smiled. “Of course, Ron,” Harry said, “you’ll never be kept in the dark. But can you leave me in the dark? I need my sleep.” Before they could speak again. Harry turned around in his bed and closed his eyes. Ron shook his head and laughed while Hermione smiled at the seemingly sleeping figure. When Ron left, Hermione leaned over and kissed Harry’s cheek.
“I’m going have more questions for you tomorrow, Potter,” she said softly, but sternly. She kissed his cheek again before she stood and was about to leave before something caught her eye.
She saw Harry’s pants that he was wearing only fifteen minutes ago hanging on the edge of a transfigured iron board. They were obviously baggy beyond belief and were so tattered, transfiguration could only do so much. Hermione made a mental note to find some pants around the house that will fit Harry or go to a department store.
The pair of pants wasn’t what caught her attention, however.
It was the large wallet-sized bulge in his front right pocket that did.
Hermione was frozen on the spot. She could not believe what it was. She knew that inside of Harry’s pocket was the reason that Hermione had gotten her best friend back…the reason she received her first kiss…the reason she could finally let out that she was madly in love with Harry Potter. Well, let it out to herself, at least.
She had to talk to it. She had to update her on everything that happened. She had to check if it had told Harry something that she didn’t want to be told. She had to see if the charms were still up. She even had more charms to add.
She smacked herself. Literally and figuratively. Her forehead began throbbing with pain, and she was sure that it was turning red. She deserved it, she figured. She didn’t take a picture of Remus! How could she forget something like that?
“You know, you could get a concussion like that,” Harry sleepily said. She turned around to see him facing her, his green eyes half-lidded. “What got you so frustrated?”
Hermione ashamedly pointed at the bulge in Harry’s pocket. Harry stared at it for a short second, before he nodded.
“You want to talk to her?”
“Well, yes… but we forgot to get a picture of Remus!” she urgently whispered.
“We can get a picture of him next time,” Harry reasoned. “He was bruised, remember? I don’t want his picture grunting in pain. Those cuts stay on him, don’t they? They can’t heal when they’re in a picture, right?”
“Oh, I…” Hermione formed an embarrassed blush redder than the print on her forehead, “…I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Let’s talk to her,” Harry whispered, preparing to get up.
“You sleep, Harry. I know you’re very tired. I’ll fill her in on everything. Good night.”
Harry was already asleep before she pulled the album out of his pants pocket. Hermione smiled at his sleeping form and quietly left the room.
She was walking down the steps and barely said “Herm—” before she was interrupted by a crack. A familiar and – at the moment – very pleasant voice yelled out around the house from the kitchen.
“Kreacher has returned with the thief Mundungus Fletcher, Master!”
Author’s Note: Please review. I think I did good pacing on this one. This only covered half of one chapter in canon.
Something to think about while I try to get my creative juices flowing again: How does everyone know about Harry’s scar before he came to the Wizarding World? Dumbledore? Hagrid? Hmmmm…