It was becoming a common occurrence to see Harry and Mandy together around the school. The two seemed to be attached at the hip. Much like he used to go around with Ron and Hermione. Ron and Hermione were still together but Harry was spending most of his spare time with Mandy. He even invited her to go with him to Hogsmeade on the upcoming weekend. He promised to meet with Ron and Hermione for lunch at the Three Broomsticks and bring Mandy with him.
His friends were somewhat concerned about Harry not being around them much anymore, but he explained it to them and they all realized it was just them growing up. As older teenagers, you tended to seek out more people to widen your circle of friends, especially boyfriends and girlfriends. They knew they would still remain good friends but would just be spending less time together.
Harry and Mandy were coming back from the library late one night when Harry’s eyes flashed and he saw three people hiding behind them, casting spells at their backs. One of them was the Killing Curse. The hallway was narrow enough that his Parseltongue stunner would work to catch all three so he cast it in his mind right in the middle of them. All three fell down right on the spot before they got off a single spell.
Harry continued on walking and talking with Mandy like nothing happened. After he dropped her off at the Ravenclaw entrance, he went back to the stunned Slytherins, all seventh years, and brought them out into the middle of the hall. He noticed they picked an area with no portraits around. He took their wands and broke them. Then he enervated them.
“I know what you were going to do to me. But I shiver at the thought of what you might have done to Mandy had you succeeded in killing me. That I cannot abide. I know you never got a curse off even though you wanted to, so that makes it impossible to turn you in. It’s unfortunate the three of you have to be an example to others with the same idea.”
They all started asking what he meant by that but suddenly no sound came out of their mouths.
“I can’t have anyone hearing you, now can I?”
The next thing they knew, all six kneecaps were broken at the same time. They yelled out in pain, though no sound was uttered. They reached for their knees but suddenly all their arms were broken too. This just caused them to wallow around on the floor in great pain. Harry had found that spell in one of his Parseltongue books. You just had to think on which bones to break, so he concentrated on their kneecaps first, and then their forearms second.
“Good luck getting to the hospital wing tonight boys. Maybe someone will come by this lonely stretch of hallway. Have a good evening.”
Harry walked off and headed back to his common room. He may have to find a way to protect his new friend, he thought. Knowing these idiots, they would go after Mandy next just to get to him. It was time he filled her in on the dangers of being Harry Potter’s friend.
On Hogsmeade weekend, Harry ate with Mandy for breakfast before they headed out to the all magical town. He already had that talk with her and expected her to distance herself from him, but she did no such thing. She would not even call off their Hogsmeade visit together.
While headed to the small village, Harry warned her again and made mention that he wouldn’t be surprised if there was an attack today on the town just to get to him. He told her to be ready at anytime. She nodded but she felt very safe whenever she was with Harry.
Once they were in town, they had a good time visiting the shops and enjoying each other’s company. Harry was constantly keeping an eye out for any trouble. They had already picked up everything they needed, including extra parchment and quills from Scrivenshaft’s. They had even picked up some sweets to last a while from Honeydukes.
As it neared eleven o’clock, Harry’s eyes suddenly flashed. He saw several Death Eaters apparating into town. He turned to Mandy.
“Death Eaters are coming. I need you to get to safety.”
“I’m not leaving you!”
“Mandy! They will come for you just to get to me. They know about us and that’s how they work. Please, warn the others so they can do the same. I’ll keep them busy.”
“Harry Potter, if you die today, then I will kill you myself!”
“That should be inter – hmph!“
He stopped talking because Mandy was kissing him full on the lips, which they had never done before. They stopped when they heard several cracks of apparition. Mandy took off to warn the others while Harry walked to meet them.
They came in with shields on in case Harry spotted them arriving. They were told to watch for colored spells coming from his hands and that a shield wouldn’t work against them. All his other spells couldn’t be seen nor would they see him casting them, so they best keep a shield up, they were told.
The Death Eaters were following orders so Harry’s stunners were being blocked. There were townspeople and students running too close to the Death Eaters so he hesitated on using his battle magic. Not knowing what else to do and with several spells coming his way, Harry blurred.
The Death Eaters couldn’t believe their eyes. He was there and about to be struck by several deadly curses when suddenly he was a blur and he was moving among the Death Eaters. Harry started breaking necks and other bones wherever he touched them. They were yelling in pain or falling over dead. The smarter ones apparated away.
While he was moving too fast for them to hit him with a spell, he was taking them out as fast as he could with just brute strength. Suddenly he flashed and saw a couple of Death Eaters grab Mandy and portkey away with her. Without thinking, he apparated to where she stood directing people, just outside the Three Broomsticks. He only remembered apparating once before and that was as a small kid getting away from Dudley and his gang.
She screamed when he suddenly appeared next to her.
“They’re coming for you Mandy. Be ready.”
She didn’t know what to expect but sure enough two Death Eaters apparated on each side of her and grabbed her by the arms. However, before they could portkey out with her, she fell down in a heap along with her captors.
Harry called Dobby and woke up Mandy.
“Yes, Harry Potter, sir.”
“They’re after Mandy, Dobby. Take her to the apartment and keep her safe. Go now!
Dobby grabbed Mandy by the arm and they popped away.
Now that she was safe, he could concentrate on the Death Eaters. He tied up the two stunned ones with a thought then looking around, he saw McGonagall and Flitwick, along with some of the DA members fighting back. The rest of the students were trying to make it back to the castle. He knew he needed to bring a stop to this attack before anyone on his side was seriously hurt or killed.
He noticed that the Death Eaters were isolated now so he cast two battle magic spells at the same time. The two identical spells were dark blue and sped toward the Death Eaters but when they saw them coming they scattered like cockroaches in the light. Some were not as quick as the others in noticing his spells. When they exploded, they ended up killing just three of the attackers, since most of them got away. However, a few of the Death Eaters ran right into spells from the professors and DA members.
Next thing you know, the conscious ones portkeyed out and decided to try another day. Among them was Lucius Malfoy, who was leading the group.
Aurors showed up just after the remaining Death Eaters bugged out. They started gathering the captured ones and the dead ones. Healers used the floo in the Three Broomsticks to arrive then started working on anyone who needed attention. They were surprised at how few were hurt or killed other than the Death Eaters, so were the aurors for that matter until Kingsley offered his opinion.
“I’m pretty sure they’re primary objective was to kill Harry Potter. According to witnesses, he faced them head on and kept their focus on him so the kids could escape to safety. Well done, Mr. Potter.”
“They’re aware of my tricks now so came in with shields already cast. I’m pretty sure it drained some of them a bit to keep them up. When my known tricks were nullified, I decided to show them a new one. They were quite surprised, I can tell you.”
“I bet. Someone said they saw you apparate over to a girl in front of the Three Broomsticks to take care of two Death Eaters who tried to take her. I wasn’t aware you had your license, Harry.”
“I don’t, Kingsley. I just did it to get to my friend as fast as possible. The only other time I remember apparating was when I was a kid and I did it on accident and in desperation to get to safety.”
“You are an adult now, Harry. You could probably get your license without a problem, especially since you already know how.”
“I’ll do that, Kingsley. It seems easy enough.”
“Well, it looks like a failed attempt on your life, Harry.”
“I’d say so and it’s the third one. The other two were in the school.”
“Be careful Harry. They’re really gunning for you.”
“Always, Kingsley. Do you need me for anything else? I need to check on someone.”
“No, I think we can take it from here. Go ahead and head out, Harry.”
“Thanks, Kingsley. See you next time.”
“I hope there isn’t a next time.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it if I were you.”
“You’re probably right.” Kingsley answered with realization setting in.
Harry waved and took off jogging back to the castle. When he reached the front doors, he headed straight until he reached the back stairs. No one else was around in this part of the castle. Taking the stairs, he made his way quickly to Salazar’s office, then took the floo to his apartment.
When he came out of the floo, Mandy was waiting on the sofa. She jumped up and met him half way, grabbing him in a tight hug.
“I’m so glad you’re alright. I was so worried,” she cried into his collar.
“I’m just glad I could get you away, Mandy. They were really after you. I can guarantee our friendship has been reported heavily to Voldemort by students in the castle. I’ve had two attempts on my life inside the castle so far. That one today in Hogsmeade was the third.”
“I don’t know how you deal with your life, Harry. It’s just so unfair!”
“It’ll be more difficult now, but you could still make a break from me. We could put on a show for everyone and convince them.”
“Convince them of what?” she asked taking a step back away from him.
“That we had a falling out and we now hate each other,” he explained.
“Harry, there is no way I could convince anyone that I hate you.”
“It would be difficult for me too, but I have to find a way to keep you safe!”
“What do you mean, why?”
“Just answer the question. Why do you think it’s your responsibility to keep me safe?”
“Because you’re very important to me.”
“Why?” she asked softly and stepped up close to him again.
“Because I-I-I don’t know! I… I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Why?” she asked softly again.
Harry looked at her right in front of him. She was so close. Her beautiful brown hair, her bright, light grey eyes, her lovely, incredible face. He couldn’t keep from saying it, so he just let it out.
“Because I think I’m falling in love with you, that’s why, and I don’t want to live without you.”
“Now, how difficult was that to say?” she asked, but he just looked confused. “Harry, I started falling in love with you weeks ago when you knocked me on my arse.”
“I thought I knocked you on your head?”
“Is that why you kissed me before?”
“Do you want to kiss me again?”
“Definitely,” she said smiling.
They both leaned in and gently connected there lips together. It was much softer than the one she planted on him in Hogsmeade. They explored for a bit then adjusted their hold on each other and began anew. Soon their tongues were doing a dance together.
They finally stopped to catch a breath, then just hugged each other.
Harry reached down and picked her up bridal style. Mandy giggled as he walked to the sofa and sat down with Mandy in his lap. She continued to hug him.
“You know, I’ve been wanting to kiss you for quite a while,” Harry whispered in her ear.
She moved her ear away and brought her shoulder up. It tickled. She then put her mouth next to his ear and whisper back as breathy as she could.
“Why do you think I kissed you in Hogsmeade? I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
Harry moved his ear away as well, bringing his shoulder up.
He then initiated a searing kiss all on his own. It lasted for a good while. It was making their toes curl.
They finally stopped.
“Hey, how do you like my apartment?” Harry asked her.
“Your apartment? Where exactly are we and shouldn’t we get back to the castle?”
“We’re actually in the castle but you can’t tell anyone about this place. Promise?”
“Remember how I told you how bad my relatives are?” She nodded. “Well, I discovered this place at the end of last semester. It was my second time down here, but I didn’t know that this part existed before. It was right after we got back from the fight at the Ministry and Dumbledore shared news with me that he had been withholding. Not knowing these things helped get my godfather killed. I was not happy with him. That was the first time I used magic with just my mind. I pretty much destroyed his office.”
“Only you, Harry Potter,” she said stroking his face.
“Afterwards, I came down here, discovered Dobby was accidentally bonded to me, and I basically set up shop. Dobby cleaned everything for me and most of the Hogwarts elves donated their time to clean up the other part.”
“Harry, what is this place? Where are we?”
“Come on, I’ll show you around. You’ll figure it out soon enough.”
Harry took her hand and showed her all the rooms in the apartment, the bedrooms, the potions lab, etc. He then led her out the door into the library. She was quite impressed so far. He then said, “Open Salazar Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four,” in parseltongue.
The statue moved out of the way, revealing the steps and the lower chamber.
“I consider this up here the upper chamber and that down there, the lower chamber.”
“Chamber? You mean this is Salazar Slytherin’s Chamber of Secrets?”
“Not anymore. Now it’s mine. Only a parseltongue can get down here on their own. Dobby and my other elf, Winky, are the only elves allowed down here as well.”
She just looked at him.
“Come on let me show what the elves did for me.”
He led her into the lower chamber where she saw the double fountains, the trees and plants, magical sunlight, and so on. It was beautiful.
“Wow!” she said in awe.
“You would be more impressed had you seen it before they fixed it up. Water was everywhere, it was dark and dreary in here, not to mention the giant basilisk I had to fight at 12 years of age.”
“I almost forgot about that. You fought a giant basilisk when you were only a second year? How big was it?”
“Yep, I killed it with Gryffindor’s sword right over there,” he said pointing. “It was about 20 meters long and could have swallowed me whole. That monster sank a fang in me right here,” he said showing her his scar, “when I put that sword into its brain.”
“WHAT? But how are you alive? Basilisk venom is certain death and if it sunk a fang in you, especially one that was so large, it likely injected a lot. How are you still here?”
“Apparently, there is only one way to survive basilisk venom and I was provided with it.”
“Phoenix tears. Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, showed up with the Sorting Hat when I needed help the most. The hat contained the sword and Fawkes blinded the basilisk for me before I had to fight it. After I was bitten, Fawkes landed next to me and cried tears directly into the wound. It closed up and healed me. He’s quite a bird.”
“I’ll say. That is amazing! I can’t believe all the stuff you’ve been through and I imagine I haven’t heard half of it.”
“You would be correct, Mandy, but we really need to get back upstairs. I’m sure some people are looking for us and I know I missed lunch.”
“Me too and I’m a little hungry after all the excitement.”
“Let’s do this. I’ll have Dobby bring us some sandwiches or something. We’ll eat, then return to our friends.”
They returned to the apartment and ate at the table. When finished, Harry took her with him through the floo and they went up the back stairs to the ground floor. They went up to the second floor just to throw people off, walked the length of the floor, and then they came down into the entrance way. There were quite a few people milling about. Harry and Mandy were holding hands with each other. Suddenly, they were the center of attention.
“Where have you been, Mr. Potter? And you too, Miss Brocklehurst? We’ve been looking for you both,” said McGonagall excitedly.
“I’m sorry to have worried you Professor. The Death Eaters were not just after me. They were also after Mandy, as I’m sure several students in this castle reported our close friendship to Voldemort.”
Several people gasped at the use of his name.
“Oh get over it!” he said to them. “Anyway, after I took care of the Death Eaters trying to portkey away with her, I called my house elf and had him take her to safety and protect her until I could come to get her. When I found her we had more to discuss then previously planned,” he said holding up their entwined hands.
“I see,” she said with a smirk.
“Anyway, we’re fine and the Death Eaters failed in another attempt on my life.”
“How many so far?” she asked.
“That was number three.”
“The semester has barely begun, Mr. Potter.”
“I know. Fun, fun, fun!” he replied. “Say, has anyone seen Ron and Hermione?” he asked to the room at large.
“I’m pretty sure they’re still in the Great Hall helping to calm down the younger years,” said McGonagall.
“Excellent! I’d better check in. Then we can check in with anyone you need to see, Mandy. Sound good?”
“Sure, probably just Lisa.”
They took a few steps and then stopped.
“Wait a second. I just realized something,” said Harry coming to a stop.
“What?” asked Mandy.
“I need to speak to McGonagall again.”
He turned and walked back to Professor McGonagall.
“Professor? I need to tell you something.”
“What is it Mr. Potter?”
“Mandy can’t go back to Ravenclaw dorm. She will not be safe.”
“Why would you think that Mr. Potter?”
“Yes, why would you think that, Mr. Potter?” asked Mandy confused.
“Look, there are students in this castle trying to get in Voldemort’s good graces by attempting to kill me. Mandy just experienced today how bad they want to take her just to get to me. So far, only Slytherins have attacked me in the castle, but I’m not willing to believe that they are the only house that doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. As time drags on and I thwart more attempts on my life, they are going to get more desperate and find more accomplices.” Harry turned from McGonagall back to Mandy. “I’m sorry, but I have to keep you safe.”
Mandy reached up and stroked his face. She understood him completely when he said that.
“Where do you propose she stay then, Mr. Potter?”
“Don’t you have a private room she can use, Professor? A place we can lock down to only Mandy, myself, you, and Professor Dumbledore?”
“Maybe, but I’m not sure I like the idea of you having direct access to Miss Brocklehurst’s room.”
“This is not the time to be thinking about impropriety, Professor. This is the time to think about helping to save two students lives. I’m afraid you don’t understand the full picture. I can’t remain in Gryffindor either. I’m the one they’re trying to kill after all. Who says Gryffindor is completely safe? I seem to recall a friend of my father’s who was in Gryffindor with him. He is now a Death Eater.”
“Then you need two rooms. One for each,” she said.
“As long as they are right next to each other. I have to be able to protect her, Professor. I will also have to walk Mandy to all her classes. It shouldn’t be too difficult since most of our classes are together. I can have Dobby shadow her for Runes and Arithmancy, which I don’t take. He can get her to safety faster than anyone, just like he did in Hogsmeade today.”
“I’ll have to check with the Headmaster, Mr. Potter. He would have to approve this.”
“Let us know before this evening, please.”
“I’ll do my best Mr. Potter.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
Harry led Mandy into the Great Hall to find and talk to Ron and Hermione. They were happy both of them were alright. It also didn’t take long for them to notice their friends were holding hands and seemed a lot closer.
“Is this new?” asked Hermione.
“Yes, we finally admitted how we felt,” replied Mandy.
“Good! I’m happy for you guys,” she said.
“Me too,” said Ron.
“What about you guys?” asked Harry.
They both looked at each other then Hermione replied.
“We’re getting there.”
“Good. Just remember that life is too short not to throw caution to the wind and enjoy yourselves.”
“Look at you spreading philosophy,” said Ron.
“I still have a few surprises up my sleeve. We’d better go though. Mandy needs to check in with Lisa Turpin.”
“Alright, we’ll see you two later,” said Hermione.
It took a little while but they finally located Lisa and Mandy’s other dorm mates to check in and give them the news about Mandy leaving the tower. They had to explain it all over again but they understood when they were done.
Harry had told Mandy when they were walking around looking for her friends, that no matter what Dumbledore said, they were both going to leave their dorms today. If they have to, he said, they’ll stay in his apartment. She can use the second bedroom. They would have to share the loo but it was big and shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, Dobby could ferry them back and forth if necessary.
McGonagall told Harry and Mandy at dinner time that the Headmaster wished to see them after they finished eating. They were sitting together, of course, in the Great Hall with Mandy’s friends. Harry was determined to stay close until the danger ended. McGonagall also added that the Headmaster wished for them to know that he was fond of Snickers. Most of the students who heard that omission weren’t sure why he would say that. They just chalked it up to the Headmaster’s slight madness. Harry was surprised he knew about that Muggle candy.
After they were done eating and chatting with friends, they noticed Dumbledore had already left.
“We should probably go ahead and talk to Dumbledore, Mandy.”
“Sure,” she said getting up. “You know I’ve never been to his office.”
“I’ve been so many times it’s old hat now.”
“You should learn to stay out of trouble, young man,” Mandy said with a stern voice.
“What would be the fun in that?” Harry asked.
When they reached the gargoyle, Harry said ‘Snickers’ and it promptly moved out of the way so they could ride the stairs up.
“So Snickers is the password. That’s funny. Does he like candy or something?” Mandy asked.
“And then some. I was just surprised he knew some Muggle candy. He must if he knows about Snickers. The password is always the name of a candy and he changes it often. He’s always sucking on a lemon drop, as well.”
They reached the door but before Harry could knock, they heard, “Come in Harry and Miss Brocklehurst.”
Mandy looked at Harry in shock. He just shook his head at the man’s antics and opened the door.
“Hello, Professor,” Harry greeted him as they walked in. Mandy was looking all around at his office. It was fascinating.
“Hello Harry. It’s good to see you again Miss Brocklehurst. I believe this is your first time here, is it not?”
“Yes, it is. I really like your office. It has a lot of neat stuff in it.”
“I’m just an old man who has collected a lot over the years. It’s mostly just worthless trinkets.”
“I think they’re lovely.”
“Thank you, Miss Brocklehurst.”
“Before we begin, Professor, allow me to introduce Mandy to Fawkes,” requested Harry.
“By all means, any newcomer should not be allowed to bypass Fawkes. He is the important one in this office.”
“More so than you Professor?” asked Harry.
“Oh, heavens yes. Fawkes will still be here long after I’ve gone on to my next great adventure.”
Fawkes warbled at Mandy as she drew near. She reached over and stroked his head.
“Is Fawkes your familiar, Professor?” she asked.
“No. Fawkes is actually my companion. No one owns a phoenix. They practically never die either. When they grow old they experience a burning day then are reborn from the ashes. I never get tired of seeing it. It’s magnificent to behold.”
“That’s amazing!” Mandy exclaimed.
“Fawkes is quite fond of Harry here.”
“So am I, Fawkes,” she told him.
Dumbledore chuckled and Fawkes warbled back.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Fawkes seeks out Harry after I’m gone. They seem to have a connection.”
Harry reached over and petted Fawkes.
“I think Fawkes is smarter than that, Professor. I’m pretty sure if he wants a new companion after you, he can find a much better candidate than me.”
Fawkes started singing and all their hearts were uplifted. However, he was staring straight at Harry. Harry stared back, enjoying the song. When Fawkes finished, Mandy could not believe how that made her feel.
“That was wonderful!” she said in awe.
“Thanks Fawkes,” Harry told him.
“Harry, I can offer you both private rooms with security, but I’m afraid I can’t offer you two private rooms next to each other, nor give you access to the other’s room. If that got out there would be too many problems to deal with and things rarely stay secret around here. Even providing you with private rooms could be an issue if the Wizengamot gets word of it. Many parents would not understand and make a huge fuss, no matter the circumstances. I’m not even sure Miss Brocklehurst’s parents will be okay with it.”
“They will when I explain it to them. Professor, my parents would rather have me safe than taken by Death Eaters. Who knows what they’d do to me.”
“I’m sure it would not be pleasant, Miss Brocklehurst,” he said sadly.
“And that’s why I have to protect her. No worries, Professor. I got this. Mandy and I will be in the castle during the day but at night and most likely on the weekends we’ll be hidden away where we can get a peaceful night’s sleep.”
“Yes, that is the only place that will be completely safe and I’m sorry Professor but I still can’t tell you. Dobby will ferry us back and forth in the morning and in the evening. I have an extra bedroom so Mandy can have her on room.”
“Are you sure this is completely necessary, Harry?”
“Absolutely. I’ve already been attacked three times and they tried to take Mandy today.”
“Very well,” Dumbledore reluctantly agreed. Then he changed the subject. “Harry, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about the three Slytherins found in the hallway with broken kneecaps and arms, would you?”
“They were caught in the act and used as an example, sir. I hope the message was crystal clear.”
“I do too, Harry,” Dumbledore said with a sigh.
“Yes, Harry Potter, sir?”
“Please take Mandy and I to our safe place then I want you to go collect all our things from our dorm rooms and bring them to us.”
“Yes, Harry Potter, sir,” he said as he grabbed both their hands.
They were all three gone from Dumbledore’s office.
The Headmaster let out a loud sigh and returned to his paper work.