The Assassin

The Assassin - Chapter 12

Chapter 12

The room was silent as the Order members digested what had occurred only moments ago. Everyone looked up the stairs where the one and only Harry Potter had just disappeared to. The interaction between him and Ron Weasley playing over in their minds. And they had to agree with Harry, it was far too late for an apology, the damage already long done. Quiet members thought over what the following days would include. Would they need to look at a safer space for the previous missing boy to stay? Only time would tell.

Kingsley Shacklebolt looked around the quiet room, observing the dejected crowd. While he did feel annoyed and disappointed the outing had not gone to plan, he needed to sober up and focus on the future. The entire point of going out to Diagon Alley was to retrieve all of the necessary items for Harry to begin studying for his O.W.L.s and for him starting at Hogwarts in a months’ time. And unfortunately they had only managed to go to four stores before their cover was blown at the fifth. There was still so much to be done.

“I will need a few Order members to head back to Diagon Alley and continue collecting the remaining school supplies for Harry,” Kingsley said loudly, gaining the attention from the large group.

“I’ll go if anyone wants to join me,” said Nymphadora as she got up from the chair in the kitchen. “I have the day off after all.”

“Count us in,” said Fred with a smile.

“No, I don’t think that will be a good idea,” frowned Kingsley, thinking over all of the possible options.

“Why not?” George asked.

“If anyone is still there, or if word has gotten out that Harry Potter was seen with the Weasley family, then they could easily come back with you,” he explained, many nodding in agreement.

“Well if that is the case, it wouldn’t be safe for Ron or Ginny to get their school supplies later either,” mused Molly as she thought it over.

“We can pick it up for them while we shop for Harry,” Nymphadora smiled kindly. “It’ll be no hassle. And especially if it will keep Harry safe, I don’t mind.”

“Oh, thank you dear!” Molly turned around and walked over to give her a hug. “I’ll make you some lunch or dinner when you return, for all of your troubles.”

“That’s okay, Molly. No need to worry about that,” she smiled, her cheeks turning bright pink in embarrassment.

“I’ll go with you,” a quiet voice spoke up from the back of the lounge room.

Everyone turned their eyes to find a sheepish Remus looking at the ground. The older members knew how much Harry meant to the man, being the last part he could hold onto of his childhood best friends except for memories. He was willing to do anything to help the boy. From teaching him, to buying the missing school supplies, to protecting him from any harm. Nymphadora smiled as she walked over to the front door, gesturing for the quiet man to follow her, endeared at the gesture.

The room became quiet once more after the two had left, many stewing over the past and the future. Kingsley had made the right call by not allowing the twins or any of the other Weasley out of the house again. Word would get around quickly in the crowded street that the missing boy had been found alive and well. And word would get around that many people had witnessed the supposed Boy-Who-Lived with a particularly easily identifiable red-headed family. The next month now posed more troubles if it got out who Harry was staying with.

“We should go strengthen the wards,” said Alastor Moody, his fake eye whirling around in his head. “Before the news breaks.”

“Bill,” Kingsley turned to the oldest child. “I know you are a Curse-Breaker, but how good are you with warding?”

“I have been personally trained by the highest Curse-Breaker at Gringotts to dismantle complicated and dangerous spells, charms and curses. But also how to perform them as well in case I need to use them,” Bill said with a smile towards the two Aurors. “So I can come and help if you would like.”

“The more hands on board, the faster we can get it done,” nodded Kingsley, gesturing for the oldest Weasley child to lead the way.

The remaining Order members look around the quiet room. They weren’t sure what to do with themselves now that Harry was back home safely and the rest of the supplies were being organised. There was no point in them staying there and continuing to intrude on the small house of the Weasley’s if there was nothing to do. Some Order members begun leaving silently without saying a word, while others thanked Molly for the cup of tea and wished them all the best until the next Order meeting.

Hermione watched everyone in curiosity. Of course she had heard about the Order of the Phoenix, but she never knew who was involved in the secret organisation run by the Headmaster of Hogwarts. So many questions whizzed by in her mind as she watched people leaving. But she stayed quiet, waiting until it was just the Weasley family left to ask her questions. Looking up the stairs, she also wondered if she’ll have the chance to see Harry Potter again.

Finally she was left with just the quiet family, the Order leaving entirely except for the two Aurors adding and strengthening the wards. Hermione looked over at Ron and tried not her hardest not to laugh at the bright, red face. She always knew that the boy had a loud mouth, liking to contribute to the gossip going around school, but this was a whole new level of idiocy. One would think that if you were walking around with the missing Boy-Who-Lived, then you would keep your mouth shut. But she just assumed he was excited to show him off to her.

“So has Harry been here long?” Hermione asked, not able to stay quiet any longer.

“Not long, no,” answered Fred.

“Only turned up on Wednesday night,” continued George with a small smile.

“Turned up?” the smart girl observed. “Meaning he wasn’t found?”

“Yes,” nodded Fred.

“He was just sitting in the Headmaster’s office as we returned,” George snorted in amusement.

“Sneaky bastard, he is,” shaking his head in amusement, Fred looked at his twin with a shimmer in his eyes. “We still haven’t worked out how he got there.”

“Did he tell you where he was this whole time?” Hermione asked, glad someone was finally giving her sufficient answers.

“No,” answered George.

“He has been fairly secretive and reclusive since getting here,” continued Fred.

“We both think he knows more about magic and our world then he lets on to,” George mused as he pretended to think hard.

“But I guess the extent of how much he knows will be revealed during his lessons and also he goes on his O.W.L.s exam,” Fred feigned thinking hard as well.

“Does he need help? I can help. I’m a really good tutor and I got good grades on my O.W.L.s,” said Hermione as she sat up straight, eyes glistening with wonder. “I’d love to help in any way I can.”

Walking in from the kitchen after overhearing the entire conversation, Molly looked upon the bushy haired girl with kindness. Any extra hands helping Harry during this next month would be appreciated. Well, at least in her own eyes. Although she knew the decision would ultimately need to be approved by Headmaster Dumbledore in the end. The young girl was very bright for her age, so there really should be no issue.

“I’ll ask Kingsley to talk with Headmaster Dumbledore about it,” said Molly as she wiped her hands on her apron. “I’m sure he is going back to report about how today shaped out anyway.”

“Really? You could do that for me?” she asked with eyes shining.

“Any help Harry can get during the next month would be amazing. It’ll be up to the Headmaster in the end though,” she smiled back at the young female.

“He already has Remus helping him with the bulk of the subjects, remember?” spoke up Fred.

“Well yes, but it’s very important for him to pass his O.W.L.s as well all of the other training he’ll be doing with the Aurors,” Molly said before turning her back and walking towards the front door. “I’ll go ask Kingsley now, behave while I’m gone.”

The room was silent as the teenagers and young adults looked at each other. While the comment was mostly directed at the twins, they knew she also meant to leave the young boy upstairs well alone. Like Harry had said before leaving, it had been quite an exhausting day with the stressful events. All of them felt a sense of tiredness looming in the air after the adrenaline began to wear off. They continued sitting in silence for a little longer, not really sure what to talk about in the presence of the guest.

“So what were you thinking back there, Ron?” Hermione broke the awkward silence, turning to look at the shy male that hadn’t spoken since Harry had left the room.

Ron’s siblings chuckled as his face only grew redder by the second. All of the attention was now on him again, much to his horror. He knew he messed up. He knew he shouldn’t have said it that loudly. He knew his words could have led to some major consequences. But everything had worked out in the end, right? They managed to get out safely. Harry was still in one piece. So what people now knew he was back? The public was sure to find out sooner rather than later.

“Does it matter anymore? It’s done. I can’t change the past,” he replied quietly, annoyed this was being brought up yet again.

“Of course it matters, you featherhead!” Ginny exclaimed. “That could have been really bad for Harry! No one was to know he had been found. No one was to know Harry is back finally. People are crazy, Ron. They could have taken Harry. They could have hurt him. You are an absolute idiot!”

“Well thanks for making me feel worse than I already do,” Ron smiled sarcastically at his younger sister before flopping back on the couch in defeat.

“It is your fault and your fault alone,” Hermione patted his shoulder in sympathy.

“Thanks ’Mione,” he huffed, face red as he looked at the hand on his shoulder.

Everyone couldn’t help but laugh, knowing full well that the two sitting next to each other were unaware of how the other felt. It was painstakingly obvious that Ron had feelings for Hermione. The boy blushing even harder the moment she talked with him or touched him in any way. While Hermione’s feelings were a lot more concealed, there were tell-tale signs. For example she would nervously push her hair behind her ear whenever he looked at her. Or smile brightly the second they made eye contact with each other. All of the Weasley siblings knew it was only a matter of time before they got together.

The small group’s attention was drawn to the front door as Molly, Bill, Kingsley and Alaster walked back inside. A gentle smile immediately graced Molly’s face as soon as her eyes landed on Hermione staring at Ron with a sparkle in her eyes. The four adults came over and looked upon the children that were eagerly waiting.

“Kingsley will push the agenda for you to help Harry, Hermione dear,” said Molly. “And if he can’t get the approval, I’ll go visit Headmaster Dumbledore myself.”

“Wow, thank you both,” smiled Hermione. “I appreciate the chance to help out.”

“And you are more than welcome to stay here for the rest of the summer. I’m sure Ginny will be fine if you share her room, right Ginny?” Molly looked upon her daughter with expecting eyes.

“Of course, I’ll be happy to have you stay with me,” said Ginny as she turned her head to smile at Hermione.

“That’s so kind of you. May I possibly owl my parents so they aren’t worried where I have disappeared to?” Hermione asked with a wide smile.

“We’ll get that organised right away,” kindly smiled Molly.

“And I may need someone to take me home so I can grab all of my belongings for the summer and my Hogwarts supplies,” she continued as she thought about getting organised.

“That won’t be a problem, dear,” nodded Molly before turning to look at Kinglsey and Alastor. “Can I make you some tea or something to eat before you leave as a thank you? You two have worked so hard this morning.”

“Thank you Molly, but I’ll have to decline. We must get going and tackle this headache with Dumbledore,” said Kingsley with a strained smile.

“Good luck,” chuckled Bill as he sat down on a spare seat, shaking his head in sympathy.

“I’m going to need it,” Kingsley laughed darkly before waving goodbye to the group and walking out of the house.

Alastor Moody followed behind the other Auror, shutting the front door behind him. The room was still for the first time in a while. Smiling fondly as she looked upon her children and her newest house guest, Molly thought about all the housework that needed to be done. Heading into the kitchen, she began clearing up the cups from the Order members before getting to work on the lunch that needed to feed all of the extra mouths. The group of siblings and Hermione looked at each other tiredly, the morning events taking a toll on many of them. None of them planned to do much for the rest of the day as they begun talking amongst themselves.

A knock on the closed office door brought Albus Dumbledore’s attention away from the large pile of paperwork. Flicking his head, he wondered who was visiting at this time of the day. Surely the Order had not finished collecting all of Harry’s school supplies yet. It was way too early for anyone to be reporting back to him about the outing. Perhaps it was one of the Hogwarts Professors that were currently on the school grounds. His interest peaked as he saw the two male Auror’s enter shortly after the door opened.

“Kingsley, Moody, I wasn’t expecting you back this early,” Dumbledore smiled kindly at the pair as he looked upon them through his half-mooned spectacles. “How did it all go?”

The two men silently walked in and took a seat in front of the desk, the mood tense as they continued to stay quiet. Dumbledore looked between them, wondering what had happened for them to be so serious. Did something happen? Had Harry disappeared again? He swore he would track the boy down even if it killed him. Dumbledore had just gotten the boy back in his control and he wouldn’t allow the boy to slip through his fingers ever again.

“Well?” he asked expectantly, uneasy with the silence.

“We had a situation happen not long into the outing,” Kingsley finally spoke up.

“Is Harry safe?” immediately asked Dumbledore, his fears could be true.

“Yes, he is back at the Burrow with all of the Weasleys,” nodded Kingsley, hesitant to continue.

“Well what happened then?” pushed Dumbledore in confusion.

“While Harry was in Flourish and Blotts, Ronald Weasley said his name a little too loudly while introducing him to Hermione Granger,” Kingsley said as he watched the Headmaster’s reaction closely.

“Someone overheard the introduction, and in turn, a crowd begun trying to get to Harry,” Alastor continued the story. “He was immediately evacuated, not before a photo was taken of him however.”

This was exactly what Dumbledore did not want to happen. He wanted to keep Harry a secret from the rest of the wizarding world for as long as he could. And thanks to that idiotic Weasley child, his grand plans had been dashed in one day. Part of Dumbledore was glad the boy wasn’t here, otherwise he might not have had the self-control to restrain himself from strangling the child. He wondered how long until the majority of the wizarding world knew.

“No one travelled back to the Burrow with you all?” asked Dumbledore, thoughts consumed with re-arranging his plans.

“No,” confirmed Kingsley. “Alastor, Bill Weasley and myself strengthened the warding for the Burrow. But I don’t know how long they will remain safe for. It depends if the public knows he was with the Weasley’s or not.”

“We will have to wait and see now,” sighed Dumbledore tiredly.

Why can’t anything just go to plan? Why were there always bumps in the road? Albus Dumbledore was known for his great leadership. But ever since the Potter brat had turned up, nothing was working in his favour. He just wanted to be in control again. He just wanted everything to happen exactly like he wanted it to. Perhaps Dumbledore needed to step in more. Maybe that was the only way for things to stay on track from now on.

“I fear we may need to investigate the 12 Grimmauld Place option sooner than anticipated, Headmaster,” Alastor spoke up when the silence dragged on.

“We will not be looking into that until time is running out,” said Dumbledore with a low, dark tone. “Us looking into it openly will cause the Auror department and the Ministry of Magic to delve into the case, exposing the mistakes made by many. We cannot have that at a time like this.”

“But if the safety of Harry and the Weasley’s are jeopardised, we will need to. There is no other place big enough, except Hogwarts, to host so many people,” said Kingsley, backing his work colleague on the matter.

“Perhaps what we need to do is take Harry to visit Sirius Black under the guise of Harry wanting to see the man who killed his parents,” mused Alastor, thinking of a plan. “While we are there, we can get to the bottom of the truth with Sirius Black. And our visit will not be as suspicious as two or three off duty Auror’s visiting the man by themselves.”

“I think that would work,” said Kingsley, secretly loving the dreaded look gracing Dumbledore’s face.

“The sooner we do that, the sooner we can get his trial underway and open 12 Grimmauld Place as an option to Harry,” Alastor said confidently, knowing exactly what to say to convince the Headmaster. “And perhaps he will be indebted to you, meaning the Order could use the place as Headquarters if the need is there.”

Quietly thinking over the proposed plan, Dumbledore could see the benefits in it. However, what he needed time to think about was if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. If he was to help Sirius Black be released from a wrongful conviction, it could do well for his plans to help control the brat that kept messing things up. Perhaps if he gave Harry a choice of where to live, it would maybe get the boy to relax into the environment more. Meaning he would be easier to control. Dumbledore looked between both Kingsley and Alastor, considering listening to their advice for once.

“I see both of your points,” slowly said Dumbledore as he thought everything over. “And I think that for the cause, for the Order, for Harry… It will be a good idea to take Harry to see Sirius and start our own investigation.”

“The sooner the better, Headmaster Dumbledore,” said Alastor, face emotionless.

“Anything else you wish to discuss?” Dumbledore said with a strained smile.

The two Auror’s looked at each other, daring the other to raise the topic. Alastor turned his head away in defiant silence. He had already brought up the issue of 12 Grimmauld Place, so he was going to let Kingsley handle this one. His magical eye twisted and turned in his head until he could see Kingsley out the side of his head, still staring expectantly at him. Alastor tried not to show any sign of his victory as the other sighed before looking at the Headmaster of Hogwarts.

“Hermione Granger has offered to help Harry study for his O.W.L.s,” finally Kingsley said to the impatient Headmaster.

“And?” Dumbledore probed, not understanding the reason for this conversation.

“And,” drawled out Kingsley in barely restrained frustration, “we need to make sure you have no issue with adding Hermione to the list of people helping him. She is one of the brightest witches of her age. Molly has already offered for her to stay with them for the remainder of the summer.”

“I think we have enough hands on board already,” said Dumbledore dismissively.

Hermione Granger was just a student at Hogwarts. She was not a part of the Order, she was not a part of the group Dumbledore trusted to keep everything quiet. While he did agree that Hermione was one of the brightest students currently at Hogwarts, he couldn’t see how it would help his agenda. In his eyes, it was just another person that could potentially mess things up. Dumbledore needed to have as much control as he could.

“If I can’t convince you today, expect a visit from a rather persistent Molly Weasley in the next few days. She told me to tell you that if you say no,” Kingsley said thinking a small white lie would never hurt, especially when it came to trying to convince the conniving Headmaster.

Dumbledore couldn’t care less if Molly came to visit him or not. However he took a moment to think on the matter some more. Hermione Granger was the same age as Harry, and if he remembered correctly, a muggle born. Perhaps if he surrounded Harry with someone that had experience in the muggle world, instead of all of these people from the wizarding world, it would help him open up more. It could be beneficial to surround him with something familiar instead of all of these new experiences.

And if the girl was to stay with Harry at the Weasley’s residence then that could give the boy two possible friends to lean on when he comes to Hogwarts. Dumbledore remembered that Ronald Weasley was in Gryffindor, but he couldn’t for the love of him, remember what house that Hermione girl was in. It felt like the girl should have been in Ravenclaw with how smart she was, however something told him she was in a different house. She wasn’t in Slytherin. The Weasley’s would never be seen socialising with those types of people. Perhaps she was in Hufflepuff?

Although Dumbledore remembered something Kinglsey had said earlier in the conversation. Ronald had been talking too loudly about Harry to the girl. Maybe that meant that the two were both in Gryffindor and that’s how Ron knew her. It was the only feasible reasoning why the idiotic boy thought he could trust the girl enough to blow Harry’s identity in public. If it was true that she was indeed in Gryffindor, that could help his plans even more. Dumbledore would need to look into her student files more. But his mind was mostly made up for now.

“I’ll pass on to Molly that Hermione can help out. As to how much help I will allow, I’ll need some more time to think it through,” nodded Dumbledore as he stood up, silently signalling to the two the meeting was now over.

Walking out of the strong smelling Apothecary store, Remus and Nymphadora checked this list of shops they needed to visit. Rereading the list, they both sighed knowing they had finally finished the exhausting task. Neither of them remembering the process for their own school days being this tiring. Although, it may have something to do with the fact they were shopping for three people and not just themselves. Some supplies would be shipped closer to the time, but many supplies they had to carry around with them. Both grateful for the charms that make the task easier.

“All done, finally,” smiled Nymphadora as she adjusted the bags in her grip to put away the list.

“May we stop by Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop before we leave?” Remus asked quietly, looking at the ground.

“For yourself?” she asked, already knowing the answer, but still wanting to know from the man himself. “Or for Harry?”

“Uh, Harry,” a small blush rose upon his cheeks.

“Of course,” said Nymphadora before leading the quiet man through the now packed out street.

It turned out that the decision to evacuate Harry earlier had been for the best. The normally busy street was overpacked with parents and children shopping, as well as adults just going about their own business. As the two of them squeezed their way through the crowd, they couldn’t help but overhear the whispers and rumours as people walked by. Whispers of Harry being spotted in the Alley earlier, rumours he was back, talk he was with a certain red-headed family.

Entering the much quieter sweets store, Remus let out a shaky breath. Walking through the street hearing everyone talk about Harry only worsened his worry for the safety of the young boy. The kid didn’t deserve this, any of this. He swore as he roamed the store in a daze that he would try and protect him. He swore he would help him learn as much as he could, beyond studying for his O.W.L.s.

“Are you okay?” a soft voice asked from beside him after Remus had been staring at the same candy for the past five minutes.

“Hmm?” soft green eyes turned to look at the small woman beside him. “What?”

“I asked if you are okay,” Nymphadora couldn’t help but smile gently at the other. “Are you worried about him?”

“Yeah,” said Remus with a small blush appearing on his cheeks.

“No need to stress. He is safe where he is, and if anything happens, we will be there quickly,” she tried to reassure him, placing a soft hand on his bicep.

Looking down at the hand, Remus’s face grew hot at the touch. Electric coursed from where the soft fingertips met his skin and all through his arm. He looked up slowly into her eyes that were currently a bright green colour, much like his own. Forcing an awkward smile on his face, Remus turned away and continued looking through the array of candy. His thoughts were quickly consumed by Harry once more.

“Well I think it’s really sweet how much you care for Harry,” Nymphadora’s voice broke through his thoughts again, bringing him to the present. “The fact you are willing to spend the next month teaching him. And helping me shop for him. As well as grabbing some candy for him, it’s all very sweet Remus.”

“I have to,” his voice broke as he tried to speak. “I have to be there and I have to care. Who else is there to do that? I am the closest thing to family he has right now. His parents are gone. His Godfather is supposedly rotting in Azkaban for a crime he didn’t do. I am the last thing he has to a connection with his parents. I’m doing this as much for James and Lily as I am for Sirius and also myself.”

The words hung in the air as Remus tried to keep back his tears. Clearing his throat, he grabbed a few packets of some interesting looking candy. He avoided eye contact with Nymphadora as he continued shopping, not wanting to give away how emotional he really was. So many thoughts about the past and the future went through his mind. His anxiety and worry were heightened in the environment. Grabbing a few packets for himself, he finally headed up to the counter to pay for the lot.

Unbeknownst to Nymphadora, her hair turned from a dark brown to a rosy pink that resembled the same colour of the blush on her cheeks. Her glistening green eyes stared at the back of Remus as he walked around in silence. Caught up in her own thoughts, she barely registered the people around her. Muttering apologises as she blindly followed Remus around like a lost puppy.

The fact Remus was selfishly giving up his time to help a boy he had never met before warmed her heart. Yes, the man felt obliged to help his childhood friend’s son, but he didn’t need to. Nymphadora couldn’t help but admire the caring nature of the soft, older male. Her heart clenching as she remembered the emotion in both his eyes and voice moments ago. She saw so many qualities in the other that were rather endearing and attractive. Finding her face growing hot as Nymphadora found herself thinking about the other in that way.

Entering the overcrowded street once more, Remus and Nymphadora couldn’t help but be drawn towards the shouting of a big crowd further down the street. Looking at each other, they nodded before silently walking over to investigate. A rather large crowd of wizards, witches and children had gathered around a few people shouting outside the Flourish and Blotts bookstore. Both knew exactly what they were going to hear as they joined the crowd.

“Rejoice for Harry Potter has been found!” a wizard with a long, grey beard shouted. “Spread the word that The-Boy-Who-Lived is alive!”

“I saw him with my own eyes!” another wizard yelled, chest puffed out with pride.

“I have photographic evidence!” a witch yelled that stood behind the two main men. “Make sure to read the Daily Prophet tomorrow to see it!”

The crowd talked amongst themselves, the yelling even spreading to bypassers as they just kept walking around the large group. This was bad. Nymphadora and Remus shared a look, thinking along the exact same lines. They needed to get back to the Burrow so one of them could inform Dumbledore and the rest of the Order. Reaching up, Nymphadora grabbed onto Remus’s bicep before sliding it down to his hand. Gripping it firmly, she pushed their way through the crowd, making it to a safe place to apparate.

Knocking on the door to the Burrow, Remus and Nymphadora waited patiently in an awkward silence. Although their hands were full of light bags the pair felt exhausted for other reasons. Not only had Diagon Alley suddenly got very busy, but the whispers and rumours being spread had taken a toll on them. Remus was anxiously waiting for the door to open, hoping nothing had happened since they had left. Nymphadora saw the man fidget as he looked worriedly at the closed door. She couldn’t help reaching out and squeezing his arm in comfort.

Finally, the door was opened by a flustered looking Molly. Seeing who was on the other side of the door, she stepped aside and smiled as she gestured for them to come inside. Closing the door, she led the two quiet Order members into the kitchen and continued cooking the lunch she had promised.

“Just put it all over there,” she nodded with her head, hands preoccupied. “Thank you both so much for getting my Ron and Ginny their supplies.”

“It was no problem, Mrs. Weasley,” Remus smiled as he placed all of the bags except one on the ground.

“How was Diagon Alley when you went back?” she asked with a kind smile thrown their way.

“Busy. Very busy,” answered Nymphadora. “Actually, do you mind if I can borrow an owl? I need to urgently send letters to Headmaster Dumbledore and Kingsley.”

“Of course, dear,” Molly turned her head, looking slightly concerned. “Everything okay?”

That was a good question. Was everything okay? Would it be? Only time would tell. Nymphadora and Remus shared a knowing look before they both sat down at the table. Their bodies and minds fatigued after the long morning. Remus placed the bag of candy he had brought on the table, intending to hand deliver them after talking with Molly.

“While we were finishing up our shopping, we heard whispers that included Harry’s name,” sighed Remus. “As we were about to leave, there was a commotion down the street. Turns out the people that had been in the store at the same time as Harry were shouting about what they had seen.”

“There was this one witch saying she had photographic evidence that he is alive,” continued Nymphadora with ease. “She was yelling for everyone to look out for the article in the Daily Prophet tomorrow.”

“Really?” gasped Molly.

“Yes,” sighed Nymphadora. “So my main concern is if Ron or Hermione are seen in the photo, then they could be identified and that could give away Harry’s location perhaps.”

“Let alone if anyone saw him leave with you, Ron and Ginny,” said Remus, pointing that out as well. “I think the Order really needs to talk about increased security here or a backup property if you are put in danger.”

The three adults remained silent as they thought over the situation. Molly was worried what potential consequences her youngest son could have caused for not only Harry, but for the entire family. She paused in her cooking as the urgency sunk in. Walking into the foyer, she grabbed out some parchment, an ink pot and a quill. Placing them in front of Nymphadora, her face was almost pale except for a small red tint on her cheeks.

“I will get the owl once you are done,” she smiled before returning to the food.

“I might take these up to Harry now,” Remus said shyly as he stood up from the table.

“Alright, I’ll see you both down here for lunch in thirty minutes,” Molly turned around with a serious expression.

“Ah, which room is he staying in?” he asked nervously.

“Third floor and furthest door,” said Molly, back turned to him as she continued cooking.

“Thank you,” said Remus quietly.

“Say hi for me,” turning her head to look up at Remus, Nymphadora’s eyes turned from a dull blue to a shining green colour.

Smiling kindly and nodding at Nymphadora, Remus quickly grabbed the bag of candy from the table and hastily made his way up the stairs. His heart pounded as he approached the door. This would be the first time interacting with Harry one-on-one. Lifting his hand, his knuckles hovered above the wood as he tried to gain the courage for the upcoming encounter. A deep breath in, Remus knocked lightly on the door before fidgeting with his hands as he waited.

“Come in,” a voice said loudly from within, the door creaking open on its own.

Remus couldn’t move from the shock at what he had just witnessed. Harry Potter was sitting at the desk on the other side of the room, back to the door and head buried in a book. Yet he had opened the door wordlessly. He also thought the boy was too still if he had gone to put away his wand, not seeing the wand in his hand. Did that mean what he thought it did? Eyes trained on the head of jet-black hair, he forced himself to enter the room and close the door behind him.

“I brought you some extra things while I was out getting the rest of your school supplies,” the second Remus started talking, Harry turned around with raised eyebrows.

“Oh thank you,” he closed the book in his hands, smiling towards the other man. “You didn’t have to.”

“Think of it as a peace offering before we start the rigorous studying next Monday,” he couldn’t help but chuckle as he extended the bag for the boy.

Standing up, Harry walked over to the man and grabbed the small bag. Inside was a variety of sweets and candies that would last him for more than a few months. He looked up gratefully towards Remus, a genuine smile on his own face. The act was very generous, he didn’t believe there was any motive behind it other than a way of getting to know him before they start studying.

“Is Mrs. Weasley making you stay for lunch for your efforts?” he asked as he set the bag down on the desk beside his book.

“Yeah, Nymphadora and I will be staying for lunch,” a soft chuckle left him as he scratched the back of his neck.

“She is an amazing cook, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it,” Harry smiled as he sat back down on his desk chair and gestured for Remus to sit on the unused bed.

“I have no doubt I will enjoy it,” he said as he sat down. “However I don’t want to intrude, you know?”

“I know,” nodded Harry in sympathy. “Meal times have been my least favourite, I prefer to stay up here in the solitude of this room. Eating with strangers is… an interesting experience to say the least.”

Many questions wanted to come out at once, but Remus withheld his tongue as he looked at the younger man. Now he was closer up to him, he could see so many resemblances of James and Lily. There was no doubt in his mind that this was the one and only Harry Potter. His mannerism was a little off putting, but that might be down to his preconceived expectations of the missing boy. All Remus hoped for him was that he had been safe and cared for the years he was missing, and he did seem to have been taken care of fairly well.

“How have you been settling in so far, Harry?” Remus asked after some silence of just the two looking at one another.

“As good as one can in a house full of complete strangers,” he answered after contemplating his answer.

“Did you know much about the magical world before coming here?” asked Remus.

“I knew about it,” he hummed with a small nod.

“And how did you learn wandless magic?” he asked in wonderment.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” scoffed Harry with a smirk.

“When you opened the door,” smiled Remus, “you didn’t use your wand.”

The man was way more observant than Harry expected him to be. But to be honest, when there was a knock at his door, he wasn’t expecting Remus to be the one on the other side. Perhaps that’s what he gets for letting his guard down slightly. He hadn’t been here for long but Harry was already getting sloppy. And he knew that training and learning from Remus was definitely going to be interesting.

“Practice,” he simply answered, smirk never wavering.

“Meaning you were around other wizards for the Tracing charm not to be triggered,” said Remus with a frown.

“Or perhaps where I stayed was well warded and protected against prying Ministry of Magic eyes,” shrugged Harry with a smirk. “Or maybe the Trace is only placed on underage wizards and witches when they first ride on the Hogwarts Express. You’ll never know, I guess.”

The answers Harry told Remus gave him much to think about. The man had always wondered why Harry could never be located. It would make sense if the Ministry only places the Tracing charm upon students when they first head to Hogwarts or any other wizarding school. Considering not many parents choose to home-school their kids, it would be feasible. But again, it would also make sense that Harry had been at a place extremely well warded that it would make it impossible for anyone to find him.

“May I ask where you were all of these years?” he asked quietly, looking at the younger male with concern and worry.

“No,” Harry said simply.

“That’s okay,” sighed Remus, knowing he needed to build up way more trust before he could start delving into his past. “I just wanted to know if you have been safe and well cared for. And maybe thank those people one day for taking good care of you.”

Taken aback, Harry looked the man up and down slowly. He had not been expecting that motive behind being asked that question. Part of him was curious why the other seemed to be so invested in him. Was this the work of the manipulative Headmaster of Hogwarts? Or was this the genuine, caring nature of the other? Harry guessed he would come to find out over the course of the next month considering how much time they would be spending with one another.

“I hope you understand, but I can’t tell you about where I’ve been. I have people to protect. People I care for and that have cared for me,” Harry gave in only slightly, careful of each word he said. “Please rest assured I was well taken care of. I have been safe with them. These people saved me from the abuse my relatives put me through as a child.”

“Your relatives abused you?” breathlessly repeated Remus, not wanting to believe his ears.

“Quite badly,” nodded Harry.

“I-If I had known,” Remus said through clenched teeth and fists clenched in anger.

“What? You would have what?” scoffed Harry. “Try and save me only for me to be put back in their care by Dumbledore? You wouldn’t have succeeded in helping me, Remus.”

“What do you mean?” he asked in confusion.

“Firstly, Dumbledore put me there for a reason,” said Harry with an intensity burning in his eyes. “He placed me with my muggle relatives under a blood protection spell. Meaning I would be protected from Voldemort, Death Eaters and dark creatures. He would have kept me there at any and all costs. And secondly, you are a werewolf Remus. How would you have been able to look after a child during the full moon without any help?”

Both points Harry had just made sunk in as Remus watched the younger talk. He didn’t know much about blood warding, but would it have been worth Harry staying in an abusive environment just to keep him safe from the threats of the outside world? No. No, anyone else could have raised him just as safely. Heck, the strangers that had raised him did a mighty fine job at that. And he was right, it would have been extremely difficult to look after a child during the full moon once a month.

“Wait, how do you know I am a werewolf?” he asked with shock. “I have hardly told anyone that information.”

“One day I might be able to tell you. But today, or anytime in the near future, will not be that day,” softly smiled Harry. “I won’t tell anyone, so you don’t need to worry.”

Remus looked curiously at the young man before him. Any time he spoke, there was always something new to learn about him and who he was. He was sure that in time Harry would be able to talk openly. But Remus would patiently wait for that time. He was just glad he was alive, safe, and healthy. The past didn’t matter to him.

“You know, you look so much like your father, James,” sighed Remus with a pensive look. “But you have your mother’s eyes. And you seem just as smart as Lily was as well.”

The statement took Harry aback slightly. He knew eventually the other man would bring up his parents, but he had never heard anything like this before. Sure, Harry knew about them. He had done research on them. Growing up never really knowing anything about them but what is written on paper, he felt quite detached from them. Hearing he looked like them and that he was smart like Lily, it left him feeling a little unnerved.

“Thanks?” hesitantly responded Harry, making Remus smile.

“Have you heard much about your parents?” he asked, green eyes shining brightly.

“I only know what has been made public information,” answered Harry, in a smooth lie. “But I don’t know much about them as people, no.”

“Would you like to know? I was James’ friend after all,” Remus smiled sadly at the younger.

“Maybe not now,” he shrugged. “I don’t really care at the moment. I am too focused on the future and not the past.”

It did make sense to Remus why the younger didn’t want to hear about his parents. But at the same time it broke his heart. He wanted Harry to know about his heritage, his parents history, about anything and everything so he could pass it on to future generations. He didn’t want the younger male to not be informed and not have the chance to get to know his parents, even if it was via himself.

“You really think Sirius is innocent and Peter is still alive?” Remus asked after the silence stretched on.

“I do, yes,” answered Harry, no emotion passing over his face.

“Can I ask why you believe it?” he asked, with his head tilting to the side.

“You can ask,” he nodded with a blank face. “But that does not mean I will answer.”

A knock on the door interrupted whatever Remus was about to say. Poking his head in, Ron stared at the two for a moment. A blush slowly appeared on his pale cheeks as he opened the door wider. Silence dragged on as the redhead continued to just look between the two. The awkwardness and tension radiating off him in intense waves.

“Yes Ron?” eventually asked Harry with a heavy sigh of irritation.

“Mum said Lunch is ready,” Ron said after clearing his throat. “And she wanted me to come and tell you both.”

“We will come down shortly once we finish up,” he nodded simply, face expressionless except for a slight clench of his jaw.

“Thank you,” smiled Remus kindly.

The moment the door was closed and the tall, lanky redhead had left, Remus looked upon Harry with amusement written all over his face. The interaction between the two teens had been interesting, however short it was. Harry’s entire attitude shifted the moment Ron had entered. He was closed off while he had been talking to Remus, but he had a more light-hearted attitude. Towards Ron his attitude seemed to show he was irritated and annoyed by the other. Although Remus didn’t know if he acted that way due to this morning’s events or if he had just a general dislike for the other.

“You don’t like him?” Remus asked with an amused smile.

“No,” Harry replied simply while returning a small smile.

“Why not?” he asked as he stood up from the bed.

“He has been rather irritating since I got here,” he sighed with a small roll of his eyes. “Ron just doesn’t understand personal space or that I want privacy about my past. And today was just another example of a growing list of reasons why I don’t really like him.”

“You must try and understand he has grown up in a household with six other siblings, so privacy and personal space isn’t a thing he is used to,” sympathetically smiled Remus as he walked towards the door. “I guess he might be excited about trying to be your friend. And that is all.”

“I don’t need a friend,” he huffed, standing up as well.

“Sure you do,” chuckled Remus as he opened the door. “Otherwise you will feel all alone when you get to Hogwarts.”

“I’m not here to make friends. I am here to defeat Voldemort,” Harry sighed.

“Can you not make some friends along the way?” his voice was laced with concern and a frown settled upon his forehead.

“Hmm, I could,” he hummed, leading the way down the stairs. “I could if I wanted to get sloppy and lose focus on my main mission. I need to train, learn, and get ready for a fight. Not please some kid I may not even be in the same house as.”

“You don’t think you’ll be in Gryffindor?” Remus asked with shock. “Why not?”

“The Sorting Hat will put me in the best house suited for me, Remus,” Harry stopped walking and turned around to stare up at the man. “You should know this having attended Hogwarts before.”

“I understand,” he sighed, looking down at Harry with sad eyes. “But would you not like to be in Gryffindor like both of your parents?”

“I am my own individual,” he replied while shrugging his shoulders. “Whatever house I get sorted into will be no issue for me. I don’t care for Hogwarts Houses. It means nothing to me. But would it be an issue for you if I don’t get sorted into Gryffindor?”

“N-No,” he stuttered with wide eyes.

“Good,” smirked Harry before turning around and walking towards the kitchen.

Standing still in shock, Remus played over the entire interaction he had just had with Harry. The younger male had left such an interesting first impression on him around the first time and he did not disappoint this time around either. The way he had conducted himself the whole conversation was breathtakingly spectacular. He had never seen a young person so in control of things in his entire life. Harry was in control of the conversation, the topics, the mood, his emotions, his reactions; it was truly incredible.

Remus completely understood and respected the need for privacy around Harry’s past. And he was rather grateful the other did answer some of his questions today, even if they weren’t directly answering what he was asking. He noticed the willingness to open up just a little and appreciated that. With a smile on his face after realising that small detail, Remus walked down into the kitchen and sat beside an empty spot next to Nymphadora.

As he begun to eat the delicious smelling food, Remus couldn’t help but look at Harry quietly eating his own food. He wondered if he could break down the walls even further throughout the next month. But as long as he could earn an ounce of his trust, he would not complain. Remus wanted the boy to know he wasn’t alone and he could rely on him for anything. He would do anything to help him through this.

The following month would definitely be one hell of an experience now that Harry is back and needing to be prepared for war. Not only did he need to get ready for a battle, but he needed to pass the exams he had missed while he was missing. It was a lot to ask of a sixteen year old. Remus looked at Harry with sympathy. What teenager could say they needed to study and train for the fight of their life against a dark, powerful wizard? At least Harry would not be alone in this battle. He had so many people behind him. Including himself.

A soft tapping noise brought Dumbledore out of his thoughts. Turning his eyes, he saw an owl flapping outside the window, patiently waiting to be let in. He flicked his wrist to open the window, intrigued by what the letter meant for him contained. The barn owl landed on the table and held its leg out. As soon as Dumbledore had untied the letter, the creature immediately took off without a blink, straight out the window it had been let in through. With curious eyes, he opened the letter hoping to find some good news after the visit he had had with Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor Moody an hour ago.


While Remus and I were finishing the shopping, we overheard a crowd spreading the rumours that ‘he’ is alive and back. Also a rumour that tomorrow a picture will be featured in the Daily Prophet of ‘him’. This could mean ‘he’ will be seen with Ronald, meaning people could turn up at the Burrow. We will need to take extra safety measures depending on what is printed in the papers.


The further he continued to read, the angrier he was getting by the second. That Weasley boy had managed to undo all of his hard work with a few words. By this time tomorrow, the entire wizarding world will know Harry Potter is alive and back. Everything was out of his control thanks to that blasted Weasley brat. There was nothing he could do to prevent what was about to happen.

This meant he would need to go over his plans and start reshuffling some cards. Dumbledore needed to keep Harry safe. He needed to keep his location unknown. He needed to make sure Harry got the training done discreetly. Perhaps letting the whole Order of the Phoenix know Harry had been found was not the best idea. There were so many people that could spill secretive information to the media.

What could he do now to make sure hardly anyone knew where the boy was? Dumbledore left the letter behind on the desk as he got up and walked over to one of the windows. As he looked over the ground, his thoughts continued to churn out different ideas and solutions. He could allow the boy to stay at Hogwarts. It wouldn’t be very suitable considering it would be hard to keep an eye on him, even with the help of the portraits. Maybe he needed to be moved to a different house put under a Fidelius Charm. But finding a place big enough to house many people would prove difficult on such short notice.

Or perhaps there was already a location that was already suitable enough to fit all of his needs. The only problem was that this property was locked down with the owner being imprisoned at Azkaban. As Dumbledore’s cold, blue eyes scanned the quiet land below him, he thought hard on the option. Would it be worth the trouble? Would it be worth stirring up shit within the Ministry of Magic at such an important time? Could he sacrifice the power he held within the Ministry just to keep his precious pawn safe?

A dark glint settled in Dumbledore’s eyes as he turned around and sat behind his desk. If he was to go ahead with this and successfully get Sirius Black out of Azkaban, he could at least hold this over the other’s head for a while. None of this would be possible unless Dumbledore was to help him. Not the three Auror’s, not Harry, no one but himself could free Sirius Black. He could perhaps guilt the imprisoned man into doing his deeds down the track. Yes, perhaps it was worth it in the end.


Bring Tonks and Moody here tomorrow when you are all free.


Jotting down a hastily written letter of instructions for Kingsley on a piece of parchment, Dumbledore couldn’t help but laugh darkly. He had been so focused on keeping Sirius out of the picture, wanting Harry to be dependent on only himself as a fatherly figure. But maybe to achieve his end goals, he needed to take a step back and do his manipulating from the shadows. He could manoeuvre the boy through his new found puppet; Sirius Black.

Tomorrow Dumbledore would discuss some plans moving forwards with Kingsley, Nymphadora and Alastor about this trip to Azkaban. As much as he hated that he was even considering this, he needed to thanks to that stupid Weasley kid. Only the future would tell if the alternated plans would benefit his desired outcome or absolutely obliterated it. Either way, things were out of his control for the time being. And as much as he would very much like to choke the holy hell out of the two teenage boys - for very different reasons - he knew he needed to try keeping his cool around both Harry Potter and the Weasley family the next time he was in their presence.

The kitchen sounded very quiet for the first time since Harry had arrived at the Burrow. Curiously peaking around the corner, he found that only Molly stood in the kitchen, cooking away like a mad man. A soft smile graced his face as he quietly walked into the room, not wanting to disturb the woman that was deep in the zone. Harry really appreciated all of the hard work Molly does. She was constantly in the kitchen cooking food for an overcrowded household. If it was him, it would have driven him up the walls by now.

“Oh my!” suddenly exclaimed Molly as she turned around to find Harry sitting at the table.

“Sorry,” bashfully smiled Harry. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“That’s quite alright, dear,” she laughed, turning around to continue cooking. “You are up early. Did you have a good sleep?”

“After the day I had yesterday, I slept like a rock,” he couldn’t help but give a small chuckle.

“I don’t blame you. And again, I am so sorry for what happened my dear,” pausing, Molly turned to look at him sympathetically.

“It’s not your fault,” he smiled at her reassuringly.

As Molly turned around with an unconvinced look, Harry thought back on it. He really did mean it. Nothing Molly had said or done caused what happened yesterday. Ron was almost an adult, he needed to learn how to behave like one. He couldn’t hide behind his mother apologising for his own mistakes. He needed to grow up and learn what his actions have done by himself. Harry felt sorry for Molly, thinking it was her fault for her son’s wrong doings.

“Can I help with breakfast?” asked Harry, already standing up.

“No, it’s fine dear,” she smiled. “I don’t need any help.”

“Mrs. Weasley, I am rather good at cooking. I learnt at a young age. You do so much, let me help take some pressure off you by helping out with just this one meal,” he said while making his way around the table and standing next to her with a kind smile.

“Really, Harry,” she smiled sadly. “It’s okay.”

“Please let me help Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said softly with puppy dog eyes.

“How can I say no to that face,” Molly sighed in defeat before summoning her spare apron for the boy to wear. “Here you go dear.”

“What can I do,” he asked with happiness, glad to not be sitting around doing absolutely nothing for a change.

“If you could start on the bacon, that’d be great,” she smiled as she continued cutting the fresh fruit.

Nodding, Harry quietly begun cooking the bacon in one of the free pans on the stove top. He was grateful to be doing something productive instead of just sitting and watching her cook. All he had been doing since arriving at the Burrow was reading, studying and fending off annoying questions. It felt good to be contributing to the household he was staying at as well as keeping his mind off the future.

“Are you nervous about what the Daily Prophet will show this morning?” Molly broke the silence, sparing a quick glance at him.

“Not at all,” he said with a small smile. “I don’t care what it shows as long as it isn’t putting you all in danger.”

“You’re so sweet. But there should be nothing to worry about,” she smiled, taking a bowl of freshly cut fruit to the table before turning around and starting on the eggs. “Bill, Kingsley and Mad Eye Moody strengthened the wards around the house yesterday.”

“I noticed them doing that from my room,” he hummed in agreement. “The wards should hold up in most circumstances. However, if there is a stampede, we’ll be in trouble.”

“If that is the case, I’m sure we’d be able to leave before anything was to happen,” a nervous smile passed upon her face.

Molly was certain that if a large group of wizards and witches arrived to break the wards down, the whole family plus their two guests would be able to leave before they got through. Bill assured her last night that the three of them added some of the strongest wards they could perform. Although she didn’t comment on the fact that Harry could feel wards, it definitely did intrigue her. She just let it slide by for the moment and stored the information in the back of her mind.

“How are you feeling about starting your study in a few days?” she asked, watching Harry put a plate of bacon on the table. “Just one more plate of bacon should do, dear.”

“I’m not worried about it,” he shrugged, laying more bacon in the pan like instructed. “I am mainly doing it to brush up on my knowledge before my exams. I’m sure I’ll be done in no time.”

“I am sure you’ll do great,” she smiled. “And how are you feeling about starting Hogwarts?”

“Once again, I don’t really care. I am only going because I have to. My main priority is Voldemort,” he saw her flinch out the corner of his eye. “Attending classes isn’t what I’ll be focused on. It’ll be training and refining my skills so I can defeat him once and for all.”

Hearing those words come out of his mouth, Molly felt a wave of sadness run through her body. She knew that the boy was the only hope of getting rid of the Dark Lord, but she didn’t expect the younger to solely focus on that. He was only a kid for merlin’s sake! He should not be focusing on preparing for the fight of his lifetime. Instead he should be focusing on finishing school and living his life to the fullest.

Falling into a comfortable silence, the pair continued cooking the breakfast for the household. Harry allowed his mind to wander occasionally as he did everything on autopilot. All the cooking skills he had learnt at the Dursleys came through as he smoothly went from one task to another with ease, not needing Molly to instruct him on what to do next. A tapping brought the pair out of their zone, both turning to see an owl landing on the back of a kitchen chair.

Harry left the pumpkin juice he was pouring into two large pitches and walked over to the owl. He grabbed the folded newspaper from the creature’s beak, watching as Molly floated a few coins into the pouch tied on its leg. The owl silently took off, leaving Harry to unfold the Daily Prophet with curious eyes. A black and white moving picture of him was front and centre on the front page. The headline in big bold letters read: ‘The-Boy-Who-Lived Alive!’. Scoffing at the simplicity of it, he begun to read over the article.

Early yesterday morning, one Harry Potter was spotted roaming around the different stores of Diagon Alley. The young man that has been missing for the last eleven years appears to be in great health as he shopped for his Hogwarts school supplies. On closer inspection of this photo taken and provided by an anonymous shopper, the boy seems to be shopping with a current Hogwarts student in the same year as him. The boy with red hair is easily identified as Ronald Weasley, does this mean The-Missing-Boy-Who-Lived is staying with the Weasley family? Keep an eye on updated editions of the Daily Prophet as we investigate the whereabouts and health of Harry Potter. For now, rejoice for the saviour of the wizarding world has finally been found! The hopes of a future without He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is drawing nearer.

Rolling his eyes, Harry flicked the newspaper back in half. Walking over to Molly, he handed her the newspaper before turning his attention back to the half poured juice. He heard her verbal reaction, gasping, tsking, sighing. It was rather amusing, but part of him knew this was not good for everyone involved. His mind wandered as he placed the two pitches on the table. Something was just not sitting right with him.

“Who wrote the article, Mrs. Weasley?” Harry asked as he turned around, a frown on his face.

“It was by a witch named Rita Skeeter,” she replied with a roll of her eyes, discarding the newspaper on the bench.

“Ah,” he said, knowing why he felt uneasy now. “Is the house warded against people with Animagus skills from entering without permission?”

“No, I don’t think so dear. Why is that?” Molly asked as she continued cooking.

“Just a random thought I had. No need to worry,” he smiled reassuringly, making a mental note to add that particular ward before it was too late.

His thoughts were interrupted as he heard two sets of footsteps coming down the stairs. Harry turned to surprisingly find Ginny and Hermione walking down together. He would have thought the bushy haired girl would have left by now, wondering why she was still here. Perhaps she was offered a bed after the eventful day yesterday. He stared blankly at the two as they walked into the kitchen happily, sitting at the table full of food.

“Surprised to see I am still here?” Hermione tilted her head slightly at the stare she received.

“Very,” he hummed as he took off the apron and handed it back to Molly.

“Enjoy breakfast, you earned it after all of the help,” Molly smiled as she sent the spare apron back to its place and continued cooking.

“Thank you for letting me help,” Harry turned to smile at her back before sitting down across from Hermione.

“You helped make breakfast?” Hermione asked with raised eyebrows.

“I did,” he nodded in return, picking up some bacon and eggs and adding it to his plate, completely ignoring the splattering sounds coming from the young female Weasley.

“Well thank you,” she smiled as she too started filling her plate. “And thank you too, Mrs. Weasley for breakfast. As well as for letting me stay.”

“It is no problem at all,” Molly said kindly, bringing over a few slices of bread. “Hermione will be staying with us over the next month, Harry dear. She will help you with your studies.”

“Oh,” Harry simply said, neither surprised nor shocked.

If he was being honest with himself, Harry had an inkling that after Hermione had been brought back to the Burrow that she would try to weasel her way into helping out. Either that or someone else had the bright idea of suggesting it. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter to him because he didn’t need nor want the extra help. He was sure the people tutoring him would realise this rather quickly.

“So Harry, you never answered me yesterday about where your lightning scar is,” Hermione said after swallowing her mouthful, studying the quiet boy as he ate.

“Long story,” he simply responded, staring right back at her.

“Did you have any idea the entire wizarding world was looking for you?” she asked, tilting her head, placing her fork down.

“Well I wouldn’t say the entire wizarding world. I would say the British wizarding world, yes, because that is where Voldemort is. I know I wasn’t being looked for in the American wizarding world or any other country,” he tilted his head almost mockingly.

“So you were abroad this whole time?” her mouth hung open in surprise.

“No and yes,” he shrugged as he paused to take a sip of his glass full of pumpkin juice. “I have been overseas, but I was mainly in the United Kingdom.”

“How did you go undetected for so long?” Hermione’s eyes were lit with wonder, food forgotten about.

“As I said to Remus yesterday, either I was in a place where the warding was strong, I was around adult wizards for the Trace to never be triggered or the Trace is only placed on underage students when they first go to their wizarding school,” he shared his theories, knowing which was actually true.

“I never thought of it like that,” she hummed as she thought on it. “I heard you got into the Headmaster’s office on Wednesday night. How did you do it?”

“Hermione dear,” Molly interrupted as she came over to the table with some sausages. “Let Harry eat in peace. I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate being interrogated over breakfast.”

“Sorry,” Hermione looked at Harry with a shy look.

“All good,” he nodded and gave her a small smile before the two of them turned their attention to their breakfast.

The kitchen once more became silent as the three young adults ate the beautiful cooked food and Molly continued preparing more food for the rest of the household. Harry was eternally grateful that the questions had stopped, well, for now. He knew that the girl sat before him would still ask things whenever she next had the opportunity to. His prior research on her and what he had witnessed interacting with her so far points to that being very true.

Looking beside the now quiet, bushy-haired girl, Harry saw Ginny turn her staring eyes away as a mad, bright blush took over her whole face. He tried to control his eyes as they begged to roll at the obsessed teenage girl. It felt weird to him the way she would hang on to every word he said, as well as the way the younger female would look at him and turn in to a blushing mess anytime he gave her any sort of attention.

Ignoring everyone else in the room, he continued eating his food slowly. His thoughts briefly turned back to the newspaper article before he thought of the future. He wondered how long until he would come face-to-face with the cold hearted killer that he was destined to either destroy or be destroyed by. He couldn’t also help but wonder what the first encounter would look like.

The day had gone by rather quietly for Harry for a change. After breakfast, he locked himself away in his room and buried his head in the book Grayson had given him. He had almost finished it thanks to being able to have time to himself that was distributed every so often. And although his knowledge on spells was quite extensive, he had learnt a few new ones that might come in handy for the future. Perhaps a thanks was in order to his little Gray.

The moment he had been dreading finally arrived late afternoon as a knock on his door interrupted his in depth study session. Sighing in irritation, Harry stood up from his desk chair with book in hand, pausing briefly to stretch his aching muscles before walking over to the door and opening it. On the other side stood Hermione Granger, which was no surprise to Harry. He lifted an eyebrow in expectation as the other remained silent.

“What are you reading?” asked Hermione as she caught sight of the book in his hand.

“A book on spells,” he answered emotionlessly.

“Need help?” her eyes lit up with sparkles at the prospect of being able to help. “I’m pretty good with spells. I could explain them to you if they are too complex. Or show you how to perform them. Or-”

“No thank you,” Harry said, closing the door in her face.

A hand stopped the door from closing completely. He rolled his eyes before opening the door back up. Harry stared at Hermione in boredom, wondering why some people couldn’t understand no meaning no. And apparently this girl also didn’t know how to respect a thing called personal space either like the rest of this household.

“Yes?” he asked with a small sigh.

“I-I can help,” Hermione stuttered. “I know my things. I can help educate you now so you can get a head start before Monday. I can walk you through pronunciation, wand movements, specific things to avoid. Let me help, please.”

“No thank you,” he shook his head. “Today is my day off, as well as tomorrow, before I start an intense studying routine. Please let me relax. I don’t want lessons on my day off. I want to read in peace and at my own pace. Okay?”

“Well if you need help understanding anything, I’ll be downstairs in Ginny’s room or the living areas, come find me,” she smiled sadly as she gave up before walking away.

Finally closing the door without any more interruptions, Harry sat down on his bed with a sigh. He gently placed the book on the bedside table, careful not to crease the covers. Everything was frustrating. Being stuck in a house full of strangers, not being able to escape whenever he wanted, being forced to interact, having next to no personal space. He needed to get out and go. He needed to run off some pent up energy.

Raising his hand, Harry nonverbally summoned his mokeskin pouch. Grabbing it with his opened hand as it zoomed over to him, he opened it up and reached inside to grab the box with his broom inside. Opening the box to reveal the miniature figure, he took it out only for it to grow to its regular size. He placed the box into his pocket for later. Closing his eyes, he warded his room with the strongest ones he could think of plus added some alarms for if anyone was to enter.

Harry walked over to the window and opened it up, feeling the cold afternoon air hit his face. A small smile appeared on his face as he climbed onto the windowsill. Throwing a Disillusionment Charm over himself, he jumped out of the open window. Placing the broom between his legs as he free-fell. No longer hurtling towards the ground, he guided himself forwards towards the tree line.

The wind brushed through his hair and whistled passed his ear as he sped towards the tree line of the property. Harry couldn’t help but laugh. He felt free for the first time in a while. He could do whatever he wanted, go wherever he wanted, be whoever he wanted. He didn’t need to please anyone by engaging in conversations, nor did he have to put on a facade and act nice. The feeling rushing through his veins was once he had missed, a feeling of adrenaline.

Nearing the tree line, Harry almost didn’t want to land. It had been days since he felt this free and he wanted to spend his time doing whatever he wanted. Slowly, he came to a stop just inside the cover of the tree line. Hovering above the ground on his broomstick, he sat there for a minute breathing in the fresh air and observing the quiet surroundings. He finally touched down on the ground and stepped off his Nimbus 2000.

Placing the broom back into its box and into the safety of his pocket, he opened his mokeskin pouch and summoned up the items he would use to run off some energy. A hard wood flew up to land in the palm of his hand. He pulled out a new bullseye target that hadn’t been used for practice yet. Discarding it to the ground, he continued pulling out weapon after weapon until he was satisfied he would have enough practice with them all.

Picking up the red and white bullseye target, he walked up to a tree trunk and held it up. He casted a non-verbal and wandless Sticking Charm before walking back over to the array of weapons on the ground. Rubbing his chin in thought, he eventually decided to start with his Short Skinner that had a five inch silver blade and a hazelnut handle. Twirling it around in his right hand, he got into his throwing posture; left foot aimed towards the target and right foot facing forward with his top half.

Taking a deep breath in, he brought his right hand up near his ear. His eyes focused on nothing but the target as he stilled himself. In a quick, yet smooth motion, Harry brought his hand back slightly before throwing the knife towards the target, his upper body twisting with the action. As the small blade wedged itself smack bang in the middle of the bullseye, he smiled brightly to himself. Relief coursing through him that he still had the skills after so many missed days of practice, he floated the knife back to him without moving a muscle.

Repeating the same action over and over again, Harry couldn’t help the smile that stayed on his face. Giving the Short Skinner a decent workout, he swapped the knife for another less used knife; his Ka-Bar Short Tanto knife. Running his hand along the smooth leather handle, he smiled at the blackish-silver blade reflecting the sun that shined down through the branches. Taking the usual stance, he focused his eyes once more on the red and white target in front of him.

Almost a millisecond after the handle left his fingers, an obnoxiously loud alarm blared in the distance. Harry’s head whipped around knowing exactly what that noise was. Someone was trying to get into his room. Sighing in irritation, he left all of his weapons abandoned on the ground as he took out his Nimbus 2000, flying like the wind back towards his room in the Burrow.

Entering through the open window, he landed on his feet before quickly placing the broom away and disabling the Disillusionment Charm. Harry closed his eyes and shut the alarm off, as well as quickly taking the rest of his warding down. He walked up to the door and opened it to find all of the household members that were home at his door, a few with wands in their hands. He simply raised an eyebrow in question as to why he was disturbed.

“It was the twins, we are so sorry Harry dear,” Molly said in a rush, checking him over before quickly going downstairs now the crisis had been averted.

After Molly had left with Ginny following closely behind her, Harry looked upon the remaining five with intense eyes. Fred, George, Ron, Hermione and Bill all stood before him in an awkwardly tense silence. As the seconds passed, he had to subtly remind himself to breathe calmly as he felt the rage build.

“Why were you two trying to get into my room when it was already locked?” his unimpressed eyes turned towards the pair, satisfied when they both shivered under his gaze.

“Uh,” said Georg while looking at his twin.

“We were going to see,” said Fred, turning from his twin to Harry.

“If you wanted to look at some of the products,” continued George as he too now looked at Harry.

“We made some new ones just for you,” both the twins smiled nervously as Harry stared at them impassively.

“Ah,” he said, trying not to roll his eyes, annoyed that this was the reason he had been disturbed from his peaceful outing. “Show me another time.”

Harry stepped back and started closing the door before a hand stopped it for the second time that day. Restraining himself from the rage building up inside, he swore he wouldn’t be able to contain it if Hermione had yet again blocked his door from closing. Slowly opening it back up again, he glared daggers at Bill Weasley who had been the culprit.

“May I help you?” he asked in a cold tone, surprising the five still standing there.

“Where did you learn to ward like that?” the older asked, slightly nervous, but he was curious as to where he had learnt such powerful warding techniques.

“Somewhere,” he shrugged nonchalantly.

“What took you so long to turn off the alarm?” Fred suddenly asked, causing the others to nod as they wanted to know.

“Did you leave somewhere? Is that why the window is open?” George continued the interrogation.

“I was here the whole time,” he said while tilting his head and frowning. “I was merely feeling claustrophobic so I opened up the window.”

“I don’t believe you,” said Fred while narrowing his eyes.

“I don’t believe much of what you say, you are always hiding something,” said George, also narrowing his eyes.

“Sure. Now can I go back to what I was doing? Fred, George, I promise I will seek you out when I am ready to see the products. And for merlin’s sake, don’t try and come in my room ever again or I’ll add hexes,” he said in a no nonsense tone before shutting the door in all five faces.

Harry stood still until he heard all of them leave. Sighing in frustration, he closed his eyes and erected the wards once more. He took out his broom, threw up the Disillusionment Charm upon himself, and flew out the window without hesitation. If this is how his time here was going to continue, he thinks he’d rather just abandon the entire wizarding world and let them fend for themselves against Voldemort.

Landing back on the ground near his abandoned weaponry, Harry put his broomstick away for the second time as he breathed in the calming fresh air. Looking down at his neatly laid out armoury, he decided on changing up his practice to let out the frustration quicker. He squatted down and traced his finger along the sharp hell, along the edge, all the way to the tip and then to the point. He applied pressure, smirking as the Push Dagger’s point pierced the skin of his pointer finger.

Gripping the ‘t’ shaped handle in his fist with the blade sticking out between his index and middle finger, Harry imagined someone charging towards him. As he moved around the space, he grasped the TPE material harder, ignoring the pain it caused him slightly. For if he was in an actual fight, the grip on the weapon was more important than any physical pain the awkwardly shaped weapon would cause. He almost scoffed at the image of an opponent knocking the loosely held weapon from his hold, not that it would happen.

Ducking, twisting, weaving and turning, all the while occasionally punching out at an invisible target. Harry imagined the sharp point of the knife entering different parts of the body, immobilising the imaginary attacker. The longer he continued practicing, the more sweat that begun to form around his body. He hadn’t been able to do anything like this in five days. His body craved it like a car needing oil. He could feel all of the day’s tension and frustrations fading with each imaginary blow.

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