Thoughts of Pudding 2012

Chapter 23: Letters and Lunches

Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.

Chapter 23: Letters and Lunches.

Thursday 27th June, 1996.

Kingsley thought he recognised the old house elf that had appeared in the office, but had run into so many elves during his career that for the life of him, he couldn't remember where he'd seen this one before. After giving his name in response to the elf's enquiry, he was handed a letter, before the elf scurried off to hide under his desk out of sight of any Muggles that might come in to see their Prime Minister.

Opening the envelope, he read the parchment carefully, unconsciously matching the handwriting and phrasing to his memories of other messages and conversations he'd held with his boss. This does sound like one of Amelia's, he thought to himself, while the rest of his mind was trying to take in the actual message. By the time he reached the end of the letter, he was fervently wishing he wasn't so certain the letter was from her.

He rolled his chair back from his desk a little so that he could see the elf sitting on the floor underneath it.

"Kreacher, I'll have a reply for you to take back to Madam Bones soon."

The house elf simply nodded and went back to slowly rocking backwards and forwards as he waited. Kingsley thought he could almost hear the old elf muttering to himself, but it was too indistinct to make out.

He reached for some paper to write his reply, and wrote a few words before the letterhead at the top of the page percolated through his subconscious mind and he screwed it up into a ball. Opening his printer's paper feed tray, he took out a blank sheet of paper and started again. It wouldn't do for his name or any clues pointing to him to be on this letter.

Rolling his chair back again, he watched as the elf's attention quickly focussed on the letter in his hands. "I have the reply for Madam Bones for you to take to her. She wants me to keep her informed of things that I learn, so will you come to me if I call for you, or must I wait for her to send you to me?

Kreacher thought about that for a minute, studying the wizard as he did so. "Kreacher serves Master Black, and Master Black has told Kreacher to help Madam Bones and Susan Bones with anything. So… Kreacher will come if you have a message for them."

Kingsley had started to extend the letter to Kreacher when something occurred to him from what the elf had just said, and he pulled his hand back.

"Are you also able to take a message to Lord Black for me, Kreacher?"

"Does Mr Shacklebolt have a message for Master Black?" Kreacher asked cautiously.

"Not yet, but if I did have a message for him, could you deliver it? Do you know where he is?

The house elf considered the question. "Kreacher is a Black family elf. He can always find his Master Black."

"Where is he?"

Kreacher started pulling on his ears as he thought about the question. "Master hasn't told Kreacher to obey Kingsley Shacklebolt, so Kreacher doesn't think he should answer him."

Kingsley nodded, and then added a postscript to his letter before handing it to Kreacher. The old elf disappeared as soon as Kingsley released it, not waiting for a dismissal or farewell.

Kingsley sat thinking about Amelia's letter and what Kreacher had said for some time afterwards.

~o~

Narcissa was enjoying a salad containing bite-sized broccoli florets, cashews, red onion, raisins, and with some crispy bacon crumbled into it. As she savoured her lunch, she noticed her son enter the dining room. He stood there silently for a moment as she looked at him, and then he quietly took a seat at the table. Perhaps he was able to learn after all? It only took, what, three tantrums for him to realise that storming in and demanding his wand wouldn't achieve any results.

"Much better, Draco," she commented. "Perhaps there is a civilised young adult inside you after all."

When he didn't respond to her intentional barb, she allowed herself a small smile and acknowledged his self-control with a slight nod. "Very good. Shall we have our discussion now?"

Draco maintained his impassive mask as he replied to her question politely. "I would rather not, Mother. I had hoped you would return my wand so that I could visit Diagon Alley."

She gave a small shake of her head. "You should already know the answer to that question from your earlier… requests. First we'll talk about other things, and then we'll see about your wand."

Draco appeared to expect this as he showed no reaction this time. "Very well," he replied calmly.

Narcissa nodded again and then summoned an elf to bring Draco some lunch of his own. "Let's start with the letter Sirius left for you. What did he write to you about?"

"I have no idea. I threw it in the fire when I reached my room."

Narcissa closed her eyes and took a few slow, deep breaths in order to avoid responding the way she wanted to.

"That was remarkably foolish of you. Knowledge is power, Draco, and whether you believed what he had to say or not, the opportunity to gain knowledge or understanding of how others think helps to give you power over them, does it not?"

Draco's mask slipped a little as he grimaced at hearing one of the most basic lessons he'd learned. It was a staple credo of Slytherin house as well as the Malfoys. He nodded reluctantly.

"Well then, since we will never know what knowledge Sirius intended to provide you, we will have to assume that it was similar to what he advised me."

She gave her wand a wave and waited for her letter to appear before handing it to Draco to read. She wondered how long his control would last. She wasn't kept waiting for the answer as he started scowling almost as soon as he started reading.

"You believe this… this…" Draco shouted nearly incoherently as he stood up and threw the letter down the table in her direction.

"Control yourself!" she demanded. She glared back at him and waited until he sat down again before replying to his question.

"Yes, Draco, I believe all of it. Now which part of it do you find so hard to believe?"

"I don't believe a word of it!"

"You're exaggerating again. Be specific! Let's start with your father. Do you believe his loyalty to you or I is greater than his loyalty to Voldemort?"

Draco didn't reply, but merely continued to glare at her.

"I'll take that as a 'no' then. So, perhaps you don't believe that Harry would take care of us if we became Blacks? Before you answer, I suggest you recall that he approached us at the reading."

"I wouldn't trust Potter to care for a flobberworm!" Draco stated angrily.

"Then perhaps it is a good job that we aren't flobberworms, isn't it? Personally, I dislike putting my trust in anyone else, but given a choice between Harry Potter and your father, I'll take the former."

"You may do as you please, Mother, but I am not going to make myself subservient to a half-blood!"

Narcissa laughed at the irony of his statement. "Is that so? Then explain why you would happily take a half-blood's brand if it was offered to you, and then do his bidding, just like your father does?"

"The Dark Lord is not a half-blood! How can you believe those lies?" Draco ranted, his earlier attempts at control clearly forgotten.

Narcissa ignored his question, as there would obviously be no further rational discussion with him. She took back her letter and refolded it before responding. "I can see we're not going to get any further while you continue to ignore obvious facts. Until you can tell the difference between what you want to be the truth, and what is actually the truth then we're wasting our time."

Draco stood up to leave.

"Oh, and Draco? We will be having dinner with your Aunt Andromeda and Uncle Theodore on Saturday evening. Be sure you are ready to leave on time."

Draco paused in his march out of the room and turned slowly to face her. He didn't seem able to decide how to respond as various emotions flickered over his features, before he simply gave in to his anger and disgust. "I have no interest in visiting a blood traitor and her mudblood husband! I'll stay home."

"You are underage and therefore subject to my will, Draco, so you will do as I tell you. Now return to your room. I've listened to enough of your stupidity for one day."

She watched as Draco scowled at her before he turned and stalked off. His current attitude would get him killed eventually, and she hoped Andi could give her some advice on how she might convince him to use his head. There had to be a way to save him, there just had to be. Because as much as he annoyed her, as much as he frustrated her with his attitude, and as much as she wanted to take her wand to him sometimes there was still no denying the basic truth of the matter.

He was still her son, and she loved him.

~o~

As Vanir led the group out of the terminal, they emerged onto Platensgatan, which appeared to be a fairly busy street full of various shops. Harry noticed that the building they'd just left appeared to be nothing more than a small travel agency, ironically called 'Big Travel'. Thinking about it, he decided it made a lot more sense hiding the entrance there than behind some disused department store window like St Mungo's was back home.

Vanir led then south down the street, and as they reached the crossroads, he was about to turn left onto Ågatan when he heard a snort of laughter behind him. Turning around, he saw the boy staring at a building and grinning. "Ah! The Bar & Kök. You've heard of it then?"

Harry shook his head, still grinning. "No. What is it?"

"It is a restaurant, and also a nightclub. You would call it the bar and kitchen. Come, we are going to a different restaurant today."

After a couple of blocks, they arrived at their destination, the Restaurant Ghingis, and were seated shortly afterwards. Their waitress was an exotic beauty with dark hair nearly to her waist, and it quickly became obvious why Vanir enjoyed lunch at this venue.

Harry looked at the menu he'd been offered, and then stared at it, to see if there was anything he could work out for himself.

1. Fisk- & skaldjurssoppa med smak av saffran toppad med gremulata-aioli, samt kladdkaka med vispgrädde

2. Krämig biff Stroganoff med jasminris

3. Grillad kycklingfilé på spett m sweetchilisås o wokade grönsaker

4. Friterade räkor med sötsur- eller currysås

5. Kombo (dagens 3+4)

6. wokade färska grönsaker och shitakésvamp i citrongrässås

He decided that number 2 had to be a beef stroganoff with jasmine rice, though what 'Krämig' meant was anyone's guess. As long as it didn't mean 'month-old' or 'pickled' he'd make do. Looking around the table he could see Hermione biting her lip with a look of confusion on her face as she studied her menu, while Tonks had already dropped hers on the table and was looking around at the décor.

As Vanir decided on his own meal selection, he looked up to see three people staring at him, and it didn't take him long to realise why. "Ah, you would like to know what the choices are, yes? Well, the first is a fish and seafood soup, the second is a creamy beef stroganoff, and the third is grilled chicken skewers with a sweet chilli sauce and stir fried vegetables. The fourth choice is prawns in either sweet and sour or curry sauce. The fifth is a combo of the 3rd and 4th choices, and the last is stir fried vegetables and shitake mushrooms in lemongrass."

It didn't take long for everyone to decide on their meals, and as the waitress left their table with their orders, Vanir's eyes followed her every move until she entered the kitchen. He turned back around to again find three people looking at him, though this time there seemed to be a lot more smirking than confusion. He merely gave them a 'what-can-you-do-when-she's-so-beautiful' shrug and smiled.

He turned to Hermione. "I think you are wondering about the question you asked me yesterday, am I right, unga dam?"

At Hermione's nod he continued. "Very well, I have made a list of the spells you might want to know and their Swedish incantations. I believe the wand movements for each spell are the same as you are used to, but there may be some differences. I've made some notes about the gestures, but I don't think they will be needed." He handed her the notebook that he had been working on since their last meeting, and Hermione accepted it with excitement.

"Remember what I said though, you will need a Swedish magic user to help you learn these spells as you don't know the language," Vanir said, trying to instil some caution so that they didn't get too disappointed.

"I understand, Vanir, but I don't believe it will be quite as difficult as you think. After all, none of us speak Latin, and yet we are still able to cast spells based on that language."

"That is true, but you heard the spells pronounced correctly first, and then imitated the pronunciation taught to you by others, yes?" he asked.

Hermione was about to argue when Harry nudged her. As she turned to face him he quoted something she had once told Ron. "Make the 'gar' nice and long". Realising what he was really saying she nodded her agreement. Pronunciation was important.

Harry then demonstrated his knack for problem solving with his next question. "Vanir, I will be getting a Pensieve tomorrow evening. Do you think you, or perhaps someone you trust, could give me some memories of the correct casting of those spells you've listed? We could use those to learn the correct casting and pronunciation couldn't we?"

"You are getting a Pensieve? Truly?" Vanir asked in wonder.

Harry nodded. "Originally it was going to be given to me on loan, but I've been told I will be given it to keep."

Vanir thought for a while as though imagining all of the things he might do with a Pensieve, before slowly nodding his head as he returned to the original question. "Yes, Harry Potter, a Pensieve with the right memories would be as good as having a personal trainer. Very well, once you have the Pensieve, contact me and we will make arrangements so that I can place some memory lessons in it for you to study."

With the business concluded, they were then able to have a pleasant lunch discussing some of the sights and shops the tourists had seen so far.

~o~

As the snowy owl approached Longbottom manor, she could see that her target was not actually in the manor itself, and followed the pull into the large greenhouse behind it. Swooping down silently, she decided to surprise her target and waited until the last few seconds before flapping her wings noisily to arrest her momentum and land on a nearby post.

"Hedwig! You startled me!" the boy said as he clutched a fist to his chest as though checking that his heart was still beating. "Did you do that on purpose?" he asked, smiling at her.

'Well, yes, I felt like having some fun,' Hedwig replied, despite knowing that the human wouldn't be able to understand her.

"Right, well I'm going to assume that means 'yes' anyway, 'cause I know what you're like. It's good to see you, girl. Is that a message from Harry for me?"

Neville watched as Hedwig ruffled her feathers a little and giving him the impression that she didn't entirely agree with what he was saying, but extended her leg towards him anyway.

Removing the letter, he saw his name written in an unfamiliar hand before opening it up to read.

Hi Neville,

Sorry if you were expecting a letter from Harry, but it's just me, Ginny.

How have you been? I'm kind of picturing you reading this in a massive greenhouse, taking a break from fighting off some unruly venomous tentaculas or something like that. Poor tentaculas, they just don't know what they're up against do they?

Anyway, I met some of our friends briefly at the will reading for Sirius Black, and Hermione suggested that I talk to you about getting the DA together for some training this summer so that we can better defend ourselves. I think it's a brilliant idea myself, and it would be a great excuse to spend more time with you, and any of the other DA members that wanted to join in of course.

So what do you think? Ha, silly question. I know you're going to say yes, since it will help us all look after ourselves. You're so much like Harry when it comes to helping others that you could almost be twins.

Well, I better finish this off before Hedwig decides to snatch it out of my hands. It's like she knows when you're finished writing what you want to say, and doesn't have any patience for you just sitting there trying to think of something else to add. Have you noticed that? Merlin, I love that owl to bits… and now she's staring at me. Yes, gorgeous, I'm writing about you. Deal with it you silly bird.

Right, I'm eagerly waiting for your reply, so stop messing about with those tentaculas and get on with it!

Love,

Ginny.

PS. Do you know that nobody has taken me dancing since you took me to the yule ball?

PPS. I like dancing.

Hedwig watched as the human read the letter, and judging from his expression, it seemed that the mating ritual the red plumed one had started would be successful.

"Bloody hell!" he exclaimed before looking at her. "What do you think Hedwig? It almost sounds like she wants to be my, uh, girlfriend doesn't it?"

Owls didn't tend to roll their eyes when exasperated, but Hedwig still managed to indicate her disbelief at the question. Did the red one need to build a nest in front of him before he'd realise that?

"Uh, never mind. Maybe I should talk to gran about inviting some people over and then send her a reply. Are you okay with staying for a while?"

She barked her agreement and then with a lightning fast movement, she bit the head off a tentacula that was getting too close to her. She looked imperiously on as the rest all found other things of interest to investigate.

~o~

Amelia scowled at the letter Kreacher had given her. Kingsley hadn't heard about the attack on her manor yesterday, so had no idea what condition it was in, or what investigations were underway. He had agreed to keep her informed of happenings in the Muggle world though, and that was half of her intelligence requirements taken care of. The next step was to set up some form of regular communication with her Head Auror while she remained in hiding.

Hiding! The very idea was anathema to her. She didn't rise to become the head of the DMLE by avoiding risks, but she did have Susan to think of. There was no way she could leave her niece alone in this… house all day with only that strange house elf for company. But then, she couldn't stay hidden away here either. Scuttlebutt had it that the Wizengamot was going to be calling for Fudge's head, and she wanted to be there to see the arse thrown out. Then maybe she could finally have him tied to a chair doused in veritaserum.

Shaking off her pleasant musings, she brought herself back to the topic at hand. What was the best way to keep in touch with Rufus? Obviously Kreacher could deliver messages and pick them up, but she wasn't particularly happy with that idea. At the moment, Kreacher was their only link to the outside world, and she didn't want to risk losing that link by having him captured or killed because someone learned or guessed that he was her courier. Constant Vigilance and all that.

Well, there was nothing for it but to send Kreacher off with a message for him. Until she could think of a way to keep Susan safe she couldn't afford to– wait a minute! If Harry was safe wherever he was, then maybe she could stay wherever Harry was hiding?

Based on the will reading, she was fairly certain those two girls were with him, as well as Tonks and apparently McGonagall and Lupin to look after them. It shouldn't even be that hard to arrange if Kreacher could get a message to Harry as Kingsley suggested.

First things first though. There was a letter to Rufus to write, and a response to receive. Truth be told she wasn't in any hurry to suggest her plan to Susan, as the girl would pester her day and night about leaving once she'd heard it. Besides, if Susan left then she'd be stuck in this creepy house with only the creepy house-elf for company, and that was no way to relax after a stressful day.

~o~

Hermione was having a wonderful afternoon. The combination she'd selected for lunch had proved to be quite delicious, especially those curried prawns! There was also the promise of learning some new spells in Swedish in a few days, along with the other things they were going to be taught.

What she was really enjoying though was the time spent with Harry; talking and holding hands. It seemed her suggestion to Harry that they ignore their 'girlfriend/boyfriend' status and just be close friends had done the trick.

After lunch they'd decided to simply wander around Linköping doing some sightseeing and window shopping, and to their delight, Vanir had decided to join them for a couple of hours as a tour guide.

He'd waved off their concerns about getting in trouble at work when he'd suggested it, assuring them that as he was in charge and Sören knew how to contact him if an emergency arose, then there was no real need for him to be there. Besides, as he pointed out, his role included making tourists welcome; 'especially the beautiful young Auror, yes?'

It turned out that in addition to being an incorrigible flirt, Vanir was also an excellent guide. As they walked around, he was giving them some suggestions for things to do and places to visit, including taking rides on both the Gerda and the Borealis Express, as well as visiting the Sjögestad circle so that they could look at the Northern Sjögestad Runestone.

He was also giving them some information about some of the Swedish culture, and was bemoaning the fact that they hadn't arrived a week earlier, as they'd just missed the midsummer celebrations the previous Saturday, one of the biggest events on their calendar.

Hermione was beginning to agree with him as he talked about the music and dancing that took place, and of course the traditional maypoles. She was enraptured with some of the legends he talked about, including one that had young women picking seven different species of flowers on their way home from midsummer celebrations, and placing them under their pillows so that their future husbands would appear to them in a dream. She ruthlessly ignored the logical side of her mind that started going on about 'self-fulfilling prophecies' and just enjoyed the romance of the tale Vanir was spinning about his wife's description of her own dream, starring himself of course.

~o~

Dinner at the camp that evening was energetic as the group shared the details of their activities during the day. Admittedly there was a lot more interest in the stories from the Linköping group than tales of the exciting tracks Xeno and Luna had found, but everyone enjoyed the meal and conversation.

Ironically it was the discussion about how good the dinner had been that brought Harry's mood down. Talk of this dinner reminded him that tomorrow night Minerva would be meeting with Dumbledore, and Harry didn't know whether he'd ever be able to forgive the man.

It was while he was brooding over this that Remus suggested that they practice some techniques for improving their shield charms. The man was eager to make up for the problems Harry had encountered during Apparition training, and helping them tweak their shields seemed a good way to do it. He looked at the young man and waited for his response.

"Shield practice? I'm sorry, Remus, but I'm not in the mood."

Luna jumped at what she saw as a perfect opening. "Not in the mood? Mood's a thing for cattle and love-play, not fighting!"

"I'm sorry, Luna."

"Not sorry enough!' She yelled, and with a huge grin, she drew her wand and started shooting mild stinging hexes at him that Harry was forced to dodge and shield.

Emma turned to look at her husband who was laughing his head off, and she groaned. "Two of them! Oh God, there's two of them now. We'll never get any peace!"

Tonks nudged the woman as she sat beside her, thinking she was actually upset about something. "You okay, Em?"

"No, Tonks, you don't realise what's going to happen now. Unless that was just a one-off fluke from Luna, she and this laughing idiot here are probably going to spend the rest of the holiday quoting lines from films at each other. He can't help himself."

"Sorry, but I don't understand," Tonks admitted reluctantly.

"That thing Luna said about cattle and love-play? That was a line straight out of 'Dune'. That she could pick up the opportunity to use it so quickly, means she probably does that all the time, just like Dan. So, once they both realise that, they'll compete to see who can come up with a line the other doesn't recognise. It's inevitable.

Dan turned to the two women and nodded his agreement. "There can be only one!" he said, before resuming his laughter at Emma's expression.

"Will you please stop that?" she asked, swatting at his arm, knowing she was wasting her breath.

"As you wish."

Emma groaned again. "You see? He's started. We're doomed."

Tonks was all for a good laugh, but she felt hopelessly out of her depth having only been to her first film this week. She was distracted by a yell from Harry.

"Damn it, Luna, if you don't stop trying to sting me then I'm going to start firing back," he said in exasperation.

"Hit me with your best shot. Fire away!" she replied.

"Oh God, not music lyrics as well. We're doomed I tell you."

~o~

After the impromptu battle had concluded and Remus had the chance to teach the teens the tweaks to shield casting that would give them the chance to reflect the spells back at the caster, Remus then took Harry aside for a talk.

"So what's up? Things seemed fine during dinner, but then something triggered you off. What was it?"

Harry thought about how to answer, before deciding a simple response was best. "Dumbledore. I was reminded that Professor McGonagall–"

"Minerva, Harry."

"Damn it! I'm sick of people always correcting me! I'm not a bloody child, Remus! I've spent five years calling her Professor, so it's become a habit, and I'm not going to break it overnight, alright? Just lay off it."

"You're right, and I'm sorry. I'm afraid I reacted out of habit as well. Please go on with what you were saying."

Harry took a breath and worked to calm himself with his 'I am Lord Potter, I am an adult now and will act like one' mantra before continuing. Practice would make perfect, and if he said it enough it would become fact – or so he hoped.

"I was reminded that Minerva would be dining with Headmaster Dumbledore tomorrow evening, and I was trying to work out a way to go along."

Remus was about to reply, but then decided to think before responding. So far he hadn't had much success with Harry by just reacting.

"I see. Would you tell me why?"

"Because after finding out from my parents' will that he cast the Fidelius that night, making Pettigrew the Secret-Keeper, I want to hear for myself why he allowed Sirius to rot in Azkaban. He's supposed to be this great leader of the light, but when I think about what he's done to me he seems more like a dark lord.

"Oh, Harry. I don't think you really believe that, do you? I know he's made some mistakes but his heart is in the right place."

"So you say. But at the moment I can't see how I can believe you. I want to, because having one wizard and his followers out for my blood is quite enough to deal with. But I need to hear his reasons for myself. I also want to find out whether he can do anything for the Dursleys. I don't like them, but I don't really want them killed either."

Remus thought about it for a while, and then nodded. "Alright, Harry. I'll talk to the others and see if I can't get them to agree for you to go along as well. I don't mind telling you that we've been getting more and more concerned about Minerva and Alastor meeting him at Hogwarts. Once inside, they won't be able to apparate or portkey out while within the wards."

He paused a moment to think. "You know, having you going along as well is going to triple everyone's concern, but perhaps having Fawkes with you may tip the balance in your favour. He'll be able to flame you all away – as long as he is prepared to ignore what Albus wishes of course."

He clapped Harry on the shoulder as a parting gesture. "Leave it with me. I'll find a way to talk them into letting you go, and you can send Albus a message via Fawkes tomorrow."

"Thanks, Remus," Harry said in parting as the man left to talk to the adults.

~o~

Friday 28th June, 1996.

When Hermione awoke the next morning, it was to an empty room. She couldn't help but be a little concerned as to whether her friendship with Luna had been affected by the previous day's… everything. That she had spent the day with Harry as her boyfriend was something that Luna had pushed for, so there shouldn't be any ill feelings about that. Should there?

She also wondered whether sleeping alone in her own bed might have seemed like a snub to the girl, since they'd been sharing one recently. Admittedly Hermione was in two minds about that. There was no denying the unexpected comfort she gained from having a caring friend cuddling up to you, but at the same time she felt cramped and uncomfortable as the beds weren't really big enough for two people.

Besides, having Tonks find them yesterday morning had been highly embarrassing, not to mention how mortified she'd been at having Harry see them in their wet pyjamas. It was mostly for that reason she hadn't joined Luna in her bed last night when she'd finally gone to their room. She'd told herself that Luna was already asleep and so didn't want to disturb her, but she could be more honest with herself this morning.

As she walked over to the area they'd been using for their training, Hermione could see Luna bouncing around as she warmed up. She greeted the girl normally, receiving a cheerful good morning in reply, and then started her own warming up by performing the stretching exercises that Tonks had taught them yesterday.

Tonks herself showed up a couple of minutes later from the direction of the lake. "Morning, girls. Have you seen Harry yet?"

Sighing in exasperation at their negative responses, Tonks headed off back towards the tents, and had almost reached them when she saw Harry approaching at a jog.

"Sorry, Tonks. I'm not too late am I?"

"Nope, we're just about to start. Still, you didn't need to worry about getting that glamour put back on when it's just us. Does it really bother you that much?"

"Huh?"

Tonks pointed towards his head. "Your hair glamour. The girls don't seem to mind that much, and I don't either, so you don't need to hold up training just to get someone to put it on you. Hmm, mind you, it's a better job than yesterday. No glow at all," she said, looking at his head in approval.

"It must be the same one from yesterday, Tonks, 'cause I haven't had anyone casting spells at me this morning. Wasn't it supposed to last this long?"

At Tonks shaking head and curious look, he offered a possible explanation. "Maybe Vanir did something different?"

"Maybe…" Tonks replied distractedly as something else occurred to her and she moved closer to Harry, reaching a hand up to his head.

As her hand encountered hair she pulled it back as though burned, before reaching forward with both hands and running them over his whole head, confirming that his head really was covered in hair.

She was finding breathing to be an issue now. Could he be another one? What were the odds? Then again, his gran was a Black, so maybe…

"Harry, do you have any idea why your hair is back to normal this morning?" she asked him calmly, trying not to become too excited.

Harry shook his head in reply. "Uh, not really. But, uh… well, there was this one time when Aunt Petunia cut my hair but made a real mess of it. When I went to bed that night I really wished my hair was back the way it was, and in the morning it was back to normal. She never tried cutting it again after that. Are you saying my hair's back?"

As Harry said this he reached up to his head to answer his own question.

Meanwhile, Tonks ignored it entirely and continued asking her own. "And did you do the same thing last night…?"

"Well, yeah, I–" he began, before Tonks wrapped him in a tight hug.

"I can't believe it! You know what this means don't you?"

"Not really, except I'm guessing I won't have to worry about glamours anymore?"

"Harry, you're a morpher like me! Well, maybe not like me, but growing your hair back means you're a Metamorphmagus. We'll definitely be catching up to see what else you can change besides your hair when we get time. Your girlfriends are going to be so-o-o lucky if you can!"

"Tonks!" Harry cried out in horror, easily realising what she meant.

"What? Didn't Remus give you the talk? He told me–"

"For the love of God, Tonks, will you please stop talking about… that?"

She just waved his objections off. "Nah, you'll just have to get used to it. We can't have you running off or turning red anytime someone says something even remotely sexual around you. Get a grip on yourself… Oops, sorry. Poor choice of phrase there, but the point is; weren't you saying something about trying to act more like an adult?"

"Yeah, but…" Harry tapered off as he began to realise, again, that there was a lot more to being an adult than just being emancipated.

"Alright, fine, we'll leave it for now. But as your cousin and de-facto big-sister, you and I are going to be having some conversations to get you over your embarrassment issues."

"So you're going to be my big sister now?" Harry asked, trying to divert her from her new quest.

"Well, yeah. It's best that way I think. That way I can still hug you without wondering what you look like naked."

"Oh God! I can't believe you just said that!"

"Well I only said it to prove my point – as far as you know, right?" she said, winking at him. "Anyway, can you imagine what would happen if the Dick Lord found out about your shyness? The next time you two met up you'd be there ready to duel and he'd say something like; 'Ah, Harry Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived. Come to die… Wait! Is that another wand in your pocket? Great Merlin, you're hung like a dragon!' Next thing you know there's a million AK's coming at you while you're still blushing and distracted. Not a good way to go is it?"

Harry just stared at her helplessly, so she shrugged. "Alright, so while we wait for your brain to restart and catch up, we're late for our exercising. Let's go, mister, we've got some Tae Kwon Do training to do!"

~o~

Remus waited until the teens finished their breakfast before calling the whole group together.

"Some of you already know what we're talking about, but for everyone else, Harry made a request last night to meet up with Professor Dumbledore when Minerva goes to see him tonight. Obviously there are some concerns about that, but with Fawkes choosing to stay with Harry we think the risks are acceptable.

"Now Tonks has insisted that as Harry's bodyguard, she will be going along–"

"Too bloody right I am!"

"Thank you, Tonks. So between her, Minerva and Fawkes, Harry shouldn't have any problems – which is why Alastor has decided to stay here and help look after the camp. The reality is that with all the spells we've cast, it hardly needs protecting, however it will reassure Albus that we're apparently taking everyone's safety seriously. Are there any questions?"

The group members looked around at each other as though checking to see if anyone would speak up, but nobody did, until Moody decided to add his viewpoint.

"Potter, you see if you can't get Fawkes to stay on your shoulder once you get there, alright? If there's any trouble, his job is to bring you back. If he can bring the others as well, then that's fine, but you're the priority."

Harry just nodded his agreement. As long as he was allowed to go along tonight he'd even wear a shirt proclaiming; 'I Heart Constant Vigilance' if necessary.

"Alright, Harry. Minerva will write a letter shortly advising Albus of the changed arrangements. Can you see if Fawkes will take it to him? Remus asked.

Harry nodded a moment later. "He'll do it. I got the feeling he'd be happy for an excuse to visit the headmaster for a bit."

There were a few frowns at Harry's comment, as some wondered where Fawkes' loyalty truly lay.

Harry saw this and decided to nip those thoughts in the bud. "You don't have to worry. As I said on the first morning he arrived, if Fawkes wanted me there, then he'd have already flamed me back to Hogwarts."

There were a few nods and reassured expressions at the logical answer, and with the impromptu meeting now over the group dispersed to tidy up after breakfast.

~o~

Emma was feeling concerned about Luna. The girl had seemed quite distracted all morning, and Emma was worried that she wasn't taking her separation from Harry all that well. Sure it was what Luna had wanted, but perhaps she hadn't thought much beyond the idea, to what it would actually mean for her.

Getting up, she walked over to Luna, who smiled at her approach.

"Hello, Mrs Granger," Luna said, a little dreamily.

"You can call me Emma, Luna, you know that," she said, reminding the girl of the conversation they'd had while shopping. "I'm going off for a little walk. Would you like to keep me company?"

Luna tilted her head slightly as though thinking about it briefly. "Yes, I think I would like that. Thank you for asking me, Emma."

"You're welcome, Luna," Emma replied. As she set off in the direction of the lake, she noticed almost immediately that Luna hadn't reached for her hand as she had always done since they'd met at King's Cross. Reaching over, she took Luna's hand and continued walking.

When they reached the lake, Emma asked her which way she'd like to go, and Luna headed left. As they continued walking along in silence, Emma couldn't help but notice Luna peering intently at things as they walked past them. From time to time she'd release Emma's hand while she examined a bush here, a tree branch there, and for no particular reason that Emma could see, she looked under one particular rock near the lake edge.

"Are you looking for something, Luna?" Emma finally asked her.

"Oh yes, I'm always looking for something new," Luna replied.

"Anything in particular?" Emma asked, trying to keep the girl talking.

"Well, not really I suppose, but I'll never find things if I don't look for them," Luna said, now distracted by an insect flying around nearby.

"What was it about that particular rock that made you want to look underneath it?" Emma asked. She was getting a little concerned by Luna's vague behaviour.

"I liked the shape of that one more than the others. I wouldn't have minded looking under the other ones as well, but I thought it might have been a bit rude to hold you up while I looked."

"Let's go and check the others then, shall we?" Emma asked rhetorically, having already turned then back to where Luna had seen the rocks a minute earlier. "Now is there anything special I should do when looking under them?" Emma asked.

"Oh, no, not really. I try not to put my fingers underneath until I can see that there's nothing there to bite me, but that's all."

Emma nodded in agreement, and they separated and started looking under the rocks. When she noticed that Luna was careful to put the rocks back the way she'd found them, she did the same.

She found herself getting increasingly frustrated. There had to be a way of getting the 'old' Luna back, the one that had spent time chatting happily to her, not this person that seemed as though she was only accepting her presence.

Emma shrieked in alarm as she turned over the next rock, and dropped it, crawling backwards away from it.

Luna ran over, placing herself between Emma and whatever has startled her. Having already drawn her wand from its usual spot behind her ear, she was now pointing it towards the rock. "What is it? What's wrong?" Luna asked, worriedly, eyes glued to the rock and the area around it.

She felt Emma's arms wrap around her waist from behind, and she looked back over her shoulder in confusion at the older woman.

"It's okay. I'm sorry for making you worry, Luna, but I had to see if you were still in there, and I couldn't think of another way of doing it." Emma moved around so that she was facing her. "I am sorry for tricking you," she said, apologetically.

Luna nodded but didn't respond. There was an unreadable expression on her face, and Emma hoped she hadn't damaged their budding friendship.

Seeing that Luna was about to put her wand back she asked if she could conjure a sofa for them to sit on and talk.

Luna shook her head. "I'm sorry, I can't do that yet. But I can make us something to sit on that's a little more comfortable than the ground."

With that, Luna conjured what looked like a cross between an air mattress and a picnic blanket. When she went to sit on it, she found it was a little like sitting on a bean bag; awkward to do at first, but comfortable once you were settled.

"Luna, Hermione told me what you and she had planned for Harry, and it seems obvious to me that your plan has worked, and that Hermione and Harry are now dating."

Luna nodded at the implied question, but didn't say anything.

Emma waited for the girl to offer a comment, or some clarification, but she seemed content to sit there all day.

"So, what happens now?" Emma asked.

Luna looked at her in some confusion. "Well, Harry and Hermione will date for the next couple of days so that Harry has a chance to decide fairly which of us he wants to be with, and then we'll ask Harry to tell us his decision on Sunday."

"I see," Emma said, nodding, "and what will you do if Harry chooses Hermione?" she asked bluntly.

"Well, I wouldn't try to break them up, if that is what you–" Luna began.

"I know you wouldn't, Luna. It would kind of defeat the purpose of trying to get them together in the first place," Emma said, interrupting. "I was more concerned about you, and how you would take the news."

"Well, first I think I would give a little squeal of happiness for Hermione, then give her a really big hug and tell her how glad I am that she's finally together with Harry. Then I would give Harry a hug and a kiss on the cheek and tell him much the same thing. I expect I would have to reassure both of them a lot that I am really happy for them both. I think Hermione might even cry a bit, but I'll make sure I have a clean hanky to give her. Then I'd leave them alone so that they could sort out their new relationship, and I think that after a few days we would probably start spending more and more time together again."

"You seem to have given this a lot of thought," Emma remarked, a little surprised at Luna's answer.

"Well, yes of course. I don't expect any other answer on Sunday after all," Luna replied calmly.

Emma frowned. "Why not, Luna? You and Harry have been almost inseparable since I met you at King's Cross. You make a very good couple, so why do you think it's a foregone conclusion that Harry wouldn't pick you?"

"That's very nice of you to say, Emma. But really, Harry and Hermione have been together as friends for years. Honestly, they should have started dating a long time ago, but they were both too stubborn and scared that they'd ruin their friendship if the other didn't have any romantic feelings."

Emma noted that Luna had adopted one of Hermione's catch phrases.

"I told Hermione the other night that I thought you were incredibly brave for doing what you did. I think most girls would have simply held on to their boyfriend in the hope that things worked out," Emma said, trying to maintain eye contact with Luna. She meant every word she said, but she still found it a little disconcerting to meet the young girl's unblinking gaze. It felt like she was being x-rayed.

"If you don't mind me saying so, Luna, I think your mother would be very proud of you. I know I would be if I were your mum.

Luna sat rigidly as she stared at Emma, her eyes filling with tears but seemingly unsure what to do.

Emma opened her arms in invitation, and the girl almost apparated into them. Luna cried silently as Emma held her tightly while whispering reassurances in her ear.

~o~

"So, what do you want to do now?" Harry asked, as he sat down next to Hermione after taking care of the breakfast dishes.

"I don't know. What do you want to do?" Hermione replied.

"No idea, that's why I asked you," he said, shrugging.

Hermione sat thinking for a while, wondering what the two of them could do. It was obvious that neither of them were really sure how to work this relationship. Things were so much easier when they were just friends. They could just sit and relax around each other without feeling the need to 'do something' that met the other's approval. They could also just do their own thing without worrying about whether the other would feel neglected.

"Harry, remember what we said yesterday about just behaving like friends?" she asked and waited for his nod in agreement. "Well then, let's just do whatever we would have been doing before things started getting confusing. What would you have done?"

Harry thought for a moment before he replied. "I think I'm ready to open my mum's box now."

"Would you like some company?" she offered, guessing how important this would be for him.

He smiled at her. "Yeah, I'd like that. I'm not sure how much good I'll be as company though. I'll no doubt be blubbering like a baby as soon as it's open."

"I hope so."

"What?"

"Harry, you keep too much bottled up inside. You need to let it out every now and then. What better excuse than looking through that box?" She stood up and then pulled on his hand until he got up as well. "Let's go, before you change your mind."

As they entered his bedroom, Hermione noticed Fawkes was sitting on the bed's headboard, and assumed his excursion to Hogwarts had concluded. She saw Harry glance briefly in the bird's direction, before he drew his wand and cast an incendio charm on the rocks at the edge of the nest he'd made when Fawkes first arrived. She watched as a stream of fire emerged from his wand, and started playing around the rocks until all of them were glowing red and giving off heat.

Fawkes flew over almost as soon as the charm ended and made himself comfortable. As he did so, Hermione couldn't help wondering what it would be like to be so in tune with another being that you just knew what to do.

Harry walked over to his bed and sat down on it, reaching for the box that was still on the bedside table and placing it in his lap. Hermione sat down beside him as he stared at it, absently stroking the indented patterns in the wood.

"Would you like me to open it, Harry?" Hermione asked after a couple of minutes had passed.

Her words must have shaken Harry out of whatever thoughts he'd been lost in, as he shook his head slightly in reply, and then opened the latch and raised the lid.

Hermione could see that the items inside were more valuable to him than whatever Gringotts held in his vaults, as his eyes were shining almost immediately at finally having some things that had once belonged to his mother. She could see what looked like part of a bundle of letters from where she sat, but with the way Harry was holding the box, very little of the contents were visible to her.

Fawkes gave a soft trill, and Harry nodded slightly. For whatever reason, Harry moved along the bed and sat up against the headboard, looking at Hermione in clear invitation to join him. Once she did, she was able to get a better view of his new treasures.

There were a couple of wands, presumably belonging to his parents, as well as various items of jewellery, including a necklace, several rings and a Head Girl badge. There was a slim book that Hermione guessed was Lily's diary, or perhaps a notebook, as well as a string-wrapped bundle of letters that she'd glimpsed earlier.

She waited a few minutes to give Harry a chance to pick through the contents, but when he seemed content to simply stare at them she decided it was time to move things along. "Oh, honestly!" she muttered as she reached for the letters.

"How about I read one of these to you?" she asked almost rhetorically, as she didn't even wait for his response before she loosened the string binding the letters. Taking the first letter from the pile, she cleared her throat and began to read.

'Dear Miss Evans,

I think we may have started off on the wrong foot this year. I'm not too sure why you're still friends with that greasy Slytherin, but I've been giving your words some thought over these holidays and let's face it, they were some really impressive curse words! You've really impressed Sirius with them you know, and yes, I know that doesn't usually take much effort, but this time he was really impressed. My mum heard me use one and I had to tell her I learned it from that Slytherin. I don't think she was as impressed with the word as I was though.

Anyway I've decided to give you the benefit of the doubt, and I'm sure you're happy about that. Maybe you haven't been imperiused after all, but as I've said many times before, how would you know if you were? I'm going to be the better man about this and let you off though, so you don't have to apologise, and I won't ask you to do so again. You probably should still stay away from him though. You wouldn't know this because of your Muggle parents, but most Slytherins are bad news, and a lot of them are dark. Just look at how those Lestrange brothers behave.

If you're just worried about not having enough friends in Gryffindor, as I've told you all year I'm happy to be your best friend, and it would make sense as I'm sure we're going to be married when we're older. We might as well start getting to know each other better now.

Yours,

James Potter Esq.

31st July, 1972'

Hermione couldn't help but giggle as she finished the letter, and looked up to see a smile on Harry's face. "What a tosser," he said fondly.

"He was only twelve, Harry. Come on, let's read another."

~o~

"Remember what we agreed, Minerva. If you're going to be back later than 9 o'clock, then send Potter back with Fawkes to let us know."

"Yes, Alastor. I could hardly forget with the number of times you've made the same demand. We know the plan, so stop fussing so that we can leave."

"Fine! But I've got a bad feeling about this," Moody replied.

"You always have a bad feeling, Moody. Don't worry about it, we've got Fawkes after all," Tonks said as Fawkes flamed Minerva away to Hogwarts. She took Harry's hand in preparation for their own departure.

The two girls just waved, having already completed their parting with Harry, including repeated instructions to be safe.

A moment later they appeared in Dumbledore's office, where a dinner table had been set up. Minerva had already taken her seat, and Tonks released Harry's hand and gave him a gentle push towards one of the free chairs.

Dumbledore smiled warmly at them both as he gestured to the table. "As I've just mentioned to Minerva, welcome to both of you, and thank you for taking time to have dinner with an old man."

He waited as they took their seats before speaking again. "I'm sure we have much to discuss, but I wonder if we might leave the important discussions until after our meal? The elves have worked hard to prepare our dinner, and we would do them an injustice if we didn't enjoy it fully."

Everyone nodded their agreement as the first course appeared. "Tuck in, everybody," their host encouraged, "though Harry, I would suggest you try to save room for dessert. Your friend Dobby insisted on making a treacle tart for you once he heard you would be coming, and I'm sure you don't want to disappoint him."

Harry nodded, but didn't return the headmaster's smile. Dumbledore seemed to expect that though and simply began eating. From time to time he started conversations with some open questions to Harry that weren't too probing, such as; had he been enjoying his holiday, and had he given much thought to his studies next year, as well as offering recommendations for particular books that he might find useful, and so on.

Eventually the meal came to a close and the table was cleared. Dumbledore stood and moved over to a familiar cabinet, and retrieved his Pensieve. Putting it on the table, he then retrieved a box containing a number of glass vials and placed it on the table as well.

"Harry, before we begin I would like to gift you with my Pensieve. I know it won't come anywhere near repairing the damage I've caused to our relationship, and in truth I had already intended to give it to you once Minerva pointed out how useful it would be to your training, so it is not an apology gift. Still, I'd like to do this now so that you may feel free to say whatever you wish to me without worrying whether you would still receive it afterwards."

"Thank you, Headmaster," Harry replied solemnly. He couldn't help but respect the man for doing this now, and admitted to himself that he had been wondering about that very issue.

"An interesting feature of the Pensieve is that it is impossible to spill the contents, though if you do try to add too many memories they will simply slide off and onto the table or floor instead of being absorbed. You will know that it is getting full if you see what appears to be a bulge in the liquid in the middle if you look at it edge-on. Much like it is now, do you see?'

Dumbledore had levitated the Pensieve, and it was clear to see what he was talking about.

"You can use your wand to remove the memories and place them into glass vials, like these ones. Normally I wouldn't leave my Pensieve this full, but unfortunately I'd already used up my supply of empty vials, and I kept thinking of more and more memories I wanted you to have before you arrived this evening. Transfigured glass is not a safe way to store memories, as it is too easy to forget to place them in real glass later."

"Thank you, Albus," Minerva replied, "this is an extremely generous gift, and one that we will be making great use of."

Albus nodded and shrunk the Pensieve down until it would fit within a circular indentation that they now noticed on the top of the box of glass vials. Placing the shrunken runic bowl in its place in the box, he then closed the lid, and then reduced the box itself down until it was little more than the size of a matchbox. He handed it to Harry who then pocketed it.

Dumbledore returned to his seat and gestured for Harry to begin. "Please ask me anything you want to know."

"Alright, sir, then perhaps we should get straight to the main reason I wanted to come tonight. Why did Sirius spend all those years in Azkaban when you knew it was Pettigrew that was the Secret-Keeper?"

"I assure you, Harry, that I had no such knowledge. As far as I was aware at the time, Sirius was the Secret-Keeper," Dumbledore replied calmly.

"That's a lie! My parents stated in their wills that it was Peter Pettigrew that was their Secret-Keeper, and that you cast the Fidelius charm! How could you possibly cast it and not know who the Secret-Keeper was?"

"Harry, I'm prepared to swear an oath to you that I didn't cast the Fidelius, and that as far as I knew, Sirius was the Secret-Keeper. I don't know why the wills would say differently."

Harry was confused now. It was bad enough hearing the revelation during the will reading, but then to hear that his parents had lied? To him? No, that wasn't possible!

Albus could see the conflict in Harry and wanted to try to clear it up. Drawing his wand, he began his oath. "I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, do hereby swear–"

"Wait!" Minerva said, interrupting him. "Albus, what if you were obliviated of the memory of casting the Fidelius so that you couldn't reveal who the real Secret-Keeper was?"

Everyone stared in amazement at Minerva. As soon as she suggested the possibility it seemed quite likely to be the right answer given the other attempts at misdirection by claiming Sirius was the Secret-Keeper.

Dumbledore nodded his agreement. "That does seem likely to me now that you mention the idea. But I think we would all like to know for sure. If you would do the honours, Minerva?"

Minerva didn't feel as comfortable as Moody at reversing obliviations, but realised the need to resolve this issue. Placing her wand at Dumbledore's temple, she concentrated on willing that particular memory to be restored, assuming one was there to restore.

Dumbledore bowed his head afterwards and lifted it half a minute later. His eyes were grief-filled and he nodded at the others. "It was just as you suspected, Minerva. I did indeed cast the Fidelius, and it was Peter himself that suggested obliviating my memory afterwards. He even said that he would tell Sirius later that it was Lily that had cast the Fidelius because it would be safer if nobody else knew, even me, who the Secret-Keeper really was."

Dumbledore turned to Harry. "I'm so sorry, my boy. I didn't know of Peter's treachery, and I should have done more to help ensure he couldn't betray your parents. If I'd made him take an unbreakable vow, they'd still be alive now."

"Why didn't you?" Harry asked, still a little shocked at the revelations.

"I didn't think of it at the time," Dumbledore admitted, "but I should have."

Harry thought for a moment and then shook his head. "It's done. As Moody told me the other day, there's no point playing the what-if game if it's just to beat yourself up. There's an old Muggle saying that goes something like; 'hindsight has 20:20 vision.' If I'd done some things differently maybe Cedric and Sirius would still be alive, but I didn't, and they're not, and there's nothing I can do about that now. Just like there's nothing you can do about that Fidelius. We're both going to have to move on from it."

Tonks rubbed his back in support, while Dumbledore nodded his head. "Thank you, Harry, though I'm sure it will take a little longer for me to forgive myself."

"I understand. It's taking me a while as well, but I'm getting there I think. It helps to have friends and family to talk to about it."

Dumbledore smiled. "I'm sure it does. Now, was there anything else you wanted to ask?"

"Professor, I'm concerned about the Dursleys. Can anything be done to keep them safe?"

"They are currently with Vernon's sister, Marge, and I have convinced them, with a little minor memory modification, that they need to stay there for the foreseeable future. I've also cast a number of spells at Privet Drive to remove all evidence of you from the house. So even if Tom or his followers try to find you there they will not find any trace of you in the house, or even in the memories of your former neighbours."

"Thank you, Professor," Harry said, somewhat relieved.

"You're most welcome, Harry, and if I may say, it does you credit to care for their safety after how they've treated you. Now, Minerva, I believe there were some issues that you wished to address?"

"Yes, Albus. Perhaps we should start with potions?" she suggested.

"As you wish. I have had a discussion with Severus, and I have confirmed that you have my full support and I have encouraged him to follow your instructions to him. We are all on the same side, and it is essential that we can all work together. This is why I've asked him to join us, and he should be here quite soon actually."

Tonks stood immediately and her anger was obvious as she glared at the old man. "Are you insane? Did I not make myself perfectly clear to you at Gringotts? You can trust Snape as much as you want, but nobody else does, and we will not be having a happy little chat just because YOU think it's a good idea! Harry, we're leaving!"

Snape's drawl was heard from the doorway, and he used his voice as a weapon trying to inflict the most damage possible. "Remarkably, I find myself in total agreement with the little girl's comments. Did you really summon me to your office just so that we could talk with Minerva and these children over tea and biscuits, Headmaster?"

Tonks was beyond fury as she levelled her wand at Snape. "Get the fuck out of here now, Death Eater! And I mean RIGHT NOW before I start cursing!"

"Albus, I suggest you control your guest before I'm forced–"

"Stupefy!" yelled Tonks.

A wave of Snape's wand saw her spell splash harmlessly into the wall. He simply stood there with a mostly bored expression on his face, but it was the small smirk that Tonks saw as his true intention. He was deliberately provoking her.

"Put away your wands at once! There is no need for this, my friends," Dumbledore said loudly, trying to defuse the situation.

His pleas went ignored as Tonks unleashed a torrent of spells at Snape, who seemed content to merely shield or counter them.

"Incarcerous! Stupefy! Depulso! Aguamenti! Glacius! Confundo!"

"Really, child? Do you honestly expect to defeat me with these schoolyard charms? Why don't you run away and take the brat with you like you said you were going to do."

"REDUCTO!"

As Snape deflected the blasting curse which would have been lethal had it struck him, he glared at Tonks and returned fire. "Sectumsempra!"

The dark cutting curse hit Tonks in the chest before she had a chance to shield against it and she fell to the floor, blood already staining her shirt.

Harry stared as his cousin appeared to be dying before him, and then turned to the man he had hated almost as much as Voldemort. "You BASTARD! AVADA KEDAVRA!"

Snape saw the rage on the boy's face, and then watched in shock as the perfectly cast killing curse rushed towards him to claim his life. There was nowhere to dodge and nothing to shield with. His last thought before expecting to die was; Potter killed me?

Miraculously, Fawkes flamed in front of him and swallowed the curse just in time, leaving only a pile of ash on the floor from which a tiny chick could be seen moving.

Harry looked on in shock at what had happened, and his wand fell from his hand. He looked from Fawkes to Tonks and his mind seemed to lock in a cycle of horror and self-loathing as he barely heard the activity going on around him.

He'd cast the killing curse.

"It's not working! I can't stop the bleeding!" Minerva cried, kneeling on the floor beside Tonks. Her wand was a blur as she cast spell after spell, all with no effect.

He'd cast the killing curse and Fawkes was hit by his killing curse.

"Severus, what have you done?" Albus asked.

His killing curse had hit Fawkes and now there would be no healing tears to save Tonks.

"Albus, I'm losing her! DO something!"

He'd cast the killing curse and now his cousin would die.

"Albus! Please help me! She's dying!" Minerva said, with tears now running down her face as her fear for the young woman grew.

What had he done?

"ALBUS!"

~o~

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