Harry meets Moody... Sparks fly!
Harry closed the door to his flat and hung his coat on the peg beside it. He drew a hand through his hair and blew a breath out through pursed lips. He felt absolutely drained. The rolled parchment in his pocket had grabbed his attention as he had put his coat on back at the shop. Wondering how it had gotten to his pocket, he felt he needed some privacy before opening it up.
Now that he was home, he pulled the parchment out of the pocket and popped the seal off the outside. A small spark of magic flared for amoment, and then fizzled out as the wax seal disintegrated. Harry unrolled the scroll and read.
I don't know where you have been, or what has happened to you, but from what I can see, you have been through hell. As one man to another, I can understand your need for privacy and healing following whatever ordeals you have been through. But that time must soon come to an end. Dumbledore and the Order are fighting a losing battle. They have barely managed to keep the status quo over the past five years. Much of the ministry is under Voldemort's thumb. Those departments that are not are watched closely. A few random deaths here and there keep them pretty quiet.
I haven't spoken to the Order or Albus for several weeks, ever since I resigned my position with the Order. He had asked something of me that I was not prepared to give up. They do not know where you are, that you can be contacted, or that I know where to find you. It was pure luck that I did find you. Sadly, the one thing that Constant Vigilance can not overcome is the fickle nature of Lady Luck! Still, you have done an excellent job of keeping your trail cold.
If you would be available, I would like to meet with you, if only to give you an oath that I will not betray your location. Please, send me your owl, Hedwig, with your reply.
P.S. - CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Trust no one. The Aurors are corrupted, and people are scared.
Harry sat back in his chair. The letter was clearly from Alastor Moody. Of the entire Order, he felt the most respect towards Moody. While he may not trust him, he did trust his actions. If Moody swore to keep his privacy, Harry knew he would take it to the grave with him. He pulled out apiece of paper and a pen. Harry hastily scribbled a note to Groguld at Gringott's asking for a secure meeting room to be arranged. He signed the bottom of the note and called Hedwig over.
"Would you take this directly to the goblins? I think you should wait for a response. It shouldn't take long, and I'll have some treats for you when you come back." Hedwig nipped at his fingers, and hopped to the windowsill waiting for Harry to open it. He allowed her to fly out and then closed the window against the chill. It was hardly an hour before she was tapping at the window to be lat back in. Harry stroked her feathers as she snacked on the owl treats he had given her.
The goblins response was typical and terse.
Your secure meeting room has been arranged for two days hence. The room will be available to you for the entire day. To ensure all meeting participants are invited, please have them bring their vault key, or some other recognized proof of identity. Upon arrival they will be required to show their identification proof before being allowed entry to the meeting room. Kindly provide Gringott's with a list of the attendees and we will take care of the rest. The 50 galleon fee has been removed from your vault. Please be advised this is a non-refundable service. Thank you for your patronage.
Harry smiled at the efficiency of the Goblins. They never let him down. He took out another sheet of paper and wrote out another note.
I find myself, with reluctance, agreeing to a meeting with you. As you have surmised, I have had some hard times. While these are behind me, I find that they still intrude on my present. I'm sure you will understand if I decline to speak about them in a letter. If you would speak with me, please be at Gringott's in two days at 2pm. Ask for Manager Groguld, and bring your vault key. You will not be able to enter the meeting room without it.
Harry turned back to Hedwig. He saw her standing on the window still with her leg out. "Are you sure, girl? It's pretty cold and you already delivered one letter for me. It can wait until morning if you want."The snowy owl scolded him with some unhappy grumbling. Harry laughed and tied the letter to her leg. "Ok. I'm sorry. I just worry about you in the cold."
Hedwig hopped out of the window again and swooped away into the dark.
Moody was sitting in the Leaky Cauldron, nursing a heated firewhisky when Hedwig found him. She swooped down and landed on the middle of the table in front of him. She stuck her leg out and shook the letter loose. After a piercing look into his eyes, she launched into flight and left. Alastor waved his wand over the letter looking for any spells or enchantments on it. Surprisingly enough, there was nothing. Not even the latent magic that would come from being in a wizard's possession. He opened the envelope and read the contents. The boy never ceased to impress him. Not only was there very little information contained in the letter aside from what he needed, he had managed to make the meeting as secure as he could without using a Fidelius charm.
Something that had sent lances of fear into Auror recruits hearts for decades appeared on Moody's face: a smile.
Tom came to the table with a second fire whiskey. He placed it in front of Moody and caught Alastor's eyes with his own. A raised eyebrow was replied to with a small nod. He patted Moody on the shoulder and returned to the bar.
Moody raised his glass in salute, and drank it down.
Hermione finished drying the dish and put it away in the cupboard. Normally she would just wave her wand and cast a housekeeping spell to do the dishes, but lately she had been doing as much as she could without magic. No one was sure where the death eaters would strike next or how they chose their targets. She had been staying with her parents for a few weeks trying to put together a new warding schema to better protect them. She had just finished the new runes and was going to conclude the casting all at once tonight. Once finished, the new wards would prevent any intruder from entering the house. If she was right, it would even give Voldemort pause. More than enough time for her or her parents to use the portkey on the fireplace mantle.
A familiar voice rang out from the parlor. When Hermione got to the fireplace Minerva McGonagall was patiently waiting for her to answer the fire call.
A smile broke out across her face. "Minerva! What a pleasant surprise! To what do I owe this to? Social call?"
"I wish I could say that, Hermione. I actually called to ask you a personal favor. One of my Gryffindor's had an accident on the moving staircases and seems to have broken her wand. The Headmaster is away as the Wizengamot is in session, and I cannot leave. Would you be able to escort the young lady to Ollivander's to get a new one? The school will be picking up the cost of the new wand, since the damage happened on school grounds."
"When are you thinking? I would need to make a few arrangements. I'm definitely not going to be able to today."
"Would tomorrow be too soon?I'm sure you remember Mr. Weasley's scholastic difficulties when he broke his wand, never mind the danger of using one."
"I can do that. I will be at the Leaky Cauldron tomorrow, just after lunch. Who is the student?"
"Miss Doreen Wood. Normally I would ask the parents to take care of this, but her mother is unavailable due to some pressing work matters in France. And of course her father...." Minerva turned her head for a moment to hide the tears that threatened to show. Oliver had been one of her Gryffindors. His sacrifice had saved dozens of lives, but left his daughter without a father.
"I miss them all too, Minerva. I will be waiting."
"Thank you. I will send her with a portkey that will bring her back to the school. Tap it with your wand, and it will activate. Now, I need to teach some children about the fine art of transfiguration!"
Hermione waved goodbye, and sat back. She had been putting off a trip to Diagon Alley for a few days. She sighed and returned to her preparations for the night's casting.
The next morning Hermione woke to a quiet house. Her casting the night before had tired her considerably, and she had slept well past the time she normally would wake. Her parents were at their surgery again today. She had told them not to expect her back until after supper. After woolgathering for a few moments more, she slipped out of the bed and went about her morning business.
Finally finished with her shower, she checked the clock and saw that she had about 15 minutes to get to the Leaky Cauldron. She threw on a jacket, whirled a scarf around her neck and apparated to the Diagon Alley arrival point. A few moments later had her sitting in Tom's pub with a warm butterbeer in her hands. She spoke quietly with Tom for a few minutes, reminiscing about times past as she waited for the student to arrive.
The fire in the large cubby flared green and Doreen stumbled out of the hearth. Hermione thanked Tom for the butterbeer and walked over the young girl.
"Professor Granger!Professor McGonagall told me you would be here. Did you hear about my wand? It was horrible! I was trying to get to the bottom of one of the stairs before it moved, and as I was taking the last step, the horrid thing jerked. I fell on the landing. It hurt a bit, but all I could think about was the awful splintering noise than came from my pocket! It took Mom and me ages to find that wand!"
"Yes, Miss Wood. I hope you brought your old wand with you? We need to give it to Mr. Ollivander to get anew one."
The First Year student held up a paper envelope. Hermione could clearly see a bend in the wand. With a nod, she swept towards the alley entrance, the student in tow. "Let's go and see awizard about a wand then! We'll get you slinging spells around like Merlin in no time!" Doreen Wood smiled and tucked the envelope back into her coat.
The two witches walked through a fairly busy Alley towards the wand maker's shop. Hermione made sure to walk at a slow pace, as she knew the girl wouldn't have had a chance to see much when she was here last. Most people simply did their shopping and left, not daring to take the change of a Death Eater attack.
Hermione was sure Ollivander's shop hadn't changed since it was opened in 382 B.C. Aside from some maintenance, it was still musty, and had that ancient feel to it. Of course that could be coming from the shopkeeper also. She held open the door for Miss Wood. The jingle of the entry bell called out to the shop.
Ollivander and Harry were in the back, updating stock sheets. Ollivander didn't really know how many wands he had in the shop, or what kind. Harry was working at counting all the boxes and their contents and documenting them. Ollivander himself was in the middle of repairing a slightly damaged wand for one of the Wizengamot members as Harry questioned him about each wand.
"Go and take care of the front for a few moments, would you James? I can't just leave this right in the middle as I am. I will be out shortly."
Harry nodded and walked towards the front of the shop. As he pushed through the curtain he glanced back at the workshop. Ollivander made a shooing motion with his hands. Strangely enough, there was an almost peaceful grin on his face. Harry smiled and shook his head as he pulled the pocket door closed to the back room. As he turned towards the front counter he said, "I'm sorry, but Mr. Ollivander is slightly indisposed at the moment. Could I be of service....?" His voice faded out as he took in visage before him. The last time he had saw Hermione Granger, she had been aschoolgirl on the cusp of becoming a young woman. This creature before him was nothing short of a woman in full bloom. She was currently tuned away from him, looking at a wand polishing kit on the display shelf. His eyes took in her hair. As she had matured, it seemed her hair had come under control. It flowed down her back in coils of brown silk, just past her shoulders. Her clothes were modest, and flattering to her slight but curvy figure.
Hermione turned towards the shop attendant and was starting to ask where Mr. Ollivander was when their eyes locked. Her heart skipped a beat. The last time she had looked into those green pools to his soul, Harry had been asking her to take care of Hedwig. She never forgot what they looked like. For years she could see him staring at her in her dreams. Asking for her to come and save him from the terrible nightmares he was having.
"H...Harry? Is it really you?"
Harry couldn't look away from the deep brown eyes that were locked to his. His mind flayed at the blank spots that once held happy memories. The dementors had taken so much from him. Gradually, one fuzzy moment came to the surface. A screaming girl who was clinging to his waist for dear life as the hippogriff below them flew up to a tower. While not necessarily a happy memory, it wasn't one of the horror filled ones he was left with now.
"Hi Hermione. I....I.... I don't know what to say to you."
Hermione felt something burst in her. She leapt towards the man beside the counter and gripped him in atight hug. She clung to him for a moment before she felt his arms close around her. The smell coming from him was so familiar that she started to weep. She had finally found him. She wasn't going to let him get away from her again! It was at that point that she heard a small voice come from behind her.
"Uhm.. Professor Granger? Do you know him?" Doreen Wood was wide eyed at one of her favorite professor's reaction to the strange man. She had never in a million year thought that the strict Professor Granger would grab and hug a man like that, let alone cry while doing it!
Hermione stepped back and straightened her robes. She wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands, and brushed her hair quickly out of her eyes. She turned to the student she had forgotten when she saw Harry. "Yes.... Yes. I'm sorry, Miss Wood. This is an old friend. Please, let me introduce you to.."
Harry cut in and held out his hand, "James Black. Pleased to meet you Miss Wood." He shook her hand with a warm smile on his face. "It seems to me you came in here with other plans besides traumatizing your young charge, Miss Granger. Perhaps we should deal with that first?"
Hermione smirked at Harry. When he had introduced himself as James Black it had only taken her a few moments of reflection to understand that he wanted to keep his anonymity for now. He still had the wit she loved him for, even if he had changed in other ways over the past years.
"Yes. Quite. Miss Wood seems to have had an accident with her wand. We came today to find her a replacement. Miss Wood, please give Mr. Black your wand."
The girl placed the envelope on the counter. Harry pulled a black linen lined box and poured the pieces into it. Several splinters and were held together by what looked like a unicorn hair. Harry concentrated on the wand, trying to see the flow of magic. The thread was very small, almost like spider silk. He traced it back to the small girl in the shop. Her face was downcast as she looked at the wand in front of her. Harry knew how she felt. The very moment of his wand's destruction was still fresh in his mind as the day it happened. With a frown, he shook his head and vowed to find her a new wand.
"Well, it looks like this one is pretty much beyond repair. Please, come over there so I can measure you. Unfortunately, I do not have the same memory for wands as Mr. Ollivander does."He pulled the magical tape measure from its cubby and tossed it into the air. The tape wasn't so much to actually measure the girl, as to take her attention away from Harry as he scanned the walls of wands in the store, looking for one that was reaching towards her. As Ollivander always said, "The wand chooses the wizard."
He focused on the flow of magic in the shop. He could see thousands of threads connecting the wands to the ley line above the shop, but none of them were coiling around the girl. He snatched the measuring tape from the air. "Hold on a moment. I think we have just the thing." Harry winked at Hermione and stepped back into the stacks of wands near the back of the store. He glanced through all of the older stock, and still couldn't see anything that was strongly calling to the girl. With a sigh and asmile, he thought about the thousands of times that Ollivander had done this in the past. With a shake of his head, he took several boxes out the counter. One by one they tried them all, and the best she could get was a few faint grey sparks to pop out of the end.
It was at that time that the door to the back opened and Ollivander came into the front. He was carrying the first wand that Harry had finished earlier that morning. He had spent almost aweek trying to decide what core to put into the oak wand. It had been a fairly long wand, measuring in at 11 and three quarter inches. What had finally drawn his attention for the core was a Couatl feather. The Couatl resembles a long, feathered serpent with a pair of rainbow-feathered wings that allow it to fly. They are around 12 feet in length, with a wingspan of 15 feet. They weigh around 1,800 pounds. Couatl are ranked highly among the light creatures and have been known to associate with phoenixes. Harry had found the feather tucked into a forgotten book stacked on the top of the workbenches.
Ollivander smiled and set the box down. He rubbed the last of the beeswax polish into the finish and handed it to Doreen. "Yes, I think this one will do nicely. Give it a swish!"
Doreen looked at the old shopkeeper and then to her Professor. Hermione nodded at the wand and smiled. As soon as Doreen picked up the wand, she knew it was the one. It felt almost alive. Her last wand had felt similar to this one, but not nearly as comfortable. She gave the wand a swish. A surge of sparks washed out of the end and swirled around the shop. The light was reflected in her gleeful eyes. Ollivander's smile grew to epic proportions. He closed the wand box and placed it into asmall paper bag. He added a wand polishing kit to it and knelt down in front of the schoolgirl.
"Here you are my dear. I'll have you know that I've only ever seen that kind of response with a wand from three other people in my entire life. One was Albus Dumbledore, one was a young man named Tom, and the third was from Harry Potter." Ollivander glanced up at Hermione as he said this and winked. "Take care of this wand. It fits you perfectly!"
Doreen nodded and carefully put the wand into its box. "Thank you, Sir! I will!"
Hermione cleared her throat,"I think we should get you back to Hogwarts before Professor McGonagall thinks I've taken you for ice cream or something!" Doreen scrambled inside of her winter robes for the portkey the professor had given her. She pulled out an old quill and held it out. "Hold on tight now, Miss Wood! Take care." Hermione tapped the feather with her wand and the school-girl disappeared.
"Miss Granger? I'll send on the paperwork to the Ministry for the broken wand. I just need your signature on these forms before you go. James here will help you out with them. If you need me I will be in the workshop." Ollivander nodded to them and strode towards the back of the shop.
Hermione turned to Harry. She looked at his face. The features she remembered were still there, but partially hidden by the scars and lines on his face. His hair was no longer jet black, but a salt and pepper blend that added years to his appearance. She examined his build. He was dressed in laborer clothing, and she could see he was still thin. The muscles that she could see looked like corded ropes under his skin, bunching and relaxing as he moved. She was brought back to the present by his voice.
"You look good...How's life treating you?"
Hermione threw herself back at Harry and wrapped him in a tight hug. Tears started rolling down her cheeks again as she exclaimed, "Your missing for ten years and you say 'How's life treating you'! I swear, if I didn't miss you so much I would slap you!"
With a grin Harry replied, "Hedwig did the same thing when I was going to write you back with those words."
"Oh! How is she? Did she find you ok?"
"She's fine. She's out hunting right now. I'll see her when I get home this evening after work. I can't thank you enough for taking care of her. So! Professor Ganger, is it?"
"Not anymore. I had to leave the school. Things are getting dire, Harry! The pureblood faction has basically taken over the school! I wasn't safe there anymore, so I've moved back to my parents for now. Harry.... What happened?"
Harry's face closed. He stepped away from Hermione and turned slightly away from her. "I can't talk about it. Not now, not here. Give me some time, 'Mione. I promise, when I'm able to I will tell you everything."
"Ok, Harry. I'm sorry. When will you be done working? Could we get some supper together? My treat!"
Harry smiled. "How about you come to my flat for supper? I'll pick up some groceries on my way home."
Hermione's face lit up in abrilliant smile. She agreed and wrote down his address. With a final hug, Hermione left the shop. She had a million questions for Harry, but knew better than to press him. When he took the bit in his teeth it was impossible to change his mind. It was obvious something terrible had happened to him, and she was not going to drive him away again.
A few hours later found Harry at Gringott's. He had arrived a half hour before Moody was supposed to arrive. Groguld provided tea and some biscuits for refreshments. Harry was relaxing and reading the "Wood, Wisdom, Wands and You" when the door opened. Moody stepped into the room and pointed his wand at Harry.
"Prove you are Potter."
Harry looked at Moody poised with his wand, ready to cast if he failed to prove himself. Harry knew this was Moody. The goblins wouldn't have let him in if he wasn't. He set down the book he had been reading.
"Tell me Moody... How many people know the location of Walburga Black's painting?"
Moody rocked back on his heels. His eyebrows raised, he growled out, "Not more than a dozen."
"Twelve Grimmauld Place. Next to the troll leg umbrella stand that Tonks likes to trip over. Did the Order ever figure out how to remove that bloody painting?"
Moody snapped his wrist. The wand vanished into his sleeve. With a snort he answered, "No. The damned permanent sticking charm can only be removed by a Black. With Sirius gone, there are none left other than death eaters. She'll be there until the place burns, or is demolished." Mad Eye gave Harry a once over. His good eye roved up and down his body with a piercing glare, while the magical one focused a bit behind him. With a grunt, he sat down on the chair across from Harry.
Harry perched on the chair he had been reclined on earlier. Moody hadn't changed much with the passing of years. A little grayer and perhaps a touch of stiffness in his joints was all that was obvious. There was nothing that would impede his response to danger though.
"How did you find me?"
"I was walking through the park towards the Leaky Cauldron. I hadn't even noticed you until I felt the pulse of magic you used to push that lorry aside. Good job there."
Harry shook his head. While he hadn't been actively hiding, he didn't want to advertise his presence. The wizarding world had turned its head from him a long time ago, but he still had a saving people thing. He sighed and rubbed his forehead trying to fend off the threatening headache.
Moody cleared his throat, "Harry. The Order searched for months before giving up. Your friends never did. All the time you've been gone Voldemort has been steadily marching towards victory. Where have you been all these years, Lad?"
Harry felt a wash of heat through his face. His stomach clenched in fury and he scowled. He spoke through clenched teeth, "You don't know what I've been through, Moody. Obviously you didn't look hard enough! I've experienced something that I have a hard time wishing on my own worst enemies!"Harry could barely think straight. All the anger he had felt since he had been sent to Azkaban flooded to the surface. Moody's magical eye rolled in its socket towards Harry. What had been a normal faint aura a few moments ago was now a pulsing, almost living blanket of power wrapping the young man. What was disturbing was the black fingers of energy coiling around him.
When Alastor had still had most of his body, and was newly recruited to the Aurors, he had been assigned an escort duty. A third time offender had been recaptured and sentenced to life in Azkaban. The man had been shackled with magic suppressing manacles, and had been silent since his sentencing. As the boat reached the shore of the prison island, the prisoner had started to whimper. True fear was showing on his eyes. He knew what he had been condemned to for the rest of his short life, and being faced with it finally had done something to him. Moody had started to warn the other Aurors that something was wrong when the man's aura throbbed. Suddenly he had been encased in a black inky mist of power that was roiling around him like an animal trying to escape. It poured into the manacles' energy siphon. The enchantments on the cuffs were strained to their limits trying to ground the excess magic from the prisoner. The other Aurors simply sat and watched as he feebly struggled against the whirlpool of energy dropping into the shackles. After a few moments more, the shell collapsed into the convict. The man had fainted.
Later, Moody had learned that sometimes a person who was facing life or death could unconsciously tap their core. The magic was released with little more than a primal thought controlling it. Sometimes it was simply to survive, for others it was freedom. Squibs who were unaware of the magical world had been documented burning out what little magical core they had using it for feats of strength such as saving people who were trapped and other such 'miracles'. One case he had heard about recently had been a muggle law enforcement officer lifting a car wreck off of a small child who had been pinned under it during the crash. The car had to have weighed 2800 lbs if it was an ounce! Most wizards thought that evil magic was black, thus they called it dark, but Moody knew that true magic, pure magic was actually colorless, and could only truly be perceived when there was a bright background. It showed as a shadow, looking almost black. A muggle-born had once tried to explain what it looked like to him... something about heat waves, but with more substance to it. The coils he could see surrounding Harry were core magic. Pure and powerful. Moody knew that the power being flooded into the room was more than he had ever seen. The goblin wards around the room were smoking as they tried to absorb the energy that was released.
Harry was lost in his anger. For the moment, he was nothing more than a small boy who could only scream at the unfairness of life. Ezekial was pushed to the front and for the moment, allowed Harry to rage. The anger had been bottled up for far too long, and he needed to vent some of it. Ezekial erected a shield shell around Harry's tantrum flare shunting as much as he could away from Moody. Once he had ensured Harry would not do something he would regret later, Ezekial turned his attention to Moody. Harry's memories of the man were simple, almost sparse. Alistar Moody had been something of a role model for Harry. A passive legilemency scan showed the man had substantial shields, and would detect any attempt to enter his mind. Ezekial silently approved of the man before him. He could feel Harry begin to grab back control. Ezekial settled back into Harry's subconscious to continue his vigil. As Harry pulled himself together, he could hear the voice form the park, "Let him help..."
Moody was motionless. He knew better than to draw attention to himself at this critical time. This young man was not wearing enchanted manacles, and could easily overwhelm any shield he put up in a matter of moments. Something was preventing the core energy from doing him any damage. Over the next few moments, Alastor could see the aura gradually settling back into Harry. The black fingers retreated, and the power levels in the room subsided back to almost normal.
Harry sat breathing hard for several moments before the doors smashed open. Moody sat perfectly at rest. He had actually expected the goblins several minutes ago when the power levels had spiked. The room was in a shambles and the wards were still glowing brightly, almost ultraviolet, from the power they had handled. Harry's eyes flew open as he sat back in his chair, finally relaxing from his frenzy.
Two goblin warriors had broken the door open and rolled to either side of the entry. They had small swords in hand and looked ready to gut first, ask later. Two more were holding what looked like crossbows on the other side of the hall from the entrance. In the middle of the doorway was none other than Bill Weasley, his arms raised, and a crackle of energy crawling down his wand.
A/N: I had a lot of trouble writing this chapter. It didn't seem to flow quite like the others did. As this is he holiday season, I probably will not be updating this story until the new year. As always, please review!