Moody tosses a wrench into Harry's plans.
Harry was arranging the window display containing his new wands, and a few wand cleaning kits when the small bell that was attached to the front door rang. Mad Eye stumped into the store, and walked up to Ollivander, who had been working on a ledger at the front desk.
"Ah! Alastor Moody! What can I do for you today? In need of a wand holster? Cleaning kit?"
"Not today. I was wondering if I may borrow your protege for a few hours. I have some business and he would be useful."
Ollivander looked at Harry with a raised eyebrow. He cleared his throat and looked back to Moody.
"One would presume I would get him back in one piece, and mostly whole?"
Moody's eye swiveled to focus on the shop keeper. Astuttering laugh filled the room. "Yes. Mostly. No Guarantees."
"James? Auror Moody requires your assistance. I will expect you back tomorrow morning at your regular time. I suggest you take your wand tools and some extra materials with you. One never knows when a bit of Acromantula silk will come in handy? And keep a record of any wand related duties he has you do. I will submit a bill later."
Harry nodded and hurried to get his kit. Slipping a sweater on to ward off the chill morning, he followed Moody out of the shop.
"How did you do that? Get him to let me go with you?"
Moody was moving towards the Leaky Cauldron at a fast pace, and Harry almost had to run to keep up. "Ollivander has been around for a lot longer than you or I. He knows much more than he lets on. I wouldn't be surprised if he knows who you really are... He just respects your privacy enough to leave it alone. Now keep up! We have a lot to do today."
Harry puzzled though what Moody had said as he followed him to the Cauldron.
Five floo trips later, one of them under a silencing charm so he couldn't hear the destination, Harry tumbled to a stop. As he picked himself up and checked his equipment bag, he looked around at this obviously secret location.
The room was akin to a huge gymnasium. There were a number of younger people who were practicing casting various jinxes, charms and hexes. In one corner a pair was dueling using only transfiguration based spells. In the other, two people were staring at each other intently, locked in a battle of Legilimency versus Occlumency.
Moody waited while Harry accounted for all of his tools. He snapped his fingers and shouted at the wizards and witches in the room.
"All right! Now you're really going to see some magic! You Auror trainees need to know how to care for the one thing that will never let you down. Your wand! This is Ollivander's Journeyman Wand maker. He has been sent by the old man himself to see how well you have been caring for your wands. He will ask you questions, and you WILL answer them. You will be called over one by one to this corner. Do not dawdle when you name is called. Is that understood?"
The room's occupants all burst forth in one voice, "Yes, Sir!"
Harry stepped over to Mad-eye's side. He spoke quietly as he watched the activity in the room ramp up another notch, obviously due to the old Auror's presence.
"Moody... What the bloody hell am I doing here? I never agreed to this!"
Alastor Moody's real eye fixed on Harry as his magical one moved across the room looking for threats. A smile threatened to break out across his face as he replied, "Are you a wand maker, or a flunky?"
Harry's face burned red with anger. He threw a dirty look at Moody and proceeded to set up his tools on the table in the indicated corner. He could feel the eyes of the auror trainees on him as he worked. Putting them out of his mind using some minor relaxation techniques, he snatched the parchment from Moody's outstretched hand and read the first name.
A young man trotted over and carefully placed his wand on the black velvet that was spread on the table. Harry picked up the wand, carefully measured and weighed it. Finding some parchment with forms for recording the information, he proceeded to catalog the wand.
"Trainee, when did you last care for your wand?"
"Last night, Sir."
"Nicely done. It is in perfect condition. Stand still while the measure does its job."
Harry focused his sight on the trainee as the tape took meaningless measurements. He could see a rope of energy linking the wizard to his wand. Nothing stood out. The tape dropped into his hand as it finished. Harry wrote his comments on the sheet and stamped Olivander's seal on the bottom.
"Thank you, trainee. You may return to your training."
As Harry waited for on recruit to finish a dueling exercise, he took the opportunity to sit back in his chair and relaxed his eyes. The dance of the magic was mesmerizing as it pulsed around the wands, danced through the air, and even thrummed across the wards. Harry could see several recruits who would benefit from some additional coaching with their wand movements. His next customer was one of them.
The young man set his wand down on the table and stood with his arms crossed. His disdain for Harry was plainly displayed on his face.
"Hurry up! I have more important things to be doing that toadying to the likes of you!"
Moody's eyebrow raised a fraction of an inch as he listened to the recruit abuse Harry.
"When did you last care for your wand?"
The trainee sneered and retorted, "My elf usually polishes and cleans it for me. I have other more pressing duties to attend."
Harry looked at the young ponce standing in front of him. The burning desire to put him in his place was like bile in the back of his throat. "Perhaps you should set aside those duties until you learn how to correctly cast that stunner you were just poorly executing?"
The young man's face blushed a bright red. He was sucking in a breath to berate Harry when Moody stepped between the two of them.
"I suggest you take your wand and go back to your practicing, young Mr. Aubrey. Seeing as your father is still missing, and you need to support your flagging family, you should be more concerned with your own performance, and less with others. Besides, Mr. Black would barely break asweat teaching you a lesson if you were to challenge him her and now. Off you go!"
Moody sat back down, off to the side, and watched Harry work. Potter was efficient and ruthless. One student, Eleanor Branstone, brought a wand to him which had a crack along its spine. The crack was virtually invisible, but would rupture if a magical strain was put on the wand. He had berated the young lady, and restricted her from using it until it could be repaired. Moody pulled her aside as she walked towards the other trainees.
"Do you know why he was so harsh on you, girl? Do you understand why this is so important?"
Eleanor's face was red with anger and embarrassment. "No!It's fine! I've been using it all day and it's been working perfectly! He's just milking the ministry for money!"
The grating laugh that erupted from Moody's throat stopped the entire room in its tracks. The trainees all watched as he spoke to Trainee Branstone.
"Mr. Black? Would you assist me for a moment? Ms. Branstone is questioning your findings. Would you kindly give your wand to Mr. Black again then step back to the wall, Ms. Branstone?"
The trainee glared at Harry as she passed her wand to Harry. Moody waved a group of students away from the targets that were floating across the far wall. A few waves of his wand and he had some protective dueling shields in place. With a nod, he motioned to Harry.
"Please, Mr. Black. Cast the strongest spell you can at the targets. Hold nothing back, but no Unforgivables, please?"
Harry smirked at Moody. He knew exactly what was about to happen. The wand would rupture and the spell would fail at best. Not something that anyone would want to have happen while in a fight for their life. Moody wanted strong, did he? Harry's anger rose in his chest. He could feel the darkness that floated around his core watching.
The trainees saw the journeyman settle himself. He visibly relaxed each muscle in his body, one group at a time, until his stance was loose.
Trainee Aubrey spoke, "What's this, Moody? Is he a squib?"Several other auror students began to make catcalls.
Ezekial heard the comment and Harry could feel a pulse of childlike glee as the entity snatched control from him. The ley lines that flowed near the training center weren't as strong as the ones above the Alley, but they would do. Ezekial reached out with his mind, and tapped the closest one. Pulling it down and grounding it to Harry, he could feel the power filling their reserves.
Several of the trainees started to sense that they had made a mistake taunting the journeyman. They backed up, and cast their own shield spells.
Ezekial could see the weaves of the spells being spun. Harry nudged aside the control for a moment and tapped the cords that powered them. Asmall twist ensured the Auror students would remember this day for a long time to come. He then slipped back and watched Ezekial worked.
Power built. Over what seemed an eternity, but in reality was only ten seconds, a hum gradually built, until it reached an almost painful level. The grin on Moody's face had reached epic levels and would leave emotional scars on all who saw it for their entire lives.
Ezekial pulled Harry to the front and forced him back into control. "You need to do this, not me. Use the power; do not let it flee from you. Revel in its response. Don't let it guide you, but direct it yourself. Show these pups what you learned in the DA: Control your fear, control your magic, control your surroundings, and you will not lose!"
Harry smoothly flowed into the first form of his Tai Chi exercise. He shaped the gathered power, preparing and melding it into the form it would need to take when he cast it. Using a finger of energy, he wove areinforcing brace across the crack. It wouldn't prevent the rupture, but would protect his hand and direct the spell down range.
With a snap he drove the wand at the target.
A thunderous blast shook the building on its foundations. The flash of light that erupted from the end of the wand looked less like aspell, and more like the shock wave from a massive explosion that had been guided down a conduit. Dust rained down from the ceiling for several seconds after the rumbling stopped. The targets and most of the wall were gone. A quidditch field could be seen through the hole.
The training hall was silent. Not a single person moved. Mad Eye took two steps forward and gently pulled the ruined wand from Harry's hand.
"Thank you Mr. Black. Would you please call the next trainee?" He turned to the staring students. "The rest of you get busy fixing that wall! When you're done, and Mr. Black has had his turn with you, hit the showers!"
Harry shook his head to clear it, made a small mocking bow to Moody and returned to his table.
"Ms. Branstone. Would you come here and look at this wand?"
The clearly shaken young woman stumbled away from the wall she had been leaning against in the wake of Harry's spell. Her eyes opened wide and choking noises came from her mouth at the sight of the wand. The end was smoking, and a long black char line could be seen along where Harry had indicated the crack to be earlier.
"While I don't believe you could muster that much power for a single spell, over the period of a prolonged duel, say two or three minutes, you would have found yourself literally disarmed when your wand failed. And, Iwould think, dead a few moments later. You will run 50 laps around the track while you think about that, shower, change and go to Olivander's for areplacement wand. As it was your own poor maintenance that caused the failure, you will pay for its replacement, not the Ministry. Understood?"
The young woman straightened up, looked Moody in the eye, and snapped off a salute.
"Clearly. I'm sorry I questioned you... and him."
Mad-Eye nodded and waved her away. "Dismissed."
The rest of the afternoon went by quickly. The rest of the trainees were respectful of the journeyman wand maker. Several asked intelligent questions about their wands, and what they could do to take better care of them. As Harry finished with the last student, Moody walked up and handed him a cold Butter beer. With a sigh, he sat next to Harry.
"What did you think of them?"
"For the most part, they seem to be honestly trying."
Moody snorted and his magical eye swirled around to point at Harry. "They're terrible. Wouldn't last one minute against a real Death Eater."
Harry took along swallow of his drink. He sat quietly as Moody seemed to look through him. "No. Why did you bring me here? It wasn't just to measure and weigh their wands."
"You, my little journeyman wand maker, are one of the best instructors in Dueling and Defense that Hogwarts had ever seen. The OWL scores for that year, at least the ones that were a part of your little group, were some of the highest ever graded. You and five other students fought a greater amount of inner circle Death Eaters to a standstill. The only reason you didn't win that night in the ministry was the fact you were using non-lethal spells!"
Harry slammed the bottle he was holding down on the table. Foam spilled up and out of the neck. "My wand was snapped! I was thrown in Azkahban for ten years BECAUSE of that night! I was tortured by nightmares, and dementors. I've finally started to live something of a normal life, at least as normal a life as possible being awizard, and you want me to pick up where I left off? Forget it!"
Harry gathered his equipment and started slamming it into the case. Moody watched as the young man's anger tapered off. He sipped at the drink in his hand for a few minutes.
"I'll respect this decision for now. But you know that sooner or later, Voldermort will come looking for you and you will have to fight... fight or die. When you floo out, use the green powder. It will take you directly to the Leaky Cauldron." Harry was walking towards the floo when Moody said, "One last thing....."
Harry stopped, but did not turn around.
"Did you ever think to make yourself a new wand? The law states that a convicted criminal cannot BUY a new wand, not that he can't make himself a new one. Think on that."
He threw the green powder into the fireplace and stepped in.
Harry was concentrating on his current project, a wand made from teak. He had been staring at the grain for almost an hour before getting the feel of the wood. Ollivander stepped behind him and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"James, you seem distracted. You've got the shop so clean it sparkles, and all of the wands have been counted, documented and filed twice. You're spending way too much time with an old man like me. Why not go out and wander Diagon Alley for a few hours? Pull your thoughts together?"
Harry sighed. He truly hadn't been able to concentrate since sending Hedwig with the letters for Ron and his family. Moody's impromptu defense demonstration had left him with more questions than answers. He had been stewing over it and going in logic circles that he had come to believe they wouldn't want him back, and he would be put in Azkahban again. It was all rubbish of course, and he knew it, but all the same...
"Ok. I'll take a few hours. If you need me, send my owl to get me, please? She looks so peaceful napping on her perch that I'm loathe to disturb her." Ollivander smiled and waved Harry away.
Harry walked along the alley for about ten minutes, without really seeing anything. There were a surprising number of witches and wizards out and about today. Normally the alley was somewhat empty, mostly due to fear of Voldemort and the random attacks of the Death Eaters. He had gotten to the end, close to The Leaky Cauldron. With a shrug, he turned and started walking back along the alley.
He was staring at the ground as he was walking. Much of the Alley's advertising was subdued enough that he could ignore them in his musings, but one shop was garish enough to break through his meandering thoughts, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Without completely thinking about what he was doing, he pushed the door open and entered the shop.
As he walked in, what felt like a bucket of extremely cold water poured over his head. His eyes snapped closed, and he could feel the drops trickling through his hair and off his ears. With a slam, the door shut behind him, pushing him into the shop.
The first thing through his mind was, "I'm surprised! I would think the twins would come up with something not so....ordinary!" But as he opened his eyes he saw that there was no water. He was dry and the feeling of being soaking wet disappeared!
"Ah! Did you like the Dehydrated Dousing Doorknocker? It's one of our newest products! Simply place the rune stone on top of any doorway, and the next person through will get a cold, yet dry surprise! If you are feeling devious, the slamming charm can be upgraded to actually knock the person from their feet!"
Harry looked at the salesman in front of him. It wasn't one of the twins, but seemed to be a kindred heart. Only a true blue prankster would be happy working in a store like this.
"It's brilliant! How much are they?"
"A galleon for one, or ten for eight! But you had better get them soon! They're selling quickly through the owl order catalog!"
Harry glanced around the store, trying to find one of the twins. "I think I'll look around a bit more first. I may want to get some other things." The salesman nodded and went to assist a matronly looking witch with an antidote to a Fever Fudge from the skiving snackbox.
Harry wandered the aisles, looking at some old familiar items, and a few new ones. He shook his head and grinned when he saw one bin labeled "U-NO-POO". Snorting in suppressed laughter, he approached the counter at the back of the store. Standing behind it was a pretty younger witch. She was glancing through a Witch Weekly as he stepped up to the counter.
"Excuse me. I'm looking for George or Fred Weasley? I understand they are the owners of the shop?"
The witch didn't even put down her magazine to answer. "I'm sorry. Mssrs Weasley are very busy and cannot come to the counter to speak to just anyone off the street. If you wish I could put in a request for an interview."
"I'm afraid you're mistaken about why I'm here. I'm apersonal friend."
The witch put down the magazine and gave Harry a once over. With a snort she said, "I'm sure you are. Just like every other person off the street who comes in here. I'll tell you what. They are in the back room. If you can guess the password to open the door, I'll let you go back. But let me warn you... if you guess wrong it won't be good. They have the door charmed and hexed in such a way that is unmentionable. And don't bother asking the salesman or trying to trick me. We don't know what it is. Got it?"
Harry nodded and stepped around the counter. The young witch watched him with a small grin on her face. The whole store was quiet as people watched. Obviously, this was something that happened fairly regularly. Harry looked at the large oak door. It was etched with the words, "Moony, Padfoot and Prongs: We owe them so much." Above the names were small carvings: A Wolf, a Dog, and a Stag.
Harry swallowed. George and Fred had always declared their reverence for the Marauders. With a small grin he leaned forward and whispered,"I solemnly swear I am up to no good!" The door clicked and creaked open. Harry turned around. The witch at the counter was gaping like a fish out of water. Harry winked and stepped through the door.
His first impression of the back room was a bank office. There were shelves of books, and a couple desks pushed together so the occupants could look at each other while working.. The papers on the desks were stacked perfectly. Off to one side was a wizarding wireless quietly playing muzak. The door clicked shut and one of the two redheads working at a desk looked up.
"Well! It seems someone has managed to guess the password finally, brother dear! Come in! Come in! Sit down, make yourself comfortable!"
Harry took a step forward and stopped. He was at a loss for words. His face lit with a crooked grin. "Hello Forge...Gred. Have you forgotten your primary investor already?"
George turned in his chair so quickly that he fell off the edge to the floor. His brother shot up and ran over towards Harry. His hands grabbed Harry by the shoulder and he stared into bottomless green eyes. It was then he knew.
"Fred! Get up, you oaf! Our little adopted brother has come home finally!"