Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Summer of Contracts

First Contract

by Meteoricshipyards 10 reviews

Harry returns to England, visits friends, and lets disrepectful walls know how he feels about them.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Harry,Luna - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2008-03-17 - Updated: 2008-03-17 - 9919 words - Complete

Disclaimer: I've recently heard that Harry Potter, his friends, and entire world, have been kidnapped and are no longer in the possession of JKR and a bunch of companies. I didn't do it. I just borrow them. See, I'll even turn my pockets out -- no Harry Potter. My thanks to my wonderful beta readers Swordchucks and Evan Mayerle for their excellent editing work.

Chapter 8
First Contract

Harry put his head back on the pillow and ignored Luna snuggling up to him. Well, almost ignored her. He positioned her pillow on his arm so that he could wrap it around her.

"I found out that I'm the head of two Ancient and noble houses, and as such I have to get married to continue the line by my eighteenth birthday."

"Traditionally, wizards and witches get married young. I'm not sure why, since we have longer lifespans than muggles, but there you have it." Mr. Lovegood said.

"But I'm not ready to get married. No offense Luna, but you're the first girl I've gotten to know besides Hermione, and nice as you are, I didn't want to ask you to marry me; at least not yet. Would it be such a terrible thing if I grew up a little first? I mean, don't get me wrong, if we keep dating, I think I'll eventually ask you. But I'm told I'll be forced to marry a Death Eater if I don't marry someone soon."

"If you ask me to marry you, I would," Luna said quietly.

"Luna!" Her father replied. "Don't pressure him! He's under a lot of pressure as it is."

"I'm not pressuring him, Daddy. I'm trying to take the pressure off. You don't have to ask me, Harry. But if the girls you do ask don't agree to marry you, then I want you to know that I will."

"That's part of the problem. There are probably a lot of girls who would agree to marry me. Or rather, would agree to marry the Boy-Who-Lived. They want to marry my fame and my money and my title. Ginny Weasley is like that. I'll always remember her running on Platform Nine and Three Quarters yelling she wanted to see the Boy-Who-Lived. I want someone who wants /me/."

"I want you."

"I know, Luna, and I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. But there's something else you need to know -- any potential wife would need to know -- before agreeing to be with me. I was going to tell you this before we went back to England anyway; this is just a little earlier.

"Before I was born, Sibyll Trelawney made a prophecy about me saying I was the only one who could kill Voldemort. A spy heard part of the prophecy and told Snake Face, and he killed my parents and tried to kill me. He's tried several times since then, so I don't think he's giving up. He's the other reason why I don't want to get married. Anyone I get close to will be targeted by Voldemort."

"But you wouldn't propose to someone unless they opposed the Dark Lord, so they are already targets."

"But you can oppose him and do it quietly. If I marry you it's like shouting to the world, 'kill this person.'"

Harry could feel Luna's stare even though he wasn't looking.

"There's something else, isn't there. You haven't told us everything."

Harry nodded, not caring that no one might see. "I am head of two houses. I have to have two wives, one for each house. As if setting one girl up as a target isn't bad enough, I have to do two. And who would want to marry me knowing that I'd just be a part time husband? That they'd have to share me?"

"I'm sure there are girls who would. . . ."

"Yes, like Ginny, who consider me some sort of prize catch."

"I think you're being unfair to Ginny. But you're right. There are probably girls who would marry you just to gain fame and fortune. But there are probably others who would marry you because they love, or at least know you, and know that it's all part of the package. It's not something you chose, and you wouldn't want it if you had a choice, right?"

"Of course not!"

"I know, but I wanted to remind you that you know, too. We don't always get what we want, Harry. Sometimes we just have to play the Snap hand we're dealt and hope we can pass off the dangerous cards before they explode."

Harry chuckled. "Thank you Luna. I needed a laugh. And you know what else I need? I need to go to sleep."

"Good night Harry. My offer still stands."

"Thank you Luna," he said, and kissed her. She kissed him back. The kiss went on and his other arm wrapped around her, while the arm she wasn't lying on slipped around him. And still the kiss went on until someone coughed, and Harry came back to himself. He disentangled himself, and whispered, "Good night, facing away from Luna. She spooned against him, and put an arm around him. He put his arm over hers and fell into a meditative state.



"Severus, what is going on?"

"I was summoned earlier this evening. Voldemort has killed Minister Bones."

"Are you alright?"

"I was not hurt in any way. The Aurors guarding her were killed, though."

"Was anyone else hurt? Doesn't her niece Susan live with her? Was she killed or captured?"

"There was no one at the house. The Dark Lord was hurt by Bones. It might have been fatal to a muggle, but he'll be healed within a month."

"Thank you, Severus."


Bellatrix entered the master bedroom with another figure in robes.

"Edgecombe, as you ordered, my lord."

"How may I be of assistance, my lord," she said.

"I have a job for you. I want you to find me an address."


"Good morning, Harry."

"Good morning, Odd. I have a question for you. You didn't say much last night. I was wondering how you felt about your daughter proposing marriage to me?"

"Well, I suppose she did that, didn't she? Harry, I think that her lack of close friends has had a bigger effect on her than she wants to admit. You are her friend, and she'll do anything for you because of that. Rather Hufflepuffish, if I do say so myself."

"Hey! Don't insult the 'Puffs. There are worse things to be than loyal and hardworking. That sounded really stupid, didn't it?"

"A little. And I wasn't disparaging them. I'm a 'Puff myself. But anyway, I hope you don't take her offer up in desperation. I'd hate for her to be hurt by one of her few friends."

"No, sir. If I decide to marry her it will be because I want to, rather than because I'm forced to."

"Good lad. Now, where is the light of my life?"

"Here I am Daddy. Just taking care of business," the blond said as she walked from the direction of the "bathroom," really a hole they had dug. After each use, it was flushed by tossing some dirt on it. Magic helped keep any animals it might attract and the smell away. The only time it bothered Harry was the day it rained all day without let up. Eventually, he had to go out and use it.

"Are we going to finish the birthday party now?"

Harry looked surprised. "What birthday party?"

"Yours, silly. We do have some presents for you. Not much, but they are hand made."

"You shouldn't have. . . ." Harry began.

Mr. Lovegood interrupted, "HA! I told you he would say that. You lose the bet."

"I would have lost the bet if I had bet against you, but as I didn't I didn't lose anything, seeing as how I agreed that he would say that."

Harry was mildly surprised that Luna said all that with a single breath.

"Fine. Whatever."

"Here you go, Harry. This is a translation of that Greek book that talked about horcruxes. It really isn't about that so much as it is about ritual magic. Horcruxes are just a good example because of all the parts that go into the making of one. There's some fascinating information in there, if you can keep it all straight."

"Since I wrote my Occlumency book, I seem to remember things much better."

Odd nodded, "That's what's supposed to happen. Here you go, a translation from the French of a book on shielding and other defensive techniques."

"Wow! Both of these are going to be so useful. I can't thank you enough."

"Yes, well, that's all well and good, but I have to nip over to town and pick up some eggs if we're going to have breakfast. Back shortly," Mr. Lovegood said and then disapparated..

Harry tried to pull Luna onto his lap. She resisted, saying, "That camp chair isn't going to hold the both of us. If you want to cuddle, conjure us a love seat."

Harry did, and sat down next to Luna, who he pulled into his arms. Their kiss was interrupted by the crack of an apparation.

Harry was up, wand in hand, but he was facing Mr. Lovegood.

"Harry, I just nipped 'round to the magical street to convert some money at Gringotts, and I passed a newsstand with foreign
newspapers. Check it out."

Harry looked at the headline, "Minister of Magic Amelia Bones killed by You-Know-Who."

"It was real. It might have been a trap, but it was real."

"Yes, Harry," Odd said quietly, "It's started again. We can look forward to more deaths and disappearances. With Bones I had hope. Fudge was a joke, if not a collaborator. Now I'm not sure what we will get."

"I could have done something. . . ."

"Maybe. But do you think she didn't fight back? Other people are fighting, too. Just because you're prophesied to kill him doesn't mean you can save everyone. We'll help you however we can, but you have to believe that you can't save everyone."

Harry looked lost and went back to reading the article. Odd motioned to Luna, and they stepped into the tent. A few minutes later, Luna came out, and took Harry's hand. They started walking into the woods.

"Where are you taking me?"

"Going to see if we can say goodbye to the Snorkacks. The vacation is over, isn't it?"

"It doesn't have to be. . . ."

"We didn't realize it, but it was a vacation as much because You-Know-Who was on some sort of vacation, too. Now the world is invading us, and we have no choice. It's demanding attention. You can't ignore it, and we have to support you."

"You don't!"

"We do. I do, because I love you. Daddy does because of me and because he's come to like you."

They walked in silence for a while, and came to a field. As with most harsh, cold climates, the flowers took every opportunity to bloom. It was beautiful.

"Harry? Would it be a good idea to mediate and get your emotions under control? Emotions are wonderful things, but you have to make them remember who's in charge." Harry found an outcropping of rock, and sat. Luna sat on the ground in front of him, and leaned on his legs.

"Are you trying to break my concentration?" he asked.

"You're a master Occlumens. This is hardly any distraction at all. Not compared with me being in bed with you."

"Great! More distraction." He closed his eyes and let the thoughts and emotions he had flow over him and pass away -- including the one of her in bed with him. He became part of the moment -- the warmth of the sun, the smell of the flowers, the feel of his girlfriend against his shins, the rustle of plants in the breeze, the movement of Luna's back as she did something with her arms. He opened his eyes.

A Snorkack had walked up to Luna. She was running her hand over its golden fleece. Her other hand was reaching back to him. He noticed it had an apple in it. He slowly took the fruit from her and held it out for the animal. It sniffed it, and licked it, but that's all. Harry put the fruit down, and reached up to it. It licked his hand, and did it again.

"Probably likes the salt in your sweat," Luna said, quietly.

Harry moved his hand slowly and ran it over the beast's jawline and down its neck. His fingers, like Luna's, ran through the thick, curly hair covering the powerful front legs. He encountered a burr, and worked it out. He must have pulled some hair, though, because the Snorkack moved away suddenly. It looked around, like it had been dazed, and ran up the hill a few meters. Then it walked into the woods.

"Sorry, Luna. I think I did that," he said, examining the burr in his hand, still with a golden hair attached. He stared at it a moment.

"Magical creatures? Good for potions?"

"Yes. But you're not going to hurt any, Harry Potter!"

"No, but I was thinking," he conjured up a bottle and dropped the hair into it. "Maybe this would be useful as a wand core. Are you ready to go?"


Susan woke up and had a slight panic attack, being unsure of where she was. As her eyes focused, she realized she was at the Abbots. She had been interviewed by the Aurors as soon as she had called them. They had already been to the house, but they wanted whatever she could add to their investigation. She answered their questions as well as she could, and was allowed to stay at the Abbots.

The questioning had lasted until near dawn, and she had gone to sleep. Now she was awake, and it was bright daylight.

She slipped on her jeans and blouse, the only clothes she had, she realized, and went to find Hannah. She found her in the dinning room. Her mother was also there, as well as an auror. There were several piles of mail on the table.

"Susan, I'm so sorry," Mrs. Abbot said. "I greatly admired your aunt and her death is a terrible blow to us all."

Susan nodded. She had trouble believing it herself. She looked at the table. "What's all this?"

Hannah answered, "Letters addressed to you. We sorted them into several piles. That pile is from schoolmates. That one from people we're pretty sure are sending a note for political reasons. That pile," she indicated the smallest pile, "we weren't sure about. It's got a few notes from Witch Weekly and the Prophet, so those we guessed were requests for interviews. It also has a few that looked different. They might be political, too, but we weren't sure. Oh, yes, and Auror MacDonald is here for protection and to check the mail. He's already sent a couple of suspicious letters, along with their owls, to Auror Headquarters."

She picked up a note from the school pile. It was from Mark Cinnamon, last years seventh year boy prefect in Hufflepuff. It said he was sorry, and hoped she was well, and the Hufflepuffs stayed together in bad times.

Hannah looked over the parchment after Susan handed it to her. She nodded. "I can guess that most of the rest of the House will say the same thing. At last count we have letters from almost the entire house above third year. The only ones missing are muggle-born, so they may not have owls, or may not have heard yet."

Susan smiled. "That was nice of them." She picked up one from Ginny Weasley stating her condolences and hoping Susan was alright, and hoping for swift justice against the people who killed her aunt.

"Very Gryffindorish," Susan commented.

She glanced through some of the "official" letters. Lots of Aurors, various people in government, members of the Wizengamot. She glanced at the "Other" table. She skipped the letters from the Prophet and Witch Weekly, and picked up a pinkish scroll without a name on it. It did have a wax seal with an unknown shield-shaped mark stamped into it. She used a knife to open the scroll, read it, and turned pale. She ran upstairs. Hannah and her mother looked at the letter.

Baron Otto Bravnorgroth
Raugost Castle

Dear Susan,

While you may not know me, I have been in negotiation with your Aunt for a while. I believe we can continue the negotiations and conclude a marriage contract with out too much difficulty, as most of the areas of dispute have been resolved. I shall be in England next week and greatly desire to conclude our negotiations.


Otto Bravnorgroth


Harry and Luna walked back to the campground to find everything packed up already. Mr. Lovegood was putting the tent into the never full bag that held all the camping equipment.

"Almost done here. Would you hand me that ice chest, Harry? Thanks. Time to double check the area -- we don't want to leave anything we might want behind, and we don't want to leave any garbage that the next campers will have to pick up."

They checked the campsite and surrounding area, but didn't find anything. Hedwig decided to not travel in her cage, and landed on Harry's shoulder, ready to leave at a moments notice when he inevitably fell down. She knew his problems with wizarding travel quite well.

Luna held Harry's arm, and with all their luggage in the backpack Odd was wearing, they all grasped the portkey, and Odd activated it with a word.


When the spinning stopped, Harry was on the floor in a nice sitting room. It was shaped like a half circle, with some windows in the stone wall that made up the outer part of the circle. The walls were mostly covered with tapestries. Harry lay on a nice rug and looked up at his hosts.

"Sorry, Harry, I couldn't hold on when you lost your balance at the end," Luna explained. He saw Hedwig sitting on the mantle. She barked as if to say, "You didn't really expect me to fall down too, did you?"

Harry stood up, while Odd took two shrunken trunks out of the backpack. He handed them to Luna.

"Dearest, would you put Harry's trunk in the guest room, and yours in your room. Then you can get a shower in, before we do."

"Yes, Daddy. I love the outdoors, but I was getting to the point where I would have started doing violent things to get a shower." She said it so calmly that Harry had to snicker.

"Yes, well, no cause for that now. Off you go." She headed up a stairway that circled around part of the room.

"Harry, I've been thinking about your marriage problem, and I have an offer to make."


"We can sign a marriage contract, but with the proviso that either party can call off the wedding at any time. That would allow you two years, and protect you from the Wizengamot. I'm afraid the goblins are right; back in your father's day, no one objected to the head of the Potter family marrying a muggle-born. We were in the middle of the fight with Voldemort, and no one wanted to be seen as supporting his ideas. This time, however, there are fewer "light" families; the war took its toll. I think they would jump at the chance to interfere with your marriage. At least this way, you have the Potter family taken care of; and if you decide to marry someone else, the contract won't stop you."

"Thanks, Odd. I'm still overwhelmed by this whole marriage thing. But I won't do this without discussing it with Luna."

"That's fine. I'm not trying to go behind her back, either. I just thought this might be a way to protect you at from at least one attack. You'll still need to find another wife for the Black family."

"That's something else I have trouble with: being in two different families, and I'm the only person in them both."

"No one ever said wizards are logical."


It was evening, and the owls were still coming. Susan was in the living room talking with her family solicitor, Mr. Bernie Eyceberg. The man collected all the letters received so far, and disappeared through the Floo. He would be back the next day with "thank you"s all ready to be signed and sent off. Hannah and her parents came into the living room after he left.

"Well, it seems that the Baron has either overstated his position or, in non diplomatic language, outright lied to me. Yes, he had contacted Aunt Amelia multiple times over the past few years about a marriage contract, but she had rejected him every time. As a foreigner, unless he bribed a lot of Wizengamot members, he really doesn't have any leverage to force the issue. There are a few other proposals like that, including one from the Malfoys."

"Ewwww," Hannah commented.

"I agree. However, that was several years before Hogwarts and they haven't tried again. Bernie's guessing I'll get a lot more now that I don't have Amelia protecting me."

"We'll do our best," Mr. Abbot said.

"Thank you. It's so kind of you to offer to take me in."

"Miss Bones?" There was a new Auror on owl duty. "We have one who's waiting for a reply."

"Oh, very well. Let's see what we have." She walked into the living room, which was where they were still directing the owls, and saw a snowy owl waiting. There were two letters on the table, probably already checked for any spells. She picked up the first one.

Dear Susan Bones,

I realize that we are in different houses, and in different years, but I want you to know that I do understand what you are going through. My mother died when I was nine and I could have used a friend at the time. And while we may not be friends, I am always available should you need an ear to listen.

With sympathy,

Luna Lovegood

PS. I know this is a bad time, but I do have a favor to ask. Don't let Harry Potter be guilty over your aunt's death. He thinks a lot of things are his fault when they're not, so please don't encourage him. LL

"Well that was unexpected," Susan commented to Hannah after sharing the letter. "She was in the defense club, but didn't say very much at the time. I didn't know about her mother."

"Me, neither," Hannah answered.

"Strange post-script. Wonder why Harry Potter would be guilty about Aunt's death?"

Hanna shrugged. "No reply was asked." She looked at the snowy owl. "Why are you still here?" The owl barked. "Well, no need to be rude. Read the other letter, Susan."

Dear Susan,

I am sorry to hear about your loss. I too lost someone close to me this summer.

When I was being tried for the use of underage magic, your aunt was the fairest member of the Wizengamot. I never got the chance to thank her properly. Please forgive me that.

I would very much like to talk to you about your aunt's death, if you would permit me to meet with you. I have things to say and do not wish to put them into a letter.

Unfortunately, someone is intercepting my mail, so sending a reply by any owl except mine will not reach me. If you do not have an answer right now, you can reach me care of Luna Lovegood.

With great sorrow,

Harry Potter

"That, too, is weird. What do you think he wants to talk to me about?"

"I haven't the foggiest. Do you think Lovegood was talking about his guilt of not thanking your aunt?" Hannah asked.

"I don't know. And that bit about owls not getting to him. That almost sounds paranoid."

"Yes, but is it paranoia when someone is really after you?"

"Point," Susan conceded. She turned to the snowy owl, and thought. "How about we meet him tomorrow for lunch. But someplace were we can get some privacy."


"Yes. That place you took me. . . ." She got some paper, ink, and quill, and wrote a reply. She tied it to the snowy owl's leg and the bird flew away.


Luna and her father appeared in a fireplace at the Leaky Cauldron. They looked around and headed out the door to Muggle London. They made their way through the muggle crowded streets with frequent checks to a piece of paper that held their directions.

Mr. Lovegood made numerous checks about himself, trying to ascertain if they were being followed. Either they weren't or the tail was much better at not being seen than Mr. Lovegood was at spotting the same. They entered the restaurant, and Luna saw Hannah and Susan sitting at a table. She went to join them. Mr. Lovegood stopped at a nearby table.

Susan asked, "Luna? Where's Harry?"

"He'll be along in a minute. He's still making sure it's safe."

"Doesn't he trust us?"

"Of course. You're his friends, so he trusts you. What he doesn't trust is You-Know-Who, so he's making sure there aren't any of his people around."

"Thank you for the note, by the way," Susan said. "I'm sorry about your mother."

"I still feel sad about it sometimes. But I remember the happy times much more. Since they're all memories, why not concentrate on the good ones?"

Harry walked out of the men's room, holding a book bag. He had been following, under his invisibility cloak, and used the restroom to take it off. It was now folded up in the cloth bag he carried.

"Hello, Hannah, Susan. Thanks for meeting with me."

"Hi, Harry. How have you been?" Susan asked. "You said you lost someone, too. May I ask who?"

"My godfather," he said, flicking his wand, causing the noise from the other customers to dim. "I was tricked into going to the Department of Mysteries to save him, but it was a trap, and he had to save me. Bellatrix Lestrange killed him." Harry used his meditation techniques to regain control of his emotions.

Hannah and Susan had glanced at each other when Harry had cast the privacy spell. Susan noticed the change in Harry as he was talking. He seemed . . . calmer than he usually was.

"If you won't, I'll tell them the rest, Harry," Luna said. Harry looked puzzled as he turned to Luna.

"Harry has a magical connection to You-Know-Who. He sent Harry an image of his godfather being tortured, and so Harry went off to rescue him. It wasn't his fault that it was a lie."

"Are you two an item?" Hannah asked.

"Yes." "No." answered Luna and Harry respectively at the same time. Harry looked at Luna for a moment and turned to the other girls.

"I have Voldemort after me. I don't think it's fair to be involved with anyone until he's stopped. Anyone I go out with will be a target."

Hannah looked around worriedly, but Susan looked looked thoughtful.

"Why did you want to see me, Harry?"

"Partly to let you know you have friends. I was lucky that way after Sirius was killed," he glanced at Luna.

Luna stage whispered, "Here it comes," which was rewarded with an angry glare from Harry, which disappeared as he turned back to the Hufflepuffs.

"The other thing was to apologize to you. The night of the attack I got a vision from Voldemort that he was going to attack your aunt. I didn't do anything and I should have. I could have warned her."

"Oh," Susan didn't know what to say. She was saved by the arrival of the waitress. They ordered a large pizza, and Harry, with a suggestion from Hanna, helped Odd order a small pizza when the waitress visited him.

"So, you could have stopped it? Called the aurors?" Susan asked.

Harry looked down, but before he could answer, Luna did. "No. We were camping in Sweden. Probably the best we could have done would be to apparate to a major wizarding community, and try to get an international floo connection to the aurors in Britain. If he thought it was true, which he didn't."

Susan nodded and asked, "Harry, what was the difference between the image that was a trap and the one that was a real event?"

Harry thought for a minute, "Not much. They both seemed real. Wait -- the fake one had me looking at things from the outside -- like I was someone who wasn't really in the picture. The one I had of the attack on your house was like I was Voldemort. I not only saw and heard what he was seeing and hearing, but I knew some of what he was thinking. That's how I knew it was your aunt's house! He never said it, he only thought it."

"But you didn't notice that until just now, right Harry?" Luna asked. Harry nodded. "Well, how can you blame yourself if you were tricked by a vision very similar to that one? You didn't know at the time if it was real or if it was a trap. It wasn't your fault, Harry!" she said with conviction.

"Luna's right, Harry, you didn't know. There's no blame to you. It all lies with You-Know-Who and the Death Eaters.

"And speaking of eating, here comes our pizza!" Hannah exclaimed.

"Were we speaking of eating?" Luna asked.

The pizza came and with it a guest. A tall, imposing man with graying, tawny hair, reminding Harry of a lion, limped to the table.

"Mr. Potter. Miss Bones, my condolences."

"Thank you, Auror Scrimgeour," Susan said.

Mr. Lovegood started over to the table, but a large man who had come in with Scrimgeour stopped him.

"It's Acting Minister, now, Miss Bones. Potter, you were recently detected casting a privacy charm in violation of the restriction of under age magic. Have anything to say?"

"Are you going to try me before the whole Wizengamot again? This time without a fair judge, seeing as how the last fair member was recently murdered."

"No. I just want you to explain yourself."

"I was informed by the goblins that as head of an Ancient House I am not held by the underage magic restrictions. Are you here to arrest me?"

"No, I'm here because Fudge put a process in place to inform him personally every time you sneezed wrong. I'm curious as to why he did that and if I need to keep it in place."

"You probably read the Prophet last summer and most of the school year. I'm a dangerous, disturbed attention seeking loony -- no offense Luna."

"None taken, Harry."

Susan and Hannah were more surprised by his easy banter with Lovegood than with him facing up to Scrimgeour.

"Sarcasm doesn't suit you, Potter. I told you why I'm here. I'm not out to get you. Unlike Fudge, I don't think you are out to overthrow the government."

"I might be, considering that I also recently found out that I'm being forced to marry someone, not necessarily of my own choosing, before my eighteenth birthday. With the prevalence of Dark families in the Wizengamot, the goblins think I would end up with a wife that owes her allegiance to Voldemort. So if I'm less than thrilled by the government of Britain, that might be why."

"Yes, that is the law. I will tell you that I will side with you on the marriage thing in the Wizengamot. We might be able to sway enough votes to allow you to marry who you want."

"But the Potters are Light wizards. They can already marry who they want," Susan pointed out.

"That's true," Scrimgeour turned back to Potter. "So what's the problem?"

"What if I don't want to get married until I'm twenty? What if I don't want to get engaged while I have psycho after me who will then target my wife? Sorry, but the government couldn't keep the Minister of Magic from being killed. How will you protect the future wife of one of its citizens?"

"I intend to fight You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. Will you join me?"

"I'm still a student. I'm not legally an adult. Don't you think it's silly to pin your hopes on me?"

"You defeated him once, and you were only a baby. It's not unreasonable to expect you to pull off that miracle twice. You've already survived a duel with him."

"By luck! Right after he was resurrected and still weak; I couldn't do that again."

"None the less, the people do think you will help them, and if you are reluctant, they will turn on you again. The public makes a very ugly mob, Mr. Potter. But I'm willing to work with you any way I can, except to give up control. I think we want the same thing -- the defeat of You-Know-Who. If you can help, great! If not, then don't get in my way. Let me know when you're willing to work with me." He got up and left.

"I don't think I like him very much," Harry said to the others.

"Aunt Amelia said he was ruthless," Susan said, watching the Minister leave.

"Definitely not a Hufflepuff," Hannah put in.

"I wonder if he has a case of poison ivy. It makes people irritable," Luna added. Harry just shrugged.

Mr. Lovegood, no longer held back by the minister's body guard, came over to the table to check on things, as did the auror who was assigned as a body guard for Susan. They assured the adults that everything was fine.

After Scrimgeour and his guard left, the students just spent some time discussing their summer. Susan was able to forget about her loss for a few minutes, or at least concentrate on the good memories. But the pain was too much, and they ended their lunch. Harry paid for lunch, including the food for Mr. Lovegood and Susan's Auror. They left the restaurant.

Harry held open the door as the three girls left, and he followed them out.

"It was Potter. Get him!"

"/Avada Kedavra/!" one of the four figures in black robes, who were across the street, yelled.

For over four weeks Harry had been practicing magic for two hours every morning while meditating. He had learned how to cast nearly every spell he knew without speaking and without hardly any wand movement. He had also increased his speed and accuracy. And these four wizards were the first to experience his new skills.

Harry, for his part, fell into his meditative state automatically as he swung his wand up. A trash bin flew into the path of the killing curse while the plate glass window behind two of the Death Eaters was suddenly summoned towards Harry. A third was banished into traffic where he was hit by a lorry and the last tried to dodge a quartet of spells that were bearing down on him.

The trash can exploded, and the still standing Death Eater found that his victim was right beside him. He didn't have a chance to do anything about it since Harry's cutting curse sliced right through his wand arm, leaving it lying on the ground.

What happened next surprised even Harry. The Death Eater screamed and burst into flames. Harry jumped back, and the black clad man fell to the ground in a flaming heap.

Harry calmed his emotions and moved to the groaning Death Eaters on the ground. The window had shattered as it had moved towards Harry and shards of glass had sliced up the death eaters. One had a large piece of glass sticking out of his hood covered head. The other just groaned. Harry stomped on his wand and hand. He pushed the body over on it's back and removed the mask.

"How did you know I was here?" Harry asked.

"Go to hell."

Harry stood and stomped on his other hand.

"How did you know I was here?" he asked again, without emotion.

"You broke my hand!"

"There are 206 bones in the human body; about thirty in each hand, so that leaves 146 more that I can break. Your choice."

It was the way the boy said it -- so quietly and calmly -- that scared the Death Eater. "Someone in the ministry told us that the Minister was coming here to talk to you. We weren't sure if this was true or not, but it was too good a chance to miss."

Harry stood up and saw that Aurors were moving around the street. He thought for a moment and crouched down next to the still living Death Eater. He pushed up his sleeve, exposing the dark mark. Examining it for a moment, he touched it with his wand. The Death Eater hissed in pain, and jerked his arm away. Harry grabbed the arm, and touched the mark with his finger.

He wasn't sure what he felt -- never having felt anything like it before he had no word for it. But he felt the mark. As he stood up, he could still feel it.

An auror came over to him, wand drawn.

"Hello officer."

"What's going on here?" he said, surprised that a muggle could recognize him.

Harry pointed to the Dark Mark on the man's exposed arm. "Death Eater attack. There's a spy in the Ministry that told them that the Minister was coming here. Probably an assassination attempt."

"Sure, kid. And what happened to them?"

"They recognized me, and took me as a target of opportunity." Harry quickly, and mostly accurately described the spell battle that took out the death eaters. The auror was incredulous, even after he got around to asking Harry his name. But a Prior Incantato proved that he spoke the truth, and the auror bodyguard of Susan confirmed the rest. Harry asked that his name be kept out of the report, which the aurors couldn't guarantee, but would try. Eventually, they finished with the witnesses, had obliviated all the muggle witnesses, and repaired the window. The muggles were left with a memory of a street fight, and a thug getting hit by a car.

"That one," he pointed to the burned patch, "he just burned up."

"Yes, that happens. A little gift of the Dark Lord to keep his people from trying to run by cutting off their dark mark. Don't worry about it."

Harry nodded, and went to join his friends. They were finishing their description of what happened. Harry waited a few feet away until the aurors were finished. Once the red-robed law enforcement personnel had left, Harry approached the group that consisted of the three girls, Odd, and Susan's bodyguard. He walked away, watching the area.

Luna looked at Harry. He had a blank expression on his face. It was the same one that she had seen many times when he was practicing his mediation.

"Harry, it's over," she said. He just looked at her. "Harry, come back. Harry!" She gently grabbed one of his upper arms, and shook him slightly. "Harry, please?" She was starting to get nervous.

Harry was in his mediative state. Nothing effected him. He could answer questions, but not lie in this state, lying took too much thought, and he was just experiencing. But something in Luna's voice reached him, and he became more conscience of his surroundings. And he realized what he had done.

Susan watched the interplay between Luna and Harry. She didn't know him very well, but something told her that this wasn't normal. Harry seemed to focus on Luna after she shook him, but what happened next shocked her.

Harry started shaking. He brought his hands up to his head, and shook it.

"I'm going dark!" he whispered. "I killed them. I'm as bad as Voldemort." He bent over and lost his lunch.

"No your not," was the response from Luna and her father.

Odd added, "You defended your friends. It's a sad thing that you had to kill, but you had to save your friends. You did what you had to do."

Harry just shook his head. "I tortured that man, just to find out that there's a leak in the ministry. Anyone with brains could have thought of that, but I tortured him."

"Harry," Susan asked, "did you enjoy what you did to him?"

Harry just shook his head.

"Then you are not turning dark. My aunt used to tell me that you sometimes have to do terrible things to fight dark wizards. The difference is that you feel terrible afterwards, while they don't. If you ever reach the point where you don't regret what you have to do, that's the day you should get out. With You-Know-Who back, we're all going to have to do things that we don't want to. But we won't go dark. As long as we stay together; as long as we work together; as long as we look out for each other -- we won't go dark.

Harry nodded. With a few waves of his wand, he had cleaned himself up, and vanished the remains of his lunch.

"Let's get you home, Harry," Odd said, directing the group back towards the Leaky Cauldron. Susan, Hannah, and her bodyguard floo-ed away from there, while Harry and Luna went to Ollivander's. Odd went to offices of the Quibbler.

Ollivander was just as creepy as he remembered, but turned out to be related to Luna. He had the same silvery eyes, and was quite friendly with them. He accepted a commission from Harry to create a second wand for him, but only after Harry asked formally as the head of a family. Harry explained the events associated with his duel with Voldemort in the graveyard, but Ollivander couldn't shed any light on it. But he agreed that Harry would need another wand if he was going to fight Voldemort. Harry handed him the Snorkack hair, and suggested Holly for the wood, since his current wand was made of that wood.

"As this is a wand specifically for you, would you like to donate some blood, too? With your blood coating the core chamber it will be more likely that this wand will work with you."

Harry donated the blood, and Ollivander told him it would be available the next week. He reiterated that he couldn't guarantee that the wand would be compatible. He didn't recognize the thread, and Harry didn't tell him what it was. He was intrigued by the magic in it, but as there was only one thread he didn't have any extra to experiment with.

The final stop before heading home was to go to the Ministry and get his apparition license. He thought he should avoid trouble and be legal. The aurors at the scene of the fight had overlooked that little infraction, but warned him they wouldn't do that in a non-fight. And as uncomfortable as it was, he felt better apparating than floo-ing or portkeying. They tested him, and he got his license, and once again being head of a house allowed him to work under different rules than the rest of the populace. The Lovegoods and Harry apparated to their house, and Harry saw the outside for the first time.

It was a tower. A stone tower that looked very old. A set of stone steps climbed part way around the round structure and ended at a door one floor above the ground. Windows in the tower made Harry believe it was four stories tall. Climbing up the steps, which were wide and didn't have a banister, he found something else unique about the house -- the steps went over a drawbridge. The bridge was down currently, so they had no trouble reaching the door, which opened when Odd used a large key in the lock.

Once inside, he found himself in the large, semi-circular sitting room that the portkey had left them in when they returned from their vacation. There was a table and chairs, a couch, a couple of over-stuffed chairs, and a coffee table, as well as a fire place. The other half of the circular level was the kitchen. One floor up was Odd's bedroom and the guest bedroom that Harry was using. And above that was Luna's room, taking up the whole top floor. It structure gave a feeling of age, and the furniture seemed to say impermanence. Harry felt both comfortable, and a little intimidated by the building. He was glad to be back after the meeting with the minister and the fight.


It was the next day. Mr. Lovegood had departed for the Quibbler office in Diagon Alley. Luna and Harry were left cleaning the breakfast dishes with the instruction, "I trust you not to get into too much trouble." They finished, and sat in the parlor.

"What's wrong, Harry?"

"I should check on the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley's probably gone spare because I've been gone. I should probably go and let her yell at me and get it over."

"She shouldn't yell at you. She's not your mother."

"But she thinks she should be. She'll say I should have gone to the Burrow instead of going on vacation with you. Not that I told her who I was with, mind you."

"Do you wish you had gone to the Burrow instead?"

"NO! I mean, no. I had a wonderful time with you. I did things I'd never even dreamed of doing. And I shared it with you." And I'm getting mushy, he thought to himself. Luna seemed to like it, though.

"We could go over together. I could protect you."

"Protect me?"

"Sure. Mrs. Weasley's never yelled at me. I think she still feels sorry for me being without a mother."

"If you don't mind, that would be fine. Everyone would know where I spent my time, though. And this sort of thing gets around; people will talk."

"Does that bother you? Because it doesn't bother me."

"It would bother me if the Death Eaters started to target you because I was going out with you."

"That would make things uncomfortable. If we don't tell them where you've been and that you're my boyfriend, then word can't get out, as your say."

"Am I your boyfriend?"

"I thought you were. Don't you want to be?"

"Yes. I just hadn't thought about it. So that makes you my girlfriend."

"That's the way it usually works. Of course, I'm only the girlfriend of Lord Potter. Someone else will eventually be the girlfriend of Lord Black."

"Ug. Don't remind me."


"That was rhetorical. You can remind me, but only when we're alone. So, I go alone. I'll be back later."

"Are you going to apparate there?" Harry said yes. "Then don't forget that you're not keyed into either our wards or the Weasley's wards, so you should walk to the road or into the forest beyond the stream when you disapparate, and don't reappear in the Weasley's wards -- you don't want to splinch yourself."

Harry agreed to take care, and headed out of the house. He walked to the woods behind the tower because it was closer than the road, and apparated across town to the Burrow, arriving down the street from it. He walked to the house, crossing the wards, and knocked on the door.

The curtains on the door's window moved aside, and Ron yelled, "It's Harry!" as he pulled the door open. He grabbed Harry and pulled him inside, smiling like a mad man.

"Harry! Where the bloody hell have you been?"

"Good to see you, too, Ron."

A short redhead grabbed him in a hug.

"Harry!" Ginny shouted.

"Hi, Ginny."

Mrs. Weasley also appeared. "Harry," she said, more sedately. "You had us all worried."

"I wrote letters as often as I said I would."

"But if you had been hurt or captured. . . ."

"Look, I'm not going to spend my time defending my actions. I am fine, I had a good time. I was not hurt. End of story."

"Don't you take that tone with me, young man! That was a very thoughtless thing you did, disappearing like that. . . ." Mrs. Weasley started her diatribe.

"Very well, then. I know when I'm not wanted." He reached for the doorknob.

"Harry! Don't you dare leave!" Ginny yelled.

He opened the door, and Ron grabbed his shoulder.

Harry twisted away and had his wand out.

"Am I a prisoner?"

"No, mate, I just don't want you to go before I have a chance to catch. up. . . ."

Meanwhile Mrs. Weasley interrupted her son, "Harry James Potter, you stop this nonsense right this minute, and get in here."

He looked at Mrs. Weasley, and her daughter, and said, "I don't take orders." He spun around and walked away, quickly calming himself. He hadn't been that emotional when he fought the Death Eaters, he thought to himself as he reached the road. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were still yelling at him to "come back this instant" and other things that a mother might say, but she wasn't his mother. He crossed the ward boundaries, and disapparated.

He arrived near the Lovegood's house and went inside. Luna was nowhere to be found, so he sat down and began practicing his magic. He found transformations unsatisfying, so he went outside. He began a cycle of spells near the stream that would transfigure a pebble into a stone wall, destroy it with a reducto/, banish the pieces at a tree as if it were an opponent, throw up a /protego shield, and start the whole thing over again. Giving his body something to do, his mind started calming down. He soon had a cleared mind.

Meanwhile shortly after he had apparated from the Burrow, the Weasleys returned inside.

"When did he learn to apparate?" Ron asked.

"Probably over the summer," Luna answered.

"Hi, Luna. When did you get here?" Ron asked her.

"Just before you yelled that Harry's here. Then Ginny said he had been gone all summer. Why didn't you invite him in?"

"We did, but he didn't want to come, for some reason," Ginny said. Meanwhile, Molly was at the fireplace contacting Dumbledore.

"But you didn't. I heard you. You ordered him to come in. No one invited him."

The fire flared green and the Headmaster appeared.

"As I was saying, Headmaster, he showed up at the door just a few minutes ago, and then left in a huff."

"I would leave too, if I went to a house and everyone yelled at me," Luna pointed out.

"I did not yell at him!" Ron half shouted.

"True. Then I suppose I would have left in two-thirds of a huff."

"Miss Lovegood, this isn't helping," Dumbledore said.

"That's too bad. I thought if I pointed out why Harry left it might help should he return in the future."

"Do you know if Harry is coming back here in the future?"

"I would guess so. After all, Ron is one of his best friends and I assume that he would still want to speak to him."

"What about me?" Ginny asked, angrily.

"What about you?"

"I'm one of his best friends."

"Really? I know he rescued you but I don't remember you ever telling me that you were best friends."

"Well, we are!" the youngest Weasley shouted.

Dumbledore felt a headache coming on. "Please! Let us not lose sight of the fact that Harry is back from his so-called vacation. Did he tell you anything about it?"

"No, he left almost right away," Molly said.

"Because you yelled at him?" Dumbledore asked.

"No. Well, maybe. But he shouldn't have done what he did."

"Mr. Weasley? Miss Weasley? Did he tell you anything?"

Ron shook his head, but Ginny answered, "He said he wasn't going to take orders any more."

"Oh, dear. Miss Lovegood, did he tell you anything?"

"I didn't even see him. I was in here and heard the yelling. I didn't know he wouldn't come in for a visit."

"Thank you. I think I will return to Hogwarts now. Molly, let me know if you hear anything else. I think I will act on Miss Lovegood's comment."

Molly looked puzzled and looked between the young blond and the old man.

He spoke softly to Mrs. Weasley, "She said that Harry would try to talk with his best friends. I think I will have some Order members wait for him at the Granger's house." However, since everyone was fairly close together they all heard. To the entire group he said, "Good day to you all," tossed some floo powder into the fireplace and disappeared to the "Headmaster's office" through the Floo.

Mrs. Weasley went to the kitchen while Ron went upstairs to his room. Ginny meanwhile sat Luna down, and said, "Tell me all about your summer!"

"Daddy and I went hunting for Crumpled Horned Snorkacks, and we found what we're sure was their tracks. It was by this beautiful mountain stream. And we camped nearby and hiked and read and Daddy said he followed an owl carrying some woman's underwear. . . ."

Ginny didn't believe everything Luna told her, but it sounded a lot more exciting than anything she had done that summer, even if it wasn't true.

Over an hour later, Luna found Harry outside blowing up a wall.

"What did the wall ever do to you?" she asked, as he banished the pieces towards a distant tree.

"It told me what to do in a disrespectful manner," Harry answered, refreshing his shield and turning another rock into a small stone wall.

"Ginny told me that Professor Dumbledore was in charge of this group called the Order that is fighting the Dark Lord, and Professor Dumbledore told me that he was going to have some of the members watch for you at Hermione's house."

"You were at the Burrow?"

"Yes. I just returned from my vacation and went to talk to my friend Ginny, and you never guess who showed up!"


"Yes, but he was later! The-Boy-Who-Lived! Didn't stay long, though. I think they tried to tell him what to do in a disrespectful manner too. After he left Mrs. Weasley called the professor, and that's when he said something about the order." Harry chuckled.

"He told you about the Order?" he asked.

"Actually, he told Mrs. Weasley that. But since I was in the room with Ron and Ginny, and he didn't try very hard to not let anyone else hear, we all heard."

"Interesting, but I should talk to Hermione."

"Is he going to capture you?"

"I don't know what he's planning, but I'm not going to be captured at Hermione's house."


Dumbledore did have a headache. The Weasleys had driven Harry off, which was disturbing for several reasons. First, the comment that he wasn't going to take orders any more. This was not the pliable child that he had come to know and guide. Of course, it obviously started last year with that whole Ministry of Magic thing. But the implications were bothersome, to say the least. He would have to face the chance that Voldemort might use Harry and try to break into his mind when they were together. He couldn't afford to let him get further away.

That was one part of his headache. Another was the pile of mail that he would have allowed to go to Harry. It had built up over the summer, and now included several birthday presents. The "fan mail" kept piling up in the unused classrooms in the eastern wing of the castle where they had his whole life, but now the Ministry knew about it. He explained his reasoning to the minster, but Scrimgeour still threatened him with legal action if he didn't get the mail redirection spell removed and all of Harry's mail back to him. He cursed himself for changing the spell. The other one had worked well, but no -- he found the ancient spell that was anchored on the familiar of the wizard, and had to try that. Until he got a hold of Harry's owl he couldn't change the mail redirection.

The third thing that was disturbing was the rumor that Harry had been involved in the battle against the Death Eaters yesterday. It was just a rumor, and Shacklebolt was looking into it, but if it was true then Harry might be on the path to the Dark Side. If all wasn't lost yet, then it might be before too long. There were two possibilities with that -- that Harry might join Voldemort (which would just get him killed), or that Harry would kill Voldemort and place himself as the next Dark Lord. In that case, he would have to kill Harry. There was no prophesies about Harry as the Dark Lord, so no reason he couldn't.

What would be best would be his original plan where Harry and the Voldemort killed each other. Now he had to watch out for them aiming for the same goal.

Or even worse, what if they somehow decided to work together?

But he was being premature. He didn't get to be a hundred forty by panicking. He needed information. He needed to speak with Harry.

But he also needed information on Voldemort.

He quickly wrote a note, and gave it to Fawkes. The firebird disappeared when Dumbledore told him to give the note to Severus only if he was in the castle. He wasn't sure how the bird did it -- phoenixes, unlike magical owls, couldn't detect people all over the world. But the bird knew when the potion master was in the castle.

The bird reappeared shortly thereafter, and the potion master made his own appearance not long after, though he came through the door.


"Severus! How is the health of the Dark Lord?"

"Improving rapidly. I admit his knowledge of potions is beyond mine. The formulas he gives me all work, and the knife wounds are healing rapidly."

"Alas, it would have been too easy if they had been fatal, eh, my boy?"

Severus said nothing. He had long since given up complaining about being called a boy.

"Any further news?"

"Yes, the Dark Lord has received rumors that Potter killed several Death Eaters. Should these prove true, he is likely to take action himself. I doubt the whole Order could stand up to him, should he go against Potter's house like he went against Bones."

"The blood wards. . . ."

"Are just wards. They can be broken like any other ward. Maybe they will be harder, but even so, they will eventually fall. He is no longer concerned about keeping his return secret. He will want to eliminate the threat of the prophecy as soon as possible."

"We must find Potter!"

"What? You don't know where he is?"

"No. He never went to his relatives house this summer. We received some notes from the continent from him, but he was traveling; sent notes from several different countries. Now he's back in England. We have to find him before Voldemort does."
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