Chapter 38 - Opening Moves

AN:

Happy Samhain/Halloween!

Many thanks to my Beta, Trey of the Rebellion, thanks for the hard work going through the chapter to get it to this stage.

Surprise! Another chapter in a short period :) Unfortunately, I'm still working on the next section, so no idea when that's going to be released.

-o-o-o-o-o-

Petunia glared around the room as her heart ached at how much she missed her son. The house was clean, the garden neatened to the level the boy… she paused as she clenched her hands in muted rage and pain as the thought ran through her mind until she calmed. Harry, his name was Harry. He was her Master now.

She let out a relieved sigh as the pain vanished as if it were never there.

Grunting in frustration, she got back to work cleaning the windows. She worked hard to maintain the house to the standards she had demanded of… Harry in the past, she had to twist her fingers to reach all the spots she had screeched at him to clean in the past. A number of improvised tools rested in the cupboard under the stairs to assist her when she did those chores again.

She took a deep breath and got back to work, letting her mind wander as she worked to get the dirt from the corner, how it got like this she did not know, she was sure that this wasn't there yesterday. It was strangely relaxing in its own way, that her mind could drift as she worked in the routine.

In the shadows at the top of the stairs, Dobby watched the Master's new servant with glee, he would return tonight when she slept to make sure that she would be busy again tomorrow. After all, there must always be work to do. The weather was meant to be nice, perhaps he would do something to the garden and get her some fresh air.

Dobby's eyes snapped up as he felt the wards ripple slightly, not enough to be a threat, but someone of authority had entered the area. He took a deep breath and tasted the intent behind these intruders. They were here, but not for the Great Master. He went invisible as he waited for answers to provide to his glorious Master.

Petunia frowned as a police car parked in front of her house and two officers began to come towards her door, her mind went blank in fear as she feared something had happened to her precious Dudley. At their knock, she hurried to answer the door.

The woman smiled gently at Petunia, "Mrs Dursley, can we come in?"

"What's the matter officer? Is Dudley, okay?" Petunia worriedly asked as she gestured for them to enter.

The male officer smiled sadly at her as he looked around the room, "As far as we know, nothing is wrong with your son. Perhaps you should take a seat."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry carefully picked his way among the towering piles of junk, so many interesting and useful things were left in here, his new wand had been one of them until recently. It amazed him how the room could contain everything, but presumed it was some form of pocket dimension, or set of them. For a moment he allowed himself to ponder over the sheer energy requirements needed to bring that about and whether time flowed properly when the room wasn't in use.

He glanced at a pile of old books and tapped them with his fingertip as he allowed himself the moments mental wandering, the leather and bindings looked old, but not centuries old which did not match the binding style of the book, nor the lack of writing upon its cover or spine that suggested it was older than most in the school, or that it was a personal book.

His wand was old, he knew that, but wood would have decayed in such an environment, the core rotted or broken under times relentless march. He stopped as his finger ran along its length as he thought about it. If the room was used as a dumping ground for say, ten minutes a day, that meant that of the, what? How many minutes were in a day?

He looked around and grabbed a sheet of abandoned paper, a chewed quill and a bottle of orange ink. He stopped and put the ink in his pocket to pass to Ron, as that should be amusing. Before finding a bottle of pink ink and using that.

For a few minutes the wrote out the maths of his problem as he fixated on it before finishing the maths and reading over his answers. If time only moved in this room while it was connected to the castle and it was only used for ten minutes a day, then only roughly seven years would pass in here for a thousand of the world outside. He would have to pass his theory to Hermione later to see if he was correct, but that could wait until later, it wasn't that important beyond sating his own curiosity.

Returning to his mission, only a few turns later, he found the Diadem resting upon the brow of the marble bust as he remembered from Voldemort's memory fragments he had absorbed. Harry waved his wand and cast a series of detection spells, nodding at the fact that it hadn't been disturbed.

He cast a few spells and saw no reactions to suggest any direct defences, then again, the diadem would cover that, people would be distracted by the relic rather than the ugly marble beneath it.

Gently levitating the bust, he looked under its base and saw the marble had been carefully carved to be the anchor to a curse, one that he could feel spread into the walls of the chamber and beyond. It was subtle and slight, building up over the days and months until it triggered and nudged the target to act without thought. A detection matrix, similar to that of a magic mirror, so it could learn from the target, that was grafted into the design quite nicely, the trigger was intent based around a phrase, in Parseltongue?

Okay, so this was definitely Tom's work. Translating it to English was not easy, snakes worked more in concepts than sentences and their grammar was terrible. Tom had only been able to learn from Terran snakes while he had practiced and refined his knowledge with the Sluissi. They at least had developed the language to a civilized level to reach other worlds.

Spread hunt knowledge hatchlings?

Harry shook his head at the thought of using this form of Parseltongue in magical enchanting. It was too loose and broad, he could have translated those four concepts and understood it as travel hunger wisdom eggs, which would make no sense at all for this curse. Even with the enchantment of his ring seared into his presence, it was a mess.

Then again, Tom was probably working on a human script built upon a nonhuman language to create the sigils used for the Parseltongue components. Inspired to be fair, but basically flawed at the root and very inefficient. But he thought the intent behind the sigils meant, as a human, to teach children how to defend themselves.

So, this was the cause of the curse on the Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers post. A novel application and it would have been a nightmare to unravel without it twisting on the curse breaker, at least unless you knew the trigger phase. He ran his eyes over the results again, two or more teachers under the curse and it wouldn't have worked, too weak to do anything before the end of year reset occurred. But it may have built up over a few years until it had enough to do something.

Harry leant back and stretched as he thought about how to use this. On one hand, removing it meant that he would have a teacher for more than one year. On the other, it would mean keeping Lupin for longer unless Snape decided to have his vengeance.

Not that it would really matter in the long run, Crouch next year would… sithspit. Another thing to fix. Harry would much rather learn from Alastor Moody and not the fake. Something else to add to his list of things to deal with.

He read through the runes and sigils before carving an extra line or two here and there. Now it would instead be able to send the charge that built up over the year into the school's defences, slowly strengthening them over the years to follow. It wouldn't be much, but that extra little spark might be all that stood between survival and collapse.

He left the trigger as it was and added another section of runes connected to the intent aspect in an if/or style. If the teacher was honest about wanting to teach, then the charge would be sent to the school's defences, if their intent was not to honestly teach the children or if they wanted to harm the children, then the old curse would trigger instead, drawing on the school's defences to speed up the reaction and increase the result.

A few more carvings added a bypass to the defences, a backdoor if you will, for those with the correct passphrase spoken in Parseltongue. That meant he could enter and exit the school grounds without being detected by the defences should it be required. His descendants would also be able to do the same as long as they carried his gift.

Nodding to himself, he returned the bust to its place with its cargo and left them behind. He only had a little longer before Jane would get back to the school and it left him little sleep for tonight. Ah well, it was worth it in the end, he laughed at the thought of replicating the curse and aiming it at Snape. He could always use the speech he likely gave to each of his students in their first year as the trigger phrase. It was too late for this year, but perhaps it would work for next year.

-o-o-o-o-o-

The police left the house, leaving a distraught woman behind, the female officer sighed, "I hate this job."

Her partner sighed as he entered the car and finished his notes, "Yeah, it sucks. Poor woman, I hate to leave her like that, she took it pretty calmly, but that could be the shock. Pity there's no other family or friends we could contact for her. I'm starting to think that the girl wasn't the first woman he was knocking around."

She glared at her partner, "Did you see that place, not a spec of dirt anywhere, even when he wasn't there, she was fixated on maintaining the house. Did you see her eyes following where we'd walked?" She shuddered in memory, "No, she was another of his victims. We should see if we can get a counsellor out to her and help her."

He just shrugged, "I'll talk to the sergeant when we get back, see what I can wrangle for her." He put the notepad away and rubbed his face, "At least she's alive. But I'm not even sure she'll get the life insurance with the fact he had been arrested. Did they say why they put him in that cell with those gangers?"

"Officially?" she said as she put the keys in the ignition, "The records say it was a paperwork mix-up. Unofficially, no idea, but with what we've seen so far? Betting he hit someone when they arrested him, or a cop knew the woman in question and got some revenge."

She started the police car and began to head back to the station, "I'm just glad we didn't have to bring up the fact that he killed her with his wife." She sighed as she turned on to the road towards Greater Whinging, "Could you imagine having to explain that as well?"

The male officer sighed and rubbed his face, "Yeah, that would not be good. Sorry Mrs. Dursley, not only did your husband die abroad, but he had been arrested in relation to the murder of a woman who is most likely his mistress." He snorted in disgust, "Let's just get back to the station, I left the oven on."

"Really?" the woman asked with an odd look to her gaze, "So did I."

Dobby quietly popped away from the back of the police car, his work complete, there would be no more disturbances to his Masters new servant's routine and he had gained some extra information of what had happened. The death wasn't in the All-seeing and Wise Master's plans, so perhaps he would give her a few days off, she did just lose her mate. He would think on it for tonight.

He wasn't a monster after all.

-o-o-o-o-o-

"How are you doing Ginny?" Harry asked as he stood behind her in the library.

Ginevra started and twitched as she half drew her Wand, sighing in relief that it was just Harry, she relaxed before turning back to her homework, Bloody Snape and first day homework. "It's Ginevra. Not Ginny."

Harry motioned to the seat opposite her and took it when she reluctantly nodded, "Very well, how are you doing Ginevra?"

She sighed and rubbed her face, "I... I've been better. My Healer is really helping a lot, but it's a work in progress."

Harry smiled at her and she blushed as her tummy fluttered like it was full of butterflies, "Good, I'm glad you are getting some help." He paused as if thinking and glanced at the woman he had introduced to the House as his bodyguard, Jill or something, "I'm starting some training to improve my health, I'm wondering if you would like to join us?"

Part of her mind keened in joy and pleasure, throwing confetti and hearts around her mind before she hammered that back down and tried to control her burning blush on her cheeks, "What sort of training?"

Harry smiled at her which really didn't help her calm down, "What I'm going to be doing will make Oliver's Quidditch training look like a stroll along the beach."

She paused as she remembered how her brothers had moaned and complained about their captain's fanatical devotion to the glorious sport. "Is Ron going to be joining us?"

Harry's smile turned into a vicious smirk, "He will be and no, he doesn't know what he's let himself in for." The smirk faded back to the smile as he focused once more on her, "Neville will be there as well, as will Hermione of course."

Ginevra's fluttering stomach turned sharp and full of blades at the thought of the girl, before it settled once more to the flutters. "Of course, anyone else?"

Harry seemed to look through her for a moment and his gaze turned cold for a blink of her eye before his casual-self returned, "At the moment, no. However, fair warning, that might change." He stood and pushed his chair back under the table quietly, "I'm also going to be inviting people from other Houses to join us, make some new friends and the like. If they join us, then the Houses won't be a barrier between us, anyone threatening that won't be returning." He paused for a second, "You're also invited as well Luna, you will always be welcome."

Luna stepped around him to take the seat he had just left, "Thank you Harry Potter, I will join you in the entrance hall if I may?" She smiled at Ginevra, "It will be good to spend time with Ginevra again. It's been too long."

Harry laughed, "It feels like a lifetime I imagine," he said as he placed a gentle hand on Luna's shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze, "We'll wait for you there. Six thirty if you don't mind, we'll get breakfast after. Keep safe ladies." He began to leave after giving them a polite nod before pausing, "Oh, and Ginevra?"

"Yes?" she asked as he returned his emerald gaze upon her.

He looked her up and down with a gaze that seemed to cut through her to her core, "It's a good name, I'm glad you are using it properly."

Luna smiled at her, "Names are important, I'm just glad to have my Ginevra back instead of Ginny."

Ginevra paused as she realised that Luna had always called her Ginevra as long as she had known her, she had never changed how she said Ginny's name except last year. She reached out and gave Luna a thankful smile as she squeezed the offered hand in friendship, "So am I Luna, so am I."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry frowned as the class rumbled around them thinking about their fears, Jane stood in the corner sneering at Lupin who was nervous around her. He had tried to privately apologise to her in the last few days for ignoring her letter, but when she asked what had been so important to not even send a letter declining the offer just to be polite? Lupin had clammed up and muttered something about it being personal.

Now, in their first Defence lesson of the third year, they were learning about Boggarts.

Snape had been in the same place as last time, but had given Harry an intense death glare but left after giving his cutting remarks at Neville in front of the class and Lupin. Force, could he be any more petty?

Last time it had been a Dementor, this time, what would it be?

Darth Sidious? Hermione or Xora dead? His parents judging him? His sons broken and destroyed? Voldemort? Himself?

Oh boy, did he have issues...

Scratch that, he had subscriptions.

At least, last time he had a Dementor, that one made sense with his experiences, but that had been years ago and he had the Patronus to protect him now. He blinked at the sudden memory of its current shape and quickly jotted down a note to remember to have Dobby get him the book on dinosaurs to study before someone asked him what it was. He had been lucky so far, but it had only been a few days since the incident, he had the rest of the year to go yet.

Harry looked up, lost as he was in thought as Lupin moved between the rolling spider body from Ron's attempt and Harry. The silvery image appeared, obviously the moon to him now, but he had spent ages that year trying to work it out before Hermione told him. With a cry of "Riddikulus!" from Lupin, it fell as a cockroach before Neville, who looked determined and he banished it with a flicker of Snape in a lacy dress before it exploded in a swarm of wisps of smoke and faded away.

"Excellent!" cried Professor Lupin as the class broke into applause, several giving Neville curious looks at how he had acted after being so afraid of Snape earlier. "Excellent, Neville. Well done, everyone... Let me see... five points to Gryffindor for every person to tackle the boggart, ten for Neville because he did it twice... and five each to Hermione and Harry."

Jane sneered at Lupin and shook her head before shrugging at Harry.

"No." Harry answered Lupin, "I didn't do anything to earn those points. Hermione did, but I didn't do anything today."

"You and Hermione answered my questions correctly at the start of the class, Harry," Lupin said lightly. "Very well, everyone, an excellent lesson. Homework, kindly read the chapter on boggarts and summarize it for me... to be handed in on Monday. That will be all."

Harry sneered at Lupin in disgust, to the shock of the others present, "I didn't realise you were going to be like Professor Snape. Playing favourites. Are you going to do the same for the other Houses?"

With that, he stormed from the room, Hermione hurrying after, worrying about him as Ron looked confused about what had just happened and Jane smirked at Lupin as she passed to follow her charge.

Ron hurried after, calling out to his friend, "Harry?! What the hell was that?"

Harry turned and tried not to be angry at Ron, "You all did your lesson, you all cast the spell correctly on your first attempt or answered questions that others didn't know. I didn't do anything. What's next for him, points for breathing?"

Jane chuckled at that, "At least Snape's honest about it. I told you the Runt was going to be trouble when we saw him on the train."

Hermione and Ron looked at her in confusion, which grew with her answer to their looks. "It's his business and its private. You want to know, you ask him. Not me."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry sat before the fire and scribbled notes in his journal as he tried to plan out his next meetings, he had so little time and needed to get things going before Sirius messed things up with his attempts at the Rat. He glanced across the chairs to see Neville at a nearby table reading a book that Harry didn't recognise, and Hermione was sitting in her usual chair, curled up and reading her school books again.

He flicked a pulse through the Force at Neville who flinched and looked around with a frown before seeing Harry wave him over.

"What's the matter Harry?" Neville asked as he came over.

Harry grinned at the boy, "Remember last year when I said I was getting people together for some training?" When Neville nodded, he continued, "Good, I'm planning to start the group tomorrow morning, just thought I'd give you a fair warning about it. We'll be meeting at Six Thirty in the entrance hall."

Neville pondered the invite before nodding, "Six thirty it is, I presume we'll be eating after?"

Harry nodded at that with a smirk.

Neville chuckled, I imagine Ron hasn't realised yet or I'd have heard his whining already."

"I imagine he'll whine for a bit until he annoys me enough to threaten to leave him behind, he'll soon calm down." Harry said with a shrug, "Or he won't and Ill drop him from the training. Although I think we might need to be careful around him afterwards, his manners are atrocious normally, they'll be worse after the session."

Neville laughed at that, "Yeah, that'll be fun." He glanced across to where the boy in question was staring at a chess game with Seamus, "I wonder how long he'll last before he drops out?"

Harry shook his head, "He'll either be there all the way, or less than a week. Either way it's his choice, but there won't be any coming back if he drops out."

Neville looked shocked at that, "What if he changes his mind?"

Harry just gave Neville a cold look, "I've learnt that one of my father's best friends betrayed us and got my parents killed. Betrayal is something I have rather focused views on right now. If he doesn't get it, he will soon enough."

He sighed and looked at the boy as he gleefully checkmated his friend, "We all have to grow up sometime. Sometimes, we have to cut out things we care about if we want to survive." He looked Neville in the eyes and found a wall behind them that he hadn't expected, "Better we learn it now than in a fight."

Neville frowned and looked away, "You make it sound like you expect a war."

"Quirrell and Lockhart, Neville." He looked around the room, "I've faced Voldemort twice in these walls already, both times, I survived." Harry made eye contact with Neville again and the boy flinched at the cold in his gaze, "All it takes is one mistake, one bad day and I'm dead. He has decades of experience on me and there is no way, that he won't keep coming for me."

Jane moved from her spot and tapped Harry on the shoulder, "Stop scaring the lad sir, anyway, best you be getting to bed and get some shuteye if you are going to get started on your training in the morning. I'll help to start with, but then I have to do my job unless you can get another guard."

Harry shrugged at that, "Unless you know someone with military training, we'll just have to manage." He sighed and stood, clapping Neville on the shoulder, "But Jane is right, best get some sleep Neville, you're going to need it."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry looked at Hermione with an amused smirk as he watched her try and wonder what they were doing on this section of the Seventh Floor. Jane just moved past them to examine the tapestry with a look of bemused horror, while keeping an eye on the corridor around them.

Hermione bit her lip in thought which distracted Harry for a moment as he forced such thoughts aside, bloody hormones, before she shook her head and frowned at him, "Why are we here Harry? There's nothing here beside this horrible tapestry."

Jane snorted nearby as she nodded in agreement with Hermione's assessment.

"Because," Harry began, "I have a surprise for you. I learnt of this place from a House Elf and I've tested it to make sure it's real and works. So, tell me what you need right now?"

Hermione glared at him as her fists fell upon her hips, "Answers," she growled out, "What do you mean, what do I need?"

Harry chuckled at that, "Very well, allow me to see what I can wrangle for us. So, where would Hermione Granger go for answers." He tapped his chin in thought before grinning at her, "Of course."

He paced three times before a section of the wall and Hermione stared in shock as a door appeared between blinks.

Harry bowed and gestured towards the door, "Ladies, allow me to introduce you both to the place where Hermione Granger would find answers with a twist to prove this isn't just a shortcut." He paused dramatically and then gave Hermione a wide grin, "Oh, and Hermione, Happy Birthday."

The women entered the room, Hermione's eyes widening in surprise and amusement as Jane frowned and kept looking around and took a few deep sniffs. Hermione whispered out "This is the library. But that's six floors down and on the other side of the school from here."

"I don't smell anyone else," Jane looked at him, "just the books and woods, some polish, but no teenagers."

Harry nodded at that, "That's because there aren't any people in here, we are the first. This is the Come and Go Room or as I prefer to call it, the Room of Requirement."

Hermione looked around before stopping and squinting her eyes as she cocked them to one side, "This isn't the library, and it isn't a shortcut. Everything is reversed, left to right, even the words on the spines."

Harry nodded at that, "I asked for the Hogwarts Library but in reverse."

Hermione paused as she turned to look at him, "Harry… how far can this place go?"

Harry shrugged, "I don't know, I've not had the chance to push the limits. I think it's a pocket dimension as this room is too big for where it is in the castle, also things here are in much better condition than id have expected. If it's in the castle, it can replicate it pretty closely, if you can visualise it well enough, then it could probably do it to some level. But it follows the rules of Magic, so it can't make anything that's alive and you can't take anything it creates out unless it is already physically in here. Although plants may be a loophole it can use, I'm not sure."

"Oh. My. God." Hermione gasped as she looked around, "It's a holodeck." She stared at Harry for a second before grinning, "I need to test it, how does it work?"

Harry frowned, "You leave the room, pace three times back and forth before the entrance and visualise what you need."

Hermione laughed and shooed them out the room before pacing twice before stopping and shaking her head before she started again. She grinned and opened the door as it formed and strode into the room. Harry followed to find a large black room with a yellow grid painted across all the surfaces.

Hermione looked up at the roof, "Computer. Activate Program, Ayres Rock, Australia, Earth, current time."

The three looked around in confusion as nothing happened and Hermione frowned in annoyance. She hummed in thought before nodding, "Computer, confirm todays date and location."

Again, she had silence and huffed in annoyance, "Well that's disappointing, it matched the rooms appearance but didn't replicate the technology managing the systems. But we can test this another way, everyone out."

Harry shook his head as they left the room again and Hermione began pacing once again, her brow creased in deep thought, before she looked up and growled in annoyance at a lack of a door, so she shook her head and began pacing again, this time a door appeared, but one that resembled a mundane house door.

She nodded in approval and entered the room, automatically kicking off her shoes onto a stand beside the door. "Welcome to Maison Granger. No shoes in the house." She entered and began examining things as she looked around.

Harry looked around in curiosity as the room had replicated the pictures and awards on display on the wall. Jane raised an eyebrow at some of the signatures on the pictures of what looked like actors and actresses.

Hermione tried to turn on the television and it remained a blank screen. Hermione nodded at that, before heading into the kitchen and turned on the hot tap, head cocked to a side as she listened for something.

"Hermione, what are you doing?" Harry asked in confusion as he watched her walk to the fridge and open it, sniffing and tasting some of the liquids and food within.

She glanced at him as Jane walked into the garden and sniffed at the flowers.

"Testing things of course Harry. This room appears to construct the scene from the user's memory and understanding, possibly filing in gaps from what you imagine would fill them. I imagine there's a set of prebuilt rooms that it can produce easily, but it can replicate other things to some extent." She offered him the bottle of milk, "The milk is milk, but the orange juice is coloured water. The water runs hot, but after a few minutes the boiler should be making a groaning noise, Dad was getting it repaired but I came back to school before it happened." She gestured to the door to one side, "I can't hear it in there, so the water is hot and real, but the boiler is just a replica. The television doesn't work and there is no electricity, but the light in the fridge works, likely because I expected it to do so."

She looked around and nodded to herself, "Its produced things as I remember and understand them, but I don't know how a TV and its components actually work, so it can't do it, plus it doesn't have electricity to work with anyway, nor a signal to display." She frowned in thought before rushing up the stairs, "Two last tests."

Harry sighed before following her upstairs, finding her half under a bed in a room that looked like it was her parents' room from the clothing on the set of drawers. "Really?" he asked.

Hermione laughed from underneath the bed before scrambling back out. "The box is there like I remembered it. But the other boxes are empty."

Harry shook his head, "Box? What box?"

Hermione glanced at him before blushing, "Let's just say that I was curious one year about my Christmas presents and learnt a lot about my parents that I wasn't ready to learn instead."

Harry frowned in confusion until he caught on to what she meant, choosing instead to focus on Hermione as she hurried over to the cupboard and open it, moving sets of clothing to one side before running her fingers over the material in confusion before shrugging and pulling out an adult's jumpsuit made of a red and black material that looked like it was meant to really hug close to the wearers skin. It appeared that he was learning about Hermione's parents' hobbies in a little too much detail, but that piece at least didn't look like it was for some sexual games.

Hermione ran a finger over it before nodding to herself and putting everything back. She then moved across the room and grabbed his hand as she left the room and headed back downstairs.

Harry blinked in confusion before smirking, "Showing me your parents' room, but not your own. Something to hide Miss Granger?"

"Hmm? Oh, no, nothing worth paying attention to in there right now. We started redecorating it before I came to school, didn't get it finished before I left, so it's just a load of paint and equipment right now." She answered as she put her shoes back on before passing him his and pushing him back into the corridor, nodding to Jane as she waited in the corridor. "The flowers?"

Jane shrugged at the question, "Smelled real enough to me."

Hermione nodded with a slight smile, "Good." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her concern in the Force fading as she let the worry fade from her as she muttered some form of mantra under her breath, Harry only caught the end of it, something about only her remaining, he would have to ask her later about it.

She began pacing in front of the wall again when the previous door faded back into the stonework, "Now, for a big test of my theories." She suddenly stopped and paled as she realised what she was about to do. "Wow, that would have been bad. Very bad. Let's leave it at just the scenery." She took a deep breath and began to pace again.

After the third turn, she opened the ominous looking metal doors and stepped inside. Harry having felt her spike of fear as she had been pacing, stepped inside, ready to fight.

But all he saw was a badly lit industrial corridor leading off from what looked like some large cargo style lifts. He felt a deep thrum of vibration beneath his feet, similar to heavy machinery at work. He felt lighter than normal, not much of a difference, but he could tell from his training and experiences travelling between worlds that the gravity was lighter. He bounced on his feet to get a feel for the difference before nodding to himself at adjusting himself to the change. In the distance, a claxon was blaring in a way that made him distinctively nervous, that sort of noise was never good.

There was a strong taste of ozone and a strange pressure to the air, like it was thick with humidity and there was a heavy mist or smoke of some kind that hid a lot of the details that hung in the air. He could smell something behind the industrial smells, something musky, slightly rancid and yet familiar, he wasn't sure where he had smelt it before, but his gut screamed at him that it wasn't good.

Jane froze as she entered the room, paling as her fear exploded in the Force around them. "Hermione," Jane whispered, "Please, for fucks sake, tell me we're alone here."

Hermione nodded at that, "We're alone, it might be my favourite film, but I'm not stupid, I focused on the scenery and to not include the locals. I don't fancy dying thank you."

Harry snapped his attention to her, "Dying?!"

Hermione turned to look at him and gave him a worryingly wide grin, gesturing with spread arms to the area around them, "Welcome, Harry Potter, to Hadley's Hope. Or more accurately, Sublevel 2 of the Weyland Yutani Atmospheric Processor on LV-426."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Milicent awoke to a sensation that something was wrong, she carefully rolled over and reached for her wand under her pillow and froze when she found it was gone. She kept her body relaxed as she carefully opened her eyes a fraction to try and fake sleep and look for the threat.

"Lumos," a male voice softly called out to light up the room with a gentle glow, "No need to fake sleep Miss Bulstrode, I know you're awake. Apologies for the disturbance, but it's a bloody nightmare getting you alone to talk."

Milicent sat up pulling her cover with her to protect her modesty in her nightdress, her eyes widening at the sight of the intruder, "Potter? What in... How? Why?!"

Potter chuckled as he lifted her wand up from his lap to show her where it was, she also noted that the other girls hadn't stirred from their slumber either. He smirked at her, but unlike many in Slytherin, it was not malicious, just amused. "Don't worry, I'll pass this to you in a moment, and to answer your questions, I got into the common room and opened the door to your room, stunned the others in their sleep and carefully took your wand from under your pillow. As for why? I just wanted to have a chat and make you an offer."

"A very weird way to just talk to me." Milicent said as she carefully began to shift around to be able to get out of the bed, either for cover or to attack the boy.

His eyes glanced down at her moving knees and that annoying smirk grew slightly, "I want to make you an offer Miss Bulstrode, as one Slytherin to another. One that will favour us both. As an act of good faith, heh, Malfoy... sorry, got distracted there. I will pass you your wand, make my offer and then leave with no conflict, I will let you think and plan. Your answer will be shown by your actions."

She shuffled slightly as she frowned in thought, her eyes never leaving his own as she readied for a fight. "You aren't a Slytherin Potter, and it's not like I can stop you, so what's the offer."

Potter laughed at that, "I was almost in your House except Malfoy put me off, feel free to spread that around if you like. But why wouldn't a true Slytherin hide amongst their enemies, waiting for the opportune moment to get what they want." He sat back in the chair that didn't belong in this room and threw her wand towards her, she snatched out by reflex to catch it, her eyes never leaving his.

"Nice, you should consider Seeker in Quidditch." He said with a tone of interest at her reflexes.

She huffed at that, "Don't have the build for it and there's no way a girl will get on the team."

Potter shook his head at that, leaving himself open to an attack, but for some reason, she knew it was a trap and a test of her. "Then get a team of girls or a mixed team and break the current team, take their place if you are interested. What's the worst that'll happen, you lose? No big difference really with Malfoy as the seeker."

He straightened up and nodded at her slightly, "So, the offer. I'm gathering a group of people who are of interest to me. We're going to be doing a lot of physical training and when I'm sure of you, I'll teach you a few secrets that will have you ruling this House by your fourth year."

She froze at that, "An interesting offer, but I've been told of offers like that in the past."

"I imagine you have," he laughed, "Don't worry, I'm not going to brand anyone like cattle if they follow me. What I'm going to do instead, is raise you to the top, shape you into an apex predator that would require an army to stop. All that anger that bubbles within, focused like the edge of a blade, turned from the raging monster you fear you could become to instead be a titan of strength and dominion over others."

"And you think you can teach me this?" Her mind brought images of her father and his raging anger that constantly boiled beneath the surface and struck out at those around him, calmed by his shame and memories of his service to a Dark Lord, "That I will follow you like some meek servant and do as you command, thanking you for the chance to do so?"

Potter laughed at that, wiping tears from his cheeks, "Force no! I don't want slaves. I want generals and warriors who will fight alongside me for their own reasons. What do you really want Miss Bulstrode? What do you desire?"

She paused for a moment as an image of an older version of her, an iron gauntlet draped in silks and gems, desired and loved by others, while still being strong and powerful, respected for her own abilities. The choices she could make to be in her own hands and her hands alone. To never fall to the rage that seemed to curse her family and drive them to inflict suffering on those they loved.

Then she realised her answer.

"I want... I want to be free."

He smiled genuinely at that, "That. That is something worth fighting for and I will be happy to help you achieve that." He seemed to gaze through her and examine her very core before nodding to himself, "I was taught two mantras that I live my life by, one would not suit you at this time, but the other? Listen to my words and see if they would help you."

He took a deep breath and began to recite, "Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall set me free."

"The Force?" she asked as the words seemed to resonate within her.

Potter nodded, "The Force is an energy that flows through all things, binds us together and shapes our actions and abilities. That gut sensation, warning you of danger, that's the Force calling out. That surge of strength when you try your hardest and still struggle, that's it too. Magic and the Force are one and the same, three aspects of a single concept that binds the universe together."

He raised a hand and a flare of warm light popped into being above the open palm, "The Light side, creation, peace and potential." A second flare appeared, but this time of cold darkness, "The Dark side, entropy and conflict, endings." A third flare of multicoloured light appeared as they began to orbit each other in an intricate dance that was beautiful and terrible at the same time, "The third aspect, Magic. Chaos, change and transition."

He looked at her and she felt the power that thrummed within him as he gently let her see beyond his subtle defences, "Together, in balance, guided by your will, there is nothing they cannot do."

"But," he let the lights shift slightly and the beauty turned to a mess, "If the balance is broken, then one will rule over you and that can lead to terrible things. Any extreme is to be feared, for you lose yourself to the dominant aspect you are following."

He shivered slightly, "Trust me on this, the two examples that come to mind right now are Dumbledore and Voldemort. Both great and terrible in their ways. Where the darkness might corrupt you and twist you to nightmarish acts. The Light can burn in its Zealotry."

She looked at him in curiosity, "You only mentioned the light and dark, what happens if magic wins?"

He shrugged at that, "No idea, I imagine the others hunt them down and stop them before they go too far. A being focused purely on bringing change and chaos? Well, human society and the world are still here, so I think we have an answer to that."

He closed his hand and the lights faded, the Lumos still glowing at his shoulder and Milicent suddenly realised he had not drawn or used his wand once while she had been awake. "But I will be doing physical training starting at six thirty each morning, every morning. We will meet in the entrance hall to the school. If you wish to learn what I can teach you, then I will see you there. If you haven't joined us by this time next week, I will presume that you are declining my offer and will bother you no more."

With that he stood and moved to the door to the room, he turned slightly towards her and gave her a polite nod, "Sleep well Miss Bulstrode, I hope to see you shortly." With that, the Lumos flared and then suddenly ceased, leaving spots in her suddenly night-blind vision, she blinked as her eyes tried to adjust but by the time, she had raised her wand and cast a Lumos, he was gone. And so was the chair he had been sitting on.

She quickly checked on the other girls, finding them all in a deep slumber, but alive and breathing, their wands all in their usual spots. A Tempus showed it was just before midnight. Opening the door and glancing out, she heard slight murmurs of people still talking in the common room and the green light of the room reflected off the stone of the walls further down the corridor.

With a sigh, she returned to her bed and cancelled the Lumos, laying in the dark and thinking about what had just happened. Wandless and silent casting, conjuration of furniture and silent dismissal. This Potter was not the weak fool he had been last year. Was this a new development or had he been hiding this all along?

Staring at the roof of her bed, she pondered whether she should take Potter up on the offer he had made to her. Would he truly teach her or was that a morsel of bait to tempt her, something to keep stringing her along with?

Even though she would think on the offer and Potter's mantra for most of the night, failing asleep in the early hours of the morning, as she awoke in the morning, she felt awake and refreshed as if she had a good night's sleep.

-o-o-o-o-o-

While Milicent was settling in her bed, in a boy's dorm not far away, Harry chuckled as he used the Force to levitate Notts wand from the bedside table before he silently stunned the other occupants of the room. He conjured a chair as he had in the girl's room and sat in it, using the Force to flick the end of the boy's nose and wake him fully with a silent and wandless Lumos.

"Good evening, Theo." He smirked as the boy started and quickly moved away from Harry as he surged awake, his burst of fear, an enticing flavour that Harry put aside for the moment. "I think it's time we had a chat, don't you?"

-o-o-o-o-o-

Percy blinked in surprise as a young voice disturbed him from his NEWT studies, "Head Boy Weasley, can I have a moment of your time please?"

Turning to look to his side, he found Harry Potter standing there with a look of slight confusion on his face, he took a short breath as he fought his reflex to tell him to ask someone else for help, before his gratitude for saving Ginevra hammered that down. "Of course, Mr Potter, how can I help?"

Harry smiled and gave him a slight nod, "Thank you for the politeness, but feel free to call me Harry."

Percy gave a slight smile at that, "Harry it is then, please, call me Percy."

Harry gave a respectful nod at that, "Thank you Percy, its actually two things, first, I'm going to be paying for Ron to get a new pet in Hogsmeade in the next weekend."

Percy frowned, "What's happened to Scabbers?"

Harry smiled sadly at Percy, "He ran out of time. I didn't want Ron to be upset so I traded Ron Scabbers for a new Pet. As far as Ron is concerned, Scabbers has been given to a new home to care for him."

Percy grimaced, "Ah. Yes, I should have thought of that. I just wanted Ron to have a pet like everyone else rather than be without one. I knew he was old, but I didn't think about it properly. I have some savings; I'd like to put some towards his replacement."

Harry shook his head at that, "Don't worry about it Percy, I've already got it covered. Perhaps you could give what you were going to pass me to your parents for Ginny... sorry, Ginevra to get a pet of her own?"

Percy smiled and nodded proudly at that, "That is an excellent Idea, Mr... Harry. Thank you. I'll write to my parents to suggest it. But Ill mention to wait until the summer so she doesn't overshadow him with the gift."

"Yeah," Harry said with a chuckle, "That would mess things up a bit." He shook his head as he returned to the reason he had disturbed Percy, "Anyway, the main reason I wanted to talk to you was, and I don't mean to intrude on your personal business, but I've heard a few things and I would like to hear your answer. Your family has mentioned that you want to join the Ministry, can I ask why and in what position?"

Percy sat back in his chair in thought, realising that Harry was the first person to actually ask him that. He motioned to the chair at his table and Harry sat as offered. "Several posts are available in the ministry; I was hoping to prove my worth and get a post in the Department of International Relations. That would be my preferred choice, why do you ask? Is it something you're interested in?"

"Oh, no." Harry said as he shook his head, "Politics isn't for me. But I've had several factors come to my attention and I thought one of them was perfect for you, so I wondered if you had applied there?"

Percy cocked his head top one sides lightly in curiosity, "Where did you think I should apply to?"

"Why law of course." Harry said with an honest grin, "You are studious, well educated, hardworking and have an excellent memory. All valuable talents for the field. You passed all twelve OWLs with no worries and you'll probably pass all your NEWTS with no trouble either. On top of all that, you were a Prefect and now Head Boy. I'm surprised you didn't get an interview at least if you applied for one of the firms."

Percy winced and looked embarrassed, "Yes. Well. To get into a Law firm, you need... resources and connections my Family doesn't have. So, the best I can manage is either Gringotts like Bill, or the Ministry like Father. And I don't have Bills interest or talents in the field."

Harry nodded in thought, "So, you'd like the job, but you..."

"I would require money and a family that has a respected name." Percy carried on, well aware of his family's problems, Merlin knows he loved them, but they did not make it easy for him. "I have neither. Father may be head of a department in the Ministry, but it's seen as a joke by the others. He has the job because no-one else wants it. His fascination with muggle technology is bluntly, embarrassing."

Percy paused as he spotted Harrys rapidly growing anger at the comment, raising his hands to signal the young boy to calm down, "Oh. Not like that. I mean that he gets so much wrong and fixates on weird things that don't matter. I have no idea how he passed his exams with how he acts."

He gestured to the air as he struggled to think of an example, "Rubber ducks! He is fascinated by them, but they are a child's entertainment to distract them while bathing. It doesn't take much to realise that, you can read the packaging and it practically tells you that. But for him its some sort of great muggle mystery."

He glanced across to where Hermione was reading a book in a chair beside Harry's bodyguard. "Then there is the frankly abysmal example he made to Miss Grangers parents. I caught the edge of it and I'm frankly amazed they didn't take his attitude as a personal insult; I was horrified by his actions. My mother's worse with her own prejudices. Did you know my mother has a second cousin? A Stockbroker."

"Ron mentioned him," Harry answered with a frown as he tried to remember, "I thought he was an accountant?"

Percy shook his head, "No, he was cast aside when his family discovered he was a Squib and he entered the muggle world, he sends a Christmas card and a birthday card for all of us without fail every year. Mother refuses to talk about him and throws them away when they arrive, but Bill managed to grab them before mother did one year and passed them out to us. When I was seven, I wrote back to him, thanking him for his card and asking for his own birthday so I could repay the kindness. I've written to him since then, I pretend he's a pen pal when my parents asked. Bill and Charlie aren't too bothered by him, they picked up too much from my mother. But I write once a month to him, his muggle wife and their daughter. She's ten right now, looking forward to going to Ilvermorny next year."

Harry smiled at that and wondered how he could use this later; this was an element of the Weasleys he wasn't aware of before. "Why did you mention him then? Other than as an example."

Percy smiled at him, "Because I want to emulate his success. He inspired me. He had nothing beyond being given lodgings and food by his parents, he had to fight to be educated and the moment he was seventeen, they kicked him out. He started with nothing, now he has a family he loves and is loved by, he's earned his wealth with his skills and doesn't blame us for his issues with his family. How can I not be inspired by someone like that?"

"So, you want to be like him," Harry continued, "But you don't have the money or name to back you up." He paused for a minute as he tapped his chin in thought, "What if I can get you those?"

Percy smiled sadly at the boy next to him, "Harry, I know you mean well, but it's a very expensive education and while I do appreciate it, I'd rather you use your funds on yourself and let me worry about my own."

Harry chuckled and waved the comment away, "That's admirable Percy, but not what I meant." He leant forward, "Hypothetically, if you had an interview for a law firm, and didn't have to worry about the costs," he raised his own hand to signal Percy to wait, "would you go for it?"

Percy frowned at Harry's comments, "Hypothetically, if I had an interview and the money to afford the training, then yes, I would attend."

Harry smiled at that, "Brilliant, keep the first Hogsmeade weekend free, I'll have someone meet you for an interview. When you pass it, all I ask, is that you let me know first."

"Harry," Percy glared as he responded, trying to make the boy understand, "the only way you could organise that is if you paid someone to employ me, you can't spend that kind of money on me! I refuse to let you do that; you need to make sure you will be okay when you leave school!"

Harry laughed at that, "Percy, this won't cost me a credit. Just let me do my thing, you do as best you can in the interview, and we'll see where we go from there." He stood up and patted the teen on the shoulder, "Perhaps you should write to your 'pen pal' and suggest meeting up in the summer, maybe ask his advice on how to proceed."

He began to move away before stopping, "Oh, here's another thought for you, perhaps you should look into getting muggle qualifications over the next year or two, maybe apply for a university for a law degree. Maybe taking your pen pals example is the right path for your own future."

Harry smiled as he left Percy to think his ideas over, the Prewitt Stockbroker connection would definitely be an interesting aspect to look into. He just had to remember how things changed in the next few years in the muggle world. Invest in a few up-and-coming companies for a bit, see how much he could make that way.

-o-o-o-o-o-

"Ernest, can I borrow you for a minute?" Harry called out as he watched his target walk with his friends from Hufflepuff.

Ernest frowned before nodding and waving his friends away, "Potter," he gave Harry a slight nod, "How can I help you?"

Harry smiled openly at that, "I want to say thank you for last year." He raised a palm to stop the boy from saying anything, "I know, at the start of the Heir fiasco, you sided with your friends and were worried for them. Justin still glares at me when he thinks I'm not looking at him." He chuckled slightly when he saw the barely hidden wince from that comment.

Harry continued, with a sharp tone to his words, "Nor am I unaware that many of the Hufflepuffs still think I was somehow involved in all that anyway. Bones in particular should look for evidence before muttering about that in particular, it would never look good for the Head of the DMLE's niece to be noticed doing that." He gave Ernest a knowing look that suggested he might want to reinforce that point with the girl.

Harry motioned to a bench nearby, and took a seat, waiting for Ernest to join him before he continued, "Now, I want to make you an offer. You are a skilled wizard, one who openly displays your loyalty to your friends but isn't above apologising when you are wrong. The moment you heard Hermione had been attacked, you knew it wasn't me and you apologised, to my face mind you and in public, for how you had treated me. In that, your bravery and honour shamed the House of Gryffindor, I think Helga would have been immensely proud of you. Do you know how many others in this school have done that?"

Ernest frowned in thought, "I don't remember seeing anyone." he said cautiously.

"And you would be right. None of them at all." Harry glared down a corridor where Ernest watched Trelawney walk past, "Not even the teachers, who you would expect to be better than a school full of hormonal teenagers would be. Basically, everyone said to themselves, 'That's all right then, sorted. No need to apologise for my horrible bullying behaviour for the last year.'" Harry snorted in disgust at the thought, "Only a few even believed I wasn't involved in the first place and no-one believed them."

He turned slightly to look at Ernest, "But not you. You didn't wait, you didn't doubt. The moment you had a fact that was enough evidence to you, you tried to fix the issue immediately and took responsibility for it." He offered Ernest his hand to shake, "For that, you have my respect, admiration and thanks. You already had my forgiveness."

Ernest shook Harry's hand without any fear or concern, nor was he overly proud of his actions, "It was the right thing to do."

Harry smiled and leant back against the stone, "And that's why I want to make you an offer. A group of my friends are gathering at the main entrance of the castle each morning at six-thirty. We are doing physical training to better ourselves for an hour and then we will be doing some training in magic and some skills I've discovered. Clean up and be at breakfast for just gone eight to start our school days. At weekends, we focus more on the mental and magical than the physical. I want to offer you a place amongst us."

Ernest frowned at that, "I'll be honest, I'm not much for the physical side of things. But the mental and magical definitely sound interesting. What would you be offering to us?"

Harry grinned at that and looked around before nodding towards his hand, with a flicker of light, a multicoloured trio of balls appeared and began to dance around each other in the air. No words, no wand or gestures had been done, simply magic and willpower to bring the effects into being.

At Ernest's widening eyes, the grin faded and Harry became serious, "Wandless and silent casting as a minimum, I've gained access to some rare and obscure knowledge and will be sharing it with a chosen few. The physical training is harsh to keep observers and sycophants away. You will need to be dedicated and loyal to even begin those lessons. You will have to learn to defend your mind from intrusions as what I will be teaching will be secrets known only to me and one other now."

Ernest sat back as he watched the lights dance, before with a clenched fist, they popped from existence as someone hurried down the corridor. "Alright. But I can walk away the moment I don't like what I am learning."

Harry nodded gravely at that, "All I ask is that you tell me why you have a problem, allow me to explain why I am doing that, and if we can't come to an understanding, then you keep the groups secrets if you walk away. Ill also warn you that if you leave, there won't be any coming back. We have to trust each other fully for some of the more... exotic secrets."

Ernest raised an eyebrow at that before standing and brushing his robes down to remove any dust, "I'll see you tomorrow morning then, but perhaps I should have been a Ravenclaw at how that fragment caught my attention. Are you going to give me a clue, or are you going to leave me with that alone?"

Harry let his senses dig deep into the boy before him, testing his words and intent before nodding at the honest curiosity in him, Harry stood and grinned at Ernest, "As a teaser of some of what I will be teaching, you might want to look up a name. Nicholas Flamel." Harry nodded respectively to the boy and headed off, waving to Ernest just before he turned the corner, "I'll see you tomorrow, don't be late."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Padma Patil, an annoying girl who spent so much of her time with her twin in public or with her Housemates, it had gotten to the point that Harry was having a repeat of the Slytherin interviews.

Glancing through the window, he saw that he had found the right room at lats and silenced the window, the frame and the hinges separately to make sure, then a slightly overpowered Alohamora to open it and he stretched out along the length of his broom to get through the window.

Thank the Force that it was a pleasant night, if only a little chilly.

A wave of his right hand had the window shut, and a twitch of his left had him almost slam into the roof of the room to avoid the sleepy glare around the room from his target. So many people forget to look up.

He waited for her to settle and begin to drift off as he carefully lowered himself and floated around the room, a series of silent red flashes from his wand, starting with Padma, gave him the time to prepare the scene and stop any intervention from others.

He looked around the room and he quickly had an escape plan. Broom and cloak by the window, ready to go. A flare of light from the Lumos before it collapses to begin his escape, the Force to open the door and almost shut it, a slight mind trick to give her the thought he was running down the stairs and then for her to follow the noise to the common room. Meanwhile, he'd disappear under the cloak, wait for her to chase the illusion, then open the window, fly out with his broom and disappear back to his room before McGonagall can even check if he's awake should this go bad.

He hid his broom behind a curtain by the window and conjured a chair to sit in, the Lumos at his shoulder was formed, his cloak was floating just behind his back, ready to be pulled over himself to disappear. He was prepared and ready as he could be.

He paused with a raised hand to summon her wand, there was something he was missing. He looked around the room before his gaze went to his wand and he sighed in annoyance. Two dozen cleaning and grooming spells flicked around the room should hide his actions if they check the spells he had cast with his wand.

Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly and began the next part of his plan. A gentle tug of the Force, pulled her wand into his hand and he used it to hit her with a silencing spell and then an Ennervate rather than use his own wand.

Smiling he watched as she surged awake, her eyes wide as she bolted upright at the sensation of her heart thumping in her chest as she looked around and found him sitting there.

"Good evening, Miss Patil," Harry began with a gentle smile, "In a moment, I'm going to release you from the Silencio and then I will pass you your wand. Once that's done, I'm going to make you an offer that will pull you from your sister's shadow and leave her in yours. What you do with that offer is up to you and you alone."

He paused to let that sink in, "Now, I'm going to remove the spell, I hope you realise I'm not going to hurt you and will keep quiet while we discuss matters. Ready?"

-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry smiled as he walked down the road with Ron to his right and Hermione on his left, this was much better than the first time when he had to sneak out. Percy was walking ahead of them with his girlfriend, Penelope Clearwater, on his arm and Jane was behind Harry, watching for any threats.

He called out to Percy to hold up a moment as he saw Andromeda Tonks waiting at the edge of the village for them, walking towards her, he smiled and made a two fingered hand gesture which she answered correctly to signal it was her, Hermione frowned at the one fingered response to Harry and huffed in annoyance as the woman and Harry chuckled at her reaction.

"Andromeda, how's everything going?" Harry began as he gave her a slight hug to Hermione's surprise.

"Good, I'm set up for the Solstice session, my sister is ready for her side of things and Greyshield sent this for you." She answered as she passed across some parchment with the Gringotts seal on it.

Harry smiled and quickly opened the message, nodding and smiling at what he read, "Good. Could you do me a few favours?"

Andromeda looked at him with a raised eyebrow, "Go on."

Harry grinned at her, "I'll respond to Greyshield this evening, warn your sister that she'll have a lot of work to do in the next few days. Also, can you take Ron here to get a new pet? He needs a new one and I promised to cover it for him. Don't worry about the cost, I'm paying for it. Just make sure it's safe and can be brought to Hogwarts."

Andromeda frowned slightly at him before nodding, "I can do that, you enjoy yourself then." She looked over at Ron, "You would be Ronald then?" She waved him over to follow her as she began to walk into the village, "Come on then, the sooner we get this sorted for you, then the sooner you can be back with your friends, do you have any idea what you want?"

Harry then turned to Jane, Hermione and Penelope, "Now, I have an appointment to get Percy to at the Three Broomsticks, if you drop me off with him there, you three ladies can start looking around the village, see if there is something you fancy and I'll quickly catch you up."

"You had better not have something go wrong this time." Jane smirked as she gave him a wink, well aware of the plan.

"Harry, it's not safe for you to be alone." Hermione added as Penelope whispered something to Percy as she gave him a hug.

"Hermione," Harry smiled gently, "I'll meet up with you soon, don't worry. I will be perfectly safe. Now, I want you and Miss Clearwater to abuse my money and buy yourselves a few books that interest you or something, Jane has my money, so you will be fine."

Hermione frowned thunderously before grudgingly nodding to him, "Alright, but if one hair is out of place, you'll wish you had just stuck with us."

Harry laughed, and pointed to his head, "Then I'm in a pile of trouble already," he gently nudged her towards Penelope and Jane, "Just don't go too crazy and make sure you pick something up that I can understand too, I'm likely to borrow it from you anyway."

Percy chuckled from beside him as they watched the ladies head towards the bookshop, "Seriously Harry, you should have gone with them and kept safe. There's no need for all this."

Harry smirked at Percy, "I assure you, I'll be completely safe and it isn't a problem, like I keep telling you."

Percy sighed and gave in as he walked them to the pub and followed Harry to the private room that had been booked for the interview.

As they entered, a man and woman stood up and nodded to Harry and offered their hands to Percy, "Mr Weasley," the man began, "thank you for your time. I am Mr Brown, this is Madame Nott, we represent the Law Firm, 'Nott, Nott and Brown.'" He gestured to the seat in front of their table, "Please sit, do you want something to drink? We're ready to start immediately."

Madame Nott turned to Harry, "Thank you Mr Potter, we'll take it from here."

Harry smiled and nodded politely to them, subtly placing an envelope beside Teresa as he shook hands with them. "Not a problem, always a pleasure." Moving to the door, he slowly closed it as Percy took his seat and the interview began.

Chuckling to himself, he moved to the next room and took a seat before the fire, quietly asking Dobby to go get him and his planned guest some tea.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door and Harry called out for them to enter.

Auror Dawlish opened the door and gave the room a sweeping gaze as he flicked his wand to cast a few spells. After a few moments he nodded respectfully to Harry and stepped back outside, nodding politely to the Minister who strolled in and took a seat. Dawlish closed the door behind him to stand guard in the hall outside.

"Harry!" Fudge called out as Harry stood and they shook hands, "Always a pleasure to have a cup of tea with you."

"Cornelius," Harry smiled at the fool, "Likewise. I hope it hasn't disrupted your day too much to meet with me?"

"Of course not," Cornelius said as he took the offered seat and gathered his cup of tea, sighing in pleasure as he took a sip, "Perfect. As always." he chuckled.

Harry smiled at that, "I will pass on the compliments. Now, did that idiot get sorted?"

Cornelius sighed, "Unfortunately, the best I could do was have him run through a refresher course of his training. Amelia Bones has added her weight behind mine and Chief Auror Scrimgeour has assigned Auror Shacklebolt to supervise the retraining and I have been assured personally by all involved, that he will be most thorough in his efforts."

With a nod of acceptance, Harry took a sip of his own tea as he sat back in the comfortable chair, "Pity, but I imagine he has friends and relatives putting pressure on you to keep him on."

"Exactly," Cornelius agreed, "The bane of politics. Luckily for us, seeing as he does so well with the damn things, he will be assigned a long-term posting at Azkaban when his retraining is complete." Cornelius took a sip and hid his smirk behind the lip of the cup, "It's unfortunate that the newest members of the Azkaban staff are the ones most on patrol through the prison."

"Yes, very unfortunate indeed," Harry said with a chuckle of his own. "Can we get rid of those here?"

Cornelius winced, "Unfortunately, they will have to remain as long as Black is on the loose. The Wizengamot refuses to consider anything less than the best protection to the children that doesn't look like we are taking them hostage for their own safety."

Harry winced and sat back, "But they'll replicate Azkaban on their children instead. Actually, there may be less Dementors in Azkaban right now, can I request a transfer?"

"A touch too much in the dark humour for someone your age Harry," Cornelius said with a frown, "I wouldn't let others hear you say that. We have enemies who would agree and forget to transfer you back once everything is done with."

"Yes, sorry about that, but they aren't a pleasant thing to have near all the time." Harry said as he looked embarrassed about his slip.

"They are horrible things, I will admit." Cornelius sighed, "But Black won't get past them again. The moment he tries, they'll get him."

"Will they?" Harry asked as he looked towards the window, "He got past them before and escaped our greatest prison. What's to say he can't get past them again?"

Cornelius frowned, "It's unfortunate he escaped before, yes, but they are focused entirely on capturing him, they won't let him get away again."

Harry sighed but nodded, having put a few ideas into Fudges head with his words and ideas, all with a subtle flexing of the Force to reinforce them. "Let's talk about better things then. I've had a few thoughts. You mentioned the Tri-Wizard tournament in the summer, you said you were organising it to run next year after the quidditch world cup. Perhaps, if we are careful, we can release a few rumours of its revival, let people prepare for it to give us a better showing and fuel interest. We can also use it to distract some from the legislation changes I suggested."

Cornelius nodded at that, "The first meeting to discuss the proposed events is in the Christmas break, I've organised you a room in my House for the holiday so you will be suitably safe, you can join us and see if your ideas will liven the event for the younger audience. Do you have anything you need to do in that time, meet your relatives or the like?"

Harry shook his head, "I've likely only a ball to attend over the holiday, I'd be honoured to spend Christmas with you and your family."

"Excellent," Cornelius said as he finished his cup, "I presume you would want the leaks to distract the public while we reduce the Werewolf Legislation to a more acceptable level? Stop others from arguing too loudly about it?"

Harry smiled, "Exactly, plus I believe we can do something to rile the headmaster up at the same time. You propose the change to the laws, I make a few public comments near reporters how much I agree with it and then you summon the headmaster, as the headmaster alone, not Chief Warlock or any similar titles, to a Wizengamot meeting. There you enquire as to why, with the proposed changes to the laws, we cannot invite Werewolf children to attend Hogwarts. Let him show his bigotry to the public, I stand beside you and the public would have to choose between the headmaster and us as to who is right."

"And how would this help us? We would be taking a huge risk and if it failed, then we would lose a huge amount of political favour." Cornelius asked, his worry overcoming Harrys subtle layering of the Force on his words.

"If Dumbledore refuses, he looks like a bigot in public and the werewolves flock to us rather than him or beings like Greyback. We can use it to weaken his position at the school and maybe get someone more in alignment to our goals in the position instead." Harry smiled, "And if we fail, we still get the werewolves on our side as we are championing their cause. We look like we are trying to help a minority overcome prejudice and the public will start to actually ask why are we doing this?"

"It's still very risky, I have influence over the Daily Prophet, but that will only go so far." Cornelius responded, "We could burn ourselves and lose a lot of support quickly over this."

"We could indeed," Harry nodded in agreement, "but then we can also ask about the numbers of new healers and Auror's in the last decade. The issues spreading from Hogwarts staff and their skills at teaching. Dumbledore will spend more political favours to protect Snape, giving us more influence elsewhere. Invite reporters to the session and it will also erode at the publics belief in him when he has to explain why the country has to suffer for decades to come because of his faith in a single man. Perhaps we can ask him to explain why he trusts the man so much, it should be a simple thing for him to answer, but if he doesn't, then that will weaken him further."

Harry tapped the arm of his chair, "Perhaps if you invite a respected reporter to interview us at Christmas at your home, we can use the puff piece to enhance your image and we can see if they would be interested in digging into the headmasters past. They could always interview his family, find out about the man behind the myth." He laughed softly, "A piece on the Dumbledore family and his childhood would likely at least embarrass the headmaster and make him seem more human. Might be able to dig up a few secrets while they're at it."

Harry shook his head, "I know for a fact that Dumbledore was letting my parents stay at a house of his, has he never tried to recover it from being a memorial? Has his brother? Does he have any sisters or other family?"

Cornelius frowned in thought, "Aberforth is his brother, he owns and runs the Hogs Head. I've never seen them speak as I remember, some bad blood there between them." He poured himself another cup of tea and took a sip, "It wouldn't hurt to simply ask someone to look into it. As you say, you never know what you will find. But returning to the legislation, why do you want people to question it?"

Harry smiled, his latest attack at Dumbledore given fertile ground in Fudges mind to grow from. "Well, if we make the proposed legislation changes open to the public, then people will start asking why and what we are after. If we add a few points to the legislation to support Muggleborn rights as well, then when they investigate, and they will, then they will see we are trying to make a better and more fair country for them and their children. That is a lot of political power to lose if it goes wrong." He shrugged, "If it goes right however, then we gain a huge amount. No risk, no reward. The Muggleborn's and werewolves combined would be an immense following to support you for votes to come. Add in my support and it would take something major to rival your influence."

"How Gryffindor of you." Cornelius laughed at that, "Very well, we can discuss the details more while you stay with me. I have also moved funding across to more guards for the World Cup. I agree, if we are going to have problems, then that is when they will hit us. When the eyes of the world are watching us."

"Good," Harry said at that, "If we slam down hard on any trouble, no matter the style of it, then we can show that we are strong and in control to your global peers. The public will welcome the safety we offer them and we might be able to get a few troublemakers out of our hair for a while."

Cornelius laughed at that, "Thank Merlin you are still too young to be minister. I'd be out of a job in the week with you."

Harry smirked at him, "No thank you minister, I don't want the job in the slightest, but I'm happy that when I have ideas, I can talk to you about them and have them considered rather than just ignored. On that note, how is Malfoy doing?"

Cornelius frowned at that, "He is still trying to get appointments and waste my time with his suggestions."

Harry chuckled at that, "Perhaps, he is getting desperate. I've heard he's lost a lot of influence and finances with his former wife returning to her maiden House. Madam Tonks has told me a few things while she has been assisting me in learning about my duties as the last Potter."

Cornelius flinched at that, "I'm sure Madam Tonks will be a suitable representative for your House on the Wizengamot until you come of age."

Harry smirked into his cup, "I'm sure my representative will do their duty admirably. I look forward to taking on my responsibilities in the Wizengamot, but I don't know how you can enjoy it so much."

Cornelius chuckled, "Maybe it's my age?"

"Maybe." Harry laughed at that, "That could be it," he looked at his wristwatch and smiled, "I have another twenty minutes or so before I have to go. So, tell me about your family, I want to make a good impression when I stay over at Christmas. Any hints towards ideas for presents?"

-o-o-o-o-o-

Teresa smiled at the young man opposite her and glanced at Rowan, he gave her a soft smirk and a shrug. "Thank you, Mr Weasley, I must say it is always a pleasure to meet a young man with such a keen mind as yours." She sat back and cleaned the tip of her quill, letting Rowan continue.

"Indeed, Mr Weasley, I'm sure that Mr Nott will be annoyed that he could not attend this meeting, I believe that you would have impressed him as well as you did us." Rowan closed the file before him and returned it to his suitcase.

Percy smiled at the interviewers, "Thank you, I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to have this interview."

Teresa nodded at that, "No offense, but I imagine that this is a touch beyond your expectations." She opened the letter Mr Potter had left her, carefully reading it before nodding and passing it across to Rowan.

He read it over and chuckled before nodding to her in agreement, turning back to the much more relaxed Percy Weasley, she gave him a smile, "Mr Potter left us a letter with his viewpoint and I must concur with him, he has also suggested a path that interests us both and will favour all involved." She tapped the letter, "He suggests, and I concur, that you should perhaps consider expanding your education in Law through the muggle system."

Rowan chuckled at that as he nodded in agreement, "A marvellous idea from Mr Potter." He looked Percy up and down in thought for a moment, gesturing for the young man to remain silent and calm himself for a moment, as he grew more nervous, "I believe we can come to a compromise on this."

Teresa nodded and made a few more notes on her parchment, "Father will not be happy, but I think we can come to an agreement." She stared at Percy for a moment, "Mr Weasley, I am going to propose something to the other Partners, if they agree, we will draft a contract and contact you to discuss it further. In those discussions, we will ensure you have suitable legal counsel to advise you so there is no question of meaning or intent behind the wording."

She put her papers away in her own briefcase and leant forward, resting her elbows on the table and resting her chin on the back of her hands, "I am going to propose that we take you as an Intern over the summers until you complete your education, an office gopher as it were. On confirmation that you have passed an agreeable number of NEWTS at a sufficient level for our interests, we will organise a tutor for the muggle side of your education to acquire the required qualifications for a degree in Law. Once passed, you will attend a muggle University to study said degree, again interning in the summers which will count as your work experience that the degree requires. Once your degree is completed, you will then study and take the Bar examinations."

She sat back at the shocked look on his face, "This will be several years of your life to consider dedicating yourself to. We will be exacting in our requirements, there will be little chance for failure at any stage. In exchange for us paying for your muggle education, qualifications and the wizarding equivalents, you will agree to a ten-year contract of service to our Firm. You will repay your debts at ten percent of your earnings until we are even. At which point, you will be free to leave or to negotiate a new contract with the Firm. As a verbal agreement and broad discussion, are you agreeable to this?"

Percy blinked in shock before shaking his head to clear it, "Yes!" He coughed and then repeated himself in a much calmer manner, "Yes, I would be very interested in taking this option."

Rowan chuckled at his enthusiasm, he glanced at Teresa and at her raised eyebrow, he continued, "I am free tomorrow, so I will rebook this room. We will discuss the basics of our offer and go over what we both agree is feasible for your educational requirements. Depending on the Partners agreement of course."

Percy nodded rapidly, like an over-enthusiastic nodding dog toy, "Of course, may I ask how long such an answer would take?"

At that, there was a knock at the door and Harry entered at Teresa's summons, "So? How was it?"

Percy looked flummoxed for a moment as Rowan chuckled, "Very good Mr Potter. Thank you for bringing Mr Weasley to our attention. We were just about to answer Mr Weasley's question of how soon would an answer to the interview would take."

Harry chuckled and clapped Percy on the shoulder, "Well baring any issue from my Proxy disagreeing with me, I'm happy with an offer as long as you've discussed my proposal?"

Percy blinked and turned slightly to stare at the boy beside him, "Whuh?"

Teresa laughed at that, "I'm sure my father wouldn't have much if anything to add to the offer, we'll discuss it when we get back to the office. As for my own vote, I obviously wouldn't have made the offer if I wasn't happy about it."

Rowan chuckled at that, "Nor would I have offered to meet up tomorrow if I wasn't interested." He gathered his things and walked up next to Percy, looking him up and down before nodding, "It will be many years in the future as things stand, but we might see the Firm change name once more to 'Nott, Potter and Weasley' at this rate." he smirked and offered Teresa his arm, "Shall we? We can ruin our children's day with a surprise visit if we're quick and then go back to the office."

Teresa laughed as he took his arm and gave Harry a nod, "Mr Potter, you have a good eye. You may want to discuss Mr Weasleys education path with him if you intend to follow in his footsteps."

Harry chuckled as he helped the shocked Percy stand up, "I doubt it's really my thing, but I may look into it. I have a lot of ideas in the works right now." He gave them both respectful nods as they left, "Come on Percy, I think Penelope will be happy with your news and it's time for lunch."

-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry smiled as the cool wind brushed his hair as it caught the leaves falling from the trees and on the ground as he and Hermione followed Percy and Penelope as they talking excitedly ahead of them on the way back to the school. Jane quietly walked behind the younger pair while Ron rambled away to himself and his new owl at the front of the group. It was a regal and proud looking male barn owl who managed to have an almost Malfoy look of disgust at his new owners' associates.

Then again, it could be the name he had been given.

Harry wanted to say that Chudley was an unexpected name for the Owl, and one that did not suit it, but he didn't have the heart to say such to Ron. The Boy was so happy to have something that was his alone and wasn't connected to his siblings that he was practically glowing in the physical world, never mind in Force. Harry frowned in thought, before chuckling at the image in his mind.

Hermione nudged his shoulder with hers as they walked beside each other, "What's so funny?"

"Ron," Harry answered as he nodded at their friend, "If he doesn't calm down, he'll have a bout of accidental magic and start sparkling in the sunlight."

Hermione hid her laughter behind her hand at the image, "It's about as likely as Cedric Diggory doing that. He's always so happy all the time." She shook her head at the image and continued, "That was a very nice thing you did for him Harry."

"It's nothing," Harry said with a shrug, "Scabbers was really sick and I didn't want to deal with Ron when he finally died."

She shook her head, "I meant Percy. I've never seen him smile so much. Did you see the twins in Hogsmeade? They were really freaked out by it."

"I just gave him the chance," He said with a soft smile, "he passed the interview, so that's all on him. As an aside, if you're interested in going into law, let me know. I'm sure I can wrangle something for you as well."

Hermione laughed and reached out to squeeze his arm, "I'm sure you would."

"So," Harry said, taking the opportunity to learn something new about his best friend, "what did the mighty Hermione Granger want to be when she grew up?"

She shook her head and gave him a slightly sad smile, "You'll laugh at me."

He grinned at her, "I promise I will do my best not to. Unless it was to be a mermaid, or a princess or a unicorn, or an underwater unicorn princess, then I make no promises."

She sighed in mock annoyance at that, "Well, that's better than I expected. Recently, I've thought about being a Healer or perhaps a teacher, but I'll probably be involved in Being Rights in some fashion, just to make the world better for those like Dobby. But before that, like many children like me, I wanted to be either a Librarian, an Astronaut or a Palaeontologist."

Harry frowned, "So, books, space or dinosaurs?" He smiled at her, "I can see you doing all those. Dinosaurs are cool after all. It would be a lot of hard work, but I could see you as Hermione Granger, the first woman in space."

She knocked his shoulder with hers again, "Hardly, Valentina Tereshkova was the first in nineteen sixty-three, the second was Svetlana Savitskaya in eighty-two, then Sally Ride in eighty-three. Although no woman has stood on the moon yet, so if I wasn't a Witch, I could have tried for that."

"Okay..." Harry said blinking in surprise at the flood of information, he really should have expected that to be fair, "what about first British woman in space?"

Hermione chuckled and smiled at him, "Helen Sharman in ninety-one."

"Fair enough." Harry laughed at, before glancing at her, "Is it still something you would like to do? Maybe be that first woman on the moon."

"That would be amazing," Hermione sighed wistfully, "but, not possible. I'd need to complete my muggle education up to a degree at least, likely higher than that. I'd need to be physically fit and healthy, which won't be a problem with the training we're doing, but then I would have to apply to the British National Space Centre and hope I can get a place where it can take up to two years of training to qualify if I was accepted. Then there would need to be a launch that I could be considered for."

She looked up at the darkening sky with a sad fondness, "So, I gave up the dream of the stars to become a Witch. I couldn't learn magic and still try to go into space. I'm good, but I'm not that good."

Harry joined her in looking up at the sky above and chuckled, "Hermione, tell me now. Do you want to walk on the moon?"

She looked at him in confusion, "Given the chance, then yes, I would. But it's not going to happen, so why dream of things that can't be."

Harry looked at her with the most solemn and focused gaze she had ever received from him. "Hermione, I promise you, that I will make sure, that you are the first woman to walk on the moon, no matter the cost."

She patted his cheek, "Thank you Harry, for not laughing at a little girls dream. But don't worry about it, you might be able to wrangle a job interview for a friend, but there are some things that even you can't do."

Harry took hold of her hand on his cheek, "Hermione, do you trust me?"

She frowned at him in confusion, unsure as to why he was so fixated on this, "Of course I do Harry, completely."

He grinned at her and gave her hand a gentle squeeze, "Then listen to me when I tell you that if you want it, you will be the first woman to walk on the moon. Hell, I'll see about you being the first human on step on Mars if that's what you want. And I'll be right behind you as you do it."

She laughed at that, "Alright Harry, if you say so. But I won't be upset when it never happens."

Harry let her go and watched as she walked ahead, chuckling to herself at Harrys over the top declaration to her, she knew it would never happen, but his surety of it warmed her heart and the little girls' dreams began to shine once more.

Harry's grin faded until only a cold and calm demeanour remained, "I was going to do it anyway, but I'll make sure I keep my promise, even if I have to get you there myself." He looked at the horizon where the moon was rising, "I wonder how many side-along apparitions it would take..."

He pulled out a notepad from a pocket and jotted down a few lines, tapping his lips with the end of his pen, "Vanishing Cabinets maybe? I'm sure I remember one being around here somewhere. Something to look into."

-o-o-o-o-o-

AN:

Thank you to all my reviewers:

Idrinktomuch10; ThunderSphinx; starboy454; mwinter1; marius1117; Rebell 01; stars90; Darth rebellion; Jostanos; Jon 'Fatjon' Umber; Firescout; Toffeecat15; master of death12345; Ptool; skygunner58203; SGM84; HughJasz; Svenion; Smokinbarrrel; Pyrophoricity; AnimeA55Kicker; Sedracus; Rairi Valelira; Sanders7201; peachx89; red demon161; fraewyn; Celexs Draconia; Sifo-Dyas; darkelf217043; Lycan01; cameron1812; benkerry2035; vyoom; moozga; Pandaman32470; Hankton; Hadrian Lannister; Emperor Vanquest; Bearmauls; ianramos22; willam and jack and jake; marcol-plata007; JustinC100; Ptool; Separ

Thank you to all my guest reviewers as well.

AvidReader2425: The effect of the venom and tears in his blood do have an effect on his blood as well as the rest of him. Any organic traces of him are slightly acidic, his blood much more intensely, unless he doesn't want to hurt someone in which case his magic negates that effect. If he wants to hurt someone, it will act faster on them. This is shown by the samples taken by the Jedi and the blood drunk by Genevieve (the Vampire). It also has a slight effect of making spiders very nervous around him not that they understand why he does.

Annoy mouse: Harry acquired another wand from the Room of Requirement. It was a scene I missed including when I wrote that chapter, however, when I wrote that scene to include it or modify the original with the information, I felt uncomfortable at what I had produced. The room would have wands in it most likely, but the reasons for having them would be varied but tend towards the darker aspects due to the importance of a wand to a magical. Then I needed a wand that would suit a being like this Harry.

Dragon VS Phoenix: Arcturus Black III dies in 1991 which was Harry's first year.

notYacob: Jane had a longing for her own parents, having never known them as she grew up, she is a touch jealous that Harry has something like that to connect them. She'll be fine, just a little down for a bit.

Tony McNucklz: Sorry you feel that way about the imagery.

Veredis: Sorry you feel that way, unfortunately this style will continue a bit as Harry is setting things up on his own until he can organise a suitable support system to act for him. Until then, he has to play most things slow and close to his chest as he builds things up.

Ariadne Venegas: Harry is aware Dumbledore is up to something, but hasn't delved too deep into that yet. Harry has been building a powerbase by using connections and influence of important people with his fame and money. These things take time to do, and he's mostly laying the groundwork at the moment, meanwhile Abaddon is in South America playing a support role which will come back in later. Dumbledore has a lot of advantages right now and is aware that some rivals are more active than before, he hasn't quite connected Harry to those individuals. There are also other factions involved who have their own plots and schemes. I'm still torn on what to do with Ron, I'll just have to see where my story takes me. As for Jane, both Harry and Jane are aware that she can only do so much in the school, so is pushing it as far as she can manage, but he's meant to be safe in the school and she is meant to be his guard while off school grounds, but the Ministry is ruining that plan.

Guest: In regards to your review, all Sirius had to do was go with Hagrid to a safe location with Harry and call the Aurors. He could have told them about Peter and the Fidelius, let them hunt the traitor down and kept Harry safe. I agree he wouldn't have thought Albus would have inflicted such suffering on an innocent child. There are too many plot holes in the canon events to really know what happened in detail, but there were a lot of mistakes in the short period after Voldemort's defeat. There was no interrogation to discover Sirius' allies in the Deatheaters as he was accused of being, even Bellatrix got a trial, where was Sirius'? A lot is wrong in this scenario, I'm just taking what is known and playing with it to expand it, plus having the people involved have their own perceptions of events.

comodo50: You're most welcome :) As for how much time will move relatively in their stories. Harry will re-join the Star Wars setting approx. 18 years after he left, but his personal time will be longer.

agnar: I'm sorry you feel that way, I hope you find other work that's more to your tastes and doesn't break your flow of enjoyment.

erozoth: I'm sorry you feel that way, I hope you find something more to your tastes. Unfortunately, my release schedule is built around my rare periods I can write due to my life, so it's a send to my beta when I'm done and then release when I've got it back or delayed slightly if there's an interesting date coming up soon.

mateosama: I have the broad skeleton noted, I just need to add the flesh and organs for the rest of the story. No idea how long it will take to finish, but Im not going to stop until its done unless forced to stop in some fashion. Adas was an ancient Sith king.

Skyking99: I'm sorry to hear that, I hope you find something more to your tastes.