Harry sighed and peered down at the vast college campus underneath him. The afternoon sun was high in the sky and hot, warmer than any temperatures that England had during the summer. It had been two years since he had seen Spencer Reid in person but they had exchanged letters with random owls since they had met. Two years and so many memories. Sirius… He had just met Sirius during his third year and now…
A sound left his throat unconsciously and he shook his head in an attempt to vanish the memory of Sirius falling through the veil, of Bellatrix casting the killing curse at her cousin. He slowly made his way to the ground, avoiding the occasional bird, and landed right behind the building that housed the English department for CalTech.
Spencer had just turned 14 and was taking classes here in Pasadena, during the summer. Harry had made a few special arrangements, with MACUSA mostly, to take some classes during the summer, to avoid England and the bad memories that it held. He had also mostly… not included Dumbledore or anyone from the Ministry in his plans, instead wanting to keep this to himself.
He hadn't even told the Dursleys where he would be though he didn't think they cared. MACUSA had come through for him, had made it possible for him to spend a summer away from England. They had in fact sent their equivalent of an auror to guard him and to make sure that the Ministry didn't have a clue where he was. They had also rented an apartment for him, near the campus, filling it with the necessary furniture and supplies for the summer. And warding it to the gills.
He tucked his broom under his arm and watched from behind the corner as students filed out of the building, talking about their classes. His eyes narrowed as he searched the other students, looking for one in particular and finding him.
The only boy amongst the students, with his light brown curly hair and wide glasses, turned at his voice and smiled widely. Spencer Reid was only 14 years old and was already taking college classes, which Harry wasn't too particularly surprised by.
Some of the other teenagers stopped to stare as Spencer ran right over to Harry, before they moved on. Spencer walked right over to him and held out his hand, which Harry returned, looking Spencer over for anything out of the ordinary. Spencer had written of the expected bullying over the last two years and Harry had tried to keep his friend's mind occupied, not that Spencer wasn't already busy.
"How are you?" Harry asked, looking up at the couple buildings that lay on the college campus around them.
"I am taking four classes, Harry," Spencer offered, raising an eyebrow. "You know how I'm doing."
Harry snorted, smiling a little. "Yes, I know how you're doing. Come on. Let's go grab some hot chocolate."
Spencer nodded, his eyes lighting up as they headed around the building and off of campus. "You said in your last letter that you had a bad professor. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Spencer… I don't think so. It was… honestly a miracle that I was able to send you one at all. Professor Umbridge… was fired, the last I heard of her."
"Hermione and I… got her stolen by the centaurs," Harry remarked, shrugging.
"Stolen by centaurs. You are talking about the horse/man creatures, right?" Spencer asked, his eyes widening.
"Yep. They don't like strangers messing around with friends of theirs in their territory," Harry explained, as they crossed the street and headed to the porch of an apartment. He sighed and laid his palm over the door, watched it glow slightly blue and then he nudged it open. The wards over the building swept over him as they stepped inside and something within him sighed in relief. He would be staying here for the rest of the summer, not staying at the Dursleys.
He would have regular meals everyday and not be bullied every single day for the next couple of months.
Spencer met his eyes as he led them over to the kitchen. There was an island in the center of it, with stools and books spread out over it and Harry watched as Spencer walked over to sit on one of the stools. "How are you here? I thought you would stay with your aunt and uncle. You said something about Dumbledore insisting you stay there."
"I… What you're doing gave me the idea," Harry said, as he looked around the kitchen and walked over to the cabinets, getting some mugs out for drinks. "You're here alone for college and you're only 14."
"Are many 14 year olds approached by the FBI? I'm smarter than most 14 year olds," Spencer retorted, his eyes narrowing.
Harry blinked and turned to look at his friend. "Spencer? The FBI? Did you do something?"
Spencer froze and then shook his head, a hint of a blush coloring his cheeks. He rocked back on the stool, kicking his feet against the island. "No. I… Sorry."
"No. You've got nothing to apologize for. Why were you approached by the FBI then?"
"They're interested in having me work for them," Spencer remarked quietly, watching as Harry turned on the kettle on the stove. "Why don't you use magic right now?"
"Whoa. Hold on. The American FBI wants you to work for them? You're barely out of college," Harry said, meeting Spencer's eyes easily. Something darkened in Harry's eyes and Spencer blinked, tilting his head in confusion. "I'm just worried. And as for the magic question… I like doing things the non magical way sometimes. MACUSA tagged me as a person of importance and that would let me use magic right now but you know… sometimes… I don't want anything to do with the magical world."
Spencer raised an eyebrow, looking at Harry intently. "What happened?"
Spencer froze mid kick against the island, his eyes widening. "Your dogfather?"
Harry swallowed and nodded, as he stirred in the chocolate. "Yeah."
"It's not your fault. That's… why I'm here for the summer," Harry said, pulling over the bag of marshmallows and looking at Spencer with a pointed question. Spencer nodded vehemently and Harry popped in a few marshmallows and brought both mugs over. "I wanted… I wanted to learn what I could this summer, maybe figure out why Voldemort's been so hard to kill."
Spencer's eyes sparked with interest, lighting up even more. "Books?"
Harry smiled faintly and gestured over to one in particular. "You said you wanted to read that one in one of your letters."
Spencer reached for the aforementioned book without hesitation, his mouth curling up into a pleased grin. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander. Harry watched as Spencer reached out for one of the mugs and brought it up to his mouth to sip, his attention already elsewhere. A pleased sound left Spencer's throat as he drank the first sip of the hot liquid and Harry grinned.
"You've got a sweet tooth," Harry muttered.
"You have one too," Spencer argued gleefully, turning the first page.
"Yes, I have one too. You got me there."
"What do you have to do to become an animagus?" Spencer questioned, watching as Harry paced about the living room.
"It's complicated, I think. My dad and his friends did it so there's a good chance I'll be able to do it too."
"Is it an inherited ability? Are there inherited abilities?"
"No, I don't think it's inherited," Harry answered, closing his eyes and concentrating. "There's a potion that I have to brew or get brewed. There's a good potions master in the wizarding town close by and then I have to drink it and… well, there's a list of things to do."
"As for inherited abilities, I think the metamorphmagus ability is inherited," Harry added, pondering that and then shaking his head. "Then again… I'm not too sure. You'd probably know more than me at this point."
"Are you taking summer courses?" Spencer asked, as he spread out his own summer work on his work table and looked through it. "Is there a wizarding school or post… Hogwarts level school here? How many wizards and witches live in the United States anyway?"
Harry grinned faintly at Spencer's questions. "I don't know exactly. Probably a lot more than in England but I didn't stop to ask in the lobby of MACUSA's offices in New York. I am however already enrolled in two summer courses here, right next door to CalTech actually."
"Defense and healing?"
"Yes. How'd you know?" Harry stopped pacing and walked over to their work table to sit across from Spencer. He flipped open one of his own books and scanned the lines.
"You said as much in your letter last year," Spencer offered, his eyes glued to his own books. "You like to help people too. I figured healing would be one of them."
Harry frowned before he sighed. "Not you too."
"Hermione said I have a people saving thing," Harry said, before dropping his arms down to the table and meeting Spencer's eyes. "I saved Buckbeak, Dobby, Sirius… I tried to save him this time but-"
"That's not your fault," Spencer interrupted, raising his voice a little bit. "Voldemort was there and Bellatrix was there. You said Dumbledore was not there at that moment and that it was just you and your friends."
"Yeah. It feels like it's my fault though," Harry muttered, eating a bite of the lunch that a house elf had dropped off. "I led my friends to the Ministry to stop a dream that wasn't actually…"
"It's still not your fault. You're just one year older than me and I wouldn't be able to… do what you did."
"It requires training," Harry said, sighing. "Training, luck, and adrenaline. I hope you're never in that situation."
"I'm not a wizard."
"Do you know why you are sharing dreams or visions with Voldemort?" Spencer asked, twirling the pen around in his hands as he wrote up a paper. "I could look through some books with you."
"I would have to pick up some books at the local library," Harry remarked, running a hand through his hair. "Hermione's gonna be so proud. I actually did work during the summer."
Spencer snorted. "And wasn't interrupted by your aunt and uncle."
Harry grinned. "That too. I like that bit."
"I've had enough of studying right now," Harry said, yawning a little bit. A month had passed since he had some to America to spend some time away from England, a month of just… living with Spencer in Pasadena, California. He had been able to enroll in the two summer classes at a small, local wizarding school and was now learning spells that would be introduced in his next year of classes. Some he figured would even be more advanced than sixth year spellwork. Defense work was easy for him, ever since he had mastered the patronus charm. Even a few older students in his class hadn't mastered that spell. "I just finished studying to be an animagus. Spencer… you interested in movie night?"
"Have you tried using the spell yet?" Spencer called over, from their joint work table.
"No… At least not yet."
Spencer looked at him and Harry laughed, gesturing to the couch. "You're just as bad as my professors. Here. I already know what my form is. Give me a minute."
Spencer's eyes lit up and he shuffled his chair back from the table to give Harry his full attention.
Harry grinned and whispered the incantation under his breath, feeling his holly wand warm in his hand. One minute he was on two legs and the next he was on four, standing as high as the table and even a little higher. His tail swished behind him and his coat radiated heat even now. He peered right into Spencer's eyes to see them widen even more, a smile forming on his face.
"You're pretty," Spencer whispered, reaching out to touch. "Black panther. Species name is panthera. It's a melanistic color variant to leopards. You're taller and bigger than the average panther, Harry."
Harry purred and grinned, showing more teeth than he would have had he been on two legs. Spencer laughed quietly and patted his head softly.
"When you had the dream, did your scar hurt?" Spencer asked, not even looking up from the book he was reading. Harry looked up at him from across the table a week later, almost to the end of summer, and nodded in answer, not knowing what Spencer had found. He was reading one of the books that Harry had picked up from the local wizarding library, an old book that wasn't in any restricted section.
"Do you know if your parents or any of your grandparents had the ability you do? Parseltongue, I mean."
"I don't think they did. Hermione said no one in the Potter line had it and I'm pretty sure no one in my mother's family would have had it. What have you found?" Harry asked, standing up and coming over to Spencer's side.
"I found something called horcruxes," Spencer remarked, tracing the lines in the book with a finger. Harry read over Spencer's shoulder, following his finger. "Voldemort transferred some of his knowledge and talents to you when he tried to kill you. If I understand correctly."
"You are. These mean what you think they mean and they mean that…"
"Voldemort split his soul and gave a part of it to you," Spencer whispered, his eyes widening. "Is that even…"
Spencer's eyes widened as he trailed off. "Voldemort could see what you see."
"No. I've been training with someone here for the summer. My mind's closed now to anyone but me," Harry said, his eyes narrowing in thought. "He probably didn't do it on purpose. Horcruxes. Good job. Thank you. I don't think… You haven't come across anything else like this, have you?"
"No. Nothing else that would be like the bond you two seem to have."
"Bond." Harry's nose wrinkled at the thought.
Spencer seemed to share the same opinion as he had lost the color on his face. "The author doesn't share any thoughts on how to dispose of a horcrux."
Harry's eyes narrowed as he read even more down the page, pondering what it said. "The diary in my second year. That was probably a horcrux."
Spencer raised an eyebrow.
"I struck a basilisk fang through it," Harry answered, closing his eyes as memories flooded him. "It killed the piece of the soul that was in it, I suppose. It would make sense for it to be a horcrux. Spencer, thank you. How'd you get so smart?"
"You're welcome. Can I have more panther time please?"
Harry smiled and squeezed Spencer's shoulders lightly, feeling his friend lean into his grip a little. Harry met Spencer's eyes and watched as he shrugged. Harry grinned and sat back up, looking over his books again. He looked over Spencer's books and his eyes widened at many of the titles, knowing he couldn't even begin to be able to understand them.
"Tonight. You were going to spend the night, right?"
"I was. The resident assistant in my dorm okayed it. They know where I am. Diana knows you're here too."
"Is she still…"
Spencer turned away and back to the book on the table, not meeting Harry's eyes.
"Ah. You're going to have to let me know what the FBI want," Harry offered, crooking a finger to get a chair to move over and sat down on it. "I have to go back to England next week just so that the Ministry and… Dumbledore don't know where I've been. And Spencer… it might be best if we slow our communication down to one owl a month perhaps or… I could spell a journal."
"Like the diary?"
"Exactly like the diary except not infused with an evil soul," Harry added, snorting at the thought. Spencer laughed and Harry grinned.
"When will we see each other next?" Spencer questioned, watching as Harry closed the door to his apartment. "And Hedwig?"
"Hedwig probably misses you too but she stayed with the Weasleys this summer. I didn't want to make her fly the whole way across the Atlantic twice. I don't know when we'll next see each other but we can still keep in touch. We don't even have to use quills."
Spencer's lips twitched up into a grin even as he noted the three magical people that had kept Harry safe. They were easy to pick out from non magical people, from their posture to their eyes. Spencer had even met a few of them over the course of the summer, since Harry had had to tell them that Spencer knew about the magical world.
"Be safe?" Spencer asked, keeping his arms to his sides. "The professors at Hogwarts do not sound as supportive as the ones here."
"There are a few that… are worse," Harry offered, his eyes darkening. "We got rid of Umbridge and whoever Dumbledore chooses to be the next Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will not last anyway."
Spencer blinked and Harry grinned. "That job is jinxed. No one lasts more than a year."
"It sounds very peculiar," Spencer remarked, crossing his arms for a second and then curling his shoulders inward.
"Rumor has it that it's Voldemort's doing," Harry said, shrugging. "He didn't get the job so no one lasts. Anyway… let me know if you need help with anything, like getting the FBI off you. And sorry that I didn't get to go to more of the basketball games that you coached."
Spencer's eyes lit up at the mention of them. "The team actually talks to me now."
Harry grinned. "I bet they do. You want to watch me?"
Spencer nodded and watched as Harry backed up, taking an old tire from one of the aurors. A minute later Harry vanished, taken away by magical portkey, and Spencer's heart skipped several beats before he turned away and rode off on his bike.