AN: See disclaimer on Chapter 1.

Chapter 3

The next week was interesting as people started talking about the strange situation with the troll. Apparently nobody knew what had happened to it. Hermione had tried one more time to ask Harry about it. For some reason, she thought he knew more than he was telling, but she didn't push too hard. She was trying to not be too demanding of people.

When Ron realised they weren't doing their homework together anymore and he had no idea what was going on in class, he decided to bite the bullet and apologised. When they asked him what he was apologising for, he didn't know what to say, so they left him to his own devices again. If he didn't know what he did wrong, he'd not be inclined to change the behaviour, after all.

It took a whole week for him to figure it out, but by then Harry and Hermione had already bonded more closely with Neville, who was not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was damn well more pleasant to be around. When Ron apologised properly, they allowed him to re-join their study group, but Harry had no doubt he'd stick his foot in his mouth again at some point.

It wasn't that Harry was trying to avoid spending time with Ron, but he was now picking up on things he hadn't picked up on before. Smug looks at others when he noticed them looking, suddenly going silent when Harry entered the room, like Ron was talking about him. Things like that would have been difficult for him to pick up on when he was younger, but he noticed it this time. He was sure Ron would grow out of it at some point, but he was feeling a bit used by the boy when these situations eventually started cropping up. In fact, Harry was almost certain he heard the words 'best friend' at some point. When did he tell Ron he was his best friend?

It was in the first week of December, when Harry picked up on the fact that the twins were up to something. They were a bit too awake and observant one morning at breakfast, so he started scanning the food and anything in his general vicinity. He picked up on nothing, so he started scanning the roof and then the other tables. Finally, he found something at the Slytherin table.

Harry wasn't certain what it did, but it seemed there was a potion of some sort on the bench of that table. Using his magic to scrape a bit of the potion off, he transferred it onto the space where the twins sat. He had to wait for them to move to place it, but he eventually succeeded. People move in their seats more often than one would think, especially when a cup of scalding tea randomly fell over and splashed them.

It was just before the students were released to start getting to class, when it happened. As if by some sort of trigger, all of the students exposed to the potion started shifting in their seats. Then there was more movement as some people's hands disappeared under the table to scratch at their suddenly itchy behinds.

Harry was watching the event as the twins suddenly paled and started whispering urgently to each other. Harry stared at them until he caught one of their eyes. When Fred noticed he motioned for George to look. Harry just shook his head at them and then turned back to the conversation Hermione and Neville were having about the homework they were turning in today.

The Slytherin students were not quiet about their discomfort, though, and pretty soon Snape had gone to check what was going on. The twins, not wanting to be caught, tried valiantly to ignore their own discomfort, but they had been a bit vindictive in the brewing of the itching solution and soon had to get up and started scratching themselves as well.

Snape, who was on the lookout for the culprit or culprits, narrowed his eyes at the infamous pranksters and soon called them out to interrogate them. Harry was almost certain that Snape would know that they were guilty, but because he couldn't ever tell people that he was reading minds, he had to get creative to find a reason to punish them. Fortunately, since they were the only ones affected besides his house, he found it easy to implicate them and they soon received a week's worth of detention and lost a hundred points for Gryffindor, each.

The fact that he held them back, while his own house went to the school matron, meant they had to live with the discomfort until the whole of Slytherin was helped.

That night, they cornered Harry, after they returned from detention. "Did you do that?!" Fred asked.

"Did you put inching solution on our seats?" George asked.

"I took some of what was on the Slytherin seats and put it on yours, if that's what you mean." Harry said.

"Why?!" Fred demanded.

"What did we ever do to you?" George asked.

"Do you guys really not know the difference between picking on people and a harmless prank?" Harry asked. "You didn't even target anyone outside Slytherin! What's wrong with you two? I thought you were trying for funny. Instead I'm disappointed. Here, I was thinking of a prank war with pranksters, but now I find out you're just bullies. I don't like bullies."

"But they're Slytherins!" Fred blurted.

"They're all rotten!" George agreed.

"And Hufflepuffs are all sheep, Ravenclaws are all bookworms and Gryffindors are all bullies." Harry said. "You do realise that's what the other houses will think, right? That we're bullies? What else will they think when we treat all of one house like they have only one characteristic. If they decide you're an example of what all Gryffindors are, they'd all hate us by tomorrow."

"But they don't." Fred said.

"They were all laughing at them!" George added.

"That's not true." Harry said. "I know for a fact that a lot of the other houses were scared. You put a potion on someone without their knowledge or agreement. They needed to be treated by the bloody school nurse! You know that that's assault, right? You literally attacked the whole of Slytherin house. You know the last group of people who attacked people for perceived differences were Death Eaters, right? Do you really want our house to be seen like they were?"

"But Death Eaters killed people!" Fred said.

"It really doesn't matter the depth of your attack." Harry said. "The fact is you attacked innocent students. Even if only one out of every four people weren't planning on becoming the next generation of Death Eaters, you still attacked fourteen innocent students. Students that didn't deserve it.

"And you know what's worse? Those innocents now think that they are being targeted and they will seek strength in numbers, driving them to choose a side they might not have chosen to follow otherwise." Harry said. "Well done. You've contributed to the problem." Having said his piece, Harry pushed the twins off of him and walked away. He had only realised what he had said was true as he spoke. He couldn't be associated with this kind of disregard for basic human rights.

The next morning during breakfast, Harry stood up and approached the Professor's table. "Excuse me, Professor Dumbledore?" he asked.

"Good morning, Harry, my boy." Dumbledore said. "What can we do for you this morning?" he asked with his grandfatherly smile.

"I'd like to make a statement to the student body." Harry said simply. "May I please do so?"

"What were you thinking, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

"It's for the student body, sir." Harry said. "If I discussed it with you first, it would detract from what I'm trying to do."

Dumbledore thought about it, before asking, "This isn't some sort of prank, is it?"

"I promise you sir, this is very serious." Harry said.

Dumbledore took a deep breath, before finally nodding. "Very well." he said and cast a sonorous on Harry, who turned around.

"May I have your attention, please?" Harry asked. He needn't have asked. They were already paying attention from the moment Harry got up and started speaking with Dumbledore.

"Thank you." Harry said as he nodded at them. "It has come to my attention that there are some questions about the 'prank' that happened yesterday. I'd like to say, that I, myself, don't feel that that is an accurate representation of who I am or who I want to be. I don't want to discriminate against the pranksters who did it either. Likely they hadn't considered the consequences of their actions.

"But I feel the need to apologise." Harry said as he walked closer to the Slytherin table. "I was not part of what happened yesterday, but I feel I owe you a public apology for what was done to you. I enjoy a good prank on occasion, but I feel a good prank doesn't have victims, only participants. And the goal should be laughter all around.

"I don't feel that singling out an entire house or judging them by the actions of the few is fair. So for the actions of those who did that to you, I apologise on behalf of my house." Then Harry turned to the other houses. "For those of you, who were not happy about what happened, or who were afraid that you may be next, I apologise to you, as well.

"I promise, this isn't what all Gryffindors stand for. We're not all intolerant bigots. We don't all judge you only because your tie has blue, or yellow, or green. I personally hope to be friends with many of you by the time I graduate, and hope you will offer me the opportunity and not shun me because my tie has red.

"Thank you for your time." Harry turned around and looked at Dumbledore, who waved his wand and canceller the sonorous. Then he got up and looked proudly at Harry. Before he could say anything, however, Harry said, "Please, don't reward me? This was not done in the hope of gaining some sort of favour. If you give points for doing what is right, it would only take away from what I wanted to achieve."

Dumbledore was shocked for a moment, before his proud smile only grew. Then he sat back down and nodded. "Very well said, Harry. I won't give you awards for doing what is right, but I will say that I am proud of the boy you have become."

"Blame Remus." Harry said with a smirk. "Sirius would have laughed at what happened yesterday and congratulated the 'pranksters'."

"Black was never someone anyone should aspire to become." Snape said. "It is fortunate, it seems, that you had someone reasonably respectable to learn from, at least."

"Oh, Remus has his own demons, but he tried to set an example and I'm happy to call him family." Harry said. Then he nodded at the Professors and walked back to his table only then noticing that Hermione had walked up to the Slytherin table and was also apologising for her house. Neville soon followed her and then more Gryffindors followed their lead. Many faces were looking at Harry in shock, especially from the Slytherin house.

Harry tried to ignore it, but he suddenly noticed more friendly smiles sent his way. People started greeting him in the halls and he even noticed some Slytherins nod in his direction a time or two. The twins weren't being treated very fondly, and hopefully they had learned something from the experience. Harry was still casting detection magic every day, since he was almost certain one or two people in the Slytherin house would still seek revenge.

Harry was noticed studying at the back of the potions classroom and Snape addressed it only once, stating that Harry had studied ahead and was trying to maintain his lead. There were some shocked looks, even from Harry, since he hadn't expected Snape to admit it so openly. He hadn't known that the professor was playing a prank of his own. Since he was ahead, he became the recipient of many requests for help with their work. When he realised that Snape had done it on purpose, he glared at the man, and saw the smirk directed his way, but only for a moment.

Snape had taken great joy in putting the boy in a position where he could take work away from him. If he didn't have to deal with so many incompetents, his life may even become slightly more enjoyable. He saw a look from the boy, which promised vengeance and smirked. He'd see if the boy had any skill, by what he did next.

Snape was still marking papers by the time class ended. If only he could foist this off on the boy as well, he thought. He dismissed the class and continued his work. By the time the next class was about to turn up, he stood up, only to fall instantly, when his feet failed to find purchase and slipped out from under him.

As he got up, he noticed a something on the floor. It looked like an engraving of some sort. Taking a closer look, he found runes marking the floor where he had stepped. Next to his seat, he found a note.

These runes help reduce friction and would go on the hull of any ship, to allow for higher velocities with less friction and to reduce the amount of damage on re-entry. Hopefully negating the possibly of burning up.

-HB

Snape scowled. When had the boy carved runes around him, or left the note? He may have been busy, but he had been keeping an eye on the happenings in the room, especially when the boy was approached with questions. Somehow, he doubted the boy would give them incorrect instructions, but that didn't mean he didn't take a bit of pleasure out of his distraction and predicament. He had intended to put a stop to it by the next class, but perhaps he could allow it for a while yet…

Harry had been focussing on keeping a silencing charm in place as he carved the runes with his magic. It was a trick he had learned a while back. He would set his magic in an area and then have it emulate what he did with his hand. It allowed for more precise control, when such things were necessary. He had worked out these runes as part of what would go onto the ship, and decided to show Snape some of what his efforts had achieved. The fact that he'd hopefully fall on his ass, before he got the message and learned his lesson would simply be a bonus.

Snape would be able to counter the magic, by simply undoing the transfiguration he had used to shape the runes into the stone. It was a simple trick, used to work with temporary runes, and Snape should have at least heard of that. If not, Harry was sure Snape would figure it out by next time and be on the lookout, so he'd have to think of something else, if the professor refused to step in and tell the class to leave him alone.

Life went on and Christmas time drew near. For the first time ever, Harry had somewhere to go, so he packed his trunk, which he would not leave behind, and went with the other children as they left for Christmas. The Weasleys were all strangely going home. Harry remembered them staying at school last time around. Something about their parents visiting one of the elder brothers and being out of the country. Had they elected to stay behind last time, or had their situation somehow changed, because Harry wasn't such good friends with Ron?

Harry didn't really care all that much and shared a compartment with Hermione and Neville. Ron had elected to spend his time with the twins. Speaking of the twins, they had not liked being universally despised, so they had gone out of their way to prank themselves, for the enjoyment of the other children. They could often be seen with magically disfigured faces or giant appendages. It took them only a week of this, before the scowls, which had become the norm, to turn into smirks in hope of seeing something funny. They had succeeded in their quest, quite admirably.

While they were on the train, Harry advanced his plans to endear himself with Hermione, by reading a book while he lay down on the bench and placed his head on her lap, uninvited.

"What are you doing?" Hermione asked with a bit of a blush.

"These seats are not long enough to lie down in, otherwise." Harry said easily. "I'd prefer the lap of a pretty girl, rather than Neville's. No offense Neville." he said to the other occupant.

"No, I see your point." Neville said. He looked up to Harry and had started emulating him. "Rather the lap of a pretty young lady than the lap of some other boy. For some reason that idea disturbs me."

"Me too, Neville, me too." Harry said with a smirk, before he turned back to Hermione. "Are you uncomfortable?" he asked.

Hermione seemed to consider it. She didn't really mind, but she somehow felt that it was a little more contact than she would prefer. Not wanting to give offense, though, she said, "I can live with it, if you tell me what you're reading about."

"Sure thing Hermione." Harry said with a smile. "I'm trying to work out a way to tint glass to reduce solar radiation from coming through."

"You're trying to make sunglasses?" Hermione asked. "Why not just go to a shop and buy some?"

"It's not exactly that simple." Harry said. "I want to spell glass on a larger scale and in a more permanent way." He then went about explaining about his plan to be the first wizard on the moon, using magical means. He hadn't told anyone besides his guardians and Snape, keeping it as a bargaining chip. He told them now, to relax the girl and make her used to physical contact. He'd not had many opportunities to do so recently, and his explanation bought him the opportunity he wanted. Normally he did so by placing a friendly hand on her shoulder, or tickling her, when he felt she needed a smile.

Not long after the train set off, the Patil twins showed up and asked if they could join. "Sure. No problem." Harry said easily from his reclined position. "But you'll have to sit with Neville. I've claimed this position."

"Get up, Harry." Hermione insisted. "Your friends want so visit."

"But I'm comfortable." Harry whined.

The twins giggled and sat down either side of a shocked Neville. He did his best to smile at them the way Harry always did. "I could always swap with Hermione if she's uncomfortable." Parvati offered.

Hermione, uncharacteristically said, "I'm not complaining, but Harry usually has better manners, especially around girls."

Harry groaned, but sat up. "I hate it when you are right." He grumbled. Then he got up and greeted the guests properly, doing the customary thing of bowing and kissing above their knuckles. "Miss Patil." He repeated twice as he greeted both of them. "To what do I owe the absolute pleasure of your lovely company?" he asked with that roguish smile.

They giggled and Padma said. "We wanted to say that we respect what you did after that prank on Slytherin. It really wasn't nice what the Weasley boys did."

"Thank you for doing that." Parvati said. "Padma told me that some of the other students in Ravenclaw really appreciated you apologising to them as well."

"Don't thank me for that." Harry said. "It was the right thing to do."

The twins relented and soon they started chatting happily about school and what they had experienced. Before long, they were joined by Susan Bones, who claimed the open space next to Harry.

"So, Susan, how's the Malfoy heir adjusting to the Hufflepuff life." Harry asked with a smile.

Susan smiled back and said, "It took a while, but I think he's started coming around to our way of thinking."

"Any chance you would answer a couple of questions on how?" Harry asked, tentatively.

Susan's eyes narrowed slightly, but only for a moment. "I'm afraid that that is a house secret. The official answer is that we shower him with attention, until he decides on his own to change his attitude."

That sure sounded like Stockholm syndrome. "I think I understand." Harry said with a knowing smile.

Susan didn't like hearing that. What happened in Hufflepuff was supposed to stay in Hufflepuff. Nobody was supposed to know. "What do you think you know?" she asked sweetly.

Harry's smile grew. "I only mean to say, that I hope all the best for his future, as a loyal initiate." he said.

"Initiate?" Hermione asked in confusion.

Harry looked at her, before turning back to Susan and winking slyly. "Into the Hufflepuff way of life and mind-set. As I understand it, they take care of their own." he said.

Susan suddenly had no doubt that Harry knew exactly what he was talking about. At least he seemed to know to keep what he knew to himself. "Of course." she said. "But then, we are the loyal house, aren't we?"

Harry smiled and looked at Neville, "See what I mean? Isn't it nice to have so many girls as friends? Pretty faces all around."

Neville smiled. He'd noticed the same thing. "I can't agree more." he said. "These ladies are guaranteed to make the trip more enjoyable, just by their mere presence."

'Well done, Neville.' Harry thought. Of course, he didn't intend to share, but that was hardly the point, was it? If Neville was growing in confidence, maybe this time around, when he noticed Hannah, he'd be able to make a move sooner and he'd be more attractive to her, due to the attention he was receiving.

Hermione had hoped that they'd get some time to talk about wandless magic, but Harry had so many friends stop by that it was impossible. He had given her some instructions, though and she'd started on trying to focus her emotions. It would be a while before she achieved success, but that was because she didn't have so many dark and/or difficult memories to draw on to flame the accidental magic, which Harry had informed her would help her.

Remus and Sirius had vast amounts of those, having been in the first war and having seen many of their friends and allies die. Not to mention their personal issues and pasts. Harry had tried teaching them with positive thoughts, but for some reason the darker memories and anger worked best for them, which was why he trained Hermione with that.

The trip seemed too short, with how much fun they were having and Harry had taken the opportunity to hug and tickle and poke and play with the girls in a friendly manner, getting them used to his presence and in their personal space. He was making good progress, but soon they arrived and had to leave.

Sirius and Remus were both there, to pick Harry up. They even got the chance to meet the Granger parents. Sirius had invited them to join them for Christmas Dinner and they declined, at first, until Harry pointed out, that since it was a magical household, Hermione would be able to demonstrate her magic, so that the parents could see what she was learning. That quickly changed their minds.

When they left, Hermione started informing them that she needed to get some books and things so that she could keep up with her mundane studies. Harry having decided that he'd like to go into tertiary studies in the mundane world, was a happy surprise for them. It seemed the boy she had written home about was a good influence.

When Harry arrived home with Sirius and Remus, they needed to make plans to leave almost immediately, so that Harry could secure the first site of their newly established import/export company. He was given the specifics of the spell and he went to work studying it immediately. It was a complicated spell with many components, but fortunately his advanced knowledge of spells and his research aided him in understanding the process.

The next day would be the first day of the full moon and they hoped to have everything in place by then, so that same evening, they took a registered portkey to America, where they had purchased a piece of farmland in Texas. They helped Harry set up and placed the boundary ward-stones on the edge of the plot and he started incanting.

Ten minutes and a lot of power later, their first Fidelius protected property was ready. It was still midday and Harry's guardians set to work building a house. Some people built houses from lighter, cheaper materials, instead of the heavy stone and cement usually found in Europe, so the process was reasonably easy and quick. They had it up in under two hours. They had even taken the time to purchase everything they'd need to furnish the three-bedroom house. Magical bathrooms and plumbing was something that took a bit more time, but by the time evening fell, they were done and the house was established.

Since it was late in the morning in Europe and they had essentially worked through the night, they took the unregistered portkey they had made back in Grimmauld Place, back to it. From here on out, they intended to use their own portkeys between their two hidden locations. This would also found the bedrock of their new company. Transporting goods between countries like this would only be part of the purpose of the company.

The other part was focussed on setting up werewolves with permanent jobs, which gave them access to dormitories on the opposite sides of the planet. It would allow them to sleep during the night, on the side of the planet that was day, and would allow them to return the next morning, having completely avoided the full moon and never having to transform. It had been Harry's idea.

There was a short celebration, before they went back and took the opportunity to sleep for a bit. It was still five days before Christmas, but they all wanted to go shopping and to spend some quality time together. Sirius had decided to take it a bit more calmly with the alcohol, not wanting them to act on the threat of sending him to a program. He loved a drink every now and then, but he refused to be called an alcoholic, unless it was said as a joke, which was mostly the case when the others said it. Mostly.

Remus had taken the time to speak to the publishers and authors that sold the Harry Potter books and a couple of threats by the goblins of a public declaration by Harry himself to claim they were stealing from him, and they had paid up 25% of their profits for past sales and a royalty system was put in place for future sales as well.

This had the side-effect of giving the company a huge influx of cash to start up their business, which they planned to use to start setting up more and more properties for their company. Harry had insisted that the money doesn't go to him, since he didn't have it last time around and didn't really need it. They'd be making money hand over fist once operations were up, anyway.

Remus was ecstatic that he'd never need to take another wolfsbane potion and was made the Chief Operating Officer, while Sirius would be the one to procure contracts and necessities, making him the Chief Executive Officer. Harry would join them later, when his 'studies' were complete. He was more focussed on his own projects anyway and they were fine with him simply being a silent partner.

They spent a couple of days enjoying themselves and running their errands, with Harry always leaving the house in the disguise of the older gentleman he had perfected all that time back. They'd even set up a backstory for the man, so he could tell people what he did, when asked. Harry had found it funny, when some women flirted with him. He had soon modified the illusion to have a wedding band. When asked about it, the illusion would get a sad look and say that his wife had died and he'd make it seem like the man was still in mourning. This got him a bit more attention than Harry would have liked, but at least it wasn't the open flirting he had had to deal with until then.

When Christmas day came, Remus was in high spirits. Not once had he transformed and he was, for the first time since he was a child, able to enjoy the spirit of the holiday with no fear or aches and pains. They had gone to pick up the Grangers and led them into the Fidelius protected area, before they transported the family, via Portkey, to their new home in Texas.

The trip was a shock to them, but the after-effects of this form of travel was overshadowed by the fact that they had travelled to the other side of the planet in mere moments. It was night-time in Texas, but it wasn't as cold as it had been in the UK. They had prepared food and there was a fire merrily burning in the fireplace. There were magical lights floating about and Christmas music playing in the background.

The adults drank Champaign, firewhiskey and wine, while Harry and Hermione drank sparkling grape juice. Kreacher had prepared the food and they had left him with a large helping of what he had made for them, but he didn't want to leave Grimmauld Place. His attitude had changed remarkably after they had promised him that they'd take care of the locket, when the time was right. These days he didn't even ask to see his old mistress anymore.

When dinner, ate during their normal lunch-time, was complete, they exchanged some gifts. The adults didn't know each other very well, but Sirius and Remus both gave gifts of invitations to use their company's transport to travel to one of the locations they would be setting up and a bottle of fine wine, and they received a bottle of bourbon and wine each from the Grangers. It was a funny moment, but everyone understood that it was difficult to shop for people you barely knew.

Harry had gotten Hermione a fountain-pen and had written down the spell he used to transfigure legal paper into parchment, which was how he did his own work. The parchment even kept the writing, so you could write first and then change the paper.

Hermione got Harry a book, which wasn't unexpected, but this one was all about the intricacies of space-travel. Harry had smiled at her and hugged her gratefully for the thoughtful gift. That was before he opened it and found that she had taken the time to highlight certain parts and made notes on ways that he could use things that already existed to accomplish the tasks.

He had hugged her again, lifting her up and spinning around in his exuberance. She had really done her research. The adults smiled and the Granger parents asked why he was so interested in space. When he explained to them that he intended to be the first wizard on the moon, they laughed, but only until they realised he was serious.

"But, is that even possible?" Mister Granger asked. "Would magic even function in space?"

"We don't know." Harry said honestly. "But we'll have contingencies in place for every eventuality, including magical transportation home and a safe landing area."

"What would be the point though?" Hermione's mother asked. "Wizards don't use or need satellites. You rely on owls for mail, for goodness sakes! If you had things like telephones, you could talk instantly, but Magic interferes with that."

"We do have some forms of instant communication." Sirius said, defending the magical world. "There's the Floo, and James and I came up with mirrors that communicate with each other. We speak to and see Harry on it all the time."

"You what?!" Hermione asked instantly, suddenly staring daggers at Harry. Why hadn't he told her?

Harry sighed and shook his head. "Thanks Sirius." he said.

Remus slapped him on the back of the head. "That was supposed to stay a secret." he said. "An advantage nobody else had?"

Sirius had winced in realising he'd let the cat out of the bag. "Sorry." he mumbled, putting his glass down. Perhaps he'd had one too many.

"Is this some sort of security issue?" Hermione's father asked. "Patented magic of some sort?" He'd love to be able to talk to his little girl while she was away at school. Cell phones were mostly still quite bulky and expensive, but he could just imagine keeping something as small as a hand-held mirror in his pocket to take and make calls.

"It's not patented, like what muggles use, but I suppose we could say it is family magic." Sirius said. "There are laws that protect specialised family magic, but that doesn't exclude people from trying to emulate the effects, so people don't normally talk about their magics to maintain the advantages they provide the family."

Hermione looked disappointed. She'd also have loved to speak to her parents more regularly. "Maybe we can arrange to see each other over weekends and Harry could sneak off with Hermione so she could speak to you?" Remus offered.

"Or we could come to your house if there's a need." Sirius offered. They really couldn't spread knowledge of this too far. Instant communication was a great advantage. One that the other side didn't always have, excluding Floo calls, but that wasn't as portable as the mirror.

Hermione's mother beamed at the idea. "That would be wonderful, Sirius. Thank you." she said. She was already planning dinner parties, just so she could speak to her little girl. Pretty soon, she'd enter a stage of her life, where speaking to her mother would be a great comfort.

"We'll keep this a secret for you." Hermione's father said. "If it's an advantage nobody else has, I wouldn't mind Hermione having access to it, for the price of one secret."

"Thank you." Remus said. "And thank you for understanding."

"We don't know all that much about the magical world, but we can understand wanting to protect any advantage for your godson." Hermione's father said.

"Thank you." Hermione also said. "It would have been nice to speak to you as often as I wanted, but seeing you and speaking to you over weekends would be great, too."

"Who knows, maybe we can even arrange a movie night, over weekends and use the mirrors so you can see the movie too?" Hermione's mother offered. She missed her weekend time with her daughter.

"Would that be possible?" her father asked. "Are there limitations on how long the mirror can stay connected?"

"Not as far as we know." Sirius said. "We've had hours of conversation at times. James and I used to talk late into the night and sometimes one of us would fall asleep with it still connected."

"That's amazing." Hermione's father said. "Imagine the usefulness of such a product for instant communication? Like cell phones but with video."

"Magical interference dad." Hermione reminded him. She had no doubt he was thinking of the internet. Her father was quite proud of the computer he had at home. The internet was quickly spreading and information and communications was currently growing very quickly.

"What are cell phones?" Sirius asked.

"They are like telephones, except no wires. They talk through towers or satellites." Hermione said.

"Satellites?" Sirius asked again.

"You really don't know anything about technology, do you?" Hermione's mother asked, with a smirk.

"Wizards are an insular people." Harry said, with some disgust. "Why do you think I want to go to the moon, and explore the possibilities of magic? Nobody else is even interested."

"But this cell phone thing." Sirius said. "How does that work?"

The conversation went on in that trend, with the muggles amazing the wizards with the technology of the day. It was almost 1992. Just 8 years from the new millennium. The world was quickly changing and leaving the wizarding world behind… in some ways, at least.

Harry made a couple of notes for things to look into. If they could magically produce some of what he was hearing, perhaps there would be a market for it. He'd be learning to expand his skills and if something worked out, he'd be making a pretty penny… in the magical world at least. He didn't imagine he'd be allowed to sell anything he made to the mundane world, after all. Maybe to the government…

After Christmas, Harry went back to his own work. He had two more locations to place under Fidelius so that Sirius and Remus could start their business. They also removed the current Fidelius at Grimmauld Place by removing the current ward-stones and placed a new one. Sirius would be establishing the house's other wards over the next few months, for the other protections.

Then they needed to invite everyone in the know to the house to share the new secret with them, for which Sirius was the secret keeper. Remus was the secret keeper for their other locations, since he'd be running that side of things.

While Minerva was there, they had a bit of time to talk.

"So, have you had any new developments in your project, Harry?" Minerva asked.

"Still nothing Aunty Min." Harry said. "I've tried, but no animal is coming to me."

"Maybe it's an age thing?" Minerva tried. "Your body hasn't developed enough that you could change it into an animal?" she theorised. Harry had asked her to help him with Animagus training, but he'd been working on it for a long time now with no success. "That's not what I meant, anyway. I was inquiring about your other project. The space vessel?" she asked. He'd told her about it, when he started spending time working on it in her class.

"Oh, that." Harry said in realisation. "I've got some things that will help, but I haven't figured out all the spells and runes that I'll need to protect everything correctly, yet. Hermione actually gave me a book on things to keep in mind, so I'm reasonably sure I'll be able to start expanding on the plans. I should be able to start building a vessel by the time the school-year is finished."

"That soon?" McGonagall asked. "Are you sure?"

"If I keep my current momentum." Harry agreed. "But I'm thinking of another project currently, so I'll likely not finish everything if I allow myself to get side-tracked."

"What is this other project?" Minerva asked.

"We had a Christmas party with the Grangers." Harry said. "Mr Granger was telling us about where muggle technology is heading and I was thinking of working on a way to establish instant communication, like talking over long distances? We already have something like that, with the Floo, of course, but I'm thinking of an instant messaging system, like a fax."

"What is a fax?" Minerva asked.

"Muggles use telephonic communication devices to send copies of images across a pre-established telephone network." Harry said. "The idea is that, when information needs to be sent fast, they don't need to wait for delivery times, since they can transmit things instantly. They then use a fax machine to copy an image to the other side, where a corresponding device draws a picture of what was scanned. When the other side has the copy, the original stays with you, so you could keep it or destroy it, as needed."

"But we have owls to deliver messages." Minerva said, not understanding.

"That's not the point." Harry said. "Imagine you don't need to wait for an answer to a question, until an owl can deliver a note? Or, you try describing a picture to someone on the other side of the Floo? With this, you send the message or picture and the other side can see exactly what you are talking about. The best part will be that it won't be affected by bad weather or be bound by the location of a Floo connection."

"So, you're thinking of making some sort of portable Floo?" Minerva asked. She thought the idea had merit, but it didn't sound all that different from what they already had.

"I don't think I'm explaining this correctly." Harry said in frustration. "I'll work on it and give you an example when I have an idea of how to apply the theory." He was already working on something that might make the example he had meant to convey, but he could see that it would be a hard sell, since magical folk relied on what they already had.

When Minerva left, Harry went to work on the idea and Sirius had to help him understand how the mirrors worked. Remus had done most of the work on the Marauder's map and he had helped Harry design his own map, but Sirius and James had done the work on the mirrors. It was actually quite intriguing how the linking magic worked. The theory was that you linked the reflection to transport it to a corresponding mirror and visa-versa.

Apparently it was a bit of scrying magic developed by a perverted old man in the Black family who loved to gift pretty ladies with mirrors, which he had a corresponding one to. He'd then be able to see what their mirrors saw, without them seeing him. He'd then add compulsion magic that would make the ladies want to inspect themselves in the mirrors. For it to work, the mirrors needed to be identical, or have identical flaws. Then the magic made the connection. They had taken it one step further and linked both mirrors both ways, skipping the compulsion magic.

Harry then set to work on his idea. The theory was interesting and getting magic to see the flaw as the target helped him. He ended up making two diaries that he had gone to buy at a local shopping centre. The reflection magic was really just a link to duplicate what was on one side to the other. So Harry ended up making two-way diaries, where you write in one and the words appeared instantly on the other side.

He had had to write something in them for the magic to link and he had used his ability to move things in two locations simultaneously and wrote the word 'Link' in both. Since it was identical, the magic worked perfectly. Harry had smiled at his success and then produced a couple more, as gifts for certain of his friends. Before he could give the gifts, however, he needed to protect the magic and looked for, and found, a certain spell that would dispel the magic if someone tried to tamper with or unveil the secret of how they functioned.

Apparently it was the wizarding equivalent of patenting and how they protected their family magics. There were ways around it, but you'd have to be stronger than the person who enacted the magic, and Harry was no slouch, probably one of the strongest in the country, if not the world, by virtue of his double-dose of magic.

When the time for them to go back arrived, Harry was excited to give out a gift or two, or five. He'd not been able to get gifts for all his female friends before Christmas, but he was planning on doing so now.

When they arrived at the station, early, Harry went in search of his friends. He was not disappointed to find the Patil twins conversing with their parents. Sirius was the only one with him today and he followed behind with a small smile on his face. He could see their mother was quite attractive and the twins, while young, showed potential.

"Good morning, ladies." Harry greeted them as they approached.

"Hello, Harry." The twins said in unison.

"Good morning." the Patil mother said. The father was not in attendance today, it seemed.

"Mrs Patil, I presume?" Sirius said in lieu of greeting. When she nodded, he bowed slightly and said, "Sirius Black, at your service."

"Lord Black." the woman nodded. "It is good to see your stay in Azkaban didn't deprive you of your manners." She said it with a small smile. The whole wizarding world knew about his illegal and unjust incarceration. It was the talk of their community at the time, as Sirius was a Pureblood and it was a scary thought that one of the elite could be sent to prison with no trial. Fudge had jumped on the opportunity to ensure processes were in place to prevent such a thing from happening again and he had received a lot of support for the action.

"Even if it had, no gentleman's manners could fail them when faced with a beauty such as yours." Sirius said flirtatiously.

"You are a shameless flirt, just as I'd heard." the woman replied with a smile. "Where my husband here, he'd both agree with you and be upset by it."

"Stop it Sirius." Harry said, before he offered his hand to the Patil Matriarch and kissed above her knuckles with a bow, "Lady Patil. It is an honour to meet the mother of my friends. I am Harry Black."

"I see you have taught your ward well." The lady said to Sirius, even as her smile grew. No wonder her daughters had gone on about how nice Harry was. If he treated them the same way, they'd not be able to resist his charms. Fortunately he was just a boy. "It's nice to meet you, Mister Black. Or should I refer to you as Lord Potter?"

"I may one day claim my hereditary title, but for now, Mr Black will suffice. Thank you for asking." Harry said.

"He doesn't like being called Harry Potter." Padma said. "He says that he doesn't want to be associated with the books."

"Far too much heroism. I could never live up to the books." Harry said with a nod. Then he reached into his pocket and removed two parcels. "Merry Christmas, ladies." he said as he handed one to each of them.

"Harry, you shouldn't have!" Parvati exclaimed. "We didn't get you anything!"

"Don't worry about it." Harry said with a smile. "A gift should never be given in the hope that one receives something in return."

"Thank you." Padma said with a smile as she examined the wrapped package. It was rectangular and fit in the palm of her hand. Her sister's was identical. "Can we open it?" she asked.

"Please do." Harry said. "Your mother will, no doubt, be curious as well."

Harry wasn't wrong, and the woman was brimming with curiosity. The twins quickly tore away at the wrapping, revealing two small books in each of their hands. "What are they?" Padma asked.

"Linked diaries." Harry said. "They are linked and protected by Black family magic. What you write in one, appears in the other."

"Thank you?" Parvati said/asked. She didn't understand the use of such an item.

Their mother, however, instantly realised how useful such an item could be. "What a marvellous gift!" she exclaimed. When the twins looked up at her in question, she explained, "If you gave each other a book, you'd be able to pass messages to each other, even while you are in different houses."

"Or, you could give your mother the corresponding books and be able to speak with her that way." Harry said, with a smile at the mother. Her eyes had opened wider in realisation. "You can also write in them and they will see your responses. The connection goes both ways. They are also shrunk down, so they aren't as small as they appear."

"Thank you, Harry!" Parvati suddenly exclaimed as she hugged him. Being away from her mother and father was the hardest part of going to Hogwarts. Her only solace was that her sister was there, but then they had gone to different houses.

"Yes, thank you!" her twin said as well as she hugged him too.

"You're more than welcome." Harry said.

"Since it is Black family magic, though, you'll need to keep the diaries a secret, please?" Sirius asked.

"Of course." their mother said as her face became serious. "We understand the need to protect family magics." They were pureblood after all. They understood these things. Harry had also mentioned that they were protected by family magic, which was prudent. They did the same with their magic, when they used it for others. "You girls understand what that means, right?" she asked her daughters.

"Yes, maan." they responded in unison.

"Maan?" Harry asked.

"It is our word for mother, back home." Padma supplied.

"Cool." Harry said with a smile. Harry then noticed the Grangers arriving and excused himself. "If you'll excuse me, I have some more gifts to give." he said.

As Harry walked away, Sirius explained, "Harry came up with these over the holiday and decided to make them for all his friends."

"He is a sweet boy." the mother said, looking after him. 'Perhaps we should consider an alliance with the Potter heir. He will have two noble titles and need two wives for them, when he grows up.' she thought to herself.

When Harry reached the Grangers, he greeted them more familiarly, since their families were on the fast-track to becoming friends and handed Hermione her gift. Hers wasn't wrapped, since they'd already exchanged gifts.

"What's this?" Hermione asked as she looked inside the paper bag, seeing the diaries.

"Linked diaries, using the same magic that was used for my special form of communication." Harry said, not mentioning the mirrors in this public setting. There were other people around, after all. "It's protected by family magics. We found a way to put a form of 'copy write' on them, as you suggested, Mr Granger." Harry said to the man. Then he turned back to Hermione. "You can write in one and see it in the other book. It works both ways."

Hermione didn't take two seconds to figure out what she'd do with them and instantly hugged Harry. "Thank you, Harry!" she said. "This will be ever so useful!" When she was done, she reached in and looked at the small book she now had in her hand. Suddenly it grew to its normal size and she realised Harry must have done it with his wandless magic. Not mentioning it, she handed it to her mom. "We can leave messages for each other!" she said.

"This really is a wonderful gift, Harry." Mrs Granger said as she hugged the boy as well. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." Harry said. "Just remember to keep these a secret." he whispered to her.

"Of course, dear." she said. "We know it's special to your family."

Harry also approached the Bones family and had much the same response from Amelia and Susan. She was tempted to ask for another, but knew it would be against pureblood tradition to ask for such favours. You never ask for family magics, unless you did it as a proposal for a trade. Usually in offering a marriage agreement. She'd not be doing that, since Susan would be choosing that for herself. They may be Pureblood, but she wasn't so steeped in the tradition as to make those kinds of decisions for her ward.

Having done what he had come to do, he went to re-join Sirius, where he stood with the Patil matriarch still. They were chatting and smiling and Harry really hoped the man wasn't seriously flirting with her. It would only cause problems for him later. It turns out that they were discussing the business that Sirius had started and Lady Patil was interested in what they were doing. She'd be having a discussion with her husband later that day, to inform him of their plans. Perhaps they could take advantage of the newly established transport company.

Harry would have many locations to protect after the end of the school year, but he had another mission to complete first.

The trip back to Hogwarts was enjoyable and the group had reformed as they had on the previous trip. Ron was not happy that they had not invited him, so he stormed off to go sit with his brothers again. Harry couldn't care. He was surrounded by friends and they were having a good time.

Harry hadn't given Neville a book, but then he knew he actually enjoyed being away from his grandmother. If he had given him a book, she'd insist on him writing to her daily and he'd likely want to avoid that at all costs. The subject eventually did come up, and Neville basically confirmed his thought verbatim. He was happy to be included in the conversation though and showed real happiness, when Harry confirmed the reason he hadn't given Neville linked diaries as a present.

Instead, he'd gotten him a book on potions. The same one that he had found the advanced techniques for preparing potions in. He hoped it helped the boy to do better in the class and explained to him how it had helped him keep track of things. Hermione asked to read the book instantly, when Neville put it down, intent on reading it later. He'd agreed easily and Hermione started poring over the text, apparently attempting to memorise it before they arrived at Hogwarts.

When they arrived back, Hermione reluctantly handed the book back, not having gotten halfway through it. Neville just smiled and handed it back, on the condition that she help him learn the techniques later. She was a much quicker study than him and he learned more easily from her than from books anyway. Hermione took it as a compliment and agreed to the arrangement. The other girls decided that they would need to form a study group. Apparently Harry and Hermione were in the two lead positions of their grade, and spending time with your friends was just a bonus.

Over the following weeks Harry had found the Mirror of Erised and had his conversation with Dumbledore for returning too many times. Some things were said differently, but that was to be expected. Harry was much more well-spoken and educated this time around and the headmaster seemed to have picked up on it, treating the boy with a bit more respect. Harry suspected it was out of guilt about what he had found out about the Dursleys, after Harry had been rescued.

Dumbledore also mentioned the fact that he could, for some reason, not recall where Harry was staying and Harry side-stepped the subject, by saying that they had brought in a warding company to protect their new home. It was all supposed to be hush-hush, so Dumbledore smiled his grandfatherly smile, all while kicking himself internally for not offering to cast the Fidelius himself. That way he could control who knew the location. For some reason, he could have sworn he had planned on that, many years ago. Fortunately, the new Fidelius was hiding the fact that he had, in-fact, done so.

Harry continued his work and, one day, had a breakthrough. He had finally figured out sustained flight. He celebrated with the smile of a prankster.

The next morning as everyone was eating breakfast his pre-prepared and runed magic kicked in. Everyone was suddenly stuck to their benches as their tables lifted off from the ground slowly and the tables all started moving up and over and under each other, in the shape of a figure eight, going faster and faster until a lap of movement was completed in five seconds. It wasn't really fast, but it was proof his theory worked. The professors found themselves in much the same situation, but their chairs had locked in place, as if connected to the teacher's table and they started floating up and over the shuffling tables, forward and back, while making a slow rotation horizontally.

None of the professors dared cast any spells, in case it interrupted the magic and the children crashed to the floor and were injured.

Dumbledore spoke up, when he saw a couple of students prepare to cast spells. "Put your wands away." he said with a sonorous. "I can feel the magic winding down. Don't interrupt." he warned.

Just as he had said, the magic soon ran its course and every table soon landed softly, with the staff table returning to its normal position, but facing away from the students. The house tables had also been shuffled a bit, placing the Gryffindor table between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw table. Harry had planned it so that his friends could sit close by. Hopefully they kept the new arrangement.

Everyone suddenly found that they could leave their seats again. There were a couple of scared looks but over-all there were mostly only smiling faces. The prank was harmless, didn't hurt anyone, was over quickly and caused a disruption to normal proceedings, just enough to be memorable. Exactly as Harry had planned.

Also, exactly as planned, a sheet of paper appeared in front of Severus Snape. He quickly snagged it before anyone noticed and read it as the staff moved their table and chairs around to face the proper way.

Flight magic, achieved! This would be the first thing required in the plan. Everyone was kept safe with sticking charms. Next step, artificial gravity.

HB

Snape looked up and spotted the boy. He was laughing with his friends and looked just as surprised as everyone else. Quite the little actor. He really should have been in Slytherin. Or, perhaps, he was smart enough to convince the hat to place him where he'd not stand out. He'd have to remember to ask the boy. For now, though, since the prank was harmless and set a good example of one, he deducted twenty points for the act without making any announcements. It was the least he could do for Lily's boy. He also didn't want to announce how capable the boy was. It was an advantage he would find useful later in life.

Dumbledore was looking out over the children to see if he could spot the people who had performed the magic. His scans during the event didn't point to anyone, rather pointing at the tables themselves as the source of the magic. Nobody stood out to him, but his eyes settled on the Weasley twins, who were both looking at Harry. Perhaps they thought he knew what was going on.

Severus had told him of how advanced Harry's studies in Potions were. He could understand the boy's drive to learn the art, since it could be performed without a wand, when he was too young to learn any other magic. He didn't necessarily approve of what Sirius had done, rather hoping that Harry could enjoy his youth, instead, but he also understood that with Harry being in danger outside the house, it would be best to keep his interest in something he could do inside the house.

He doubted that Harry could have done this, though. The boy's magic couldn't possibly be strong enough yet, nor could he know how to achieve this feat after only a couple of months of education. The twins, though, may have enough knowledge to pull this off, with the help of some upper-year students.

They both had looked quite surprised by the event, though, and his surface scan of the boys' thoughts clearly spoke of shock and a little amazement, but overall enjoyment, which was the feeling he was getting from nearly everybody. He was still unable to scan Harry's mind though. He suspected something to do with part of Riddle, he believed was in Harry, was the cause.

When the children looked like they were all planning on staying to discuss what had just happened, McGonagall stood. "Whatever just happened, doesn't excuse you all from class." she said sternly. "Off with you. You can discuss this later." The children all dutifully started leaving, though the conversations still continued. McGonagall turned to Dumbledore then, "What do you make of this, Albus?"

"I searched for a source, but it seems that the tables were spelled to do this on their own." Dumbledore said. "I thought perhaps the Weasley boys would know, but they seemed just as surprised as everyone else."

"We need to know who did this." McGonagall insisted. "The children could have been hurt!"

"They were perfectly safe, as far as I can tell, Minerva. Whoever did this used sticking charms to ensure nobody fell and to secure what was on the tables, much like we were also stuck to our seats." Dumbledore assured her. "I'd like to know who did this too, but mostly to congratulate them on a successful and harmless prank."

"Surely we shouldn't encourage the children to do such reckless things!" McGonagall objected.

"Or perhaps we should award the safety precautions, to encourage the forethought?" Filius Flitwick said.

"While deducting points for possibly scaring the student body." Snape added. He had made that decision already, but didn't intend on awarding points.

"Whoever did this, certainly knew their stuff, though." Madam Rolanda Hooch, the flying teacher said. "The movements were precisely choreographed and I suspect the reshuffling of the tables was done intentionally, since the magic left the tables exactly spaced as before. I wouldn't mind finding out who did this myself, since they could likely produce new brooms for us with what they know. As you know the school brooms are quite old and we've been needing new ones for a while now."

"I'm sorry Rolanda, but I've told you before that the budget simply won't bend on this one. The board of governors simply don't see the importance of a class that only runs for a few weeks at the beginning of the year." Dumbledore apologised. "If you want new brooms for the quiddich teams, though, perhaps you can find a sponsor for them? Alumni that were on the teams, perhaps?"

Rolanda Hooch brought the subject up whenever possible, since she was in charge of flying class and needed to be present for Quiddich practice and games. Her entire job revolved around flying and she pressed for new equipment whenever possible. With a few exceptions, the brooms they currently had were simply unusable. So far the only reason that quiddich wasn't a complete loss was because the students on the teams tended to bring their own brooms, or loaned their parents' or friends'.

If she could find the person responsible though, perhaps they could be persuaded to help fixing what they had, as a form of practice for their obvious plans of making brooms for one of the broom companies. They seemed to have quite a bit of skill, too. She'd start by asking all the current students on the teams. Chances were, they'd know of someone with such skills. Perhaps it was even a current quiddich player, as a person with these skills would likely be attracted by the sport.

The twins couldn't find a moment to speak with Harry, since he was always busy these days, studying in the library with Longbottom and the group of girls from the other houses. Harry had the makings of a strong group of supporters from the other houses in that study group of his. The twins had noted two of the Slytherin first-years, the Greengrass and Parkinson girls, were also sniffing around the group, when they were last looking for a moment to pull Harry aside.

The whole of the Gryffindor first year girls, including Granger, Patil, Brown, and Dunbar, had joined. Two girls from Hufflepuff and the other Patil girl from Ravenclaw had also joined. It was nothing formal, but besides Longbottom, it seemed the study group didn't allow other boys. They suspected this was the reason why the Slytherin girls were working up the courage to join.

They had recently heard that a couple of older Slytherin boys had disappeared one evening, supposedly into the hands of Aurors, for unknown reasons. At the same time, the forgetful streak of some Slytherin girls and some of the prettier girls from other houses had suddenly come to an end. The conclusions being drawn were not pretty. The Slytherin girls were likely seeking strength in numbers and Harry was known to be fair and accepting, especially after his speech the morning after their prank. He obviously preferred the company of the fairer sex as well.

One evening after the study session had come to an end, Harry was confronted by the Weasley twins and drawn away from the Gryffindor girls and Neville as they entered through the portrait. Harry always insisted on escorting the other girls to their common rooms and the Gryffindor girls usually followed as they were all becoming fast friends and didn't mind chatting as they walked.

"We need to talk." Fred said.

"About that prank you pulled." George said.

"What prank?" Harry asked.

"Don't act like you don't know what we're talking about." Fred said.

"We know you did it." George insisted.

"Okay. Prove it." Harry said, with a smirk.

The twins looked at each other, but there was a moment of uncertainty on their faces. They really wanted to believe it was Harry. The prank followed what he said a prank should be to the letter and they had realised it the moment it was over. "Okay, listen. Let's rather say, if you knew who did it," Fred started again.

"Could you ask 'them' to go speak to Madam Hooch?" George continued.

"There's a reward for whoever can find 'them'." Fred said.

"Since she's hoping 'they' can help with the school brooms." George finished.

"And what would you get out of this, if I knew and told Madam Hooch?" Harry countered. "Who says I won't keep the reward for myself, if I knew, hypothetically?"

"Because you didn't know about the reward." Fred said.

"We figure you're such an upstanding guy that you'll want to share the wealth." George said.

"As a form of gratitude." Fred said.

"To us." George finished.

"Why do you always start talking," Harry asked pointing at Fred, "and you always finish?" he finished pointing at George.

"How do you know we don't swap?" Fred asked.

"It's not like you know which is which, right?" George said.

"Fred. George." Harry said pointing at them. "It's not hard."

"How'd you know that?" George asked, breaking the pattern for the first time.

"Trade secret I'm afraid." Harry said.

"He was probably guessing." Fred scoffed. They'd need to check for magic. Little did they know that Harry had simply let his magic settle into Fred that first time. Even if they dispelled the tracking charm on his elbow, Harry would be able to tell them apart, simply because he could feel the remnants of his magic. He wouldn't be able to track him anymore, but that wasn't the point, was it?

"You guys keep telling yourselves that, okay?" Harry scoffed as he walked away.

"What about the reward?" Fred asked.

"I'll tell you once I've figured out who did it." Harry smiled back at them.

Harry had a couple of months to play, before he would know for certain that the Stone would be in place, so he decided to focus on his research. With a little bit of play time, experimentation and a little work on familiarizing himself with the females he had attracted to the study group. Not all of them, of course, but he had his eyes on a specific few.

Harry didn't end up going to Madam Hooch. Instead he snuck his way into the broom shed and started tinkering with one of the brooms that was too old to be missed. It took him a while, but he found the spots where the magic had started becoming undone and fixed what he could. He couldn't fly it around to test it too far, but it seemed to respond a bit better to him.

Knowing what he did, then, he checked the other brooms and started strengthening the magic on the brooms, where he could. After that was done, a week had passed and Harry decided to play around a bit, so he went about making a flying broom all his own. He'd needed to transfigure some of the broom, but was certain to use things that would not change back and made sure they were settled in their current form, before continuing.

Another month of experimentation later, his broom was complete and he decided to take it out for a test flight. It was amazing to feel his own magic flowing through the broom. The runes he had come up with to enable flight were working much as he had expected. It was a little different than the other brooms though, since the rune changed the way the broom responded.

It was slower to react than he'd have hoped, but the speed was incredible. He judged it at twice the speed of his Firebolt, from the first time around, but that wasn't the best part. He felt it could continue accelerating, but he was going too fast to keep his eyes open if he went any faster. Stopping and manoeuvring was also a problem. He needed to resolve those issues first.

Fortunately he still had time, and by the end of the next week, he'd finally gotten it to the point where he could use the broom like any other. The only problem with this broom, was that it needed more power to fly more quickly, so he ended up needing to charge the runes before flight, so that it didn't need to drain it from him as he went.

He doubted this model would be usable by anyone but someone with vast amounts of magical power, but that wasn't really a problem for him and would be fine for what he intended to make, anyway. The broom was just a proof of concept anyway. It couldn't store much power due to the size of the runes being small and the fact that it was drawn on wood, rather than something that could store more power… like stone, or some metals.

The next step would need to be a model that didn't drain so quickly, or that recycled power so that it would only need an initial charge. Then it would need to recharge over time from the environment, like how wards worked. That was put on the list after his current project. He'd already figured out how to make artificial gravity. It was a reasonably simple spell after all. It was used all the time in Egyptian tombs and Harry had already found something in the Hogwarts Library for it.

That had been one of the few draws to coming back to school. That and his friends, that is. He spent a lot of time in the library, learning about the concepts of spell creation and rune functions, but he was also sneaking into the restricted section quite often. The spells there could potentially harm school-level children and none of it was really dark. Harry knew for a fact the Headmaster kept those in his private library, and he wasn't interested in dark magic anyway. As he understood it, dark magic was addictive and would corrupt the caster over time, so he wasn't interested.

Harry was currently working on a spell that would be necessary for a space vessel. He needed to be able to counter or negate the effects of multiple factors of gravity when accelerating quickly. The gravity spell that he had found only had the settings to make gravity change in direction, or increase it, but not to this degree.

It was a week before Harry would be going after the stone, while they were studying and chatting as they normally did, when the Slytherin girls finally worked up the courage to approach them.

"Excuse me, Lord Potter?" Daphne Greengrass asked, slightly timidly.

"Call me Harry." Harry said easily. "I don't hold any lordships at this time."

"Harry, then." Daphne said a little more easily. She'd tried to go for respectful. It's what she'd do with other purebloods, when looking for a favour. She looked over her shoulder, at Pansy, before turning back, "We were hoping…" she started.

Harry had been aware of their presence the entire time and knew what they wanted, though. "Sure, pull up a chair. We're currently on Transfiguration." Harry interrupted her, shocking her. The other girls had quickly gotten used to how insightful Harry seemed and he was more like a tutor at this point, with his vast knowledge of the different subjects. He was seldom studying what they were, preferring to study on his own.

"We usually help each other, and when we get stuck we interrupt Harry, since he's on his own studies." Hermione informed them. She had started off jealous of his knowledge, but then realised that he'd been at it for years. She could either be jealous, or use the knowledge he had to her advantage. She was actually just grateful to Harry, for being her friend. With everything he was doing for the group and herself, personally, she couldn't be happier.

The other girls also smiled at them in welcome and opened some space on the table, moving books out of the way. "Thank you." Daphne said with a little shock. She had expected favours or something. She had expected the words, 'What do we get out of it?' Instead there was a free offer to join, simply handed to them.

"Just like that?" Pansy asked, slightly suspicious. "There's no fees or favours?" she asked.

"We're just focussing on the future." Susan spoke up. "If there is a condition, it's that you respect the fact that we're all friends and that you stay on topic."

"We do tend to chat a bit, considering we go through the studying so fast, with Harry's help." Fay Dunbar added. She was normally the quiet type, preferring to fall into the background. The constant chatting and friendly atmosphere had drawn the girl out. She was still normally a bit on the quiet side, but that seemed to just be her normal personality.

"We also understand that the average male doesn't have the capacity to work and chat." Parvati added, before turning to Neville. "Sorry Neville." she added.

"No." Neville said with a bit of a smile. "I keep my trap shut, or I simply don't learn. I can accept my limitations."

Parvati smiled at him for a moment, before turning to the newcomers, who had finally taken their seats. "That's also the reason, why we try and keep only Harry and Neville in the group. Harry teaches, when it's necessary, and Neville doesn't interrupt us."

"I also use the time, while you lovely ladies talk to catch up." Neville interjected. "I'm just not as bright as the lot of you." he said with a self-deprecating smile.

Hermione put a hand on his shoulder. "You're smart enough to know your strengths." she said. "We couldn't ask for more." They had all realised at some point, that Neville was not as stupid as he thought. As his confidence increased, so did his speed and thought processes. They had tried to tell him, but it tended to have the opposite effect, so now they just supported him, whenever they could.

"We're currently on the homework for tomorrow." Harry interrupted. He wanted them to get back to it, so that he could get back to his reading. He was currently making notes on how he intended to spell the next broom. If he wanted to help the school with this, he'd need to make ones that worked normally, instead of with runes.

"What are you studying?" Daphne asked, noticing the tome he was reading from. It looked like a mastery book in runes.

"Herbology." Harry said easily, completely ignoring the fact that the book was clearly about runes.

"He never tells us what he's working on." Hermione interrupted. "Apparently it's too advanced to have a decent discussion with us." She knew he was still working on his private research into making a spacecraft. She wouldn't betray his confidence though. That was also why she had said it with a hint of humour, shaking her head with a bit of a smile, as if she was exasperated.

"But, that's a book on Runes." Pansy said, a little slow on the uptake.

"She's saying they know he's busy with other things and that he's not going to tell us." Daphne whispered to her friend. She had already taken out her books and started working on her homework. The girls quickly learned how things worked, when most of the others tended to direct questions at Hermione. Only when she struggled with the subject, which wasn't often, did they turn to Harry. His answers were followed up with examples, so that the slower ones of the group could more easily understand, if the concepts were a little too convoluted or intricate, which it seldom was.

They settled in easily and were happily surprised, when they were drawn into the conversations as soon as they arrived. At some point one of the girls pulled out what looked like a diary and made a note. What was strange was that the group had been discussing their parents businesses, rather than work. Why would the Granger girl be interested in that, and taking notes?

"Hermione." Susan piped up. "We're in mixed company. Maybe you should put the diary away until later?" she asked with a look, meant to remind her that the diaries were supposed to stay secret. She had noted the attention of the Greengrass girl.

Hermione's eyes flashed to the new arrivals and widened, before she could pull herself together again. "Right." she said as she quickly stowed the book away. "I forget sometimes." she added. Harry had told the other girls about the diaries, when one of them professed to missing her parents and wishing there was an easier way to speak to them. She was used to being able to at least use the Floo to contact her parents. There was no such thing available to students here.

"It's quite alright." Harry said. "If things carry on as they are, I suspect that everyone at this table will eventually be keeping a diary."

The new girls were struck by how excited some of the other girls looked. Why was a diary something to be so excited about? There was more going on here than met the eye, it seemed. How intriguing.

The study session went on to cover other subjects and when most of the group departed, Hermione stayed behind to help the new girls with the homework they had covered before they joined, while Harry got up to escort the others to their common rooms, as he always did.

When Harry came back, he pulled out the book he had been studying again and continued his studies. They were shocked to note the time, by the time they finished, and had to rush to help get the Slytherins back to their common room. Harry was leading them, not thinking that he shouldn't know the way there, until they arrived by the hidden entrance.

"How do you know where the Slytherin house is?" Daphne asked.

"Trade secret." Harry said, his face suddenly a blank mask.

"What trade?" Pansy asked.

"Also a trade secret." Harry said.

"Harry knows all the secret passageways in the school." Hermione said for him. "I personally think he has a map, marking all the interesting locations, but he won't tell me anything either, calling it a trade secret." She knew that he'd not mind her speculating, even if she got closer to the truth than he'd have liked.

The Slytherin girls were impressed. Harry Black was definitely interesting to have around. "Thank you for escorting us, Harry, Hermione." Daphne said, accepting her explanation. They normally wouldn't be caught dead, hanging around with a muggleborn, especially since their parents were who they were. That had been one of the reasons it had taken them so long to join.

Fortunately they could claim they were using her, for her obvious intelligence, like any good Slytherin would, so they had finally made the decision to join. They were not disappointed with the choice. Harry was insightful and intelligent, while Hermione herself was a wellspring of information, learned in class and in these study sessions. Their own understanding of the subjects covered were quickly and easily expanded on and they had no doubt the group would eventually all be at the head of the year.

"No problem." Harry said as he bowed and greeted them in his usual manner. "Let us meet again tomorrow." he said with that roguish smile of his. The girls actually blushed and quickly made to enter the common room, but had to wait for the others to leave, before they could say the password.

"What have we here?" a voice said from inside the Slytherin common room. "A couple of pretty firsties, out for an evening walk?" It was one of the Slytherin seventh-year boys. The girls both froze. The rumours had made its way through the entire school and the girls were suddenly afraid. The common room was empty, besides the one boy now standing in front of them.

Suddenly he had his wand in his hand. The last thing they remembered hearing, was, "Stupefy."