Baker Street Irregulars

Disclaimer: Don't own Potter. Try not to take weapons – I've worked hard on them with friends.

Summary: Wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban, Harry escapes with the help of his closest friends. He then forms the Baker Street Irregulars, a group of radicals whose sole purpose is to ruin the lives of Fudge, Dumbledore and Voldemort: all who had their hand in the conspiracy that had Harry imprisoned all those years ago... but Harry realizes that sometimes even heroes can't escape their destiny.

Chapter Four: Baker Street

The first thing Harry noticed when he accustomed his "sea legs" to dry land when the boat docked, was that it was dark and wet. It had been raining while the large mismatched group of misfits broke Harry out of his cell in Azkaban. However, it didn't escape Harry's notice that there was a very dry, and very nice looking, neon orange 1968 Shelby GT350. Remus sat in the driver's seat, looking tired and a bit worn with some more gray at his temples, but smiled broadly when he saw Harry.

He bounded out of the car, not bothering to use the door, and swept Harry up in a tight hug. "I've missed you so!"

Harry grinned and hugged his closest thing to a father figure firmly. "I've missed you too, Remus. I suppose that they didn't allow werewolves – and one that happens to be my friend – in to visit."

"No," sighed Remus, "they don't. I wish they had. You look like you haven't had a decent meal in, well, years!" Holding Harry at an arm's length, Remus surveyed what he thought to be his pseudo-godson. Inwardly, he raged the fates for making Harry suffer more than he had, but also thanking them for making sure he stayed sane. He amended his previous statement with a few, well placed blinks. "Actually, you look… really well for someone who was in prison for three years…"

Harry winked. Remus, perplexed, stood back from Harry.

Gently pushing Harry toward the Shelby, and consciously aware of Hermione's hovering, Remus nudged Harry to the middle of where a magically extended backseat existed. Hermione immediately sat next to him, with Fred, George, Colin, Luna and Neville all shoving around a bit to settle comfortably. Ginny and Draco chose to sit close together in the front seat next to Remus.

Silence reigned over the large group, all who were settled in their contentment that they had retrieved their leader and close friend. Remus started the car down the motorway, humming tunelessly.

After a near hour of passing blurs at an incomprehensible speed (the speedometer was registering near 300 km/h average), Harry asked, "Er, where exactly are we heading?"

Hermione pursed her lips. "Headquarters, Harry."

"Sorry?"

Draco sighed. "Christ, Granger, just explain to the poor chap what's been going on lately. He's been in Azkaban, it's not like the prisoners get the Daily Prophet delivered to them every morning."

Harry turned back to his friends for answers. George, who sat all the way on the other side of the extended backside, behind Remus on the driver's right side, cleared his throat. He scratched absently at his goatee. "Well, it's like this, Harry – Dumbledore didn't want anything to do with you when it had been 'discovered'—" He held up his two finds and used his index and middle finger to create quotation marks "—that you were responsible for the emissary's death."

Fred picked up where George left off, continuing the chain. "He wouldn't do anything to listen to us plea month after month, year after year, so finally, Hermione here came up with a brilliant scheme. We would break you out of Azkaban." He paused, frowning slightly. "However, it was a bit hard coming up with adults who believed you outside of Remus here. It seemed like there was only Remus, a certain paranoid retired Auror, chronic journalistic liar and a few of the graduates that you taught in your fifth year."

"What Remus and Hermione came up with was a group of witches and wizards who believed in you – and let me say what a lot there was in the magical community, especially between the magical creatures," elaborated Colin, smiling broadly despite his occasional shivers. Ginny turned around from the front seat, handing him a steaming cup.

"Pepper-Up Potion," she informed him, before facing front again, Draco's arm coming to rest behind her shoulders.

Colin gulped the potion down, steam rising from wet spots on his clothes and through his ears. "Anyway, the lot of what we gathered was enough to… eh, manipulate some of the goblins to help us."

Luna smiled dreamily at a very confused Harry. She had rolled up her latest Quibbler edition and was waving it around as she spoke in her soft, lilting voice. "That help allowed us – the main group that supported you – to gain enough funds to acquire a secret townhouse quite like Grimmauld Place in London, under the Fidelius Charm as well! On a famous street, no less! Once acquired, the townhouse became our main headquarters."

"And what exactly do you do?" asked Harry, frowning slightly. "I mean, it's nice and all that you believe in me, but what exactly is the purpose of the townhouse and all this secrecy?"

Neville sighed. "Harry… Fudge, Dumbledore and V-V-Voldemort condemned us all for helping and believing in you. None of us, other than the Twins and Draco, can get jobs. The rest of us lot, unless influential or Muggle-raised, are unemployed and blacklisted. We knew what we were doing, though," Neville hastened to add when he saw Harry's face harden, "so don't go thinking we just did it sorely for you. We all know that innocents are sent to Azkaban – Sirius Black and Hagrid to name two of them."

Hermione, sitting on Harry's left between him and the door placed her hand gently on Harry's shoulder. He stared down at it, fighting the urge to pick it up and cradle it in his own rough and hardened hands.

"Harry, we all love and believe in you. We did what we thought best, and because of our… unfortunate circumstance with the Ministry and Dumbledore, we need the secrecy to protect ourselves."

"From what?" asked Harry ridiculously. His eyebrows had disappeared under his long fringe.

When no one replied immediately, Harry began to scowl. The air around him began to hum, making the car's occupants stare at Harry in surprise. Draco offered an answer with a slight smirk on his face. "From the Ministry, the Death Eaters, and from the Order of the Phoenix, Potter."

"The Order? I can understand the Ministry or the Death Eaters, but why the Order?" Harry pondered aloud.

Remus's shoulders tensed and his knuckles turned white on the steering wheel. "Because the Ministry has issued a warrant for your arrest should you ever escape Azkaban, quite like Sirius; because the Death Eaters and Voldemort want you dead for the reason I'm sure you explicitly know; and because the Order has all of us on their Grimoire list."

"The what?" Harry gapped.

Hermione took over. "The Grimoire is the name of the list. We're all on it including Fred and George, despite the fact that they are Order members. We're all to be watched, to see what we're doing day-in-day-out. Tonight was the only night that Mundungus had been placed on watch in months, so we used it to our advantage. The Order has us on their watch list, the Death Eaters have us on their hit list, and the Ministry has us blacklisted. Quite a feat, I'd say."

Harry shook his head, running his hands through his unruly hair. "But, that still doesn't tell me how or why you are all on the lists."

Remus put the blinker on and turned a corner at neck-breaking speeds. "It's because we stood up for you, if you want the Ministry's excuse. The Death Eater's need no excuse, and the Order…" He faltered, as if gripped with an age-old memory before saying softly, "the Order has us on the Grimoire because we are opposing their forces."

Harry's jaw dropped. As soon as he realized how he looked, he snapped his mouth closed and said roughly, "Explain. NOW."

Ginny turned in the seat and rested her chin on the back of the upholstered seat. "It's like this Harry: when you were stuck in that God-forsaken place, Dumbledore went a little… off his rocker, to be told. He didn't do anything when it came to Death Eater attacks, and tons of people died. Then, he got his act together and started opposing Voldemort openly. However, there was a complication with this. The complication was that without his spokesperson, you, he lacked motivation from the public. This caused Dumbledore to take time off from Headmaster duties to lead the Order."

Harry absorbed what he was being told. He then finished when Ginny was getting at slowly. "And so he became slightly fanatical? Is that what you're saying?"

"To the degree," drawled Draco, "that one human life means nothing to him if he can achieve his goal."

Harry let his head drop, his chin resting on his chest. He crossed his arms and slouched slightly. His jaw tightened and his eyes disappeared under the long fringe.

Hermione ran a soothing hand down Harry's exposed back. "Harry?"

"I'm fine, Hermione." Harry's gravelly voice allowed everyone in the car to ease a sigh. "But there are going to be some more questions and answers to get on with."

Hermione nodded, only to feel foolish afterward as Harry couldn't see her.

"Are you a Death Eater, Draco?"

Draco stiffened but answered. "Yes. A spy, like Severus."

"For?"

"You, you bloody dolt. Why else do you think I'd waste my brand new pair of Oakley sunglasses for that brainless scheme Longbottom came up with?" Draco snarled. His silver-blue eyes flashed in the streetlights, and his signet Malfoy ring glittered.

"What about Snape? Whom does he work for?" Harry asked, looking through his fringe at anyone who'd meet his gaze.

"He 'officially' works for the Order, but he spies on them and the Death Eaters for us," Remus clarified.

"Why?" Harry wondered. "Why did he and you, Draco, decide to help me of all people?"

Hermione tensed as Harry continued to speak. Harry was sure that if he poked at her, she'd break into thousands of tiny pieces. She spoke stiffly when he turned his questioning stare on her. "Severus heard an argument between Remus and Dumbledore, which sealed his loyalty. Draco, being Severus's ward and apprentice at that time, was given a choice. Seeing that he is also a Malfoy and a Slytherin, someone who'd join the 'right' side to save his own skin, he decided to join us. Although, for a while there, it seemed as though he'd joined the losing side."

Draco sniffed piously, his nose in the air. "Thank you for the psycho-analysis, Granger."

Remus slowed the car as they entered Westminster, London. Houses began to pop up, as did other cars on the road. He slowed to a more reasonable speed (50 km/h, which was still 10 km over the maximum limit) and began to cruise.

"We're almost at the house," he announced. Hermione dug around in her jacket pocket, pulling out the one mitt, before handing Harry a piece of lined paper. Written in Hermione's tidy cursive was 221A Baker Street.

Harry recited it over and over in his head, surprised to see a nice, well-groomed townhouse appear between 220 and 222, despite the blaringly obvious number 221 on the opposite side of the street.

A paved path from the street curved in front of the townhouse and wove around to the back where a large garage appeared, stretching from a normal-looking garden shed. The only difference was that there was a brick arch that led as a passageway to the back. The houses were all still stuck together.

The group got out of the Shelby, murmuring to each other as Harry took a look around.

Finally, Hermione gently took Harry's arm (once again surprised at his muscle underneath) and pulled him toward the backdoor. "Welcome home, Harry." She smiled up at him. "Let's show you around, shall we?"

The backdoor led into the kitchen, where Harry seemed almost unsurprised to see Dobby and Winky covered in flour and baking what appeared to be a feast for nearly fifty people. As soon as Dobby saw Harry, he stopped, his rolling pin dropping to the floor with a resounding clack!

"Harry Potter has returned," he whispered reverently. Winky turned from where she was at the other counter, beating some dough, with wide eyes. She watched as Dobby launched himself at Harry and tackled him around one leg. "Dobby is so happy the great Harry Potter has returned! Now the great Harry Potter can help lead the resistance group?"

"Um… yeah," Harry answered blandly, turning his searching gaze to Remus who scuffed his foot on the aluminum floor. "Yeah, I'll be doing that."

Dobby beamed and detangled himself from Harry, taking a couple steps back before bowing and returning to his rolling pin.

Hermione tugged on Harry's arm and motioned him to follow her through a narrow hallway as she pointed things out.

"This door to the left leads to the basement, where we have a large training facility for combat and magical practice. Mad-Eye practically never leaves. He finally had Remus and some of us make him his own bedroom down there," she whispered conspiringly. Harry just nodded, glancing at a polished looking room, where he saw a long table with nearly six chairs on either side of the table, plus one at each head. Long, heavy blue drapes covered three floor-to-ceiling windows with a golden whorl design covering the glass. "To the right is the dining room. We have nearly three shifts to fit everyone in for meals."

They passed through an arched passage, entering a large comfortable living room. The walls were painted a pale, faded robin egg blue. A bay window with the same design as the dining room windows faced the street and front yard. Matching navy drapes with golden tassels to tie the drapes apart were trimmed to fit the bay window and its window seat. Two leather couches were placed facing each other near the fireplace, and several armchairs with side tables were placed in the darker corners of the room. There was a Tiffany standing lamp near one of the corners, and two wall lamps at the other. A billiards table was set up near an open space to Harry's left, away from the fireplace and couches. Across from the open space where the billiards table was located was the front door, and facing it, beside the billiards table, was a staircase.

Many people were scattered around the room, all involved with their own activities. Harry stood in the shadows with Hermione, watching where everyone went. Ginny and Draco immediately monopolized a single armchair in one of the dark corners, while Neville and Colin disappeared up the stairs to their rooms. Remus went straight to a distinguished looking gentleman in a business suit, falling deep into conversation. Fred settled on one of the leather couches, starting to chat with the group of women – all who Harry recognized as Alicia Spinnet, Angelina Johnson and Katie Bell – while George went to sit with a leggy brunette with short hair, wrapping his arms around her. Luna, Harry saw, glided toward the billiards and stopped beside a tall, gangly looking man with a mop of red hair.

Ron.

He wore a simple black button-up and jeans. He was still tall and gangly and hadn't grown into his nose like Harry once thought he would. Currently, Ron was leaning over the billiards table, pole in hand, and tongue stuck out at the corner of his mouth.

He hit the 7-ball, and watched as it struck the 8, 3 and 5, pocketing them all.

"Bugger!" he moaned, slapping some money into one of the other men's hands. Harry recognized someone who might have been Ernie Macmillan collect the money with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Ron sighed and turned around to greet his girlfriend, his hands on her waist before he looked past her to see Harry and Hermione standing in the shadows.

Harry took a single step forward into the soft, muted glow of the room. "I see time has been treating you well, Ron."

A small, nostalgic smile found its way onto Ron's freckled face. "Azkaban didn't do you justice, Harry. You look just as peachy as you did after a rough-and-tumble Slytherin versus Gryffindor Quidditch match!"

Harry grinned, before the two met and shared a hug that only two male best friends, very aware of their sexuality, could pull off. The chatter had fallen into a hush, as everyone watched the trio reunite after being apart for three years. The time had taken a toll on them; all three had a haunted look in their eyes, and looked weary of what hardships they endured, but they had managed. Managed just so that they could have that moment where they were all together again.

As the two broke away, Harry clasped Ron's shoulders tightly. "It's good to see you again, Ron."

"You too, mate," replied Ron roughly, giving his friend a one-over before wafting his hand between the two of them. "Whew-ee! You smell, Potter. Take a bath!"

Harry laughed. It was neither humorous or joyous, but merely cold and rough. Azkaban, it seemed, changed more than Harry's appearance.

Hermione appeared at Harry's side once again. "C'mon, Harry, I'll show you to your room."

Harry nodded his goodbye to Ron, and glanced over at Remus, before following Hermione up the stairs. Harry took the time to really look at Hermione, see how she changed. Her hair was shorter now, to her shoulders, and still as bushy and wild as ever, only now in a frizzy corkscrew mass. She had an athletic hourglass figure, nipping in at the waist and flaring slightly at the hips. Harry forcefully removed his gaze from her heart-shaped butt, reminding himself that this was his best friend.

Best female friend, that is. And Harry could easily appreciate the finer sex after being alone for quite some time.

The hallway on the second floor landing was dark and eerie, with small oil lamps glowing dimly every few feet. Hermione, however, had turned to her left and stopped immediately at the door in front of her.

"My room is right next to yours, here," she said, pointing to the door on her left. "Remus and I decided that you should have the master bedroom."

Harry frowned at the continuous reference to Remus. He shouldn't be feeling jealous of his best friend and his guardian, but couldn't help it. Three years in – and if he were to be completely honest, out of – Azkaban had made him a possessive man. He wanted to keep Hermione all to himself now that they had met again after such a long time, and not share her with a boyfriend or love interest. He made a mental note to ask her about Remus and herself later.

Hermione pushed open the door and waved her hand. The room filled with the shine of several wall oil lamps, illuminating the poster king sized bed, Oriental rug, leather couch and mahogany writing desk. The room itself was spacious and very 1920's inspired. Harry almost laughed when he saw Hermione admire a Casablanca poster that had been framed. Two untidy scrawls at the bottom of the framed poster revealed themselves to be the names Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

When Harry turned back to Hermione, he saw that her hands were placed in front of her, trembling slightly.

"Hermione?" questioned Harry, concerned.

She flung herself at him with no warning. Harry instinctively wrapped his arms around her trembling form and offered what little comfort he could.

"Is everything all right Hermione?"

She sniffled and looked up at him, her head coming just up to his chin. "I was so worried!" she revealed. "I was so worried that I'd never get to see you again, never get to be near you again!"

Uncomfortable with having someone so close to him, especially after being alienated for three years, Harry gently began to extract Hermione from him, only to feel her arms clamp tighter. Sweating and blushing slightly, Harry took a step back, trying to get some room between the two. However, the bed sheets were long and pooling on the floor near where Harry's foot was, allowing his calf and foot to become tangled when he tried to detach it. Instead of helping, Harry felt gravity take control of the situation and landed on the soft, fluffy bed with Hermione on top of him.

Harry's eyes widened, a twitch appearing under his left, when Hermione shifted to look up at him. "All right, Harry?"

"Fine," he squeaked, before clearing his throat. "I'm fine, Hermione. Really. Just… don't move."

Hermione, confused, frowned. "Why?" She deliberately shifted against Harry and then stopped abruptly. "Oh."

Her eyes met his, brown to emerald green, quite like when he had been on the boat. Something flickered in her eyes – emotions ranging from desire, compassion, to confusion and plain, naked lust. Harry took in a sharp breath, aware that although his face was a mask, his eyes matched hers.

The moment was lost when they heard someone laugh and hit the wall as they came up the stairs.

"I'm sorry, Harry!" gasped Hermione, scrambling off him, making Harry groan out loud. Hermione took three giant steps back, watching with wide eyes as Harry slowly sat up, propped on his elbows. He then subtly reached for a throw pillow and placed it on his lap.

"That's all right," he muttered through clenched teeth. "It happens all the time."

Neither spoke for a couple of breaths, before Hermione murmured, "I'd best be off. If you need anything, you know where I am. Goodnight Harry."

"Night Hermione." Harry replied in turn, offering a smile to her as she backed out of the room slowly, before slamming the door shut behind her.

Harry lifted the pillow off his lap and stuck it over his face as he fell backward onto the bed with a groan. It was going to be a long night.

The next morning dawned bright and warm; Harry could hear birds chirping from his window, and the lull of voices as they floated up the stairs and through the floor vents. He had fallen immediately asleep after his embarrassing encounter with Hermione and little Harry, grateful for a warm and fluffy bed.

Now, however, necessities were calling. The first was telling him to go to the loo. Harry scampered out from between his scarlet sheets. He nearly tripped on their unusually long length (again), but made his way to the loo on unsteady legs and through half-lidded and sleep-filled eyes.

He stumbled into the loo, banging his knee on the low, polished marble sink, cursing colourfully. Harry then managed to find the shower and collapsed against the parallel wall, turning the tap to make the cold water pour out. Alternatively, he then twisted the hot water tap, enjoying the feel of dirt and grim that he had collected for three years wash off his body.

After his shower, Harry stepped out of the bathroom butt naked, relishing in a sense of freedom. He stopped immediately when he saw Ginny sitting on his bed, Dobby bouncing on the downy fabric.

"Shit, Ginerva!" Harry swore, using his Seeker skills to snatch a table clock from a nearby side table. "Knock, why don't you?"

Dobby stared at Harry with wide eyes, before snapping his fingers and conjuring Harry's Azkaban prisoner clothes – something no one failed to realize wasn't the orange prison garb.

"Mister Moony said he'd bring some of his clothes for Master Harry soon, Harry Potter sir!" said Dobby in his high, house-elf voice. Ginny sat on the bed with a smug smile.

"Really, Harry, you can put the clock down to change, it's not like I've never seen them manly bits before," she smirked.

Harry rolled his eyes, slowly reaching for the pants. "I'm sure you have, Gin."

"But I must say, yours are more impressive than Draco's."

"Ginny, honestly – I'm trying to get changed here!"

Ginny chuckled and stood, swinging her hair over one shoulder. "Sorry, Harry. I just wanted to let you know that George and Fred want to meet you in the kitchen, where you'll be eating breakfast. Remus said he needed to talk to you, too, before you went to see Hermione."

"How'd you know I was going to see her later?" Harry asked, his face expressionless. Ginny shrugged.

"It's kinda obvious, Harry."

"What is?"

"How you don't let her out of your sight." Ginny inspected her nails. "You were like, glue to her last night when you came in."

Harry snarled openly. "Well, it's not like I haven't seen my two best friends in years, Ginny – I mean, hell, I've just been in Azkaban, so pardon me for wanting to spend some time with someone who understands me!"

Ginny shrugged, completely unfazed by Harry's outburst. "Harry, really. You've got eyes. You've got a heart and a mind. Use them, please, and just shag the girl before the two of you spontaneously combust from residue sexual tension."

The petite redhead then walked out of the room, her hips swinging and her hair shining. Harry stared open-mouth after her, before snorting. He shook his head and dragged on his Azkaban pants, leaving his shirt off. He didn't feel like wearing anything more than he needed; he even left his socks and shoes off.

He padded down into the kitchen, enjoying the delicious scent of French toast, strawberries, and more importantly, coffee.

Fred, George and Remus all sat at the four-person kitchen table, coffee mugs or plates of French toast before them. Remus had two plates; Harry suspected he had to fulfill his werewolf appetite.

"So what can I do for you three this morning?" Harry asked bluntly. "Ginny said you wanted to see me?"

"I had a feeling that some of your questions weren't answered last night, Harry," said Remus slowly, staring at Harry's toned chest. He'd have some questions to ask his pseudo-godson soon. "So, let's sit over breakfast and finish this up so we can move forward."

Harry nodded. "Right. How'd you break into Azkaban? There are hundreds of spells cast on that place."

Fred grinned. "Easy. Dean and Seamus were talking about the Department when Seamus happened to mention floor plans. George and I managed to sneak in to the Department of Mysteries, steal and copy the floor plans, and then leave without a hitch."

"Well, Dumbledore and Fudge showed up briefly and talked about some stuff, thinking we were behind the attack – two guards were there, you know – but we managed to escape just fine," George inputted cheerfully, pouring a generous amount of maple syrup (imported from Canada) onto his French toast.

Harry raised a single eyebrow. George caught sight of it and shrugged. "Well, really, what else could we have done? We didn't mean to hurt anybody; they were just there. In Dumbledore's words: casualties of war."

Fred snorted. "Poor blighters."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Continue."

Fred chewed thoughtfully on his piece of breakfast before continuing. "Well, anyway; George and I invented these goodies." He reached into his pocket and drew out a mini electronic dog that had been a popular Muggle toy a couple years back. Then, Fred unclasped the necklace he wore. The baubles that hung on the necklace glowed and swirled in the morning sunlight.

"What are these?" Harry asked, reaching for the dog.

George grabbed his hand suddenly. "You don't want to touch that, mate." His eyes were dark and dangerous. "That's not just any dog. Fred and I call it the yapping dog bomb. It barks, then back flips. While it flips, it explodes. A mini-bomb that cause considerable damage."

Harry pointed at the necklace.

"Patronus charms. Luna came up with the idea. We took some of our happiest memories, extracting them like one would in a Pensieve (we kept the memories, though), and placed them in these tiny little bauble-pensieves. Each of these has the same force of someone shouting, 'expecto patronum,' at a Dementor. However, when in contact with a Dementor, it uh… blows them up from the high concentration of happy memories. It's like a sensory overload for them, I think."

Harry's eyes betrayed his interest. "Brilliant idea."

Fred and George chimed, "Thank you!"

Remus smiled against the rim of his coffee cup before stating, "Harry, I think you need a new change of clothes. Come with me to my room. I have some of Sirius' old things that you'd fit. You're quite similar to him in height."

Harry smiled gently at the werewolf. "Thank you Remus, that means a lot to me."

Harry followed Remus to his room, taking in the tattered and scratched bed pieces. He said nothing, conveying the aura of ignorance, as Remus pulled out a handful of shirts, jumpers, and jeans.

"The jeans might be a little long on you, you were always lean and wiry, while Sirius was more sturdy and muscular." Remus appraised Harry as the young man changed impatiently, inhaling Sirius' unique, and still clinging, scent of pine and muskiness that was pure Sirius. "Then again, it seems you filled out just fine."

Harry did have to roll up the end of the jeans, but the jumper fit. Sirius' shoulders were slightly broader than Harry's, but Harry made up for it with his muscles.

"I couldn't help but notice how well you look," Remus began uncomfortably. "When… when I met Sirius after he escaped, he was worn and scrawny… worse than you are now. However, he was in for twelve years…"

Harry shook his head, a fire in his eyes. "I trained while in my tiny hole of a cell."

"Trained?"

Harry shook his hands through his hair, an eerily replication of James' fluff. "I had nothing else to do after that first year when I thought I was insane; Snape only came once to give me a book."

"Book?" Remus asked, sure Harry was neglecting a lot in his vague references to 'training'. "The one I sent? I wasn't sure if he managed."

Harry shot Remus a grateful look. "I got it."

"Did it help?"

"Without a wand it was difficult. I had to master wandless magic first," reveled Harry slowly. He didn't want to part with too many secrets. "After reading and practicing, I began physical training. The bars that hung on the wall from that tiny window served their purpose for pull ups and the likes."

Remus nodded, ignoring the lie. Hermione said there hadn't been a window, but he let it slip. "Hermione had told me she wondered why you felt so strong and managed so well once we were in the car. I reckoned it for you being… well, you."

Harry frowned. "Is there something going on between you and Hermione? The two of you seem very cozy." He did his best to not let his anger and jealously creep into his words, but they were nonetheless laced with a slight tinge of venom.

Remus started in surprise. "Good heavens, no!" He shook his sandy brown head feverishly. "Hermione and I were two of your most ardent supporters. We did everything we could to help you – we spent much time together but if I think of her in any other way… Harry Potter! She's your best friend! And younger than me by twenty years! Please." It was Remus' turn to roll his eyes. "She is nothing more than a very good friend, but above all, she is your Hermione."

Harry's frown deepened. "My Hermione?"

Remus sighed. "You, if anything, are worse than your mother."

"Pardon me?"

"She couldn't even tell after seven years of being around James, that he loved her." With that said, Remus left the room, and Harry standing by himself.

Harry left the Baker Street townhouse, walking around the back to look for Hermione when he couldn't find her in the house. He pulled at the neck of the jumper, sweating in the balmy summer weather.

Whistling pleasantly, he turned the corner to see the Shelby glistening in the sun, covered in soapsuds and drops of water. The car radio was on, blaring the Weird Sisters over the sound of Hermione's off-tune humming.

Hermione, Harry saw (feeling his jaw drop), wore a bright yellow bikini and a pair of unzipped and unbuttoned jean shorts. Her corkscrew hair was wild and stuck out in every direction; her bangs were forced back from her head by a matching, vibrant yellow band, and there were tan lines on her shoulders and back from when she was wearing another top. Harry nearly died.

He stood still as he watched Hermione reach down, her heart-shaped butt facing him directly. She gathered a sponge and squeezed it, letting drops of water leave the soapy sponge and fall back into the bucket. She then straightened and began to lather up the hood of the car in slow, sensual circles.

Harry's throat went dry and his blood rushed away from his brain. His jaw was working itself silently, opening as to shout a hello, and closing again as to remain a pepping tom.

Instead, he fell back into the shadows of the wall, and watched Hermione.

After lathering up the hood, she disappeared into the shed and returned minutes later, carrying a water hose. The handle had a grip that allowed her to spray when she wanted – which was when she arrived next to the car and adjusted the spray to remove the soapsuds from the hood.

She laughed, her voice like bells tinkling. She then rolled over the hood to reach the other side, her back completely wet, including those now molded shorts. She let go of the grip on the handle, and the water stopped; only a few droplets of water escaped from the end.

Grinning, Hermione dropped the water hose and slipped on her flip-flops, stretching with her arms high in the arm.

Her eyes closed as she slowly pivoted on her feet to face Harry, unintentionally, showing him her complete front. A smile graced her full, slightly parted lips, her nose turned up to catch the sun's rays, and her hair glowed auburn in the light.

Her neck was long and graceful, her breasts full and perfectly cupped in the yellow triangles of the bikini. Her stomach was flat with the faint hint of muscle to be shown when she sucked in air. Two twin yellow bows peaked out from above the edge of the shorts, tempting Harry to wonder if her bikini bottom was a thong, or high cut, or shorts. His eyes lingered on the tiny yellow line of the top of her bikini bottom that peeked out from between the folds of the zipper and buttons of the jeans.

He squinted, wondering if the sun was playing tricks on him, but no – there, off to Hermione's right side, near her hip, was a splattering of colour. Intrigued, Harry left his hiding place and moved slowly, predatory toward Hermione.

Her eyes opened, widening in surprised as she saw Harry stalk toward her, his eyes dark and focused squarely on her right hip.

Hermione glanced down at it, and smiled when she saw her tattoo. Her head lifted, her eyes meeting Harry's emerald eyes. She cast an appreciative glance at him: from his forest green jumper to dark blue jeans. He looked delicious.

Harry took another step toward her, stopping a mere inch away. Hermione could feel the heat from his body.

Harry's hands reached out and flexed before grasping Hermione's hips tightly. While his right hand remained idle, Harry's left hand moved with feather-light touches. His index finger stroked her right hip, making Hermione shiver.

"What's that?" he asked, his voice deep and rumbling. Hermione felt her knees wobble.

"Just a tattoo I got," she whispered back, closing her eyes and swallowing hard. She concentrated on her breathing, managing to keep from collapsing into Harry's strong arms. However, when she felt him push the shorts and yellow bikini bottom down on that side of her hip, Hermione swooned.

Harry wrapped his right arm around Hermione tightly, letting her head nestled comfortably underneath his chin and in the nook of his shoulder. Her breath came against his neck in fast, erratic bursts, and she was shivering. With a tiny half-smile, Harry realized it wasn't because she was cold.

After pealing away the offending clothes on that side of her hip, Harry took his time to run his fingers over the picture. Standing out against her golden tan was a tiny Snitch with pure white wings. When he looked carefully, Harry could see that there was something 'engraved' into the Snitch as well: the words Harry Potter.

With a quick intake of breath, Harry realized that Hermione had marked herself for him. No other man, Harry thought, would like seeing his girlfriend or love wear another man's name. Another man's name that happened to be his! Feeling elated, Harry realized that while three years in and in another Hell had changed him, it had also changed those around him. Unaware at first, Remus's words came back to haunt Harry.

Hermione and I were two of your most ardent supporters. We did everything we could to help you…

And then what Hermione had said herself to him: I was so worried that I'd never get to see you again…

Releasing his left hand from Hermione's hip, Harry placed it at the back of Hermione's head, holding his best friend close. Oh, Hermione. You never gave up on me, did you?

Hermione shifted in his arms, and he held on to her tighter. "I really missed you," she murmured suddenly. "More than you could imagine."

"I think I have an idea," replied Harry with humor. He placed a butterfly kiss on top of her bushy hair. "I missed you too, 'Mione."

"I don't want to lose you," she whispered, snuggling against him. A rather joyous and goofy grin spread across Harry's face, but he buried his head against Hermione's hair before anyone – if they had been watching – could see.

"You won't."

"Can you make that a promise?"

Harry paused. "Well, no. I can't make promises with my plans."

"Plans?" Hermione raised her head to look into Harry's eyes. "What plans?"

Harry winced and looked away. At Hermione's warning, "Harry," he turned back to face her and said softly, "My plans of revenge." When Hermione didn't respond, he continued on, breathing in her scent. "They must suffer as I have suffered, see everything that meant something in their lives be ripped from them as it was ripped from me."

"We're together again, though, what more can matter?" Hermione protested.

Harry's eyes glowed as he felt the familiar pull of anger well in him. "What matters, Hermione, is the justice that I never saw – that Hagrid and Sirius never saw. Honor, integrity, justice – those matter and that is what I will make sure is given back to me."

"How? How Harry?" Hermione asked, taking a small step back to look at his face better. "How will you achieve that? Going openly against Dumbledore, or the Ministry will not work."

Harry smiled, smoothing a piece of errant hair behind Hermione's hair. "I'll find a way to make it work."

"You're the people's hero, Harry, their Boy-Who-Lived. If you do something unfavourable, you may lose everything!"

Harry's jaw tightened. "I never wanted to be their hero. I never wanted to be the Boy-Who-Lived, a name given to me for something I can't even remember doing!" he ground out between clenched teeth.

Hermione sighed. "I know, Harry," she smoothed her hand against his roughened cheek and felt him lean into it. "Sometimes though, the world needs a reluctant hero."

"Not from me," he gritted. Hermione sighed again, and let her eyes meet Harry's. His locked on hers, and his head tilted and moved down to meet Hermione's.

Their breath mingled and they could practically taste each other by the mere millimeters separating to two.

"Harry!" a voice shouted out urgently. "We've got a problem that you should see!"

Harry swore under his breath and glanced over his shoulder to see a haggard, out-of-breath and very apologetic Colin Creevey leaning with one hand braced against the townhouse wall.

"What is it, Colin?" Harry asked, cursing himself as he fell into the role of leader. Hermione glanced around Harry and then back to him curiously.

Colin ran his free hand through his longish brown hair. "It's the Order and Death Eaters, Harry. They're on the move."

"Move?"

Colin sighed exasperatedly. "On the move for the next relic Voldemort thinks will help him win the war. But this time it's a big relic. A big, historical, if-it's-real-we're-all-doomed, relic."

"Which, Colin?" Hermione asked, removing herself from Harry's embrace.

A muscle under Colin's eye twitched. "The Holy Grail."

AN: Chapter revision Oct.03.06