Harry stared at Tonks' fallen form dispassionately. Muttering under his breath about 'accursed Hufflepuffs', he used his wand to conjure and animate a pink feather. A wave of his wand caused the feather to approach her face, and it began tickling her nostrils, moving to her ears as she failed to awaken.
Just as Harry was about to rethink his idea, Tonks woke up with a start and blushed as she realized that she had fainted. She walked over and sat on the bed next to Harry, looking at him intently.
"Eighteen? And how exactly will you turn eighteen?" she asked in a voice that was curious, not mocking.
Harry laid back on the bed with a sigh and said "Well, I've been training in the Chamber of Secrets since the end of my Second Year, and there is a time dilation of sorts in the Chamber. I've been training for roughly five years."
Rather than gasping, she nodded thoughtfully. "Training in what manner? And why did you say that you had to wait a month until you could stop wearing that band?"
He knew that he could trust her with all his secrets due to the Oath, but such an act would be a veritable insult to his inner Slytherin. He would only trust her with the basics, as it was always better if no one knew just exactly what he had hidden up his sleeve. It would do no good for him to reveal his hand before the war even moved into full pace. While he trusted her, he had no reason to believe that she wouldn't stand in his way herself, in some attempt to 'protect' him.
"Just general physical workouts, I guess. It was a good way for me to blow off some steam. Hogwarts in the last few years has been trying for me, and rather than blow up on some unsuspecting Hufflepuff, I decided to work my stress out down there. I also studied up on a bit of defensive magic…thought it would do some good to become at least semi-proficient with a wand."
She raised an eyebrow, clearly unwilling to believe that he had spent years in the Chamber just working out and reading up on a bit of magic. His estimation of her grew as he realized that she was not easily fooled.
'Not a Hufflepuff, I guess.'
"Right," she drawled, looking at him expectantly. "That information was certainly not worth the Oath I took."
He cracked a wry grin, eyes still locked on the ceiling, almost inquisitively gazing at the cracked plaster that was threatening to flake off. "True. But then again, as you can see, I've taken special care to make sure that no-one knew about it. Let my enemies underestimate me. Currently, you are the only person alive who knows about this, and thanks to that oath, it will stay as such. But yes, you are right; that isn't all that I studied."
She could see that he would not budge on telling her anymore, so she resigned herself to ignorance for the time being. "Very well. And that bit about waiting for a month?"
He replied "Well, after wearing that band for what has been five years, I've become entirely sick of it. I dunno if you get the same feeling when you stay in a morph too long, but it just gets annoying having to shift between different body sizes and having to make myself accustomed to the new sense of balance that I need."
She nodded. "That's why I get clumsy sometimes…even changing the length of my hair sometimes throws me off balance."
"Yeah, well I decided to stop wearing the thing anymore. So in a month or so, I'll stop using it entirely and pretend that I've been working out and hit a growth spurt."
She looked at him calculatingly, and said "You must have a special reason to do that. You've been hiding like this for five years, as you say, so doing it for longer doesn't seem like too large a stretch. Of course, this holds true only if you were truthful about deceiving your enemies into underestimating you. The sudden jump makes you look more dangerous, and it makes it far less easy to underestimate you."
He grimaced, closing his eyes. His appreciation for her was rising quick; she was smart and far from easy to fool. He decided to reveal another truth, knowing that she could not betray his confidence in any manner until he gave his approval. "I will ascend to the Lordship of my Family. I need to present a stronger front if I am to gather allies, and looking like a wastrel does not bolster my appeal."
She nodded. "Since you haven't trusted Dumbledore with this, I tend to believe that you are gathering allies for your own cause, not his."
The question was delicately phrased, daring him to confirm her observation. If he stayed silent, she could safely assume that he was not, in fact, supporting his own cause, but Voldemort's, or someone else's. If he answered negatively, she would know he was lying, and if he agreed, she would be in position to find out exactly what his agenda was.
He grimaced again, noting that her wand was in her hands, and was unobtrusively pointing into his side.
He sighed "You can put the wand away, Tonks. Yes, I am gathering allies for my own cause. This war has to be fought without Dumbledore controlling our effort. He might be powerful, but his tactics leave a lot to be desired. In this war, he can't be anything more than a fighter. The command needs to be reserved for people who are more suited to it."
She was silent for a few minutes, pondering his words.
Eventually, she broke the silence by asking "And will you be one of those to lead the fight?"
He turned to her, watching her intently. "What do you think, Tonks?"
His eyes told her what she needed to know. She decided to change the vein of the conversation.
"Okay. How long did your maturity last? Mine was a little over two hours long."
He shrugged, and said "Well, from what I gather of magic, it seems to depend on dates more than actual passage of time. For instance, I might be turning roughly eighteen in real terms in one month, but in the eyes of magic, I am still turning sixteen years old. My maturity will take place exactly sixteen years after I am born, so it is scheduled, for lack of a better word, for the 31st of July, 1996. For the same reason, I doubt I could simply go to Gringotts and take up my Lordship, since magic will register me as being under sixteen years of age. Quite a disappointment…it would have helped a hell of a lot if I had all my magic available at the graveyard that night, and at the Ministry. In any case, I could pass off the fact that I look a lot different as some weird side effect of the maturation."
She nodded, not seeming too shocked by the revelation. "I guess it has something to do with you reliving, or rather, stretching time as it actually passes." He nodded in reply, staying silent.
"Should we do the test now?" he asked. She nodded, and extracted an empty vial from her pocket. Unlike normal crystal vials, this one was a mottled green in color, and had streaks of red in the crystal.
"Put three drops of blood in the vial, and shake it around while holding it tightly. It won't break. When the vial turns blue, throw it on the ground." He nodded, not altogether surprised by the roundabout and odd manner in which things were done in the magical world.
He walked over to the desk to retrieve the penknife that Sirius gave him, leaving her alone on the bed. Pricking his finger, he let three drops of the crimson liquid flow from his finger into the vial, and corked it with his thumb.
Vigorously, he shook it, barely suppressing a blush when Tonks raised an eyebrow and smirked suggestively at the exact…direction he was jerking the vial in. She seemed almost impressed by his expressionless countenance, but before he could read into it, the vial turned blue in color.
She nodded to him, and he flung the vial at the ground, and watched it break into a million pieces. A pale orange smoke rose out of the crushed vial, and it seemed to mean something to Tonks, who grinned widely and clapped.
He raised an eyebrow, waving his wand and casting a cleaning spell to get rid of the shards of crystal. Still grinning, she said "That's great! You're a full metamorphmagus like me! If it was green, it means you aren't a metamorphmagus, and if it was blue, then the strength of your abilities would depend on how dark the smoke was. This is incredible!"
Harry smiled at her exuberance, realizing the benefits of this skill. He was simply hoping that the ability would allow him to be free from the stigma of the damned scar on his forehead. He also had plans for certain lives to be ended, and this would be a bonus, as he could implicate certain Death Eaters. He had no clue just how powerful this gift was.
Tonks continued, in a more serious vein. "Harry, you will have to swear a magical oath before I can tell you some of the secrets that the Metamorphmagi have kept over the last eight millennia. It is crucial that you do it, because no one but us full Metamorphmagi know just how powerful this gift can be. Each full Metamorphmagus has taken this oath before whether they have learnt from our guide or from another Metamorph."
He scrutinized her face for a few seconds, eyes roving over her beautiful features. He suppressed the desire to use Legilimency, and nodded, knowing that she would not ask something this serious from him without a good reason. He blanched at that last train of thought, wondering what was making him so trusting towards her. It went against all that Salazar had taught him to blindly trust someone like this. But still, he felt that he could trust Tonks with certain things, but couldn't for the life of him imagine what that reason was.
He found his answer by looking into her eyes, searching the depths of her eyes for an answer. She was simply so…angelic that he couldn't help but trust her completely. He berated himself for thinking with the wrong head, but decided to give in. He had her oath, which was given on pure faith, and it was only right for him to be honorable enough to do the same. Sighing inwardly, he reflected that honor sometimes was a pain, and said "What do I have to swear?"
Beautiful or not, nothing would stop him from killing her if she were to betray his secrets. He had invested countless hours of sweat, blood and sacrifice to ensure his current position, and to be thwarted mere days before his plans could reach fruition would certainly be motivation enough to extract his vengeance quite creatively. She was trustworthy, and her oath would allow her to maintain the trust he had placed in her, but she could voluntarily divulge information that would destroy his well-laid plans.
Thinking carefully, she replied "Swear your oath that you will never, in any shape or form, reveal the secrets of the Metamorphmagi to anyone but another full Metamorphmagus. The oath must be sworn on pain of torture and death."
He raised an eyebrow, knowing that a penalty as harsh as torture would certainly not be included unless it was richly deserved. Nodding again, almost as if he was convincing himself, he said "I, Harry James Potter, swear by my magic on pain of torture and death to never reveal the secrets of the Metamorphmagi, in any shape or form, to anyone but a full Metamorphmagus."
Unlike with Tonks' oath, the tendril of magic connected not with another person, but with Magic itself, forming an unbreakable link. As with all Magical Oaths, it could not be betrayed unintentionally, even through methods like Veritaserum or Legilimency. Magic itself prevented the Oath from being betrayed. If the information was voluntarily betrayed, then the betrayer would suffer the consequences of whatever the terms of the Oath were, in this case torture and death.
Tonks nodded decisively as she felt the tingle of magic in the air. She turned to Harry, grinning slightly, and said "Watch."
She seemed to breathe in deeply, steeling herself for something. Then, she lifted her wand, pointed it at the base of her left hand little finger, and muttered "Diffindo!"
Harry started in alarm, noting in horror how a pink mist billowed out of her finger as it flew through the air and landed on the floor next to his bare foot. He swore loudly, and gathered up a sobbing Tonks in his arms, hugging her tightly, running a soothing hand up and down her back.
It took a few minutes, but eventually she calmed down, relaxing her hold on him. Absently, as she pulled away from him, she noted the feeling of comfort and security in his arms, and the incredible warmth in his eyes as he looked at her now. With her unhurt hand, she brushed away the tears, and looked up to meet his eyes.
She nearly started in shock, for a tear had slipped out of his eyes at seeing her in pain. Through the pain, she smiled weakly at him, and said "Don't worry, Harry. I did it on purpose. Just watch."
Her face scrunched up in concentration as she stared at her left hand, specifically staring at the stump that was once her little finger. Harry's amazement grew as he saw the stump suddenly mutate, turning into a silvery fluid that took the shape of a finger. It suddenly solidified, forming a perfect finger, with a nail and fingerprints. Jaw hanging, he looked up into her eyes as she smiled at him, all traces of pain gone.
"H-How?" he stuttered, quite uncharacteristically. "But…the pain, the blood…it was real, right?"
She nodded, and pointed at the ground. Where her severed finger and more than a few drops of blood had once lain, was absolutely nothing. It looked like the whole thing had never happened.
"Full Metamorphmagi are aptly named, Harry. Our connection to our bodies is so intense, that each particle that we are composed of is intimately tied into our magic. If we lose a limb, with enough concentration and skill, it can be re-grown. However, as you can see, it doesn't make any difference to the amount of pain you feel. We also have a…core of magic that we use. When we alter the size, in terms of general mass of our bodies, we use this core of magic to create particles to join into our bodies to create that extra mass. So, you see, you can use your core to increase your height and weight, or decrease it. When you decrease your mass the particles that you aren't using retreat to that core of magic for later use. The only other benefit I can think of is that after learning how to morph, you will have a better understanding of Transfiguration as a whole, seeing as you will be intimately acquainted with how to change the shape and size of things."
He was staring at her in shock, and in an uncharacteristically emotional movement, grabbed her into a tight hug again, pulling her flush against his body. He buried his head into her neck and whispered "Don't ever scare me like that again, Tonks. Jesus, I thought…I don't know what I thought!"
She closed her eyes, letting out a sigh and melting into his arms. Her arms reached around his waist to hug him back, and she reveled in the sensation of his body pressed against hers tightly. Unbidden, the thought of his sweat-slicked body rubbing against hers as he thrust into her came into her mind, and she jumped, letting out a startled yell. Blinking, she ignored his curious gaze and walked back into his arms. The thought seemed so…real that it was almost scary, though not unwelcome at all.
He finally let her go, and she smiled at him happily. This time, he was unsuccessful in fighting off his blush, and some color graced his cheeks.
"Don't worry, Harry. I'll try not to scare you. Anyways, if you remember, I had to go to Saint Mungo's after the fight. The wound I had was a bit large, and I wasn't able to concentrate enough to heal it fully, so I had to get some potions. Okay, now I'll be the one to train you, since I'm the only full Metamorphmagus in Britain, and the only one who can be trusted to live with you." He nodded, and she continued.
"Okay, now I'll have to work you extra hard for the next month, or you'll never master the skills by the time you start your campaign for allies. I'm gonna go tell Dumbledore, and arrange for paid leave from the Aurors for the next month. I'll be back here in an hour or so, so wait up for me. I still have to explain a few things."
She said it without malice or derogation, which certainly pleased him. He decided to voice this thought to her.
"Tonks, not that I don't appreciate it, but why exactly do you believe me this easily? I mean if I heard from a sixteen year old kid that he was creating his own side against Voldemort, I wouldn't give him or her even the slightest bit of credence."
She leaned up as she hugged him, and kissed his cheek, drawing away with a cute grin. "Well," she said, "you're eighteen…"
With that she apparated away; leaving him with a slight smile on his face. He changed into a pair of boxer shorts, and to take precaution in case Dumbledore decided to arbitrarily apparate in, he grudgingly put the armband on again, throwing a t-shirt on top of that. He sat back in the chair and spent the next hour staring out of the window at the setting sun, which gently dipped beyond the horizon as the Grandfather clock downstairs struck 9. He yawned, the result of a long day, and waited for her to show up.
Finally, a few minutes past an hour since she left, Tonks apparated back into the room, holding a trunk. She was met with the image of Harry pointing his wand at her, a spell on the tip of his tongue. Seeing her, he relaxed, and put his wand back on the table.
"Did you give a real reason to the Ministry as to why you had to take a sabbatical? I mean, did you tell them that you were training me?"
"No Harry…I just took leave. We are allowed to take paid leave for personal reasons only twice in our careers. As for Dumbledore, I told him that you're a partial Metamorphmagus, so I said I would train you."
He smiled at her, relaxing fully. She continued, saying "However, Dumbledore seemed to have a big problem with me being here. He kept insisting that you needed to be alone to grieve. Eventually, I told him that I am magically bound to train Metamorphmagi, and that I would lose my magic, and therefore my usefulness to the Order and Aurors. He gave in, but just barely. Now he wants me to be your guard for the rest of the summer, so that he can use the others for missions. I'm the only one around after tonight."
Harry nodded tiredly, muttering "Of course he would say that. He doesn't want any interaction between me and any magical person…it makes his case as the glorious rescuer more valid and effective come September 1st."
She looked at him inquisitively, but he sighed and said "Later, Tonks. I'll tell you about it all tomorrow. Right now, I just want to go to bed."
She looked at him oddly, saying "It's only 9, Harry. What made you so tired?"
Yawning, he grinned "About five hours of training this morning in the Chamber."
She grinned and hauled him to his feet, saying "Ah. That would do it. Alright, get in bed. Actually, wait a second."
She waved her wand at the bed, making it expand so that it was twice its size. A few quick charms and spells later, the bed was no longer a moldy, run-down piece of trash, it looked comfortable and inviting.
Sighing in appreciation, he fell down onto the bed, still clad only in his boxers and t-shirt. A groan escaped his lips as he felt his sore muscles shift around, and she looked at him with concern in her eyes.
"Are you okay, Harry?" she asked.
"Uh…yeah. I'm just sore all over from training, and that bloody seat in the Train definitely didn't help my case any. I'll be fine."
She paused in her renovation of the room, having gotten as far as painting the walls a different color. "D'you…d'you want a massage? I'm pretty good at giving them." She trailed off, sounding unsure.
He looked at her gratefully, and replied "Tonks, that sounds incredible."
She blushed prettily, and said "Okay, give me a minute."
He watched lazily as she aimed her wand at one of Dudley's old toys, and concentrated hard. A few seconds later, she muttered "Transmutatio." The wooden horse slowly shifted shape into an identical copy of Harry's bed, laying about five feet away from his. A few waves of her wand later, a plush carpet covered a large part of the floor, and another toy was transfigured into a short table between the two beds.
He looked at her, impressed, and said "Nice detail." She grinned at him and replied "Yeah, I told you your skills at Transfiguration will get better."
He blinked, choosing not to respond. For him, transfiguring like that was already possible, with slightly more effort.
Instead, he said "Can you add anti-apparation and anti-portkey wards and add only the two of us to them? I don't want Dumbledore popping in and seeing me like this; it would lead to uncomfortable questions that I wouldn't want to answer. Then, he'd start meddling even more."
She nodded, giving him a gaze that conveyed that she would ask him about it the next day. She chanted the two wards, and Harry felt them going up with approval. They were strong, and now that he was keyed into them, he could avoid Dumbledore entering the room at any time. He would charm the door the next day to allow only Tonks and him in, so at least he would have a warning if Dumbledore tried to enter.
She climbed onto his bed, straddling his back and sitting on his rear. A groan escaped his mouth as a few cricks popped into place, and she said "Alright. Off with your shirt!" She said it in the same manner that excited crowds used to jeer 'Off with his head!' He grinned in response and complied.
She had to stifle a gasp as she saw the muscles on his back ripple as he took the shirt off. Her seat, his ass, was quite comfortable, and she would have to take care to make sure that she didn't get too excited while massaging him, for it would be extremely evident through their clothes.
Her soft hands began rubbing his back, easing the tension in his back with gentle yet powerful movements. His groans of appreciation as the stress was worked out of his back were audible, and she giggled lightly as he did so.
For about twenty minutes, she pressed against his back, easing the strain in his muscles with gentle strokes of her hands. The feeling of his muscles rippling under her fingers was incredible, and she was working overtime to stop her arousal from becoming obvious. She needn't have worried, though, as within minutes, he had fallen asleep under the effects of her gentle ministrations, breathing easily and sleeping peacefully.
She finished, sighing gently. She moved off him, and sat next to him for a while, stroking his silky hair which hung loose, draping down to barely reach an inch below his neck. The look of utter tranquility in his face was strangely soothing, and she pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek before getting into her own bed. She spent the next half hour writing in a blue Diary that had a velvet cover, and felt much more at peace after pouring her emotions into her writing. It had been quite a long day for her. Despite feeling rather awake at the moment, she turned off the lights and slipped into an easy sleep within a few minutes, the rhythmic sounds of his breath lulling her to sleep quickly.
Harry was sleeping peacefully, enjoying the utter lack of thought that his Occlumency shields afforded him. Absently, he noted the odd sound of rushed breathing, and a few whimpers and moans. After a few minutes, he woke up, looking around blearily. Tonks, he saw, was lying in bed, obviously the victim of a nightmare.
Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she tossed and turned in bed, whimpers and groans escaping her lips ever now and then. Concerned, he got out of bed and sat next to her, taking her hands in his. Immediately, she quieted, a mask of peace settling across her face. He smiled at the angelic expression on her face, and gently stroked her cheek with his fingers.
He sighed, looking at her and wondering just why she meant so much to him. He had had a small crush on her last year, since he first met her, and they had exchanged a sparse few letters over the course of the school year. However, this did not explain what he was feeling for her. He knew he could trust her with his secrets, for she had trusted him with hers, obligation or not. She, unlike most others, was supportive of him rather than mocking, and seemed to believe in him. What he appreciated most about her was that she reserved her opinion, neither repudiating him not blindly pledging her trust to him. She had not thrown herself at him, agreeing to aid him or follow him without learning what his agenda was. It was a deep friendship, but a lot more than that, and even though he tried to compare it to what he felt for Cho, he found no answers.
Seeing that she had gone back to sleep, he gently extricated his hands from hers, and got up to return to his own bed. He was startled when her whimpers began again, becoming more forceful and emotional, by the look of utter fear on her face.
Quickly, her took her hands in his again, and gently woke her up. She awoke with a start, eyes wildly roaming the room for the bogeyman. She saw him, and looked at him curiously in the dim light of the streetlamps that filtered in through the shuttered windows.
Rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb, he murmured "You were having a nightmare. I held your hand and it seemed to stop, but when I got up to return to my bed, it started again."
Unconsciously, her fingers rose to her face, and found the slight beads of sweat and the tears that had rolled down her face. She blushed slightly, and he gently said "Don't be embarrassed. I get them all the time."
She nodded slightly, and thanked him demurely, eyes downcast. He could tell that she had resigned herself to staying awake for the rest of the night, and the light of his wristwatch told him that it was just past 2 AM.
Concernedly, he held her hand and said "Tonks, I don't mean to insinuate anything, so please don't be offended. If you need company while you sleep, just tell me, and I'll be there for you. If hanging on to someone helps you sleep better, then don't be shy about it. It's the least I could do after you gave me that massage. I mean it, Tonks, it will be completely platonic."
She looked at him, noting the concern in his eyes, and blushed slightly, a tinge of red appearing on her cheeks.
Her lower lip trembling slightly, she whispered "You would do that for me? What if I wake you up?"
He laughed lightly and said "Don't worry about it. If it makes you feel safe, I'll be happy to help. Do you agree?"
She nodded jerkily, sniffing slightly. He pulled her in for a hug, and gently laid her down on the bed. A wave of his hand erected a locking charm on the door, and he slipped into the bed next to her. She was lying stiffly next to him, and he mock-scowled at her.
"Don't be silly, that won't help you at all. Now, come here." He admonished her in a Molly Weasley voice, breaking the ice between them. She finally relaxed, and he pulled her close, spooning her against him tightly. Emboldened, she reached around and pulled his arm around her waist, holding it in place with her own. She melted into his embrace, feeling his powerful muscles against her back, entirely forgetting about the fact that her rear was pressed up against his crotch. He drew the covers over them, and closed his eyes.
Holding her tightly, Harry slipped back into sleep a few minutes after she did, and they slept peacefully for the rest of the night.
The morning dawned bright and early, but they slept in until 10 AM. The Dursleys knew better than to irritate Harry this summer, believing that the wrath of the Order in all its glory would be invited down on them. Of course, Harry knew that apart from Tonks and perhaps Lupin, none of them would lift a finger, once again displaying the general impotency of the Order as an armed Militia.
Harry woke up feeling rested, eyes squinting against the glare of the sun. He was lying on his back, with Tonks' head resting on his chest, her leg thrown over his body possessively. He grinned slightly, until he blanched at a new discovery. Apparently, at some point in the night, they had rolled over, and Tonks' hand had slipped through the window on the front of his boxers, and was now possessively wrapped around his penis. As she breathed in and out, her hand moved ever so slightly, causing her fingertips to brush against his balls.
Delicately, he freed his left hand from the covers, and oh-so-gently tried to extricate her fingers from around him. The sensation of her soft hand gripping him was beginning to cause side effects, and he tried not to be too hasty in removing her hand, trying to avoid waking her. He knew that it would be uncomfortable for them, and tried to get out of this situation. Unfortunately, she woke up as he was prying her fingers off from him.
Bleary eyes turned up to look at him, and he smiled weakly at her, still trying to avoid the potential embarrassment while she was disoriented. She felt his fingers touching hers, and inquisitively looked down. She let out a gasp of horror, and pulled her hand away quickly.
Turning to him, she began stammering an apology, and when she failed to get it out properly, she began crying. He began feeling terrible, as it was him who had suggested this idea. He gently shushed her, and pulled her into a hug, whispering "Shush…its okay, Tonks. Don't worry about it; it could have happened to anyone."
Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say as she sobbed harder into his chest. He held her tightly, and whispered "Come on. It's fine." She was thrashing around in his arms, trying to move away from him, but he steadfastly held her, trying to soothe her frayed nerves by stroking her back.
Eventually she relaxed, and looked up at him with bloodshot eyes, whispering "H-Harry, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me." Tears were still running down her face freely, and Harry absently thought that she looked beautiful with the sun in the window creating a halo-like effect around her head.
Laughing lightly, he kissed her forehead and replied "Its fine, Tonks. Listen, there was no harm done, so you don't have to worry about a thing, okay?"
She sniffed, staring at him for a while. Then, she asked "You're sure?"
He smiled at her and replied "Of course." The tension was broken, and she melted back into his arms, laying her head back against his chest.
Grinning slightly, he muttered in a huffy, bossy tone normally adopted by Hermione "Well, honestly! One would think that you would wait at least until the first date to grab his crotch, Nymphadora!"
She giggled slightly, and smacked him on the chest, muttering "Yeah, yeah, Potter. Milk it for all it's worth. I'll get you back when you accidentally grope me."
He laughed, saying "Oh, but it would be worth it, darling Nymphadora."
She blushed, smacking him again and muttering "Oi! That name is a low blow! I'll take pictures the next time you decide to drop your towel around me." He grinned down at her again, and hugged her to him tightly, tickling her sides until she was gasping for breath.
Eventually, she settled back on his chest, seemingly having no intention to move. Absently, she said "You're gonna make some girl real happy some day, Harry. Whoever gets you will be a lucky girl."
She blushed suddenly as she realized what she had said, but she was saved from saying anything. He blushed as well, and muttered "Thanks."
They laid there for a long time, until it was nearly 11 AM. Finally, he dragged her out of bed, and transfigured a bathrobe for her. She slipped off to the shower, and once she was done, he showered as well. Despite his reservations about possible diseases from Vernon's razor, he made an attempt at using a non-magical method of shaving out of simple curiosity, and nearly cut himself twice, successfully cutting himself once. Grimacing, he used another cleaning and sterilizing charm on the razor and headed back to the room wearing a bathrobe. He couldn't cast healing spells wandlessly, so he needed to retrieve his wand from the bedside table.
As he healed himself, he failed to notice her eyes roving his frame with a gaze that had a mixture of appreciation, guilt and sadness. He finally got dressed, having to perform a curious dance to get his boxers on while still wearing the bathrobe. She laughed at him, and he mock-scowled at her, causing her to laugh even more.
"It isn't anything I haven't seen before, Harry. Since last night you so graciously decided to provide the striptease, I feel I'm more than well acquainted with your uh…features." He scowled at her good-naturedly, and eased into the jeans and t-shirt that he had transfigured out of old clothes. That was one situation that he would have to remedy as quickly as possible, for he not only needed to act the part, but needed to look it when he made his entrance into the political side of the Wizarding World.
Scrunching up his eyes, he shook his head vigorously, causing the water from his hair to sprinkle all over the place, making Tonks yelp and laugh.
It took another twenty minutes of fooling around, but they finally got down to work, deciding to wait until later for lunch.
They sat down on the bed side-to-side in a relaxed posture, and Tonks took his hands in hers.
"Okay, the only thing we're gonna attempt today is to change the size of the fingernail on your index finger. Yes, I know it seems small, but you can run the risk of leaking your magic out, and it's usually very hard to slow that down, which means that you might just leak out a whole bunch of magic in one go and get exhausted. Then we'd have to wait until tomorrow to start again.
"Right, now I want you to use Occlumency to find your magical core first, okay? Then, you have to pull back from it, and mentally insist that there is a second core of magic for you to use. If you hunt around enough, you'll find it. It should look colorful, in case you're wondering. Then, what you have to do is imagine a hand pulling a bit of the magic and smearing it on your fingernail. Once you've done that, will for the magic to force the nail to change shape and become longer. Do you understand?"
He nodded, appreciating the patience with which she was working him, not being too demanding.
She said "Alright…now take your time, and don't rush it, okay? You have to learn to find a good handle and connection with your magic, and learn how to manipulate it the right way. Just take it easy and relax, it doesn't require you to overexert yourself, just to pay attention to what you're doing. Now, the magic will be slippery at first, and after a long time of using it, it will become easy to hold. That's why it sometimes slips out of your grasp and leaks from your core. If that happens, you have to stop everything else and focus on gently pushing your magic back to the core. Once you practice it enough, you won't have to go through the rigmarole of smearing it on the part that you want to morph. You'll just be able to direct your magic there and feed it with intent to make the morph happen. Alright, give it a try."
Harry nodded and closed his eyes. He cleared his mind of all thought, and entered the pitch-black region that was his mind. He found the shimmering silver shields that were partway finished, and noticed the jumble of everyday memories inside. Pulling away front his view, he plunged downwards to find his magical core. After about five minutes of veering through the magical channels in his body, he finally found it, a pulsating mass of bright white light. With no small amount of distaste, he noted the eight rings of ugly black that encircled his core, creating a helix of sorts over the bright light of his core.
Gently, he pulled back from it ever so slightly, and insisted that there was a second core for him to use. He had to hunt around in the darkness for a while, but he found it, a large ball of golden light that flickered in certain areas to different colors. Tentatively, he reached a hand forwards and stroked the magic, appreciatively eyeing the silvery shimmer that floated over the gold. It was warm and soothing to the touch, and he scooped some of it out, noting its impossible slipperiness. Struggling to hold on to it with his hands clasped together, he imagined the magic trapped in his hands being smeared over his fingernail. He felt the warmth dissipate from his grip, and focused himself, concentrating hard on elongating his fingernail.
He came out of his trance, grinning slightly. Tonks was sitting next to him trying to stifle laughter. "Oh, well done, Harry! It took me until the second try to do it. I think you might have been just a little enthusiastic about how much magic you used."
Harry was blankly staring at his right hand, where the nail on his index finger was about eighteen inches long. "Yeah…I think you're right, Tonks."
She laughed, and said "Okay, I'll fix it, but this will sting a bit. This spell is used to revert a Metamorphmagus to their true appearance, and it causes pain proportional to the size of the morphs you've made."
He nodded, and she pointed her wand at him and muttered "Metamorphmagus Reverti." He felt a slight sting of pain as his fingernail reduced in size, but it was nothing serious.
She nodded, and said "Good, now that's taken care of. Now, before we try again, I wanted to ask whether you already had some experience using core magic for intent-driven results. I'm asking because you found your core really quick…it took me about fifteen minutes to find mine when I started. Of course, after using it a lot, it moves up into the immediate vicinity of your mind shields, so you really don't have to spend more than twenty seconds to change almost everything in your body."
She looked at him, and this time, he blushed bright red, muttering "Yeah."
Grinning, she wondered what made him blush. "Please, do explain, Harry."
He scowled at her, and muttered "No, I'd rather not." Now, she stopped laughing and took his hand in hers, squeezing it.
"Its fine, Harry. Don't worry about it. I'm sorry for asking."
"No…its just- ah, bugger it." He pouted at her, and continued "Well, I don't know if anyone's done it before, but it has its uses in uh…intimate situations."
She raised an eyebrow and said "How so? I've only heard of it being used to magically power your voice, to extend your aura or to seem more dangerous or something."
He grimaced. "Well, I could show you, but you would get embarrassed by what happens, and you might hate me. So, I'll just tell you what it is. Okay, you siphon off a bit of magic, focus it on your fingers or lips or whatever, and focus real hard on the act of causing pleasure. Your fingers, or whatever part that you choose should glow a pale gold. Then, all you have to do is touch the person you want to do it to, and voila…instant orgasm."
She nodded, amazed. "How…intense is it?"
He buried his face in his hands, and muttered "Truthfully? I could make someone scream their head off. It would be the most mind blowing orgasm you ever feel since every little part of you that can possibly feel pleasure will explode all at the same time. Magic isn't really all that specific about what it does, unless you specifically focus on causing it in a particular area."
She gulped slightly, feeling her nipples stiffen at the sound of his voice rolling into her ears. It wasn't really talking dirty, but it was arousing all the same.
Shakily, she said "Right. Okay. Try the bit with the nail again, and try to make it grow only slightly. I'm making you start small not only because he magic can leak, but because as you practice and perfect smaller things, you get better at doing it and using the magic. Having to use the reverting spell on you while you've changed every aspect of your body will be excruciatingly painful. Okay, now go ahead."
He went through the process again, and found that this time he wouldn't have to search for the second core it was readily accessible to him, floating near his personal core. Unfortunately, the magic slipped from his fingers as he tried to siphon some away, and he felt a large amount of magic swirl away from him. Realizing what was happening, he panicked at first, but remembering her advice, calmed down. Focusing hard, he gently pressed the magic back into the core, easing it so as to avoid any more problems.
He tried it again, noticing that the core looked severely depleted, and on this try managed to do it correctly, increasing the length of his fingernail by an inch. He opened his eyes to see Tonks grinning at him, and he had to fight down the urge to gulp. She looked positively radiant as she smiled at him, and he smiled back weakly in response.
"Harry, the magic that escaped formed the most beautiful aura I've ever seen before! It was incredible!" She was grinning wildly, and she hugged him tightly. "Good job!" she congratulated him, kissing his cheek.
"Thanks," he said, regaining control over his emotions. He cast the spell on himself, and felt a much smaller twinge of pain as his fingernail receded to normal length.
"Okay," she said, "it's about time that we got some lunch. I'm starving. Since I'm the only one around here, and I don't care much for rules, I'll take you out. Let's head over to Wisteria Walk, there's a nifty little diner there, and they have some incredible coffee. I used to eat there last summer after my shifts."
He nodded, and transfigured his worn out shoes into nicer ones made of leather. Checking his work to make sure there were no imperfections, he donned them and got off the bed. He slipped the band onto his arm and activated the runes so that they showed him to be slim, but not skinny. His height matched Tonks' 5'9, and he had a little bit of meat on his bones, making him look healthy but slightly underweight. They headed downstairs, ignoring Vernon's purple face as he saw Tonks walking down with Harry. They had locked and charmed the door to admit only the two of them, so he wouldn't be able to open it and find out what was going on in the room.
They ambled down Privet Drive, chatting nonchalantly when Tonks said something that shook him hard.
As they crossed the street towards Wisteria Walk, Tonks said "Can you tell me why you have problems with Dumbledore? I've got my own problems with him, so you aren't alone on that count."
He nodded, and replied "Well, Tonks, it's like this…"
A/N: Right...this is the only chapter that has fluff in it. I doubt it will happen again, so apologies to any of you who were looking for more Independant!Harry in this Chapter.
Next chapter: The history of Dumbledore, as much as can be inferred from the books if one assumes that he's Manipulative!Dumbles. I'll need a week to finish it and get it beta'ed by Zero.