(Disclaimer: Harry Potter and any other characters from the Harry Potter series of books are not my characters, I just borrowed them for the purposes of this story. I don't plan to make any money with this story, and I don't want to print it either, except for personal backup purposes. The other characters however are mine, and I'll do with them as I please. Although I'm going to do that with JK's characters too I guess, but yeah, don't sue me.)

Harry awoke an hour later to a knock on his bedroom door.

"Harry, dinner will be ready in ten minutes so I suggest you go and clean yourself up! I saw the state of your hands earlier!" Aunt Petunia's voice said from the other side of the door.

"I'll be down shortly Aunt Petunia," said Harry as he looked down at his hands. Sure enough, his hands had a few ink splotches from writing his letter to Dumbledore earlier. Out of habit, Harry got up and headed towards the bathroom once he was sure that Aunt Petunia had gone downstairs.

Five minutes later saw a different boy leave the bathroom. Physically he looked the same, but on his face there was a look of contemplation and confusion that looked extremely out of place on a person that looked so young.

If my magic protects me, then why didn't those Death Eater's at the ministry get zapped? If my magic did that when I was younger, then I should have been able to stop them from killing Sirius...

The look on Harry's faced had changed dramatically with that thought, and so it was a very despondent Harry that sat down at the Dursley's dining table. Aunt Petunia gave him a sympathetic look as she placed a good sized portion of fish and chips under his nose.

"Eat up Harry, no matter what's going on inside that strange head of yours, you still need to eat."

"Strange indeed," muttered Uncle Vernon, from across the table. Harry guessed correctly that his Uncle hadn't meant to say that particular thought out loud, but decided that he'd rather know what they were truly thinking. He was fed up of being kept in the dark about things concerning him, and to hear his Uncle saying what was on his mind was actually quite refreshing for once, and instead of making him feel left out, the comment actually made Harry feel more normal. So many things had happened; so many things had changed... Dumbledore had been true to his word and had told him what he wanted to know, but Harry found that instead of explaining everything, only some things had been explained, and there were yet more questions he didn't know the answers to.

Once he'd started eating, Harry found that he was actually really hungry, and managed to finish his dinner not too long after Dudley.

"If you boys are still hungry, I could make you both a plate of sandwiches if you want?" offered Aunt Petunia. Dudley nodded eagerly, whereas Harry replied quietly with a polite, "That would be nice, thanks Aunt Petunia."

Aunt Petunia gave Harry an odd look before finishing her meal and disappearing into the kitchen. Uncle Vernon had finished not long after Harry, and was determinedly reading his newspaper.

Harry put his head on his hands and stared at his half empty glass of juice, trying to find the answers he was so desperately seeking. The problem was, he had no idea which question to ask himself first. It was as if his thoughts were swirling around in his brain, just like the juice in his glass.

Wait a minute!

Sure enough, when Harry looked at his glass, what juice was left was swirling round madly, steadily rising up the side of the glass, like a whirlpool. Harry did the only thing he could think of; he grabbed the glass of juice and gulped it down. He glanced up once he had finished, and was relieved to see that Uncle Vernon was still hidden behind his newspaper. Dudley however, looked slightly traumatised. Harry just shrugged his shoulders and mimed a fly making it's way into his mouth. Dudley's jaw snapped shut with an audible click. His eyes were still almost bulging out of their sockets, though.

"Here's your sandwiches boys, help yourselves. Is everything alright Dudley, you look like you've just seen a ghost?" Aunt Petunia put the sandwiches on the table then started fussing over Dudley, checking his forehead for signs of fever. Harry picked up a sandwich and rolled his eyes, making sure nobody was looking this time.

"Argh, Mum, get off me! Look, it's nothing ok, I just remembered there's another essay I have to do before school starts, and Piers has the books I need for it. That's all!" said Dudley indignantly, whilst batting away his mother's hand.

"Are you sure Dudley, you did look pretty shocked," said Aunt Petunia suspiciously, her arms folded across her chest.

"It's a big essay Mum, in fact I should probably go get those books now," replied Dudley, getting out of his seat and putting his trainers on.

"Don't be back later than nine Dudley, we're renting a film tonight, and HOW many times do I have to tell you to undo those laces instead of forcing your feet into them! That's how they get ruined!"

"Sorry Mum!"

Soon after that the front door slammed shut. Aunt Petunia grimaced, and went back to the kitchen, grumbling about how many times she'd told Dudley not to slam the doors too.

Harry managed to finish most of the sandwiches himself, and having already finished his juice, he quietly sneaked down from the table and upstairs to his room.

"Harry, would you like some more jui-" Aunt Petunia stopped herself mid sentence, once she realised that Harry was no longer at the table. She heard the faint click of his bedroom door closing, and once again retreated into the kitchen, this time muttering about how if it wasn't one banging around all the time, it was the other sneaking off all the time.

"Bugger him," said Uncle Vernon, and with that said, he returned to reading the finance section of his paper, and Aunt Petunia pretended she hadn't heard him.

Once safely inside his room, Harry once again brought out his quill, ink, and parchment, and sat down to write.

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

Thank you for explaining exactly why I have to put up with these people. I have lots of questions but I think most of the answers are fairly simple, I just need to process it all a bit more. One question that disturbs me the most though, is this: If my magic protects me from Death Eaters, then why couldn't I do more at the ministry? Shouldn't I have been able to save everyone?

I know that no matter what the answer is, it can't change anything, but from what I can tell, that blue dome with all the lightning would have been really handy. Do you know if there's any way I can call on it when it's needed, instead of just hoping it'll turn up before something really bad happens?

I don't really want to fry the Death Eaters, but at the same time, if it's self defence…it's not like I have much else at the moment.

Harry Potter

As soon as Harry had finished signing his name at the bottom of the letter, there was a brilliant orange flash, and Fawkes appeared in mid air this time, instead of on the bed. Harry promptly fell off his chair in surprise, knocking over his inkpot, and cracking his head off the corner of the desk before slumping to the floor, darkness slowly taking over his vision. Owww… That's going to leave one hell of a bump.

Petunia was in the kitchen, preparing that night's dessert, and fixing up some snacks for with the film they were going to watch that night. She'd included a few new unusual treats that she thought Harry might like, but not too many, in case Vernon thought it suspicious. At first, she was unhappy that Dumbledore had turned up, but thinking back on the conversation she had to admit that she felt a lot lighter than she had since the boy – no, Harry – was found on their doorstep all those years ago. The worst thing of all was coming to terms with the fact that in a lot of ways, she wished he was her own son.

Harry was polite, well behaved, quiet, and he didn't ask for much. Dudley was leader of a gang, threw tantrums like a spoilt child, overweight, and was as ungrateful for what he had as Harry was grateful. She also knew from his earlier school grades that Harry was extremely intelligent, good at art and music, but because of Vernon he had made himself seem below average, so as not to outclass Dudley. It was a shame in many ways. Petunia remembered once when Harry came home from school, when he was about six years old, with the most beautiful picture she had ever seen. It was a picture of Lily; her face showed nothing but defiance, and her eyes… those eyes. They had sparkled with an inner fire all of their own. She looked like she was defending someone, as her hair had always had the annoying habit of gaining a life of it's own in those situations. The ends would float, as if there was a static charge in the air… Harry's drawing had captured the moment perfectly. When she had looked down at the little boy, he had simply stated that this was his angel and that Aunt Petunia could keep it, and maybe his angel would guard her too. He'd crawled into his cupboard and been quiet as a mouse until Vernon got home. Vernon had noticed that she'd been crying, and he'd seen the picture that Harry had drawn. He'd gone to the cupboard, and ripped up the picture in front of the b… Harry's… face, and thrown the pieces at him. Petunia remembered hearing little sniffs every time she'd walked past the cupboard for the rest of the night, and when Harry was asleep, she'd gone in and rescued the pieces, and she still had them in a box somewhere. Needless to say, he'd never come back from school with another picture again.

She'd just put the apple pie in the oven when she heard a crash and a thud from upstairs, and then silence. Vernon was outside talking to someone across the street about their new car or something, so Petunia grabbed the sharpest knife she could find, and quietly made her way upstairs. There was scuffling behind Harry's door, and mustering every ounce of courage she possessed, she slowly pushed the door open, and gaped at the sight in front of her.

Dumbledore's bird was carrying Harry through the air, he was unconscious, and there was a nasty looking bump on the side of his head. There was blood on the corner of his desk, and on the floor next to it, and Harry's hair was also shining with fresh blood.

Petunia stood in the doorway, and watched as Fawkes laid Harry down on the bed, and then cried tears into his wound. The bird then started hopping about in an anxious manner, all the while staring at Harry. Petunia was still speechless at this point, and she watched as Fawkes started to glow, and then cried tears into Harry's open mouth. Petunia took a step into the room, and then stopped again as Harry also started to glow golden, and she could hear a faint song that lifted her spirits, and she felt happier than she had in a long time. Fawkes joined in with the song, and as the song got louder, the glow around Harry intensified. Petunia slumped to a sitting position on the floor, knife lying forgotten by her side, and watched as Harry opened his eyes and sat up. His eyes were silver, and the golden glow had reduced to a mist that surrounded the boy, as if protecting him. The lump on his head was gone, and he looked healthier than she had ever seen him. Petunia was beyond words and could do nothing but sit and watch. It was at this time that the silver-eyed Harry noticed that she was in the room, and very slowly, Petunia stood up from the floor, knife in hand. In the blink of an eye, Petunia remembered nothing of the events that had taken place. Harry was once again green eyed, and the mist was gone. Fawkes was sitting next to Harry, also back to normal.

"I heard a noise from downstairs, is everything alright? It sounded like you fell."

"I'm alright Aunt Petunia, Fawkes arrived and gave me a shock, I remember falling off my chair and banging my head, but it feels fine… Fawkes must have healed me. Thanks Fawkes!" said Harry. The phoenix bobbed his head, and Harry stroked his feathers.

"How could err… Fawkes, have healed you?" asked Aunt Petunia curiously.

"Fawkes is a phoenix Aunt Petunia, he has healing tears. He's already saved my life once when I got a basilisk fang stuck in my arm. Honestly, I'm alright," replied Harry, rubbing his head.

"Alright then Harry. I'll let you know when we put the film on."

Aunt Petunia turned and left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

"Thanks again Fawkes, I don't feel a thing. By the way, why are you here?" asked Harry curiously.

Fawkes hopped onto Harry's desk and stared pointedly at the letter Harry had just finished writing.

"Oh yeah! How could I forget… must have been some bump eh?"

Harry got up and walked towards his desk, where he noticed the blood that had run down his desk a bit, and the pool on the floor.

"Wow… with the amount of blood here, I'm surprised I still know my own name." It was then that he noticed that some of his hair was clumped together, so Harry decided it would be best to let Fawkes go on his way, and clean up the mess.

"You came as soon as I'd finished writing my name at the bottom… I knew you were smart, but now I know you're a lot smarter than people give you credit for."

Fawkes puffed out his chest proudly, and showed off the feathers on his crown to a laughing Harry.

"Keep going like that, and your ego will stop you from flying!" Harry said jokingly. Fawkes deflated a bit and looked at Harry indignantly.

"Anyway, I need to get all this cleaned up, and have a shower before I get called downstairs. Thanks for scaring me then fixing the damage my friend." At this, Fawkes looked apologetic, and shuffled around a bit. "Oh and of course, thank you for taking my question to Professor Dumbledore, he's probably worried about where you've gone," as he finished speaking, Harry put his letter into an envelope and addressed it.

"Not that you need an address of course, but I like doing it anyway. Reminds me how lucky I am to have people to write to!"

Fawkes took the letter in his talons, and disappeared with a wink and a burst of orange flames.

By the time Harry had finished showering and cleaning the mess in his room, it was almost time to go downstairs. He was just pulling a comb through his hair when there was a tap tap tap on his bedroom door. Harry burst out laughing as soon as he saw who it was.

"Fawkes! I must say your manners have improved dramatically since the last time I saw you," said Harry. "Do come in sir!" he added in a false posh accent.

"Fawkes tittered and perched himself on the end of Harry's bed, having already dropped his scroll on the desk on his way past. Harry was still laughing as he picked up the scroll that Dumbledore had sent him, which was tied with red and gold ribbons.

Dear Harry,

Enclosed you will find a portkey, set to activate at precisely ten o'clock tomorrow morning. I find that we'll benefit from not having any of your family around to, shall we say, complicate matters. I also have a few questions to ask of you, and in return I will do my best to answer any queries that you may put forth. There is also another matter that I need to discuss with you, and I'd rather you destroyed my office rather than your relative's home.

Yours sincerely,

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards

Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot

Order of Merlin First Class

Grand Sorcerer

P.S. Please excuse the fancy signature, I've just noticed I'm using the wrong quill. This one is charmed to fill in all of my titles automatically after I write my name…courtesy of the Ministry of course… quite annoying really. See you tomorrow Harry!

Harry was intrigued to say the least. The part about him destroying Dumbledore's office again filled him with a sense of dread - the last time that had happened, his world had been turned upside down, not once, but twice in the same night. Harry didn't have time to think on the contents of his letter from Dumbledore however, as Aunt Petunia shouted him down to watch the film.

When Harry went downstairs, he saw that Uncle Vernon was sitting in his usual armchair, Aunt Petunia was sitting in the other armchair, and Dudley was taking up the entire sofa, so Harry settled on the floor with his back to the side furthest away from Dudley's head, but unfortunately right next to his feet. If smelly feet are bad, then fat person's smelly feet are ten times worse. There I thought Seamus had the smelliest feet. A few more minutes of this, and I might just pass out. Sure enough, after a few minutes, Harry decided that moving would be his best option, and so he sat in front of Aunt Petunia's chair instead.

"What are you doing boy, err, Harry?"

"Sorry Uncle Vernon but Dudley's feet smell really bad, so I moved away."

Aunt Petunia took a deep sniff, twisted her face, and then took a smaller sniff.

"Harry's right Vernon. Dudley, go and change your socks please, that's just foul."

Red faced, Dudley left the room and returned a few minutes later, this time with fresh socks, and stinking of aftershave instead. He again settled on the sofa, and Aunt Petunia put the film on.

Harry glanced at the case which said it was called Men In Black, which turned out to be brilliant in Harry's opinion. He'd have to tell Hermione to watch it when she got back from her holiday. He particularly liked the bit where most people didn't know another world existed; it was like the wizarding world, witches and wizards moved among muggles, aliens moved among humans.

Harry went to sleep that night feeling a little more welcome among those he loathed to call his relatives.

The next day dawned, and brought with it floods of rain. As a particularly loud clap of thunder tore across the sky, Harry sat bolt upright in his bed, and his eyes darted to the open window. Hedwig was absent from her cage, and upon seeing the weather outside he grew worried for her safety. A glance at the clock told Harry that it was still early, and that not many people would be awake unless they too had been woken up by the thunder.

Harry padded barefoot across to his bedroom window, and poked his head out into the rain to see if he could see Hedwig in any of the surrounding trees. He couldn't see her anywhere, so he gave a short whistle, which would usually bring her out of hiding if she was nearby. Nothing. Ah well, she's probably found a nice cubby hole to wait out the storm, at least I hope so, it's not like I can do anything anyway.

Harry tried to go back to sleep, but with the thunder and his worry over Hedwig, it was a futile attempt. Instead, he got up and decided he would read some more of his potions book. He was about half way through now, and already he understood a bit more about the subject and felt that he'd do reasonably better when school started again. Harry was beginning to see why Hermione read so many books, they were informative and made things easier to understand... but wiw what a headache.

Harry studied through his Uncle leaving for work. He also studied through Dudley getting up, and going out for the day to cause chaos with his friends. In fact, it wasn't until nine that Harry lifted his nose out of the potions book, and then decided it was time to go downstairs.

The truth of the matter was that Harry had decided he was going to ask Aunt Petunia if it would be ok for him to have an A4 muggle notebook and a pen. He'd realised that the textbook was actually a better teacher than Snape, and that it would be beneficial to take notes. However, he was low on parchment until he got the chance to go to Diagon Alley, and he preferred muggle stationary to keep his notes together, rather than having lots of scrolls of parchment everywhere. The last time he had actually asked the Dursleys for anything, he'd been shut in his cupboard for a week with nothing but bread and water. It had been a pretty miserable week. Harry knew that he's probably get the notepad, but part of him was afraid of asking, in case the Dursleys started treating him badly again. Harry looked down at the new clothes he was wearing, and tried to tell himself that he really didn't have anything to worry about.

Aunt Petunia was sitting in the living room watching a decorating program, when Harry appeared in the doorway, fidgeting nervously with the bottom of his t-shirt.

"Aunt Petunia, I was just wondering if it would be alright to have an A4 notebook, to take notes for school. I'm running low on parchment."

"Yes, I don't see why not, I'll get you one when I'm in town today, I have to go and pick up a few things for dinner anyway. Help yourself to some cereal from the kitchen, and some orange juice too."

Harry smiled slightly, and left to make himself some breakfast. Still weird. When he looked out of the window and into the back garden, he remembered that he still had Shara's live mouse upstairs in his room, so he quickly ran back upstairs to retrieve it. He also grabbed his jacket to hide the box.. His Aunt gave him a strange look, but he just shrugged and carried on making his breakfast. Once he was done, he carried his bowl, glass and jacket over to the back door, and then paused.

"I'm just going to eat outside since the rain's stopped Aunt Petunia. I have to go and see Professor Dumbledore at ten, but he sent a portkey so I'll just leave from my room." After all, she is being nicer. I should too.

"That's fine Harry, just watch your time," Aunt Petunia answered.

Harry made his way down to the bottom of the garden, keeping a sharp eye on the bushes in the corner. He sat on a rock that was relatively dry. He'd sneaked some cornflakes into the box that the mouse was in, and judging by the crunching from Harry's left pocket, the mouse was enjoying the treat.

"Shara?"

"Harry!" came the reply. It sounded as though Shara was at the back of the bush, and judging by the rain that morning, it was the smartest place to be.

"Harry! Ah there you are. I was just about to move... my bush is soggy."

"In that case I'm glad I came to see you. I brought your mouse too."

Shara slithered out of her hidey hole and started playing at Harry's feet, winding her way around his legs, all the while singing about her new 'mousey' and about how grateful she was, and how tasty it would be.

"Mousey mousey come to me, a tasty meal you shall be, if you're fast, or if you're slow, I'll gobble you up, and swallow you whole!"

"I have a suggestion for a rhyme Shara," said Harry, eyes twinkling as he laughed.

"Ooh, I'm always looking for new rhymes. What is it?" Shara had stopped her dance and was now curled up, with her head tilted towards Harry in curiosity.

"How about this; mice, mice, they taste so nice, sweet or sour, with a side of rice!"

"Sweet and sour, with a side of… rice?" repeated Shara, slowly and carefully.

Harry creased up with laughter, while Shara looked on with confusion.

"I don't understand Harry, what is so funny?"

Harry stopped laughing as he realised the difficulties in explaining his rhyme to a garden snake.

"Sweet and sour are different tastes that humans experience, and rice is a food that humans eat, I'm sorry, I should have thought about that."

"Never mind Harry, you will get better. Now about this mouse!"

Harry set the mouse free on the ground and watched as it tentatively took a few steps on the grass.

"One... two... three... I'm coming to get you little mousey!"

As soon as the mouse saw Shara, it took off down the garden with a green streak following after it. It didn't take long for Shara to catch the mouse, and she did indeed swallow it whole. Harry decided that it was both a gruesome and fascinating sight.

"Shara, I have to go soon, I have to go and see Professor Dumbledore at Hogwarts. He sent me a portkey set for ten o'clock. You remember Professor Dumbledore right?"

"Yes of course I do, he's the headmaster of Hogwarts."

Just then, Hedwig flew down from behind a nearby tree and settled on Harry's shoulder.

"Oh good Hedwig, you're safe. I was worried about you, that was one nasty storm." Hedwig gave an indignant hoot, and ruffled her feathers, as if the mere thought of anything happening to her was ridiculous.

"Hedwig, this is Shara, she's my new friend that I told you about. She said thanks for the mice! Shara, this is Hedwig my owl. She's really smart, she brought those extra mice for you."

"Hello Hedwig, those mice were tasty. Were they field mice? They had that unique taste... tasty, tasty mice!"

"Hoot," and a bob of the head.

"I thought so! You clever owl! I like you."

Harry stared at Hedwig in amazement, he never knew that she could understand parseltongue. Then again, the more intelligent post owls were known to understand many languages, or else how could they understand instructions? Shara's hissing drew Harry from his thoughts.

"Harry."

"Yes Shara?"

"You smell different. Still my Harry, just different. Nicer."

"Thanks Shara, I'll make sure I shower more often!" said Harry, laughing.

"Could I come to Hogwarts with you today? I want to see what it is like."

Harry thought for a minute. It would be better if he asked the headmaster about Shara staying there first, instead of having to sneak to see her all the time. He was sure that the old professor wouldn't mind, after all Shara was harmless. Harry had come up with a plan too, and the headmaster should at least know about that. He didn't really want to involve Professor Dumbledore, but knew that for his plan to work as effectively as possible, he needed the old man's help. That didn't mean that Harry fully trusted him. It would take a huge act of faith on Dumbledore's part to restore the trust that he had previously held for him.

"Yes Shara, you can come. It's time for us to go, so can you curl up in my jacket so that my Aunt Petunia won't see you please?"

"Ok Harry."

With Hedwig on his shoulder, and Shara wrapped in his jacket, Harry made his way back upstairs and into his room, explaining on the way to his Aunt Petunia that he had to go now and that he thought bringing Hedwig in would be better than her flying round the house to get to his window. Aunt Petunia shouted goodbye up the stairs and then returned to whatever she had been doing before. Harry looked at his cracked alarm clock and saw that there were only two minutes left until the portkey activated so he grabbed it from his desk, made sure that Shara was ok, and waited. Soon he felt the horrible sensation of the portkey activating, and he closed his eyes until he landed painfully on his back in the middle of Dumbledore's office.

"Owww"

"Are you alright Harry? Gave me quite the scare, just then."

Harry opened his eyes to see Dumbledore bending down next to him, and peering at him over his half-moon glasses.

"Yes sir, I'm fine," Harry replied wearily, but Dumbledore didn't notice as his attention had been caught by a small green snake that seemed to be annoyed at Harry for some reason.

"How could you do that to me Harry, you said it was 'just a portkey'! You could have told me before almost squashing me! Terrible thing to do to a friend. Almost made my skin shed early! Look, it's even started to flake. Now I look dirty!"

Harry glanced at Dumbledore, who was waiting patiently to see what Harry would do. Meanwhile, Shara had gotten herself more comfortable on Harry's chest, and was mercilessly berating Harry for his neglect.

"Shara, wait! I wasn't supposed to land on my back, I was supposed to arrive standing up. This was the only way for you to come to Hogwarts today, I didn't mean to hurt you in any way."

"Oh Harry I understand, I don't like telling anyone about the things I'm bad at either. That doesn't solve my skin problem though!"

"Shara, this is Professor Dumbledore. Professor, this is my friend Shara. I met her at the bottom of my Aunt's garden."

Dumbledore looked on in astonishment as Shara slithered off Harry, curled up next to the boy and then looked straight into his own eyes.

"Well this was unexpected! Hello Shara. Welcome to Hogwarts!"

To Harry's amusement, Shara bowed her head towards Dumbledore, and then turned round and looked at Harry as the old wizard collected himself.

"For goodness sake Harry, get up off the floor, and closer to that fire over there! I can feel the heat from heeeeeerrrreee!" Shara was doing a strange dance with her head that made Harry laugh.

"What did she say Harry? Fascinating…"

"Sir, she was just telling me to get up off the floor and move closer to the fire. I think she likes the look of your rug."

"By all means, tell her to make herself comfortable. I'd rather Shara used that area than Fudge; that's where he usually takes up residence."

"Professor Dumbledore doesn't mind if you curl up on that rug next to the fire, I have to talk to him anyway, so just come over when you've had enough, alright?"

There was no reply, for as soon as Shara understood that it would be ok, she was off towards the fire, and curled up before Harry had even finished speaking.

"Come along Harry, there is much to discuss, as I told you in my letter last night. About that quill; when I went to see Fudge about the support department for families of muggleborns, or magical children placed with muggles, I was given this quill while I was waiting, and told in no uncertain terms that nothing would be done until Voldemort was dead, because Fudge didn't want to create another reason for the ministry building to be targeted. No Harry... wait, hear me out now - I suspect that in this instance, Fudge may be correct, but for the wrong reasons.

"The wizarding world is not ready for such a department at this time. I fear that creating such a department would segregate the community further, instead of bringing it together. Many neutral families would have to choose a side, they would either support Voldemort by condemning the decision, or they would be targeted by Voldemort for either supporting the decision, or standing by and letting it happen. Such a step can only be taken when Voldemort is dead, and the people of our world can speak freely of their beliefs without fear of reprisal of the most horrible form. Also remember that this break will give Miss Granger a chance to finish school and plan it all in that brilliant mind of hers. After all, she is muggleborn herself and would therefore know what is needed."

"I think we'd have trouble keeping her away sir," Harry said with a smile. He understood what Professor Dumbledore was saying, and could see how there may be problems. Harry was disappointed, but tried not to let it show.

"Now, on to other matters. There are two things that I brought you here to discuss today. Would you like to ask your questions before, or afterwards?"

"Could I possibly ask them beforehand? There aren't many, but there are two main ones," said Harry, surprised at the difference in how he was being treated. He actually felt that he was helping in some way by being more involved like this. Harry decided he'd made the right decision about coming to the headmaster with his plan first. "I also have a plan that involves my newest friend that I think you will approve of, and I'm the only person that can do it," he added, with a significant glance to where Shara was sleeping soundly in front of the fire.

"I would indeed be very interested as to why your new friend arrived with you," replied Dumbledore. "Now," he continued, steepling his fingers. "What were the questions you wanted to ask?"

"My main question is the one I asked in my letter to you; if my magic protects against Death Eaters, then why didn't it help me at the ministry?" Harry leaned forward in his seat, as he really wanted the answer to this question.

"Harry, you must understand that I do not have the answer to everything, especially concerning your… shall we say, unique, link with magic. Everything I have told you so far concerning your magic has been speculation on what probably happened. I do, however, have a theory as to why your magic hasn't stepped in on your behalf more frequently. Magic was seen as something to be ashamed of in the Dursley household if I'm not mistaken. When you were younger, you didn't understand this, and therefore your magic manifested itself when it felt that you were in danger. As you grew older, accidental magic occurred less frequently, am I correct?" Harry nodded, listening intently.

"This may be because your magic sensed that it was causing you trouble. Therefore, it may have blocked itself. The only way to check this is for you to learn Occlumency, which would teach you not only how to block your mind from Voldemort, but it would also teach you how to organise your mind, and help you with power control, as you would be able to sense your magical centre. Also, it would allow you to see things the have come to past in a more... subjective light."

Harry guiltily looked down at his feet at the mention of Occlumency.

"As we have already discussed, I was just as much at fault. If you'd have known why you were being taught, you might have wanted to learn quicker, but that is neither here nor there. What is done is done, Harry. Always remember that. You cannot change the past, but the future is ours to do with as we wish. That is why I shall take the time to teach you Occlumency myself, instead of entrusting the task to Professor Snape. I had rather hoped that he could overcome his animosity long enough for him to realise that you are not your father, but alas…" Dumbledore shook his head sadly, and Harry realised that underneath the powerful and omnipotent exterior, there was a normal old man underneath. His childlike vision of Dumbledore was just that, childlike. Harry couldn't blame Dumbledore for making mistakes, he'd made plenty of his own and people understood that mistakes are a part of life, and instead of judging him for it, they were helping him overcome those mistakes.

"Thanks for teaching me Professor, I know you're awfully busy, but to be honest it's probably better this way. I like Professor Snape just as much as he likes me, to say the least."

"We'll see Harry. Sometimes it is our need to prove ourselves to our enemies that furthers our minds the most, but you will understand that one day I'm sure."

"I already understand that sir, but I find that the advancements made in anger or spite are often the worst ones to make," said Harry. Dumbledore removed his glasses and looked at Harry speculatively.

"You know Harry, you never cease to amaze, and coming from a very old man – no, I'm not telling you how old – that is a rare thing. Your perception of the world has changed a lot, and for the better I would say. Children tend to live in fantasy, and forget that the world that they will grow into is vastly different from what they have been shown. I believe you had another question? There are still a couple of unpleasant matters to discuss, but you have been forewarned. Tea is in order, don't you think? Sherbet Lemon?"

"Er, yes please and no thank you, I wouldn't want you to tear your robes again on my account, sir. Although that was funny." Dumbledore chuckled.

"I have to admit, it was a lot funnier when I reviewed the days events last night. Embarrassing at the time though." Harry and Dumbledore both laughed.

"Professor, I was going to ask if you knew how I could call on the lightning, but I think now I should ask if there's anything I should do before school starts, to help with learning Occlumency. The next time I'm in that sort of situation I'd like to be able to control it, and from what you've said, Occlumency is the only thing that can help," asked Harry nervously. He hoped that Professor Dumbledore could tell him more than 'clear your mind'. Harry still hadn't gotten around to sending off his owl order since there had been so many other letters, and he didn't want to tire Hedwig out.

"Quite right Harry, I'm glad that you're taking this discussion seriously, and thinking things through as we talk. The main 'trick' shall we say, is to think of something that calms you, something that you can identify with, that feels like no other feeling, and then lose yourself in that feeling. That is the most basic form of Occlumency, and it allows your mind to relax. By continually bringing your mind to that state of relaxation, it opens up other channels that help you to meditate properly and then you can start building your defences, which will hopefully keep Voldemort at bay, or at least reduce the effects of your connection to him. What's the matter Harry?" Harry's face had gone from understanding to anger and back again throughout Dumbledore's explanation.

"Snape-"

"Professor Snape, Harry."

"Sorry sir. Professor Snape didn't tell me any of that, all he told me was 'clear your mind' and then he attacked it. If anything my head felt worse afterwards, and I could never concentrate properly the next day." Dumbledore's eyes had lost their trademark sparkle, and he seemed to age a few years as he gave a heavy sigh.

"Oh Harry, I wish you had told me. Although, I didn't really give you much of a chance to... If I had known how your mind was being treated I would have ceased those lessons straight away, and I would have started teaching you myself, no matter what the dangers may have been. As we now know, it is a lot more dangerous for you not to know Occlumency, and if Voldemort tries to use you to attack me, rest assured I will only stun you. Do not forget that help is always near, now more than ever. I thought I would be doing both yourself and Professor Snape a favour by pairing you up, but it seems that his animosity runs a lot deeper than I thought... stubborn, that one. I remember Madame Pomfrey had to chain him to one of the beds once... ahem, but I digress. Find that feeling that I spoke of, and lose yourself in it every night before you sleep and if you have a spare hour during the day. I know that seems like a long time, but time flies when you're having fun!"

"Yes sir. I've marked down a book that Hermione recommended, by Proctus Penwright, but I haven't had the chance to send the order. If I send it tomorrow I should have the book by Wednesday, and I'll read that."

"It is indeed a good read Harry, if I remember correctly it gives a fascinating insight on how the magical mind works."

"Are magical minds different from muggle minds then?"

"Oh yes, a witch or wizard's mind is very complex indeed compared to a muggle, as their innate magic is interwoven into their neural pathways, which is why some witches and wizards have abilities that others don't."

"I think I understand sir. Would that mean that the failed killing curse from Voldemort changed some of the magical aspects of my brain, so that I inherited his parseltongue ability? Oh, and is that why potions can be used to tell whether or not someone is an animagus?"

"Precisely, on both counts Harry..." Dumbledore slowly stood up from his chair, and walked around his desk. He gestured for Harry to stand, and scrutinised him before speaking.

"Harry, is there something you wish to tell me?" Dumbledore was watching Harry closely, which made him feel more than a little nervous.

"No sir, but I'm guessing you have something in mind."

"Since I saw you last, you've grown taller and you look a lot healthier if I do say so myself. Your understanding has also improved dramatically... Now what could have brought on those changes?..."

"To be honest, I hadn't noticed any of that sir. I have no idea."

Just then, there was a tap tap tap on the door to Dumbledore's office.

"Do excuse me Harry, I'm not expecting anyone so I'm not sure who this could be, but hopefully whatever it is, it wont take long."

Harry thought he recognised that tapping sound from somewhere, but couldn't remember when or what it was.

Dumbledore walked the short distance to his office door, glancing over in Shara's direction briefly. The little snake was staring at the door, flicking her tongue in an alert manner. When Dumbledore opened it, he was shocked to see none other than his own pet phoenix staring back at him! He was even more shocked when Harry suddenly burst out laughing, almost gasping for breath as he tried to speak.

"Sorry sir, that's my fault, Fawkes surprised me yesterday and I fell off my chair. I banged my head pretty badly but I'm alright, Fawkes healed me straight away. After that he started tapping on my bedroom door instead! I didn't think he'd do it wherever I went!" Harry started laughing properly again, until he was brought to his senses by Shara slithering up his leg."

"Harry we need to speak."

"Professor, would you mind if I talked to Shara? She says she needs to speak to me."

"No, no, go ahead Harry..." replied Dumbledore distantly, watching bemusedly as Fawkes settled himself amongst some ministry papers he had been putting off reading, and started staring at Harry.

"What's the matter Shara?"

"Harry, you smell like the firebird."

"Well, Fawkes did heal me yesterday, so maybe that's what you're smelling."

"No Harry, that's not it. He did more than heal you yesterday."

"What do you mean? I don't understand."

Shara slithered down onto the floor, then up onto the desk, until she was a couple of feet from Fawkes. She then flicked her tongue a few times, and turned to Harry.

"Harry, from what I can smell, Fawkes is your brother."

Harry looked towards Dumbledore, and the shock must have shown on his face, as Dumbledore immediately strode towards Harry.

"What is it Harry?"

"Sir, I think all four of us should sit down and try to figure this out," replied Harry slowly, as he looked at Fawkes.

Dumbledore took the seat behind his desk, and Harry sat down in the chair he had previously occupied. Shara slithered onto his lap, and Fawkes hopped onto a clearer part of the desk with his head bowed. Harry spoke first.

"Sir, Shara has just informed me that I smell like Fawkes, and that I smell like his brother. I'm not quite sure what to think. I know that Fawkes healed me yesterday because there was blood around where the cut used to be, but no pain, and no cut. I was knocked out though."

Dumbledore was gobsmacked. He stuttered, and then raised his hands, palms upwards, and sat back in his chair. He was truly at a loss, for the first time that century.

/Gentlemen, if you would let me explain... Your confusion is so great, that it is beginning to cause a noticable ache./

Harry and Dumbledore both looked at each other with matching expressions of confusion.

/Ouch./

(A/N: Sorry about the long wait, we're moving at the end of the month and my little boy was ill so I haven't had much time to write and edit this chapter. By the looks of things, this is going to be one very long fic!)