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Early the next morning…

Harry had woken up unusually early that particular Friday morning. To his reasoning it was for one of two reasons. It was either the fact that classes had been canceled or it was because William was still with them in the castle. Whatever reason it was did not help Harry get back to sleep.

At around 9 am Harry decided, after failing to fall back to sleep for nearly two hours, that he should get out of bed and start his day. He was half tempted to wake Ron up also but decided to let him sleep in on their day off. After putting on his regular clothes and shoes, Harry made his way down to the common room to wait for his friends to get up. To occupy some time he pulled out the Marauder’s Map and started to see who was out and about in the castle.

Harry’s scanning of the map revealed numerous people already up and starting their day. The dot labeled Argus Filch was making his usually rounds through the hallways and was followed another dot labeled Mrs. Norris. The labels that caught his attention the most was a large contingent of teachers surrounding the Quidditch pitch. Most of the staff he knew was out there and to Harry’s best guess were making preparations for William’s test.

Lastly he checked the Room of Requirement hoping that William was still there. As his eyes shifted toward the opposite edge of the paper he caught the still slightly asleep form of Ginny coming down the stairs. Upon seeing Harry, she sat down on the couch beside him and looked on the map with him.

“What are you looking at?” asked Ginny as she rubbed her eyes trying to adjust to the light.

“Not much. Just checking to see what William is doing.” replied Harry pointing to the spot on the map.

“He really is something isn’t he?” exclaimed Ginny almost too excitedly to Harry’s opinion.

“Yeah he is. There’s something familiar about him. Something I can’t put my finger on.”

“Whatever it is I’m sure we’ll find out tomorrow.” Ginny to was thinking about the task at hand and the challenge William was up against.

As she was thinking this over, Ron and Hermione walked down the stairs holding hands each adorning a big smile. They were both unusually awake for this hour and made Harry and Ginny instantly wonder what exactly they were doing up so early. Although they would never admit it, both of them were instantly awake after a passionate snogging session on the steps before they had entered the common room.

“So what’s the plan then?” asked Ron as he sat down alongside Hermione on a love seat across from Harry and Ginny.

“Well I was just thinking that over myself.” replied Harry. “I thought maybe we could have some breakfast and then head into Hogsmeade for the day. Whatever sounds good to you guys, I’m open to anything.”

“What about William?” asked Hermione. “Shouldn’t we see what he’s doing today? After all it would be polite.” Hermione had thought about William a lot in the past few days. Just like Ginny and the others, she knew there was something about him that was simply captivating.

“I guess that would be okay.” answered Harry. “We can go now seeing as how all of us are awake. William is still in the Room of Requirement, so we should be able to find him pretty easily.” said Harry showing his dot on the map. After seeing it they headed out to start their day.

The hallways were eerily quiet for that hour. Normally students would be going back and forth to classes or just talking amongst friends. To the group’s best guess they figured everyone was still in bed enjoying their day off.

Upon coming to the wall of the room, the door slowly appeared before them once again. The room remained the same as it had been the night before with a few exceptions. The once roaring fire in under the fireplace was now reduced to dying embers and the trunks he had brought with him were now opened and revealed their numerous contents, most of which included clothes and books. One particular trunk was still closed. William however was still in his bed sound asleep.

As they group moved closer to the bed they noticed the strewn sheets that had accumulated on the floor beside. It looked as if William had been tossing and turning all night and the sheets were caught in the cross fire.

“Should we wake him?” asked Ron. If there was one thing that Ron was sure of it was that if someone’s enjoying their sleep let them have it.

“I don’t see how it can hurt.” exclaimed Ginny as she slowly sat on the bed. “Time to wake up William.” whispered Ginny as she lightly nudged him on the shoulder.

William, having slightly woken from the whisper, rolled over onto his back and groggily answered, “Five more minutes Mum.”

“I guess he’s still dreaming!” laughed Ron as he saw the humor in this situation. He too had a similar incident over the summer after Hermione had tried to wake him up. They had been up most of the night making love and Ron, who was still in a euphoric dream-like state, said the same thing. Hermione had explained the story to Harry and Ginny leaving out the illicit details and they too saw the humor and quickly guessed William was still dreaming.

As William continued to stir in his bed, he scratched his stomach pulling the shirt he had worn up several inches. The group’s laughter was soon cut short upon seeing several scars on his stomach. By the looks of it, they seemed guess something had clawed at his stomach resulting in the terrible scars.

After the laughter was cut short William instantly woke realizing he had company. When he noticed their eyes were on his stomach he pulled his shirt down quickly. “Good morning to you all.” said William trying to divert away from the marks on his torso.

The quickness of his greeting told all of them that he knew what they had seen and what to change the topic. “Good morning William!” greeted Harry being the first one to realize they might have intruded. “We’re sorry to wake you but we wanted to know what you had planned for the day. We thought maybe you wanted to come with us to Hogsmeade.”

William was very happy that someone had cared to ask him but declined having considered what was to transpire very soon. “No I can’t. I’m sorry but I have to train and work out today. You know prepare for the test?” said William hoping they would realize what McGonagall had said the night before.

“Oh right!” Harry exclaimed remembering the situation. “Then would you like us to bring you back anything?” Harry knew that Hogsmeade had something that everyone liked; he himself loved the candy from Honeydukes. If William couldn’t go to Hogsmeade then they could at least bring something back for him.

William too loved Hogsmeade. In his time spent in the village he had tried almost every piece of candy in Honeydukes. His most favorites were Chocolate Frogs and Licorice Wands. The jokes from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes were alone worth the trip. After realizing the fact that the shop would not open in Hogsmeade for another year or so prompted William to just ask for candy.

William walked over to the closed trunk and opened in very quickly after saying “Alohomora” while pointing his wand at the lock. After rummaging through it for a few seconds he stood up holding a small coin purse. The group thought that he must want something very cheap if the money is coming from a purse that size. They again stood in awe as he inserted his whole arm up to his elbow into the bag. When he pulled it out his fist was clutched around many galleons.

“Some butterbeers would be great if you could get some. I also would love some candy from Honeydukes. Anything chocolate will do but could you also get a liquorice wand. Those are my favorite.” said William holding out the galleons for Harry.

“Mine too, but I think this is too much for some candy William.” exclaimed Harry as he looked over the money.

“Keep the rest then, I don’t care. Have a good time on me.” replied William not caring about the money.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?” asked Harry. The generosity William showed toward them should be acknowledged in some way he thought.

“Yeah really!” chimed in Ron. “You should come with us. We’ll have a great time.”

“Come on it’ll be fun.” added Ginny.

“Yeah, you can train later.” Hermione exclaimed. She also wanted William to come. Not because they owed it to him but because she didn’t want him to be alone all day.

“I can’t.” replied William trying to not think about their pleas. “I need to train for most of the day. As fun as I know it will be I don’t think a visit to Hogsmeade will help much in defeating a dragon. Just please go and have a good time.”

After hearing the reason in William’s thinking they realized what he was saying was true. He had to prepare himself for a great challenge. Harry most especially knew what kind of fear William must have. He was the same way when he had to face the Horntail and the thoughts of that battle still frightened him.

“Are you sure? It makes us sad to see you alone like this.” said Harry in a most sincere tone. He knew he was speaking for the whole group because they were wearing the same gloomy expression he had.

“I’ll be fine, besides I’m getting a little tired of all the stares and side conversations. And I don’t think it would liven up the mood for everyone else in town if I showed up. Trust me, its better this way.” Harry and the others had noticed this to. Anyone could go mad with the constant thought of others talking about them. Harry could only wonder how he was still sane after living most of his life like that. “Don’t worry about me. Just promise me you’ll try and have fun today.”

“What are you going to do all day?” asked Ginny.

“Well I was thinking about getting another hour of sleep then I thought I’d go work out in the forest. I have to get sharp for tomorrow.”

“I guess we should leave you then. See you later William.” said Harry as he and the others excused themselves from the room. Breakfast was looking better by the minute when Harry tried not to think about William being alone.

When they arrived in the Great Hall the usual amount of students was at about half of its usual capacity. Deciding they had better get a move on before Hogsmeade became overrun by students; the group chose to eat rather quickly. Halfway through breakfast Kingsley came over from the teacher’s table and bid them a good morning.

“Where is Professor McGonagall, Kingsley? You two are usually joined at the hip!” exclaimed Hermione.

“Oh, she’s off with the other teachers at the Quidditch pitch putting up spells and protective barriers for William’s test tomorrow. Speaking of which, how is William making out in Gryffindor Tower?”

“He’s not.” said Ron in a rather annoyed voice.

“What do you mean?” asked Kingsley having no idea what they were talking about.

“Some of the other Gryffindors, I’m not going to say who, decided William was unsafe to be around.” answered Ron making the air quotes when the word ‘unsafe’ was mentioned. “They kicked him out and now he’s staying in the Room of Requirement.”

“We saw him this morning and he’s fine. If you want to see him he should be up in another hour.” reassured Ginny. She mentally beat herself up after realizing the duel meaning of what ‘fine’ could mean.

“I think I’ll do that then. You had better get a move on before the village gets crowded.” warned Kingsley who knew full well just how crazy Hogsmeade could get.

After hearing this, the group promptly left their seats and made their way to the doors of the Great Hall. “See you later Kingsley.” waved Harry as he left the Great Hall.

An hour later…

Kingsley Shacklebolt had been waiting outside the Room of Requirement for nearly twenty minutes. There was one particular question that had been eating away at his mind for nearly a day and he needed William to answer it. As if his wish was granted, the doors started to appear.

William walked out of the room in regular clothes for the first time during his stay. His outfit consisted of a scarlet and gold Gryffindor hooded sweatshirt and black workout pants. He was also carrying a duffel bag to which Kingsley had no clue what the contents were.

“Kingsley!” said William upon seeing a friendly face, “Nice to see you this morning how are you?” William continued walking down the hall as he greeted him.

“I’m fine, but the real matter at hand is how you are? I heard about what happened last night.” said Kingsley in a genuinely caring tone. “I’m truly sorry about that. I didn’t expect the students to react like that.” Kingsley was now walking alongside William not knowing where he was taking him.

“Well I’d be afraid of me too. They don’t know me all that well.” William was now thinking about how he was going to win their favor again. “It’s like what you and McGonagall said; I have to prove myself to them.”

“I believe you will.” said Kingsley in a very father-like tone.

As Kingsley said this, he and William were exiting the school and were heading to what he could only guess was the forest. Kingsley knew William would be training so he took this opportunity, while he still had it to ask William the question he had on his mind.

“William I need to ask you something and I need you to answer me honestly.” Kingsley stopped William as he put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“What would that be Kingsley?” asked William detecting the seriousness in his voice.

“When you woke up yesterday you said that you weren’t completely human.” William’s eyes went wide at the mention of these words. “What did you mean by that?”

“You don’t miss a trick do you?” asked William in a mixed tone of anxiety and humor. “You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway.”

“Try me.” replied Kingsley. Nothing at this point was going to stop him from getting an answer.

“It’s a long story Kingsley.” pleaded William hoping that he would drop the subject.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Okay fine, but what I tell you stays between the two of us. Do you understand?”

“Yes, just you and I will know.”

“Okay, here goes…”

Back in Hogsmeade…

The group of four Gryffindors had been wandering around the village aimlessly. Kids were everywhere laughing and running with each other to check out the newest items in the shops. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. All of it was perfect for everyone except for them.

Instead of thinking about what store to visit first or what new joke to try they were only thinking about what William could be doing.
“All right that’s enough! This has to stop!” yelled Harry bursting from his previous sad demeanor.

“What do you mean Harry?” asked Ginny in a concerned tone.

“We’re doing exactly what he told us not to do. We can’t worry about him. He told us to enjoy ourselves.”

“How can we?” bursted in Hermione. “After all of the answers he has given us and all of the kindness he has shown, nothing has been given in return. No gratitude has been shown”

“She’s right mate.” added Ron who was now holding the upset Hermione in his arms. “I’m starting to believe all that human nature stuff he told us. It’s too bad that whoever sent him back didn’t consider the social restraints they be putting him in.”

“Maybe they did?” said Harry having a sudden realization.

“What do you mean?” asked Ron.

“Think about it. The test itself is more than just a way to show that William can take down a formidable opponent.” The group still looked at him with expressions of confusion. “The ones who sent him back knew that he would face great diversity. Maybe the test is a way to overcome it. Maybe he has to prove his humanity instead of his abilities.”

Harry’s epiphany hit all of them hard. The ones who sent William back knew what he would face and carefully accounted for it in the letter. After realizing this they knew that worrying would not help them. The only thing they could do was hope William would live up to the expectations in the letter. They could only live up to his by trying to have some fun while they could.

At this point Ginny was looking up at Harry with a look a loving desperation. Having noticed this, he leaned down and kissed her passionately. “What do you say we give this visit another try?”

The rest of their visit could not have gone any better. After a romantic lunch at Madam Puddifoot’s, the group decided to get some candy for themselves at Honeydukes and also get the items William wanted as well.

Madam Rosmerta hugged all of them warmly as they left The Three Broomsticks toward the end of the afternoon. The visit lasted longer than expected as Rosmerta kept asking about what was going on at the castle and who the Stranger was. They could only give her certain answers without leaking vital information, but all in all she was very satisfied with what they told her. When it was mentioned that the butterbeers they were buying were for William, Rosmerta let them have it on the house.

“Anyone who saves friends of mine is welcome to anything they like in my shop.” said Rosmerta in a very maternal voice. “Bring him buy some time. I should like to meet him.”

The students didn’t know what to do with themselves for the rest of the afternoon. By not having to pay for the butterbeers, Harry had an extra 30 galleons of William’s money.

“What are we going to do with all of this money?” asked Harry as the group passed Dervish and Banges.

Ginny having caught something in the shop window stayed behind to get a closer look. “Hey look at this!” yelled Ginny while motioning her friends to come to the store window. “I think I have an idea what we could spend the money on.”

The four Gryffindors carefully read the advertisement in the window and when they were done knew it was perfect for William.

“Its perfect.” said Harry. “Let’s see if they have any left.”

Meanwhile in the forest…

William had been by himself for nearly two hours after Kingsley left. Telling him the story that he dreaded before seemed to take up a decent chunk of time. Having less time to train meant that William would have to step up the workout. Fighting a dragon after all was no business to be taken lightly.

Thoughts of the impending battle kept racing through his head. Most of them were concerns as to which type of dragon he would have to fight. Each breed seemed to pose a different challenge for him.

“The Hungarian Horntail eats humans and would gladly eat me.” thought William as he pictured what each dragon could do to him. His mind was filled with these thoughts as he ran on the woodland path. “Vipertooths also have a taste for humans and have venomous fangs. Ironbellies are the largest breed and would not be easy to ground. Hebridean Blacks have spiked tails and…”

These thoughts were cut short as William’s concentration was interrupted by a sudden thumping of the ground. The thumping was in beats of two and seemed to be getting closer. By the sound of it, William guessed that the noise was being generated from something in the forest.

As he looked into the woods, he could swear he saw something pushing the trees aside. By the size of the creature he could infer that it was at least 20 feet tall and every bit of three tons. As the creature neared the path William was relieved when its face became visible.

Standing simply on the edge of the forest was the mountainous form of Grawp. He slowly walked forward and looked at William with the same child-like smile he gaze the other children. After smiling back, William noticed that on each shoulder Grawp was carrying a large boulder about the size of a car. Following closely behind him was his burly half-brother Hagrid and his dog Fang. Hagrid was only carrying one boulder seeing as how he did not have Grawp’s level of strength.

“William!” exclaimed Hagrid very happily, “It’s nice to see you again. How are you making out at the castle?”

“I can’t complain.” lied William. He thought it was better to humor Hagrid than to burden him with his own problems.

By now Fang was curiously sniffing at William’s feet hoping to make and acquaintance with this person he had never seen. William was only too happy to lovingly pet the dog he had heard so much about remembering in his time that Hagrid no longer had this dog.

“Say hello to William, Grawp.” motioned Hagrid as he tried to get his brother to use his manners.

“Hullo Wilyum.” bellowed the kindly giant.

“Hagrid, where are you two going with all of those boulders?” asked William who was now more curious as to what they were doing.

“Oh we’re taking them to the pitch for your challenge tomorrow. I’m afraid I can’t say much else seeing as how it is sort of a mystery.” Hagrid did in fact know what his challenge was. It was his and Grawp’s idea to get the boulders in an attempt to give their new friend a fighting chance. “We gotta get these boulders moved by nightfall so we’ll be on way. See you tomorrow William.” waved the half-giant as he and his brother disappeared out of the forest.

William decided he had better do some other exercises seeing as how another element would now be added to the mix. The thoughts of dragons were replaced with the possibilities of what boulders would be used for. As William thought over this more, he started to do pull ups from a tree branch. Maybe some upper body work would help with the boulders if he needed to move one.

Pull-ups seemed like the best course of action. After failing to find a tree with a low enough branch, William took matters into his own hands and climbed one himself. The climb proved beneficial after finding an outstretched limb twenty feet off of the ground. Heights and the possibility of falling only intensified the work out which was exactly what he needed.

On the edge of the forest…

Harry and the others had just arrived back from Hogsmeade and were anxious to see how William’s day went. After looking at the Marauder’s Map they had instantly found him in the forest right where he’d said he’d be. In an attempt to see how well William was training Harry convinced the group to sneak up on him under cover of the Invisibility Cloak.

“Why do we have to go in under the cloak gain Harry?” asked Ron in the same annoying tone from the day before. “He already caught us yesterday!”

“I just want to see ‘sharp’ he’s gotten from the training.” Harry used William’s words from earlier in a vain attempt to remind Ron of what they were doing. “Besides, Hermione cast the Muffliato this time so we should be safe from your whining.” Harry joked knowing that they were acting smarter this time around.

As they neared the spot on the map the group could hear a steady numeric counting which they could only guess was coming from William. “58, 59, 60…” As they moved closer it was clear what William was doing.

After finding no one on the ground the group looked up and saw William pull himself up and down off of a tree branch. This exercise looked as if it was getting more rigorous by the second seeing as how William’s repetitions were getting further apart. Suddenly without warning, the boy hanging off of the branch pulled himself up and onto the limb and stood up with steady balance.

“So how was Hogsmeade?” asked William without looking toward.

They group was astonished. He did it again! It was the second time in two days and he caught them red-handed.

“How did you do that?” asked Hermione desperately as she threw off the cloak revealing themselves to William. “We used the Muffliato this time!”

William could not help but slightly chuckle. “That’s funny because you should have realized that the Muffliato charm only conceals sound, not smell.”

“What smell?” asked Harry who was just as curious as the rest of the group.

“Hold on.” said William as he jumped down onto the ground landing with a loud thud on his heals. William walked closer to them as he stood up from the shock of the ground hitting his knees. The group looked on at how gracefully his descent played out.

“Well, as I was saying, the Muffliato charm doesn’t conceal smell. A few minutes ago I detected a very unfamiliar scent that shouldn’t be in this forest.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Ron who was completely confused at this point.

“I thought I smelled something like Lilacs.” said William as he moved closer. As he came nearer to Hermione he sniffed in her general presence and said, “Definitely Lilacs.”

Hermione now realized her mistake. The new perfume she had been applying was a strong lilac scent and loved how it made Ron quiver in her presence. “That’s my perfume.” admitted Hermione offering some answers to the group.

“Lilacs don’t grow in this forest Hermione. I just made a guess, that’s all.” William was trying not to frighten them away by saying this. He didn’t need them to think he had eyes and ears everywhere, or at least in this case, eyes and nostrils.

“You forgot to answer my question. How was Hogsmeade?” asked William trying to find a better topic to focus on.

“It was fun. You would have liked it.” exclaimed Harry. He didn’t want to say too much as to make William feel sad about what he had missed out on. Ginny saw where he was getting at and interjected immediately.

“We got what you asked for and a few other things as well.” said Ginny holding up the bag of treats they had purchased. “Oh by the way here’s your change, ten galleons.”

“Keep it I don’t need it or even better place a bet with Seamus.” exclaimed William as he remembered what he had seen that morning.

“Why, what is Seamus taking bets on?” asked Ron who was now curious about the topic. In all the years Harry and Hermione knew Ron they knew instantly he would want in on any potential bet.

“I was going to get a little snack for lunch today and I saw your boy Seamus in the Great Hall taking bets on whether I’d survive the test tomorrow. That little prick has got 20 to 1 odds against me.”

William was now seeing the humor in the situation. Although the group didn’t know it, he had paid a first year to make a bet anonymously for him. The end result would be well worth the 5 Sickles he had given the boy to place the bet, a bet of 30 galleons.

“What a little shit!” exclaimed Hermione in an annoyed tone. The time she had spent with Ron was clearly showing itself again. The group again looked at her in complete astonishment.

“I hope the asshole goes bankrupt after you beat the dragon tomorrow William.” added Ginny as she joined in on the swearing. Harry and the others only laughed as Ginny had never cussed like this before.

“Well I still have some more work to do before I can rest. I’m not out of the woods just yet.” Everyone started to give a hearty laugh realizing the pun he had just made.

“Dinner is going to be served soon, do you want to join us?” asked Ron whose stomach was again growling for another meal.

The words seemed to have no effect on him. His eyes and what appeared to be his entire spirit were locked on the setting sun. “It really is beautiful isn’t it?” asked William as he continued to gaze into the horizon.

Harry and the others noticed what William was talking about as the looked on too. In all the chaos that was their lives, they stilled enjoyed the simple but beautiful things. It was in this that Harry felt truly at peace. He wouldn’t think about dead friends or all the damage caused during the war. He only thought about the time that was now and what endless possibilities lay before him. The future was something he now looked forward to instead of dreading it.

The only thing Ron Hermione thought of were the many nights in the summer they had spent under the setting sun and how perfect each moment seemed that they were together.

Ginny was reminded of the previous year where Harry was gone and wondered what he was doing or how he was. She always looked into the sunset and thought “Maybe Harry is watching the same sunset? Maybe he’ll come back safely to me?”

As for William, he was reminded of something much deeper. Something he had taken for granted. He was quickly pulled out of these thoughts when Harry snapped him back to reality.

“So do you want to come to dinner?” inquired Harry hoping that he would spend some time with them. There were still so many questions to be asked. Questions that he hoped William could answer.

“Sorry Harry, but I can’t. I still have some more work to do.” Harry was clearly disappointed but William decided to make a concession. “I’ll be in later so come and find me.” Harry’s demeanor was still sad but his face relented and gave a slight smile.

Dinner went unbearably slow for Harry that night. When he wasn’t talking to his friends he was looking toward the doors of the Great Hall hoping that William might walk through, but he never did. When the meal was over all of the students returned to their respected dormitories. Harry took his time heading back and expected to see William at some point coming by to say hello. Yet again he was disappointed when he did not show up.

Waiting for William was beginning to grow tiresome and so he pulled out the Marauder’s Map and found the question mark. To his surprise the little dot was in the castle and was headed toward the kitchens. It seemed as William waited until dinner to get out to come back inside. Harry then realized this was exactly what he did after playing over the fight with his friends from the previous night.

When the dot stopped in the kitchens, Harry decided this was his time to go and see William. Ron, Hermione and Ginny who had also been watching the map decided to tag along. Ginny simply had to go after remembering she forgot to give him the bag of treats.

The kitchens of Hogwarts were a hectic place to be after meals. Dozens of house elves were bustling back and forth between stoves and sinks cleaning dishes and scrubbing pots. When that task was done they had some free time to themselves. Being the nature of a house elf to serve others, they spent that time getting a head start on tomorrow’s meals.

The one particular thing that seemed to be out of place in the kitchen was the human sized stool at one of the counters. From the doors it looked like a human was sitting beside an elf talking with him. When the group moved closer they realized it was William talking to none other then Sirius Black’s old servant Kreacher.

After fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts, he decided to stay with his kind where he could find some company. It was also nice to be close to Harry who was the closest thing he had to a master at this point.

Each step closer revealed more to their eyes, especially William’s back. He had taken off the sweat soaked hoodie and was only wearing a white wife beater. The strange this was not his change of dress but the markings underneath the shirt. The undershirt did not cover the area below his shoulders and the group could make out what looked like wing tattoos. This observation was quickly dismissed as William turned around to see them.

“What a nice surprise!” said William who was genuinely glad to see them. “Me and Kreacher here were just talking about you and swapping recipes.” William then picked up a pad he had beside his plate and began scribbling notes and turned back to Kreacher. “So its 25 minutes a pound on 400 degrees?”

“Correct Master Black.” The ancient elf had a sudden sensation mixed between sorrow and happiness, sorrow for his lost family whom he served and happiness that he could use that title once again. “Master must excuse Kreacher. He has other duties to attend to.”

“Sure thing Kreacher. Thanks for your help.” replied William who understood why the elf chose to leave.

“Good night to you too, Master Potter”

“Likewise Kreacher.” said Harry waving goodbye to the elf.

“So what’s up, are you guys hungry? Kreacher made me a kick-ass steak if you want some.” William now remembered the delicious meal before him and started to eat again.

“No thanks we just- Wait a second, you cook?” asked Ron who was now flabbergasted after suddenly remembering the talk he had shared with Kreacher about recipes and oven settings. It seemed unthinkable for a tough guy like William to be the cooking type. The very thought of him in a chef’s hat and apron made Ron chuckle.

“Sure.” replied William who saw this as nothing to be ashamed of. “My grandmother taught me. I find it very relaxing, especially when it’s for others.” William again returned to his steak.

The girls thought to themselves that any girl who married William would be lucky to have him seeing how rare it was to have a man that could cook and still retain a masculine side.

“What’s with those tattoos?” asked Harry who was dying from curiosity.

William again put down his fork getting somewhat annoyed at the constant interruptions. “I already told you, their whips and the other is the DA symbol.”

“Not those tattoos.” replied Harry.

William stopped in mid chew as Harry said this. “You mean those tattoos don’t you?” said William as he pointed toward his back.

“Yeah those.” interjected Hermione who was just as curious.

“I’ll show you when we go back to my room. Just please let me have my dinner first. I’m very hungry.”

After finishing the steak the five of them walked back to the Room of Requirement. Everyone except William had only the tattoos on their minds. As they entered, a new fire was assembled in the fireplace and William was moving over to his bed. “Would you mind turning around?” asked William. “I have to take off my shirt.”

The four students granted his wish and turned around. No more than a minute later, William was lying on his stomach on the four post bed. When they were called forward, they were amazed at what they saw.

From the edge of his shoulders to the small of his back, a full set of wings was tattooed on. Judging from the feather detailing, it was inferred that these wings were made to look like an angel’s. The wings themselves were amazing. Such detail and attention to little characteristics was considered by whoever the artist was.

“These are incredible!” gasped Ron. He had been thinking of getting a tattoo when he got older and wanted to know if he could get work done like William’s wings. “I only have two questions for you William. Who did these wings and how long did it take?”

“You wouldn’t know that artist. She’s like me, she doesn’t exist yet. And I don’t know how long they took because I was unconscious when they were put on.” Ron was slightly upset at this point seeing that he might not get a tattoo as good as William’s.

“Can we touch them? The wings I mean.” asked Hermione very meekly.

William thought this over and saw no harm in it. He simply nodded to their question. In an instant four sets of fingers were tracing the outlines of the wings, more specifically on the feathers.

“Oh my god!” gasped Ginny. “They feel like real feathers.”

William laughed after she said this. “Yeah they were charmed to feel that way. It makes it more comfortable to have on your skin.” The others did not know what having a tattoo was like but assumed that other ways could be uncomfortable.

“May I ask, why angel wings?” inquired Harry.

“Well it seemed appropriate if you think about it. If you think of me as a guardian angel, then it’s only necessary to have wings.” laughed William. 

When he felt the girls’ hands started to feel other parts of his back, besides the tattoos, he became anxious for they were feeling the still tender scar of where he had literally been stabbed in the back. For such a lethal blow, it was healing at a fast rate. He did not have to see to realize they were all staring at that spot. 

“That’s enough for one night I think.” said William as he sat up and put his shirt back on.

Ginny and Hermione knew they had both crossed a line and tried to change the subject. “Oh I almost forgot we have your candy.” said Ginny as she passed William the bag.

After taking the bag, William took out a butterbeer and chugged it down very quickly. It was the first butterbeer he had had in a long time and enjoyed every mouthful. He then opened a Chocolate Frog and wolfed it down in one bite. “Thanks. I needed that.” exclaimed William as he tried to regain his breath.

“We also bought this for you.” said Ginny who handed William a small rectangular box.

Upon opening the box, William found a roll of quarter sized golden cylinder. On its sides flowing all around were musical notes. As soon as his skin touched the cylinder it felt instantly warm. “What is it?”

“It’s called an Acrimanicus. It’s supposed to play clips from songs that match what mood you are in. The lady in Dervish and Banges says it’s the new rage and will play any song you have ever heard that matches your feelings. Plus it has flesh memories so it accumulates more songs whenever someone else touches it. We were lucky in getting the last one!” Ginny remembered just how lucky they were after fighting through a crowd to get it.

“Here you try first.” said William handing it out to Ginny.

She took it back and put a firm grip around the cylinder. Within moments it started playing a song.

And if you can't be with the one
You love honey 
Love the one you're with 

Ginny was touched by these words after hearing them. It seemed to match the unending love she felt for Harry. She had heard this song on a Muggle radio after walking with through the towns near the Burrow but never knew who it was by. "Who was that?"

“That was Love the one You're With by Will Young." said William. Ginny just nodded her head and leaned into Harry.

Ron took the Acrimanicus next. When he had a firm grip another tune played.

And as she carries on without a doubt
I wonder if she's figured out
I'm crazy for this girl 


Evan and Jaron's Crazy for This Girl seem to describe your love perfectly.” said William making a keen observation. Ron and Hermione were sharing a deep kiss at this point and after it was over Hermione gave Ron a loving smile that would melt an iceberg. They had never heard the song but guessed William did because he touched the Acrimanicus first.

Hermione took the Acrimanicus next and her song played shortly after she touched it.

Let your warm hands break right through me
Somebody save me
I've been waiting for you

Everyone knew exactly what this song was about for Hermione. It was about her ordeal with nearly dying. Everyone gave her a big hug after hearing the song trying to comfort her and assure her that everything was okay. “Who was that?” asked Hermione.

“That was Save Me by Remy Zero. They’re all right. That song seemed perfect for you though.” observed William in a solemn manner.

Harry was the last to take the Acrimanicus and his song revealed exactly how he was feeling at that moment. 

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Getting so much resistance from behind


Harry didn’t know what to make of the situation but was trying to understand. After hearing the song he knew that he would have to take each coming day in stride and trust in William’s judgment. The fight in his life was over for now and he wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. The only thing he wanted to know now was what William was thinking. "I love that song! Wasn't that For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield?" asked Harry as he handed the Acrimanicus to William.

"Yeah, it was. There one of my favorites."

After accepting the cylinder the warm feeling returned to William. Then the song he had heard many times began to play. William knew it as Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylon. 

How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown

“I gotta say, Bob Dylan sure can write some good stuff.” Harry and the others knew William was just trying to cover up what he was really feeling with his ‘subtle’ humor.

He must be feeling so sad they wondered. The song was sung like it was written about him. He was alone without a friend in the world. Harry knew exactly what this was like having lived the same way for the first eleven years of his life and could easlily say that is was life's worst feeling. It pained him to see anyone else have to live like that. He only hoped things would be different after the test. That was to say if he passed the test.

William was whipping tears away from his eyes at this point. It was clear that the song matched exactly how he felt. “I must say that that thing is very accurate. Thanks for getting it I never had one as a kid.” William never saw the need since they had become unpopular in his time. “Oh that reminds me, I have some things for you all as well.”

The group was curious as to what William was going to give them. If it was from the future then they would be very privileged to have it. As he moved over to the trunks by his bed he pulled out several books from the one he had rummaged through the previous night. From the looks of it he had one book for each of them.

“I told you I’d find Beowulf for you Ron.” said William as he handed him a hard covered book that looked like it had been read and reread dozens of times.

“Thanks William!” exclaimed Ron who was looking forward to hearing the story the boy had raved about.

“For you Miss Granger I have one that I think you might enjoy.” William now handed Hermione a rather thick book bound in smooth brown leather.

She gazed over the cover and read the title aloud hoping it would tell her if she had ever read it. “Rare Magical Objects of the Wizarding and Muggle World by Peter McElroy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this one William.” said Hermione realizing what a treasure the book was.

“Well I wouldn’t think so Hermione. Like me, it doesn’t exist yet. I think you’ll like it, but please take care of that book, it was given to me by a good friend and I know you’ll show it the utmost respect.” It was easy to tell that he cherished the book judging by the flawless condition it was in.

Hermione took care of books like they were children and knew that she would not let William down. “I’ll take good care of it William.” replied Hermione reassuringly.

“What do I get?” asked Ginny who was feeling like a kid at Christmas. The anticipation was killing her.

“Ah yes, Ginny. I have what I like to think is the only good Muggle book about a Wizard. I think you might enjoy it as much as I have.” He handed the waiting girl a thick book that he had had in his possession for years.

“The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Thank you William, I can’t wait to start reading it.” said Ginny who was flipping through the many pages.

“And lastly Harry, I have for you another one of my favorites. My dad gave it to me when I was a boy and I think he’d want me to share it with others.”

William handed Harry a medium sized hard covered book entitled “Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.”

“I love it! Thanks a lot William!” exclaimed Harry in a very cheerful tone.

“Yeah I thought you might. There’s some truth and some fantasy to the story but all in all you should find it quite interesting.” Harry had never read Arthurian Legend but was happy that he had the chance to now.

The group looked over there books and thought about how nice a gesture William had made. After chatting idly for another few minutes the group suddenly realized what time it was and said they had to go back to their dormitories for lights out. Although it pained them to leave him alone again they did not want to risk missing his test tomorrow after getting detention for being out past curfew.

Later that night…

It was about two in the morning and Harry was still up. He had been skimming through the book William had given him and was reading by wand light. As he passed over pages Harry could not help but admire the occasional engraved pictures that displayed Merlin and King Arthur’s conquests. The particular picture he had been looking over, depicting Arthur and Merlin fighting two dragons, was interrupted when he heard an ear piercing screech from beyond his window.

Everyone else had heard it too and was now looking out there windows hoping to see what was making the noise. As Ron shuffled out of bed to join them he was pulled back by Harry who was now looking at the Marauder’s Map. He pointed to three dots labeled Grawp, Rubeus Hagrid, and Charlie Weasley.

“I guess your brother’s here with his dragon!” said Harry looking at Ron wondering what kind exactly Charlie had brought with him. 

The next morning…

Harry and the rest of the students slept on and off the night before. Every so often in the distance, they would hear a loud screech. The darkness had prevented any recognition as to what kind of dragon was making the noise.

By breakfast time, dragons were the last thing they had on their minds. They had bigger fish to fry and that specific catch was parents. Students of all four houses were greeted by hundreds of parents as they came down to breakfast that morning. The biggest group in the Great Hall was definitely the Weasleys and the Grangers.

After the tables had been lengthened there was plenty of room for everyone. Molly, Arthur, George, Charlie, Bill and Fleur, who was beginning to get larger from pregnancy, were all waiting for the group to come down. Hermione’s parents could not wait to see their daughter after hearing of her near fatal accident. They would have arrived sooner if they had more availability to Wizarding transportation. The only correspondence they had with their daughter had been the letters she had sent explaining her good health thanks to William. When she and her friends arrived they threw their arms around her instantly.

Many tears and loving remarks had been exchanged as if they had not seen their children in years. Molly was the first one to truly address her children.

“You must tell us everything that has happened!” inquired Mrs. Weasley. Her attention was now turning toward Harry. “So what is this all about?”

Over the course of breakfast Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione each told their parents about what had transpired just days before and how they were saved by someone they had never met. The mention of this mysterious boy prompted the Grangers’ attention.

“Speaking of which, where is this boy who saved our daughter’s life?” asked Mr. Granger after Harry described William. Bill was the first to answer his question.

“Kingsley had him moved to the Quidditch pitch about an hour ago. He felt that he should have no distractions before the test. As a matter of fact I have to go soon to explain the rules to him.” Bill then stood up after being reminded of his duties. After kissing Fleur goodbye he told his family that he’d see them in about a half hour when the test started. Charlie then stood and said he had to leave also because there were rules he also had to explain to William, mostly about the dragon.

Before they could leave the Great Hall Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione asked if they could come as well seeing as how this might be one of the last times they would see him. Bill agreed to this concession believing that no harm would come from it.

As the group arrived at the pitch they were taken into one of the preparation rooms in the bowls of the pitch that had been used many times by Ron and Harry when changing for a match. When they got inside they were greeted by William who was pacing. Their best guess was that he was nervous, which frightened them because it seemed he was not the type of person to get nervous. “Nice to see you guys again!” said William. “I thought I wouldn’t see you before the test. What a nice surprise!”

“It’s good to see you too William.” greeted Hermione.

Bill and Charlie were now preparing something on the other side of the room when they walked over to William. Upon seeing Charlie, William put out his hand and said, “You must be Charlie. Ron mentioned you before, nice to meet you.”

Being impressed with his manners, Charlie extended his hand and gave him a hearty handshake. “Nice to meet you too William.” This moment was soon interrupted as a growing sound was heard coming from above. The group dismissed the noise as they figured it was just the footsteps of students and parents who were starting to pour into the stadium.

“So how is all of this going to work?” asked William who wanted to get back to the matter at hand.

Bill decided he should explain and said, “Okay, here’s what’s going to happen. First McGonagall and Kingsley are going to introduce you to the parents, which is your cue to step out onto the pitch. Then they are going to lay the ground rules and explain your task. Then you’ll begin. Any questions?”

“Yeah, is there any protection for the crowd?” The last thing he wanted was for some innocent crowd member to get crushed by a dragon.

“The teachers spent most of yesterday putting up protective spells and barriers so there is more than enough safety for them.” reassured Bill. “I also need to collect your wand.”

“What?!” asked William who was flabbergasted. “That’s my only protection. I need it!”

“We understand that. It’s just part of the challenge and don’t worry you’ll get in back during the test.” chimed in Charlie.

William did not understand and handed over his wand very uneasily. “There is just one more thing.” said Bill. “We need you to change your clothes.”

“What the hell for?” questioned William angrily. ‘What else do they need to take from me?’ he thought to himself.

“The ministry is concerned that some of your clothes may have enchantments and they feel that would make an unfair advantage.” Bill now produced a cloak, pants, shirt and boots for William to put on. Each item of clothing was black seeing as how it was the only thing he had ever seen him wear.

“I guess you got a point.” said William in an annoyed guff. He then took off his jacket and tossed it to Charlie. “Ron tells me you could examine that jacket. He also said you studied dragons in Romania so tell me what you think.”

Charlie slowly flipped the jacket back and forth trying to find flaws in it but found none. “This is genuine dragon skin, Hebridean Black if you want to get technical. Where did you get it?” inquired Charlie.

“Nowhere special, besides I think there is something wrong with it.” replied William as he put his finger through the dagger whole from days before. “I thought dragon skin was supposed to be impenetrable.”

“I don’t know how that could happen, but what I do know is that the jacket is 100% dragon skin.” said Charlie wondering what could break the skin. William only wondered what was so special about the dagger that it could do something like that. It was very strange.

Getting back to changing, William began to unbutton his shirt. Hermione was the first to confront this. “Would you rather us leave so you can do that in private?” A small part of her wanted him to say no so she could see his true form. Little did she know that Ginny was having the exact same thought.

“You might as well stay if you want. You were bound to see sooner or later.” said William as he slipped off the shirt. The group was in a mix of horror and awe as William revealed his chest.

Sure he was built very well with toned muscles going up and down his chest, but he was also scarred to a great extent. From the center of his nipples to his belly button were at least eight patterns of claw marks going down his body. The girls turned away after seeing the image.

“What kind of monster did that to you?” asked Bill desperately wanting to know what would do such a thing to a boy so young.

“The same kind of monster that gave you those.” replied William pointing to Bill’s scars on his face.

“A werewolf did that to you? Does that mean you are one of them now?” asked Harry who decided to express his concern as well.

“No, lucky for me the bastard was in human form when he took a shot at me.” said William as he started to put on the shirt Bill had given him.

“Why did it attack you?” asked Hermione who was now turned around but trying to divert her eyes from his chest.

“Can we focus on the matter at hand?!” replied William in a rather frustrated tone. “I really don’t feel like telling that particular story!” The group knew not to press this matter any further seeing as how William was in an angry state.

William was now putting on the pants and boots given to him and they surprisingly fit. At least one thing went right for him that morning. As he stood up he tore both sleeves off the shirt and simply replied, “Makes it easier to move and fight.” After evening out the shirt he promptly picked up the jacket that was supplied for him. After turning it over he noticed the name and number embroidered on the back. Harry thought it looked like the jacket he had worn in his task against the Horntail just 4 years before.

This time the name and numbers were white and stood out in the black material as opposed to the red Harry had worn. The title ‘Black’ stood out proudly on the top of the jacket but the number made William laugh. “That’s pretty funny, Lucky 13. I guess they aren’t trying to jinx me.” said William in a sarcastic tone.

Just then the laughing was cut short when an ear piercing screech shot out through the stadium. It was the same screech form the night before. Charlie noticed this as the feisty dragon he had brought with him. William noticed this as the danger that awaited him in the very near future.

“Please tell me you didn’t?” asked William trying to find some hope in the situation.

Charlie made no attempt to deny what William had been asking and just made a pleading face that any person would recognize as when someone was saying sorry.

“You did, didn’t you?” asked William again, who’s hope was now gone.

“Did what? I don’t understand? chimed in Ginny.

“Well you genius brother here decided to bring a Hebridean Black Dragon with him. Isn’t that right?” William was now looking toward Charlie.

“Yes, thats right. Kingsley said you needed a challenge and so I brought her with me.”

“Look on the bright side William. At least they don’t eat humans only deer, right Charlie?” asked Hermione trying to shed a little comfort on his situation.

“That’s not entirely true.” Everyone was now looking at him with an expression of complete dumbstruck. “She’s gotten increasingly aggressive in the past month. I lost six of my best assistants just trying to tame her.”

“Well that’s just fucking great. I thought I was going to have to fight something difficult today.” said William in a mixed tone of laughter and sarcasm.

“I’m sorry William.” said Charlie in an attempt to explain himself. “I just needed to do something about her. She’s too much for the preserve in Romania. I figured this would be a good way to either knock some tameness into her or get rid the trouble. I had no idea until this morning what exactly they were going to use her for. I’m sorry William.”

“It’s not your fault, you didn’t know.” replied William. Charlie could only smile at the unnecessary concession the boy made.

William did not say anything, he instead went back to pacing back and forth until he stopped and sat down on one of the benches in the room. From his pocket he took out the golden object all of them knew as the Acrimanicus. When the warm feeling returned to his hand it let out a steady tone. The song was ironically cheerful considering the situation, yet it still put a smile on William's face. Spirit in the Sky was Norman Greenbaum's best song as far as he was concerned.

That's where I'm gonna go when I die - when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place that's the best


The song was interrupted when William simply dropped it on the floor. Harry promptly bent down and picked it up. When he tried to hand it back to William, he simply declined and told Harry to keep it for now. William simply couldn’t listen to his emotions anymore. Instead of sitting he simply went to stand near the exit to wait for his cue.

“Are you scared?” asked Ginny who now, after hearing the song, understood just how he felt.

“Of course I’m scared, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do this.”

“I know I’d be scared.” added Ron was trying to reassure William he was not the only one who got scared.

After he said this, William walked over to him and looked him in the eyes and asked, “Are you afraid of dying Ron?” Ron could only look at him in an uncertain way, now asking himself the same question.

Hermione stepped in to try and comfort her boyfriend. She was now hugging the boy who now seemed to be shaken by the question and reminded of the all the times he had nearly died. “Wouldn’t you be? It could very well be the end of your life.”

“Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean. I’m sure Harry could tell you that.” replied the boy clad in black.

Harry suddenly realized exactly what William was talking about. ‘I only told a handful of people! How could he know? No one else knows what happened on the other side.’ Harry asked himself. Before he could ask William, Bill reminded him that it was just about time to go.

“Well, goodbye!” simply said Harry seeing how this might be the last time he saw him. The stadium above was brought to life as McGonagall made her opening speech.

“I don’t say goodbye anymore.” said William looking back at his friends with a mixed expression of duty and pride.

“What do you say?” asked Hermione,

“See you later.”

McGonagall then finished her speech and then introduced William. He promptly walked out of the tunnel and into the bright light coming from the pitch. He was walking toward his unknown future and with a smile on his face. If he was going to die, then he was going to go down fighting. The only thing he knew was that this was going to be a hell of a match, one of the most dangerous dragons against a simple boy. Except right at that moment he didn’t feel like a simple boy. William Black felt like the most dangerous man on Earth.

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