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Dumbledore rose from his seat and quickly charmed one of Molly’s shopping bags to fulfil the function of a portkey. Everyone reached out to the shopping bag and took hold. A moment later they all landed in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. Harry was helped up from the floor by Professor Flitwick who smiled and wished him a happy birthday. “Thanks.” Harry smiled at the man, unsure as to why he was there. “Filius is the newest member of the Order.” Dumbledore explained to Harry, and to Ron, Hermione and Ginny who were pulling themselves back onto their feet behind him. “Right, everyone out unless you’re going to help me with tea.” Molly said. A moment later the kitchen was empty. “Works every time.” She muttered to the silent room as Dobby appeared in her midst with a crack. Out in the hallway Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny started up the stairs, leaving the adults below them talking quietly so as not to disturb the portrait of the late Mrs Black. “Ron…” Harry said when they got to the top of the stairs. “Yeah?” Ron asked good-naturedly as if nothing at all had happened between them. “Uh… nothing.” Harry replied. Ron gave him a puzzled look and went up another flight of stairs and across the landing to their room. Hermione shrugged to Harry before the three of them followed him inside. Harry pulled his bags out of his pocket and to his surprise they transfigured themselves back to normal size. Hermione had also charmed her bags to stay small but hers stayed the size she had changed them to when she removed them from her pocket. “So where’s all your stuff then, Ron?” Hermione asked him as she removed all her things from her bag and made them the correct size before banishing them to her room. “Erm… what stuff?” Ron asked. Harry and Hermione raised their eyebrows slightly as they looked at him. “School stuff… books, robes, that kind of thing.” Harry said to him. “Oh that… I forgot to get it.” Ron said confidently. “You just forgot to buy anything for school whilst you were in Diagon Alley?” Hermione asked him, “You were gone for more than two hours!” “I know, stupid huh?” Ron asked, “I can always go again before school starts.” “Yeah I know, but…” Hermione said and gave up. Harry turned away from them and started to put his things away in his trunk at the end of his bed. Hermione quietly added “Anyway, I’m glad you’ve decided to make up with Harry after what happened earlier…” Ron looked nonplussed for a moment. “Oh yeah, well it was pretty petty, wasn’t it?” Ron muttered. “Let’s go play Quidditch.” Ginny suggested suddenly, having become bored of the little activity from the room. “No, not now Gin.” Ron said. “Yeah, we’ve only just got back!” Hermione said. “Later.” Harry told her as he finished putting his robes in his and Ron’s shared wardrobe at the end of the room. “What’re these?” Ron asked, picking up three envelopes in the doorway. There was one for each of them: Ron, Harry and Hermione. Ginny scowled at them all, feeling quite left out. “Homework?!” Harry protested as he opened his, finding four sets of homework which were to be done by the start of term. “Yes, Mr Weasley, you are set homework over the summer.” Professor McGonagall said to Ron when he went to complain at his teacher downstairs. “That’s an outrage!” Ron said a little too loudly as screams filled the house. “FILTHY HALF-BREEDS! MUDBLOODS! DEFILING THE MOST NOBLE HOUSE OF BLA—” Mrs Black’s rantings were cut short as the Order shot half a dozen spells at her at once. She screamed in horror as she began to melt from her now multicoloured state. The occupants of the house smiled grimly as she ran from the portrait and through a number of others, although where she finally ended up was a mystery to all of them. “I would suggest you get all your homework done as soon as possible, Mr Weasley.” Professor McGonagall said to the teenager. “Yes, I believe Miss Granger has already started.” Professor Flitwick said. “What?!” Harry and Ron said in disbelief as they turned from their professors and walked into the front room where Hermione was absorbed in a potions book. “Hermione!” Harry said, sounding outraged. “The sooner I get my work done—” Hermione started. “The sooner you can start on extra work!” Ron finished for her. “Well fine, you can leave all your homework until the very last minute but then you’ll be sorry!” Hermione said to him and Ron scowled at her. Harry sighed in resignation. “You can be so damned irritating at times, do you know that?!” Harry demanded of Hermione who smiled at him as he summoned his school things. As you are about to enter your NEWT years, you will need to complete some homework during the summer in each of your chosen subjects. This homework should be handed into your subject teacher on your first lesson of the year. Failure to do this will result in detention which will be enforced more severely. Defence Against the Dark Arts: One essay between one and two yards long entitled ‘The Correct Application of Shielding and Reversing Charms’. Transfiguration: Five foot essay on the topic of transfiguring to life. Potions: Three yards on potions which alter a person’s appearance. Charms: Essay on freezing charms. Between 3 and five feet in length. “Three yards for potions?!” Ron demanded as they all sat down around the small table. “That’s ridiculous.” “It is indeed.” Tonks said, sitting down on the sofa to the side of Harry, joined a moment later by Mad Eye, Remus, Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick. “Honestly, three yards!” Minerva said, “I only set five feet.” “Is that all?!” Harry muttered. “Sorry, Mr Potter?” She asked curtly, “Did you say something.” She received no answer but a slight scowl. “I thought not.” She said and everyone smiled slightly. “I’m doing defence against the dark arts first.” Ron said to Harry. “Should be more interesting. What are you doing?” “Potions.” Harry said glumly. “If I can get this out of the way then it shouldn’t be too bad, I hope.” “I still can’t believe you got an O in potions.” Ron said to him as he pulled out some parchment and wrote his name at the top, “I had to take care of magical creatures instead.” “You hardly had to.” Hermione said to Ron. “Well if Snape wasn’t such a git and didn’t have ridiculously high standards then more people could take the subject.” Tonks said. “Did you know that Malfoy didn’t get an O and Snape’s letting him take potions?” Filius asked. “Really?” Hermione asked, turning around and abandoning her work. “Yeah, he only got an A didn’t he?” Remus said. “But Lucius bought that up to an E.” Mad Eye said. “He never!” Ron said, turning around. “He did. I saw his potions results after that exam.” Minerva said bitterly. “I can’t believe Snape is so biased for Malfoy.” Hermione said darkly as she turned back to her work. “You can’t believe Professor Snape is so biased for Malfoy, Miss Granger.” Filius corrected her and the adults laughed. “Do you think I could buy my potions up to an O?” Ron asked suddenly thoughtful. “Why bother? Snape won’t let you in his lesson anyway.” Hermione said. “As well as that it means we can’t look down on Snape and Malfoy for the whole affair.” Minerva muttered. “Very true.” Mad Eye growled. “I hear that you encountered Malfoy earlier, Remus?” “Unfortunately so.” Remus replied. “Really? What did he say?” Tonks asked. “The usual half-breed rubbish.” Remus said. “When was this? I could have cursed him for you!” Tonks said enthusiastically. “In Flourish and Blotts.” Remus replied, “And it’s not as if I can’t curse him for myself. I think Harry was close to cursing him though.” “Can’t say I blame him, myself.” Mad Eye said, “I think I might have done if he started insulting you.” “Did Malfoy say anything to Harry?” Filius asked. “Not a word,” Remus replied, “Draco Malfoy said something of reasonable interest though.” “Really? What did he say?” Tonks asked. “Well if you would let him finish instead of interrupting constantly then you’d know!” Minerva scowled at the woman who muttered a brief apology. “He said something along the lines of Lucius wanting to remove Dumbledore permanently and then Lucius practically verified it by saying that Draco shouldn’t suggest that he wanted to supersede Dumbledore, no matter how true it may be.” Remus said. “That’s ridiculous!” Minerva said. “Dumbledore would never let Lucius Malfoy take over him,” Ron said. “But it doesn’t matter if Dumbledore would let him take over. If Fudge thinks he’s better suited to the job then he could appeal to the Wizengamot to have him removed.” Mad Eye said. “And the Wizengamot aren’t particularly on Dumbledore’s side, not after they removed him all those years ago.” Filius said. “But a lot of them aren’t too keen on Fudge either, are they?” Ron asked, “That’s what dad said before.” “True. But Fudge is the minister of magic.” Remus said, “And Lucius Malfoy has a lot of money and a lot of influence.” “Didn’t he buy rather a lot of votes from the ministry to have Buckbeak executed a few years ago?” Filius asked. “I believe so.” Minerva said, “He had altogether too much influence over Fudge. A Death Eater as an advisor to the Ministry of Magic… I ask you!” “He’s an advisor now?!” Ron asked, looking up from his work again. “Ever since he was released from Azkaban.” Minerva explained. “So a man convicted of following Voldemort now practically controls the wizarding community of Britain?!” Hermione said in disbelief. “That is correct, Miss Granger.” Minerva replied. Harry stared down at his work which consisted of his name, the title and a small paragraph which was no good anyway. There was no way that he could work with the all too interesting conversation going on behind him. As much as he wanted to sit and listen to the adults argue incessantly about the Malfoys and condemn them and Fudge, he had work to do and the sooner it was done the sooner he could spend half his summer listening to some of his teachers arguing and spreading rumours. He put a stopper in his ink before gathering his things together into one neat pile and levitating them carefully out of the room, taking care not to spill any ink as he left. “Nice bit of charming there.” Filius observed absentmindedly, “Good job he’s taking charms.” “I wonder why he left.” Tonks said as she played with her wand, causing it to send a stream of petals through the air which landed on Ron’s work. “As shocking as it may seem, Tonks.” Remus said, “I think we may be a slight distraction.”
Harry lay down on his bed on the second floor, his potions book open before him and his eyes scanning the page for any useful information he could use. So far he had written more than two yards of parchment on the subject of appearance altering potions. The first foot had been a general introduction and the five feet after that had been mostly about the Polyjuice potion, something he knew about all too well. Now all he had to do was find another three feet worth of information about other potions that could change appearance and he would have finished. He glanced back at his clock on his bedside table and saw that it was almost six o’clock. Time had flown by unbearably quickly due to his hard work on his potions essay, which was slowly driving him insane. He had been working almost two hours now. He rested his head on his arm for a minute whilst he took a break from work to give his aching hand a rest. He set his quill down carefully, hoping that it wouldn’t just roll across his parchment and leave a large smear where it had been. He sighed sadly as he looked around the room. He couldn’t be in this house without reminders of the last Christmas past floating into his head. He had been with Sirius then and they had been happy and alive, his head added resentfully. He felt a rush of guilt as he realised that he had almost forgotten all about Sirius that day. He had been so busy, what with leaving the Dursleys with Remus, shopping, arguing with Ron, doing potions homework, listening to the talk of the Malfoy’s… nothing particularly noteworthy and yet it had distracted him from the thought of his godfather. But Remus was his godfather now. And how quickly you’ve warmed up to him too. He thought. He bit his lip slightly; was it so bad for him to become close to someone else? It wasn’t as if Remus could ever take Sirius’ place in his life… He buried his head in his arms unhappily. Why Sirius…? Why not him? Why couldn’t he have been the one to get blasted through the veil?! He supposed that even if it had been he that had lost his life, Sirius probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer anyway… If he was the only one who could defeat Voldemort and he died… then the wizarding world would be doomed. Perhaps he was being a little melodramatic though, Dumbledore wouldn’t just let Voldemort walk all over the world. His head began to ache unpleasantly as he suddenly wondered whether Sirius had known about the prophecy. He assumed that he would not have done, after all he was so close to Remus then Remus would probably know also. Although if Dumbledore told Sirius not to tell anyone… Then he would probably tell Remus anyway. He reasoned. He felt a familiar ache inside him. He missed Sirius. He missed him so much. He picked up his quill again and started to look back through the book for any appearance altering potions that he could use in his homework. Finding a few he noted down their names and then pulled his parchment back towards him and started to write. “—it is similar to the Polyjuice potion in the way that it can alter—” I wonder whether or not I should tell Remus the prophecy before Dumbledore tells him… He thought, breaking off in the middle of his sentence on his homework, which he was getting steadily more irritated with as he wrote more and more. He thought of the way that Remus was looking after him and remembered that he must be grieving over Sirius as well. He is your new godfather. Doesn’t he deserve to know? His mind asked him. At the same time he wanted to keep the prophecy as quiet for as long a time as possible. But Dumbledore would be telling them in three day’s time, surely Remus could wait until then… He’d prefer to hear it from you… He thought. He knew he was beaten; he knew that he was going to have to tell Remus the prophecy now, but the matter was when? He couldn’t really do it now. He supposed that he could catch him before bed and then he could tell Ron and Hermione either later on at night or in the morning. It wasn’t as if he could leave Ron and Hermione out of things; they needed to know and no one but himself would be telling them. He massaged his temples unhappily before looking back to his potions. There was no way that he would be doing anymore work on that tonight. He put his things in a pile on top of his trunk which could be called ‘orderly’ when used very loosely. He yawned as he got up from his bed before glancing back around the room which he then exited. “FILTHY HALFBLOOD!” Came a yell to the side of him. Harry glanced around to see the brightly coloured picture of Mrs Black shouting at him through her rather melted mouth as he passed her by. Irritatingly enough she proceeded to follow him down onto the first floor, shouting insults at him all the way. He turned to her at the top of the stairs to the ground floor and whipped out his wand. Mrs Black’s eyes opened wide before they started to melt shut again and in a multicoloured flurry she was gone: sprinting through portrait to portrait away from him. He smiled slightly as he descended the stairs and went back into the lounge where Ron and Hermione were still working. All the adults had disappeared however. “You’ve never finished!” Ron said, staring at him with his mouth open. “I’ve only managed two feet on defence against the dark arts so far!” “I’ve done two yards but I’m not doing anymore.” Harry said, “I’ll finish it tomorrow or something.” “Three yards…” Hermione muttered, “It’s just ridiculous!” She glanced up at them both from a book on transfiguration before writing something about the correct wand movements for transfiguring an inanimate object to life. “Tea’s ready!” Tonks said, sticking her head around the corner of the door. “Thank Merlin!” Ron said and leapt to his feet. Hermione neatly put her things away and the three of them made for the kitchen. The table had a large white tablecloth spread over it, on top of which was a lot of food, seemingly of every kind possible. Mrs Weasley was utterly thrilled with Dobby, who had made more than half the meal, which was a nice change from Kreacher who had helped unmake half the meal previously. It turned out that not that many people had decided to stay for dinner that night, a lot of them had returned to Hogwarts or to their own homes but Harry sat down at the table with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George, Bill, Molly, Arthur, Remus, Mad Eye and Tonks. They all ate a lot whilst Ginny, Ron, Fred, George and Tonks attempted to talk through mouths of food, earning disapproving glares from the others. “RON!” Molly shouted at her youngest son, “If you talk with your mouth full again…” Ron nodded to her in acknowledgement that should he speak with food in his mouth once more then the consequences would be dire. Remus found himself automatically checking to see whether Harry ate enough, despite the fact that he knew that Molly did that anyway with all her children and Harry. He still didn’t appear to be eating as much as he should, however. Naturally Molly had already noticed this and was trying to force more food upon him. “I’ve had enough, thanks.” Harry said to Molly who looked at him critically, “Really!” “I don’t see how you can have, you barely eat a thing!” Molly said to him. “I’m fine!” Harry insisted. After a few more repetitions of this, Molly finally gave in and was forced to accept the fact that Harry wasn’t going to eat anymore. The table was cleared of all food and plates, although Ron tried to keep eating even whilst Molly removed his plate and scalded him for eating so much, as if it were his overeating that was making Harry eat too little. Once all the plates were washing themselves up in the sink Harry found a large chocolate cake infront of him with ‘Happy Birthday Harry!’ written on it in white icing. Ron was practically drooling all the way through their singing happy birthday to him and was the first one to take a slice of the cake. “Ronald!” Molly barked, “I cannot believe you have room for cake left!” She scowled as he quickly grabbed hold of a bowl with a slice of cake inside it and pulled it towards himself. “Thanks, Mrs Weasley.” Harry said as she gave him a slice of cake which was bigger than Ron’s. “You’re welcome Harry, dear.” She smiled, “Just call me Molly though.” “Okay, Mrs Weasley.” Harry said and she swatted him lightly with a tea towel before sitting down to have some cake herself. The evening passed far too quickly for Harry who had wanted that evening to drag out as long as possible. He was happy just sitting in the lounge with a roaring fire in the grate, surrounded by all his friends and having a calm, interesting time. Naturally all good things come to an end and it was only when the clock chimed for half past eleven that Molly sent everyone to bed for the night. “Harry? Where are you going?” Ron asked Harry as he left their room, still dressed. “Just going to talk to Remus for a bit, I’ll be back soon.” Harry told him and without waiting for a response that would almost certainly hold questions, he left the room, pulling the door shut behind him. Down the corridor Remus was just disappearing into his room and Harry called out to him. “Yes, Harry?” Remus asked as his godson stopped infront of him, intrigued as to what he could want him for at such a late hour. “Is it too late to talk?” Harry asked him and Remus shook his head. “Not at all.” He replied, “Do you want to come in?” “Sure.” Harry replied as he entered the room behind Remus. They both went and sat down on the bed. “So what is it you want to talk to me about?” Remus asked. “You know before, when you asked what the prophecy was about…?” “Yes…” Remus answered slowly, before adding hopefully: “Will you tell me what it said now?” “Yes.” Harry replied. Remus stared at him for a second; startled that Harry was now willing to tell him something that he had been so reluctant to say before but he listened silently as Harry repeated the prophecy to him.

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