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Harry / Tonks ship

Dear Ginny,

Happy birthday! 

As you've probably noticed by now, this handsome fellow is not Hedwig despite being perhaps the only other snowy owl in England.  He is, in fact, my birthday gift to you.  I was told that as a magical post owl, he'll likely live at least forty years.  It's nice to know that Hedwig will be with me for so much longer.  How old is Errol, anyway?

Back to your owl: I have not named him.  Please let me know what name you eventually choose.

A great deal has happened since I spoke to you in London a couple weeks ago.  Just in case you aren't staying somewhere where you're keeping up with the news: After Fudge (and Dumbledore) fired them, I hired Remus, Kingsley, and Tonks as bodyguards and teachers.  Not only do I get several great tutors out of the deal, but this also lets the Order focus on something other than me.  I just hope they're actually doing something constructive.

I keep going off on tangents, don't I?  Back to my story.  We've found a place to stay that I inherited from my family.  Yes, I have inherited several things from my family.  Imagine my surprise when I heard that I was never informed of the Potter Vault, as it was my legal right.  Recall that this is AFTER Dumbledore forbade me from attending Gringotts for the reading of the Black Will.

To make a long story short, (too late [sorry, muggle joke]) I'm no longer blindly following Dumbledore's orders.

Enough about my woes.  How're you doing?  Has Hermione scared you to death about the OWLs yet?  Is Percy still an unmentionable topic around your family?  Ron and Hermione still dancing around each other like the clueless ponces they are about each other?  How're you getting along with Dean?

Always,
Harry

Harry read over the letter again and nodded in satisfaction.  Rolling it up, he dripped hot wax from a stick of wax  and imprinted the Potter signet ring onto the cooling wax to seal the letter.  After carefully tying the parchment to the leg of the white owl standing patiently, he carried the owl to the nearby window and said, "Take this to Ginny Weasley tomorrow morning, please.  Stay there after delivery.  You'll be her owl from now on, okay?"

The owl gave a quiet hoot and took off.

Harry watched the owl fly away into the darkening sky and wondered if he should have included more in the letter.  Godric, Gryffindor Keep, being of age, dragon hide armor, more shopping after the Will reading, earning his apparition license . . .  He had indeed been busy.  The problem was that he didn't know how much to tell her without it getting back to Dumbledore.  Not that he didn't trust her.  He did, with his life.  The problem was that he couldn't reasonably expect her not to talk to her family, and Harry was sure at least Molly and Arthur would tell Dumbledore anything and everything.

A quiet hoot pulled his attention from the setting sun.  "Yes, Hedwig.  I know you're upset."  He smiled at the dignified tawny owl standing on her own perch next to Hedwig's.  "You'll just have to get along with her for a while, Hedwig.  I'll give her to Hermione in a month for her birthday.  Now, do you two want to go hunting?"


Later that night, Harry was fast asleep and having a dream typical of sixteen-year-old males.  In short, nothing he would EVER repeat to an adult.

He was just getting to the really, REALLY interesting parts of his dream when he was awakened by a scream from Tonks.

Bolting upright and breathing heavily from the sudden burst of adrenalin, Harry fumbled putting his glasses on and was just picking his wand up when his bedroom door burst open.  He narrowly avoided casting a particularly nasty hex when he recognized the wide-eyed, panicked look on Tonks's face.

Remus, wearing only pajama bottoms, skidded to a stop against the doorjamb.  His eyes raked over Harry and, not finding anything wrong with him, turned to Tonks.  "What's wrong?"

"Shack!" she said in a state of near panic, her face showing indecision.  "His family's under attack."

"Go!" Remus ordered.  "Wait!" he amended as she turned.  "Get your armor on, and then get your butt to his place.  I'll stay here with Harry."

"You too, Remus," Harry ordered as she tore down the hall without a backward glance.

"No, Cub.  You need someone to stay with you.  This could well be a diversion to get your guards away from you."

Harry's eyes narrowed, and he nearly growled aloud at his pseudo-godfather.  The tense werewolf was saved from a verbal tongue-lashing by Godric's arrival.

"Wards are good," Godric reported.  "I'll stay with him.  Between me, the wards, Dobby, and Harry himself, this place is dangerous to attack."

Remus looked torn.

"Go!" Harry snarled in frustration.

Harry and Godric watched Remus give them a momentary smile of thanks before he turned and ran toward his room.  Harry counted out ten seconds before Remus was sprinting toward the front door.  Tonks was long since gone.

"How can I get there?" Harry murmured to himself.

"Floo, apparition, Knight Bus, or portkey" Godric promptly answered.

Harry looked at him in surprise.

The ghost almost smiled.  "Surprised I'm not trying to keep you here?"

"Er, yeah, actually."

"You're a Gryffindor, through and through.  I am not about to ask you to not go to the aid of a friend.  All I ask is that you wear your armor.  I'm getting kind of fond of you, and you ARE my primary magical heir."

Smiling, Harry spun to where his armor vest was hanging over a mannequin.  As he wiggled it over his head, he said, "Taking the Knight Bus would only bring non-combatants into the firefight, so that is out.  Can you make a portkey for me?"

"I've never been there, so no."

"Damn."

"Agreed.  However, I do know that the floo address is 'Shacklebolt's Shack'."

Harry ran, with Godric on his heels, toward the floo fireplace.  "Shacklebolt's Shack!" Harry cried.  The floo trip was over an instant after it started.  Harry looked up from his undignified heap on the floor to find himself looking at Godric.  "Damn!"

"Indeed.  Their floo connection is either damaged or more likely blocked.  We have no phoenix handy, so that is out."

"Dobby!" Harry called, having an inspiration.

Dobby popped in.  "Yes, Master Harry?" the nervously twitching elf asked.

"Can you take me to Kingsley Shacklebolt's home?"

Dobby's ears drooped.  "No, Master Harry.  I is not being able to take someone using house-elf travel."

"DAMN!"

"Why does Master Harry not use wizard travel?" Dobby asked.

"I've never been there.  I can't apparate somewhere I've never been."

"Says who?" Godric asked.

Harry looked over at him.  "What?"

"It's true enough that most wizards can only apparate to somewhere they've been before.  You, Harry, are not like most wizards, however.  Concentrate on Remus or Tonks sufficiently and trigger an apparition with them as the destination."

Harry stared for a moment before closing his eyes and focusing on Remus as hard as he could, and then he pushed his magic forward as he'd learned during his apparition lessons.

"STOP!" Godric yelled.

Harry opened his eyes to see a wavering yellow glow all around the room and Dobby and Godric looking around in fear.  The glow went away, and they both relaxed.

"Please get out from under my anti-apparition ward before you try that, Harry.  You nearly tore through that ward.  You probably saw it."

Harry smiled in embarrassment before turning on his heel and pelting toward the front door.  "Sorry!" he called over his shoulder.  "We'll be back when we can!"

Harry sprinted out the door and along the path until he reached the tree that marked the ward boundary.  Once in place, he paused for a moment to gain his breath.  Again concentrating on Remus, he triggered an apparition.

"Protego," he whispered, the instant the feeling of being pulled through to his new destination ended.

He was immediately glad he put up a shield.  He expected to arrive into a running firefight, and he wasn't disappointed.  His new shield deflected a purple curse coming in at Remus that he'd appeared in the path of.  Even as his shield was wavering with the impact, Harry had a sudden case of vertigo that threatened to topple him over where he stood.

The scene paused for a moment as everyone adjusted to the surprising new player on the field.  Remus glared at Harry for a moment before moving away quickly.

Harry half dove and half fell behind a stone wall on instinct as five more hexes came in at him.  It took more than a few seconds before the disorientation faded and he could properly focus on his surroundings.  The six Death Eaters he could see were paying most of their attention toward Harry and his stone wall defense.  So far, the field stone wall seemed to be holding up, but that was only a matter of time.  The Death Eaters themselves appeared to be hunkered down behind makeshift barricades around the front door to a modest two-story home tucked into a small wood.

Peeking the tip of his wand over the wall, he gathered his focus and shouted, "Reducto!"

The barricades the Death Eaters had been hiding behind exploded, sending rock chips and wooden splinters in all directions.

Harry immediately broke into a cold sweat and threw up.  Watching his enemies' cover explode was bad enough, but Harry's body was now violently rebelling against what he was doing to it.

Wiping the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve, Harry took deep, gulping breaths to calm himself and steady his stomach.  After thirty seconds, his body started responding to commands again, and he looked up.

Remus and Tonks were standing over the six prone Death Eaters, binding the last ones with conjured ropes.  The whole area showed signs of the fight that had just ended.

Harry stood and unsteadily moved to join Remus and Tonks.

Remus glared at Harry.  "Damn fool.  Well, if you're here, you may as well do it right.  I saw at least two -"

"Three," Tonks interrupted, fully the professional auror.

"- three wizards enter the door.  No telling how things are going inside."

Smoke started coming from somewhere behind the house, and a low explosion was heard by the three.

"I daresay it isn't going well," Tonks said as she stepped to the side to look through a window.  "Nobody in the front room," she reported.

Remus tried the battered front door and then cast an unlocking charm when it didn't open immediately.  The door flared violet for a moment but refused to open.

"Hell with it," Tonks growled and promptly blasted the door into matchsticks.  The three moved cautiously inside, listening.  Other than the sound of a growing fire from somewhere, no sound was heard.  The front room was unoccupied but showed clear signs of a fight with the overturned furniture and scorch marks on the walls.

Tonks raised her wand and murmured something.  A small, silver form darted from her wand and immediately melted through the ceiling.

"Tonks?" Kingsley's voice shouted from above.

"Here, Shack!  Lower level secure.  Remus and Harry are with me."

"Upper level secure.  Get up here.  Got four stunned bad guys to deal with, and I don't know how far that fire's gotten."

The three sprinted up the stairs to find four unconscious Death Eaters, one with a messily destroyed shoulder, piled around a destroyed door that led to a bedroom.  Kingsley was just now stepping out from his defensive position behind the door.  A willowy black woman, who was carrying a silently sobbing child, followed him. 

Tonks and Kingsley threw a practiced eye over all six standing magicians before turning and casting levitating charms over the bodies, leading them down the stairs.

What Harry presumed was Kingsley's wife placed their child on her feet before looking around the small hallway.  She looked at one bloodstain on the floor and another on the wall before collapsing in a dead faint.  Remus caught her before she made it to the floor. 

Shrugging, the werewolf easily hoisted the unconscious woman in his arms and went downstairs.

This left Harry with the child.  Hoping he was doing the right thing, Harry went down to one knee and smiled at her as much as his mood and physical condition allowed.  "Hi.  My name's Harry.  What's yours?"

Her crying stopped, but her eyes were still bright with tears.  "Momma?  What happened to Momma?"

"She's downstairs.  Do you want to go and see her?"

The little girl nodded and shot down the stairs under her own power.  Harry followed more slowly and unsteadily.  They found all ten bound Death Eaters now stacked haphazardly about the front room with Kingsley standing over them, wand drawn and a grim expression on his face.  Kingsley noticed the two enter the room and nodded.  "I'm fine here.  Please go out back and help put out the fire.  Come here, Princess.  Momma and I are fine."  Father wrapped the now relieved child in a hug as Harry moved toward the sounds he could hear coming from down a hallway.

"Dobby!"

Dobby popped in and looked around.  "Master Harry called for Dobby?"

Harry didn't slow his pace, forcing Dobby to jog to catch up and keep pace.  "Please help us put out the fire, then go to the ministry and report this attack to the aurors on duty.  After that, go back to the Keep, tell Godric we're all fine, and get one of the empty suites cleaned up and ready."  They got to within view of the fire that was trying to move through the kitchen but was being held in check by the combined efforts of Remus and Tonks.

"Magical fire!" Remus called when he noticed Harry.  "We can hold it in place but can't get it to stop!"

"Aquas!"  Harry added his efforts to the two, and they slowly began making headway.

Dobby silently studied the room for a moment before closing his eyes and holding both arms out wide.  He suddenly snapped fingers on both of his hands simultaneously and most of the fires winked out of existence.  The one corner still burning was handled quickly by the three magicians.

"Well done, Dobby!" Harry praised, managing a smile for his small friend.

The house-elf smiled.  "Dobby will now go, Master Harry.  Dobby will do your bidding and then be at the Keep if Master Harry needs to speak with Dobby."  He popped away.

The three paused and looked around the damaged, and now dripping wet, room.

Breaking the resulting silence, Harry said, "Interrupted a damn nice dream, too."

Remus broke into laughter.

Smiling widely, Tonks asked, "What color was her hair?" as her own hair shifted back and forth from dark red to bushy brown.

Harry clamped his jaw shut.

Still laughing, Remus led the two others back to the front room.

Kingsley, now in full auror mentality, had revived his wife and installed her and his daughter together on the undamaged couch.  He was casting diagnostic spells on each of the ten unconscious men in series.

Three of the men from upstairs had no visible wounds, and the fourth looked like his shoulder had been attacked by a particularly angry hippogriff.  The six from the front door had various cuts and embedded splinters from Harry having destroyed their defensive wall.  Some of them only had minor cuts, but two looked pretty well torn apart. 

Kingsley was just checking the second of these when he sighed and shook his head.  "This one's gone," he pronounced.

Harry felt like a petrification spell had just been cast on him; his whole body stopped.  A man died from the spell he'd cast?  A man had DIED?  From HIS spell?

He'd KILLED the man?

Remus had his back turned, so he didn't have a chance to catch Harry as he collapsed.

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Author Notes:

A bunny in this chapter was contributed by Treck.

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