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Percival Graves was seated at the end of the very long, aged wooden table in the kitchen at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Which was, as defined by one Hermione Granger, ‘a secret society that Dumbledore was the leader of, that he founded back during the First War to help fight against You-Know-Who’. All available seats were taken and at the other end of the table sat Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore himself. The greasy haired man from earlier was seated just short of halfway down the table and was watching him even more intently than the Headmaster seemed to. The rest of the table was looking at him like he was some bizarre creature in a zoo.

 

   The Headmaster was looking very aged these days. Of course, the last pictures he had seen of him were from 70 years ago and he had not exactly been a teenager then either. His hair was solid white and long, though it had nothing on the ridiculous length of his beard. Percival absently wondered how he kept it clean since any sort of cleaning charm left hair unmanageable. The man’s blue eyes were twinkling, rather distractingly so, which Percival found more than a little disconcerting. Any person who could keep an amused and merry twinkle in their eye in a serious situation was not a person he would ever trust. Not that he was going to trust Dumbledore in the least anyway, especially with the shady goings-on of his actions involving Harry. He wondered what approach Dumbledore was going to take with him: would he act the part of one of the leaders in this war and dictate terms or would he go with the benign grandfather routine? From what he had heard so far it could go either way.

 

   “Welcome, Mr. Graves, to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Though your arrival was a bit unexpected I have to say, My Dear Boy,” Dumbledore greeted him kindly, though the last sentence had a vaguely inquisitorially disapproving tone that Percival supposed was meant to induce answers and guilt. Grandfather routine it was then. Percival wondered if people actually fell for it, especially adults. Did they really allow this man to chastise them like unruly children? Though he supposed when you were over one hundred and ten years old most of the world could be considered children. 

 

   When Percival failed to respond to the bait, the man hadn’t asked a question after all, Dumbledore’s face fell in apparent disappointment and sorrow before he seemed to rally and start again, “Now, My Boy, I need for you to tell me a bit about yourself. My colleagues tell me your accent is American. What was it that brought you to England? And your guardian, where are they?”

 

   Now…what should he say? Should he engender sympathy by telling them he was an… Yes, that seemed like the perfect plan. Parents names… ‘Whatever you decide’, a voice whispered to him, ‘the records will appear’. Well, how convenient.

 

    “I’m fifteen-years-old, born November 13th. My parents recently died when they were attacked at a charity event, so my godmother is now guardian. Her work recently allowed her to relocate to London and she thought the change of scenery would do me good. She worked with my parents organising charities and such, fighting for the rights of others.” Phina wouldn’t mind; from what he had read, she had actually spent the last few decades doing just that. He thought that she would appreciate the opportunity to turn this Ministry on its head and ‘drag it out from its ass-backwards medieval outlook’ as a note scribbled in the margin of a newspaper clipping about creature rights put it.

 

   “And what brought you to Little Whinging at just the right time to help our Mr. Potter?” There was a tone of distrust seeping in at this question, those gathered at the table appeared to feel the vibe, they leant forward and began to eye him with suspicion.

 

   Percival forced himself to blush and look down to the floor towards his left, as if self-conscious, simultaneously giving Dumbledore the first clear view of his Tattoo. He heard the ever so slight intake of breath and fought not to smirk. Red herring indeed.

 

     Still acting like he was about to die from embarrassment, he said, “Well it was a bit of an accident you see. I...I had decided to try the No-Maj version of transportation. But I… I got rather lost. And I didn’t know how to get back or...or even when the next… ‘b…u…s’,” he sounded it out carefully, as if the word was unfamiliar, “would come, so I decided to walk around, hoping I would come across someone who could help. I eventually found myself in a park. There… was a group of boys that appeared to be around my own age, and I thought maybe they could help me. As I was walking up to them, I saw the sky darkening and the felt temperature drop. Everyone started running in different directions, so with a lack of any better options I just followed the last two, who seemed to be going to the same place, unlike everyone else.”

 

   “And then, My Boy, what happened then?” 

 

      Dumbledore’s voice had changed in a way Percival didn’t think most would note. He looked back to the table, most Order member were in various states of sympathy and/or slight horror. The greasy-haired one was watching him but was also carefully side-eyeing the headmaster. Apparently, he had noted the change too. The Headmaster himself seemed to be filled with an energy he could barely suppress, his eyes were twinkling madly, his lips were twitching, and something in his overall facial expression spoke of hunger. If Percival were the type to be intimidated by creepy facial expressions, he would have shuddered. As it was, he felt his face automatically blank of any deeper expressions.

 

   “We ran and found cover in some sort of concrete overhang before everything went completely black. I pulled out my wand and had seen the black-haired boy, as I thought of him then, do the same. Because I’m American, I am subject to MACUSA’s laws and I wasn’t sure of all the…nuances of your laws for underage wizards, so I told the boy not to use his wand. I cast a Lumos, which was when we caught sight of the Dementors. I had read about them but never seen one before. However, my tutors had insisted that I be prepared for every eventuality, especially considering my… talent in Defence. So, I cast the Patronus Charm and drove the Dementors away.”

 

    “Oh!” he added, as if just remembering, “I nearly forgot, when we stopped in the alleyway, the blonde boy, Dudley, was blaming the other boy, Harry, for what was happening, so I asked him if he lived with Harry and knew about magic, which he said he did. In America, there’s a certain amount of leeway given when performing magic in front of No-Maj family members that you live with since it isn’t a direct violation of the Statute. You can imagine my surprise when Harry got a letter from the Ministry about underage magic use, when he had not cast any magic whatsoever, not even a Lumos. How does that even happen?” his voice unintentionally gained a subtle edge of steel at the question, lifting the veil of his normal teenage boy image ever so slightly and allowing a glimpse of the hardened warrior underneath the façade. Fortunately, only one of those at the table appeared to have noticed, as judged by his gaze sharpening, it was the greasy haired man. He had to be some sort of spy, given how observant of everything as he was.

 

  “I’m afraid I can’t disclose such information to a minor or citizen of another country. Suffice to say I am doing all I can to help young Harry.” Dumbledore affected a mien of regret, that was distinctly insincere, before moving on, “But, My Boy, why did you not return to your guardian? Surely, she is worried sick?” he said as he brought forth his patented ‘Disappointed and Disapproving’ look over his half-moon glasses.

 

   Percival shrugged, continuing his disaffected teenager routine, “I called her from the Dursleys’ phone. She was glad that I had made a friend and agreed that if it wouldn’t be any trouble for the Dursleys, that I could stay with Harry until the hearing. That way I can speak about what had happened, if Harry needs me to. She talked to Petunia who agreed it would be no trouble for me to stay. In fact, my guardian was rather relieved. When we got here, she discovered her work was going to be much busier than she had originally thought, and she hated the thought of leaving me all alone for so long. We were lucky to manage one meal together the week we arrived, so she thought this arrangement was sent by the gods.”

 

  “And I suppose this was the reason you and young Harry insisted that you come with him?” Percival nodded. “My colleagues tell me that you made an oath that you meant Harry Potter no harm?”

 

   “What else was I to do? They were all awfully suspicious of me for some unknown reason.” He heard Moody snort.

 

   “Still,” Dumbledore said rather condescendingly, “oaths and vows are a very serious matter in the magical world, My Boy. Surely you cannot promise to always mean no harm to Harry, one cannot know what the future will hold. Perhaps someday you might find that you and Harry disagree. Harry for one, harbours no ill will towards those that have… shall we say… ‘lesser blood’, and you, as a pureblood,” he raised his eyebrows questioningly and Percival nodded, “are sure to disagree with this,” Dumbledore subtly probed.

 

   “I don’t see why. Harry is my friend. As for those of… as you put it ‘lesser blood’… I’m not sure what it’s like here in Britain, but we make no real distinction in value between those from magical families and those from No-Maj families. Beings with magic are all the same.”

 

   “I see,” Dumbledore nodded sagely. “Sadly, there are those here in Britain who believe that to come from a family of magic makes them superior to those who do not or those who only have one magical parent. The vast majority of these ‘pureblood supremacists’ serve a man named Voldemort,” almost all those gathered at the table winced and a few gasped, “who has recently returned and is using his time to gather followers and re-establish his power-base. It is the goal of the Order of the Phoenix to fight him. We are always looking for those of talent, whose inborn sense of justice will not let them sit idly by as the innocent are killed for a madman’s idea of blood purity.”

 

   The majority of people sitting at the table obviously couldn’t hear how he was pitching the line of his little recruitment speech, since they were all puffed up with pride from the implied compliments their leader was bestowing on them. There were four exceptions, the tall dark man who had been identified as Shacklebolt whose face was carefully blank, the Spy’s was as well though Percival could read the disgust in his eyes, Tonks the violet haired Auror was looking a bit disconcerted and Moody was scowling in disapproval. From what he had understood, through the little that Ron and Hermione gave away when they were still tripping over themselves to explain to Harry why they ‘simply could not tell him anything’, the Order only accepted wizards and witches who were of age and had finished their schooling. That Dumbledore was trying to manipulate him into wanting to join the Order, lest he be seen to be a selfish and unconscionable person, who would stand aside as innocents were murdered before him, told Percival that Albus Dumbledore really wanted him. Or more precisely, wanted access to the power he presumably had as the Master of Death. Percival mentally shook his head. Death had told him the Tattoo would be a wonderful distraction, and if it kept Dumbledore from concentrating too heavily on Harry, well, all the better.

 

   “On that note, what are your intentions towards young Harry? As I’m sure you are aware, he is very important to us. Not only to the people in this room,” Dumbledore gestured to those gathered at the table, “who see him as a dear family member, but also to the war. He is, after all, the Boy-Who-Lived. It is his destiny to fight against Voldemort,” everyone except the spy, who winced, flinched again, “and I fear that Voldemort,” flinch/wince, “will never stop trying to kill Harry.” He shook his head sadly.

 

   “My intentions?” Percival asked slowly, with a hint of incredulity. “You make it sound like I’m trying to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. Harry is my friend but I think it would be a bit presumptuous to be asking for his hand after the short time we’ve known each other. Besides if it comes to it, assuming he isn’t opposed to the idea, isn’t it his Godfather’s permission I should be seeking?” Percival quirked a wry smile which when combined with his teasing tone made those around chuckle, though Snape fought valiantly against the impulse to take points for cheek and Minerva was trying but failing to look disapproving since her lips kept twitching upwards. “As I said, Harry is my friend and I stand by my friends.”

 

   “Very well,” Dumbledore said, briskly changing the subject, “will you be attending Hogwarts this year? Your age and birthdate would put you in young Harry’s year.” He beamed happily at the coincidence.

 

   “Yes, my guardian and I had made arrangements for me to be enrolled at Hogwarts. We’ve readied the necessary paperwork. Actually, it should have been sent some time in the last few days, so you should be receiving it soon.”

 

   “Good, good. Now I must ask you, my boy, about the mark on your neck. Unfortunately, tattoos are not allowed in Hogwarts,” he said even as he moved forwards imperceptibly in his chair in anticipation.

 

   With attention brought to it, Percival found himself with everyone’s attention on the Mark. One witch with black hair tied back into a strict bun gasped and said, “That was the sign of the Dark Lord Grindelwald. Why would you tattoo such a thing on yourself?!”

 

   Percival shook his head. “I didn’t, it was a gift. And I was assured that although Grindelwald used it, its origin is far older than he and it is not, in fact, his Mark.”

 

   “Gifted, My Boy?” Dumbledore asked, practically vibrating. “Would you mind telling us who gave it to you?”

 

   “I’m not at liberty to say.” 

 

     Percival met Dumbledore’s eyes evenly for the first time. He could feel Dumbledore’s mind trying to gain access to his, seeking his memory of receiving the Mark. The presence was subtle at first, trying not to draw attention to itself but as more time passed by the attempts focused more on power than finesse. 

 

      Finally, Percival grew tired of it and broke the gaze saying, “I hope you don’t make a habit of performing Legilimency on minors, Headmaster. Not only is it a gross violation of privacy and misuse of authority but at least in America it is also illegal.”

 

   The black-haired witch gasped, in outrage this time, and exclaimed, “Albus! You didn’t!”

 

   Albus lifted his hands in a placating gesture, “Now, Minerva, I had to see, what if he had been marked by a sympathiser or follower of Grindelwald. We needed to know. As it was, I did not see anything; I suspect whoever did it, obscured the information.”

 

   Minerva sat back, still bristling but willing to accept his excuses. Dumbledore turned back to Percival, “I’m sorry, my boy, but since tattoos are prohibited at Hogwarts, you will need to cover it up. At all times.” 

 

   Dumbledore did not want anyone to know about this tattoo.   His mind had nearly shut down with shock when he had first caught a glimpse of that tattoo. The sign of the Deathly Hallows! The sign of the Master of Death! But how could this boy, this child, have collected all the Hallows? Dumbledore had been so sure, Gellert had been sure, that the wand that they had tracked to Gregorovich, the one that Gellert had stolen and Albus had eventually won, was the Elder Wand.

 

   If this boy was indeed the Master of the Hallows, then he must have the Elder Wand. Albus would need to examine it. And if it was, well, accidents happen to wands all the time and the boy could easily get a new one, a less powerful one, from Ollivander’s. Albus had thought he already had two of the Hallows: The Wand and the Cloak (which he kept in a special hidden room behind his office) as if he would give such a priceless item to a child who could barely cast. No, he had given him a regular invisibility cloak and put detection spells on it so he would know when the blasted boy was around. But now, if this new pawn was indeed the Master of Death, he would need to keep him close. Close and under his control.

 

    “May I examine your wand? It is standard procedure for all incoming students,” Dumbledore said, mentally rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

 

   “I was unaware of any school rule saying I must surrender my wand to be examined,” Percival said coolly.

 

    Dumbledore was about to answer when Minerva said, “That’s because there isn’t.” She looked at Dumbledore disapprovingly, “Really, Albus!”

 

   “I’m afraid I will require your wand nonetheless, Mr. Graves. Underage magic is restricted after all and it would be best to remove the temptation. I assure you it will be completely safe in my care.”

 

    Percival wanted to raise his eyebrow at the blatant misuse of power, not to mention the fact that no one gathered at the table, save a very select few (and it was a bit of a relief to see the deputy Headmistress questioning the old man), saw anything wrong or at all amiss with this situation. “I am a citizen of America, thus not subject to British Law. Furthermore, I have a special permit for the use of magic this summer. And since you are neither my guardian, and not yet my Headmaster, you have no authority to confiscate my wand.”

 

   “Now you see here,” Molly Weasley butted in, “you don’t talk to the headmaster that way! He deserves your respect!”

 

   Percival stayed silent, refusing to point out that her brood all had their wands. There was nothing more to say; he wasn’t letting the clearly power-obsessed old man get his hands on his wand, much less for an undetermined amount of time. However, since Magic had said the wand was a continuation of the red herring, he decided to throw the headmaster a bone, “If you must know it’s 11 and ¾ inches, unyielding, elder wood with a thestral hair core.” 

 

     Dumbledore’s eyes lit up with a rapacious gleam.

 

   “One more thing: What are the names of your parents and guardian? I remember a Percival Graves; he went missing during the War with Grindelwald. I believe his body was never found. Are you perhaps related to him?” The question seemed innocent enough, if one ignored the dark gleam in Dumbledore’s eye.

 

   “He was my namesake. My grandfather’s brother. One day they discovered his name on the family tapestry had gained a date of death even though they had never managed to recover his body. My parents told me stories of that time.  There was a huge upheaval. Turns out he had been abducted by Grindelwald and held captive while Grindelwald used human transfiguration to take his place. When Grindelwald was caught… well, they never found him did they. He must have died so horribly. He was the Director of Magical Security at the time, similar to your Head of Department of Magical Law enforcement. My parents thought he was a brave and good man, so they named me after him. My parents were Thomas Amery Graves and Andrea Callista Graves nee Walsh. You’ll have to forgive me for not giving you my guardians name however as she always prefers to make her own introductions,” he ended with a wry chuckle; it was certainly the truth about Phina.

 

   “But surely she would like to know you are all right? One of my colleagues would be glad to meet with her and assure her of your safety,” the Headmaster wheedled.

 

   “Oh, that’s not necessary. She said she would meet me at the Ministry on the 12th so that she could make sure I’m alright and check if I would rather go back home for the rest of summer or stay with Harry.”

 

   Dumbledore subsided, disappointed but seemingly resigned. “Well, Mr. Graves, thank you for answering our questions but I’m afraid we, as adults, have some more to discuss so if you could please re-join your friends upstairs….” 

 

   By the Gods could the man be any more condescending? Add to the fact that he had just lumped Harry and the children together and called them his friends, as if it was a foregone conclusion. It was irritating. But Percival got up and gave a respectful nod to the table and left the room, all the while feeling two pairs of eyes burning into his back.

 

   On his way back to the room he would be sharing with Harry, after stepping around some small balls he suspected of being dung bombs, he stopped by the portrait that everyone seemed to hate and considered it. If they were reduced to using Silencing Drapes, then they must not be able to remove it from the wall. He had some ideas, but he’d have to know more before he could approach this problem in the most effective way. It was interesting that it was still in place after the cleanse.

 

   As he opened the bedroom door, the loud roar of noise that burst out of the room ceased suddenly. It was a bit suspicious but was not something he was unused to. His Aurors had always gone silent when he’d entered the room. And, yes, he was used to all eyes fixing on him as well.

 

  What was more interesting was that Harry was completely red-faced and had been as he walked in. Ron’s ears were red, and he was blustering. Meanwhile Hermione was blushing lightly and looked as if she felt the soul-deep need to apologise to an authority figure for inappropriate behaviour. The twins were grinning maniacally, moving their gaze from Percival to Harry and back again. Ginny looked begrudgingly amused but also had some sort of deep seated… something that was not quite anger….

 

   He could guess what, no…who they had been talking about, and no doubt they had been teasing Harry mercilessly. Ah! Teenagers! Percival would gladly throw Harry under the bus for this. The Shield thing only went so far. It did not include sibling like heckling. So, he merely raised his eyebrow at them and gave them the same look he gave to rookie Aurors who were gossiping instead of working.

 

  “And you would be talking about, what, exactly?” he asked coolly. 

 

     And didn’t it feel good to stop pretending to be a somewhat easily cowed fifteen-year-old and show the steel and authority he had worn like his favourite coat (a coat that Grindelwald had stolen, the bastard!).  Harry, Ron, and Hermione all went redder. Ginny’s grin took on a sadistic sharpness and the twins’ grins went downright wicked.

 

   They answered, switching between each other so fast it was almost one person speaking, “We were just worried,”

“for our ickle Harrykins here.”

“See, we think, that poor,”

“innocent,”

“maidenly.” Ron snorted at the word, but the twins continued on.

 “Harry might have had,”

“his sweet little head turned,”

“by the big, strong,”

“mysterious knight,”

“who showed up just in,”

“the nick of time to,”

“save Harry and,”

“sweep him off his,”

“virginal,” both Ron and Ginny chortled this time.

“feet.”

 

   By now Harry had become so red in the face Percival was almost worried he would pass out. Harry jumped up like a scalded cat and hollered, “STOP IT! JUST SHUT UP THE TWO OF YOU!”

 

   To which Ginny with an almost hidden dark gleam in her eyes said, “But Harry,” in a mock simpering voice while batting her eyelashes, “surely you can admit that Percival is,” here she added a fake American Southern twang, “ever so handsome. Why, even you can’t be strong enough to resist a dashing hero with such a pretty face.”

 

   Harry sank down on the bed to have a minor breakdown and Ginny smirked and exchanged high fives with the twins.

 

   “Yes, well,” Percival coughed, deciding to save Harry, by this point he couldn’t have had much blood left anywhere except in his face.

 

     He walked further into the room and closed the door, nudging Harry to one side so he could sit on the bed. Harry shuffled over but continued being curled up like some weird shell-less hermit crab. Percival couldn’t help the reassuring squeeze he gave to the back of Harry’s neck or how he let his hand trail down Harry’s spine before removing it. He resolutely ignored the resultant looks. 

 

   “What else have you been talking about?”

 

   “Nothing much,” came Harry’s muffled voice from where his head was imbedded in the pillow before the younger boy decided to sit up. “Just how the Ministry and the Daily Prophet, and people in general are being stupid. We covered the Dementor attack and what we’ve been doing. And before they ganged up on me with the last subject,” he coughed, “We had gotten desperate enough to start talking about our summer homework.”

 

  With a huff the fuzzy haired girl began talking immediately. “I’m still surprised by how much of the homework you say you’ve completed, Harry. I mean, Ron didn’t get even half of that done and he had me to nag at him to do it. You know I should take a look at it, just to be sure you’re doing it properly,” Hermione said chidingly, leaving Harry confused as to what he was in trouble for.

 

     Percival didn’t particularly like the way she was talking down to Harry, as if he wasn’t smart enough to do his summer homework or that he would lie about how much he had done or that because he had completed so much of it, it must have been done wrong and it was Hermione who could tell him if his work was right or not, even though she was a student in the same year as Harry.

 

   But it seemed that Harry could defend himself when he pushed hard enough, and he proved it by opening his mouth and saying indignantly, “I had nothing else to do for four whole weeks, Hermione. Four! There was no news, no letters from friends,” here his glare encompassed both Ron and Hermione, only Ron looked slightly abashed. 

  

   “The Dursleys didn’t even give me any chores to do. I was locked in my room, with my school trunk. Is it that much of a surprise that I got so bored that I did my summer homework? After all, it was the absolutely only connection I had to magic, the only thing I had to remind me that magic was real. So yeah, I did my homework. And do you honestly think that I’m so stupid I can’t figure out how to write essays after the last four years doing it? Do you think I’m so stupid that I can’t understand the lessons without you looking over my shoulder correcting me every step of the way? Maybe, you think you know more about magic than I do. Or are you so egotistical that you think I could never do anything, much less learn anything, without you? Need I remind you that you are in the same year as me? For all that you’re top of the year, they haven’t let you skip a year! And despite not having access to my books, every summer, I still manage to do well in all the summer homework, including Snape’s. I’m sorry for using such harsh words, but maybe you shouldn’t just assume that you’re so much better than me or so much smarter than me and that if it wasn’t for you, I would utterly fail. Because it’s not true, I’ll tell you that now. If it wasn’t for you, maybe I would have relied on myself much sooner instead of being content to coast in my classes like Ron.”

 

   Ron squawked and said, “Oh no you don’t! You leave me out of this! I am staying out of this row!”

 

   Hermione had tears in her eyes. She sniffed and said in a stiff voice, “Fine. See if I ever offer to help you with your homework again. We’ll see who’s right when your grades start slipping even lower. Come on Ginny. Let’s go.” She got up and Ginny followed with a sort of apologetic glance back.

 

   Fred whistled, “Wow, Harry. Tell us how you really feel, mate.”

 

   George added, “yeah, it’s not good to repress your emotions that way.”

 

   Fred nodded, eyebrows raised, looking very impressed. “I mean, she sort of had it coming, with her I-know-more-and-am-better-than-you attitude but did you really need to be so harsh?”

 

  Ron nodded, agreeing with them completely but still hoping Hermione wouldn’t stop helping him with his work. If he was being honest, he didn’t really need her help either, he just didn’t like doing it by himself. His brain really didn’t like it when he sat still, except if it was for chess. But during chess, his brain was always jumping around, going from strategy to strategy and playing scenarios out in his head, so it was hardly like concentrating at all. When he did homework, he just couldn’t seem to focus on it for any length of time, so Hermione’s help was actually beneficial in keeping him on task even if her condescending way of teaching grated on his nerves.

 

    “Weeeell, I probably could have worded it better,” Harry answered. “But all my life people have accused me of lying, particularly about academics, and… and she’s supposed to be my friend, to believe in me. That she was undermining my newly resurfaced need to do my best just hit the wrong nerve. I know she didn’t know that I’d decided not to slack or coast in my classes anymore but…” Harry sighed and leaned back against Percival’s side so that he was laying against Percival’s left arm. “The fact that she thinks I’m so much less smart than she is, even if it is subconsciously, really irks me. I can’t stand people thinking I’m stupid, I never could. Being thought of as a liar, I don’t like but can take ‘cause I’m kind of used to it. After having to play dumb for so long, I really can’t stand being thought of as stupid.”

 

   The three Weasleys nodded, that, they could understand. Fred gave the pair of them an assessing look and said, “But in all seriousness, what is going on with you two? I’ve never seen you so physically relaxed with anyone else, not even Ron and Hermione or me and George and we’ve known you the longest.”

 

   Harry just shrugged. “It’s comfortable,” was all he said as he wiggled slightly against Percival’s warmth.

 

   “Are you two like… going out?” Ron asked curiously.

 

   Percival looked over at the portrait on the wall who was looking very interested and trying very hard not to show it. “I think,” he said slowly, “that whatever might happen or might not happen between Harry and I, should stay between Harry and I. I’m sure that if the situation should change you will be told about it. Until then, it’s our business and no one else’s.”

 

   The twins nodded, “We can respect that.” They exchanged a look with each other before they somehow, although they hadn’t moved in the slightest, started to loom over Percival. “However, if you ever hurt him—”

 

   “Let’s just say—”

 

   “That we have a lot of products that—”

 

   “Need testing and we’re sure—”

 

   “At least one of them could help in—”

 

   “Hiding a body,” they finished together.

 

    Their entire countenance changed as they bounced up, smiled at Harry with what Percival was sure was feigned innocence and gentleness (surely those demons didn’t have anything so pure as that in their souls) and said, “We’ll see you at dinner, Harrykins. For now, we have products to plan and experiments to conduct.”

 

   Ron shuddered as the door closed behind them. “I’m glad I’m not rooming with them.”

 

   Harry cleared his throat, reticently, “Uhm, actually Ron, you are. Percival didn’t have a room and he doesn’t really know anyone but me, certainly not well enough to sleep soundly in the same room as the twins and you are their brother.”

 

   Ron gave a very loud, and very pathetic groan, it was the sort of mournful noise an animal made when trapped and the only way it was escaping was through death. “But Harry,” he whined pathetically. He didn’t say anything else though because he knew it wouldn’t change anything and he wasn’t going to force his brothers on some poor innocent bystander. He just wanted his objections known!

 

   “Fine,” he pouted. “But you tell them not to test any more than… two! Products on me in a day and they can’t do it while I’m sleeping or otherwise unaware. And no pranking me if they’re testing products on me. You tell them that; they’ll listen to you.” He scoffed. “They’d probably go so far as to pledge their eternal loyalty to you. It would be more likely than me becoming a prefect.”

 

   “Wow, Ron. That was... those conditions are very mature for you.”

 

   “Well it’s not like I’m naïve enough to think I wouldn’t be their guinea pig, anyway. At least this way it won’t be in my sleep, without me knowing, or countless times a day. Plus, I won’t be pranked. So, yeah, this way I come out on top. Well sort of anyway.”

 

   They sat in contemplative silence for a bit before Ron got up saying that he ought to move his stuff. Percival nudged Harry and looked down at him. Harry nodded and said, “Ron, since your stuff is already unpacked, why not just leave it here. You can get your night stuff and some clothes for the morning before bed but leave the rest, that way there’s less chance your stuff will get booby trapped or pranked.”

 

  Ron blinked. “Really? You wouldn’t mind it?”

 

   It was Percival that said, “As long as you knock before coming in, and wait for a response. Neither of us would mind you keeping your stuff in here.”

 

  Harry tacked on, “Plus, in all likelihood, you will end up rooming back in here. Sirius gives it a day or two, but I think it could be longer with those restrictions. Still, we do have most of the rest of the month.”

 

   “Then why am I even bothering to move in the first place.”

 

   Percival said, “I suppose you could say for propriety’s sake. We have to at least give it a try, because when you come back, Harry and I will have to share the bed. Or transfigure one but….” He trailed off; anyone could see the room was crowded as it was.

 

   “Oh,” Ron said. “Then I guess I can give it a go.” He looked between the two of them. “Though somehow, I don’t think the two of you mind the idea of sharing a bed, even if it is as small as that one.”

 

   Harry shrugged. “Uncle Vernon wouldn’t let Percival use the guest room, so we had to share my bed and that one is really small. This one is half again as wide.”

 

   “What a git!” Ron exclaimed. Harry nodded in agreement.

 

   “But at least my aunt and cousin were better. Turns out Dudley’s…..” he cut off as Percival shook his head sharply and subtly indicated the portrait, who quickly tried to appear uninterested and on the verge of sleep.  Harry’s brow wrinkled in confusion and Percival tapped his ear and eye in an off-hand way. “Turns out Dudley’s actually quite decent once he’s been exposed to soul deep terror and made to relive his worse memories.”

 

   Ron raised his eyebrow and pretended to twist some kinks out of his spine, so he could look at whatever it was that made his friend so cautious and had elicited a warning from Graves. He blinked slowly at the portrait. He hadn’t really paid attention to it before, because in Hogwarts portraits were everywhere. They were also a common thing in most Wizarding houses. But… now that he thought about it… what was a portrait of a Black doing in a bedroom. Usually landscapes or pictures of animals were placed in bedrooms and the portraits of family went in the hallways or parlours.

 

   He turned back to Harry and Graves, nodding his understanding, then continued the charade of stretching out kinks by rolling his neck and shoulders, sighing in satisfaction when they popped and smirking when Harry grimaced. “Well come on then, we can go tell the twins about the restrictions. They probably have loads of stuff they’d like to show you anyway.”

 

    They spent quite a while in the twins’ room. Percival had been very impressed by their ingenuity, most of their creations also had practical value that could be used in a variety of ways including guerrilla warfare. He made a suggestion to them in a low voice that maybe they could try to develop a way to trap and secure a person so that they were unable to move, particularly their arms, like a permanent Petrificus Totalus, until the legal authorities arrived. Those would have been very useful if they had, had them back in his time. The proximity wards the twins had set on their room went off and everything was put away, just in time, as Molly Weasley swept in and told them the meeting was over and that she needed help with dinner.

 

   When the group had arrived in the kitchen, Percival was formally introduced to Arthur, Bill and Mundungus Fletcher. Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Tonks were also present for dinner. While the others were cooking, Harry and Percival sat at the table.

 

   Sirius was seated across from Harry. “Had a good summer so far?”

 

   “Not really, it was quite lousy,” Harry replied.

 

    Sirius grinned, slightly maniacally. “Don’t know what you’re complaining about, myself.”

 

   Percival’s eyebrow rose, and his lips twitched downwards even as Harry let out an incredulous, “What?”

 

    “Oh yeah,” Sirius nodded bitterly, “Personally, I’d have welcomed a Dementor attack. A deadly struggle for my soul would have broken the monotony nicely. You think you’ve had it bad, at least you’ve been able to get out and about, stretch your legs a bit and get into a few fights… I’ve been stuck inside for a month.”

 

   Harry had stiffened at the beginning of Sirius’ little speech and was almost distracted by the last part. Before Percival had arrived, Sirius had been the only one he felt he had left in the world. To hear Sirius, speak as though fighting for his life was just a fun little jaunt, like the things the Marauders had gotten up to in their youth, while Harry had truly experienced what fighting for your life meant, left a bad taste in his mouth.

 

   “Need I remind you,” he said coldly, “that the last time you had a ‘deadly struggle for you soul’, not only did it get to the point where your soul had literally left your body, but you were then captured and would be dead right now if I hadn’t driven off a hundred dementors and Hermione and I hadn’t broken you out of your cell? Two thirteen-year olds!”

 

   “I was fourteen Harry!” Hermione hissed.

 

   “Yes, thank you Hermione,” Harry acknowledged absently before rounding on Sirius again. “You seem to think that facing death is some sort of fun little adventure you go on to stop your boredom and to give you stories to tell when you’re havin’ a pint with the lads down at the pub,” Harry drawled sarcastically. “But it’s not. It’s not fun and it’s not something to go looking for. You seem to have forgotten that it’s frightening, your mind feels like sludge, your limbs shake, your brain screams at you to run, to go, to escape and most times you can’t do any of that and it’s so terrifying that the fear of it seems to freeze your very soul and you’re a fool if you think staying in a house for a month is any sort of reason to face that, much less seek it out.  Sirius, for god’s sake, YOU are the only thing remotely resembling family I have left. You’re supposed to be my Godfather. I am supposed to be important to you. Why would you want to futilely risk your life? And I expect a better answer than, ‘because I’m bored’ or ‘because I don’t like this house’ or ‘because I’m going stir-crazy and feel useless’ because that, that is not good enough, Sirius,” Harry gulped back tears.

 

   Everyone seemed stunned by his outburst, except for Percival who had known it was coming as soon as he felt Harry stiffen at his side and had seen it building in the moment before Harry’s incredulous exclamation.  He was actually rather impressed though, especially with Harry’s opening statement. This must be how it felt to watch as Percival, at the height of his power, had lambasted Aurors who had made stupid mistakes and risked lives. He wanted to sigh in satisfaction.

 

   Sirius didn’t seem to have an answer of any sort and Lupin looked torn between trying to make excuses for Sirius, agreeing with Harry and feeling hurt by Harry saying that Sirius was the only family he had left. Bill looked a bit amused while Arthur appeared to be very impressed. The twins had expressions somewhere between constipation and smirks, Ginny was just smirking but trying to hide it. Molly looked concerned, as if she wasn’t quite sure what to do with a Harry who spoke his mind unreservedly. Hermione looked like she had been reminded of the earlier tongue lashing she had received and was trying to blink away a tear. Mundungus who had been passed out the whole time hadn’t even noticed and was still snoring away quietly with his head laying on the table and Tonks was both concerned and bemused; she had, after all, only met Harry earlier that evening and thus didn’t know if this was normal for him or not. Ron had his eyebrows up, a small bemused smirk on his face.

 

   “Don’t worry, Harry,” he said, “Nothing could stop this idiot from rushing into certain death. But maybe your boyfriend could save you the grief and just knock him out before he falls through a set of deathly drapes or something.”

 

  Harry just looked at his best mate who gave him his most ‘I’m an innocent in all this’ look, finally he snorted. “I don’t think I’m going to be dating a guy any time soon, Ron.” Harry frowned.

 

   Ron shrugged. “It’s not like you’ve had much time to think about these things and who knows maybe you’ll get dosed with a love potion; you are a rather eligible bachelor after all.”

 

     The conversation sort of stalled then until Molly announced that dinner was ready. It turned out that dinner was a lovely rich ox tail stew, prepared in a giant cauldron, served with freshly baked bread. Both of which almost ended up on the floor and likely would have if Percival hadn’t sneakily supported the twins’ spells with his own magic. His fifteen-year-old stomach thought that it was worth it even if it did make the twins give him calculating and intense looks.

 

   “This looks wonderful, Molly,” Lupin said, ladling stew into a bowl for her and handing it to the next person around the table.

 

   It truly was good stew, Percival thought. The herbs and spices were different from what he was used to, but he could practically taste the love it was made with and it seemed to warm him down to his very bones in a way he hadn’t realised he still needed from his time as Grindelwald’s guest. 

 

    “This truly is wonderful stew, Mrs. Weasley. Not even my Mother’s was this good.”

 

   At Percival’s sincere words and the best cooking complement anyone could give, that it was as good or better than their mother’s cooking, Molly went beet red. “You’re,” she cleared her throat, “you’re very welcome, dear. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Have some more you’ve only had one bowl! You and Harry look like you need it.”

 

   Ron who was sitting next to Harry said in a voice that was only loud enough to carry to Harry and Percival, “Yeah, if you mean they look like they just got back from weeks of confinement and some torture.” Harry and Percival both stiffened but Ron just continued on eating as if he hadn’t said anything at all.

 

    After which there was too much eating and banging of cutlery against plates for much to be said as everyone concentrated on utterly demolishing the frankly intimidating amount of food. When the initial flourish had settled down somewhat, Mrs. Weasley turned to Sirius and said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you, I think there’s something trapped in the writing desk in the drawing room, it keeps rattling and shaking. It could just be a boggart, but I thought to ask Alastor to have a look at it before we let it out.”

 

   “Whatever you like,” Sirius said tonelessly, indifferent to anything to do with anything in the house he hated, and thoroughly distracted as he thought about Harry’s words.

 

   “Of course, with the house suddenly being cleaned, the boggart might not even be there anymore. I checked the curtains earlier and the doxies are gone, which definitely clears up whatever plans I had for us for the next few days. But I suppose we can keep searching for any Dark items hidden around the place so we can get rid of them.”

 

   Percival blinked. “Excuse me, uhm, what did you mean by ‘get rid of them’?”

 

   “Oh, well, the Blacks were an infamously Dark family, so we’ve been clearing out the house of all the potentially dangerous things.”

 

   “These… ‘potentially’ dangerous things… they wouldn’t be family heirlooms and artefacts, wouldn’t they? Priceless pieces of the family’s history?”

 

   “So?” Asked Sirius, an ugly sneer on his face, “the whole lot of them were rotten and I’d burn down this house if I could.”

 

    Percival twitched, a lifetime of being taught ‘family above all else’ caused a deep fury to ignite in him. Percival would say he got angry about as often if not less than the average person. But his fury was something altogether different. Seraphina would agree that, as long as it wasn’t directed at you, it was an awesome sight to behold. But this was Harry’s Godfather, disrespectful, ungrateful, immature whelp that he was and not an enemy. So, he would do as Harry had done and keep it verbal.

 

  “You have no respect for this House,” he stated. “No respect for the ones who came before you and you would leave the ones to come after you with… absolutely…nothing. Nothing of their roots, of their family, of their heritage. Nothing to use to retrace the footsteps of the ones that had led them here. Does your irreverence and immaturity know no bounds?”

 

   Sirius’ mouth gaped opened before his face reddened and he spat out, “And what would you know?! My parents were horrible, monstrous people. And what ‘ones to come after me’! I’m the last one of this wretched place! You know nothing, you pure-blooded bastard! Are you going to start killing Muggle-Borns too and start talking about being proud of your blood!”

 

   He would have gone on, except Harry was suddenly on his feet with his wand pointed unwaveringly at Sirius’ forehead. “Don’t…” Harry said with death in his tone, “insult him ever again.”

 

   “Whoa, now,” Lupin said, getting up and holding his hands in a placating manner. “Whoa now, Harry there’s no need for you to pull your wand, put it away, Harry. Put the wand away.”

 

   Harry didn’t listen, just continued holding his Godfather at wand point and staring at him with a look no one at the table had ever seen before. But of course, they had never seen it before, this was the look of a Harry who had survived a childhood of abuse and neglect, who had survived on Slytherin cunning and spite. A Harry that hadn’t been needed since Hagrid has knocked down the door of that shack on his eleventh birthday. His eyes were cold and there was absolutely no expression on his face.

 

   “Last of the Blacks, you say,” Percival’s fury had always been a quiet thing; he never raised his voice when he was truly angry; he just got quieter the more furious he became. “What about Harry! I suppose it never occurred to you that Harry has a right to everything, all the history in this house. That even if he didn’t want the history of it, that selling it would be worth a fortune. No, instead you just… throw it out like it’s garbage, without thinking of anything except your… petty, pathetic, mummy issues.”

 

   Sirius opened his mouth again but closed it as Harry shifted his stance minutely and his expression became, if possible, even colder.

 

   It was Hermione who asked, “Harry is related to the Blacks?”

 

    Sirius answered in a tone that was just shy of contempt, “All purebloods are pretty much interrelated.”

 

   “So, you knew this, and still decided to deny Harry his heritage. Knowing him as his Godfather, the man he looks up to in the absence of his actual father, you presumably knew that Harry’s greatest desire is to have a family. Given his circumstances it’s not all that hard to understand. How much of the history of the Potter’s is left? Who is there to teach him? And yet you would deny him the chance to learn this part of his history? You might not appreciate where you’ve come from, but I can guarantee Harry does not share your view.”

 

   “Doesn’t matter; most of that stuff is cursed anyway.”

 

    Percival answered coldly, “Then place it in a vault at Gringotts until a curse-breaker can work on them or until Harry decides what he wants to do with them, if you absolutely don’t want them.”

 

    “I don’t understand why you would want all those Dark artefacts,” Molly said, shaking her head.

 

   “I know practically nothing of my family’s past,” Harry said evenly, not taking his eyes off Sirius. “I’d like to learn who my family was and what they’ve done, where I came from. There might be a lot of dark history, but there are lessons that can be learned from that and surely there were others like Sirius.”

 

   Sirius’ face went dark before he snapped out, “Fine! Fine! If you want that Dark junk, we’ll put it into a Gringotts vault for when you’re older.”

 

  Percival spoke again a little louder this time, “Good. It might stop them from being stolen and sold for another’s gain,” as he side-eyed Mundungus, who, when all eyes turned on him, sniffed and cleared his throat before extracting a silver goblet with the Black crest from his coat.

 

   “You little thief,” Sirius said. “If I’d actually cared, I’d have skinned you alive for stealing from me in my own house.”

 

   Harry finally took his wand off Sirius and sat down, still glaring at him while he unconsciously reached out to touch Percival’s Mark. Bill’s eyes took on a calculating gleam, one that was identical to the twins. Then Harry took a breath and removed his hand from Percival’s neck, his entire face relaxing as he started to serve himself and Percival seconds unconcernedly. It really was good stew, and he never got the chance to eat fresh bread at the Dursleys, just left-over store bought that had just begun to grow mould. Hm, maybe that would be something to suggest. It could be nice, spending the day baking fresh bread of all different kinds together and making a stew to go with it. He smiled a small smile to himself. Yes, that was something he wanted; maybe he would write his aunt and ask her what she thought of it. He would even send the letter through the Muggle post to give her a bit less trouble.

 

   Eventually everyone got back to eating their seconds or in some cases, thirds, and in one case, ‘Ronald!’ fourths were asked for before Molly brought out the dessert, apple and rhubarb crumble and custard. By the time they had finished Harry thought he would explode, and Percival couldn’t help but smirk down at Harry’s stomach. Harry just leaned back in his chair and laced his hands over his distended abdomen. He noticed Percival’s look but the sight of Percival’s eyes glittering in mirth made the breath catch in Harry’s throat before a smile reluctantly pulled at his lips and he shook his head slowly, pushing the feelings aside to be dealt with later.

 

   “Nearly time for bed, I think,” said Mrs. Weasley with a yawn.

 

    “Not just yet, Molly,” Sirius said, pushing away his plate and facing Harry, the disagreement from earlier forgotten in his changeable mood. “You know, I’m surprised at you. I thought the first thing you’d do when you got here would be to start asking questions about Voldemort.”

 

   There it was again, Percival noted idly, that flinch. “Why is that? Why is it that every time someone says that name, ‘Voldemort’”—cue flinch— “that everyone flinches? How…exactly…does a wizard… cause such widespread and deep fear of a name that, even with a ten-year reprieve, a whole society flinches at the mere mention of the name?”

 

   The adults were silent until Lupin said forlornly, “You have to understand, those were dark times, desperate times. You could never be sure who was on whose side.”

 

   “Now, I would believe that if I didn’t know that war is like that. All war is dark and desperate with each side trying to get a leg up on the other anyway they can, even if it means turning lovers or family members against each other and using spies. Spies are essential to warfare. So, what made this war, that name, so terrifying? The real answer, if you would.”

 

   This time it was Arthur who answered, he went unnaturally still before seeming to make his decision to answer in truth. “During the war… people who spoke his name disappeared. So many people were going missing and into hiding back then that it took a while for the pattern to develop and longer still for us to realise the correlation between the two; that saying the name would bring the Death Eaters. You see, we believe that You-Know-Who had placed a Taboo on his name; to catch any who were brave, or perhaps foolish, enough to say it. It somehow told him and his Death Eaters right where you were.”

 

  Molly had been trying to get her husband to stop talking the whole time he was giving his explanation, but he ignored her, in the end she collapsed into her seat. “They’re too young to hear about war, Arthur; any of them.”

 

   “Something like this is vital to know,” Percival said with a crinkle in his brow. “What would happen if they, we, didn’t know about this, and got into the habit of calling him Voldemort thinking it was just a silly fear held over from a war that happened before our births, and he re-established the Taboo? Which he can do now that he has a body again. We’d be hunted down, young as we are, Muggleborns too,” he nodded at Hermione, “with no defence at home. Not telling us something like this is just hindering our chance at survival. Age doesn’t matter when a war is being waged; no one is unaffected.”

 

  “You’re still too young,” she said in a desolate tone.

 

  “Victims of war always are,” Percival agreed solemnly. 

 

   “Still,” Sirius said, “Harry has a right to know what’s been going on.”

 

   “Have you forgotten what Dumbledore said?”

 

   “Which bit?” Sirius asked politely, but with the air of someone readying for a fight.

 

   “The bit about not telling Harry more than he needs to know.”

 

   “I wonder, how much there is that he actually doesn’t need to know, given that Dumbledore said he would be an integral part of the war,” Percival said idly. “And I wonder why, exactly, Dumbledore has any say in what Harry needs to know at all. As far as I am aware, he is neither Harry’s parent nor his guardian. So, what authority does he have to decide what Harry needs to know? Which, I might add, seems to be as absolute a bare minimum as he can get away with.”

 

   Hermione sputtered. “He’s the Headmaster! The greatest wizard in the world, the only one You-Know-Who was ever afraid of!”

 

   “Woooow. That’s some powerful propaganda you’re spouting over there. How long have you been indoctrinated? What proof do you have that Voldemort,” seeing the flinches he thought quickly for a substitute, what had Harry called him earlier? Ah yes Riddle, “the Dark Lord Riddle ever feared Dumbledore? That sounds like the type of thing Dumbledore would spread around to create a sense of false safety in his presence. And ‘greatest wizard in the world’ is quite subjective. Magical Britain is very small and rather isolated. You don’t even use books from other countries, how could you possibly know who the greatest wizard in the world is? So, what if he is the Headmaster of Hogwarts? Harry is not currently at school, it’s summer vacation. His authority over Harry should begin and end with the school term and be strictly limited to his schoolwork.”

 

   Hermione and Molly both looked absolutely outraged and indignant and on the verge of shouting, but the others could reluctantly see the logic in Graves’ argument.

 

    Hermione rallied, “He’s the Leader of the Light!”

 

   “I don’t recall Harry having already joined the Order or this war, officially. In fact, I believe you said that the Order only included ‘Of Age’ witches and wizards, ones that have graduated. Ergo Harry hasn’t joined, and it doesn’t matter who their leader is. Sure, Riddle keeps attacking him and he would never side with Riddle, but whoever said there were only two sides to a war.”

 

  “What do you mean? Of course, there’s only two sides, the Light and the Dark!”

 

   “Hm, I thought it was more Riddle and his followers versus Dumbledore and his followers. Besides, you’re all ignorant to what Light and Dark even means, you’ve stagnated in your own little corner of the world and lost your knowledge of Magic. I don’t care to explain it to those who are so blinded and certainly not right now. My point was that Dumbledore has no authority to make any decisions concerning Harry, aside from those directly relating to his schooling and only in the capacity of a normal Headmaster and student.”

 

  No one said anything to that.

 

   “So,” Harry finally said, “what’s Riddle been up to? You know, other than laying low… and probably recruiting.”

 

   “How’d you know he was recruiting?” Lupin asked suspiciously.

 

   Harry shrugged one shoulder. “Because Dumbledore is doing the same.” There was a disquieting silence following his statement.

 

   Sirius cleared his throat. “Yes, well, in any case, gathering followers is only one thing he’s interested in, he’s got other plans too, plans he can put into operation very quietly indeed, and he’s concentrating on them at the moment.”

 

   “What’s he after apart from followers?” Harry asked.

 

   Lupin and Sirius exchanged the most fleeting of glances before Sirius said, “Something he can only get by stealth.”

 

   Harry studied the pair of them, then looked over at the adult Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley looked angry that Sirius was telling Harry. Mr. Weasley looked vaguely uncomfortable and Bill looked… at anything that wasn’t Harry. 

 

    “Let me guess,” he said bitterly, “the specifics of which I don’t need to know.” Harry stood up and started out of the room, Percival at his heels. He stopped in the middle of the room and said coldly, “If you’re not going to tell me anything useful, you might as well not say anything and get the satisfaction of being good little sheep, that way at least one of us happy. I hope it the feeling comforts you when I die because I don’t have all the relevant information.”

 

   When they reached their room, Percival had Harry wait as he took the portrait off the wall or tried to anyway. “Someone” had put a Sticking Charm on it so Percival took out his wand and to use it to disable the charm (there was no way he was going to display his skill in wandless magic to a portrait that no doubt reported to Dumbledore). Then he lugged the indignant painting out of the room and threw it carelessly into a room that had a….was that a hippogriff?! Shaking his head, he returned to their bedroom.

 

    Harry was still standing in the middle of the room, staring, regretfully, off into space. “I was much too harsh back there wasn’t I? Arthur, Bill and Tonks didn’t deserve those words. I don’t think they would hold back as much as Molly or Lupin or even Sirius. And I… I was so mean to them.”

 

   “You were, a bit. But you wouldn’t want to waste such a dramatic exit by going back down and apologising,” Percival smirked.  “Besides, you can say you’re sorry to the Weasleys tomorrow if you feel like it and I’m sure that you can convince one of the twins to let you borrow their wand so that you can send Tonks a Messenger Patronus, or you could just apologise when you see her next. It’ll be fine, Harry. You’re allowed your teenage rebellious and angry phase.”

 

   Harry let out a breath that was almost a laugh and wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “We should go to bed; I’m beyond tired. God, I chewed out so many people today. I never do that.”

 

   “At least you didn’t have to deal with Dumbledore trying to interrogate you. I swear he tried to make me feel guilty by giving me this Grandfatherly Disappointed face at least five times.”

 

   “Yeah?” Harry said, “I hate how he does that.”

 

   “He also tried to use Legilimency on me. In a room full of people. It’s highly unethical by the way, and when used on a minor, very illegal. And he managed to get away with it. In a room full of people, including three Aurors. Even after I called him out on it.” He shook his head. “And that is why I want to start teaching you Occlumency.” Harry nodded so Percival continued, “I’ll explain the basics and we’ll start you on meditation. The real teaching won’t start until after the hearing. We’ll have enough on our plates in the meantime.”

 

   They had just finished changing into night clothes (Harry accidentally getting a view of Percival’s naked back, which caused him to blush) when Ron knocked and was told to enter. He had just grabbed his clothes when a silvery cheetah burst through the wall and said, “I will be expecting you two the day after tomorrow.”

 

   Ron raised his eyebrow. “I am curious but… ‘Mione told me about this muggle law thing called, ‘plausible deniability.’ At a guess you two will need someone to cover for you, just in case someone asks?”

 

   Percival nodded and decided to explain so that Ron knew it wasn’t anything frivolous, “My guardian, we need to meet briefly at Gringotts. I need some changes of clothes and Harry needs clothes appropriate for the Wizengamot. Actually, you’ve seen what he’s got, Harry just needs clothes! Not to mention, she’s going to be going over the legal stuff with us for the trial, so we really needed to meet before the hearing.”

 

   “I understand. I’ll see if I can get the twins to help me, maybe we can develop something to make Ice Mice change colour and say that you two got sick from eating them,” he said as he walked out the door.

 

   Both Harry and Percival sighed heavily as exhaustion settled over their shoulders. Though they would honestly rather sleep in the same bed, they knew they would need to get used to sleeping apart by the time they got to Hogwarts, especially if they were in different houses so they each went to their separate beds and fell asleep before their heads hit their pillows.